Tuesday, October 1, 2013

DarkSpyre: Won! (With Final Rating)


DarkSpyre
Event Horizon Software (developer), Electronic Zoo (publisher)
James H. Namestka (producer), Christopher L. Straka (designer), Thomas J. Holmes (programmer)
Released 1990 for DOS, 1991 for Amiga
Date Started: 15 September 2013
Date Ended: 30 September 2013
Total Hours: 30
Difficulty: Hard (4/5)
Reload Count: 69
Final Rating: 30
Ranking at Time of Posting: 55/112 (49%)

Well, to probably no one's surprise, after ragequitting a few days ago, I calmed down, perservered, and managed to win the game. As you may recall, the game wouldn't allow me to save at any point after entering the puzzle challenge on the "Intellect" level, so I had to re-navigate this puzzle every time I died at any point after entering it, including on the final level. The final level ("Magic") took me two more tries to navigate, but it took me about 18 more tries through the "Intellect" level to even reach the final level those two times.

By the second time, I was sick of the game, so I used a walkthrough to get me through it without dying. The "Magic" level consisted of a series of magic-oriented puzzles, requiring me to mix a potion, cast "Magic Wall" spells to block fireballs, cast a "Disguise" spell to turn myself into a slime and thus get under some movable walls (that was the walkthrough's idea, anyway; I think "Zap-Away" would have also worked), and cast a series of "Knock" spells into a teleporter from various directions.

Yeah, whatever that means. I'm using a walkthrough now, so sod off.

The penultimate door required me to discard my spellbook to pass. Some skulls had previously warned me something like, "your most prized possession must be left, but don't leave yourself unprepared." Not leaving myself unprepared involved memorizing at least one "Knock," for the final door, before discarding my spellbook. I'm not sure I would have deciphered that without the walkthrough. In fact, I'm pretty sure that without the walkthrough, this posting would have been an obscenity-filled tirade accompanied by a picture of me standing helpless before the final door.

Tossing my spellbook down a hole.
 
After that, I wandered through the exit and got an image of the three floating god heads (actually a double image; there was some video corruption here), who said:

Well fought champion! You have earned the right to survive. Not only for yourself, but for your world as well. Lead it true, and pass on what you have learned. For we will take our leave of you now. But who knows when we shall return...Next time???

It's nice to know after all that work, I wasn't even worthy of a final message with proper grammar and syntax.

After that, it dropped me to the main screen. I assume Gideon gets to take the throne and carefully explain to everyone why it's going to be Queen Gideon instead of King Gideon. (There was one final Odin rune in the last level, but it didn't restore my proper sex.)

Nope. Still significantly lacking in the testosterone department.
 
A special "screw you" goes out to:

1. Everyone who insisted that the game incorporates its story and lore in the later levels. Aside from titling the last three "War," "Intellect," and "Magic," and a few oblique references from skulls, there wasn't a soupçon of reference to the game's framing story in the entirety of the game. Yes, "soupçon." If I have to know what it means for crossword puzzles, I'm going to use it in a bloody sentence for once.

2. Whoever told me I had to lug around that damned piece of driftwood. I carried the frigging thing for about 12 levels only to find another piece right next to the door where I finally needed it.

You get on the scoreboard if you die in the game, but not if you win.
 
Time for a GIMLET--and I mean that both ways.


1. Game World. In the opening post, I discussed the differences between back stories and framing stories. This game has the latter. You could have literally constructed any frame--or none--around it, and the gameplay itself wouldn't have changed. Though the framing story is interesting and well-written, it's wholly unconnected with the game and thus feels like a bit of a cheat. Score: 3.

2. Character Creation and Development. Probably the part I liked best about the game. The character creation process cleverly weaves the player's choices into a little fable. "Leveling up," by increasing weapon and spell skills, is frequent and satisfying. I even thought that it was funny that my character changed sex and couldn't change back, although the change had no effect on gameplay. Score: 5.

3. NPC Interaction. No, the skulls on the floor aren't "NPCs" any more than the messages on the walls in Might & Magic are. There are no NPCs. Score: 0.

