Thursday, December 5, 2013

Legend of Faerghail: Buggin' Out

There's supposed to be a castle here.

Legend of Faerghail is doing its best to make me quit. To recap:

1. I started with the DOS version and got a few hours into it before realizing that the game was buggy in a way that prevented encounters from showing up in the dwarven mines (and perhaps other dungeons as well). I had to switch to the Amiga version and start over.

2. The game offers at least one riddle that, poorly translated from a reference likely unknown to non-German-speakers, is essentially unsolvable without a spoiler.

3. Several Amiga versions are bugged in such a way that prevents winning the game. After studying the message boards linked to me by my readers, I downloaded the "bug-free" version...

4. ...only to find a bug that prevented any graphics (monster, chests, anything) from showing up while exploring the Temple of the Dragon Servants...

There's supposed to be a fire elemental in this screen. Incidentally, this was a fun riddle. The answer was not "mirror."

5. ...and a more serious bug that caused the entrances to the derelict castle and the elven pyramid to disappear after leaving the Temple of the Dragon Servants.

I tried to solve the last issue by reloading a saved game from a time when the entrances were still visible, but after I wasted several hours re-exploring the Temple, I exited to find that the derelict castle was gone again. I read enough of a walkthrough to know that the derelict castle has something I need to win the game, and I need something from the Temple of the Dragon Servants to finish the castle.

(Please don't bother responding with solutions unless you've experienced this specific problem and know how to solve it. I've been to all the boards and tried all the standard stuff already.)

The Temple (which for some reason I've been calling the "Temple of the Savants" instead of "Dragon Servants") was a relatively brief dungeon that held so much treasure I couldn't carry it all, reflecting the game's extremely poor approach to an economy.

Each one of these chests, and many others, held around 500 gold pieces each.

In addition to the treasure, I found a strange book that chronicled the major artifact weapons to be found in the game (I have three, and I think I maybe discarded a fourth) and a "Mithril Ball" which, judging by the message I got from the woodkeeper near the derelict castle, is somehow necessary to defeat a vampire lord. There was also a "Keystaff" that I got from a statue.

The enemy parties in the dungeon took a level in difficulty. Most of them, judging by the description, were of a saurian species, including warriors and priests. They had a way of targeting all their attacks on my poorly-armored mage and killing him in one round. I finally got to the point where I had to withdraw after every successful round, save, heal my mage, and re-enter combat, repeating until victorious. The experience rewards were quite good, though, and I was able to advance everyone to Level 8 before discovering I couldn't advance any more in the game.

I've tried transferring my saved games to different versions and a host of other things to no avail. I could try reloading from an even earlier saved game, but I don't know if I have the stamina to repeat the same dungeons or the interest to keep bothering with a game that I find mediocre overall. So expect the next post to be on Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday while I think about it.

48 comments:

  1. Sounds really annoying. You're allowed to say the heck with it at some point of bug storms like that, at least I think I would.

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  2. I agree. This game doesn't seem worth the effort.

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    1. Unbroken column of wins going back to August 2012.

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    2. So, let's say that an "N/A" or "B" (for buggy) doesn't affect the streak. If a sports team won 10 games in a row, then started another game and was ahead but the game had to be cancelled with a no-decision on account of thunderstorms and tornado warnings, would people say "Aha, their winning streak is over??" No, it would simply continue with the next valid game. This is similar. The game is apparently impossible to win in the forms you have tried.

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  3. It seems the famed German dedication to quality does not extend to computer games. I've liked quite a few of their games (what up, Gothic?), but I can't remember the last time I played a German CRPG that didn't have at least some non-trivial QA issues.

    It's a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing - thorough QA costs a lot of money, but to get money you need to first put out some quality product to attract the publishers with the deep pockets. Wanting too much too soon usually leads to games that are at best a waste of potential.

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  4. The challenging question here is whether the bugs are due to poor cracking and mysteriously sourced internet downloads, or were in the original product.

