Sunday, October 7, 2012

Magic Candle: On the Water

Well, this sucks.

You'd think after hundreds of games, I'd be a fairly savvy CRPG player, but every once in a while, I do something so bafflingly stupid, it's hard to imagine how I successfully start the game each time. This one tops even the time that I had to burn my Ultima V party to death to escape Lord British's chambers.

Check out the screen shot above. My party is in the middle of a river, and Eflun has just run out of "Walkwater" spells. Thus lacking, I can't move an inch. After I realized my predicament and swore, I decided I'd better kill the game and restart. But in an epically bad force-of-habit moment, I saved the freaking game before quitting.

"Surely you've been using multiple save game files this whole time," you say, confusing me with someone who's not a drooling imbecile. No, my last other save game file is more than 20 hours ago, before I even found the Zirvanad, before I awakened the gods in Crezimas and Khazan and got nice boosts in statistics, before a lot of things.

Yeah.

Am I missing some way off this river? "Teleport" doesn't work in dungeons. I can't camp to memorize more spells. None of the characters can touch land. Please, someone tell me some obvious solution that I've overlooked.

While we're thinking of that, let me catch you up.

An amusing moment in Crezimas. Fortunately, I had a shovel and used it to find a nice cache of jewels.

When we were last together, I was exploring the dungeon of Crezimas on the far side of the continent. It took forever to clear, partly because I ran out of arrows and had no idea where to get more--although the mushroom problem was solved with a plentiful number inside the dungeon itself. When I finished, I was rewarded with some Crystal Dust from the queen. Please remember that the meth epidemic had not visited the U.S. in 1989.

Within the dungeon, I found a teleportal combination to return to Pheron (the starting area, with the Royal Castle), which I used. Essentially back at the beginning, I had a decent grocery list of things to find for the ritual, and a few clues where to find them:

  • Ritual of Awareness: Said to be in the book called Zilmaeron in the Tower of Ruhan on the Sunken Isle. To raise the Sunken Isle, I have to pull three levers all at once. One is in Darvale.
  • White Amulet of Light: No clues.
  • Green Ring of Order: Kept by the Last Unicorn on the island Heavenly. Need to learn Sherro's High Call from an elf to summon it.
  • Blue Ring of Power: Said to be in the tower of Thakass on Wizard's Isle, far to the northeast.
  • Bubble of Captivity: No idea.
  • Elven Dream Dust: No idea.
  • Three Words of Will: On obelisks. I've found one; there's another at Vo.
  • Shir-Aka Ash: Kept by the wizards of Shiran

This is going to involve some party-splitting.

Rather than try to check these off methodically, I decided to engage in some free-form exploration and work my way around the land more-or-less counterclockwise, picking up clues as I went. I began by re-visiting Keof, Bondell, and Delkona and had planned to go to the Isle of Giants after Khazan (where I'm currently stuck).

Bribing my way into Delkona.

Delkona was a city in lockdown because of rumors of enemy spies. I was able to bribe my way in. The source of the enemy threat wasn't hard to find: a multi-level tower in the middle of town. I fought my way to the top, killed everyone, and got a 15 point boost to my charisma for this town only.

If my halfling didn't already have 99 charisma, this might be useful.

It's not a long report, and I'm afraid things are going to be like this for a while. I've already told you about all the gameplay elements, so all that's left is to talk about the plot, but the game is so slow going that I can summarize the major plot elements from 20 hours of gameplay in about three paragraphs.

Large battles with multiple magic-users take a long time and sap arrows, spells, and mushrooms.
 
Frankly getting sick of all of the battles. I have a strong sense of not accomplishing much with them. Most of my characters are maxed in their combat skills, and the game doesn't otherwise award experience. Gold collected from slain foes is paltry unless they're guarding a chest full of gems.

But all of these concerns fade to nothing if I can't get off this damned river. The idea of starting over to a pre-Zirvanad state is heartbreaking.

46 comments:

  1. What a maroon...
    I can't think of anything to do, except maybe hex editing the save game. But who among us can be a geek enough to know what to edit?

    Your comment about excessive combat reminds me of my own experience. I needed to take a break halfway through the game.


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  2. Just make a save where you have eg. 13 walkwaters, then find all byte positions with 13 in them with a hex editor. Then cast one walkwater, make a new save, and look for the one 13-site that now has a 12 in it.

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  3. Andrew Schultz's GameFAQ has a hex editing section: http://www.gamefaqs.com/pc/564815-the-magic-candle/faqs/22567

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  4. Yeah, hex editing is the obvious solution, but I don't like to succumb to cheating that way.