4. Encounters & Foes. There are no opportunities for role-playing in the game, and no real "encounters." Foes are varied in their attacks and defenses (I particularly grew to hate "jesters," who can cast poison, smoke, and fireballs), but not very varied, and they simply swarm at you mindlessly, though they do try to flee when wounded. All enemies are in fixed locations, and as far as I can tell, none of the enemies respawn, meaning you'd better kill all that you see if you want to develop your weapon skills to the max. Score: 3.

Attacking a gryphon with a spear while a jester waits in the room next door.

5. Magic and Combat. The one other part of the game that doesn't suck. You have a lot of options in combat, from spells to different types of weapons to hurling your shield. Each weapon has a variety of attacks that grow in power as you increase your skills in that weapon type. The size of the levels allows some additional tactics, such as maneuvering enemies behind obstacles, into the paths of rolling balls or closing doors, into teleporters, or even into each others' attacks.
 
Spells are divided into several schools. I don't know if I found all the potential spells in the game, as I never found more than one spell for some of the schools. Certain spells, like "Disguise" and "Invisibility" introduced other options for combat, and the game was clever in its use of some spells to solve puzzles. I wish the game had been more about combat and less about levers and doors. Score: 6.

6. Equipment. The game has a lot of stuff to pick up and use--weapons, armor, shields, amulets, potions, runes, and puzzle items among them--and it was always fairly clear which item was better. I also like that they're at least partially randomized, so you never know what you're going to find. I wish weapons hadn't broken so often, and the game never really did find a balance between feast and famine. I was chronically either broke and down to my last weapon or overloaded. Score: 5.

Gideona and her loot on one of the puzzle-heavy levels. Note the log of driftwood that she's been carrying for no reason since Level 8.
 
7. Economy. None at all. Score: 0.

8. Quests. One main quest, only rarely referenced in the game itself, though I guess it basically works and at least explains the dungeon's challenges. No role-playing, no side-quests, no alternate endings. Score: 2.

9. Graphics, Sound, and Interface. The graphics are pretty good for an iconographic game of the era. The sound is mostly annoying, consisting primarily of obnoxious music that I left off. There is no sound to accompany the most obvious mechanics in the game, such as striking an enemy or casting a fireball--just dumb stuff like walking. I thought the interface had an acceptable balance between keyboard and mouse. I prefer it when games make the two controllers redundant, and allow the player to find a process that uses the in tandem. The dual map/character sheet interface was original and basically worked. Score: 4.

10. Gameplay. Very linear, but in a way that randomizes the level choices so that no two players face precisely the same game. In this, I suppose I have to give it points for replayability even though I wouldn't want to take advantage of it. You know my opinions about the difficulty. It was tolerable until about the mid-game, and then the puzzles became too frustrating and required too much trial and error. There was no excuse for the "Intellect" level. It was also far too long. Score: 2.

The final score of 30, quite low, reflects my opinion that the game really isn't a good CRPG. Since the puzzles are far more difficult than the foes that you defeat in combat, it's much more a puzzle game with an RPG façade. I liked the combat and skill development, and I think there's a place for a third-person perspective with a Dungeon Master approach to skills and combat, but this wasn't it.

But don't take my bile as any kind of gospel. This kind of game is likely to inspire both love and hate depending on the bent of the player. In the July 1991 Computer Gaming World, Todd Threadgill loved it. While admitting that the introductory novella had "little impact on the game," he called it "a fine game, well suited to gamers who enjoy true challenges." Somewhere around the middle of the game, remembering her praise of The Dark Heart of Uukrul's abstract puzzles and her disdain for any actual story or dialogue in games, I thought "I'll bet frequent RPGCodex contributor Crooked Bee loved this game," and I wasn't disappointed. In a March 2012 thread, she said it was one of her favorite games, "maybe even the favorite one." [Later edit: I read the post too fast and missed a few key words; she said it was one of her favorite games "of this type," not in general.] So there you go. I'll leave them to their levers and pressure plates and get back to my NPCs, economies, and role-playing options.

DarkSpyre was the first game from Event Horizon, renamed DreamForge in 1993, and the Holmes/Straka/Namestka team. We'll be encountering them many times in the coming years, including Dungeon Hack (1993), Menzoberranzan (1994), Anvil of Dawn (1995), and Ravenloft: Stone Prophet (1995)--but the first of their games that we'll see is The Summoning (1992), the direct sequel to DarkSpyre. I don't imagine I'll be looking forward to it.

