Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Magic Candle: Burning at Both Ends

My new goal is to be referenced in a CRPG.

I made my first Magic Candle posting shortly before midnight on Sunday evening, and Monday morning at 06:00, I was still playing the game. Two days later, I'm still trying to get my sleep schedule back to normal. I suspect that with this game, this is going to happen a lot.

Since I last posted, I read the manual in detail, finished exploring the Royal Castle, fought and won a single battle, and explored the nearby town of Port Avur (both the manual and most of the NPC dialogues seemed to be directing me there next). I've done enough to realize that note-taking for this game is going to be quite an enterprise. Not since Ultima IV and V have I encountered a game so packed with history and lore. If The Magic Candle doesn't have as inspiring a quest as those other games, it seems to have more back story. I began organizing a little encyclopedia of characters, places, and other lore items in the game, and I was up to 11 pages before I even got out of the manual.

See my in-progress Magic Candle encyclopedia. (Yeah, you come up with a better name.)

The manual goes into a lot more detail about the history of the Magic Candle and the demon Dreax, including the major characters in the war that led to his imprisonment millennia ago. In its recollection of dwarf and elf kings, great wizards, magical artifacts, and a horde of dark forces from the east, it's impossible not to think of Lord of the Rings. Certainly, the archetypes of elves, dwarves, men, and wizards remains unaltered from Tolkien.

Belazar introduces me to a bunch of items of lore at once.

The complexities of this game don't end with the narrative; it is also very logistically complicated. A lot of games, of course, provide small logistical challenges to keep things interesting. As far back as the first Ultima, you had to keep a stockpile of food. Ultima V introduced NPCs who kept schedules, so you'd have to explore a city multiple times to make sure you spoke to everyone. In Faery Tale Adventure, the PC gets tired and periodically needs to sleep. I can't remember if any game to date has featured wear and tear on weapons and armor, but it would become a staple of the Elder Scrolls series. Pool of Radiance was the first D&D-based CRPG to make your magic-users memorize spells before being able to cast them. Larn had a timer continually counting down the amount of time you had to win the game. Demon's Winter had you specify your party formation. And Wasteland allowed you to split your party and have different groups doing different things at the same time.

The spell system is fairly complicated. Most CRPGs have spell points (i.e.,"mana") or a memorization system. This game has both.

What makes The Magic Candle special is that it includes all of these logistical considerations, and a few more besides. I haven't mastered it all yet (particularly spellcasting, which seems to involve acquiring various spell books, then "learning" a certain number of each spell over the course of hours of studying, then "recalling" the spell to memory, and then, finally, casting it). The party-splitting option is probably the most difficult thing to master because it's an integral part of the game, not a one-time deal needed to solve a puzzle, as in Wasteland. Not all characters tire at the same rate, so it's silly to have them all sleeping at the same time.

Bedding down for the night.

At one point in Port Avur, I had my characters split into three parties: one resting in the inn (some characters sleeping, one memorizing spells), one taking archery lessons, and one wandering around speaking to NPCs. Generally, I suppose the trick is to assemble everyone again before moving to the next down, but it isn't necessary. You could leave one character working a day job as a metal smith, earning gold, while the rest of the party pursues the main quest.

As the rest of the party sleeps, Min sneaks into the local jail and chats up some orcs.

The "jobs" system is another oddity to the game. Characters can work as gemcrafters, carpenters, tailors, and metalsmiths and earn a consistent wage. If you have someone skilled in a trade, he can make some money while the rest of the party explores the town. Unfortunately, the party I chose only has one character with a trade--my halfling, Min--and he also has the highest charisma, which means I really need him to explore.

Many characters won't speak to you if your charisma isn't high enough.
 
(As we often see in CRPGs, it's a little ludicrous that I have to work for money in the first place. My party is on a quest to save the kingdom, after all, and you'd think the treasuries would be open to us. Nonetheless, the manual makes it clear on Page 21: "His Grace, Lord Banas, emphasizes that the companions will be required to fund their own endeavors.")

I'm going to save further logistics discussions for future postings and concentrate for the rest of this one on the character interaction and plot-development system because I can already tell that they're fantastic--on par or better than the Ultimas.

At the beginning of the game, you have a very broad quest--stop Dreax from escaping the Magic Candle--and few clues how to succeed at it, or even where to go next. The manual suggests that the quest is going to involve completing a ritual described in the "fragments of the Zirvanad," apparently a text written by the mage, Zirva, who originally imprisoned Dreax. The text mentions the need for three artifacts--a white amulet, a green ring, and a blue ring--to enter the hall in which the Magic Candle is kept, and then a series of chants to restore it. These are mostly fragmentary.

The key passage from the game manual, courtesy of Canageek.

The king directed me to speak with Belazar, an old, dying counselor. This first involved getting access to Belazar's chambers. The game has a unique system by which you can't simply barge into private homes; rather, you must (K)nock on the door and state the name of the person you're looking for. Some NPCs are only accessible this way, and based on various conversations, I have a host of NPCs to call on when I visit various towns.

Visiting the king's uncle in his chambers at night.

I spoke to Belazar in his bed, and he gave me several clues about the nature of the game, including the religious system and modes of magical travel (I'll have to save both for later). He also told me to ask Father Orbonn, a monk in Port Avur, about the Zirvanad. Since Banas, the king's uncle, also wanted me to visit Port Avur (something about a dungeon beneath the castle that he's not allowed to talk about), I made that my next stop.

In Port Avur, I learned about the game's focus on libraries. I guess there are several dotted about the game world, and you can use them to ask about key pieces of lore, with the monks serving as reference librarians.

A monk gives me intelligence on the Royal Castle's dungeon. The king's uncle wants me to know something about it but can't tell me. Castle denizens report they're hearing screams coming from it at night. The plot thickens..
 
Father Orbonn told me that the Zirvanad was placed in a stone vault after Zirva's death. I have to both find the vault (there's a rumor it may be in Lymeric) and a star-shaped key needed to open it. Elsewhere, Belazar's grandson advised me to visit the old man again after I have a chance to look at the Zirvanad.