    The latter is unforgivable, the former might deserve a bit more credit-- but not necessarily patience. It seems that you have put nearly enough in this game. No one would blame you if you decided that two times through a buggy game was enough and that you've played through so far that a GIMLET is possible.

    I personally find the Gold Box games to be buggy-- even with my legitimately purchased box set I had to restore back a few times to before a specific bug would crop up. As it is, I ended up beating Azure Bonds with several characters having glitched stats and quite a few spells that always failed.

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  5. you wanted "know" for "no" in this parenthetical: "Please don't bother responding with solutions unless you've experienced this specific problem and no how to solve it."
    I don't actually know anything about old video games, being much too young to have played most of them, but I am pretty good at copy editing.

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    1. Christ. How does that happen? It's not like I don't know the difference. I wonder how many mistakes like that I make in my professional writing.

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  6. I know Saintus at http://crpgrevisited.blogspot.se completed the Amiga version quite recently, so there must be _some_ Amiga version that works properly.

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    1. It's not a binary thing. Sometimes games glitch for one player and not another. I might be playing the same version as Saintus but I did something in a different order, or hit the wrong key somewhere, or configured the emulator differently, or a hundred other things.

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  7. I loved that Buck Rogers game. It's a shame the sci-fi theme wasn't continued.

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  8. Grr. this stupid blog just ate a huge comment.

    Mr. Bolingbroke: your problem might potentially be a misconfigured emulator. tl;dr version of what I just spent a long time explaining: try setting your emulator to a fantasy version of the A500, one that never really existed.

    Stick with the 1.3 ROM, 68000 processor at 7.14MHz, Original Chip Set (OCS) and however many floppies and/or hard drives you have now. The only thing you'll change will be the RAM. Set any amount of "Fast" and "Slow" RAM to be zero. Then set "Chip RAM" (which can be seen by the graphics chips) up from 512K to 1MB.

    No OCS Amiga had a meg of Chip RAM, but any program that knows that will be careful to use only the bottom 512K for graphics anyway. And programs that don't know about CPU-only RAM will have no idea that they shouldn't be able to do what they're doing. Having graphics just disappear is a classic symptom of a program not knowing about non-graphic memory, so setting all RAM to be graphic RAM might just fix it.

    I'm not aware that this causes any compatibility issues at all..... the emulator becomes an A500 that works just a little better than the real ones did. Dumb programs work properly, and smart programs are unaffected.

    I'll repeat an offer I made a month or so ago... if you want me to preconfigure an environment for an Amiga game, or if you just have Amiga questions, drop me a note at crpgaddict at malor dot com. If a game is installable to hard drive, I should be able to do that for you. Running that way is absolute bliss compared to running from floppies, even the emulated kind.

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    1. There exists an Amiga that never existed?

      The era that we live in is just pure unbridled magical bliss!

      Hopefully, we can see a Sega Pluto soon!

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    2. Interesting comment about graphics disappearing...this happened to me sometimes when I tried to play Abandoned Places a year or two ago. I think that was the only time I've disappearing graphics in an Amiga game, although it was not the reason I abandoned that game.

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    3. Yes, you can be right about the emulator configuration problem.
      Amiga is too difficult to emulate properly.

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    4. I just don't see how an emulator issue could cause the dungeons to disappear. I mean, if they were never there in the first place, maybe. But they are there under certain circumstances and not others. This strikes me as much more likely to be a saved game corruption.

      Anyway, this is just the sort of conversation I didn't want to have. Malor, I appreciate your help (and I did try what you recommended above, to no avail), but I'm done frigging around with emulator settings on this game. If I have similar problems with other Amiga games, I'll know it's because I haven't set the emulator properly, and maybe I'll ask for help. But since this is my only experience, I can't distinguish between problems with the emulator and problems with the game itself. That's why I'm putting a pin in this game until I have some more experience.