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  5. I've found this "trainer" for "Magic Candle". I don't know if it has an option to give you additional spells, but it's worth a try. Just remember to back up your files before changing anything.

    http://jasons.wumple.com/Interests/Gaming/MagicCandle/files/mc1/mc1cheat.zip

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  6. The gamefaqs document is unfortunately for the C-64 version. The PC uses a different data scheme.

    I did some quick experiments with the PC version in dosbox. There's some extra obfuscation going on and having 12 of a spell doesn't correspond to a 0x0C in the hex file. I still managed to identify a byte that dropped by one between save files before and after casting a spell with a diffing hex editor, and tweaking the byte gave me extra spells.

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  7. If there's no in-game way to do this, I came up with a solution involving the "Restore Previous Versions" function in Windows 7. I have a restore point for my primary save game file from a couple of days ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You might want to start taking Windows checkpoints after each gaming session and keep, say, three revisions at a time. This could take up a good deal of space and time, depending on your system.

      Delete
    2. I've offered to help you set up a version control system in the past. The offer still stands. Then you'd have a log of all your saves, the same way software programmers do.

      I use it for all my essays and such, as it links into backup services really easily.

      Delete
    3. I appreciate it, CG, but that seems like a $6 million solution for a $50 problem. I mean, I could just write a quick backup batch file.

      Delete
  8. Nothing to contribute to your problem, I'm afraid. Just wanted to say: few things cheer up a day more than seeing a new post in the CRPG Addict feed!

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  9. Perhaps you should take a day or two to play Nethack instead while thinking on what to do with Magic Candle.

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  10. That's harsh but hilarious!

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  11. Exactly the sort of thing I've done in the past, usually where the "quick-save" button is too close to the "quick-load" button (or similar). Then of course realising that I haven't made a "proper" save file for a while.

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    Replies
    1. That's why I always remap the quicksave and quickload keys asap :)

      Lord Hienmitey

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  12. Ouch. Sympathies, man. Don't know what to say. I've been playing Might and Magic III lately, and it has a neat little feature where, if you get hopelessly stuck, you can summon Mr. Wizard to teleport you back to the first town, at the price of losing all your gems. Maybe The Magic Candle has a similar feature? I mention because it's the kind of thing that tends to be filed away in a gamer's mind and subsequently forgotten about. Or -- sorry, haven't been following the game too closely -- can you suicide and rez in town, or is full party death game over? Maybe poison yourselves to death or something?

    Other than that... well, as others have said, it's either Hex edit or replay the lost time. If it comes to the latter, I'm with the guy who said to shelve it for a bit and play NetHack. Clearing your mind a bit sometimes makes the replay more tolerable.

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    1. You just reminded me that I haven't covered what happens with full-party death. I'll get to that in a future posting.

      I don't want to take a NetHack break, though. I'm afraid I'll forget half of what I'm doing in The Magic Candle. Much of what I did over the last week was talking to people, so if I play from the restore point, I can just use my notes on the conversations and progress right to the stuff I have to do to advance the plot.

      Delete
  13. We have all been there at one time or another, and playing experience is no sure safeguard for this. Experience may even be a hindrance because it will lead to the formation of habitual behaviour. Habitual behaviour is "lazy" (=economical investment of energy) by definition and will lead to what we neuropsychologists call executive capture errors, not unlike the one you made.
    The restore point sounds like your best option outside of hex editing. This game does not lend it self that well to starting over I surmise by your comments, so better not do that then!
    Slam23

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  14. I've always tended to consider the possibility of entering such a situation a flaw in game-design. I'm curious: according to the logic of the game, what happens to your characters now? They eventually starve to death? The quest's time limit expires? Can they drown?

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    Replies
    1. Oddly, they can't drown. You'd think if "Walk Water" runs out, your characters would just sink. But no, they're apparently standing on something, just unable to move any further.

      You also can't starve "to death" in the game; starvation just lowers energy and prevents them from sleeping (which I can't do here anyway). So really the only way to continue with this party is to pass time until the quest timer expires and Dreax conquers the world.

      Delete
    2. I love it as an existential one-act play setup. Stranded adventurers kill time until their quest time limit expires.

      Delete
    3. @Helm: "No Mana, No Exit", by Jean Paul Bougie.

      @Addict: I say hex it. Justified because you're in this situation due to questionable game design and a technical, not-in-game-world error on your part. Also, the hex editing itself will be a fun puzzle that you could consider a part of the nerdy challenge of the game :-)

      Delete
    4. Caption: While splashing their way across the beautiful subterranean brook, the adventurers are suddenly overcome by zen.

      Delete
    5. Awesome reference, Max.

      I restored an older version and have already gotten past the water point. I'm glad I remembered that feature of Windows 7.

      Delete
  15. This isn't one of those games where you can pick up dead party members, is it? Maybe you could knife the hobbit, pick him up, and try to drop him somewhere across the water?