I don't know if my next game will be Dragon Lord or Wizardry VI. I've spent some time with Dragon Lord, and it's only slightly defensible as an RPG. The only characters that you can "develop" are dragons, and technically the development (casting spells on them) isn't a necessary part of the game. But it's an intriguing game, with nice graphics, and I'd like to get out a post on it if it doesn't take too long to win. Otherwise, it's back to Gilgamesh's Tavern.

96 comments:

  1. The Summoning is much better actually. I'm about midway through my second playthrough (I didn't get that far on the first one) and it's been a lot of fun. For one it has an actual plot with some delightful twists (and it's deeply rooted in DarkSpyre's framing story). And puzzles have been fine so far, and there are often ways to bypass or game them through magic or some items.

    Oh, and it won't be the next Event Horizon game you'll play, that'll be Dusk of the Gods - while very RPG-lite (it has only two stats, combat and magic IIRC) it's still clearly an RPG and shouldn't be skipped.

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  2. Pre-emptively deflecting a source of rage late in The Summoning: keep all the pearls you find. They're important.

    As for this game, I think I need to try it out. It very much looks like a low-tech version of The Summoning, and I quite liked The Summoning. Never completed it though, because of a personal hangup near the ending - I found a way to continue past a puzzle room, but I wasn't sure if it was the right way to get past, and I didn't want to go on until I could be sure I had done the exact thing the developers expected of me.

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  3. Dungeon Hack is a pretty great child between the Eye of the Beholder series and Rogue. I bought it with my hard-earned allowance and still play it to this day. I have yet, however, to successfully descend the maximum 25 levels. I think my best is twelve levels.

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  4. I'm surprised that you didn't tack on a -5 to this game for pure hatred.

    Go back to the early eighties and play Tunnels of Doom instead.

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    1. I gave it a low score for "Gameplay," so I figured that was punishing enough. I try to reserve negative bonus points for when I can't find another category in which to express my disgust.

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  5. Is the ankh a tattoo or drawing, and in both cases, why?

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    1. Maybe it's birthmark... :D

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    2. A drawing. I thought it would be funny. Notice the gimlet is already half-empty and it wasn't my first.

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    3. An ankh tattoo on such a visible location would've been far too much to reveal to the world for the mysterious Mr. Bolingbroke :P

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    4. Geez... and here I thought I saw the hand of the Avatar.

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    5. By the MARK OF ENEBRIATION shall we know him...

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    6. Chet: I do something similar when I get too little sleep. Back in 2nd year I decided it would be a good idea to leave all my lab reports to the last minute, the end of the semester. So I had something like 12 of them to do in three days. I got through most of them pretty well, but had a lot left on the final day, got 5 done by the deadline with three left (And I admit, some of those 5 were downright embarrassing to hand in). Anyway, we were given an extension that we could take -10% if we got it in by the next morning, and I knew the lowest mark would be dropped if we handed all of them in. So, all nigher it was, despite the fact I'd been up to 4 the previous night, and almost that the day before.

      I got 2 of them done decently, but it was well after midnight at this point. By the time I finished the last one, the easiest supposedly, I'm not sure I was writing English and I'd forgotten what a Standard Deviation was or how to calculate it. Well, it took me so long to get it done in the haze I was in that it was dawn when I dropped them off outside the profs office. When I woke up I discovered that sometime in the night I'd written a bunch of math symbols on myself for no clear reason, and no, not ones related to my lab write ups.

      There is a good reason that was the only all-nighter I pulled as an undergrad, for work anyway. (Also I'm much better at time management now, after watching my average go from an A+ to an A- in two days...)

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  6. That's some hard-core ink right there, yo.

    By the way: After reading a plethora of postings on your blog those last few days, I think I have some reservations about the GIMLET. I realize, of course, that it entirely reflects your personal preferences, and what you look for in games - but it strikes me as potentially, uhm, unfair that, for example, "economy" is a mandatory part of the composite final score.
    After all, isn't it - however hypothetically - possible that an RPG is essentially perfect (or at least very good) even without the inclusion of any economy at all?

