Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Land: Final Rating

As far as I got. That's Lord foul in the vanguard of the enemies.

The Land 
Riley Computer Services
Mike Riley
Released in multiple versions between 1985 and 2009
Date Started: 16 June 2013
Date Ended: 25 June 2013
Total Hours: 14
Difficulty: Hard (4/5)
Final Rating: 32
Ranking at Time of Posting: 52/99 (53%)

I'm giving up on The Land until some more information comes along. It's annoying because I'm on the threshold of victory.

When I last blogged, I was hunting around for the Sixth Ward of Kevin's Lore. I finally found it, returned to Lord Morham, and got a quest to find the "Krill of Loric Vilesilencer." (Is this a character in the books? Does he silence people in vile way, or does he silence vile people?) I was looking forward to tracking down a collection of small crustaceans, but the Krill turned out to be a weapon of some sort.

While searching for lore on the Krill (the library didn't have any), I ran into Thomas Covenant in Revelwood, and this time he agreed to join me. "NOW we'll kick some ass," I thought, before I found that Tom's default response to any combat is to run away screaming the moment we enter. (His default action was set to "evade" and the game wouldn't let me change it.) Nonetheless, I kept him with me because I'd received clues that I need either the Talisman of Earthpower or Wild Magic to defeat Lord Foul, and other lore told me that Covenant, the "bearer of white gold," was the only one who could use Wild Magic.

"T-Cov" joins the group. That 5000 mana never did us much good.

The Krill turned out to be in a hidden dungeon exactly one step from Revelstone, and obtaining it wasn't too hard. I returned with it to Morham and got the quest to get the Seventh Ward. To find it, I had to summon someone named Amok using the Krill. It took me a while messing around with various words to figure out the right combination to do this. Once I finally had him there, he told me where it was and bade me summon him again once I reached its barrier. The weird thing is that after I summoned him, every NPC in the dungeons was flagged as Amok.

We're there! Can't you see it just to the south?

The moment I laid hands on the Seventh Ward, it gave me a selection of a series of wishes, including power, wealth, knowledge, and other items. The last two options were "Give me the Talisman of Earthpower" and "Destroy Lord Foul." I figured since destroying Lord Foul was my ultimate mission, I chose that. Well, the Ward didn't actually destroy him; it just warped me to his dungeon and left the job to me.

I do wonder what would have happened if I'd chosen some of the other options. Note that the last option definitely says "Destroy Lord Foul," not "Take me to destroy Lord Foul."

It was in the final dungeon--"Foul's Creche"--that the game utterly slaughtered me. The previous dungeons had served up groups of enemies that were very dangerous and difficult, but this one gave me enemies that were absolutely unkillable. I mean that literally. On every level, there seemed to be at least once group of invulnerable foes that refused to die no matter what tactics I used. I tried the Horn of Blasting for 100 consecutive uses on some of them (no enemy had ever survived more than 8 or 9 before) to no avail. I finally had to put up barricades in their paths and run to other corners of the dungeon. [Later edit: In an e-mail correspondence with Mike Riley, he confirms the invulnerable enemies, notes that they're called "Ravers," and says that I was supposed to get past them by putting up barricades. So in that sense, I guess they were an interesting addition to the game tactics.]

Foul's lair. I cannot get through the barrier to the artifact nor defeat Foul in combat.

Thus fleeing, I did finally encounter Lord Foul on the tenth level of his lair, near some artifact surrounded by a barrier that none of the commands I'd received through lore was able to dispel. Foul himself seems as impossible as some of his allies. He's capable of killing me with a single blast of his magic, no matter what type of protection I equip or cast. When I engage him in combat, Thomas Covenant doesn't flee as usual, but neither does he seem to be using any "Wild Magic." He just runs up and attacks Foul and inevitably gets killed. After Foul and his minions pick off my party one-by-one, I typically fall in a single hit. I've tried to defeat him more than 30 times with different tactics. I can't say "I never even came close" because the game doesn't show me how many hit points my foe has left, but it never feels like I came close.

Gideon hangs back while his party, led by t-shirt-clad Thomas Covenant, prepares to ineffectually deal with Lord Foul.

Before you actually engage him in combat, Foul stands in a fixed position and shoots magic, so I suppose it's possible that the goal is not to actually kill him but to get his artifact, but none of my keywords seem to break the barrier. I tried to leave the dungeon and return to towns to get more lore, but it seems there's no way to get off his peninsula once you're on it.

