Monday, May 25, 2015

Game 189: Eye of the Beholder (1991)

Despite the 1990 copyright, I don't think it received a release until 1991.

I think I picked the right game to start 1991. I chose it first because it's a Dungeons & Dragons game, and D&D-based games rarely offer bad CRPG experiences; and second because I knew it was inspired by Dungeon Master, which set the standard for real-time multi-character dungeon crawlers. I didn't know if it would be great, but I knew it wouldn't suck.

Hoping for nothing more than a competent dungeon-crawling experience, I fired up the .exe and was greeted with a great introductory sequence with exciting music, evocative sound effects, and attractive animated VGA graphics, all of which finally said to me: 1) "you're in the 1990s!" and 2) "you're no longer a jackass for choosing the DOS version!"


Yet, if there was one thing that gave me pause, it was this screen:


Westwood and I do not have a good history. Years later, I'm still mad at them about the endings to BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception and Mines of Titan. The first Westwood/SSI pairing, Hillsfar, was flawed at the outset. I like to imagine that after Hillsfar, SSI had a "come to Jesus" meeting with Westwood. "We're going to give you another contract," they said in my fantasy, "but none of your bull$%#t this time. You're going to make a good game, or we're going to bury you." I like to think that the Westwood folks left the meeting shaken, threw back a few drinks, and decided that to avoid screwing this one up too badly, they'd better just copy Dungeon Master.

Eye of the Beholder's dependence on Dungeon Master is so stark that you wonder why there weren't lawsuits involved. The similarities are readily apparent at the macro level--they're both first-person, multi-character, tile-based, real-time dungeon crawlers--and the micro level. You attack enemies in the same kind of interface by right-clicking on the chosen weapon, which makes a "whoosh" sound and requires a cool-down period before you can attack again. Only the front two characters can attack in melee; rear characters can throw missile weapons, and they have a pouch which automatically restocks them with up to four "refills" in the same combat. Picking up thrown missile weapons is tedious. You can do the same sort of real-time tricks, like the side-step attack dance and the fighting backpedal. The puzzles are also the same, involving hidden buttons, weighted pressure plates, and remote door switches. Many treasures are found in little alcoves on the wall.

Tossing a dagger at an approaching giant worm.

There are a few differences, mostly caused by the integration of a Dungeon Master mechanic with AD&D rules: classes are different, the magic system is different, and leveling is by experience rather than use of skills. And of course, being a later game, Eye of the Beholder has better graphics, sound, and animation, though not staggeringly so.

If there's one thing you'd want a developer to copy from Dungeon Master, it's the ability to crush enemies in doors. Alas, that doesn't seem to work here. Even though the door is in the space in front of you, it comes down behind any enemies in that space.

"I'm crushing your h...uh oh."

Unless I'm missing some bit of documentation, the backstory to Eye of the Beholder is left somewhat vague. Taking place in the city of Waterdeep, this is the first CRPG on the Sword Coast, and I was delighted to see Baldur's Gate, Amn, and Neverwinter on the game map. The manual goes into the long history of Waterdeep and its constant transfers of power between various guilds and factions before finally coming into the rule of the semi-anonymous Lords of Waterdeep.

Something or someone named Xanathar--I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's probably a beholder--is causing trouble for the city, but the nature of the trouble is left undefined. The problems seem to be coming from beneath the city, and so the chief Lord, Piergeiron, has commissioned a party of adventurers to enter the underworld and eradicate the threat. The game has the party start with a "Commission and Letter of Marque" giving the party "full rights of passage beneath the City of Waterdeep," as if some guard was going to come along and question our right to be in the sewers.

From the opening animations.

Character creation is all standard AD&D. You choose from the six usual races (human, elf, half-elf, dwarf, gnome, halfling) and six classes (paladin, fighter, ranger, cleric, mage, thief) including multi-classes. The rules for non-human races are a bit less draconian than in the Gold Box series; for instance, elves and half-elves never hit a cap in any class they're allowed to select, and dwarves only cap as clerics. Oddly, gnomes can't be mages; I had thought the "gnome illusionist" was a well-established trope by now.


Even though you can get two NPCs to join you later, I decided to get every class available in my four-character party, so I went with.

  • Starling, a female human paladin
  • Bugsy, a male dwarf fighter/thief
  • Marina, a female elf mage
  • Gaston, a male half-elf cleric/ranger

With Gaston having some ranger skills, this gives me the ability to swap him in as a fighter if Starling or Bugsy (otherwise in the front ranks) get too wounded.

Beholder offers the same ability to modify a character's attributes that the Gold Box games offer, theoretically so you can bring a favorite tabletop character into the setting--not that you can modify levels, equipment, spells, or anything else. Resisting temptation to ratchet everything up to 18 wasn't hard, since a few clicks of "reroll" got some pretty high statistics anyway. Characters start at Level 2 or 3 already depending on race and class.

The game begins on Level 1 of the dungeon, with the party facing the rubble that has crashed down behind them, sealing the exit and trapping them inside. I pick up a couple rocks to use as missile weapons. Nearby, the bones of a slain halfling hold a set of lockpicks that I give to Bugsy. A lever opens a door and we begin exploring the level.

Finding the remains of a previous adventurer adds a nice bit of realism.

Level 1 ends up being quite small, 171 used squares in a 22 x 22 grid. There are only two types of enemies on the first level: kobolds and giant leeches. They don't seem to respawn; this might become a problem for my multi-classed characters if no enemies respawn

The first two levels of the dungeon.

There are some light puzzles on this level, consisting primarily of finding hidden buttons and weighing down pressure plates with rocks to keep doors open. Nothing terribly difficult, but of course on this level the game is just introducing me to mechanics.

Level 2 is much larger, over 400 used squares in a 30 x 30 grid. The only enemies on the level appear to be skeletons and zombies, but there are a lot more puzzles: spinners, keyed doors, secret doors, arcane messages, teleporters, slots on the wall that accept daggers and open remote areas of the dungeon, pits that close based on pressure plate--some of which must be weighted down, and at least one of which must be weighted down by throwing something on it from across a pit.

Tossing a rock across a pit to land on the plate on the other side, which will close the pit. Dungeon Master taught me this.

There are buttons that seem to reconfigure the wall pattern, and at least one keyed door for which I can't find the key. Although I've mapped almost all of it, I need to take another pass through the level to make sure I didn't miss anything. There are also a few buttons that I don't understand, and I need to more thoroughly investigate their effects.

The party contemplates entering a teleporter.
A dagger placed in a slot on the wall produces a non-helpful message.

I don't find much in the way of equipment upgrades--just a few daggers for throwing weapons, a single shield, a sling, and an axe that replaced my fighter's initial short sword. One unfortunate adaptation from Dungeon Master is the inability to tell anything about your weapons and armor. Familiarity with the standard D&D equipment list will probably help a little, but why couldn't the game have displayed weapon and armor statistics when you right-click on them or something?

Miscellaneous observations:

  • One thing that I like much better than Dungeon Master is the redundant keyboard and mouse controls. You can do everything from either controller, so it's easy to settle into a pattern based on your own preferences. This is also one of the first games I've seen (maybe the first) to allow you to turn off music independent of other sound.

You can also replace the "bar graphs" for hit points with actual numbers.

  • Floor drains occasionally show pairs of eyes, and clicking on them often produces a message like the one below. I don't know if I'll ever find anything in a floor drain, but I suspect I'll click on every damned one of them.


  • I'm not sure if food is going to be a problem. Each character has a food meter that depletes a tiny bit with each action. You have to eat to restore it. So far, I've found just enough food (packaged rations, not loose ears of corn or hunks of cheese) to restore what I've been losing. But the locations and amount of food seem to be fixed, so I wonder if I eventually get into trouble by doing things like taking a second look through the same dungeon level.

Marina finds a ration package just as her food level gets low. I don't know what the "special quest for this level!" was all about.

  • So far, I haven't done much with magic, mostly because restoring spells involves resting for a long time and exacerbates the food issue. My mage has a few "Magic Missiles" and "Melf's Acid Arrows" (appearing for the first time?) and my cleric has some "Cure Light Wounds" and "Hold Persons."

Preparing to blast some zombies with a "Magic Missile."

  • I like that the maps create irregular wall patterns and don't feel compelled to use every space. It makes it feel like more of a real place.
  • Like Dungeon Master, the game appears to have no economy.
  • Unlike Dungeon Master, the game requires no torches or "Light" spells. The dungeon is just naturally light, I guess.
  • You seem to get experience here for solving puzzles as well as killing enemies.

Gaston levels from finding a hidden area.

  • I have no idea how you resurrect, or if it's even possible before you get the fifth-level cleric spell "Raise Dead." Fortunately, combats have been easy enough that no one has come close to dying. Just for fun, I let some skeletons kill me to see what the "full party death" screen would look like.