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  9. I admire your tenacity. I would have given up long ago.

    I'm looking forward to Buck Rogers! I love that game when I was a kid.

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  10. I've seen attics with less bugs than this...

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  11. Admirable sticktoitiveness, I suppose. This must have been what Sword of Aragon taught our host...not to give up. However at this point the old college try has been given. It's one thing not to like a game, and it's another if the game doesn't work at all. I bet someone could get the game to work properly if they spent a lot of time learning how the Amiga worked and what's wrong. I bet you dimes to dollars it's an emulator issue. People at the time didn't complain it was buggy, and disappearing graphics sounds precisely like the sort of thing that happens under emulators.

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  12. Playing with cracked ADF's is a recipe for situations like this. Back in my childhood i only dealt with pirated copies of games and many of them were impossible to complete.

    If you're thinking of trying the Amiga versions for other gams as well, you should seriously try the WHDload versions. FS-UAE is a much easier emulator than winUAE and works great with WHDload

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  13. I say give the game Won = N/A and play another game. It's not worth it and I don't want my favourite Addict to be annoyed like hell.

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  14. Quit this game and move on. Life is too precious to be spent on these kind of problems.

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    1. Life is too precious and the list of games is too long. This seems a mediocre game at best and not worth the time and effort to keep it going.

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    2. I do kind of want to know how it ends.

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  15. As other people have already said, I'm pretty sure at least some of the bugs you get are emulation problems. However this game doesn't seem to be worth all the grief it's given you, regardless of the reasons for it.

    The big question is: how important is that unbroken string of wins to you? :)

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  16. Bugs in the English version were mentioned at the time when CGW reviewed the game in the Feb. 1991 issue:
    "In the initial Amiga version of the game, there is no way to get by the riddling elf who guards the entrance to the pyramid. He will not even accept a correct answer. (A fix should be available from Electronic Zoo by the time this issue reaches the shelves.)
    Also, on several occasions a "structure table full" notice appeared when
    the party was entering a town. The program anticipated the guru meditation by having me save the game, but when restored, the party was in an inescapable position. (An EZ rep suggested the problem might come from extra memory.) In addition, at least one dungeon doorway changed its location when seen from a different direction."

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  17. Is the answer to the riddle (ROT13) "fgrnz"?

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    1. If I'm following your logic correctly (ROT13): Fheryl gur nafjre jbhyq or "jngre", fvapr vg yvrf orgjrra fgrnz naq vpr?

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    2. No. I didn't even think along those lines--that he was literally talking about himself. I was thinking it was a universal "me."

      Anyway, the real answer was a lot more literal. It's actually pretty stupid. I wouldn't have gotten it except I'm used to this kind of clue in cryptic crosswords.

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    3. Yes. That is it. It's like when a cryptic gives you clue like "Precisely my point" and the answer turns out to be MY POINT.

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  18. Why not just ask for a savegame from someone who already won it. That way you can finish the game.

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  19. Well, so far this game has yielded seven entries, and there was no Won! or Final rating post (yet). As a comparison, Knights of Legend had 10 posts and NetHack 3.0 had 11, so this game is almost there... and yet, I still have no idea what this game is actually about. Either the game or your posts about the game have been more anemic than Knights of Legend. Also, this game is very "german", I recognize the style. There was not only the riddle from german literature but also, and I can't find it anymore, some kind of reference to three necessary objects which reminded me of the Imperial Regalia of the Holy Roman Empire: a sword, a crown and an orb. And finally, the translation in this game is not very good.

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    1. You don't know what it's about as in you don't understand the plot, or as in you don't understand the basic mechanics and style of the game? If the former, I'm with you; if the latter, I haven't been doing my job well.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. I didn't want to blame you OR the game specifically, but it's definitely the plot. The bugs didn't help, of course, but there are only snippets of narrative here and there and you seem to enter locations just because you haven't been there, in the hope of finding something to do. Then you leave them unfinished because of a bug or a riddle. You explained the mechanisms very well and your impression of good ideas implemented badly seems true (in my opinion, but then I never played the game). NPCs join and leave your group seemingly without reason. And what's the overarching plot and your main objective?