Gideon begins to regret that wish.

Unless someone proves otherwise (and I've been chastened when making this challenge before), I'm going to conclude that something in the game is broken and winning is not really possible. This is borne out by the fact that no one online seems to have won it. Even "Baltirow," the writer of the otherwise-thorough FAQ/walkthrough that accompanies the game (a document I didn't consult until I was thoroughly stuck) admits that he never completed the last three dungeons. This is obvious because there's some patently wrong information about them (though this may have been due to a version change). I created the only YouTube video I can find, and if anyone's done an LP or claimed to have won the game on a message board, it's not coming up in any of the keyword terms I use. (The game's generic title doesn't help.)

Compounding the problem is a series of bugs that seem to have affected the final dungeon. When I first arrived, I couldn't see anything and I had to go up and down a few times to get the map to appear. My "Oath" setting suddenly announces that I'm "evil" with no obvious evil actions preceding it. While trying to find a way to defeat Lord Foul at one point, the screen glitched and the game suddenly said I was dead. Trying to adjust my party members' default actions often produces a crash. I'm fed up with the bugginess of the game as much as the difficulty. 

Our hero is approached by a dungeon-destroying fuzz-monster.

But for a minor shareware game, The Land has prompted a lot of great discussion on the Covenant books, the nature of fantasy, what makes an engaging protagonist, and cheating. The developer had some interesting ideas that didn't come together well. I'm not sorry I played it, though it really wasn't meant to last this long.

In a brief GIMLET, I give the game:

  • 3 points for the game world. It's a tough call because the world of the Covenant books is obviously quite large and rich, but The Land doesn't really make any attempt to ease non-Donaldson readers into the lore of the world. The player's place in the world never really becomes clear throughout the game.
  • 4 points for character creation and development. The large selection of classes, with clear strengths and weaknesses, is one of the game's major assets. The skill system, offering a diverse array of specialties, is a good idea, though advancement should have been prompted by player choice and not random rolls. Leveling is satisfying in the hit point, spell point, skill, and attribute bonuses you receive (and you also get special items at fixed levels), and the "oath/service" system is intriguing if a little flawed.

Gaining spells upon leveling up.

  • 5 points for NPC interaction. Talking with NPCs is absolutely necessary in the game, which is unique in the way that you collect and record "lore." You can also get certain NPCs to join you and perform some limited management of their tactics in combat. My problem is that the gameplay with NPCs is a little too blunt and literal. Good NPC interaction involves asking the right questions (and often providing the right answers) to tease out the related lore; this game just has NPCs say "The Sixth Word of Power is KHABAAL" with no depth to the interactions.

Good in concept, boring in delivery.

  • 3 points for encounters and foes. The enemies in the game are drawn from the Donaldson universe and really aren't very memorable beyond their icons. They aren't well described and don't vary enough in tactics to be interesting. The only puzzles in the game involve finding the right words of power to use to dispel the barriers (which I now see are called "forbiddings"), and there are no scripted encounters or role-playing opportunities. The game provides as many grinding opportunities as you want.
  • 4 points for magic and combat. There are a number of tactical options in combat, and there are a decent selection of interesting spells for combat, protection, and navigation. A few spells seem to do nothing, but otherwise magic is useful and well-balanced. The overwhelming press of enemies means that most players won't fully explore the detailed tactics possible in the game.
  • 4 points for equipment. There are a lot of items in the games, and a lot of slots to equip them. The identification system is sensible and not too annoying, and the plus ratings, plus the consequent effects on combat and defense scores, allow you to easily rate equipment. It's annoying how rarely the word of power/artifact combinations seem to work, but perhaps this is more a matter of poor documentation (even the walkthrough writer admitted he had "no idea" how to actually use most artifacts).

Gideon's final inventory.

  • 4 points for the economy. It would actually be quite good if not for the gambling system that breaks it. Gold is always useful for items and food, and the ability to purchase lore at the library was a nice addition. It's just too bad it's so easy to raise millions.
  • 2 points for the quests. The game seems to have a main quest, but with no player options until perhaps what to do with the Seventh Ward. The quests are rote, unvarying, and ultimately boring, and it's never really clear what your overall mission is.

These got annoying and repetitive.

