Friday, July 10, 2015

Game 194: Out of the Shadows (1984)

   
Out of the Shadows
Mizar Computing (developer, United Kingdom)
Released 1984 for ZX Spectrum; rereleased 1986 in a compilation
Date Started: 08 July 2015
Date Ended:
10 July 2015
Total Hours: 5
Reload Count: 5
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate (2.5/5), but quite long
Final Rating: 21
Ranking at Time of Posting: 58/192 (30%)
 
Going into Out of the Shadows, I didn't expect much of anything. Usually, when a game is so obscure that it doesn't appear in any databases and a commenter has to tell me about it, we're not in for a great ride. [Edit: it appears in platform-specific databases. Instead of "any databases," I should have specified the main databases, like MobyGames.] When the same game was created for a ZX Spectrum, a platform that seemed destined to be two or three years behind the times, my expectations are even lower. I was so sure that I was in for a short, forgettable experience that I began writing a dismissive posting even before I began playing.
   
I was thus surprised to find a game that does the mechanics of an RPG about as well as any game released through 1984. It has nothing else--no story, no NPCs, only the thinnest excuse for quest--but it offers a solid experience with exploration, leveling, accumulation of riches, and consequent improvements in inventory. If its combat system was better, I'd consider it one of the major lost gems of the early 1980s.

An outdoor scene in Out of the Shadows. My character is in the middle being attacked by a wolf. The icon in the lower-left shows that I have a dagger equipped. The area is full of trees, plus one treasure chest (the hollow box) and one pit (the filled box), plus a dead critter at the bottom left of the map.

In some ways, it plays like a roguelike, albeit one that allows you to save at any point. You navigate through an iconographic interface of wilderness and dungeon, all with the goal of finding some Amulet of Yendor proxy. The game uses a text interface similar to the Warrior of Ras titles (with which I suspect the developer was familiar), with commands like GO NW, DRAW DAGGER, TORCH ON, and BUY MACE (commands can be abbreviated). But it has a few innovations that might actually qualify as "firsts" unless I'm misremembering some earlier titles.

In its game world and character creation, Out of the Shadows doesn't break any new ground. You play one character in an unnamed generic "fantasy world of monsters and magic." You can choose from human, elf, or dwarf races; the only thing the choice affects is the four attributes: strength, dexterity, hit points, and spell power.

During the creation process, you select from six quests or no quest at all. The quest names all use Tolkien terminology, but they boil down to the same thing: go and find an item somewhere in the dungeons and return it to your house. The game lets you give a name to the scenario so your friends can play the same one and you can compare your final times and number of saves. This was probably the last year that game developers were under the illusion that gamers actually played that way.


After creation, the game generates a series of 121 outdoor maps, arranged in an 11 x 11 wrap-around. Each map is 15 x 15 squares. The maps are full of monsters (generally 3 per map), treasures, dungeon entrances, and pits. One map contains the merchant--the only non-hostile creature in the game--who sells weapons, armor, and exploration equipment like torches, food, and keys to open locked chests.

The monsters found in the outdoor areas are imps, wolves, and rats. They're pretty easy, and the treasures found in the chests are relatively meager. The ostensible purpose of the wilderness is to get the character up one or two levels and to collect the funds and items (particularly torches) necessary for dungeon exploration. At first, I was annoyed that it was taking me so long to find the merchant's hut, but once I finally got there, I realized that it would be ages before I could afford any of his items anyway.

Checking out prices at the merchant.

The character increases a level with every 1,000 experience points, but experience awarded per combat is based on the relative difference between the character's level and the enemy's level (this might be a first). With each level-up comes a corresponding increase in hit points, strength, and dexterity. By Level 3, you're strong enough to survive the first level of the dungeon, which introduces you to skeletons and zombies. Returning to your house instantly heals you, so I started exploring dungeons gingerly by finding an entrance near my house and retreating to the surface when things got tough.

Leveling up as I transition rooms in the dungeon.

There are two major innovations that the game offers. The first is a "fog of war" by which you can only see areas within your vision. If you're standing behind a wall, you can't see what's on the other side. You can only see up to 3 squares in any direction (outdoors) and 2 squares by torchlight in the dungeons. As the torch runs out, the visible area decreases to 1 square and finally nothing at all until you light another one. Ultima III had already treated visibility this way, in part, so it's not quite a "first," but this developer doesn't otherwise show an Ultima III awareness.

As the character starts out, the walls of his hut restrict visibility outside.