Four Level 3 heroes is all that the city had to stand against the Minions of Evil?

  • There are apparently NPCs in the dungeon, but I haven't met any yet. When I do encounter them, I hope they're distinguishable as such and I don't end up killing them by accident.
  • You can save anywhere, but there's only one save slot. That gives me the heebie-jeebies just because of corruption issues. I think I'd better back that up occasionally.

So far, Eye of the Beholder is exactly what I was looking for: not a highly original game, but one that's exceedingly competent at a standard set of RPG tropes. Oh, there are weaknesses to this type of CRPG, and I'm sure I'll grouse about them before the end, but for the moment I'm having a lot of fun.

Time so far: 3 hours
Reload count: 0


186 comments:

  1. I'm so happy your blog arrived at my childhood. EoB was the second RPG I played. U6 was the first, and I found that game more interesting. Your remark about weapon stats reminded me that EoB got me into D&D2e. Because I had no idea what I was doing, I got my parents to buy me the Player's Handbook, and one thing led to another.

    Some things: (1) don't worry about the two additional NPC's: you're good. (2) Each level has a "special quest".

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    1. The manual for the second game has a chart with damage values for normal weapons, so I guess someone at Westwood eventually realized that's basic information.

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    2. So I should be looking for that specific text on every level? Huh. I wonder what I missed on Level 1. Did it have something to do with the eyes in the grates?

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    3. (yes to looking for that text on every level)

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    4. try putting some "solid" into that carvings on Level 2 to solve the Special quest 8-)

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    5. There are some early grates and holes in level one only that, on Amiga version (not sure on DOS, but should be the same) would give you a modicum of exp points if clicked: Some you have to click more than once, they just allow some of the characters in party to level up, as much as some tiles in the maze do the same when you pass them, and then that's it. I suppose they are a form of early balancing device, or a hint to pay attention to the game environment from now on.

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  2. I would definitely back up your save. I decided to fire this up last month in anticipation of you playing it, but on level 3 I was suddenly unable to memorize any spells when sleeping, it claimed i "needed a mage in the party" whenever I clicked on the menu item :(

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  3. PetrusOctavianusMay 25, 2015 at 3:28 AM

    "There are only two types enemies on the first level: kobolds and giant leeches."

    No Flinds? They are present in the Amiga version.

    Personally I used to like EoB, when when trying to replay it, the combat just felt wrong. In a Gold Box or IE game it's usually no problem killing four kobolds without using spells or taking any damage, but not so in EoB. Combined with the Vancian magic system, it means having to rest too often.

    It seems they took quite a few liberties to shoehorn AD&D into the Dungeon Master formula. Why do characters in AD&D video games suddenly need food and water?
    And why do they no longer need training halls to increase levels?

    Too bad SSI went belly up despite the financial success of the EoB games. :-(

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    1. Flinds are present, just not on level 1.

      If you're taking damage fighting kobolds, it means you're not making use of the combat engine. You shouldn't ever really engage enemies face on. I agree that this doesn't feel like fighting, but that's the way the game is designed. You quickly run into serious trouble if you stand in front of every enemy.

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    2. Eh, combat always seemed easy enough in this game that you could just retreat, rest, and heal and do fine anyway.

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    3. PetrusOctavianusMay 25, 2015 at 2:22 PM

      For some reason the two step dance didn't work very well when I played the enhanced Amiga version a few years ago.
      And the enemies seem yo hit much more often than in the turn based games.
      Combined with inferior level design and puzzles compared to DM and CSB, it made EOB one of the very few old CRPGs I did not enjoy when (re)playing lots of old CRPGs the past four or so years.

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    4. As I understand it, training halls have long been an optional rule in D&D. By second edition they were not needed, I'm not sure about first.

      As to the taking damage from weak monsters: That was because other D&D games, including the tabletop ones, abstract out the dodging. This one makes you do it yourself.

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  4. There wasn't much reason for a lawsuit. Game mechanics are not part of the copyright, you have to patent them. And since Westwood didn't copy the graphics or text, they were good.

    And actually with EOB1 you are still screwed for choosing DOS over Amiga (rot13): Gur Nzvtn irefvba unf n erny raqvat frdhrapr.

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    1. Even as I typed the bit about lawsuits--which was tongue-in-cheek anyway--I realized I didn't know enough about the associated legalities. It seems wrong that you can't copyright gameplay elements. It makes me wonder why the makers of Questron felt they had to license the "look and feel" from Richard Garriott.

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    2. SNES has that same advantage that you mention, but with one major problem that outweighs all of its advantages: you can't import your party into EotB2/3, partly because they don't exist on the SNES, and partly because transferring saves wasn't really practical on consoles.

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    3. (IANAL.) Questron's license was almost certainly motivated by the big "look and feel" lawsuits of the late 80s. In 1987, Lotus sued several competitors for copying its 1-2-3 spreadsheet and in 1988 Apple sued Microsoft for copying the Mac UI in Windows 2.0 and 3.0. Some years later it became clear that user interfaces are not protected by copyright. And if neither a program's "idea" nor it's user interface is protected, there doesn't seem to be any obstacle to cloning software...

      But those cases were about business software. Video games are a different thing, and court rulings about video games have been a complete mess. This is an article that valiantly tries to make some sense of it: http://adlervermillion.com/copyright-illustrated-video-game-clones/
      From the introduction: "In a 1994 case, copying Chun Li’s ‘head stomp’ was improper imitation, but in that same case, copying Sagat’s ‘tiger knee’ was just sincere flattery. In one case, copying the size of the Tetris game board (10x20) was infringement, but in another case, copying the size of the Triple Town game board (6x6) was allowed."

      The conclusion I draw is that I wouldn't want rely on the "mechanics" defense alone...

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    4. Im an (analog) game designer and I have to weigh in - Sorry ;-)
      The problem with copyrighting single mechanism is that 1) its to difficult to draw the line "How small" a mechanism can be - rolling a die? Rolling 2 dice (yes, thats to old to be copyrighted, its just an example) and 2) how much needes to be changed to have a different mechanism.
      3) a single mechanism in a different game can be used in a total different game - You could argue that the "First Person" of DM was later used in "Doom" and alike. It would also making new games virtually impossible.
      So normally copyrigths see the whole product. DM/EoB is a grey zone, but since EoB uses the D&D system and a different story, different monsters, different riddles as such, its different enough to be considered a single game.
      TBS It is considered good etiquette to ask the original inventor if you are consciously using a mechanism from a different game. Especially if the mechanism is somehat dominant.

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    5. "And actually with EOB1 you are still screwed for choosing DOS over Amiga"

      Not to mention, that there is an updated Amiga 1200 version, by fans, with 256 colors and a handy automap!!!

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    6. Gameplay elements are concepts. There are no intellectual property laws that allow people to lock down general concepts like that, and it would make us all *much* poorer if it was.

      The closest thing is a trade secret, which is a thing that you've figured out and gives you an advantage as a business and you are choosing to tell no one about. Obviously game mechanics do not qualify.

      Specific implementations of game mechanics can be protected. It might be possible to patent such things, but this is generally considered more harmful than helpful.

      Making similar game mechanics is a time-honored tradition -- cloning and improving upon a baseline, and it should be celebrated. If you tread too close to a litigous company, they may make you sorry for what you've done, but the law does not offer any fundamental protection against your competitors making *similar* games.

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  5. "why couldn't the game have displayed weapon and armor statistics when you right-click on them or something?"

    It really annoying - especially when you get magic items. Thankfully the second game makes identifying much easier. Thankfully, magic weapons are all given names, so don't feel you have to lug around all the axes and maces you find. On the other hand, keep -everything- else.

    You won't accidentally kill any NPCs

    I don't think there are any randomly generated monsters in the game, and loot is fixed.





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    1. We're getting further into spoiler territory here, but there are monster respawns and random drops.

      I would not say magic weapons have names is a reliable rule, but there's a spell Chet already has access to that should help with that.

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    2. I don't recall respawns on the first level, but pretty sure some levels do have them.
      Some magic weapons are more obvious than others, I'd certainly not ignore that spell (oo mysterious, hardly rocket science to which we mean), handy to know which you can safely dump on a pressure plate. There's at least one other type of item its useful for (not counting armour, you can check your ac for that).

      I await Chet's visit to level 4 :)

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    3. You're talking about "Detect Magic"? That seems to make magic items glow, but it doesn't actually tell you anything about them.

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    4. I wouldn't recommend long-term spawn-camping though. Food is, though plenty enough for you to reach the endgame, scare enough to dead-end you if you are trying to max out your multi-class characters.

      You don't have to worry about them as they can be transferred to EotB 2. That said, singular class specialists are still more effective. Clerics can actually hold their fight pretty well and do not need to be multi-classed with Rangers since;
      a) Clerics can wear heavy armor and not be restricted with Spell Failures,
      b) Rangers lose their Dual-Wielding ability when weighted down by heavy armor and
      c) Dwarven Clerics have astounding Saving Throws that makes them really good for frontline defense against magic/disease/poison attacks.