Oh, there were so many more conversations between the Royal Castle and Port Avur that I don't really know where to begin. I started my little encyclopedia after I visited the two towns, so my tentative plan at this point is to restart the game (I lost a couple of precious days screwing around) and revisit the NPCs now that I have a better system for note-taking and task management. One key insight I gained is that although NPCs keep schedules like in Ultima V, they don't walk from one place to another at appointed times. In Ultima V, every NPC could always be found somewhere, if only sleeping in a bed. In The Magic Candle, when an NPC isn't at his usual location, he generally ceases to exist.

A lot of readers have remarked about the size and length of the game, and given the size of the game map--plus the sheer number of towns and locations mentioned in the manual--I suspect I'll be playing it for a long time.

The game world. So far, I've only explored a tiny area of the northwest. The game manual describes all the major areas of the map and really makes me want to visit them.

A few other discoveries:

  • Skills increase both with usage and through paid training.
  • When exploring, you often enter "rooms" in which the interface changes a bit. Your party members move individually instead of as a unit, and you exit with a command instead of by walking out the door. Shops work this way, and each party member must approach the counter separately (or trade items later).

Outfitting my party in the weapon shop.

  • Monsters seem like standard D&D fare, with orcs, ogres, trolls, and such. There are a few original ones, such as wolvinga (corrupted elves) and various types of demons.
  • Combat (about which I will have a much longer posting later) seems to draw from SSI games like Demon's Winter for its inspiration, as you maneuver individual icons around the battlefield, and attributes affect your movement speed and number of attacks.

With bow and blade, the party lays waste to a group of orcs.

  • Fatigue is something that I'll have to manage carefully. A couple of times, my characters got so tired that they were unable to move. Fortunately, I had some mushrooms that restored their energy fast. I assume if you don't have any mushrooms, you have to split them off from the party and leave them sitting there until you can buy a mushroom and return. (You can't simply hole up and camp anywhere in town.)
  • Cubes, pyramids, and spheres (sold by traveling merchants) somehow allow teleportation at magic gates. I'm still collecting notes on this.
 
The Bay of Meric is pretty far away on the map, so I suspect magical traveling is going to become necessary to avoid wasting too many game days.
 
  • There was a gambling game with dice in Port Avur. I recorded my wins and losses over about 25 throws and I've concluded that the odds of winning are almost exactly 50/50. I can't expect to make much at gambling.

The rest of the party is exhausted while Min cheerfully gambles.

I suspect my approach to this game will mirror what I did for other long games like Ultima V and Might & Magic: Each post will recap what I discovered about the plot and then cover some particular aspect of gameplay, such as attributes, party management, exploration, combat, and magic. This game has a steep learning curve, but it looks like it's going to be worth it.

139 comments:

  1. I definitely appreciate the amount of detail you are putting into these postings. They really make me feel like I'm playing the game to some extent with you. The encyclopedia is definitely a good idea and something I expect you will also have to do with some of the games coming up in the pipeline. This blog and those docs will undoubtedly be very useful for up and coming adventurers.

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    1. I miss this about games: taking your own notes and uncovering the game's lore. The Elder Scrolls series is rightfully praised for the depth of the history and lore, but they keep it so well presented in books and such that I rarely keep my own notes. The result is that I have no idea who St. Alessia is despite having read that book a thousand times, and I still get confused by some of the daedra and the Divines. Meanwhile, I'll be able to tell you which Ultima towns go with which virtues until the day I die.

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    2. Really? I've found lots of little bits scattered around, though it is in books as well. There are still people who take notes on The Elder Scrolls games, such as the people who maintain the UESP wiki. You should try and add to it when you reach Arena.

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  2. Replies
    1. Seems a little obvious, but I suppose it beats WikiCandle. I was playing with something like "Candelogy."

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    2. And I didn't just misspell "candle"; that's the Latin version.

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    4. Go literal: "The Book of Flame and Wax"

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    5. 'Magic Candle for Lazies' ?

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    6. Candlewicki !

      Candleabra...cadabra !

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    7. Alex's are way funner. I vote for them dar.

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    8. Unless you make it a wiki I oppose the use of anything with wiki in the name. I really like Candlepedia myself.

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    9. I'm probably commenting far, far too late for it to matter (for which I apologize), but seeing as -p(a)edia is a technically from the Greek rather than a Latin, shouldn't it be Keripedia (κερίπαίδεια)?

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  3. Sounds interesting. Kind of wish I'd gotten a chance to play it back in the day.

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  4. This game looks brutal...

    One of my first thoughts on reading this post was that using (stealing?) the plot for a D&D game would be quite doable. Not sure how many players would recognize it, and the interface seems to correlate pretty well with what you would have to do in a pen/paper RPG (often there is that one party member who goes off gambling while the rest of the group decides to hit the hay, etc.).

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  5. I thought about picking this game up several times over the years, but I think I kept getting it confused with Magic Carpet. I was under the impression that you flew a magic carpet around a desert and blasted baddies...

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    1. Is Magic Carpet on your list? I've played it, and my memory is a bit rusty, but I'm pretty sure it's not a CRPG. I remember it being very hard to control and stay oriented, but once getting the hang of it, it was all kinds of fun.

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    2. Nah, Magic Carpet is an action game from the eccentric development studio Bullfrog.

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    3. Bullfrog had some fun tittles Syndicate was one I liked pretty well back in the day.

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    4. It seems GoG.com has the same confusion.

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    5. I was making a joke. Naturally, I would have expected that in a game called Magic Carpet, you fly around on a magic carpet.

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  7. "Monsters seem like standard D&D fare, with orcs, ogres, trolls, and such. There are a few original ones, such as wolvinga (corrupted elves) and various types of demons."

    There is a good mix of traditional enemies and original ones. Most of the mid to high level enemies are totally unique to the Magic Candle series.