    Again: It's *your* system, so no biggie, just some food for thought perhaps ;) Also sorry if this point has been dealt with before, or is to OT or whatever.

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    1. It's been stated a number of times that these elements represent his view of an ideal RPG. A game can be good without having the elements of an ideal RPG, but that's not what GIMLET measures.

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    2. Exactly. My feeling is that if DarkSpyre had featured an economy, even a bad one, it would have been a better game.

      To take your argument to a logical extreme, if a game featured only ONE of the GIMLET elements, but did it perfectly, it should get a perfect score because it's "essentially perfect" for what it's trying to accomplish. And it might be, but I still wouldn't call it a "Perfect CRPG." In other words, the GIMLET doesn't try to rate each game for its own inherent quality but in comparison to an ideal perfect CRPG.

      Nonetheless, a lot of people feel as you do, and my advice is always to just ignore the overall score if you don't like it and focus on the individual categories instead.

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    3. Then The Summoning is definitely going to score higher for its vending machines! XD

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    4. DOUBT YE NOT THE GIMLET, FOOL *WHAP*

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    5. Mercy, please! :D
      Seriously, I've since read our Benevolent Addict in Chief's treatises on Dungeon Master and CSB, and come to accept the errors of my way, more or less.
      I guess I wrongly looked at the GIMLET as an overall indicator of quality, instead as an "objective" (in a subjective frame ;) ) rating of how good an *RPG* any given game is, as it's meant to be.

      Dungeon Master might be perfect at what it does, but it could be better as an *RPG*. I get that.
      I'm still trying to come up with examples of a "perfect" RPG without an economy, but I guess even a Minecraft-like scavenging/crafting system would essentially *become* an economy as soon as NPC interaction and bartering is introduced.

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    6. I don't think it would be hard at all to come up with a "perfect RPG" without an economy if you don't care about the economy. The economy isn't an inextricable part of a good RPG, just an inextricable part of what IN MY OPINION is a good RPG. And that's really all the GIMLET is intending to measure.

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    7. I think the Addict likes right-brain CPRGs. This one here (and the dungeon crawlers in general) is a left-brain CPRGs.

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    8. I think economies are important to both facets of CRPGs - immersion and gameplay.

      Money enhances the notion that you're within a living, breathing world, and it also provides another layer of character choices/progression

      Poor economies, usually brought about by unreasonable amounts of wealth acquisition, disrupts immersion and gameplay.

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    9. Personally I hate the economy part of crpgs. Buying anything powerful from a store just seems like cheating; all powerful items should be pried from the cold, dead fingers of some terrible villain/monster (or in his treasure vault). I've also never liked having to pay to level up or increase skills. I think a crpg would be just fine if it got rid of all the shops and gold loot and you just adventure for items, level up automatically, and increase your skills via use.

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    10. Yeah, there is something a bit lame about clearing a dungeon, looting the boss for a cool sword, then walking back to town and seeing a slightly better one sitting in the general store.

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    11. It's easier in multi-character games. When I have 6 characters to outfit with armor, weapons, cloaks, helms, boots, rings, and so forth, I don't mind so much if I find some, buy others.

      In any event, a strong economy doesn't necessarily have to involve purchasing a character's primary items. Think of short-term use items like wands, scrolls, and potions, healing, magic-recharging, identifying equipment, adding bonuses and augmentations to weapons and armor, and so forth.

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  7. At least you have some good games lined up. I'm looking forward to see what you'll think about Wizardry IV.

    Here's a couple of tips:
    - Like most Wizardry games, W6 multiple endings. But to reach one of the endings requires doing something that a seasoned CRPG gamer wouldn't even consider. Try to figure it out, and keep backup saves.
    - Characters can be imported to 7 and 8. So keep that in mind when creating them. In particular, you might want to include a Fairy and a Mook in your party..

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  8. It's interesting that the development team is also responsible for Menzobarranzen and Stone Prophet. The former was pretty good until halfway through when bugs froze the game. Stone Prophet is one of my favorite games from that era - it was one of the first I played, and I think it holds up as the best first-person AD&D RPG (2nd edition).
    I've recently started playing Anvil of Dawn and that one is also quite good (so far).
    I haven't played Dungeon Hack yet, but it sounds pretty interesting.