      The following party composition is the most popular (and boring) configuration:
      1 - Human Paladin (or Fighter if you want to have Evil characters)
      2 - Dwarven Cleric
      3 - Elven Magic User
      4 - Halfling Thief

      In any case, you don't have to worry about the starting party anyway. You'd be surprised at what/who you will find in the sewers and I'm not going to ruin it for you.

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    5. >You're talking about "Detect Magic"? That seems to make magic items glow, but it doesn't actually tell you anything about them.

      I haven't played EoTB (well, I did a little bit, many years ago, but gave up in disgust), but in the paper game, Detect Magic will typically tell you if an item is enchanted, and works on many items at a time, everything you can currently see. To find out what an item actually is, you use the Identify spell.

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    6. There's no Identify spell in this game, but Detect Magic works as you describe, making magic items glow without telling you their plus or minus.

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    7. There is no identify spell, but there is a way to identify your whole inventory, which you will find later: Chg na Beo bs Xabjyrqtr va gur Benpyr bs Xabjyrqtr sbhaq va gur qjneira ehvaf.

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    8. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesMay 26, 2015 at 5:57 PM

      Paladins are boring fanatics and elves are worse than most monsters. I would rather play a dwarven chaos mage, a chaotic neutral cleric, a chaotic good barbarian based on Don Quixote, or a or a dual classed thief and cleric who pays for his victims' healing with their own money--those sound like much more interesting characters.

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    9. That sounds like what a guy would say who was born after the late 80s era with a 90s childhood.

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    10. Every level has a bit of respawning actually, it's timed or set on a number of steps done. In the first level, it is a leech close to the alternate / secret passage at the end of the level, and a few kobolds close to where you find the 'special quest' for that level. But it's not whorty of the time needed to get it, There's much better few levels down to do some grinding.

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    11. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesMay 27, 2015 at 3:14 PM

      I was actually a child of the '80s and a teenager in the '90s, which is why I am familiar with the NES and still sometimes play it I just like to do weird things in games and see what happens. I actually hate the over-the-top, creatively bankrupt nature of most comics and F.M.V. games from the '90s.

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  6. For those who want to play along with Chet but hate mapping:

    http://personal.inet.fi/koti/jhirvonen/ase/

    It maps for you, but it is a bit cheaty in the sense that teleporters/spinners/etc are now meaningless.

    I'm amazed that I nearly finished this game when I was 11. I had no concept of the aforementioned traps, no concept of the two step fight technique, and I never mapped. I must have had a lot of patience - I know that due to teleporters, there were numerous gameplay sessions where I'd spend half an hour walking down the same corridors and then give up in disgust.

    I booted it up yesterday and realised that, despite my nostalgia, I hate DM-clones. I settled for watching a guy speedrun it in 10 minutes.

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    1. I respect the effort that went into that automap application, but a big problem with it is that it'll crap out if you swap the position of your party members, which is a life-saving tactic for those times you can't dance around enemies.

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  7. EoB1 (and I think possibly EoB2, if you intend to import) limits characters by level (8, I think), not by combined XP. This means when your paladin or mage get to level 8, they don't gain more XP. On the other hand, a F/M/T can go all the way to 8/8/8

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    1. The level limit varies by race and class, and is almost always higher than 8. You'd have to grind like crazy to max-out as anything other than a halfling fighter, or a halfling or gnome cleric.

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  8. I don't love Dungeon Master-style games, but Eye of the Beholder's my favorite of them. Still, I look forward to your potentially harsh criticism, since I could be overrating it.

    The DOS version's solidly better than the Amiga port, which has a lower color depth, less music & sound at the beginning, less fancy effects for some spells, and lacks keyboard commands for most functions other than movement. There's a fan-made upgrade to the Amiga version (mentioned by other commenters in the past) which improves the color depth and adds an automap. I have to admit, though I owned a copy of the game in the '90s, I didn't beat it until more than a decade later with the help of that automap.

    The classes in my preferred party are almost the same as yours, except that I like a single-class cleric instead of a multi-class one. Since you don't have a gnome in your party, I don't think it'll be a spoiler if I tell you that a gnome could have read the kobold writing on Level 1.

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    1. I've never heard anyone say that the DOS version of anything is better than the Amiga version of anything. Others are going to debate you on that, but even to have it as a possibility shows that we've entered a new era.

      Was the writing something important?

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    2. Well, at the time affordable 486's and VGA cards found increasing prevalence, as well as good, cheap sound cards like SB Pro. It's indeed the tipping point and the start of a new era.

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    3. There are, as Man of Stone said, scribblings on the walls that only certain races can read, but it's never anything critical and is at most a very minor hint or direction.

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    4. Ralph The AvatarMay 25, 2015 at 9:59 PM

      The two words that ended the DOS Amiga Debate - Wing Commander. When that came out in 1990 Amiga users realized that the change was happening and I was one of them :) Bought my first PC in 1991 and put the Amiga in storage

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    5. >I've never heard anyone say that the DOS version of anything is better than the Amiga version of anything.

      The advent of VGA and the Soundblaster was about when the balance started to shift. The Amiga was hard to program, and it did some things really well, but VGA, while slow, was very easy to deal with as a programmer. (Amiga graphics were 'planar', meaning you had to touch up to five different bits in memory, in different bitplanes, to color one pixel, where VGA was 'chunky', one byte per pixel.) Games with fast graphics didn't start to get good on the PC until, hmm, probably around '94, but slower games, especially strategy titles, were shifting hard to DOS at this point.

      At the beginning of '91, the Amiga was five years old, in the middle of the fastest advances in computer power we ever saw. (To someone in 2015, this would probably be about like a computer from 2000; usable, but very slow.) The 'fast PC' of 1991 would have been a 33MHz '486, typically with, hmm, probably about 2 megs of RAM, possibly 4. Admittedly, that would probably cost around $3K: the computer you really wanted, all through this era, was usually that much.

      The 7.1MHz 68000 in the Amiga was looking pretty dismal in comparison, and the A500 would be discontinued later in the year.

      By the time EoTB shipped, it was obvious to almost everyone that the Amiga was losing badly, and that Commodore was being run by chuckleheads.

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    6. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesMay 26, 2015 at 2:20 AM

      Wing Commander was an awesome series and a perfect reason to buy a P.C.

      Why was the Amiga not defragmented by default? Would that haave caused memory leaks, or was the technology not available at the time? Why not put the graphical information on a single layer of the hard drive or used twin electrons for the pixels, or set a routine that would automatically activate one pixel if another was used: Would that have made other required information too far from the graphics, or overloaded the system?

      I know that the Playstation 3 had a lot of difficulties due to being hostile to programmers, as it had four cores working separately from each other, all of which had to be considered when programming a game. Wii's simpler programming was its best and worst feature, as it allowed the system to accomodate many varied games such as Little King's Story, Xenoblade Chronicles, Mario Galaxy, Sin and Punishment 2, Cursed Mountain, Trauma Center, etc. but also led to many shovelware games and a lot of criticism from guys who misunderstood it.

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    7. The SVGA VLB came out in '92 and that's when PC graphics really amped up. One of the reasons EoB looks so nice is that it's well drawn - even the EGA mode looks pretty good, which I played on my 8mhz 8086.

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    8. The kobold writing's trivial, but I find the dwarf and elf language skills helpful.

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  9. The Amiga version that has automap is the A1200 AGA version. That is pretty much the definitive version since the DOS ending just takes you straight to the OS.

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    1. The fact that the DOS ending does that was spoiled for me before, long ago, in a different post, but I wouldn't have remembered if you hadn't written that. I'd rather have discovered that for myself.

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    2. I'm very sorry for repeating that if you feel it's a spoiler. Would you mind explaining your reasoning on cases like these being spoilers? The missing end in the DOS version is a result of a bad porting job, it's not plot or mechanics related.

      I know a lot of people are sensitive about mechanics spoilers and I tend to agree on those, but for me the lack of an EOB ending is similar to saying to someone that EOB in the Amiga was a more limited palette.

      Or is it that EOB has or hasn't *any* sort of ending that you'd have rather found out on your own?

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    3. Quick pedantic correction: At least according to the usual sources, the Amiga version was a port from the DOS version. So it has nothing to do with being a "bad porting job." (I don't know whether the ending was created purely for the Amiga after negative press for the DOS version, or whether it simply wasn't included in the DOS release because of disk space issues.)

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    4. The DOS ending is the same as the Amiga ending, but the Amiga version has graphics to accompany the text and the DOS version doesn't have graphics. And the Amiga version may or may not have a credits sequence too. Probably the thing that annoyed people about the DOS ending is that yes you just get unceremoniously dumped back into DOS after you beat it.