    BTW, in case you haven't figured it out yet, use of mushrooms is essential in this game, and you need a good stockpile of most shrooms when enemies start getting tougher.

    One thing that annoyed me was that a character's action points in combat was so unpredictable, so I always ended up eating one Gonshi at the start of most combats to be certain of getting at least two attacks.
    Another mushroom (don't remember name) functions like Stoneskin in the Baldur's Gate games.

    Anyway, seems you are enjoying the game. :-)
    What do you think of the logistics part of the game? Personally I liked the extra challenge of trying to get as much done is as little time as possible.

    This game is like Ultima V's uglier, but smarter little sibling.

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    1. It's really too early to give a solid opinion on the logistics. I need to get used to the interface a little more. Ultimately, I could see myself growing to like it.

      The manual is quite up-front about mushrooms, so I plan to invest a good portion of my gold in them after I get properly outfitted.

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    2. It was less the logistics for me but the interface can get cumbersome over time. It's mostly switching formation and distributing resources which is tiresome.

      Enemies and your chars can't dodge in combat when upwards and downwards position is blocked.

      Further notes: You can't switch weapons and armor between partymember. Most of the time Rexor can handle the conversations in the starting region, too.

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  8. Long time, first time (lol)...

    I've been waiting for you to get to the Magic Candle - somehow, I just knew it would make me actually sign up and post a comment.

    You are officially on hallowed ground with this game. It's in my top-5 of all time, and I was so glad I got to play it back when it was released, as there was very little help available but I had no life outside of school so it didn't matter that I took 5-6 months to beat the game.

    What a game. I can tell you're hooked now, and it must be a revalation to go from Bloodwych to this treasure. I recall the first time I saw the animation for my guys crossing a bridge - I just stared at the screen for about 30 seconds with the goofiest grin...that little bit of animation was AMAZING.

    A true classic, belongs in every RPGer's hall of fame, can't wait for your next entry.

    Thank you so much for taking me back. This is awesome.

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    1. Glad to give you a little joy, Alex. Y'all are scaring me a bit with the length issue, though! If it stretches that long for me, I may have to play a few interlocutory games so that my blog doesn't become entirely about MC.

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    2. LOL !!

      Well, I always take forever with games...I double back, check NPCs over and over...stare at the screen like a goof for no good reasons...

      Hope that makes you feel better !

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    3. Yes, the animations! I have to say the game has really simple graphics but still manages to have style and charme. It's the simple extras like the anmiations or the separate shop screens with its interior, the ability to sit at a chair etc.

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    4. Morkar, I think you nailed it with one word - 'charm'.

      Just so many little things that made this game so memorable for me...the animations, getting jobs, party members going their separate ways, the decor inside each building, exploring every square inch of that map, the atmosphere the pressure to finish before the candle burns down...whatever...MC was just a blast to play.

      Doubt I could play it today and deal with all the minutiae...but I guess that's why I'm here! lols

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  9. Are you doing much roleplaying or just focusing on note-taking?

    This blog post really inspires me to play this game again, after I finish Bards Tale 1.(Im on the castle just after the mad god temple catacombs)

    By the way, did you know you can play this game on the Nintendo DS? You need a special game cartridge called a R4Chip and a microSD card to store the games.

    A genius chap wrote a Dos emulator for the DS which I use to play Dos games all the time.

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    1. I didn't know that, but as I don't have a DS, not much help there. Is there a DOSBox version for the iPhone?

      Haven't gotten much into roleplaying yet because I'm still learning the interface. That was one of the reasons I was thinking I'd start anew after a few exploratory hours.

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    2. I dont think Apple allow dos emulators on iPhone :(

      Theres a nice mini-pc called an open pandora but they are expensive.

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    3. I was just looking into trying to run Magic Candle and the old Ultimas on a DS. The SD card is not enough? DSx86 will not run without the R4Chip?

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    4. I'm hesitant because apparently R4 chips are often used to pirate games, and I have no interest in that. I just want to play my old games on a new platform.

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    5. the sd card wont go into the ds without the r4,

      also its a microsd that you need, there are 3 types if sd

      normal,mini and micro

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    6. the r4 seems to be banned in the UK but not US

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    7. The R4 is just one of a number of similar chips (actually, I doubt they even sell the R4 itself anymore). They're special modified cartridges that load an SD card (the DS itself has no ability to read them) that combined with a hacked OS provided by the card manufacturer tricks the DS into thinking it's a regular DS cart and running a software loader. They're unlicensed and frequently under legal attack from Nintendo, among other fronts. Virtually no reputable retailer sells them, because yes, most people use them for piracy. It's a shame, because they do have legitimate uses including homebrew software, and having a single cartridge loaded with all the games one has legitimately purchased, instead of having to carry a travelling case with your games or stick to whatever one game you have loaded at a time. But perfectly understandable all the same.

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  10. The bottom screen of the DS is a touch-screen and is used for the keyboard, the top screen is used for game graphics.

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  11. As always you manage to create interests for games such as this, even though I have never played it. I can see the greatness of the game but are scared that it is too big a fish to swallow for me, not even mentioning the bible you have to create to keep track of things.

    If I ever get unemployed or single this might just be the cure :-)

    Saintus from http://crpgrevisited.blogspot.se/

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  12. Man, this game seems so engrossing that I feel like I should fire it up right now and start playing. However I'm a bit apprehensive about committing to such a long game. Anyway... this might be the best game I didn't really know much about.

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  13. A little of history and comments on MC
    http://www.abandonia.com/en/forum?url=showthread.php?t=10337

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  14. Enthustiasm is literally oozing through!

    Personally don't have any experience with MC, but for exploration's sake, I just hope that time limit wouldn't turn up to be set like some project schedule and leave you to situation where you're heading to final confrontation requiring four days of travelling and counter goes to zero in three.

    Maybe there are ways to add days, like in Fallout was making deal with water merchants.

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    1. Nope, no way to add days. When I played this game, I was definitely taken aback by the time limit and I made sure to play on Easy (1000 day limit) just to be safe. I think I finished it with 300 days left, which would have been enough for Normal (which the Addict is playing on) but not enough for Hard.