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    1. As you noted, almost all of DreamForge's other entries in the CRPG genre are fine games. According to Wikipedia, they were responsible for both Ravenloft games. The first one is better than Stone Prophet, imho, but they're both quite good.

      Anvil of Dawn is known as a decent entry (but not great) in the first-person dungeon crawl subgenre.

      Now I need to fire up Dungeon Hack again. That's just pure fun, right there.

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    2. There are different opinions on Anvil of Dawn, actually. Some (myself included) hold it as one of the best dungeon crawlers out there.
      Now Dungeon Hack, that's a game which's appeal I could never get.

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    3. I had Menzobarranzen, but couldn't play very far into it without some game stopping bugs. Would crash a lot I believe, so I'm looking forward to Chet tackling that to see what I missed out on.

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    4. I wasn't super impressed with the first Ravenloft game; it had atmospheric moments, but I thought that it was badly balanced and had a focus on dungeon-crawling that prevented the Gothic horror atmosphere from really taking root.

      I never finished the second one, which seemed to be most of the things I disliked about the first game (well, not half of the monsters being able to drain my level; that bit of joy seemed to have been dropped) without even the pretense of atmosphere. I think it's a branding thing; I might have liked the game perfectly well on its own, if it weren't a Ravenloft game, but I came in with certain expectations.

      On the other hand, I'm playing Anvil of Dawn at this very moment, and have enjoyed it so far.

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  9. Ooooh, you have an Ankh tattooed? Didnt know that.

    How Ultima IV-ish ;)

    But yes, I can perfectly relate.

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    1. I drew it with a pen just before I took the picture. But I suppose if I WAS going to have a CRPG-related tattoo, it would have to be an ankh.

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    2. not a skull surrounded by (sort of) drops? :)

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    3. I think Baldur's Gate is one of the best two RPGs I've ever played, but I hold a special fondness for U4 that I can't muster for any other game, no matter how good I think it is as a game.

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  10. I'm going to chime in with others and point out Wizardry VI is *very* different from the preceding games in the series. It was innovative for the time, and I think you'll find it a breath of fresh air.

    You do probably want multiple backup saves.

    Boo on those who spoiled the multiple ending thing, unless we're considering that a spoiler on the level of "Y'know, in Titanic, the ship? It sinks!"

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    1. I only heard Wizardry IV had multiple endings, and didn't realize this was a trend.

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    2. I think 7 and 8 have that too. Can't confirm as I only played through once because each game took me 30-40 hours to finish.

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    3. I don't see how mentioning a game has multiple endings is a meaningful spoiler, since that's actually a selling point that tends to show up on the back of game boxes.

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    4. Well, Chet has mentioned that he considers mentioning a bad ending as a spoiler. Conversely, saying a game has a good ending might be a spoiler. I can see from that suggesting a game had multiple endings as a spoiler. In fact, we should just refrain from saying a game has an ending at all as a possible spoiler. ;)

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  11. Wiz 6-8 were recently put up on GOG.com.


    In addition to the anonymous poster's advice, I would also keep in mind that you can change each of your characters' classes and still retain benefits of previous ones.

    You can also dual wield many weapons, which is a cool feature that I missed in Wiz 8.

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    1. Heck, Wiz 6-8 are even available on Steam now. ...I certainly didn't expect that, but it is good to see those there.

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  12. I played through Wizardry 6 for the first time about 4 months ago - the GOG version.

    There's reasonable keyboard input *IF* you turn off the mouse input. So I highly recommend turning off mouse input.

    I felt I had to do a lot of grinding in this game, even using some icky saving/loading to cut down on it.

    I also recommend doing a lot of respeccing of characters while they're lower-mid level. You don't get the high-end spells but you get a LOT more spell points/skill points. My respecced characters had a lot more casting power than my pure mage.