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    5. First commenter: {Spoiler}

      Me: Please try to avoid spoilers

      Next commenter: {Reiterates spoiler and provides even more detail}

      Sometimes...

      ***

      Yes, Helm. I consider knowing anything about the ending--whether it has one, whether it's good, whether it's bad, whether it's long and elaborate, whether it just dumps you to the DOS prompt--to be a spoiler.

      Delete
    6. I'm ashamed to admit that I think I was the original spoiler, my apologies!

      Delete
  10. Another vote for the Amiga version (though I never played the AGA version - time to dust off an Amiga emulator!). I never encountered a single bug or crash in that version and the graphics and sound felt like a real jump from Dungeon Master.

    Have fun. The second game is even better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And here we go... :D

      EOB2 is, to me the worst of the series. Any game with deathtraps should be shot and burnt and forgotten.

      Delete
    2. But those deathtraps can be avoided. Super Mario has deathtraps too but is celebrated, not despite of, but because of!

      Delete
    3. Deathtraps in a RPG aren't acceptable. "Hey you just stepped on the wrong square, the game is over, reload"

      Delete
    4. Wow... you're gonna hate Wizardry then.

      Delete
    5. When did Wizardry 1-3 have deathtraps?

      Delete
    6. Wizardry IV is so... shall we say, uniquely designed, that it doesn't even deserve to be in the same category as regular dungeon crawlers.

      Delete
    7. Wizardry 4 was a deliberate "okay 2 and 3 were too easy for all of you? We can fix that."

      Delete
  11. Was the theme for the names you've chosen, by any chance, something like "characters from 1991 films"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not just films--Oscar nominees for best picture!

      Delete
  12. It's not a spoiler to tell you that the DOS version doesn't have an ending cutscene and the Amiga version has a very satisfying one. You could just watch it on youtube after you're done, of course. Otherwise this is an alright port.

    I recently finished EOB1 and 2. I had fun with because I employed an external mapping application, but seeing how you actually like making your maps I think you'll like the flow of this game even more. EOB2 is vastly superior to 1, but 1 was alright. Dungeon Master is a significantly more fleshed out and together game, but for a first outing in the 3d step dungeoncrawler, Westwood did good.

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    Replies
    1. EoB2 has so many issues, it's by far the worst of the trilogy (and EoB3 is quite average).

      Delete
    2. I'd ask you to expand on EoB2's issues but let's just wait for the blog to get to that.

      Delete
    3. I love when this discussion comes up, as if I'll ever, under any circumstances, play the Amiga version of anything as long as there's another version to play.

      Delete
    4. I'm with Helm. I found EotB 2 great. 3 had issues, but was still enjoyable (but some of those dungeons are massive!).

      Inspire by Chet to play and beat MM I a few years ago, I fired up the EotB series, which I could never get anywhere in as a kid, and beat them. Fun games, but hardly perfect. Looking forward to your assessment Chet.

      Delete
    5. EotB2>EotB>DM>EotB3 would be how I would order them. Back in the day people were divided over which was better out of EotB and DM, I guess nothing has changed :)
      As for amiga vs Pc, early gold box games were hands down better on the amiga, but I think now as you say, you are reaching the point where the systems converge. I think amiga might still have slightly higher quality for a little while, but possibly not so much to outweigh the fact you have to run an emulator to use them (Some things are easysauce to run, others have annoying waits, or quirks to get running).
      I wonder what people's favourite dm clone/deritive is their favourite, since a lot were spawned from it.

      Delete
    6. The "which EoB is better" discussion always comes up in these situations. :) What's that website to "encode" text? I can explain my reasons but I'd rather not have to spoil Chet :)

      Delete
    7. @Pedro:

      Do a search for a 'ROT13 Converter'

      Delete
    8. Three reasons why EoB2 is the poorest game in the series:

      1) Qrngugencf. Cynprf jurer, nsgre lbh tb va, gur tnzr vfa'g svavfunoyr nalzber
      2) Tryngvabhf phorf. Ybfvat lbhe vzcbegrq +4 jrncbaf sebz RbO1 vf greevoyr
      3) Gur fxryrgba ebbz. Va gur jbefg cbffvoyr pnfr, vg'f n qrngugenc nf fbba nf lbh bcra gur qbbe. Va gur orfg cbffvoyr pnfr, vg'f n onq grfg gb gur cynlre'f cngvrapr.

      Delete
    9. I'll make finding an ROT13 converter even easier:

      http://www.unit-conversion.info/texttools/rot13/

      Delete
    10. @Pedro,
      When did #1 happen? I must have lucked out.

      I also don't remember #2, but it's been a while and I might just have avoided that somehow.

      I know exactly what you mean with #3, since that took me the longest of any part of the game, but it took some major thinking to get through and when I finally did it felt like triumph.

      Delete
    11. Pedro Q, all of your complaints can be adequately countered with "git gud".
      (imagine a stick figure with arms defiantly crossed here)

      I find EOB2 by far the best game in the series, simply because it's the only one whose challenge level isn't pathetically easy. It's as if it's the only EOB game whose designers were aware that they were making a DM clone, a genre that grants the player ability to dodge any attack, and therefore they should not just copy D&D monster statlines into their engine and call it a day. They actually made an effort to balance it properly.

      EOB1 is second best EOB, though vastly inferior to 2. EOB3 is utter trash. Dungeon Hack is an interesting experiment - failed, but interesting.

      Delete
    12. Sorry, but there's simply no excuse for #1 . Ever . In any RPG. I won't spoil the location, but I'll quote the hintbook:

      "this room is a trap. There is no way to exit
      this room. Now is the time to load that
      last save of yours. You were warned!"

      Also, the game overall is very easy for an imported party, with the exception of #3 mentioned above. I'd say the only difficulty is with finding good NPCs to join you, but that's yet another (minor) design fault.

      Delete
    13. EoB3 had side dungeons (unncessary to complete the game) and interesting NPCs, like Delmair.

      Delete
    14. Aw, I really enjoy Dungeon Hack. It's okay Dungeon Hack, you and Fantasy Empires can still play together.

      Delete
    15. Just a little hint: The original Rot13 can still be found from www.rot13.com unchanged from the -96 :)

      Delete
    16. The part he brings up in his third point isn't tough, just tedious, and a major pacing killer so early in the game.

      Delete
    17. It seems to weird to reject the Amiga versions outright, though you're pretty much already past the time window where it's worth selecting that platform.

      Delete
    18. The Addict's explained before that he finds the Amiga emulator a nightmare to configure, so he plays Amiga versions only if they're the only version available or all the other ones are unplayably broken.

      Delete
    19. Hi !
      EoB 1 was the first cRPG I played - which made me fell in love with the genre in general.
      It also spoiled me a bit as the graphics are much better than many games that followed it.
      I like EoB 2 even better as the dungeon makes more sense - you revisit some areas and discover new things ...
      I just use the save/load mechanism supplied by the game - so I don't care for the mentioned points.

      EoB 3 is for my a big step backwards. The graphics are ugly - the well-known faces you imported from 1 and 2 just look awful ...
      And the game is just to hard. I had a fully equipped party from EoB 2 but I could not leave the starting level without being killed ...
      So I never got any further than lvl 1 with EoB3 ...

      Ferdinand

      Delete
  13. Westwood will really hit their stride with Lands of Lore, which is phenomenal. I couldn't really get into EOB due to lack of auto-mapping, but I might give it a try now that I learned about the DosBOX and AGA ones.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I did create several dungeons with an editor for Dungeon Master and it was impossible for me to think of a single riddle inside the engine which wasn't in DM or CSB. Also, when looking at the original dungeons, I was amazed how many riddles they had, basically every few steps.

    EoB lacks a bit in that department. The engine allows a bit more and that is made use of, but it also has larger areas where you only hunt buttons, weight pressure pads and avoid spinners. But it has other means to make the dungeon interesting, like the NPCs and the special quest per level.

    You could say EoB is a better rounded game than DM, but a bit weaker in the strongest parts. Compared to DM, it mostly lacks replayability, I completed DM dozens of times, each EoB title "only" 2-3 times.

    I think it's a trope of "pure" dungeon crawlers to hold back with the story. Even newer games (Lands of Lore etc.), which have far more options like outside areas and cut scenes, are basically just a hunt for the end boss. The first person view makes it hard to transport any kind of epic feeling, since your view is always limited and game world is (and feels) small, also for the reason that far travels are almost impossible to include.

    Games which combine dungeon crawling with a 2D map interface do much better in that regard. Dragonflight did that, but totally got the balance between dungeons and overland wrong, but there will be better games in future (Amberstar!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, this is good for Chet to know if he wants to squeeze everything out of EOB. There's a special, secret thing you can do on every level of the dungeon that gives you rewards. Experimentation is key.

