Sunday, June 14, 2015

Eye of the Beholder: Final Rating

 
  
Eye of the Beholder
Westwood Associates (developer); Strategic Simulations, Inc. (publisher)
Released 1991 for DOS and Amiga; 1992 for PC-98; 1994 for Sega CD and SNES; 2002 for Game Boy Advance
Date Started: 25 May 2015
Date Ended: 11 June 2015
Total Hours: 39
Reload Count: 28
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate (2.5/5)
Final Rating: 41
Ranking at Time of Posting: 155/189 (82%)

"I think I picked the right game to start 1991," I said at the beginning of this series, and I conclude with the same sentiment. You have to be strategic about starting a year's worth of CRPGs, I've discovered. You want to start strong but not too strong; you don't want to blow your roll on the first game. But neither do you want to start with something lame that taints the whole year. Eye of the Beholder was a nice middle path--an appetizer for what I hope are better games to come, including its own sequel.

I'll say right away that Eye of the Beholder is not a better game than Dungeon Master, and if it rates higher than Dungeon Master on my GIMLET, we'll know that the GIMLET is broken or I rated the previous game too low. What Beholder gains through NPCs and better quests, it loses in fundamentally worse character development, combat, magic, and puzzles. I'm sure it's possible to blend Dungeons & Dragons rules with an action dungeon-crawler, and Beholder is an important step in that direction, but it's not the destination.

But let's not start with too many negatives: Beholder is still on the "recommended" side of the divide. From the opening animation and collapse of the corridor behind you, it promises and delivers a solid dungeon crawl that lasts just about the right amount of time for its content. The puzzles tend towards too easy (except some of the "special quests" and that Level 9 nonsense), which is regrettable, but better in my book than games where the puzzles tend towards impossible. I enjoyed the process of mapping, carefully annotating certain squares for later return and investigation, and methodically uncovering the mysteries of each level.

A new party does it right.
            
Immediately after winning, I looked up the "special quests" that I had missed. The Level 1 quest is so obscure that some spoiler sites don't even have it: you have to put a dagger in a slot that contained only a couple of scrolls before--at which point it's replaced with a +4 dagger called "Guinsoo."

On Floor 5, I was supposed to re-stock the "pantry" with 5 normal rations to get 5 iron rations. Yay. Level 7 wanted me to put three stone portal items in the three shelves in the teleporter hub, in exchange for scrolls that offer "cryptic hints about the other stone items," which I managed to find without hints. On Level 8, 12 dart trap holes had to be filled with 12 darts to return 10 +5 Adamantine darts, but I don't know where I would have found 12 darts that late in the game. I gave most of them up in the wall puzzle on Level 6. Level 10 was looking for some Kenku eggs in some niches to spawn mantis warriors with Rings of Protection. Level 11 wanted me to put a scroll in some random niche for a clue on defeating Xanathar. The lesson is clear: if I wanted to solve all the special quests, I should have spent time putting random items into every niche and hole that I found.

I got the rest. Apparently, forcing Xanathar into the spike trap was the special quest for Level 12. I don't remember getting a message to that effect, though.

I wish I'd captured the animation as Xanathar dies. I don't feel like going through the wand thing again, though.
            
The solutions to these special quests are mostly not found in the game's official cluebook, presented as a package of documents recovered from a Drow spy and sent to the party by the famed wizard Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun. The book is otherwise reasonably well done, consisting of three major sections: indexed maps, broad hints, and specific notes on areas and puzzles. In the second section, a number might be clued to a paragraph that reads, "This is a silly place for a dead end. I wonder if we are missing something here!," whereas the third section explicitly tells you, "There is a secret brick on the west wall."

One of these days, I might complete a game I don't care about by just following the directions in a hint book or walkthrough--just to report on the experience. But I wouldn't want to use the hint book for a game in which half the fun is mapping and figuring out puzzles. After the fact, it was fun to see if I'd missed any major areas (doesn't look like it).

A bit from the official cluebook. Its map of Level 12 is close enough to mine.
   
At the end of the game, I was convinced that, with my maps and notes in hand, I could win in a speed run of only a couple of hours. I Googled it, and sure enough, this guy did it in 10 minutes. He knows exactly where he's going, takes the most efficient routes possible, fights only when he has to, and maximizes the use of scrolls, wands, and potions. He kills Xanathar the long way, using weapons, instead of going through the trouble to solve the side quests and get the Wand of Slivias. I'm not sure why he deliberately killed 3 of his 4 characters, but in any event, I couldn't do it faster in 5 years of trying full-time.

Finally, let's talk about the characters. The Forgotten Realms Wiki says that "Xanathar" was one of several beholders to take that name. The narrative is a bit confused, but another beholder of that name led the Xanathar Thieves' Guild in Skullport. Eventually, a powerful beholder called The Eye murdered this Xanathar and took over his guild and title. The Eye also somehow "secretly aided" the adventuring band in Eye of the Beholder, leading to the death of the game's Xanathar, but I'm confused about the specific timeline or how this aid was delivered. Information about the other Xanathars apparently comes from the City of Splendors: Waterdeep and Cloak & Dagger TSR sourcebooks.

Shindia Darkeyes, the Drow briefly encountered in the game, is an operative of the Xanathar Thieves' Guild and appears in several sourcebooks. Piergeiron, one of the Open Lords of Waterdeep (the others' identities are apparently hidden), appears in several novels and references. There are no entries on Teirgoh the dwarven king or his son, and the Wand of Slivias appears to have no eponym.

This is kind of pathetic for a Drow.

All right. Enough messing around. On to the GIMLET!

1. Game World. The back story is pretty poor, telling you only that there's a threat (left oddly vague) to Waterdeep and that the Lords want you to solve it. Into the dungeon you go. As the quest progresses, the story fleshes out a little, with the dwarf expedition, the Drow invasion, the mysterious robed NPC, and the final encounter with Xanathar himself, but none of it is terribly compelling or cohesive. Score: 4.

2. Character Creation and Development. Creation is D&D standard. Development is rapid through the first few levels and extremely slow after that, and the only tangible reward from leveling up is access to better spells. More than in other D&D games, the effects of increased hit points and spell points aren't really noticeable. Race, class, and alignment don't seem to matter at all (the lack of anything for a thief to do is particularly unforgivable), which is really too bad; it would have been fun if the encounters with the dwarves or the Drow had gone differently depending who was in the party. Dungeon Master, with its skill-based leveling, is much better. Score: 4.

The party leader's final stats.

3. NPC Interaction. It was refreshing to see some NPCs in a Dungeon Master-style game, and I liked the process of adding NPCs to the party. The dialogue was less interesting, with choices and role-playing options in only a couple of places. You do learn a bit about the setting from NPCs. While a welcome addition, there's a lot more to be done here. Score: 4.

Resurrecting each NPC and hearing their stories was a mildly fun part of the game.

4. Encounters and Foes. Here, we start to see some improvements over DM, with foes that are listed in the game manual so at least you can tell their names. Their comparative strengths and weaknesses (mantises and mind flayers can paralyze; golems are immune to magic) played a minor role in combat--not nearly as good as in the Gold Box games. I wish that there had been more "encounters" like the first meeting with the Drow party or the dialogue with the robed figure, but the few that the game offered were welcome and a slight step up from DM.

The game offers a hint I don't need to a fairly easy puzzle.

For games that are heavy on puzzles, I use this category to punish and reward the quality of those puzzles, and I'd have to call Beholder's somewhat average. I rarely felt the thrill of victory in solving the various button or pressure-plate puzzles, but neither did I feel frequent frustration. Only once did I think that the puzzle was too obscure to be solved by a reasonably intelligent player investing a reasonable amount of time. Score: 5.

5. Magic and Combat. A weak part of the game. I'd rather the game had offered a straight-up D&D-style tactical/logistics test (even if it was in real-time) rather than the uncomfortable blend of D&D statistics with DM combat. The spell system was pretty bad, making it too time-consuming and complicated to line up and cast spells, and you could quite easily complete the game without a spellcaster. In fact, all but the front two characters play such a secondary role in combat that they might as well not even be on the stage. The ability to save anywhere and often removed much of the sense of danger, and the ability to combat waltz left most of the combats too easy. Other faults include no feedback on enemy health and the stupid animation delays while spells finished casting. Score: 3.

Marina memorizes a couple of spells that she's destined to never cast.

6. Equipment. Maybe a slight step up from DM, but still suffers by not telling you anything about your stuff until very late in the game--and then only telling you a little. The variety of items and equippable slots were good, although the relative ease of the game meant that I rarely bothered with things like potions or cleric scrolls.

Frankly, the category could have been stronger with just a little extra effort. In a game that based almost everything else on DM, I don't understand why the creators removed the ability to right-click on items and see a little basic information. Moreover, the approach to finding items is just weird. You have to fight through multiple corridors, locked doors, and puzzles to get rewarded with a couple Potions of Healing, but +5 weapons and high-level armor are just sitting in the middle of corridors. Score: 4.

My fighter/thief's end-game items.

7. Economy. None, which was disappointing. There was a perfect opportunity to offer some trade with the dwarves or Drow, or to require paying the dwarven cleric for healing and resurrections. Score: 0.

8. Quests. Getting better here. The clear main quest is supplemented by a couple of side quests (to save the dwarven prince and find the healing potion for the king) and a series of "special quests" on each level. There was a basic good/evil role-playing option here, as you could kill all the dwarves for their Wand of Slivias and/or apparently make friends with the Drow. (Neither, I hasten to add, has anything to do with your character alignment.) The quests are still primitive and not nearly as good as other titles of the era, but better than most games in the DM mold. Score: 4.