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, no. There isn't even anyway to kill yourself short of standing still in combat.

      Delete
  16. cant you move that green halfling diagonally?

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    Replies
    1. Only the monsters can move diagonally. The player characters are diagonally challenged.

      Delete
  17. Hey Addict... this could help with your dilemma. it's a save game editor for MC 1 (have never used it) but the description says you can edit your Inventory (perhaps add some waterwalk spells?)

    http://jasons.wumple.com/Interests/Gaming/MagicCandle/files/mc1/mc1cheat.zip


    -Atom

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Atom. But I solved it by using Windows 7's feature to restore earlier versions of files. I caught up and have moved forward. New posting tomorrow, probably.

      Delete
  18. All I can unhelpfully provide beyond echoing suggestions to cheat in some manner is, "lol."

    I don't think you're a moron though, I think everyone who plays these sorts of games does something similar now and again. Just yesterday I had a total party wipe in another game due to being put asleep after steamrolling everything for a few hours without saving.

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  19. Thank god for OS level file backups/versioning eh!

    I bet there's a tool out there that can watch for files to be changed and auto-create a backup of each new version.

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  20. Good to hear you managed to solve your problem and are moving on again.

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  21. I did a really boneheaded mistake this Saturday when I participated in a competition, so as far as stupid mistakes goes we're more than even. Life must go on, although sometimes I rage quit games when they do something like this. At least your characters should drown or something, if you're surrounded by water and unable to do anything about it, it doesn't make any sense that you can just stand there treading water. Maybe some day in the future a tourist bus enters that same dungeon, and then the narrator/tourist guide in front of the bus will announce in the speaker: "And on our left side we got a fool who forgot to memorize enough walk water spells before he entered the dungeon."

    I wonder what the last game is that still allows players to get stuck due to a game play mechanic.

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    Replies
    1. Well, I managed to get myself stuck between plenty of rocks in Skyrim, unable to fast travel because some enemy was nearby.

      Delete
    2. Wow, Skyrim, I thought this kind of thing was a thing of the past.

      Delete
  22. Physically stuck due to a non-bug/graphical glitch?

    I just played a game of 'Faster Than Light', a space rogue-like released last month where my ship was immobile and oxygen depleted and the only way my remaining crew member could survive was by remaining in the med-bay as it healed at the same rate that suffocation damaged me. I could wait indefinitely or leave the med-bay and die.

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    1. Decades ago I played Wizardry: Bane of the Cosmic Forge on my Amiga. I had reached the Pyramid and stepped right into a massive Fireball spell severly reducing my party. I then saved the game and exited. Next day I loaded up the game and the first thing that happened was setting off the fireball trap AGAIN, this time killing the entire party.
      Isn't it fun when you only have ONE save slot and when the game doesn't track the fact that you already triggered that trap?

      Delete
  23. One memorable time I got stuck was in Wild Arms 2. I dropped down into a secret passage, entered a door, and saved. Like you I only had one save game at the time. There was a riddle of some sort that I couldn't figure out, so I was stuck with no way out. It was either start all over, or look up a walk through to see how to get out. I just stopped playing at that point. Next time I pick it up, I hope to avoid that situation, but also overcome the riddle. I still haven't looked up the solution.

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  24. It's not really cheating to me to edit the game file to get you off the river. Glad you had the backup from a couple days ago though.

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  25. This reminds me of a fairly well-known Moria story I saw repeated around the Usenet boards ages ago.

    A guy posed his problem: "I'm 2500' down, and I mistakenly put on an unidentified helm. It turned out to be a Helm of Blindness. I know the Balrog is on the floor. What do I do?"

    To which the first response was: "Curl up and die?"

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    Replies
    1. Jeez, that was harsh. He could have started attacking blindly.

      Delete
  26. In terms of "stupid RPG mistakes", a friend of mine while playing "Diablo" back in the days, has saved his game a moment before being killed by the enemy. As you might imagine every "load" he attempted after that was met with immediate kill. And just to remind you, the game allowed only one save state...

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  27. Love these stories of doing stupid stuff in RPGs... You should make a "Special Interest" post out of this, or whatever you call it, Addict!

    My little story in this respect was with Rogue. I once was on level 18 or so. I had a shiny Two-Handed Sword +3 -- I never had one before or after. Then, I hit a wrong key and THREW MY MAGIC SWORD at a griffin, doing 1 damage and losing the sword. I'll never forget this moment...

    --General Error

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    1. Playing Fallout:Tactics on Ironman mode and forgetting one of your party members is equipped with an automatic shotgun on burst mode and set to fire whenever he has a 33% chance of hitting an enemy.

      He spots an enemy and unleashes hell! Nevermind the four party members between him and his target that he has just blown into bite size chunks.

      Delete

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