      Delete
    2. Time to go back and hunt around on Level 1, I guess. I assume the special, secret thing on Level 2 was the dagger thing that resulted in that text?

      So far, I don't see what would make DM more "replayable" than EotB except that you might just like it better. I mean, once you know how to solve the puzzles, nothing really changes, right?

      Delete
    3. Yeah, you burn 3 or 4 daggers getting it. Possibly not even worth it. Daggers are good.

      Delete
    4. I believe the reward outshines the loss of 3 or 4 daggers :)

      Delete
    5. I don't see why story has to be tied to epic. I'd love for RPGs to do more small, local stories. Baldur's Gate went epic later on, but at the start is is just a quest to find out who you are, and to help with an IRON SHORTAGE. Not save the world, not stop an army, help restore trade and stop an iron shortage.

      Delete
  15. I did solo and duo runs in DM, which is somewhat easier since a single character can do anything and it offers you the option to dodge missiles and spells. In the dungeon, very few is random, items are always at the same place, only monsters wander around a bit. Also, a lot of it is optional, you can leave out a lot.
    CSB is different, many items have random places and there are a lot of invisible teleporters, especially around the junction of ways, which makes the game very random. For example, every way has 3 different starts - and you can also choose your way. I don't know of any game as masterfully designed as the dungeon in CSB even until today (disclaimer: I don't know every single game). The engine is fully used to every limit.

    So yes, I liked DM better - running and fighting feels a lot faster and more direct, that makes the parts you repeat less tedious. And it has more rewards, since you gain more levels and solve more riddles. That lead me to creating dungeons, so I could play it more.

    It's mostly personal preference, yes. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That makes sense. The nature of characters and character development does lead to some interesting possibilities with DM. From what I've experience so far, a single character--maybe a fighter/mage/thief?--could probably win at EotB, too, since the side-step-turn works so well, but perhaps this changes later.

      Delete
    2. Given what speedrunners have accomplished, probably so. (Do you consider it a spoiler to bring up things like speedrun times and techniques that are irrelevant to a standard playthrough? Or for that matter, saying how many floors there are or how long normal playthroughs could take/have taken?)

      Delete
    3. I dunno about Chet but, to me, as long as something that is not stated in the manual or anywhere in the introductory and/or tutorial phase of the game, everything is a spoiler.

      Delete
    4. Yeah, but saying "the speedrun record is X hours and Y minutes, and does A, B, and C" (without giving hints that are useful in a regular game) doesn't *seem* spoilery to me (but then again, neither does sharing the DOS/Amiga difference that got brought up.) You *might* be able to infer from a speedrun time what actually completing the game boils down to (although that's a stretch if you haven't actually completed it.)

      About the speedrun, gur gvzr vf rvtug naq n unys zvahgrf cyhf bar naq n unys ebyyvat punenpgref, vg oneryl yriryf hc sbhe punenpgref, naq fcraqf n tbbq ovg bs gvzr jvgu gjb bs gurz qrnq. Fb vg jbhyq frrz yvxr vs sbhe vaperqvoyl haqrecbjrerq punenpgref pbhyq orng gur tnzr yvxr gung, bar rvtug/rvtug/rvtug punenpgre pbhyq.

      Link to said speedrun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAhrQfpTV64

      Delete
    5. The speedrun I saw used a single character, and you were close on the class. Didn't even modify or re-roll, which is pretty awesome.

      Delete
  16. I remember buying the SNES port of this some time after it came out and being excited because it would be the first time I'd actually get to play a D&D game instead of just rereading the rulebooks. The game quickly broke my heart when I got completely lost in a teleporter & spinner maze before falling into a pit full of poisonous spiders and losing everyone except my mage to venom (and being completely stuck because I couldn't use his daggers as anything but thrown weapons and thus couldn't cut through webs). I think I owned that game for maybe a month before I traded it in for something less arcane.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As for the SNES version (and I think others,) gurer ner gjb arhgenyvmr cbvfba cbgvbaf va gur ragver tnzr, fb vs fbzrbar trgf cbvfbarq, gurl'er cenpgvpnyyl nf tbbq nf qrnq.

      Delete
    2. FARF cynlre urer. V pbhyq unir fjbea vg jnf cbffvoyr gb urny guebhtu cbvfba ol pnzcvat naq pnfgvat Pher Yvtug Jbhaqf ercrngrqyl hagvy gur cbvfba jber bss. Bs pbhefr, gung erdhverf lbh gb svaq n cynpr gung jvyy nyybj lbh gb pnzc.

      Delete
    3. V nyjnlf erzrzore gur tnzr jneavat lbh vs lbh gevrq gb erfg juvyr cbvfbarq naq cbvfba qnzntr unccravat sne snfgre guna lbhe pyrevp(f) pbhyq er-zrzbevmr fcryyf, gb n cbvag jurer vg jnf pbzcyrgryl ubcryrff...

      Delete
    4. That's not the only dead-end there's also gur cneg jurer V'z whfg gebyyvat Purg jvgu na rapbqrq zrffntr yvxr guvf bar.

      V'z tbvat gb pnyy gurfr "Xbobyq Zrffntrf", va ubabe bs gubfr fpenjyvat ba gur jnyyf ur sbhaq va guvf tnzr.

      Delete
    5. "Xbobyq zrffntrf" znxvat gur tnzr hajvaanoyr vf cbffvoyl gur jbefg qrfvta qrpvfvba rire, naq V'z fher jvyy erfhyg va zvahf bar uhaqerq obahf cbvagf jura vg pbzrf gvzr gb TVZYRG gur tnzr. Urer ner zber jbeqf va "EBG guvegrra", cevznevyl qrfvtarq gb znxr vg ybbx yvxr na rkgerzryl rynobengr qrngugenc vf orvat qrfpevorq. Urer'f n enag nobhg ubj jura V gel gb cynl Rlr bs gur Orubyqre va QBFobk, vg'f pbzcynvavat nobhg n "YRIRYF [QBG] GZC" svyr abg orvat cerfrag, arire zvaq gung vg jbexrq whfg svar yvxr n lrne ntb.

      Delete
    6. Yeah, I'm sure he's read our messages for the hints when he gets there. It's not like he could proceed any further without having to waste time restarting all over again.

      Delete
    7. Wasn't it in Ultima Underworld that lbh pbhyq bayl svavfu vs lbh erzrzorerq gur pbeerpgyl pbyberq cngu va n ivfvba evtug va gur svefg yriry bs gur qhatrba?

      And Kenny, funzr ba lbh!!! ;)

      Delete
    8. Another thing that can put you in a "walking dead" situation is if lbh trg n "YRIRYF [QBG] GZC" vffhr yvxr V qvq. Guvf jnf fbyirq ol svaqvat nabgure pbcl bs gur tnzr bayvar, zretvat vgf svyrf jvgu zl pbcl, naq ehaavat vg. Sbe fbzr ernfba "YRIRYF [QBG] GZC" jnf zvffvat sebz zl pbcl, fbzrubj, juvpu qvqa'g nyybj fnivat be ybnqvat.

      Delete
    9. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesMay 27, 2015 at 3:27 PM

      I love Sierra games, but they have annoying dead ends, like yrnivat gur ebcr va gur ubgry, abg gnxvat gur jerapu sebz gur ercnvezna, abg unttyvat sbe gur wrgcnpx naq gur zbarl, yrnivat gur fplgur ba gur qehvq vfynaq, tvir gur jebat cvrprf bs rivqrapr gb gur rivqrapr ebbz vafgrnq bs gur whqtr, yrggvat gur png frr lbh, zvffvat gur genafyngvba xrl gur obbg, yrnivat gur sver cynarg jvgubhg ernyvmvat lbh unir gb jnvg sbe gur fheirlbef gb yrnir, vzcebcreyl nqwhfgvat lbhe tha--V ungr gung cneg--no matter how well I remember a Sierra game, I always end up in one of these.

      Delete
    10. You don't need to ROT13 an adventure game that Chet will not be playing, OHRG.

      Delete
  17. I played this on the SNES in middle school, and remember liking it. Plus, it was three bucks, which is nice when you're too young to get a job. The SNES version is virtually identical except for using the SNES controller (though it does allow you to use the SNES mouse), a soundtrack, not giving you a way to transfer your characters to EotB2/3 (never mind that they don't exist on the SNES, which saddens me) and that one advantage the Amiga has that keeps coming up. Somehow I beat it without mapping (Nintendo Power had some decent coverage of it, so that helped.)

    The GBA port of EotB... of all things, ports a battle system very similar to Gold Box into the game. Somehow, it doesn't work very well, but I want to try it again now. (I think a major part of it is forcing 3rd edition rules into EotB, too.)

    As for the food issue...