Solving a side quest.

9. Graphics, Sound, and Interface. Easily this game's best category. The graphics are state-of-the-art for the era and not bad to look at now. I appreciated the variances in wall textures and the complexity of the monster portraits and attack animations. The sound is particularly well-done, offering a palpable sense of approaching danger as well as some of the earliest uses of ambient sounds. And except for the difficulty of casting spells in combat, I had no difficulty with the mouse and keyboard controls. Score: 7, which is about as good as any game could possibly earn before the era of more complex sound effects and spoken dialogue.

10. Gameplay. Another relatively strong category. Dungeon crawlers tend to be linear, but within its confined space, this game does a good job allowing some flexibility of movement and ensuring that not all movement is relentlessly downward. I wouldn't call it "replayable" in plot terms, but like DM, there is a temptation to try things again in ways that offer fresh challenges. It's a tad too easy, but the length is just about perfect. Score: 6.

The final score of 41 puts it, as I expected, lower than Dungeon Master, although I didn't expect it to be lower by a full 6 points. Looking at my DM review, I think maybe I overdid it in a couple of the categories, and a score of 44 or 45 would be more consistent with how I've been rating things since that uneven first year. Still, it's not too far off.


When I first fired up Eye of the Beholder, I honestly expected that it would rate higher than Dungeon Master, and that I'd be spending a couple paragraphs of this GIMLET explaining how a later game can be a knock-off but still better--how a game's originality isn't necessarily equated to my enjoyment of it. I'm glad I don't have to do that now, but it is worth questioning why, 4 years later, Beholder couldn't substantially improve on the game that inspired it. The best answer I can give is that D&D rules and mechanics don't fit very well with DM-style action gameplay--or, at least, the developers haven't yet made it fit very well. To take some examples:

  • The game wants to be like Dungeon Master in its approach to deterministic puzzles, so you can't have characters circumventing the order of things by picking too many locks, forcing too many doors, or disarming traps. Yet this goes against the precise rules of D&D gameplay and makes the thief class spectacularly superfluous.
  • The classic list of D&D spells includes some silly entries for this game. "Flame Blade" and "Magical Vestment" are mostly useless because you're unlikely to have a cleric in the front spot. "Slow Poison" doesn't help; you absolutely have to find a way to neutralize it. "Dispel Magic," as far as I can tell, doesn't work on a single effect that you suffer from any enemies in the game. "Protection from Lightning" would require some creature with a lightning attack to be useful.
  • The need to have a hand free to use the cleric's holy symbol or the mage's spellbook means that you can't equip either with missile weapons--a restriction that you don't find in, say, the Gold Box games.
  • A combat system that invests so much in THAC0 and armor class clashes with the ability to dodge enemy attacks by moving out of the way.

Again, I don't want to leave the impression that the game wasn't fun. I enjoyed it. It's final score puts it in the top 20% of games I've reviewed so far.  It was a nice beginning to 1991. Every time I reached a new level and started a fresh map, I felt a small thrill. It just wasn't as good as it could have been.
      
The June 1991 Computer Gaming World has dual reviews by Dennis Owens and Scorpia. It occurs to me that it's been several games since I read a Scorpia review that wasn't paired with someone else reviewing the same game. Also, for at least a year, the editors have felt compelled to put a disclaimer in front of Scorpia's column about her "distinctive and, often, controversial perspective." I know she wouldn't be let go for another eight years, but if I were her, I think I would have seen the writing on the wall. And while I'm in the midst of some non-sequiturs, I note that the same issue has a review of B.A.T., which I played a lifetime ago. This casts into sharp relief how little progress I'm really making.

Anyway, the reviews. Owens liked the game best: "A stunning, brilliantly graphic and agonizingly tricky foray into the world of 3-D perspective CRPGs." Hyperbolic, but no disagreement so far. But take: "The sense that a real world called Waterdeep exists beyond the confines of the game's limits is strong." Apparently, the half-assed intro and ending did more for him than me. We do agree on the quality and ease of the controls but the needless difficulty of casting spells in combat. Given how he describes combat ("a desperate fight to the death"), plus the hint he gives solely for the battle against Xanathar ("try moving around the beholder, striking it from the sides and behind it"), he didn't discover the combat waltz until late in his session.

Like me, Owens craved even more NPC interaction and side quests. Unlike me, he considered these concerns "niggling." He concludes by saying: "At long last, IBM owners need no longer complain. They now have a game like Dungeon Master--a magnificent game that promises to be only the first in a long (we hope very long) line of releases." I'm pretty sure PC users had Dungeon Master as early as 1989. [Later edit: I guess both I and MobyGames were wrong about that. The PC version didn't come out until 1992 or 1993.]

Scorpia was both more positive and more negative. She extensively praises the use of sound (quotes like, "best results are obtained with a sound card" make me remember how glad I am it's not still 1991). On the negative side, she agrees with me that having a thief "is like dragging around useless baggage." She complains about a combat system that only allows front-on attacks (Dungeon Master allowed characters to turn to the side and rear), the single save slot, the awkwardness of the spellcasting system, and that spellcasters have to hold their spellbooks ("why would you need to memorize them, then?").

Her worst venom is reserved for the ending, which she calls "abrupt and unrewarding," "outrageous," and "cheap." I feel like I'm often sensitive to such things myself, but in this case I didn't think it was that bad. I mean, at least you got a few paragraphs of text to wrap things up. The Amiga version, with its forced drama of the party hurling Xanathar's eyestalk onto the Lords' conference table, didn't really serve any better.

Both Owens and Scorpia repeatedly mention the game as the beginning of the Legend series of D&D games from SSI. The box does say, "a LEGEND series fantasy role-playing saga, Vol. I." I don't know what SSI saw as the unifying theme of the "series," but it didn't last long. Eye of the Beholder II is listed as "Vol. II," but that seems to be the last time we hear the term. The box of Eye of the Beholder III doesn't mention a series name, and the whole thing is pretty much known as the Eye of the Beholder series today.

MobyGames's round-up of other reviews shows considerable range. Given that it was a playable game that existed in some kind of computerized format, Dragon of course gave it 5/5. Other reviews range from 79/100 (Power Play) to 96/100 (CVG), with some reviewers comparing it favorably against Dungeon Master (Amiga Points of View: "There have been many pretenders to the Dungeon Master throne, but this is the first game that has taken the genre to a whole new level") and others lamenting that it doesn't improve much on the earlier game (Amiga Action: "Even though it is almost identical to Dungeon Master, it hasn't quite got the same zest").

This is the first game I've actually enjoyed from Westwood, so it doesn't surprise me that most of the names are new. Game design is credited to Joseph Bostic, Phillip W. Gorrow, Eydie Laramore, and Paul S. Mudra, none of whom worked on Westwood's previous inadequate offerings like BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception or Mars Saga/Mines of Titan. Many of them went on to the well-received Lands of Lore series, as well as the Eye of the Beholder sequel.

I've heard mixed opinions as to whether Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon is better or worse. I hear it has a better ending and a larger game world (which includes outdoor exploration), but much more difficult gameplay. No matter what your position, I think we can all agree that it's amazing that Westwood and SSI were able to release both titles in the same year. I won't save it for the end of the year--bookending the year with two games of the same series seems a bit unimaginative--but I'll probably save it until I have a lot of other 1991 games behind me.

*****

In list news, I can't find a working version of ICON: The Quest for the Ring. The only version I've been able to download won't work past the first level; it comes up with a message demanding that one put the "original game disk" in drive A or B. I tried copying the game files to a folder and mounting it as A:, but it won't read them. Until I get a solution, it's going to have to come off the list, which is too bad, because it seemed to have an interesting theme.

The next game is the first to test my resolve to play all "Latin alphabet" RPGs. I previously played Saga, which was in French, but that wasn't a problem because I can read French. For German, on the other hand, the entirety of my vocabulary consists of guten, tag, strasse, ich, bin, ein, Berliner, kleine, nacht, and musik. I'll be making a lot of use of Google Translate.

168 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this site. i love those time travels.

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  2. I suspect he killed 3 of the characters in the speed run so that all the xp goes on the one character instead of being split across all 4.

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    1. That's what I was thinking. That, and does it speed up the interface or anything similar? (I know such things are common in console RPG speedruns, to cut down on time spent entering commands and similar.)

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    2. I watched that speedrun yesterday, and was amazed at how easy he made it look.

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    3. Speedrunners are experts in the game. Usually, it takes an average of more than 10 hours of playtime for every 3 hours of content to familiarize.

      Then again, Skyrim can be speedran in less than an hour after playing it for only 60-70 hours (game boasts more than 100 hours of contents). So... er...

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    4. Morrowind and Fallout are even more pathetic in that regard, though I would argue Morrowind takes a bit more know-how than either Skyrim or Fallout to speed-run so quickly.

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    5. The current record on Speed Demos Archive (one of the big speed running sites) is a sub 9 minute run that only takes a death to Xanathar's death beam, then lures him into the trap.

      I really enjoy watching speed runs of games I know because it's so amazing to see just how thoroughly a game can be mastered (not to mention some of the hilarious glitch exploits).

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    6. I find the use pathetic in case of short speed run times highly inappropriate. When talking about open world RPGs like Morrowind or Fallout it is a sign of really good game design that a game that normally takes 40+ hours to beat can be speedrunned in 10 minutes. Not so much in case of linear games but still.

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    7. That's not what we meant at all.