      From what I remember, it does start out slow and you worry that it's going to take too long, but then you get more powerful (and figure out the teleportation devices) and time becomes less of an issue.

      I think I only had 1 or 2 money-makers in my party too...I don't think you ever want the wizards to have tradeskills since they always need to be memorizing spells, and one character should be repairing your gear (I think), but the others usually don't have much to do. I think sometimes I would send them out to pick mushrooms if there was a patch nearby.

      Oh, also, I think I remember that when you take a boat somewhere, you have nothing to do but sleep, memorize spells, and repair gear. Once you get powerful enough to really split your party up, I think I would sometimes send 1 mage (I had 2) by boat to my destination, and take the rest of the party by foot (or teleporter) so they could kill more monsters and do more harvesting of mushrooms. I wish I still had all my notes...

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    2. IIRC there is actually a way of buying more time. I think it involves talking to an old sorceress in the King's Castle.
      I didn't need it in my game, though. I played on Normal, but I was within the time limit for Hard.

      Teleport spells is very useful in the later stages when you want to move swiftly in areas you have already explored, but are now teeming with enemy patrols again.

      You should use every free moment to memorize spells. Saying you can never have enough spells would be lying, since there is a limit of 99 for each spell, but having access to lots of spells help, espeically some of the specialty spells like Water Walking, whose effect can't be duplicated by other means.

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  15. on this wonderful website you can get all original cluebooks from mindcraft which I found nowhere before: http://www.mocagh.org/loadpage.php?getgame=mc1

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    1. What a great find! It's wonderful that there are still people out there interested in preserving stuff like this in digital form. It's not as if you could buy something like this if you wanted; you'd have to be extremely lucky to find someone who still has something like this and is willing to part with it.

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  16. Snatched the cluebook! Thanks anonymous!!

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  17. "I can't expect to make much at gambling."

    If you want to make much at gambling, always bet 511 at the casino (yes, it's a bug)

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  18. No Cheats!!!!! Let the Addict finish this classic game the old-fashioned way!!!!!!

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  19. CRPGAddict, have you had the chance to get hospitality in one of those monasteries in the overworld without then donating anything the following morning? Because there's a nice consequence for doing so, which is an example of the outstanding *detail* in pretty much every element of the game.

    (I also remember that, if you have a dwarf in your party and you board a ship, he'd get sick!)

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  20. Perhaps a good title for the encyclopedia would be Candlecopia.

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  21. "Burning at both ends" reminds of the time I ate some very strong chicken curry at a questionable restaurant...

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  22. It seems Magic Candle will keep the addict addicted at least until the end of the year. This is a long game, but satisfying.

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    1. It's taking our friend The Addict so long to do another post because he has died. He's dead, I think. If he wasn't dead, he would have posted. Therefore, ergo, he is dead. Ipso facto, do si doh. My logic is impeccable, do not bother attempting to change my mind.

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    2. It's only been four days since his last post. If this was an attempt at humor, it's failed, sorry.

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    3. Addict is a tortuous; slow, but steady. I fully expect him to still be posting in 30 years, once a month, about how great the plot in Fallout 3 is.

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    4. I know it was only 4 days, but it felt like forever. Actually, the only reason I did it is because, looking back in time, I have a bad habit of calling The Addict dead when he doesn't post for a time. Playing on that, I called him dead because he hadn't posted. It's only slightly funny when you take what I have just stated in mind. Without that, it's only funny if you like phrases like "Ipso facto, do si do".

      It's an acquired taste, plus I don't get paid as a humor writer, so you get what you pay for.

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    5. 'E's not slow! 'E's passed on! This addict is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the keyboard 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-ADDICT!!

      (c) Monthy Python's Flying Circus, Dead Addict... err Parrot Sketch.

      I'm sorry, I just love the Dead Parrot Sketch.

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  23. Oh he will be back. Does anyone know of any other similar blogs with a good writer and regular posts?

    We may be kind of spoiled by the Addicts penchant for smooth and well thought out postings. The most important aspect of this blog for me is the way he writes so fluidly, making for such an easy read. (also get to learn a few new words here and there thanks to the Addict)

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    1. YES: http://advgamer.blogspot.com is the best of them, sadly more then one link per replay will probably set off the spam filter.

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    2. http://allconsolerpgs.blogspot.com was really good, but hasn't been updating. http://sidequestsaga.blogspot.ccom is by the same person and has updated more recently. It is filling in a game that the Addict passed ovver.

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    3. http://chrontendo.blogspot.com is what introduced me to the CRPG Addict. Updates once in a blue moon these days, and is primarily focused around the vid case. However, Dr. Sparkle has some of the best chrongaming writing I've seen, though I'll admit I skim his posts on the games since I watched his film.

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    4. Finally, Amy, a reader of this and The Adventure Gamer runs http://rpgchick.blogspot.com a blog I keep meaning to read.

      Oh, I almost forgot: http://roguelikefan.wordpress.com from Thomas Gelhaus. Still getting into the groove of things, but hey, Trickster was pretty weak when he started writing, and now I'd put him on the level with Chet here.

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    5. OH, I should also specify, Chrontendo has a huge back archive that should help make up for the slow posting schedule.

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    6. thanks a lot, Canageek!
      I like to think that each of our blogs is different enough that there's wide variety for readers.
      - Tom Gellhaus

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    7. I'll stake a come back soon. One last week of an incredibly busy time at work, and I should have some more spare time. I appreciate the mention Canageek.

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    8. Canageek you are a scholar and a gentleman. Thank you.