The second major feature is the ability to drop markers anywhere on a blank game tile, where they remain permanently. This is extremely handy when exploring dungeons and you're trying to remember whether you've already taken a particular corridor, or you're trying to find your way back to the stairs. Markers are an inventory item that you have to find or buy, so you can't go overboard with them.

Placing a marker by a previously-explored dungeon passage.

Unfortunately, the game is undone by a few negative features. The movement system is just awful. Instead of being able to move briskly around the area with the arrow keys or keypad, you have to type GO E, GO N, and so on. The developer tried to mitigate this annoyance with several shortcuts--you can just type "G"; if you just hit ENTER, you'll keep going in the same direction; if you want to change direction, you can just type N, E, S, or W as long as the last command was a GO--but it's still very cumbersome.

The second problem is the combat system. Enemies make a beeline for you and attack you once they're a single square adjacent. You have to fight them back by typing A(TTACK) and then the direction: A S, A SW, A W, and so on. The problem is that the enemies are all highly caffeinated and won't stand still. Every round, they bounce to a new square, so you can't just spam ENTER; you have to keep adjusting the direction of the attack. Combat is quite quick, and it's easier than you might expect to make mistakes when you have to keep typing A E , A S , especially since the game does a bad job registering rapid keystrokes (though this might be an issue with the emulator).
 
Fighting a wolf near a dungeon entrance. The tree below me keeps him from attacking from the south.

Terrain thus plays a major role in the combat. If you can get an enemy in a tunnel with only one square adjacent to you, you can spam ENTER and keep attacking in the same direction. But it's rare that you can find this setup. Usually, the best you can do is limit the attack directions. For instance, if you lead an enemy all the way to a western wall (or the edge of an outdoor map), he'll reliably bounce from S to E to N to E to S in successive combat rounds. If you spam A E (attack east), you'll get him every other turn. Sometimes it's easier to do this than to constantly adjust the direction of attack. Of course, use of terrain is also important to keep multiple enemies from attacking at once.

Note how the creature jumps back and forth from west to south. I do my best to keep up with him.

Enemies flee when sufficiently wounded, which is another rarity, but not a particularly welcome one. It's nearly impossible to catch up to them and type the attack sequence before they continue moving away.

Mobbed by zombies in a dungeon room.
  
A third problem is poor documentation. The game came with basically one page of background and one page of commands. Many of the mechanics are left completely unexplained. I had to find through trial and error that you can attack locked chests to open them, for instance. As I describe below, I haven't figured out any way to acquire spells. Supposedly, there's a way to get a new quest while standing in your house, but I'll be damned if I can find it.

Another issue--not so much a problem as an observation--is that progress through the game is slow. For instance, the game has a day/night cycle. It starts in the "morning" and progresses through "afternoon," "evening," "twilight," and "night," with the area of visibility shrinking during times of darkness. (If this isn't a first, it's definitely one of only a few.) But the cycle takes hours. In 4 hours of playing, I progressed through about a day and a half, game-time. There's an "energy" bar that requires food to replenish; I had to eat exactly twice during this period.

Leveling also takes a long time. You get around 25 experience points per enemy at Level 1, which means it takes 40 successful combats to increase. The pace didn't quicken as I progressed to Levels 2, 3, and 4, either. You start the game with a dagger, and the next-best weapon, a club, costs 250 copper pieces. A particularly good haul in the outdoor area is around 10 copper and on the first level of the dungeon is 15-20. There's one chest per screen, so you're looking at 25 maps before you can afford that club. A helmet costs 500 copper and a shield is 1,500. You don't acquire equipment very fast. Oh, and weapons and armor can break, too, undoing all your financial progress.

Collecting treasure from a barrel in a dungeon.
  
There's supposedly a magic system with five spells: "Sleep," "Slow," "Blast," "Teleport" (up or down), and "Wish," but I never figured out how to obtain spells. The merchant doesn't sell them, and they didn't show up in any chests in the first couple of levels of dungeons.

Despite all this, you make just enough progress for the game to be slightly addictive. I really did want to win at least one quest, but I have no idea how big the dungeon is or how long it would take, and in 4 hours of gameplay, I only got to Level 4, upgraded from a dagger to a mace, and got a couple pieces of armor.

The game box. I just realized that the game's title doesn't really have a lot to do with the gameplay, unless they were really trying to highlight the "fog of war" programming.