      What we're saying is the amount of practice, not the amount of content. If the no. of hours on practice peaked after double the no. of hours of content, THAT'S freaking good game design and replayability.

      But if no. of hours on practice peaks around half the no. of hours of content, that's pretty terrible.

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  3. Some games are really finicky about having to be loaded from a removable drive and not a folder. You have to pull off some shenanigans in DOSbox to emulate this properly. I don't remember the exact process; you could check the DOSbox wiki for help, or look at the config for a gog.com dos game maybe

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    1. Stuffing the files into a floppy disk image and telling Dosbox to treat it as a virtual disk might help. Worst case, a copy of freedos in VirtualBox might be able to run it, but expect to have to relive all the glory of configuring sound cards and drivers too.

      If it's copy protected, the trick in that era was to have sectors of the disk marked as "bad" and write special values into them to verify that it's the original disk and not just copied contents. If the game's using that then you'll have to either find an exact image copy of the disk or hexedit the program to bypass the check.

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    2. I tried that. It just either doesn't recognize it as a disk or doesn't recognize the content on the disk.

      Not really much of an RPG anyway, but it had some interesting ideas and the manual promised a lot of complexity after Level 1. If anyone ever finds a solution, I'll try it, but I probably won't be the one that pioneers the solution.

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  4. Always interesting to hear your thoughts and opinions on RPGs.

    Anyway, I've been playing the GBA port on and off lately, and it's both an improvement and a downgrade. An improvement because it grafts a Gold Box-like battle system onto the game (you can see some gameplay and a battle here: https://youtu.be/0jVGzyinSps?t=1m36s), as well as money and an economy (B1 has a mini-town tucked away in a corner with shops, and the Dwarven camp on B5 is a similar town.) But I haven't once found anything worth buying; looks like found treasures have outclassed it. Plus... the implementation of 3e rules leaves some things to be desired (the level cap of 8 is very attainable with just 21000 EXP, not to mention the whole system being buggy- Aid doesn't give bonus HP, for instance.)

    I really, really, want to really, really like it though... because of that Gold Box-ish battle system!

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    1. The battle system is the same reason I despise the GBA port. That and trying to shoehorn third edition rules into a second edition game. Anything that makes a DM clone less like a DM clone makes me hiss and spit.

      It's regrettable that the Atari Lynx port was never released. Now there's no way to play the EOB "as it was meant to be" on a handheld system (except through emulator shenanigans on a Pandora or something).

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  5. The rating is spot on! ;-) I don't think there is any other game which is so much compared to a 4 year older title - and loses in many aspects. A shame and pity, I really wanted to love EoB.


    About the speed runner: he killed off 3 of his group so his main guy doesn't have to share experience. The same way you are better off without NPCs, they only carry luggage anyways.

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  6. My score prediction was 6 points too high. But I had forgotten about the relative uselessness of characters 3-6. And I thought you'd give a point in the economy for some item transfers. And I thought equipment would rate higher, but then you say how it could easily have been better.
    In the end, it mainly demonstrates what a remarkable game Dungeon Master was.
    Scorpia sounds like an expert, focusing on the real innovations (mainly sound), while Owens sounds like a marketing guy.

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  7. PetrusOctavianusJune 14, 2015 at 7:56 AM

    Your observations and assessment of the game's merits and shortcomings are spot on.
    It actually makes me want to replay Dungeon Master.

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  8. "Other reviews range from 40/100 (Power Play)"

    That's a mistake on MobyGames. If you follow the "read review" Link to the scan of the review, you can see that it has been rated 79% by Power Play.

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    1. Filed a correction at MobyGames for the rating; it had been input incorrectly, as 79/199 8)

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  9. Thank you for this blog, I have been enjoying it for a long time now!

    As to this upcoming German game, being German I wonder if I can help you out with a few translations when GoogleTranslate doesn't give you anything comprehensible, just in case that you feel you miss something essential due to the language barrier.

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    1. I'm with Odin here. Send me a message if you need help.

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    2. I need Odin's help. How do I avoid the Wild Hunt?

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  10. In my opinion, the best game of this genre is still Dungeon Master 2. They managed to innovate on a good formula with a barter system and summon spells. It will take a few "years" to get us there, though (1993 if you consider the original version, 1995 for the non-japanese editions)

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    1. I enjoyed DM2 too, but one thing that DM1 did better than DM2 and Chaos Strikes Back IMO is the progression and the right mix of exploration, combat and puzzles.

      (Not really a spoiler, but if you want to play DM2 without preconceptions, Chet, then don't read on.)

      CSB is very nonlinear and easily confusing. DM2 is split in two halves: the outdoors areas outside the keep, and inside the keep. And the areas outside the keep have no puzzles at all if I remember correctly, it's just fighting, leveling up and buying things at stores. Satisfying but lacking variety. It was a relief to finally enter the keep where the levels contain a lot of good puzzles - and then after a couple of great levels the game is over too soon...

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    2. The outdoor areas have quite a few puzzles. Remember that you're searching for something(s) outside before heading inside.

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    3. Really? I thought DM2 was awful. Or at least very mediocre and worse than DM1 in every way that mattered.

      I suspect our host will like it better though, because it has shops. Awful, awful shops that sell you all the best equipment in the game so that you don't have to explore and discover any of it. That would be too adventurous.

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    4. C'mon guys, is it really so hard to avoid spoilers (or at least rot13 them)?

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    5. DM2 had some cool ideas. In the end I find it lacking because
      gur zvavbaf gutng pna ernpu lbh naljurer, qvfehcgvat lbhe fyrrc znxr lbh or dhvpx vafgrnq bs gubebhtu. V sbhaq gurz irel naablvat nsgre n juvyr.
      Naq V qvqag guvax gurer jrer gbb znal chmmyrf ba cne jvgu gurbcevtvany rvgure.

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    6. MOZA, the difference between a game that has no shops and one that has "awful, awful shops" might be a difference between 0 and 1 on the GIMLET. All you have to do is look at the ratings between DM and EotB to see that just because one game has things another game doesn't (e.g., NPCs), it doesn't necessarily result in a higher overall score or my liking the game better.

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  11. If you assume that the first special quest is completable without descending to the second level, it makes it a bit more manageable. Since the entrance is so small and there's not much to be found.

    But even with that assumption, I couldn't figure it out myself. Mostly because I assumed that it'd have something to do with the skeleton. I remember trying to put it in that niche, but didn't think to try the same with the dagger.

    Not sure how anyone was supposed to figure it out, except by accident.

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  12. I remember when I purchased it (or rather, Dad did) the clerk told me to "make sure I include a thief in my party to pick locks" and to "use the mouse instead of the keyboard".

    Your review seems accurate to me. Everything could have been done better, but for the graphics, which were a clear high point (including the cool intro!).

    Different character races do allow for some translation of wall messages, which is a nice touch.

    A multi-class cleric is an option for a front line fighter, which would give some meaning to those spells. Realistically, they're pretty modest buffs anyway. The level 3 kuo-toa have a lightning attack, but it does very little damage and is easily avoided. I don't think either case contests your sentiment that spells suck.

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    1. A clerk told me Duke Nukem Forever was a pretty good game when I purchased it.

      Never will I trust again.

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    2. Don't Kou-toa fire magic missiles?

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    3. kenku (the bird men) cast magic missiles, kuo-toa (the frog men) have an innate lightning generation ability. In the p&p game, I think it took multiple kuo-toa to generate a bolt, but that was modified for EotB

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    4. I didn't remember getting hit with lightning from kuo-toa, but even if that's the case, "Protection from Lightning" being a Level 4 spell, you wont' get it until you're well past the kua-toa, so it's still pretty useless.

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    5. Protection from Lightning isn't even in the game.

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    6. That does appear to be the case. I was relying on the list of spells in the game manual, which includes it. But I just loaded it up, and my clerics don't seem to have it as an option.

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    7. Is your Cleric from the an opposing Sphere? Jub nz V xvqqvat? Fcurerf? Onyyf, zber yvxr vg. Gur tnzr'f nyernql cerggl qhzorq qbja gb pngre gb gur erny-gvzr pbzong flfgrz.

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  13. You could cut down to only 4 characters to get more XP per PC and level up more, since the back characters don't do much. Only the player-created PCs go on to the next game, right? Just don't recruit any NPCs at all. The disadvantage is that you lose a ton of inventory slots useful for carrying around all sorts of dungeon junk, which is just the thing for the RPGer who won't throw anything away. It's a tough choice.

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    1. This might be a good reason for thieves, actually. Single-class thieves soak up very little experience and have just as many inventory slots as anyone else. Plus, they're almost as good with ranged weapons if you ever do feel like using them.

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    2. "Only the player-created PCs go on to the next game, right?"

      Actually I think it's whichever PCs are in your first four slots. So you could replace one of your own characters with an NPC if you found him useless.

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    3. "Only the player-created PCs go on to the next game, right?"

      You can select whoever you want. But only four of them.

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    4. All characters soak up the same amount of xp and thieves are markedly worse at ranged combat than fighters.

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    5. Thieves take less than half the XP fighters do to cap out, and if you run multi-classes theyll be eating even more of that precious experience.
      The THAC0 difference between a thief and a fighter isn't that big - especially since the thief will prioritize dexterity more than the fighter will.

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    6. I think you misunderstand how XP works. Each character gets an even share of XP, but multi-class characters have to share it between their levels. It's not like if you have a Figher, Paladin, Cleric and Fighter/Thief, that the F/T gets 2/5 of the XP.
      Characters with high primary stats (15+ for fighters, for example) may get a bonus of +5 or +10 XP, but I'm not sure if that rule was implemented in the EoB games.