      I love to indulge myself, for hours at a time :), reminiscing about the good ol' days as I vicariously play all these gems through the posts of skilled bloggers. I often find my considering taking on some of these games as I read the posts. Usually, however, the old, cumbersome interfaces prevent me from enjoying them as much as I always envision.
      I would love to see a blog do the same thing with the Commodore 64- The system I grew up with. There are several great RPG's that the Addict skipped because they were created for the C-64 or another non-DOS machine.
      It would be nice to see one for the Amiga and the Atari ST as well. When I was young I did not know anything about those two systems. Now, I see that there were a great many wonderful RPG's that were produced on these platforms.
      I know and understand that the DOS list is more than enough to plow through for any one mortal, but I would love to see these forgotten games get the attention they deserve from an author with nack for distilling the essence of these games like the Addict.
      I am now off to check out those other blogs!
      Thanks again!

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    10. Yeah you're right! The addict is eloquent and I've learned quite a few new words as well, the latest word I learned from this blog:
      ostensibly - seemingly, at first glance

      I don't know how many people there are who are playing all crpgs in chronological order, but my guess is quite few, so it's definitely an interesting project. I don't think it is ever possible to complete it though, not even if the addict was unemployed, there's simply too many games out there.

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    11. You could also try the blog http://bloggingtheoldies.blogspot.com because, while it's on hiatus at the moment it will be back in brilliant glory. Plus it had a lot of well written and fantastic posts about the ninetendo game Pool of Radiance.

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    12. At the non-shame of plugging my own blog, there's http://traversingtamriel.blogspot.com/ , in which I am trying to play through the three latest Elder Scrolls games in chronological order. Though the format and writing are not similar to the CRPG Addict's at all, since I am writing from the character's point of view, as if she were keeping a daily journal.

      Unfortunately, my wife and I had a kid just as I was starting, so progress slacked off, but I'm picking it up again.

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    13. I'll check'm all out. I have been to that Nintendo - pool of Radiance blog before. POR is one of the games that I gave a try after reading The Addicts posts a long time ago. The journey led me to several blogs that delved pretty deeply into the game. POR is one of the few Gold Box games that we did not have for the c64.

      It's amazing that it was ported to the freaking nintendo. I remember when we got our S-nintendo how we searched and searched for more "computer style" RPG's. (we went from C64 to S-Nintendo, skipping the 1st Nintendo) Going from such games as the Gold box's and Ultimas and others like them, to Final fantasy, was quite a switch. I was disappointed at 1st but I quickly found the charm in the FF games and other console style RPG's. I wish they would have ported more CRPG's to the S-Nintendo. (when my dad got a PC we were not allowed to touch it for years. BUT- the C64 became OURS ;) ).

      We did get the Ultimas on the S-Nintendo but they were buggy. I remember U6 or U7 had a game crasher that I ran into, leaving me unable to continue, so I quit. They also looked horrible compared to their PC counterpart. (better than the c64 though)

      There was a large divide between console RPG's and Computer RPG's back then. The console versions were seemingly dumbed-down versions of their PC counterparts. Controls were sketchy because of the lack of a keyboard and graphics left me wanting. If you ask me, FFantasy saved the console RPG's from a more sluggish start. I remember turning into a paladin in FF2. That was one of my favorite RPG moments. FFantasy was the 1st game that almost made me cry (when the twins sacrificed themselves). Between the beautifully soft, sad, lonely music that began as they made their decision, and the appreciation I had for their characters at the time, I remember fighting myself as I began tearing up a bit.

      Anyway, I'm beginning to ramble on, so once again I'm off to check out those blogs :)

      Delete
    14. @Ryan: I agree, that moment in Final Fantasy II was probably the first real touching moment in a video game that I can remember. Also, your assessment of console ported PC games is pretty spot on. Everything was a bit more clunky without a mouse or shortcut keys.

      Beyond U6 and U7, Eye of the Beholder, Dungeon Master, and Wizardry V got ports to the SNES.

      @Raifield: I'll toot that horn as well. From what I've read, your blog seems very well written. Once I play through Morrowind I'll have to come back to finish.

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    15. Actual FF2 or the FF2 that is actually FF4 because Nintendo sold FF4 as FF2 to us Americans?

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    16. American FF2, so it was really FF4.

      @Chris Ha :)

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    17. The SNES ports weren't that great, but the system did have some "traditional" looking RPGs as well. Arcana is the first one that comes to mind, though I know there are others.

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    18. Arcana was one of the games I grew up with. I suppose there were other PC ports, Drakkhen, Obitus, Might and Magic III, and Lord of the Rings Vol. 1. I can't seem to come up with any other SNES only games like Arcana that draw more from PC RPGs than Final Fantasy / Dragon Quest. I'll come across them soon. I know of Dungeon Magic and Swords & Serpents on the NES, coming up soon in my playlist.

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    19. Ah, I remember picking up Arcana at walmart and looking at it, wondering whether to buy it or not. I set it down, deciding to wait, and never saw it again. Drakkhen was a fun one. Never heard of Obitus or MM3 (for SN anyway)

      Delete
    20. I'm quite surprised that I missed that LotR game. Had I seen that I would have definitely picked it up.
      I think my favorite snes non-FF RPG was Secret of Mana. It was 2-player so my brother and I didn't have to take turns playing it :)
      The Legend of Zelda, although not a true RPG in my opinion, was my other favorite game.

      Delete
    21. Tom: Very welcome. I need to catch up on your blogs.
      Zenic: Welcome. I need to catch up on side quest quest.
      Ryan: Thank you, I do try and be both of those things.

      Delete
    22. My favorite snes non-FF RPG is Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen. It's closer to a strategy RPG, but it's real-time.

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    23. I enjoyed Ogre Battle as well.
      Lotsa crappy RPG's i played on the Snes :
      Lagoon
      FFantasy Crystal something (a kiddie FF)
      Breath of Fire I

      For strategy I LOVED the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. My brother, Chris, (his comment above) still loves them.

      Delete
    24. I liked all the games I had as a kid, nostalgia probably, but I had a low threshold for acceptance. Unless the game was really bad, I found some joy in it, like Lagoon. Breath of Fire II was my favorite SNES RPG in the DQ/FF style for a time.

      Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is the one you're thinking of, and yeah, it was meant as an introduction to RPGs. Someone had the impression Americans didn't like console RPGs because they were too hard. When the game was released in Japan, it was called Final Fantasy USA.