Again, I'd need to review my previous posts in detail to see if this is truly the first game to offer any of its elements, but either way, you don't usually find fog of war, day/night cycles, ability to mark territory, fleeing enemies, breakable equipment, random generation of territory, and dynamic adjustment of experience points in the same early-1980s cassette game. I expected contemporary reviews to be good, and at least one was: CRASH magazine gave a glowing review in its December 1984 issue, rating it 9/10, and praising most of these elements. Unfortunately, it also notes that it "will take months to complete." Even accounting for hyperbole, that probably translates to at least three or four times the investment I've already given it, and the game, while decent, isn't quite worth it. It earns a solid 21 in my GIMLET, hurt by no game world or NPCs, but bolstered by a good approach to equipment and economy.

Out of the Shadows was developed by Mizar Computing of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. I can't find any record of the company producing any other games. The World of Spectrum database lists the developers as Robert W. Waller and Richard M. R. Woodward, but I can't otherwise find any information on either of them. Their game may not have led me to play to the end, but it didn't deserve to be forgotten.

61 comments:

  1. PetrusOctavianusJuly 10, 2015 at 7:27 PM

    I'm pretty sure I completed at least one of the quests, and that it didn't take very long time (surely not remotely near how long it took me to complete Elite). Further down the dungeon you should start finding armour pieces and encounter monsters like trolls.
    I don't remember any spells, though, but it was 30 years ago.
    The clunky UI was really the worst part of the game; if not I would have made a serious attempt at replaying it some years ago.

    Too bad it's all but forgotten, although I seem to recall there being a Java version of it, so there must be at least one fan still active...

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  2. Are you going to try and finish it? Maybe just play it here and there while you play other games, you'd probably be the first person in the world to finish it :)

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    1. PetrusOctavianusJuly 10, 2015 at 7:36 PM

      BTW, you may want to proof read the first sentence of this blog entry.

      Also, I recall from back then that Mizar did indeed not make any more games.
      Thus the makers of Out of the Shadows remind me of the makers of Dark Heart of Uukrul and Sorderon's Shadow (all a pair of guys), in that they come out of nowhere, made one remarkable game, and then disappeared from the scene.

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    2. PetrusOctavianusJuly 10, 2015 at 7:41 PM

      Othraerir, it's not that hard or that long (IIRC). I'm sure I completed at least one of the quests, and I'm sure I was not alone.

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    3. Yeah, I'm skipping entire words now. Maybe it's time to retire.

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    4. Dark heart of uukrul, sorderons shadow and also Crystal dragon.

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    5. I don't know. I don't think I'm going to try to finish it. If I was, I would have delayed the posting. I feel like in the time I devoted to it, it taught me most of what it offered in gameplay (excepting spells, I guess). I could keep going until I finally found the quest item, lugged it back to my house, and got a short text screen congratulating me on my win, but couldn't we all just imagine that instead? I've got like 1,000 games ahead of me.

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    6. Dude, it's your blog. We're just suggesting it. Just take this request like a side-quest given by NPCs in an open-world CRPG; you could ignore it if you want.

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    7. Great, now it's going to appear on his quest-log forever.

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  3. "Usually, when a game is so obscure that it doesn't appear in any databases..."

    Little Correction: http://www.thelegacy.de/Museum/56155/

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  4. Just a thought, but if the emulator you're using supports creating key macros, you could bind a single key for each direction for the 'GO' commands, and maybe add a Shift to each of those for the attack commands. Even if it doesn't support macros directly, there's probably a way to build an macro in your OS and have it automatically send that to the focused application. I don't know if the game's really worth it, but building in some modern conveniences manually might help ease the annoyances.

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    1. Another option (though not necessarily for Chet, at least when he's travelling) would be to use a joypad and map the cardinal directions to the D-Pad and attack and go commands to two buttons.

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    2. The Spectaculator emulator doesn't seem to support key-remapping, let alone macros, but I wouldn't want to do it anyway. I try to avoid anything that leads me to playing a fundamentally different game. It's bad enough that I'm playing in emulators.

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    3. In this game, for instance, mapping attack or movement commands to the keypad would make combat a lot easier than the developer intended and likely remove the challenge of the game.

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    4. Speaking of arrows keys, those were a PC speciality and even some more "modern" computers like A600 missed the arrow keys completely also German, French and likely a host of other keyboard layouts on older computers didn't had ASWD conveniently located close to each other hence movement keys can be in very different places when playing from a QWERTY-keyboard.

      Come to think of it I can't remember if C64 had qwerty either though it's button feel was absolutely terrible for writing or even gaming.

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    5. "Come to think of it I can't remember if C64 had qwerty either though it's button feel was absolutely terrible for writing or even gaming."

      The C64 had a QWERTY keyboard very similar to the current British keyboard layout. It lacked arrow keys, but that (on this and other systems) probably had to do with the then-standard joystick ports.