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    7. That should be +5 or +10 _percent_ bonus.

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    8. That's not what I was suggesting, though I can see how you might read it that way.
      I just meant that it'll take the multi-class longer to cap. So long after the Thief is maxed out, the Fighter/Cleric/Mage will still be taking his share of XP.

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    9. XP is split among all party members Ware, if they can use it or not. So I'm not sure how that makes sense.

      Also, THAC0 difference between a thief and a fighter is pretty drastic. 1/2 for a thief, 1/1 for a figher, so a 9th level thief has a THAC0 of 16, but a figther has a THAC0 of 12. 20% is a big difference.

      Also, since fighters can get exceptional strength, and cap out at a +3 to hit, and rogues cap out at +1, since they cannot, that pushes fighters up a bit more as well.

      On the "after I've hit" front, fighters max out at +6 to damage with 18(00) strength, rogues max at +2.

      Really, there are massive advantages to playing a fighter in combat. That's what they're made for.

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    10. I don't see what their strength score has to do with ranged combat, which is specifically what I was discussing. Yes, fighting fighters are for fighting fightily, I'm not disputing that.

      And that method of XP distribution is what doesn't make sense to me. In most games I've played you don't just keep endlessly acquiring XP when you can't use it anymore.

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    11. "And that method of XP distribution is what doesn't make sense to me. In most games I've played you don't just keep endlessly acquiring XP when you can't use it anymore."

      To be honest I've never played a team/group based CRPG where XP was not given to members once they cap. Members always soak up their ration, even if they don't need it.

      Didn't see your note re:range and you are correct in the sense that the strength bonus doesn't add to the to-hit chances on ranged attacks. Fighters still improve Thac0 twice as fast as rogues, and IIRC you can modify stats to 18 across the board in this one. So if you're min/maxing fighters still gain the advantage.....

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    12. PetrusOctavianusJune 15, 2015 at 6:44 PM

      In the Gold Box games Strength bonus applies if using Fine Longbows (probably not implemented in EoB either), so high STR can make a difference even for ranged combat.
      And Fighter/Thieves can be more effective than pure Fighters if they get the chance to backstab (yet another thing not implemented in EoB).
      Hmm...I'm starting to see a pattern of things missing from EoB that DM or the Gold Box games had...
      Still, it was a fun enough game back in the days, and the graphics are really good in the DOS version. Makes Wiz 6 which was released a month or two earlier look laughably bad in comparison.

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    13. Speaking of which, I wonder why there isn't a Stealth-based Dungeon-crawler Action RPG based on a D&D Rogue character.

      Thief (Eidos Interactive) was fun but it would be pretty badass to play as a lone Rogue in a dungeon, sneaking up to backstab Minotaur guards and setting traps to destroy Stone Golem guardians.

      Man, I'd start throwing money at the screen if it helps getting this game to be realized.

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    14. You should give Dungeons & Dragons Online a try, Kenny. It's action based, stealth has many uses and you can play something similar to a D&D rogue. You can solo most of the game (at least you could back then when I played it).

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    15. I was thinking more in the lines of Dishonored, Deus Ex and Thief actually. LOL

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    16. There are some very stealth-heavy dungeons in DDO and most of them allow a lot of different solutions anyways. I soloed with a lot of different characters (ranger, wizard, rogue, bard, ...) and every class has other options. But stealth is always helpful and well implented.
      It's actually a quite good game, if it wasn't a huge time drain for me, I'd still play it. But you can simply log in, do some quests and log out if you have more willpower than I have. ;)

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    17. When you win an encounter and get XP, the total amount of XP is divided among the party members. It's like treasure, each character doesn't get the same amount of gold and all get the same potion. If you get 1000 XP and have six characters, each character gets 167XP. If any characters are multi classed, they get 83XP in each of their classes.

      If EOTB doesn't do this, then it's yet another weird non-standard feature unique to this game.

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    18. @sucinum - Whoa, dude. Not gonna touch any Multiplayer Online Games for a loooooong while.

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    19. I certainly have never played an RPG where the apportionment of experience shifts if a character reaches their maximum level. Indeed the D&D rules are quite explicit that experience is split evenly among the characters (not getting into henchman etc here). While other games have deviated from D&D rules, that influence was still extremely strong in 1991, and this was an officially licensed product.

      I would be interested to hear of a specific title that does focus experience upon the characters who can use it.

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  14. I could never get into Dungeon Master as a kid, but I played the heck out of this game and it's sequels. Reading this made me start playing Legend of Grimlock, I've had it for a while and never did anything with it and I figured I just relived EoB vicariously through these posts.

    Thanks for the blog, it's a great read.

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    1. Hah, I've been doing the same thing with Grimrock 2. A craving for pressure plates and lethal waltzes can be met by lots of games.

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  15. I'm pretty certain the PC version of Dungeon Master in fact didn't arrive until late 1992 (IIRC, it was tested in the very first PC game magazine issue I ever bought). A pretty unfortunate delay, as Ultima Underworld was released just a few months prior... in comparison, DM finally showed a little age. (Then again, neither me nor my friends had a machine on which UU would run with any speed, so we still stuck with the classic.)

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    1. I did my research while writing an article on Dungeon Master for Russian Wikipedia (which recently got the featured article status). MobyGames is clearly wrong on DOS release date: no reviews, no other sources even mention Dungeon Master for IBM compartible PCs until 1992. And then it was basically five year old game, without any enhancements, competing with many clones and spiritual followers, such as Ultima Underworld (which had very innovative 3D engine). It was good for players with outdated hardware (hell, I was stuck with a PC XT clone until 1997), but it rightfully recieved mostly negative reviews.

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    2. I played "Dungeon Master" on the Atari ST (on loan from reLINE Software) back in 1988/1989 when this was the only option to play it. The Amiga version did not materialize until late 1989/early 1990, if I remember correctly, and it was a significant improvement over the Atari ST version: better sound (and in stereo) and it used 32 colours as opposed to the 16 bit colour user interface of the Atari ST version (which had to use clever tricks to make the most of that). The animation was smoother, and the user interface was more responsive, too.

      I consider it unlikely that a PC version would have been possible at the time, because "Dungeon Master" was written entirely in 68000 assembly language. I recall reading a computer game magazine article on "Software Heaven, Inc." at the time which stressed this fact. That article even had a photograph of the source code "tome", which was a bound printout the size of a phone book.

      Given the size and complexity of this game, it's amazing that they chose to write it in assembly language.

      That it took 4-5 years for a PC version to emerge sounds about right to me. It would have had to be a complete reimplementation of the game.

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    3. Thanks for the correction. That's what I get for relying on a single source.

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    4. 1992 is right for the PC version, but conversions already appeared late89/early 90 on the Japanese FM-Towns and PC-98 platforms which are both X86 based like IBM-compatibles. There was also a Apple IIGS port around that time, so X68000 assembly can't have been that much of stumbling block in principle.

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    5. They probably wrote the original in assembly because they needed to optimize it heavily to fit in the amount of memory they had and run at a decent speed. Higher-level languages generally sacrifice computer resources in exchange for requiring less programmer time. These days programmer time is usually the limiting factor, but that was much less true in the early days.

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    6. The Mobygames MS-DOS release date has had a correction filed by me. A single source isn't great, but we do what we can to make it as good as possible!

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    7. The ST had only an 8MHz processor, and the Amiga was at 7.14, so there wasn't much horsepower to work with. The game targeted 512 megs, so there wasn't much space, either.

      At the time, C compilers at that time weren't all that great, so I suspect assembly was probably the only reasonable option.

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    8. I worked within the constraints of such a machine, back in 1988 (this being the Amiga). Not much of a choice, really. You had to know what you were gunning for, and then make smart decisions on how to use the resources.

      Not that many games were CPU-bound at the time, these being (typically) simulation games using 3D graphics. Many opted for wireframe graphics, few went with solid shaded graphics. For example, MicroProse's "Gunship" would use wireframe graphics. SubLogic's "Flight Simulator" and "Jet" would use solid shaded graphics. Dynamix' "Arcticfox" used solid shaded graphics, too. You could tell by the frame rate which one was written in 'C' and which was written in assembly language: "Jet" and "Flight Simulator" were written in assembly language, "Arcticfox" was written in 'C'.

      "Dungeon Master" is not a game which strikes me as CPU-bound, or being in particular need of the control which assembly language gives to the programmer. Given the experience, somebody could have produced a "Dungeon Master" clone in 'C', on the Amiga, and they did: Raven Software's "Black Crypt" (1991/1992).

      'C' compilers for the 68000 machines available at that time were not that universally poor in terms of code quality and performance. In fact, Commodore produced the Amiga operating system using one of the best 68000-targeted 'C' compilers money could buy at the time, this being the Green Hills optimizing 'C' compiler (which was written in Pascal). This was the same compiler which was available to developers who used the cross-development toolkit, which ran on Sun 2 and Sun 3 workstations.

      That said, the most limiting aspects of the Atari ST and Amiga machines were the amount of memory available and the performance of the respective graphics subsystem. It makes sense to me to use assembly language instead of 'C' if you wanted to optimize for making the most of the available memory. Back in these days, 'C' code was rarely lean and the runtime library brought a lot of bagge with it. In the case of the Atari ST, the graphics had to be realized through CPU pixel-pushing, and that was painful. I recall that the animation you saw when you killed an enemy, which was a swirling smoke that went through 4 or 6 frames, could take up to 10 seconds to play out. In the Amiga version, the same animation always finishes in less than three seconds. I suppose that the Amiga version uses the Amiga's "Blitter" acceleration whereas the Atari ST version did the best it could, given what the CPU allowed for.