  • 3 points for graphics, sound, and inputs. The graphics are okay, but the unvarying tilesets in the dungeons gets boring fast. The only sound is an occasional bloop. While the keyboard commands make sense and are easy to master, too many of the interface screens are buggy, causing the game to crash or for the player to lose inventory while trying to move it around. The process for speaking certain words or using certain artifacts was  never very clear.
  • 1 point for gameplay. It rates very badly in all of my gameplay categories. It's linear, non-replayable, and too long. It goes from too easy to too hard extremely quickly, and as I said, I found the final dungeon essentially impossible. [Edit: I restored a point after getting the patched version from Mike Riley. The final dungeon is not impossible, and there are a couple of paths to the endgame, making it slightly replayable.]

You take a risk with shareware games from a single developer, and in this case the risk doesn't pay off in a way that the initial sum of scores doesn't make clear. The bugs, lack of documentation, overabundance of combats, and difficulty conspire to create a game that I cannot really recommend--a game that essentially feels unfinished--and for these reasons I feel compelled to subtract 3 points from the initial sum [edit: reduced to 2 in light of Mike's willingness to talk about the game and fix problems] to arrive at a final score of 30 [Edit: 32 with the modifications].

But as things go, this really isn't a bad score. It ties with or beats a lot of commercial games from the era. I liked it far better than Ultima II or Questron II, which featured similar interfaces. The relatively high score speaks to the sophistication and innovation of the game, and I honestly think The Land could be a good game with a few tweaks, such as limiting the dungeons to five levels, cutting the number of foes by about 2/3 (and compensating with more experience from the remaining ones), creating less expansive towns, building in more history in the documentation or in-game lore, fixing the gambling system, improving enemy and party pathfinding, and ratcheting down the difficultly level of the final dungeon.

Of the developer, Mike Riley, I can find virtually nothing. [Edit: Until, that is, he posted a comment below.] Like the name of his game, his own name is a bit too generic to be easily-searchable. He may own a bookstore in Phoenix. (MobyGames credits him on two other titles--Frogger Advance: The Great Quest (2002), and Fat Princess (2009)--but I suspect this is an example of more than one person of the same name being conflated in the database.) Someone must have been playing The Land for Mr. Riley to continue updating it for 20 years, but I can't find a shred of online evidence with the exception of the aforementioned Baltirow, the game's biggest fan, who never seems to actually have won it.

I might keep trying to kill Lord Foul on occasion as I move on--I hate breaking my winning streak--and I'd sill love to hear from anyone with any tips.

Although many of you tried to convince me otherwise, I'm going to move on to Rance for at least one posting. No one successfully defended Fire King as an RPG, so it's gone. [Later Edit: I'm still going to play Rance, but I decided to move it below Mines of Titan because I'm doing a lot of my playing this week on a hotel terrace, and I didn't want other people seeing me play a porn game.]


58 comments:

  1. Speaking of shareware titles, just checked and found out two relatively major ones that are missing from your list: WarWizard (http://www.abandonia.com/en/games/28493/WarWizard.html) and Enchantasy (http://freelicensegames.com/Enchantasy.htm, requires some hacking to bypass shareware limitations).

    You also list only the first Ultizurk, while it's a large (though somewhat primitive) series (see here: http://inspired.ultimacodex.com/the-ultizurk-series/).

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    1. Thanks! I had trouble verifying publication dates on some of these, but I did my best. MobyGames doesn't have any of them.

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  2. Not quite a hidden gem, but something of a curio nonetheless.

    It's one of several games you've reviewed that feels more like someone's programming assignment than anything resembling a commercial venture.

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    1. Not so much a programming assignment, but a prototype that wasn't as fun as they'd thought. But instead of scrapping it they made a full game anyway.

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    2. It's easy to take for granted how many tools we have nowadays with which to make such software. Obviously Mike would have had to write a lot more code back in those days.

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    3. Maybe I was too harsh, but what I mean is that instead of going along for several years writing a game that isn't fun, they could look at the game design to try to make it fun. Even if you had to write most code yourself in those days, you often reused that code in several projects.

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  3. As far as I know, the first Rance (and the subsequent chapters as well) is JAP-only (unless a translation patch exists, haven't checked yet) so you may want to skip that one as well.

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    1. There are English patches for Rance 1, Rance 2 and Sengoku Rance with partially completed patches for most of the rest.

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    2. JAP-only? Whoa whoa whoa, who let the racist in here?!?!? What's next, slap the Jap right off the map?