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    6. In case you need it for any future game Autohotkey lets you remap keyboard to whatever keypress sequence you like. Not the easiest to set up but very powerful little tool.

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  5. So... do we want to have an argument about RPS' top 50 RPGs list? I mean, it's cool if we don't. I think it's a pretty solid list, although the top spot is pretty controversial. http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2015/07/10/best-rpg/

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    1. I read the list and about the first 50 comments. I haven't played the majority of the games, so it's hard to comment on them. There are hardly any pre-1990 titles. I do realize, though, that they were creating a list of the "best" games and not the "most important" ones. My take-aways:

      1. What particularly stung was no Ultima IV, no NetHack, and no Might & Magic titles.

      2. The arguments about Dark Souls are just dumb. I mean, argue whether it deserves to be #1, but there's no question that it's a RPG. People arguing against it's inclusion are creating their own tortured definitions of RPGs.

      3. Skyrim hate continues to baffle me. I refuse to believe that people who say they "hate" it and it "sucks" are being serious. It could have been better, sure, but people who are that negative about it are just posturing.

      4. "Creating this list involved a great deal of debate and disagreement, primarily over what we mean by the term RPG. A game in which you play a role. In Doom do we not play the role of a space marine?" Jesus Christ. Do we have to keep having this discussion? A COMPUTER ROLE-PLAYING GAME IS NOT A "ROLE-PLAYING GAME BECAUSE YOU "PLAY A ROLE." A computer role-playing game is called such because it adapts the MECHANICS (character sheets, leveling, equipment, combat) of tabletop RPGs.

      5. First sentence: "An entirely objective ranking of the 50 best PC RPGs ever released." How could anything like this ever be objective at all, let alone "entirely objective"?

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    2. On the bright side, the majority of the best RPGs are ahead of you. ;)

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    3. I gather you don't follow normally RPS :) They have a pretty toungue in cheek approach to many of their articles, so I'm pretty sure "entirely objective" was meant in jest.

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    4. I lost a big response to this, but CRPG Addict did a better job anyway.

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    5. @CRPG Addict:
      I think part of the reason some of the games you were looking for are missing is because they basically picked one game per series. There are exceptions (three Elder Scrolls games made the list, as well as two Deus Ex and two Fallout games), but they only picked one Baldur's Gate, one Ultima (depending on how you include Ultima Underworld), one Dragon's Age, one Mass Effect, etc. I'm not sure why they stuck with it so hard in some ways (no Baldur's Gate 1?) but violated in others. However, other than Might and Magic, that explains some of the missing entries and the lack of older games, as long running series would typically have better entries in the 90s than 80s.

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    6. Interesting choices. They seem to go for atmosphere and strange worlds more than mechanics (I agree with Morrowind coming near the top).. Wizardry 8 (in the bottom 10) seems to stand in for all the M&Ms, Wizardrys and similar classics.

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    7. This list seems rather biased towards 'new' over 'good', to my mind. I mean, they put so much effort in the early list that they have a NWN2 picture for Wizardry 8. Some of the 'new' games I've played - for instance, I found that Avernum played more or less like a Flash game (the Dragon Age: Origins teaser game played far, far too similarly for me to get very far - it just wasn't fun after about five hours of gameplay. It was like Baldur's Gate with less fun characters and a more boring combat system.)

      I do agree with Morrowind as being over Skyrim - the feel of the game was way more immersive to me - but I don't hate Skyrim, either. Also, I'd argue that Fallout 2 shined everywhere where #1 lacked. I also recently played through the Might and Magics - I feel that World of Xeen should have been in this list. Failing that, M&M6 (though I can understand not listing the '3D' games if only because of the sound effects - my partner was sitting on the couch hearing the abjectly silly noises and shaking her head almost the whole way through M&M6 until I just turned the speakers down to barely a whisper.)

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    8. If you were looking for the 'best' games, ignoring historical perspective, you'd expect a lot of recent games. Many of the early greats have been successfully iterated on.

      The ostensible goal is only half the story. Such lists are usually exercises in demonstrating breadth of taste and experience and historical awareness, and consequently reducing the level of representation for any one company/series. In this sense, such lists are self-conscious, and it changes them from 'The best 50' to '50 you should experience if you want an idea of the genre'.

      Given that retitling, and thus ignoring the ordering, I'd say it's a pretty good list with only a couple unconvincing entries.

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    9. I miss Quest for Glory...