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    9. The later Atari STEs also had a blitter. Back then, I didn't really know what that is, but now I finally know! It speeded up the death clouds :o

      I always thought the smaller DD discs were the issue. DM on Atari also didn't have the sounds for war cry, monster steps, the horn of fear and when you clicked on walls. Black Crypt almost fills a HD disc.

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    10. I was told that the Blitter in later Atari ST models was not as effective as developers had hoped for, but then I never saw much of the Atari ST in practice and, "Dungeon master" aside, never used it for anything at all.

      The smaller discs probably were a major issue. The Atari ST would use "standard" 720 KByte, double sided 3.5" disks. By comparison, the Amiga would use 880 KByte disks, which could really make a difference. That sound effects were missing seems important to me. From my experience, sound effects did not compress well back then. You could reduce the playback rate, but that would result in lower fidelity, with aliasing noise. Rumbling bubbling lava or the mysterious sounds of howling in the distance did not suffer as much as crickets chirping or water dripping. So there is not much wiggling room: you can either sacrifice the quality of the sound effect and barely fit it on the disk, or leave it out. I suppose the "Dungeon Master" developers chose to omit what was not crucial to the experience. Remember, back in these days digital sound effects were the icing on the cake, on the Atari ST platform, which did not have "native" digital sound effect output.

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    11. @Malor: I believe that you meant to say the game targeted 512 kilobytes. A single megabyte was above the baseline at the time, though Dungeon Master did require that full megabyte on the Amiga. It's one of the reasons I bought the memory upgrade for my A500.

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    12. Since I just read it, a small fun fact: Dungeon Master for Amiga 500s was sold in bundles together with memory expansions. Because it was that good.

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  16. I could never get very far with EOB or any Dungeon Master game, I am useless at the real time combat but I am super grateful to you addict for playing these games I always wanted to play but couldn't. You keep me excitedly looking at my computer each morning to see if you have a new post. Cheers!

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  17. You might contact Trixter at oldskool.org regarding ICON. The game was a technical marvel for its time and I bet he'll know how you can get it running.

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  18. Yeah, about that "Legends" series thing, it makes sense because the sequel isn't going to have a Beholder end-boss but... well... it's not the only game to have the Sub-Title becoming more well known. The Bard's Tale was supposed to be part of the "Tales Of The Unknown" series. Bard's Tale 2 was originally titled as The Thief's Tale.

    And daaaaayyyuuuuummm... Canageek's girlfriend is...

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    1. I'm definitely missing something

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    2. You missed the second screenshot.

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  19. On the topic of advancing graphics - does anyone know what was the first first person crpg to switch from line drawings for the walls (eg, early Ultimas and Wizardrys) to textures (eg Eye of the Beholder and the Gold Box games)? Bard's Tale in 1985 is the earliest example I can find

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    1. Might & Magic Book 1 was from 1986 so I guess Bard's Tale gets to be the first to transition from vector graphics.

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    2. When in 1985 did Bard's Tale first come out? It's an adventure game and not a CRPG, but the Famicom version of Portopia Serial Murder Case had a first-person maze (directly inspired by Wizardry) in December 1985, and it had textured walls. Official ports to Japan of Wizardry began that year, and by the Famicom they had textured walls- I wonder if one of them originally had textured walls?

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    3. I don't know if we can bundle this conversation between PC and consoles. There's a reason why these NES, Genesis and NeoGeo systems look so damn fine when compared to PCs of the same era and/or even next-gen.

      Anyway, I think there should be 3 parts to this transition; 1st: wire-frame (Dungeons of Daggorath, Akalabeth, Wizardry 1 & etc.), 2nd: solid walls with colors (Tunnels of Doom, Ultima 4 & etc.) and 3rd: textured walls (Questron II, Ultima 5 & etc.).

      For one thing, PCs are using floppies with ROM capabilities only while old consoles uses cartridges that can hold RAM chips or, at the very least, act as an expansion to the console's motherboard.

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    4. You have that backwards, Kenny. Cartridges are pure ROM except for the battery-backed save memory included in most console RPGs, while floppies could be considered a very slow form of RAM in that they can be written to over and over again.

      Neither, however, makes that much difference in graphics capability (aside from putting a ceiling on the total size of the game, but both the cartridge and floppy formats found easy ways around that) - it is the amount of RAM in the host system that matters for the complexity and fanciness of the graphics.

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    5. Oops! You're right. Sorry about the RAMs and ROMs. That said, it's like comparing a Jack-Of-All-Trades (multi-tasking PC) with a specialist (gaming console).

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    6. Quite. Consoles were also generally somewhat more powerful in raw specs than the run-of-the-mill home PC for a long time, in addition to using what they had much better.

      The NES, for example, used essentially the same processor as the C64, but at nearly double the clock speed, and had a total of 4k memory built into the system, 2k of which was dedicated video RAM.

      This alone equals the total RAM of a stock Commodore PET or Apple ][, exceeds the USABLE memory on the stock Vic-20, and cartridges could (and did) expand this for a given game (Zelda, for example, contained 8k), which easily allowed the system to outperform every stock PC except the C64 (which came with a massive 64K as standard), and do so with little cost or effort to the end user, who always had exactly the amount of memory needed, all for a price considerably lower ($200 vs $600+) than what you would pay for even a basic PC system.

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    7. The point is driven home even further if you read 'Masters of Doom'. The two Johns of id Software managed to duplicate Super Mario Brothers 2 on to their PC's, but only after a lot of effort and thought about how to make the screen actually scroll. When they contacted Nintendo about licensing the game for the PC, NIntendo laughed and told them to get bent, probably rightly so. The scrolling they came up with would be used in the Commander Keen games, which launched their careers.

      You can still see the tileset they used for the Mario PC game in the second episode of the Apogee game 'Secret Agent'.

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    8. Raifield, J. Ro has the exact prototype up on his website as "Dangerous Dave in Copyright Infringement"

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    9. Looking at my list, I think Tunnels of Doom (1982) for the TI-99 was the first first-person CRPG to switch from wireframe walls to colored walls and Ultima III (1983) was the first on more common platforms.

      I haven't finished 1984, so I can't be 100% sure on it, but 1985 seems like the most likely year for the first textured walls. I don't know whether The Bard's Tale or Might & Magic I came out first. There are others I haven't explored from the same year that may also vie.

      We should probably give some credit to Questron (1985) for offering hallways that, while still only black and white, had a rough, curved line that suggests a cave rather than straight lines of previous wireframes.

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    10. Thanks. The more I look at Tunnels of Doom the more I'm impressed by it. I guess it's obscure because it was confined to one platform (the TI99) and didn't start a dynasty of its own - probably because it was confined to one platform.

      I looked at Alternate Reality, from 1985, and they not only have textured walls, but are doing it via real time texture mapping, _seven_ years before Ultima Underworld and Wolfenstein 3D. Maybe there's an alternate universe somewhere where the programmer gets to replace John Carmack and take over his destiny...

      I'm going to make a new category, 'games that were technically ahead of their time', and nominate Tunnels of Doom and Alternate Reality for it.

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    11. Another is Shenmue. It's arguably the 1st Open-World Action RPG released in 1999. Sadly, it (and its sequel) was released only on Sega Dreamcast.

      Good thing is the 3rd is now on Kickstarter and will be released on PC and PS4. At least Chet could still get to play the 3rd one without experiencing the 1st two in... uh... 2157?

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    12. I strongly suspect that the Addict's average time per game is going to drop a lot for the next few blog-years. A lot of the games ahead are either rehashes of old games that don't present anything new or else simply pretty mediocre to begin with. Unless he gets bitten by the "Must. Win. Everything!" bug again, he's probably going to drop a fair number. This really is a Dark Age he's going into.

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    13. Shenmue 2 also had a Xbox version, which I remember playing, but that still doesn't help Chet get into the series. I found it unique if only because it was the only RPG set in modern times that I am aware of.

      Thanks Kenny for the heads up on the 3rd one... I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

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    14. There's still a couple of bright stars to light his way. But it was pretty bad. I became a 'console peasant' in the 90s because of the PCRPG drought. The raw gaming power of the SNES and Sega Genesis were too much of a draw.

      On top of that, freaking Shadowrun released their games on both consoles but not on PC. Pretty much killed off my PC gaming buzz. Enix (superb action RPGs) and Atlus (games-that-shall-not-be-named) started producing countless quality Console RPGs that were so damn innovative that it just blew my mind.

      The aforementioned Shenmue I & II closed that Golden Age of Console RPGs with a huge bang. Speaking of which, the freaking Kickstarter is now clocking in at US$3.1M as we speak... within 2 days. That's a bloody record that beat even Brian Fargo's InXile offerings hands down.

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    15. Vampire Masquarade: Redemption is partly set in modern times... of sorts. But overall CRPGs do tend to be cursed with fantasy setting with odd sci-fi far and between.

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    16. VtM: Bloodlines is definitely set in modern times. Too little PC RPGs have a modern day setting in my opinion. There should also be more:

      1) Wild West (i.e. Boot Hill Heroes and... THAT'S ALL!)
      2) Oriental (i.e. Jade Empire, Windwalker 1 & 2, Sleeping Dog, Dynasty Warriors and... THAT'S ALL!)
      3) World Of Darkness (VtM: Redemption, VtM: Bloodlines and... THAT'S ALL!)

      Speaking of which, I'd back the sh!t out of a VtM: Bloodlines sequel if it's done by the Troika alumni.