    -Gurer vf n yriry 2 (be jnf vg 3?) pyrevp fcryy "Perngr Sbbq" gung vapernfrf rirelbar'f sbbq zrgre.
    -Naq naljnl, lbh pna trg ol whfg svar shyyl erfgvat nsgre rirel svtug jvgu rarzvrf gb erfgber lbhe fcryyf. Pyrevpf pna nhgburny lbhe cnegl, gbb, fb sbbq ernyyl vfa'g na vffhr.

    (Can someone tell me if the first point is in the manual? I don't remember.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Okay, I see now that the manual has a Level 3 cleric spell called "Create Food and Water." It also specifies that starving characters only lose 1 HP every 24 hours, so I guess that's manageable.

      I didn't originally read that because I figured I already had a handle on D&D spells. I didn't realize I'd be encountering new ones!

      Delete
    2. Well, manageable except if you need to rest :)

      Delete
    3. You should be able to heal more than 1 HP per character per hour if you have a cleric, though.

      As for D&D spells you haven't seen before, I think some computer implementations of D&D remove spells that are completely irrelevant to their campaign (for example, Create Food wasn't in any of the Gold Box games to my knowledge.)

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    4. The manual also notes that you can't replenish spells while starving- so it's probably a good idea to keep either a Create Food and Water spell ready or have a few rations (if not both.) This seems like more of a problem than losing 1 HP/24 hours.

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    5. "Create Food and Water" works so well that it basically renders the entire food system moot. I figured when I cast it, it would edge up everyone's hunger bar slightly. It entirely replenished it!

      Delete
    6. There's plenty of food for the first five or six floors, so casting Create Food seems like an annoyance that doesn't really add any resource management to the game- so why was it included? The Gold Box games show that TSR didn't insist on every single mechanic from D&D being represented in every computer implementation of D&D rules (and they did just fine without hunger mechanics. Why not at least give you an option to autocast Create Food when resting, like Cure Wounds spells?)

      Delete
  18. A word of warning: Before opening a lock with a key, ALWAYS try lockpicks first. Certain locks that use key type X can be picked, others can't, and wasting keys can cause you to miss treasures or even potentially become permanently stuck. The critical key type is Dwarven Key - there are way fewer keys of that sort in the game than there are locks they fit in.

    EOB takes some shortcuts with the D&D rules. One important difference is that the least restrictive armor and weapon restriction of a multiclassed character is what applies (ie. fighter/mages can wear platemail and still cast spells).

    "Special quests" are a bit of a misnomer - they'd be more appropriately called "hidden objectives", as none of them are given to you as explicit quests. All of them basically require you to do some specific counterintuitive thing, and the rewards are usually meaninglessly small, so don't worry about missing them.

    Food won't be a problem in the series as long as your party has a Cleric in it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you sure it's not the case that when you use keys to open doors, it simply generates that kind of key somewhere for you to find? I got the impression that lockpicks were useless.

      Delete
    2. I've never heard of the game spawning additional keys. They're all fixed drops as far as I know, and there's not enough of them to open all the locks in the game.

      Delete
    3. A warning for your warning is that every lockpicking attempt has a small chance of critical failure, which will destroy the lockpick.

      Delete
  19. I always thought it was weird how in lots of games like EoB and Wizardry it always explicitly tells you what your AC is but doesn't say how much damage your weapons do. So if you get a new piece of armor you can see at a glance whether it's better than what you already have, but when you get a new weapon, you just have to play around with it a bit to try to get a feel of whether it's stronger or not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AC is essentially your defense and durability, your ability to protect the HP you have. So I don't think it's much stranger than revealing your max HP, at least in Wizardry-likes.

      Delete
    2. With the exception of magic weapons, I can answer how much damage any normal weapons in D&D does without referencing to any guide.

      Dagger, Blackjack/Sap - 1D4
      Mace, Spear, Quarterstaff, Shortsword, Hatchet - 1D6
      Broadsword, Scimitar, Longsword, Hand Ax - 1D8
      Battle Ax - 1D10
      2-Handed Sword - 1D12

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    3. Oh dang, wait.
      I'm mixing my D&D editions.
      Screw this, I'm outta here.

      Delete
  20. I bought all 3 beholder games on a collectors CD I found in the bargain bin sometime in the late 90s. I was excited because it was a D&D game and my brother really enjoyed his gold box games. I was expecting something similar.

    Instead I got a real time first person combat game that I did not enjoy at all in the 15 minutes that I played. It has been sitting on my shelf ever since.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm always unaccountably excited by the Dungeons&Dragons games, even the ones I've never played. I think it's because I know D&D enough that I'll recognize those components, even if I don't really know the game. That said, I actually found this one and played a few minutes, thinking I might try to play along, and at least initially it felt a little weird trying to wedge D&D together with Dungeon Master. I assume it works based on how popular it is, but it felt like when I'm trying to talk Spanish, and it comes out half German. Then I got sidetracked when I realized I'd need to map and never made it very far.

    The eyes in the grates did make me keep checking them obsessively, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eye of the Beholder isn't as confusing to navigate as something like Wizardry, and plus every step doesn't count in the same way- maps can be helpful but aren't necessary, and I managed to beat EotB1 without making or using any maps at all.

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    2. The maps are also how I annotate places I need to return to in order to solve mysteries and whatnot. I agree the levels could be navigated without maps (at least, so far), but I would still need those notes.

      Delete
  22. A thought on that dagger thing.... this is purely a guess, because I haven't meaningfully played this game, and this is definitely not a spoiler.

    In D&D, higher-level illusions can be tactile, so the thing about 'solid illusion' makes me think that there might be a wall you can pass through only if you can see the illusion. It may feel solid, unlike the usual illusions in dungeon crawlers.

    There are 5th level spells called True Seeing and True Sight (one for mages, one for clerics, don't remember which is which), but at 3rd level, you'll be nowhere near those. But I think there's a second level spell, Detect Illusion, and that might be helpful. I think there might be a cleric version, which would give you access from any cleric.

    I don't know, by the way, if those spells are even in the game, so if you don't see them, I'm barking up the wrong tree.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Good to see you enjoying this one Chet. :)

    I LOVED this game as a thirteen year old. One of my favourites from the good old Amiga days. I unfortunately haven't had time to read a lot of CRPG Addict lately, but I'll be along for this ride.

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  24. This was the 1st CRPG I ever played that had me worried about dysentery because it's the 1st one to implement hunger system, being trapped from civilization AND starting out in the sewers at the same time.

    I remember thinking who the heck would eat "food" that is being stowed in a slimy and lichen-ridden alcove. It might not be displayed but sewers generally are full of human wastes, garbage and pests (unless the kobolds also double as full time janitors between their passion-fueled hero-killing sprees).

    Other similar games happened in dungeons. It might not be extremely sanitary but at least the food is less questionable since dungeons are expected to be inhabited. Sewers? Not so much. Who the hell would set up a kitchen in a sewer? Or handle and store foodstuff, raw or cooked?

    I could think of hundreds of places that even includes wrapping the food in paper and burying it in dirt which would still make the food more palatable than leaving that chicken drumstick lying on the floor at the end of a sewer passageway.

    The only reason I could think of for doing that is to, probably, poison the poor moron who is stupid enough to pick that shit up and eat it. For all it's worth, it probably IS a piece of turd that was lovingly hand-molded into the shape of a chicken drumstick by kobold sculptors.

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    Replies
    1. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesMay 26, 2015 at 3:28 AM

      I think that in the days before refridgeration, plastics, preservatives, pesticides and antibiotics, pretty much all of the food would carry such risks. Fun fact: If farmers failed to produce sufficient food in the summer, half the population would die of starvation in the winter--and during the winter, food would come from unrefridgerated, rat-infested storehouses.

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    2. About the food - I believe it has already been an established rpg convention that caves/dungeons/sewers exist for the sole purpose of waiting to be explored by unfortunate groups of adventurers and are inhabited by monsters that are mysteriously level par with the player party after being sealed from the outside world for hundreds of years. Apparently monsters do not have to eat/sleep/pursue other acivities. Strangely the food you find is ok though. A hundred year old chicken leg found in a slimy, dank corner? Hmmmm, yummy.
      Seriously though EoB at least tries to be convincing in the matter. Instead of apples and pieces of bread found elsewhere you get travel rations that from a real life historical counterpart consist of preservable articles like dried salinated meat that could become swallowable after just under fifteen minutes of chewing.

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    3. Fallout: Tactics and Dungeons of Dredmor both joke about the quality of the 'food' items.

      According to D&D lore, Slimes, Molds, Jellies, Oozes, and Otyughs are part of an important sector of the dungeon ecology - Waste eradication.

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    4. Of all these non-sentient scavengers, my favorite is the Gelatinous Cube. It supposed evolved into such a shape through many generations of living in a dungeon with 10'X10' wide and tall corridors.

      The strange thing is... if they are really products of evolution, how are they found in different unconnected dungeons? Do they come out of their own dungeon and travel to other dungeons to asexually reproduce?