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    1. Yes, keyboard-only input is the best for Wizardry 6. I can say it has one of the best user interface of the older games.
      I have played Wizardry 6 three times so far and I've never done grinding in the game.
      There is no Gilgamesh's Tavern this time! It's a very different game from the 1-5, you will be suprised. The main improvement is that you can save/rest anywhere.

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    2. I mainly did grinding so that when I was ready to push to what I thought was the final section of the game I had my characters as the classes I wanted. Took a lot of quick levelling to get them to get the stat upgrades I needed.

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    3. I see, I never used any class-changing in Wizardry 6. That's sure you need "some" grinding for class-changing :) I did it a lot of times in Wiz7 and I had about enough of it. I played Wiz6 after Wiz7.

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  13. What does the "Gideon lived years xx to xx" in scoreboard mean? Maybe I missed something, but don't remember anything concerning passing of years in these posts.

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    1. There was some talk in the manual about a certain number of centuries having passed since the appearance of the tower. The idea is that the PC is the last in a line of heroes that have attempted the DarkSpyre.

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  14. If you didn't have a blog..which games would you have finished/not finished?

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    1. I have no idea. I suspect I would have quit this project a long time ago and regressed to playing Might & Magic VI-VIII, The Elder Scrolls series, and the Infinity Engine games 17 times each in the last four years.

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    2. Heh, I can relate to that (a bit different games though).
      I shudder to think of all the gems I would have missed if I didn't decide to make a chronological play list.

      BTW, for the upcoming Wizardry 6 I highly recommend you read up a bit on it first, since lots of stuff is missing from the manual and character development is significantly more complex than in the Gold Box and Might&Magic games, although experience with earlier Wizardries (which I don't have) may help.
      This is a link to most of the info you'll need:
      http://www.abandonia.com/vbullet/showpost.php?p=430591&postcount=22

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    3. Also, there are a few patches you may want to install, one of which fixes the carrying capacity bug (it's not being adjusted when STR goes up or down). Not sure how needed they are if you play the GOG version, though.

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    4. I bought the Ultimate Wizardry Archives several years ago for the first five games, so I'm using that version. I'm not sure if it's patched, but thanks for the tips; I'll check them out.

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  15. Even though you give this game a low score, I would argue that you are being too lenient. Game-breaking bugs that only appear in the final 5% of the game are a bit of the ultimate "f-u" to players and deserve a special demerit. Only "The Land" has had a worse endgame bug, but at least the developer was able to fix it for you.

    Compare to the Wizardry series where you bailed on 2 and 3 (and 4?). There, the games were nasty and hard, but always played within the developer's rules. (Unless the DOS version had a gimped level-up system which underpowered your characters as the game progressed, but I'm not clear if that is a bug or a feature.) You didn't finish them because those rules were not well-considered, rather than a game-breaking bug.

    Speaking of which, I suspect that the Addict of 2013 would have been more likely to try to finish Wizardry 2 & 3 than the Addict of 2010. You've become much more stubborn over the years...

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    1. I agree - that should have merited -1 or -2 bonus points.

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    2. The problem is, I'm not 100% sure it was a bug. The game is deliberately limiting in its saving options, and it's possible the player isn't intended to save on the final levels.

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    3. Oh, and the problem with W2 and W3 wasn't the difficulty of those games but that the characters had to be imported from W1. This is particularly damaging in W2 because you need high-level characters from the outset. I would have had to essentially win W1 again to keep playing W2. As stubborn as I am, I'm sure I wouldn't have bothered to win DarkSpyre if I would have had to re-play Champions of Krynn each time my character died.

      But nowadays, I probably would relax my rules enough to allow character backups and I would indeed finish the games.

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  17. They made Anvil of Dawn? That's a very good dungeon crawler, it seems they went a long way from their "humble" beginnings.

    -BelatedGamer

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  18. They made Anvil of Dawn - best (for me) dungeon crawler. Best plot, best combat, best magic, best enemies and best ending (plz avoid spoilers who knows about it).

    Also, they made the Summoning, those who played it, i bet, will agree that is gem of Crpgs. Also, ending is probably best - and everyone who got it (this one ending, out of several, sry for small spoiler) will agree - for all Crpgs i've played. And i've played around 150+ of them.

    I apologize about "driftwood", i was told by person who finished game that one should keep it. Maybe its random and another one didnt appear near door in his case?