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  20. Also, dear addict, after about 10 weeks, I have finally caught up! Let me just say that you have done some monumental work, and it seems you have even more of that in front of you! (So quit Legends of Faerghail for a while....)
    By the way, I follow another "I do every single one of these!"-blog. It's a blog about english musician David Bowie and the blogger there analyses every single song of that singer's 50-year long career. Strangely, that blogger also lives in Massachusetts. And he was also approached to turn his blog into a book (which he accepted to write). It seems that his book will feature revised versions of his older blog posts, i.e. additional content. I guess the difference between your two approaches is that you analyse the games as you play them, i.e. in real time, whereas the blogger of "Pushing Ahead of the Dame" analyses the songs with the benefit of hindsight.
    Anyway, I'm now pondering if I should also start reading Trickster's adventure blog. I ...suspect... though that RPG's are better to read. Adventures are a little too linear, though they undoubtedly look better and the nostalgia factor is immense.

    And finally, out of curiosity I applied your GIMLET rating to some of my own favorite RPGs. Skyrim did not win (it shared 2nd place with Fallout 1 and achieved 88 points). The winner was Fallout: New Vegas with 90 points. I tested my application of the GIMLET with Starflight and actually matched your 53 points! There were some differences in the categories though. The chronologically next game I knew well enough to rate was Star Control 2 (1992) which I gave 59 points. So let's see....
    Keep up the great work!

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  21. I kept pushing for more LoF material, but even I have to say 'screw it' now.

    As for Buck Rogers, be warned that the amiga version happens to be virtually unplayable. I've read that it had a leaflet inserted into the packaging, advising people to save every 20-30 minutes due to frequent crashes...

    The DOSbox version seems to run fine, although I only played until you can first fly around with your (starting?) ship.

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    1. I'd also recommend DOS for Buck Rogers.

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    2. The Amiga version of Buck Rodgers: Countdown to Doomsday was fine, and offers better sound.

      Gateway to the Savage Frontier was the game to include that note, and suffered from very poor Amiga and Commodore 64 ports.

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    3. Everyone, I'll save you the trouble: If there's both an Amiga version (or, really, any version) and a DOS version, there's no question--none--that I'm going to play the DOS version, at least in this era. Slightly worse sound and graphics are by far outweighed by my ability to actual understand the OS.

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  22. Now I want to play the game. I should make a blog called crpgAddictAddict where I play games Chet didnt win.

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    1. Hey, I'd read that!

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    2. Have fun with Wizardry IV...

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    3. Chunkations already beat you to the name:

      http://crpgaddictaddict.blogspot.com/

      But it would be a fun blog--you could subtitle it "Sweeping up after the CRPG Addict"--if I didn't abandon games for pretty good reasons.

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  23. Let me guess.. it was "air" or maybe "steam"...

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  24. Last time I recall encountering a serious, game-breaking bug in a CRPG was in Ultima: Savage Worlds. (I had a legal copy of the game, though released as part of a compilation rather than on its own.) I don't recall the specifics of the bug; I just recall that it happened when you killed a certain Tyrannosaurus, which you had to kill to win the game (and which couldn't be killed by conventional means)... something then glitched out to render the game unwinnable.

    I used a hex-editor and figured out enough of the savegame's inner workings to edit it and make the game winnable, though I don't now recall the details of how I did that, and in retrospect I'm kind of surprised I did it... I'm not into modding and not usually one for hacking into a program's internals...

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  25. I was a bit judgment in some of your very early posts when you gave up on some games just because they were boring, and I like that since then you've been determined to finish as many as possible. There's definitely no shame with this one, as crazy buggy as it was!

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