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    3. JAP is not a racist term in this context; it, along with EU and USA, are common abbreviations to describe the original market of a particular videogame. It's mostly used to describe 8 or 16-bit cartridges or associated rom files.

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    4. I like to think this is the same guy arguing with himself, but either way, I agree with the second one: in this context, it's clearly not meant to disparage.

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    5. Clearly! It's not as if he wrote "jap only" :D

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    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    7. I don't see how a rather natural abbreviation is disparaging anyway.

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    8. I know he wasn't being disparaging but Japan's abbreviation is actually JPN not JAP for that very reason. Surely you caught the JPN vs MEX match last week right ;)?

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  4. If your NPC doesn't want to do anything with wild magic, it seems like you make have just trapped yourself by not taking the amulet of earthpower.

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    1. I would prefer to say that the game trapped me. It's not like it was such a dumb choice that I deserve to be trapped with no exit and no way to win.

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  5. "If your command is withen (sic) the Earthpowers (sic) capability, it shall be granted. But beware, Not all commands may turn out the way you expect."

    Call it a wild hunch, but I don't think you were supposed to choose "Destroy Lord Foul" there. I mean, if that is your ultimate goal, can you imagine being able to finish the game without actually having confronted your final foe, just because a McGuffin-thingie from an earlier quest allows you to kill him? To me, that sounds just opposite to any kind of 'game logic'. You also mentioned that you have gathered information about needing the Amulet of Earthpower, so that seems the most sensible choice to make at that point. Maybe if you return with it to the quest-giver its true purpose will be revealed (maybe it's the key to break that last "Forbidding" barrier?).

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    1. Well, the game said I needed EITHER the Talisman or Thomas Covenant, and I had Thomas Covenant, so I figured I'd give it a try. And I didn't expect to get whisked to an area of the game from which I couldn't return; otherwise, I'd go back to Lord Morham and see what he has to say.

      You never know about these things. Ever since one of the NWN games allowed me to defeat the final boss by just ordering him to kill himself, I've been on the lookout for this kind of ending. And it's not like I didn't have to fight pretty tough combats to even get to the Seventh Ward. I thought maybe one of them could be the "final" one.

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  6. Pity the game isn't better than it is.

    Minor spoiler from the books, possibly relevant to the ending of the game: There is no combat with Foul in the books. I don't know if this has in any way influenced the way to win the game, but in the books it's mostly some kind of psychological "game" almost. Covenant having to realize something, or activating his wild magic in some way. Frankly I have fuzzy memories of the endings of the various books - I don't think I ever quite "got" them. I don't remember what role the amulet of earthpower (if there is one) plays in the books. But there are several times where Covenant's wild magic is triggered by contact between his ring and magical artifacts of the Land, so you might need both for the conclusion of the game.

    Some more spoilerific: Va snpg gur svefg gevybtl Pbiranag rkcyvpvg fnlf gung ur jba'g xvyy Ybeq Sbhy, nf Sbhy nyjnlf ergheaf fgebatre guna orsber jura gurl nggrzcg gb xvyy uvz. Vafgrnq ur nfxf uvf pbzcnavbaf gb ynhtu - sbe gur wbl bs ynhtuvat. Be fbzrguvat yvxr gung. V fxvzzrq gur raq ntnva. Guvf pnhfrf Sbhy gb qvzvavfu naq svanyyl qvfnccrne.

    But anyway, what I'm thinking is that confronting Foul in combat might be a red herring, so to speak. If you can reload and try some of the other options (e.g. the amulet) with the seventh ward, that might be worth doing.

    I find it interesting, but understandable, how many items in the game appear to be more inspired by D&D than anything else.

    Loric Vilesilencer: Some old high lord. I imagine his name refers to having fought/silenced evil - kinda like how Foul and evil in general is referenced as "Despite" in the books. His krill is an enchanted sword. The nature of its power was unknown to the lords until Covenant somehow reawakened it - presumably by the wild magic in his white gold ring.

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    1. Some background from the books; it may help clarify Equlan's post.

      The creation myth in the Land tells of a Creator, who set out to create a perfect world. He started by creating the Arch of Time for the world to exist in, and then labored, building oceans, continents, plants and creatures. After taking a step back to review his work, he saw not just flaws, but artifacts of great evil as well, placed by Lord Foul. They leave it unclear if Lord Foul is the brother of the Creator (Creation and Destruction paired), or a dark part of his own being.