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    25. haha FF USA.... what an insult ;)

      Delete
    26. (Quote)RyanSeptember 11, 2012 6:31 AM

      American FF2, so it was really FF4.

      @Chris Ha :) (/Quote)

      So did they then sell FF2 when it came time to sell us Amerikanos FF4? Or did we lose a game and they just dumped some other game as FF4?

      Delete
    27. The US releases were:

      1 (Japanese 1)
      2 (Japanese 4 "Easy Type")
      3 (Japanese 6)
      7 (Japanese 7)

      They "matched up" the numbers when 7 was released for the PS1. They started retroactively releasing the "missing" ones in the US; 2, 3, and 5.

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    28. I remember my mind being blown when I realized the Ogre Battle titles were actually songs from Queen's album, "Queen II"

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    29. I remember waiting so long for FF3 (US S-Nintendo, I guess it was 6 in Jap). FF2 had blown my expectations. I feel robbed when I hear they had SO MANY more. I believe that the market was here; they just did not believe it yet.

      When you say "easy type" what do u mean? was US-FF2 different than Japanese FF4?

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    30. Yes, there were 2 Japanese versions. Easy Type simplified the language used to make it easier for people new the genre. They used that version when porting it to English, to make it easier for kids to understand.

      http://matotree.com/localization/final-fantasy-iv/ has every change between them. Yes, every one. There is also a summery I think.

      Delete
  24. Wow -- I wish that it had been available or easy to find in my area, as I probably would've saved up for it (or asked for it as a birthday/Xmas gift) had I ever actually seen it outside of a few magazine ads.

    "Cubes, pyramids, and spheres"

    I wonder if that's a reference to Electronic Arts' old logo... They were hated by just about every other game company back then, and I know at least one other RPG worked in EA references as a result (Ultima 7: Black Gate is full of them, including the cube/prism/sphere).

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    1. Wow. I NEVER would have seen that. But if it was a reference to the EA logo, wouldn't it strike you as a fond homage?

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  25. I also loved the Magic Candle, but I'm concerned that it might be too easy for you (you said you like combat, yes?). The reason I say this is that when I played it, I blundered into a dungeon that was about two ahead of where I should have been. (the game is nonlinear, but you can't move forward without finding the right clues, which move you from challenge to (greater) challenge in the way the game wants you to go). I am not great at combat, and don't love it a lot, but I was able to get through it nonetheless -- despite its being "way too advanced" for me. Someone like you, who enjoys combat might consider playing on "hard," in order not to get bored as the end approaches. If it's not too late for that, of course....

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    1. Even if the gameplay is easy, I'm loving the dialogue and lore.

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    2. What did you think of the manual? Did you read the whole thing?

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  26. I hope lot of you have already noticed GOG having Annual Survey and the price for spending moment clicking answers being Realms of Arkania 1 & 2 for free.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks for the info. I did the survey. Perhaps I will revisit Realms of Arkania 2 sometime.

      Saintus form http://crpgrevisited.blogspot.se/

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    2. FREE.... GAMESS.......UH UH UH-AHHGAINNNNN!!!!!!

      Delete
  27. only 25 throws for statistical analysis, not 30 to be able to assume gaussian distribution? ;))

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    Replies
    1. That irked me, too, but I ran out of money.

      Delete
  28. Hey... so I've just started The Magic Candle the other day. Tried many times before, this time I'm officially into it. Thank you once again Mr. Critic. Printed out a wonderful map courtesy of Andrew Schultz and everything.

    Anywho, I have a few questions I hope some of the Magic Candle-heads can clear up. Perhaps they will help Chet in the near future too:

    1. Do you level up? If so, do you get more max Stamina?
    2. Since I didn't pick a halfling, or even Rexor... is there a way to increase Charisma on characters I have?
    3. Can i go back into the Knights room and dump a guy and pick up a new one (say Min for example so I can go talk to people) and then go back in and pick up my fighter with all his weapons and how he was?

    I must say this game is addicting. I like the whole Energy/Stamina thing and it's very original that weapons get wear and tear. My archer's bow broke and thankfully he was able to fix it Also cool to let Dalin go work as a metal smith and earn my some coinage while I'm messing around and memorizing a bunch of ENERGY and SHATTER spells.

    As of right now I'm just going around picking fights and killing a bunch of Orcs, Zorlims, Gnolls and Trolls... I like how you can search each body after they are dead. I also like how you can semi move your guys into position before you (b)egin the fight.

    I wish you could fight or move diagonally tho... that's a real pain that some older games suffer from. I pretty much went to the armor shop, ordered a bunch of STEEL PLATE that takes 5 days to make and then put Dalin to work and had my two Wizards start learning.

    Hopefully CRPG Addict will come back soon with it...

    Thanks guys,
    Delmoko

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    Replies
    1. The game doesn't use character levels, but your Stamina, as well as other stats and skills will increase during play. But note that different characters have different max values. There is also racial limits. Only Dwarves can get enough STR to use the heaviest axes for example. Max values can be indresed during play, but not higher than the racial limit.
      Charisma can be learnt from a teacher. But first you need to find a teacher. Charisma can also increase locally by doing heroic acts in the relevant town.

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    2. You've gotten further than I have so far, but I agree with moving diagonally. I had this problem with a few others of the era, too.

      "Mr. Critic?"

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  29. I thought I may as well post the notes I made in preparation for my own first game of The Magic Candle, courtesy of the swell guys at the RPG Codex:

    You don't get loot from enemies besides gold and for some stupid reason you can't trade weapons and armor between party members.

    First project--perhaps a trip to Soldain or Bondell.

    Some types of terrain take more time. Some types take a greater toll of your energy. Roads and bridges provide the easiest travel. More time is needed to pick your way through forests and across glaciers--the treacherous marshes take the most time of all. The drain on your energy ranges from roads up through plains, forests, deserts and glaciers to those treacherous marshes again. Mountains and rivers simply cannot be crossed without magic. The going is slower after dark, and when your party members are tired. It is impossible when they are exhausted.