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    5. Anyway, funny discussion about Gelatinous Cubes on Reddit. http://www.reddit.com/r/DnD/comments/2zu5k2/how_big_can_a_gelatinous_cube_grow/

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    6. In this game, Chet's joke aside, I don't think you are exploring the sewers: I think you are exploring The Undermountain. Waterdeep is built on the foothills of a mountain, by the sea. Kind of like Vancouver.

      I forget the start of it, but over the years an underground complex was started. A previous ruler of Waterdeep, The Mad Archmage, Halastar Blackcloak used his magic and summoned creatures to greatly expand the existing ruins there, and eventually abandoned the city to live there. He also connected it to a series of caves that run under the entire world (The Underdark) and all sorts of other planes and worlds. So I suspect you are exploring the caves and passages in the undermountain, rather then the sewers. (The sewers connect to the undermountain, but don't flow into it.)

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  25. >>Oddly, gnomes can't be mages; I had thought the "gnome illusionist" was a well-established trope by now.

    If I recall the AD&D 2nd edition rules correctly, although Gnomes could be Illusionists, this was a specific sub-class of the Magic-user class with its own, separate set of spells. Gnome players could therefore choose to be Illusionists but not Magic-Users.

    So yes, they are magic-users but not Magic-users :)

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    1. In 1st Ed, Illusionists had a different spell list, in 2nd Ed they were merely the 'example' specialist mage class, each of which used the same list but were barred from casting spells of the opposite school (Necromancy, in that case).

      A Gnome Illusionist/Thief was the only way to have a multi-classed specialist mage.

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    2. So because EoTB didn't implement specialized classes, no gnome magic user? I guess that makes sense.

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    3. Same for Gold Box I think.

      And then along came Jan Jansen.

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    4. Thanks Tristan, I was confusing 1st edition with 2nd (but I was kind of correct :) )

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    5. It's fair enough, they're very similar products. It wasn't until 3rd Ed that the D&D experienced significant change.

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  26. I loved this game, but not on the computer. Never played Eye of the Beholder on computer, in fact. The version I played was the Sega CD version, which I remember begging for as a present years ago just because I had a Sega Mouse but no games to play with it besides Fun & Games, which was a Mario Paint clone made by Tradewest.

    Eye of the Beholder on Sega CD is unique because it includes a soundtrack created by Yuzo Koshiro, who created among others the soundtracks to the Ys games which Chet played in this article some years ago. He really missed out by playing the Dos version of that, incidentally, the excellent soundtrack is completely gutted there.

    The Sega CD version also has what I consider to be a very atmospheric color palette, where the graphics are all kind of blue-tinted and earth toned. I'm still getting used to the colors in the screenshots being posted here. The reds just look too red!

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    1. The Sega CD soundtrack is amazing, although, to be fair, the original DOS tune is pretty catchy itself.

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    2. Oh man, by the Ys composer? Ys has some of the best game music I've ever heard.

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  27. Meh meh meh my last Posting was eaten.

    Looking forward to this one, usually I'm just lurking and reading your Blog but I had to say something to EoB ... like Dungeon Master it holds a special Place in my Nostalgic Heart @.@ Gosh I love these types of Dungeon Crawler.

    There are some Riddles that are a tad .... strange and I got stuck badly at the end. Maybe I missed a hint or couldn't interpret it properly since I had the game on my SNES in English and being a native German speaker my English wasn't THAT fluent with .. ... 12? ... damn thats a long time ago ...

    Anyways! Hope you'll enjoy that one! My Muscle Memory forces me to rush this game ... when I made my LP of it it took me 2h 45min from Char Generation to end credits xD

    Btw did you pick up the Deceased Adventurer? You only mentioned taking his Lockpicks ... .. uuh ... I'm sure your Paladin would have insisted on giving him a Proper Burial! *coughs*

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    1. You mean take his bones? Why would I do that? Is THAT how I get NPCs to join me? I have to take their bones and resurrect them? Man, I think I've left two of them behind me now.

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    2. It's not the only way, but it is probably the main way, anyhow, first rule of rpgs leave nothing behind unless you physically can't carry anymore :) If nothing else bones can be left on pressure pads as much as a spare battle axe could. I can remember who the bones of the first npc were for (no big loss tbh), I can't remember the second. Their gear with the bones should give you a clue to their class at least.

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    3. It is one of the ways to do it, yes.

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    4. I don't really need another thief. I wouldn't mind an extra mage or cleric. I just got a dwarf fighter.

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    5. You'll get both.
      Do not forget to scribe the mage scrolls you find.

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    6. Gehr, ohg lbh bayl trg bar pyrevp naq bar zntr gb wbva lbh, naq irel yngr va gur tnzr. In the meantime, it's probably worthwhile to let anyone join you rather than nobody.

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    7. I hope that wasn't too spoilery but yeah like Boroth said unless its nailed down I tend to carry EVERYTHING with me even if it just gets used to weigh a pressure plate down "Sorry Random Adventurer, those Stones may be easier to carry around than your sorry corpse" :P

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    8. Not only is it morbid, it's downright creepy.

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    9. I guess it depends. We are talking about a World where Ressurection is possible, don't Cleric get a Talk to dead spell? Maybe you found the deceased son of a wealthy Merchant and he'd pay gladly for the return of the bones!

      *rolls his Persuasion check to see if it worked* :P

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  28. The portraits you've chosen for Starling and Marina seem to be the same character re-coloured and with different accessories - out of interest, where most of the portraits like that? That kind of re-use is pretty common I know, just stuck out to me since the other two portraits you've picked are so obviously different.

    Also - "Tossing a dagger at an approaching giant worm" - does the enemies hit box fill the full "grid square" so you could actually hit those worms with thrown weapons? It looks like they should fly right over them.

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    Replies
    1. That's funny. All of the male portraits seem to be unique, but THREE of the female portraits use the same face--the two I chose plus one additional one with elf ears.

      The hit box extends vertically, I think. The game does the same thing as DM where enemies can be on the left or right side of the square, and if they're on the left and the attacking character is on the right, the missile weapon sails on by.

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  29. 'I like that the maps create irregular wall patterns and don't feel compelled to use every space'

    In the gold box games the walls were 'between' the squares - each square had 4 potential walls around it, any of which could be blocked, or a door. In EOB each wall or door takes up an entire map square. That's why the maps look less compact than in Pool of Radiance.

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    1. I prefer EoB's take on this, though.

      It's kind of stupid to have a micron-thick wall. I mean, was it a magic wall or a nanotech wall?

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    2. I agree with you, but the EOB approach means the map has to be twice as wide and twice as high to have the same level design, which means 4 times as much memory is needed. Pool of Radiance had to run on 8 bit machines like the Apple II which had only 48k of RAM, which may be why SSI went with the micron thick walls and limited the map size to 16x16 (EOB seems to have a limit of 32x32)

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    3. I definitely agree that games that fill in every single square like the early Wizardrys feel less dynamic and realistic.

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    4. 10-foot thick walls don't feel particularly realistic (at least to me), either, though. At least the walls in the Gold Box or Wizardry games could be thought of as taking up some small part of the squares they're on (for example, six inches or a foot thick in each of the two spaces that each section of wall separate.

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    5. If it's only six inches thick, a warrior with STR 18/00 wielding a warhammer could easily bash it down.

      If it's 1 foot thick, think of the Gelatinous Cubes! They will be squished into 9'X9'X12.35' shapes! Does this make them move faster since they are now longer? Or does it make them slower because of the additional friction caused by a larger surface area contact?

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    6. Gelatinous Cubes would obviously be slower, due to the additional friction. As for the walls, how's "thick enough to be impenetrable, not thick enough to take up an entire dungeon space?"

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    7. I'm not an engineer, but I suspect underground walls should be thick, the corridors narrow and the ceilings arched or heavily supported by beams or pillars so they don't collapse under the hundreds of tons of rock and dirt above them. Those flat, brick ceilings look like they'd cave in instantly...

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    8. The walls at the salt mine I visited in Poland seemed quite thick, so I'm going to the 10 foot thick side of things.

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  30. Re: Comparison between DM and EOB.

    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned thus far that whenever you cast a spell in EOB, the movement of the party and monsters pauses until the effect of the spell is completed (contrary to what happens in DM, where you can move freely while the spell is still evolving). I don't know if it is bad programming or plain integration of D&D turn-based system to real time gameplay, but to me it is very irritating, spoils the atmosphere and immersion to a great extent, and destroys any effort of fast side-step dodge/fight. This and the fact that DM has much better level and puzzle design (as another commenter pointed out), are the two major factors which in my mind render DM much superior to EOB.
    A couple of other minor factors where DM excels (in my opinion) is the display of the dungeon itself (which seems wider and with better perspective than EOB), and the sound design (in DM you can actually hear a monster approach and determine its proximity and direction from its sounds - increasing greatly the atmosphere and tension - while in EOB you just hear a vague sound which is irrelevant to the position and movement of the monster).