      In his anger at the despoilment of his perfect world, he grapples with Lord Foul and ends up throwing him down into the world. Foul is trapped within the Land, bound by the Arch of Time, unable to escape.

      Think of the Arch of Time as causality- the universe exists as a chain of cause and effect, the flow forward of time. Divine intervention would be an effect without a preceding cause, interrupting and potentially destroying the flow of time.

      In his anger and rage, he acts to try to despoil what is good and to escape, by causing the end of the world.

      The Creator is unable to intervene in the world, if he reached in to act it would destroy the Arch of Time and set Foul free to rampage across whatever wider universe there is. But Foul is free to despoil and destroy within the world without outside restriction.


      Most importantly, Lord Foul originates from outside of the world; he will live on even when the world ends. Since he is not a part of the world and Earth, he cannot be effected by Earthpower or any other natural force. He is effectively immortal, at most he has been reduced in power and influence, unable to act until he recovers over thousands of years.

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    2. This is probably an extremely long way around to say the wish from the Blood of the Earth won't directly help (the outcomes of any wish could have far reaching consequences or not work the way that was intended), and that the solution has to rely on Thomas Covenant. And that relying on Covenant will probably be time-consuming, difficult, and require setting up the final confrontation perfectly.

      If the game is a good reflection of the books, your first goal should be to destroy the evil Artifact of power that Lord Foul has been utilizing- the Ill-Earth Stone. It sounds like that was blocked off by a barrier you were unable to breach; I think that may be the key.

      And now that you have Thomas Covenant in your party, I would think there may be some other NPCs you could recruit now that couldn't be found previously. Have you run across a Giant named Saltheart Foamfollower? Or try taking Covenant to the Plains of Ra (where the Ramen have their home, and the location of the mythical horses)?

      Lord Foul's keep should be on the far East coast of the Land on a narrow penninsula. No idea if it will let you just walk over there and try entering through the front door.

      -----------
      The starting plot of the book is then how to break the stalemate between the Creator(bound by Law's he put into place, but not bound by Time) and Lord Foul (bound by Time, but free to destroy and break natual the natural order within the confines of Time).

      Lord Foul works out and exploits a loophole, and gets a third party to summon someone from outside the world - Thomas Covenant. The Creator can't stop the summoning from happenning, as it is done using Earthpower, but he can guide who gets chosen. But he still cannot intervene fully- if nothing else, once Thomas Covenant is inside the Land, he can do nothing to help or hinder him, or influence his decisions in any way; while Lord Foul is free to maniuplate him any way he wishes while inside.

      The second crux, is Thomas Covenant comes bearing the potential of Wild Magic. He comes from outside of Time as well- that leaves him free to act in ways people from inside the Land are unable to do or would never have thought of.

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    3. Wow. Lots of potentially-good information here, but I'm guessing that in the books, Covenant doesn't join the party of a hero named "Gideon," so already we have a pretty significant departure. Nonetheless, I agree that the solution probably lies in dispelling the barrier around the artifact--the Ill-Earth thing--and using it somehow. Unfortunately, without more information, I don't know how to do that. Baltirow's walkthrough doesn't include the word of power necessary for this task among his accounting of the game's lore.

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    4. Hmm. In the books there were two phrases often tossed around by the Lords when dealing with powers of darkness. The first was "Melenkurion abatha!" and the second was an extension to it: "Melenkurion abatha! Duroc minas mill khabaal!" (They were almost always said with the exclamation marks.) There is an implication that several of those are words of power, and "Melenkurion" certainly is.

      (Also, "mil" is used in a different context involving words of power; it's not clear if that was a typo or not.)

      As far as the bugs were you playing a version prior to 5.01? As Mike commented on the RogueBasin page (see comment below) version 5.01 was never publically released and contains several bug fixes. (But is available from that link.)

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    5. These are actually all used as words of power in the game at various points, but they don't work, unfortunately, in the final dungeon.

      I'm actually playing 5.0.1. I've written to Mike Riley to clear it up, but my hypothesis is that the article on RogueBasin is old, and he actually did release 5.0.1 in 2009. Which means I need to update my posting above.

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    6. "I find it interesting, but understandable, how many items in the game appear to be more inspired by D&D than anything else."

      This is very true. When I wrote this game I had been playing D&D for about 8 years and was still playing it long after this game was written, so yes, D&D had a huge influence on this game.