    The roads of Deruvia are busy with traffic during daylight hours.

    There are secluded locations that are not marked on her map. You must discover those by exploration. When your party moves next to these special locations, a picture and a message will appear on the screen to disclose what you have sighted. If it is a a building, Knock on the door. If not, Inspect in that direction.

    When you reach a town or village, you may have to walk around its boundaries until you find its gate. When you find it, it may be closed--many places close their gates against the Forces of Darkness at sunset.


    Strength determines the types of weapon a person can wield. As you play, you will learn how to increase both maximum and current strengths to their racial limits.

    Current stamina can be raised to the maximum by sleeping, by using a Potion, or by receiving a Heal spell. The maximum can increase in the same way as strength.

    Energy is a measure of fatigue. When it falls below a certain level, a person becomes tired and unable to concentrate. When it falls to zero, the person is exhausted and can do nothing but wait for a chance to sleep. The maximum for anyone is 99. Energy can be increased by sleep, a Sermin mushroom, or an Energy spell.
    Dwarves tire at energy level 25, race of Man at 20, Elves and Wizards at 15, and Halflings at 12.

    Agility is the ability to dodge physical attacks. The Minions of darkness tend to gang up on their least agile opponents. Current and maximum agility can be increased in the same way as strength.

    Unlike most RPGs, charisma is actually a required attribute, as key people will not talk to those with lesser charisma.
    Is especially useful in greeting strangers and asking them questions. Charisma also assists in bargaining for supplies. It can be increased by training. It can also be increased in some local areas by performing heroic acts.
    Price will often depend on your active character's Charisma.

    Learning Skill decreases the time needed to learn spells, and increases the benefits of training at some schools. Learning skill can be increased by "learning to learn" from masters of the art.

    Dexterity can allow a person to do more than one thing in one combat turn. With dexterity over 50, three actions are sometimes possible. Current and maximum dexterity can be increased in the same way as strength and agility.
    Gonshi mushrooms provide an enormous, but temporary, boost in dexterity.

    Speed determines how long it takes to travel through the lands of Deruvia on foot. Maximum speed can be increased like maximum stamina. Current speed is the maximum when traveling in the daylight, with plenty of energy, on a well-maintained highway. Otherwise, it's lower.

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  30. Continued from above:

    Both illness and poisoning are very debilitating, effectively reducing maximum stamina and energy by one-half, and impairing concentration. During combat, he may be temporarily Paralyzed by an opponent's spell. Paralysis can be cured by magic, by the passage of time, by victory, or by death. If he runs low on energy, he may become Tired or even Exhausted. Tired people move more slowly and can do fewer things. Exhausted people can do nothing but sleep. Dwarves tire at an energy level of 25, the race of man at 20, elves and wizards at 15, and halflings at 12. Finally, he will become Hungry or Starving if he does not eat enough food. Hunger prevents sleep. Starvation prevents everything else, as well.

    You can get gold by looting the Minions and Strongholds of Darkness, by trading in jewels, by gambling, or even by working for wages.
    A brom bow costs hundreds of coins, and a spell book costs well over a thousand. One person can carry no more than 9,999 coins

    HUNT for food in the wilderness during a rest period. some campsites are better suited for hunting than others. Forests are good. Icefields, deserts and highways are bad.

    INSPECT something that looks interesting--a sign on a wall or on a signpost, for example. Or a mushroom patch, in order to harvest those magical little fungi. Of course, the people you meet should be greeted instead of inspected--it's very rude to stare.

    Bows do half wielders STR in damage.
    Elves do +5 damage with bows

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for all of this! I set myself a reminder to read it all again after another 10 or 12 hours of gameplay, when certain tips will make a little more sense.

      Delete
  31. I thought it was pretty stupid that I couldn’t trade armor or weapons amongst my guys either. That seems like a flaw in the system. It allows you to trade ANYTHING else, including arrows, but not weapons or armor. Strange. It’s also strange, in a good way, that Wizards can fight with short swords and wear any armor (I think). Elfun regularly hits for 10 points of damage in battle and his sword skill is improving. That's pretty cool. It was the same way in Demon’s Winter. Nice touch.

    I found a mushroom patch while exploring and it permanently changed that space on the map. That’s a nice feature. I didn't pick all of the mushrooms because I assume with time they replenish if some are left? I also had to use a rope to get over a chasm… that was a cool little screen shot.

    Is there a way to get your energy up past 49 when camping? I bought blankets thinking that would help, but nope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could see the reason for not trading armor being having them sized for individuals, but then you should not be able to use the found armor either.

      Delete
    2. You know, that's always slightly bothered me about CRPGs: How I can finish killing a orc barbarian, strip off his chainmail,and stick it on my halfling thief. I don't think that's what The Magic Candle had in mind, though. I think they just didn't build the interface.

      Delete
    3. In D&D it is explicitly stated that magic armour will automatically resize itself to the wearer.

      Delete
    4. Sure for the magic stuff, so what about the plain old greaves I found on an elf and slapped on my halfling, I would rather doubt the legs are the same size.

      Of course this is just a bit of hand waving to move things along and not get bogged down in minutia. Except reading about Magic candle, it seams like part of the design philosophy was to handle these kinds of minutia, so if any game should restrict armor based on it needing to fit I would expect it in this one.

      Also historically I doubt it was as black and white as we are discussing. I am sure many people wore armor that didn't fit exactly right in many a prolonged campaign. I'd be comfortable with a gamey way of saying you get a slight negative when using armor that does not fit, but you could still use it. In fact I may just try that out next time I run a game.

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    5. It depends on the type of armour; I don't think you CAN wear someone elses plate without modification, but you could wear someone elses chain shirt.

      Dwarf Fortress has armour sizes, but only two of them (Large and normal).

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    6. I've used a running joke that any armor can be resized as long as it was crafted with a complicated system of straps that allow for proper adjustment.