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    1. I agree with you about the spells. I've started casting them more often, and the pause is really annoying given that nothing else causes the action to stop like that.

      As for the sound...I'm not sure if there are platform differences, but the volume of approaching monsters definitely increases with their approach. I'm not sure how you'd possibly be able to tell the direction, though.

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    2. Regarding the spells, the pause is actually there, but it means a sure hit only (resistances and thac0 besides) when the spell flies from a tile to the adjacent one, so strafing or dancing around is possible, and often required: it means that you need to get some distance from the monsters attacking with spells.

      Footfall sounds volume increases with proximity, in both Amiga and DOS versions, but, you are right, it is not positional.

      A side note on the actual maze design that you mention: having toyed with wallsets extensively, I'm amazed at how smart the choices by the developers were, how many problems in rendering the environment they had to tackle;

      For instance, in each wallset, a 3D item can have a maximum of 8 or 9 different positions on a grid, and therefore 8 or 9 different images, they intersect seamlessly and they, at least in Amiga and EGA versions, have to share with all of the rest of the game a very limited palette, of which a part is fixed and a part changes between wallsets (the differently themed levels) while both in structure and palette DM is much more limited.
      To save space, for instance some item, like the drains is mirrored, or doorways are 'hidden' in the tile they stand by the adjacent wall cubes.

      The only trick DM uses in relation to the perspective Nest mentions, is to have a larger view, but that is a merit in itself, because too much of that and the monsters on lateral tiles get visually mixed with the ones in front of the party

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    3. The sound is non-positional because, I guess, each of your character is listening to each of the cardinal direction?

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    4. DM uses stereo sound, at least in the Amiga version, so it is possible to identify (roughly) the direction of monsters, opening/closing doors, etc., relative to the player.

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    5. PetrusOctavianusMay 27, 2015 at 4:51 AM

      Being able to located monsters by sound was very useful in the area in Chaos Strikes Back with dragons behind illusionary walls.
      Very satisfactory to do the two step dance against dragons you can't see but who can see you, and will roast you if you stand still for more than half a second.

      EoB has more varied graphics, and it has NPCs, but apart from that I think DM and CSB are superior in every way.
      One of the problems is of course shoehorning AD&D into a real time "blobber".

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    6. Strafing and dancing is still possible in EOB, but very unsatisfying due to this pause. The mechanics in DM (and Captive) are much better.
      I was also annoyed (to a lesser extent) by the instant vanishing of monsters when you kill them in EOB (compared to the dust effect in DM which gave you a greater sense of accomplishment - especially in those dreaded knights).
      The gradual darkening of the dungeon in DM - and the constant concern for a light source - also added some bits of atmoshpere (greater in my mind than a different set of colors and tiles every 3 levels).
      Regarding the sound, I suppose they did a stereo trick by having one speaker sound louder than the other depending on the relative position of the monster. It was definitely present in the PC version of DM as well, but in no version of EOB or EOB2.

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    7. I think that part of the favoritism many of us have with the one game we like more is due to the fact that that was the first game that introduced to the mechanic of pseudo 3D; me for instance have played EoB first, and never got into DM afterwards no matter how I tried to; the things you like in DM: the importance of the dancing around the monsters, the cloud when killed them, the lightsource (plus the water and food / stamina thing), the 'walk around' puzzles that opened hidden areas in DM made it unplayable to me..

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    8. I mentioned that the Amiga version lacks the fancier spell effects of the DOS, but I see now that that could be considered a plus. For spells like Magic Missile and Fireball, you only get the actual projectile and not the time-freezing cloud of particles on impact.

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    9. Sure, your point is valid, but not always true (for example, Knight Lore introduced me to the isometric arcade-adventure genre, but I'll always remember fondly Head Over Heels as the best game and pinnacle of the genre, and this also happens for Wolfenstein/Doom, Dune2/C&C and many other genre-defining games).
      The thing is that I remember waiting (and over-hyped by the magazines of the era) for EOB to re-live the DM experience in better graphics and D&D rules, but I was disappointed to find an inferior game (good, but not quite as good). I even fired up both games recently, only to find out that EOB has not aged as well as DM.
      I tried to identify and express here some little or big things that in my opinion rendered EOB a lesser experience than DM as a whole (and yes, I think the dancing tactics are an integral part of a real-time tile-based RPG - otherwise, why not play a turn-based RPG like Might and Magic?).
      Overall, I think the exploration in EOB matched closely the one in DM, but I couldn't say the same thing about combat (PetrusOctavianus mentioned that before and I totally agree with him) - be it for the pause in spellcasting, or the lower challenge (I don't remember being hunted down by monsters in any case), or the overall feel and mechanics (which were captured perfectly by Captive), or the satisfying cloud vs indifferent vanishing when killing a monster, or for some undefined reason.
      Chet himself (who doesn't like this sub-genre) said he felt real satisfaction when he killed some tough enemies in both DM and Captive. Let's see if he draws the same satisfaction about killing an enemy in EOB.

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    10. To me it's not about inferior superior games, I just love EoB 1 for what it is, and dislike DM and Captive (and I really would like to love them too, I just can't bear to play them after just few minutes, my loss).
      EoB is not perfect, but is still one of my favorite games, so much that I made my dayjob to create a game inspired from that.
      In a way, one of the reasons I like CRPG Addict, is that Chester plays through so many games I would love to but I simply can't get into :) and here I can read of the cool things in them without tinkering with DOSbox

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  31. You think that is morbid? Hmm You may want to stay away from dwarf fortress then, certainly away from the forums (mermaid bone farming, dwarven daycare..) :D

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    Replies
    1. I'm sitll waiting for a game where I can craft bread from the bones of Englishmen.

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    2. Hey, Leave my bones out of this :P

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    3. Not sure about the English but you could definitely make some from Italians.

      http://www.yummly.com/recipes/italian-bone-bread

      Delete
  32. "you're no longer a jackass for choosing the DOS version!"

    Right on. Hits 1991 on the head there. Couldn't have said it better. Especially with MIDI music, DOS games have a fighting chance against the still-in-its-prime Amiga. And as time goes on, Amiga only goes down and DOS only goes up.

    "Eye of the Beholder's dependence on Dungeon Master is so stark that you wonder why there weren't lawsuits involved."

    Yeah no shit! The worst part about EOTB was that so many people were exposed to it, that they thought D&D invented this sort of first person party dungeon crawl. A perception reinforced by the later release of Dungeon Hack, a EOTB/nethack crossbreed. By then FTL had long since ceased to exist, and Amiga was only known as a computer that Came Before and was briefly awesome before becoming irrelevant to the idea that you had either 256k or 512k in your video card, and if you had a SoundBlaster or PC speaker.

    Well, that Commission and Letter of Marque is a lot more important than you'd think. It gives the PCs legitimate carte blanche to whatever they find. This was notable back in the day, as it recognized you needed some sort of legal basis for your expedition rather than just "slay everyone and loot the bodies". Another 1991 hallmark.

    Wow...the amazing part isn't that there is a MUSIC on and off...the real news is that there is a MOUSE on and off! Imagine anything on the Amiga offering something like this. A sign of the practical DOS mind. Make it all keyboard-accessible, even though the mouse is easier for new players. After a while, you're going to get good at the game and want to blaze through it. Why not enable that from the beginning? Moreover, in 1991 a lot of PC users simply didn't have a mouse. It was an optional peripheral. It was hardly required. Nice, certainly (if you can spare the COM port) but you won't miss out without one, because most people don't have one. I know myself that I didn't get one until 1992 when I got Civilization. After a game or two I saw how the interface was workable with a keyboard but could be improved with a mouse, went down to the computer store and paid $50. The world shook, and ever after life was better.

    Man, this is so awesome seeing EOTB through fresh eyes. Even Gaston's lame-ass portrait brings back memories. And his dumb greyed-out holy symbol. Thanks for this.

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  33. I guess I'm the only one young enough to have played this on a Gameboy first. I have fond memories of mapping the dungeons in math class with the teacher thinking I was doing work XD

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    1. Wait, you convinced your teacher you were doing work while using the automap in the GBA EotB? You must have been REALLY good at that. And considering I was old enough to have a separate math class, but young enough to still get in serious trouble for cutting school when this came out on GBA, I can't decide if you just made me feel really old, or really young.

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    2. Aww, man you're right. It did have an automap. Who would make a GBA game without an automap? I remember I had a game that expected me to carry around graph paper with me for some dungeon crawler on that thing, and it seemed kind of ridiculous, but I was in math class so it didn't bother me. As for the "serious trouble", you might count me failing the class as that, but I was sneaky enough to play gameboy in class in high school.

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