      In fact, the game I wrote after this one "Quest for the Unicorn" is based upon the world I had created for my D&D campaigns.

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  7. Loric Vilesilencer was Kevin's father; the term "vile" in his title might be specifically a reference to the race Viles, although it was actually the Demondim (created by the Viles) that Loric "silenced". The Demondim in turn had created the Waynhim and the Ur-Viles before Loric somehow stopped them from being able to create more.

    The Krill is either a large dagger or a shortsword; my lingering memory (particularly the way Covenant slams it into a table at one point) is that the descriptions were more compatible with the dagger side of things, but I'm too lazy to look that up.

    I echo the suggestions of others that attempting to use the seventh ward to destroy Lord Foul is likely not the correct way to proceed. That is tried in the books and it turns out very badly; it's also arguably inherently impossible from the mythology (as Kellandros provided). Then again, Earthpower should likewise not be of much use against him. *shrugs*

    As far as Mike Riley goes, RogueBasin's entry for The Land ( http://roguebasin.roguelikedevelopment.org/index.php?title=The_Land ) mentions an official website that turns out to be just a download link. Modifying that link, however, leads to this webpage: http://www.elf-emulation.com/ which has an email contact address for him at the very bottom. (And also a link to Quest for the Unicorn, which is unmistakeably by the same author.)

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    1. Furthermore, a whois lookup of http://www.elf-emulation.com/ gives you more contact information of Mike. I'll not post the output here.

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    2. Nice find, that is unquestionably "the" Mike Riley. It would be interesting to have him comment on The Land.

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    3. Good sleuthing. I have written to both Mr. Riley and Mr. Baltirow asking for advice and inviting them to comment on the postings.

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    4. Also, useful info! My Elrond 2000 broke last month, this emulator might just do the trick.

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    5. Mike Riley wrote back almost immediately, cleared up a lot about the game, and offered to analyze my save file. I'm sure I'll end up doing one more posting on it. Great guy.

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    6. Sweet, the game might not be good. But it's still impressive as a labor of love I think.

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  8. Is it possible that for the word of power required to be discovered, we might need to hex edit our way into the game's source files? Gotta imagine someone had the technical knowhow/patience.

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    1. Mike Riley is looking at my saved game right now, so perhaps we'll have the answer soon.

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  9. Well, I do not think I have ever seen so much written about my game! Admittedly there are a lot of problems still in it. In my own defense, this game was my very first major programming project and was also the project that I had used to learn Turbo Pascal, as such it is full of bad programming practice and therefore some major issues.

    Over the years as they have been reported to me I have fixed many of the bugs (Try playing 1.9 or 2.3 and you will see just how much better this version is). And as this is my first major project I do have a soft spot in my heart for it and will continue to improve it.

    I have also heavily considered porting the dataset to my much newer (and more stable) "unicorn" engine (Which Quest for the Unicorn uses).

    For some historical interest, this game was developed on a Tandy-1000 computer with 2 floppy drives, no hard drive. As such much of the design decisions were made so that it could be developed and played on a system with just 2 floppy drives.

    Again, thanks for so much attention to this old game, surprises the heck out of me!

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    1. Hi, Mike. Looks like you were posting this comment just as I was responding to your e-mail. Thanks for coming by!

      I had missed the existence of Quest for the Unicorn, but it's now on my list to play next year. Thanks for letting me know!

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    2. You are most welcome. Luckily Quest does not suffer from as many problems as The Land does. Check your versions tho, There are two current releases, 5.0, which is pretty much a port of the original pascal code to c, and the 5.6hc. The 5.6hc has more features in it but was meant to be more roguelike, so no graphics, it uses ascii characters just like rogue, hack, etc. It also has permadeath. When Quest was ported to c it was meant to be used on Linux, but can be compiled on any unix variant, mac osx, and Windows using cygwin. It is distributed in source form.

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    3. I and I am sure many of us regulars here would like to devoutly thank you for the effort put in. Words cannot describe the feeling I got when I found out someone had taken the time to create such a thing. Bugged or not, this was a great thing, and thank you.

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    4. I'm super impressed that you never stopped fixing reported bugs, I like it when programmers have that sort of pride in their work. I'm always surprised by the fact that so many great games out there are left with major exploits and crashes.

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    5. I share Ryan's sentiment completely. I loved reading about your game.