    Whisper from rpgcodex, also -K

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  19. http://www.gamefaqs.com/pc/564798-dark-spyre/faqs/61964

    Head North and you will find some drift wood (It seems that this item is
    needed for the final level, so I recommend holding onto it until then).


    p.s. Finding another driftwood is not mentioned in guide. It is assumed you keep one you found on much earlier level.

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    1. There's a piece of driftwood under one of the movable walls just before the door where you need it. That's where I found it, and it's listed in the official cluebook.

      This game is sadistic, but not so sadistic that it forces players to keep a random item found on an earlier level until the last level. For every puzzle that requires an item, the item can be found on the same level.

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  20. Wizardry VI is quiet a hair-pulling game, especially without "outside help". To be honest, i consider it one of the more challenging games. There are a few enemies in this game, who can be contender for the most annoying monsters list. I finished it a month ago, but still have nigthmares.:)

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  21. It's cool you are putting in the reload count now, it gives a good perspective on difficulty. 69 is pretty high, you died more than twice every hour!

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    1. This was a weird game to start that one. In DarkSpyre, reloading doesn't necessarily mean "death." More often, it meant that I had gotten myself into a corner with the puzzles and needed to try again (there's no "reset" lever on any of the levels).

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  22. Of the games you've spent at least 20 hours on you have only ranked Rogue & Bloodwych worse. I think this shows your growing resillience that you actually managed to finish this thing.

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  23. You say the framing story was "interesting and well-written", and maybe it was well-written, but I've always kind of hated framing stories that involve some gods or NPCs purposely setting up a test for the PCs. It comes across to me as a cop-out; you can use that story to explain anything, and it strikes me as kind of rendering the gameworld meaningless.

    (The same rationale has been used in a lot of adventures for tabletop RPGs, too. I don't like it there either.)

    But maybe that's just me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not a GREAT trope, but at least it explains the nature of the puzzles. Too many games have puzzles like this with no explanation, as if the denizens just designed them on a whim.

      Delete
    2. Well, true, I suppose it may be better than having no explanation at all, but that's about the best that can be said for it.

      Delete
    3. If I were a god, then I'd definitely make puzzles to test people for the heck of it. I mean, why not?

      Delete
    4. I don't believe in Zenic Reverie! Zenic Reverie is just a construct of the clergy designed to keep the masses stupid and complacent. They keep getting fatter and richer while we continue to fall and die in these monstrous puzzles. Down with the Zenicologists!

      Delete
  24. It's still quite sad that, to be a champion, you had to sacrifice your manhood for it.

    Just watch out for the God of Magic, the bastard.

    ReplyDelete
  25. It is good to see how game developers are creating such an interactive game. On the other hand, we should all learn how to play in moderation. :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. As far as I recall, Wiz 6 characters that finish the game can be imported into Wiz 7, and from there into Wiz 8. The three games tell a single story (somewhat unrelated to the Wiz 1 through 5 "storyline"). So put together a party that you're willing to stick with :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I propose a party made of every race EXCEPT humans!

      Delete
    2. I fully agree. I went with Samurai, Ninja, Lord, Monk, Bishop, Alchemist. But really, there are so many ways to build an effective party...

      Delete
    3. The class comp above would be a good one for Wiz 6 through 8. Wiz 8's one glaring flaw is the weakness of the magic damage spells relative to melee damage. Magic is highly useful (and occasionally imperative) for disabling (sleep, confuse, etc.) monsters, but direct damage spells are weak. A slightly melee heavy comp is therefore an asset. Alternatively, you could substitute a Ranger for one of the first four classes listed above. However, I wouldn't dump the Lord or the Samurai as they are invaluable fighter-priest and fighter-mage hybrids.

      Delete
  27. Next up, Dragon Lord!

    Hope you enjoy playing draconian Tamagotchi, Chet, because this is no RPG.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It ALMOST fits as an RPG. It has "character development," if you count developing dragons as developing a "character." It has "items," but only in the sense of the spell ingredients. And combat CAN be statistics-based. So it's a tough call. But I'm leaning on the side of dumping it.