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    17. The Shadow Hearts games aren't quite modern, but they're closer than most. The first game takes place in the 1930s.

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    18. Hey! That's a console game! If I had wanted to include consoles, I'd have added Persona, Digital Devil Saga, .hack, Secret Of Evermore & such.

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    19. Oh, Earthbound and Pokemon too. BTW, would the Super Mario RPG, Megaman Legends RPG and Sonic Chronicles count as modern setting too?

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    20. >Thanks. The more I look at Tunnels of Doom the more I'm impressed by it. I guess it's obscure because it was confined to one platform (the TI99) and didn't start a dynasty of its own - probably because it was confined to one platform.

      It really is very impressive. It has some features of roguelikes, in that each dungeon is procedurally generated, with random layouts, monsters, and treasures, and it supported 4-player tactical combat. It wasn't that great, but jeeze, it was a cartridge game on an 8-bit era computer. (the CPU was 16-bit, but the memory system was so crippled that the machine was very slow.)

      Interestingly, ToD was in a hybrid cartridge format, where the interpreter was on the cartridge, and then the game system got loaded into your main RAM. From tape, it took several minutes before your "cartridge game" was ready to play. From disk, it loaded lickety-split.... TI disks were tiny (93K), but very fast.

      I have some vague memory of the cartridge also having onboard RAM of its own, as well, but I'm not sure about that, and scaring up technical details about an obscure, 30-year-old game is not easy.

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  20. Regarding Antares

    What might be of use (I can't get it working because I can't get Office to recognize that the German language exists), is OneNote's OCR capabilities, accessed by dragging in an image, right clicking on it, and using the "copy text from picture" option. It'snot the most reliable of things, but if you can manage it, it could save you quite a bit of time.

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    1. Thanks. I might give that a try if it ends up being too wordy.

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  21. The term 'DM clone' is being mentioned repetively throughout the recent posts but come to think of it there are not that many titles I can name. Aside from original DM, CSB and DM2 only EoB and LoL series come to mind. Mayby Dungeon Hack, Stonekeep and Anvil of Dawn in the meantime and Grimrock games contemporary.

    Can anyone supply a comprehensive list of DM clones?

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    1. PetrusOctavianusJune 15, 2015 at 5:38 AM

      There's also Black Crypt, Crystal Dragon, Abandoned Places 1-2, and Evil's Doom. But they were all made for the Amiga, with only the AP games being ported to DOS.

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    2. I can add Knightmare, Captive and Bloodwych to the list.

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    3. Dungeon crawlers are just a very special genre. The limited scope doesn't allow too much overview and feels limited - even in outside areas. Most of those outside areas are quite small, with the simple exception of Might and Magic, but that isn't realtime. Also these games tend to focus on puzzles, mazes and riddles, because that's the best you can do with such a direct and detail-oriented interface. It isn't optimal to tell an epic story.

      Regarding puzzles, mazes and riddles, DM and CSB are already the apex. It's possible to beat those two in "secondary features", like actual role-playing, quite easily, but not in the core of dungeon crawlers.

      That's possibly why very few tried and most of them failed.

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    4. Regarding puzzles, mazes and riddles, DM and CSB are already the apex. It's possible to beat those two in "secondary features", like actual role-playing, quite easily, but not in the core of dungeon crawlers.

      One thing I've been wondering is whether the engine and interface limitations have something to do with this. Did DM and CSB effectively exhaust the basic array of puzzles the genre could utilize before it even really got started?

      Sure, you can theoretically make lever / pit / teleporter puzzles infinitely complex, but a developer's goal can't be to make each game increasingly difficult--that would guarantee a smaller and smaller audience. So for a game closely emulating DM, maybe there's just not anywhere easy to go? (At least not without innovating a new area which could provide puzzles--e.g., spellcasting, conversation, etc. And we all know how innovative most of the DM clones are.)

      I consider Grimrock 2 to be one of the high points of the genre--maybe the best of its kind--but I'm not sure I could say its puzzles are better than DM. Not worse, perhaps, but better? I don't know.

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    5. I regard Grimrock as about even regarding puzzles. It's very different and still well done.
      DM had a limited engine by today's standards, but I don't think that is a disadvantage. The number of options are limited, but it's always the same options and rules for every puzzle. That makes it fair.

      EoB introduces near the end of the game a wall where you can throw an item though, but can't walk. That is a totally new element and you don't actually solve it, but guess it.
      DM has a very similar puzzle (head right after the Riddle Room). It uses the known elements and is still tricky.

      That's a single example to show that the puzzle design in DM is superior - even without talking about inserting random items in random wall openings.

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    6. I think there's still some room for the genre to grow. True logic puzzles, lore-based puzzles, and Zork-ish punzzles are heavily underutilized and don't require designers to stretch the engine at all - only their imaginations and general and genre knowledge..

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    7. I guess I'm getting old. I can't do the waltz on Grimrock fast enough. I'm dying in combat more often than deathtraps. I don't know why I suck so bad. I think I even turned the difficulty down to the lowest.

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    8. Grimrock is designed to counter the dance. You have to dance even better or make more use of ranged combat.
      An archer with maximized damage is really a force in this game (and there's autopickup for missiles). An ice wizard is also a huge help.

      Logic and lore-based puzzles are basically out of engine. The options are endless for that.
      The closest DM has to that is the Riddle Room, where you have to solve a riddle and put the right item into the alcove.
      Dragonflight (and Amberstar/-moon) have riddle mouths, there you have to type in the answer.
      Might and Magic has huge crossword-riddles in a few dungeons, it wouldn't be hard to do the same with sodokus.

      But I think that can be overdone. A riddle in a crpg has to fit in the flow. When I crawl a dungeon, I don't want to be interrupted for hours with a single riddle. A good crpg has a good pacing, where story, encounters, exploration and puzzles alternate. There may be the occasional hard nut, but variety is key.

      EoB doesn't do this very well, too, there are few NPCs who all have very, very long texts. The story doesn't really unfold.

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    9. >> Grimrock is designed to counter the dance. You have to dance even better or make more use of ranged combat.

      Or in other words: Grimrock was designed to prevent abusing the system so in order to beat the game you need to abuse the system even more;) That or I am getting really old in terms of manual dexterity. A very good and enjoyable game nontheless but damn, it's hard.

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    10. A. Freed raised a really good point about this. I'd say that perhaps DM was already the apex of puzzle-solving within the limits of its own mechanics. Obviously, a game that allows for more mechanics can have more puzzles. For instance, there are a million ways to construct puzzles around spells if the game allows spells to affect more than just enemies, or if you have inter-actable NPCs. I agree that DM and CSB did probably all they could do with levers, pressure plates, doors, and keys.

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    11. Grimrock is, as well as DM, balanced around dancing. The designers knew you'd try that and used AI and new monster abilites to prevent that. DM only had HP and level design to prevent you from dancing. But Grimrock also offers you more options like better ranged combat, reach weapons and ice spells. It's not necessarily harder (in terms of requiring faster reflexes), but more complex and takes more practice.

      That also shows that a limited engine like DM has isn't a bad thing. It can be simply too much and Grimrock is bordering on that. That counts for puzzles and also combat - and is my reason why DM is the apex. (see also the posting of A. Freed above)

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    12. To reveal how much I suck at it, I'm stuck at the 1st room on Level 4 getting my @$$ handed to me by a couple of poison-spitting sh!thandlers.

      I keep getting cornered, mage keep running out of mana, hands keep fumbling around the mouse to hit the attack buttons. Wow... 16-year-old me who beat EotB, you're the man. Okay, still a virgin, but you rock.

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    13. The underwater areas in Grimrock 2 strikes me as an example of new mechanics waiting to be found. Rather than taking your time poking around, you've got to get in and out quickly before you run out of air, and hope you don't miss anything in your rush. Mind you, I find it kind of nerve-wracking, and maybe not in a particularly good way, but it's something notably different from puzzles in the first.

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    14. Whoa... I've not beaten 1 yet, mate. I really suck at 1st person real-time combat... Don't spoil too much of 2 for me, yo.

      Delete
    15. There were underwater passages in EoB 3 too...

      While I think that DM & CSB indeed covered a lot of the basic "puzzles", I'm 100% with Chet when he says that the puzzles depend on the engine capacities. And I'm obviously convinced there is still design space or I wouldn't be developping a "DM Clone" myself for the last 2 years, lol...

      But anyway, I'm also not sold on that harsh division people make between RT and TB combat, as if that was the most important feature of the dungeon crawler genre. For me, 1st person grid-based vs 1st person 3-D vs isometric/top-down is a much more important game-design change. As such Wizardy or Might & Magic (up to Xeen) fall in the same category as DM, EoB, Grimorck and others. And I also think that with quests, NPCs, dialogue, shops and a story, 1-st person grid blobbers can fare much better as full-blown RPGs. Almost Human took the strict "puzzle" route with Grimrock, but that was a conscious design decision and is not the only way the genre can evolve.

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    16. The engine capacities are surely a factor, but the human factor is another one. Sometimes, it's too much.

      For example, it would be possible to create and visualize 3D crossword puzzles with PCs. You can also mix languages to increase difficulty. But I don't think that would improve crossword puzzles at all.

      Realtime is not only combat, even though I think the difference there is huge between DM-clones and Wizardry/M&M. DM/CSB also offer a lot of realtime puzzles and time is a more interesting factor (like you can use a clock to solve crossword puzzles) than adding options.

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    17. Even though I know you're right, I kind of want to do a 3D crossword puzzle now. What would the third axis be called? Down, across, and, um, out?