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    6. I really do appreciate any feedback anybody is willing to share about this game. Even after the 25+ years since I originally wrote it, it is still a labor of love for me and I would like to see it become the best it can (for what it is). I do appreciate all the comments made about it, both good and bad. If anybody would like to contact me more directly with bug reports, I can be reached at: mikehriley@hotmail.com. Thanks again!

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    7. I would also chime in with a thank you. I haven't played the game (yet) and I wrote some harsh words about it in the comments. Still I think it shows a real dedication to continue to update a game for so long even if it has never been particularily popular.

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    8. Hello Ragnar (Ragnar the Red? eheh) No worries about the harsh words, I recognize as well as anybody the issues with this game. As I mentioned before, it was a very early programming project on a very primitive dev environment with very limited resources. With the feedback from you and others here I hope to improve the game and continue to keep it alive, to one extent or another.

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    9. Man, it is awesome that you've kept fixing bugs for all these years. That is some real commitment!

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  10. You probably get tired of these kind of statements until you actually try the game but Sword of Aragon is a fantasy strategy game not a role playing game and Sword of the Samurai is a bit like Pirates! so another strategy game that puts you in a "role". I don't consider these kind of games RPG's as we know the term but I did enjoy Samurai 20 + years ago..

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    1. I don't tired of them, but if some authoritative source calls the games RPGs, I feel like I at least need to look at the documentation, a process that I generally don't go through until I get to the game. I won't delete it from the list based on anyone's opinion.

      But if I start to suspect a game isn't an RPG, I WILL search through past comments to see if that view is confirmed by other players, so in that sense these comments help a lot.

      Delete
    2. Sword of Aragon is definitely more strategy than RPG, but one of the reason I enjoyed it so much was it does have some RPG elements to it.

      I've never played Sword of the Samurai, but if people compare it to Pirates! I think I need to...

      Delete
    3. PetrusOctavianusJuly 3, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      Sword of Aragorn definitely has enough CRPG elements to be included on Chet's list. It has character development, character classes, magic items, magic and unlike many strategy games, a story.
      And IIRC you take on the role of a young lordling eager to avange his father.

      Since the game is soon coming up I may as well give a piece of advice when I'm at it: the Mage class may be the strongest in the very long run, but I strongly advice you to start as Knight or Warrior in your first game. Magic has little impact in the beginning, but your troops benefit directly by your main character's martial prowess. Choosing the middle ground of Ranger will give you the widest choice of possible heroes to hire, though.

      Delete
  11. Another RPG-ish game you might try is "The Immortal" by Will Hearvey.

    Got sort of raving reviews back in '89 (or was it '90? - I think it was '89) bus might rather qualify as adventure.

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    1. I played that on the Amiga - it was sort of a cross between an arcade adventure and a traditional adventure. I wouldn't call it a CRPG really.

      Delete
    2. Remember, my three core rules for an RPG are in the sidebar. If it can be justified with the three criteria--character development, inventory, and statistics-based combat--I'll look at it.

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    3. Yeah, definitely not an RPG. Fun game though.

      Delete
  12. Sword of Aragon is more of a war game with rpg elements. It's a step up from KOEI's 3K stuff (which got cut) and it meets Chet's requirements, but it's a bit of a stretch. Are the RPG elements the main focus of the game, or are they just support?

    It would be nice if Chet could just stick anything borderline on hold and do a summary at the end of each year though: Give each game 30mins-1 hours play to prove it's rpg credentials. Any diamonds in the rough can be recapped later on.

    Somewhere on the internet there's probably 'the turn-based strategy addict', looking at SSIs gold box titles saying 'well, it does have stats, units, and tactical combat, but I'm not really sure it's primarily aimed at TBS fans....'

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    Replies
    1. Haha, yeah. Or they'd be trying to figure out whether the infinity engine games with auto-pause set to 'After every round' counted as turn-based

      Delete
  13. It seems to me that this is a game which is greatly enhanced by knowledge of the books. From what I could glean of it from your blog and the comments (having not yet played it myself), it seems many factors are reliant on knowing the story, if you want a quicker game that is. Examples include the Ravers, Thomas Covenant's tendency to 'evade' and the (probably) necessary destruction of the Illearth Stone (that final green artefact). The krill also was evidently going to be near Revelstone, and maybe the dungeon it was in was related to the Hall of Gifts? Without playing the game I cannot be sure there are other connections, but I am sure there are.

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