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  32. For those that don't check G0G regularly, or get the notices, they're having a 9 game deal on D&D isometric games (Baldur's Gate 1 & 2, Icewindale 1 & 2, Neverwinter Nights, Planescape: Tormnet, and others). You can get them all for $30.

    Also, FTL was released today. It's a Kickstarter funded space simulation strategy game that uses a randomized galaxy to explore each time.

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    1. I wonder if this is indeed a 'rogue-like', because many on GOG are calling it that.

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    2. I failed to gather that same impression from the images and description, which is why I refrained from that label.

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    3. No, it's not a roguelike *at all*. People calling it a roguelike probably haven't even played the game :D

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    4. Reading the reviews it's been noted "Strange Adventures in Infinite Space" is probably better comparison with increased crew / ship management, with "roguelike" comparison coming from randomly created universe on every game. But still, if it's good game, at that price, I don't see any trouble adding it to backlog of games awaiting to be played.

      And speaking of SAIS... It seems to be freeware nowadays (or years, haven't even thought about that game for aeons), with loads of mods and added content.

      http://www.digital-eel.com/sais/buy.htm

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    5. You can lose.

      It has random levels, and encounters.

      Other than that it is not all that much of a roguelike, but that word has been evolving in recent years to be something that evokes the same kind of feeling you get when playing a roguelike, the feeling of tension and exploration. I think it captures the Roguefeel very well.

      Yet if we start calling these things roguefeels it sounds bad, like something that happens in the dark alley behind the bar.

      Delete
  33. Coincidentally with GOG's sale, Obsidian has finally launched their Kickstarter today, Project Eternity.

    "Project Eternity will take the central hero, memorable companions and the epic exploration of Baldur’s Gate, add in the fun, intense combat and dungeon diving of Icewind Dale, and tie it all together with the emotional writing and mature thematic exploration of Planescape: Torment."

    They ask for $1,1 million, and at the time of writing this, pledges are over $520,000 already. Thought you guys may be interested... :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Now over $700K... Counter is actually ticking up while writing. Yep, quite sure that this will be funded.

      Somehow I'd still hope they'd be planning pm something more ambitious theme than fantasy, but still - here, take my money.

      Delete
    2. Just checked the kickstarter site and it has ALREADY reached the goal!

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    3. Waiting to see if they reach the linux stretch goal before I contribute.

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    4. 1.45 million as of now. I see no reason why they shouldn't reach 3, maybe 4 million.

      The 2.2 million stretch goal is much more important regarding the content of the game, IMO; a Linux port shouldn't be much of a hassle and it should've been put in an earlier stretch goal. Hell, the Linux community has been striving towards being as friendly as possible towards software, especially games, originally released for Windows. I love Wine. The beverage and the Windows compatibility layer for Linux OSs (not to mention Mac OSX too).

      I wonder if they're really considering going DRM-free if they go beyond the 2.4 million mark. I don't care what anybody says, I think DRM-free media is where we'll eventually get despite the fears and tribulations of major publishers.

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    5. Regarding Wine I may buy something if it is known to work well within it, but I wont kickstart a windows game on the hopes that it will work with Wine.

      DRM though is a push by publishers and kickstarter removes them from the equation. Should these initial kickstarter projects succeed in the realm of public opinion you will see publishers react. Initially with fear mongering and lobbying to try and prevent kickstarter (and the like) and eventually the smart ones will change some behaviors in order to compete.

      Delete
    6. Thanks to your mention of it, I dropped $15 on it, plus another $20 to Sealark, which looks awesome

      Delete
  34. Hi, I played Magic Candle back when it was new, and have played it sporadically over the years. This is the kind of game that easily lends itself to being restarted from the beginning to try multiple strategies. Having restarted it a lot over the years I have developed an optimal strategy to "get going" in terms of forming a party and getting it to a point where you can choose what you want to do and in what order you want to do it.

    This contains SPOILERS (for the beginning of the game only - first 50 days - though) so stop reading if you don't want to have anything spoiled. Note: The sum of the pre-knowledge you actually need to pull this off is simply knowing where to get an Ishban at Lymeric, so this is a pretty legit strategy and you can duplicate it in a fully legit way simply by sailing to Shendy and back to Port Avur, wasting a number of days and chunk of coin in the process. I'm going to avoid some logistical steps (e.g. splitting food, buying supplies) for brevity's sake.

    At game start - form your initial "combat" party: the two dwarves, the elf ranger, Ziyx and any other (Rexor, Nazim). Go back to the king and accept your gift, pool all money with Lukas. Go back to the hall and get Eflun in your party long enough to cast shield spells on Lukas, Sakar, and Ziyx. Now swap the other three party members for a metalsmith, gemcutter, and tailor. Set Ziyx to memorizing Fear spells in the Castle rest room and the other 5 head to Port Avur. Avoid combats if you can (use Flee command when moving in open), if you need to fight one on the way it should be pretty easy.

    You should hit Port Avur before it closes for the day. Set your workers at their respective jobs, order steel plate, then get a scimitar, a brom bow, and arrows for Lukas. Lukas and Sakar should then head east to the bridge, where you can fight several wandering groups as well (fighting ON bridge gets you extra money from corpses). Grab gonshis from patch north of bridge. Wander road towards Phaleng and find a dwarf selling gems. Buy all gems and head back to Port Avur (your armor should be ready, so you've had 5 days to do the above). Grab money from the workers too while you're there; leave them at their jobs.

    (... continued)

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    1. In future I recommend ROT13 for spoilers.

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    2. This would indeed be a legitimate way to start the game at an advantage. As you can see from my "Wax On, Wax Off" posting, I turned to this strategy after starting in a more traditional manner first.

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  35. Keep the love alive. I'm replaying it now, after an absence of some.. 15 years?
    Once when I was stuck, I emailed the legendary Scorpia out of desperation. She didn't give me an exact location of a chute/dig site I was looking for, but she said she vaguely remembered "searching in the south" of the dungeon. That gave me the confidence to continue =]

    ReplyDelete

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