      Delete
    18. You'd pretty much just have to call the directions X Y Z and possibly A.

      Delete
    19. @Sucinum: Crossword Dungeon is a 2D crossword puzzle/roguelike... ;)

      Delete
    20. @Kenny McCormik: The monsters in Grimrock on normal move MUCH faster than the ones in Dungeon Master or Eye of the Beholder. Also the interface is a little clunkier.

      So it might not be age but just differences in the games.

      Delete
  22. The volume numbers, I think, were carried over from the Gold Box series, which actually used them (Pools of Darkness is Vol. IV if you look). After a while they probably forgot about it.

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    1. Probably the fact that Westwood and SSI parted ways between EoB II and EoB III factored in.

      Not related to the volume thing, but to the change of developers, beside other code, SSI used a different (modified or recreated) engine to assemble the graphics for the pseudo 3D world rendition, so that the wallsets in EoB 3 have a different structure than the ones in the past games. Luckily, you can still import the characters from EoB II.

      Delete
  23. Even though there are a bunch of useless spells I think it adds flavor to the game, since you know you're getting the true AD&D experience by them having the spells in the game. The Ultima series too tended to have some spells which were pretty useless but the fact that they were included made the magic system more "realistic" (as in these spells would actually exist in a world with magic and aren't just there for a video game).

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    1. I wonder how the coders felt, having to code in something that they knew wouldn't really be used? I'm guessing that for EoB it may have been contracted that they needed to include these spells regardless if they would be useful or not.

      In some ways, I like having some useless things as it increases the puzzling aspect a little. If you know everything has a use, then that can make puzzles too obvious. For instance, if you're at the end and you realize you haven't used the "Call for Mystical Aid" spell, well then you know that it must be used for the final puzzle/battle. Whilst with some useless spells, then you just don't know. An artificial difficulty perhaps, but it hits some spots with me.

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    2. Drawing from my knowledge of how actual coding projects work from the inside, the people that do the actual grunt work might not even be aware that the particular piece of code is not going to be used in the final build until like two days before release when it is too late to implement any kind of initially desired result. Heck, for that matter even management/planning staff is often surprised on the reality vs. roadmap front. That many projects actually reach some semblance of completion is totally baffling to me.

      Delete
    3. My guess is that any sense of "flavor" and "realism" were accidental rather than deliberate, at least in EotB. Ultima VI seems more like a game where the developers were deliberately giving the player a reason to screw around.

      Delete
  24. What do you mean by the threat posed by Xanathar being "oddly vague"? Did you want the game to spoil the entire plot before you started?

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    1. Right, because those are the only two options.

      None of the background information provided by the manual or the introductory screens tells you anything about what's actually HAPPENING in Waterdeep to impel the expedition. The introductory screens show the Lords of Waterdeep gathering to "purge our city of an ancient evil" and then show the adventurers entering the sewers from Xanathar's point of view. Boom--stones collapse, game begins.

      The manual is no less clear. A letter from Khelben to Piergeiron simply talks about "signs of evil" and "our elusive Xanathar."

      WHAT is actually happening in Waterdeep? Are monsters boiling out of the sewers? Are messages appearing on the walls saying, "Xanathar is COMING!"? Have seers divined his presence below the city and detected his malicious intentions? There are no specifics whatsoever--thus, "oddly vague."

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    2. Purging the city of ancient evil apparently requires leaving said city, traversing dwarven and drow settlements and killing a beholder.

      Not that a single beholder, even in cahoots with some drow, represents any sort of threat to Waterdeep. At worst Xanathar would just add another crime lord to the mix.

      Delete
    3. Perhaps what you see in the first game is not the entirety of the plot.

      Delete
    4. MoS: Wouldn't that be exactly the definition of vague (or possibly even ill-thought-out)? A game has to stand on its own. You don't get to say 'see the sequel where we explain everthing that just happened' and get more than, like, half a point in the story category.

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    5. That, and, ANCIENT evil? Pppffffttt... Drows outlive normal beholders unless it's an Elder Orb or Hive Mothers. That said said, a normal elf will outlive even those two.

      Seriously, how many champion-level heroes make Waterdeep their home? They could probably just stroll into the the sewer alone and do that Speedrun thing on Xanathar without a single scratch.

      Delete
    6. @Kenny

      Exactly. For starters, it'd be a cakewalk for any single member of the Lords of Waterdeep.

      In fact, Durnan probably holds an annual Undermountain Beholder Race at his inn. First group back with an eyestalk wins.

      Delete
    7. Sure, and Waterdeep's Khelben could shove Irenicus' head up his own rear. Dungeons & Dragons games, however, are predominantly about parties of adventurers getting stronger while fighting monsters. It's a weakness of the Forgotten Realms setting for RPGs that an easier resolution would be just tattling to someone stronger and going home.

      Waretaringo, if such story structure is vague and ill thought out, many Gold Box titles would certainly be so. The player does not even find out the full scope behind Pool of Radiance's plot until four games later, and Chet gave Pool a score in that category of... wow, an 8! That's a bit higher than half a point.

      Delete
    8. You're responding to a point I didn't make (otherwise known as a strawman). The 'full scope' of events that take place is irrelevant to judging a game's story - what matters is whether what the game actually presents to you works as a whole.

      You could make a game in which you place a walnut on a table in the first chapter. It doesn't matter that in the sequel you find out this was the Walnut of Wisdom and your putting it there allowed a common rat to eat it and become a crime lord who now opposes you. If the act of placing the walnut on the table had no context in the first game, it doesn't justify its inclusion.

      Pool works because your actions make sense in context. The lore tells you enough about the story and gameworld to understand why you're doing what you're doing. It's a complete story in and of itself. Complete stories don't necessarily have to tie up everything - if you really thought they were confident that they'd be making a fourth game in the series at the time of Pool's production and intentionally set up the entire plot of the series in advance, I'm not sure how experienced you are with the games industry. Almost certainly they simply returned to ideas that they had left unresolved earlier and said "yeah, we could go back and flesh that out more."

      A lot of creative writers intentionally work in such an open-ended fashion, leaving hooks to return to later when they have more time to explore an idea - the writer actually only has to have the barest concept of *what* might be done with a story object later to decide it's worth putting in. This is the root of how a lot of long-running projects maintain their longevity.

      (It also easily leads one down the path of hackdom and at its extreme results in LOST style storytelling.)

      Delete
    9. AFAIK Irenicus is intended to depict the same sort of power levels that Elminster and friends show. He actually uses 2e Elminster's stat block.

      Delete
    10. And we're talking ANCIENT evils here. IRL, we're not gonna send a group of 4 housewives over to the Middle East and expect them to take down ISIS, are we?

      Delete
    11. "Attack the new recruits and footsoldiers first. By the time you reach Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, you'll be, like, Level 30."

      Delete
    12. I kindn of like a breezy vague setup like that, but more unfolding by the time you have to kill bossy would have been nice.

      Delete
  25. One reason that characters 3-6 seem like placeholders is that the game was not really designed with waltzing in mind. I was in college when the game came out, and after 10 years of PnP and Gold Box games under our belts, not one of the 5 guys I played with did anything but square off against the bad guys and fight it out like D&D.

    Less effective? Maybe. But having an extra fighter and a cleric felt like a lot less of a waste.

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    1. I guess. I mean, it's hard to just stand there and deliberately take the damage in real-time when you know that safety is just a side-step away, and it's hard to believe that the developers didn't anticipate that. I also wouldn't have thought you could defeat golems that way.

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    2. I also think the waltz betrays the spirit of the game a bit. I guess I like the game to be a bit more immersive. Also having 6 people in the game is useless from a game mechanic perspective but if you were adventuring of course you'd bring on the extra 2 people. I wonder if the waltz was common knowledge at the time and if the devs expected people to do it.

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    3. This comes to Chet's spot-on observation (now it's my turn) from the reply above. Most of the game design of the time was purely accidental (thus not really deserving the name of design). From my memory I honestly don't recall if I had known about dancing at the time when I first saw EoB (didn't own any decent hardware) but by the time I beat the game for the first time a few years later I definitely did. And considering those few combat difficulty spikes EoB sports it is trivial by comparison to come up with the idea of dancing rather sooner than later (let's say kids are better not only at manual dexternity tasks). It may be hard to pinpoint the moment that it became common knowledge (a task for Digital Aquitarian mayby?) but it definitely is among the veterans.

      So to sum it up, it is pretty feasible that the devs didn't exactly plan it the way it is.

      Delete
    4. Without dancing, there wouldn't be much realtime left and the game could basically be Bard's Tale.

      I am very sure the developers knew DM and CSB, both games collected endless rewards back then and were among the most sold and popular games for years to come. Very hard not to know them.

      But since EoB had to follow the AD&D rules, it wasn't balanced for realtime. The same way you were drowned in gold in the gold box games, the low hitpoints made the combat in EoB quite silly and the experience system didn't really work.

      Delete
    5. Thank you, sucinum. I just made the same argument below but without reading yours first. You say it perfectly and much more succinctly. I'm not going to apologize for rating "combat" low just because some masochistic power-players stood face-to-face with enemies instead of playing a real-time game as a real-time game.

      Delete
  26. The "waltz" is inseparable from the essential mechanics of DM type games.

    DM itself required that you learn this technique quite early on, or you'd never be able to defeat purple worms which appear early, hit like trucks, and have enough HP to outlast any capabilities the party might have in a straight-up slugfest.

    Games that derive from that legacy have a choice of going one or two ways with it: either deliberately add a mechanic to discourage the "waltz", or design the game in anticipation of it.