      Delete
  28. Tamagotchi - God, I hated those things as a kid.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi you are amazing! Even with such a bad game you manage to finish it.You should write a book with the whole CRPG history...

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wizardry 6 please. Lori and I spent quite a bit of time playing it. Our favorite part was when we got to change a character to a new prestige class. Warning: It is a very long game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't make it very far, but I always remember it for an odd reason. It had some pretty nice digital sound effects that worked via PC speaker. I remember it was pretty impressive and I hadn't seen another game do that. Of course, sound cards became common pretty soon after that.

      Delete
  31. Wiz 6
    Here we go, looking forward to this one, decided to play along. Already found character creation to be fun but annoying, having to click through a failed character with lousy stats just to reroll is a bit of a pain.
    I think I'm going through a little of that "party-creation angst" Chester mentioned back when he started "Knights of Legend". I have avoided looking at spoilers (just a guide on creating characters) but all this class changing and equipment limitations by gender, also skills that are useful in VI but get dropped in VII and VIII seem like a waste of points. I am paralyzed by indecision. So far I've got a Lord (paladin lover) and a Valkyrie, and from the number of times I've seen the words "Fairy Ninja" plastered all over, I guess I'll have to take one. But that's it, now what Priest or Bishop? Thief or Bard? Mage, Alchemist or Psionic?
    It's a good pain.
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't find the psionic spells that useful, I went for Mage/Alchemist instead. They are quite similar, I found the Alchemist spells a bit more effective, but that's more a question of taste. To get at least a few psionic spells, I went with a Monk. I chose the Bishop over the Priest because it gave me the more combat-related Mage-spells in addition to the Priest spells. I'd skip the Thief and Bard an purely rely on a Ninja for thievery skills. Just my 2 cts.

      Delete
  32. Were the draconian guys not in 6?

    I remember that since you could change class it was not that big a deal to start as anything. Also don't some classes start with equipment that can only be obtained at start, or am I being defeated by the memory monster?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dracons are in six.

      And you remember right: all classes have their own starting equipment. Which is why it's recommended to start with advanced classes such as ninja and samurai.

      Delete
  33. I enjoyed The Summoning. You'll be glad to hear that it is MUCH better than Darkspyre and not nearly as difficult :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. Cheers for the ankh faux-tattoo. I've always loved that symbol. Every time you win a game, you should put up another pic, like your shoulder, nose, etc. In a few years, someone will be able to combine all the pics to form a reasonable image of the Chetmeister! I know, that's the exact reason you don't want to do that. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  35. http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/index.php?threads/darkspyre.69986/page-3

    Discussing carries on.


    tbh, i also noticed that crpg addict did somewhat incorrect quote of Crooked Bee. I think reason being tired from dark spyre and not attentive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right. She said "favorite game of this type." Correction appended above.

      Delete
    2. Oh, and to the rest of the discussion, I brought it on myself, of course. But I don't understand why certain readers can't understand the concept of an opinion changing over time. Yes, when I first started playing Skyrim, I thought it was jaw-droppingly fantastic. Later, after I'd experienced more, its flaws became clearer. Three years ago, when I hadn't thought much about it, I didn't have a strong opinion about console games vs. PC games; more recently, after I have, I do. I guess maybe I should do more editing and annotating of old postings if this is really going to confuse people.

      Delete
    3. The Codex is mostly a wretched hive of scum and villainy from my experience, sometimes it's best just to ignore it.

      Delete
    4. But in that wretched hive you're more likely to find a few souls who have actually played some of the more obscure games, than you will find on forums with more polite (and boring) patrons, and overzealous moderators. The RPG Codex also has a marvellous feature: the Ignore function.

      Delete
  36. Decisions, decisions. Should I play (for the first time) Might and Magic I, Champions of Krynn, or Wizardry VI? I've never played any of the Wizardry games.

    I'm just finishing NWN: Shadows of the Undrentide. Before that, I beat Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds. I've avoiding Silver Blades until the Addict plays it in a few months.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wiz 6 is completely different from the earlier ones so it wouldn't matter that you haven't played them previously. If you liked the gold box games, play COK :) M&M 1 would be fun too, if you can handle the basic graphics etc.

      Delete

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