    It's fundamental to the subgenre. There's no getting around it. I know of no DM-derived game which does not require it. And I can't think of a good way to do a real-time, tile-based, first-person game without it.

    If you see someone chuck a spear in your direction and have the option of moving out of the line of fire before it arrives, how in the world could it possibly be good gaming to sit there and take it anyway? Suicide only works in Planescape: Torment. In every other game in existence, it's good form, not bad form, to avoid incoming fire if you can.

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    1. "DM itself required that you learn this technique quite early on, or you'd never be able to defeat purple worms which appear early, hit like trucks, and have enough HP to outlast any capabilities the party might have in a straight-up slugfest."

      Instead of dancing in 4 squares around the monsters, the player could also fight while moving backwards. Hitting the monsters when they're in range, firing missiles and spells from afar. This is probably something that practically every DM player did.

      Then the question is how many DM players (and DM clone developers) back then really utilized the 4-square-dance to its maximum potential. With that you can even beat the dragon in DM without being hit even once. I assume that the majority of the players back then didn't quite think of utilizing it like that, but of course that's pure speculation. We'd need a survey to find out.

      This reminds me of Doom and circle-strafing. Doom came out with keyboard-only default controls which don't really enable circle-strafing. The developers, though, played with mouse + keyboard already back then. (You can see a Youtube video of Romero playing Doom with mouse and keyboard before the game was released.) With mouse and keyboard you can circle-strafe all the time, making the game a bit too easy even on the highest difficulty level, Ultra-Violence.

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    2. Having avoided thrown spears many times (in a LARP), I can state with some certainty that it is not at all intuitive that one should dodge effortlessly 10 feet to the side rather than raise a shield and attempt to block it.

      Is combat waltzing a highly effective tactic in this genre of game? Sure is. Is it immersive and intuitive? Nope. Later FPS CRPG's like Fallout New Vegas don't have thrown weapons that take several seconds to traverse 40 or 50 feet, so dodging isn't really possible.

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    3. In a tilebased realtime game, you can make far huger and quicker steps than in reality or 3D, that's why dodging works very well.
      Of course combat is very metagamey then, but it's up to the dungeon designer to work around that as well. DM did that very well (the worm level invited to that with broad floors), EoB not so much. They rather tried to reduce the realtime part by introducing stops after casting spells.

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    4. @ThirtyNine - that would be an excellent idea.

      Except there's no blocking mechanic in the game (or any game in the genre, to my awareness), so that option isn't available.

      The only choices the game gives you are to eat the damage or dodge it, and I can't think of any good reason any sane gamer would voluntarily eat the damage.

      Delete
    5. "If you see someone chuck a spear in your direction and have the option of moving out of the line of fire before it arrives, how in the world could it possibly be good gaming to sit there and take it anyway?"

      In a game like this, the characters are already attempting to dodge all attacks that come their way. So if you're standing in front of an enemy, he attacks and the attack misses, then your character dodged the attack. Circle strafing or moving your party backwards or out of the way is a way of denying the opportunity for the enemy to attack, more than it is dodging the attack.

      Delete
    6. If you just stand there and go toe to toe with the enemies then it's fair but if you're doing the waltz and gaming the system so that the enemies don't have the opportunity to attack then you're gaming the system. I guess it depends if the devs anticipated this, if they balanced the game to assume that the players would do this (i.e. they made the enemies more powerful than they should've because they knew the players would waltz and not just stand there and fight them), etc.

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    7. Precisely. That's what frigging AC and THAC0 is for. Having both systems in the game is equivalent to me (as a DM) throwing an attack die at my Tabletop RPG player; if he dodged that dice, so did his character, else the number on the die will be used against his THAC0.

      Delete
    8. In a tabletop RPG the choices a player has are as numerous as his imagination can provide.

      In a CRPG the player's choices are limited - very limited, in these early games.

      Saying that it makes no sense for tabletop (which is true) doesn't necessarily mean its bad for a CRPG.

      For example, when faced with an enemy casting area effect spells, you can scatter your party in a tabletop RPG and deny the enemy the opportunity to hit more than one player at a time. Is that cheese?

      Also, denying an enemy the chance to attack is an extremely basic military tactic. Given how even tabletop RPGs were originally derived from military strategy games, it makes perfect sense to use the tactic if available. And overwhelmingly RPGs and CRPGs alike do make the ability to prevent an opponent from attacking, or even acting, available as an option.

      It's there because you are supposed to use it. It's not a programmer oversight, it's a designed-in game mechanic.

      Otherwise the only solution is to "play dumb" and purposefully ignore one of the very few choices provided for you, at the expense of your time and the welfare of your characters. I can't see how it's role-playing to voluntarily eat the damage, unless your character has an abysmal INT score.

      Delete
    9. That's an excellent and hilarious analogy, Kenny.

      Nonetheless, I find this entire discussion somewhat absurd. I think everyone's focusing too much on the specific mechanics of the "combat waltz." The broader issue is that OF COURSE the developers expected the party to move around in a real-time environment. They expected the party to fire missile weapons from afar (otherwise, why offer missile weapons), flee from gangs of enemies, and use movement and terrain to avoid getting trapped. If they didn't anticipate one specific aspect of movement--attacking and then getting out of the way--something that DM and CSB had already used FAMOUSLY--then they were incredibly naive and uniformed about their predecessors.

      In a million years, you'll never convince me that the combat waltz is a "cheat" or an "exploit." It's something practically unavoidable with the engine. I think it's silly to blame players for using it rather than the developers for creating an engine that so clumsily fuses D&D rules with action gameplay.

      Delete
    10. I think for someone who played a lot into Wizardry and M&M, real time fight with combat waltz can be percieved as cheating. However, comlaining about combat waltz in EOB is like complaining about rain. It is what it is.

      Delete
    11. I played DM on the Amiga and did not know/use the moden classic waltz -> My tactics consisted mostly of running / using ranged weapons & spells / dodging around corners and using doors. That was enough to take me to the dragon but I never beat the guy at that time.

      Only took him down later with a friend who was using the keyboard to run while I was clicking on the attacks / spells. Half of them missed of course due to poor coordination but we made it. Guess it was a form of the waltz, even with a partner! :)

      Delete
  27. I want to say first that I'm fine with your rating. I don't need people to agree with me on how good video games are, and that you liked Eye of the Beholder less than I do has no effect on my enjoyment of the game or this blog.

    Still, after another comment got me looking at your Pool of Radiance rating again, it seems odd in at least one category. Eye and Pool both have AD&D-derived character creation and development, but Eye has two more classes, fewer restrictions on class and level for demihumans, more character levels and spell levels gained over a playthrough, and no danger of hitting the level cap. These are fairly objective qualities, so it doesn't seem to make sense that Eye is rated lower than Pool here and not higher.

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    1. There's enough room to improve on POR that perhaps the 6 was a bit too high, but you have to look at all the elements in the category. Think of each one being worth 2-3 points:

      1. "Game allows for extensive customization of characters during creation process." You're right that EotB has more classes and fewer restrictions. Still, PoR has almost as many and lets you customize the icon besides.

      2. "Characters are rewarded for combat and quest completion." Applies to both, naturally.

      3. "Character advancement process is satisfying and rewarding." In PoR it feels a bit more rewarding to me because there's a rite of passage you have to go through while leveling, and you get quest rewards for the numerous side quests. EotB does give you experience for things other than combat, but the way that your characters just level up automatically--sometimes, it's hard to even notice--feels less rewarding. Similarly, the extra spell levels conferred by EotB seem less rewarding because of the limited need for spells.

      4. "Encounters and dialogs play differently with different classes, sexes, alignments, and characteristics." Here's where EotB gets essentially 0 points. PoR isn't GREAT in this area, but at least the gameplay experience differs a bit depending on the composition of the party and there are a couple of class-specific and alignment-specific encounters.

      In short, having extra classes and whatnot only affects a small part of one category. PoR did a much better job making your characters feel like individuals, making your choices matter, and making leveling truly rewarding. The first moment you launch a "Fireball" in PoR is multiple levels of satisfaction above launching the first "Fireball" in EotB.

      Delete
    2. I'm pretty confident that I can estimate Chet's opinion here: Character creation & dev in EotB doesn't really matter, and it matters a great deal in PoR.

      When you level up in PoR, the increase in your party's strength in pronounced, and it feels good. When you level up in EotB, you think 'that's nice I guess'. Also, only your front two characters in EotB are relevant; so much so that optimal play may involve killing your backrowers immediately upon entering the dungeon. In PoR, all your guys matter.

      Delete
    3. Do the other Gold Box games have different quests/events that change based on the composition of your party? That makes PoR seem really cool and advanced for the time.

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    4. Not in a terribly advanced way, you understand. But the encounters are there. There's one in CotAB involving the "silver swans" or whatnot that plays differently if you have a female in the party. Another has a combat with a mage that requires you to have a mage. PoR had a couple of maps where a thief made a difference.

      In a broad sense, party composition matters a lot. Combat plays very differently with three fighters and a mage versus a fighter and three mages. Try to get through the graveyard without a cleric and you'll know the meaning of "challenge." In EotB, on the other hand, party composition barely even matters for combat.

      Delete
  28. About ICON: Quest for the Ring. I don't know what version you have, but you might try this one - http://www.old-games.ru/game/download/3383.html
    Download link is next to "88.04 KB" and after that click - "[http ссылка]".

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    1. A reader sent me a version that works. I don't know if it's the same version, but in any event, I'm all set now.

      Delete

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