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    10. This list is wrong because my personal opinion is different. :-D

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    11. I would have put a lot of other games on the list: Citizens of Earth, The Binding of Isaac, The Real Texas, Half Minute Hero and of course, Quest for Glory: They are all classics that deserve high ranks in C.R.P.G. history.

      I like the inclusion of Anachrono: A forgotten classic that may finally get an ending, as Square-Enix is looking for someone to make a sequel.

      Dark Souls is bland, boring and terrible, and if I were to choose a console port, it would the definitive classic Final Fantasy 7. Might and Magic is a complete mess of a game that involves nothing but tedious wandering and fighting monsters that age your characters to death.

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    12. I would have put a lot of other games on the list: Citizens of Earth, The Binding of Isaac, The Real Texas, Half Minute Hero and of course, Quest for Glory: They are all classics that deserve high ranks in C.R.P.G. history.

      I like the inclusion of Anachrono: A forgotten classic that may finally get an ending, as Square-Enix is looking for someone to make a sequel.

      Dark Souls is bland, boring and terrible, and if I were to choose a console port, it would the definitive classic Final Fantasy 7. Might and Magic is a complete mess of a game that involves nothing but tedious wandering and fighting monsters that age your characters to death.

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    13. They should have just created a freaking survey for every freaking RPGamer on the planet to fill in.

      That should have covered it.

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    14. I was ready to give up reading when they complained about the old graphics of Dungeon Master, but in the end, I thought it was a nice list, can't argue much with places 2-4. I haven't played Dark Souls yet, but I was about to buy it when Pillars of Eternity came out. I'm going to use that list as a possible play list for the future.

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    15. Lists like that will always have entries which some people think are absurdly placed. It is at least refreshing after seeing a similar top 100 rpg of all time list (not limited to pc) have about 86 of them be console jrpgs.
      As for this list, I'd disagree with nwn2 being that high, the way the camera and controls conspire to never work at the same time kills it for me. Dark souls for number one, hmm, not only have I not played it but I've not even heard mention of it..but then I am quite behind on modern rpgs, still yet to play any witcher or mass effect game :S
      Pleasantly surprised to see Daggerfall, ADOM and ZangbandTK make it as far as they did.

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    16. I was a bit surprised at NWN2. But apart from being a bit linear (especially the first act), it hits all the buttons. Good character customisation, engaging NPCs, lots of loot and decent combat. I enjoy it more than Dragon Age - although the main story arc is weaker.

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    17. The only real weird choice for me is Risen, but no G1 or G2.

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    18. At least one Gothic game was included so don't complain too much...

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  6. Movement/attack controls remind me of Beneath Apple Manor for Apple II somewhat. There's a gap of six years between those games though. This control scheme is so awkward that I thought it would die out before the beginning of eighties.

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  7. I don't think the ZX spectrum had arrow keys or a keypad, so that probably explains the awkward movement system.

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    1. Right. I should have been clear what I was saying, which was more something like, "Instead of being able to move briskly around the area with [dedicated keys like] the arrow keys or keypad [on other platforms]...." But while I didn't expect a Spectrum developer to use keys that didn't exist, it would have been possible to map movement to another key combination.

      I think the real problem is the nature of the input. Some games (e.g., the Ultima series) are designed to execute commands the moment a key is pressed. If you need to specify a sub-command, the game specifically prompts you for one after you press the main key. Other games (e.g., text adventures, this one) are designed to require the user to type in more complex commands and execute with the ENTER key.

      It might be possible to design a game that applies instant-execution for one set of keys (e.g., WASD) and not for others, but I'm betting it's a lot more difficult and probably beyond this developer's capabilities.

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    2. It's more of beyond spectrum's capabilities it's hard to believe it on modern age but executing keyboard input actually took (back then) considerable processor time to execute and bigger the string the longer it took.

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    3. Angband has the 'prompt' style interface for complex (2+ key) commands. I think this game would have worked better with something similar - so to 'G'o, you would press 'G', the game would ask your direction, and then you press W/A/S/D or N/W/S/E or whatever; same for 'A'ttack and whatever other commands are required by the game.

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    4. I just remembered that Mandragore is on your playlist, now there's an, uh, interesting interface...

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    5. Good thing that the ZX Spectrum is dead and buried then.

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  8. The Spectrum had a reasonably full keyboard (but no arrow keys or num-pad). The 'dead-flesh' rubber keys were actually reasonably good for games. As far as I recall, you could poll ports to detect keypresses easily enough, and it wasn't a huge drain on the system.

    From a programming perspective, if you can detect keys right away, it's not hard to respond immediately or wait for command strings. You just need to determine whether the action you do immediately is (a) execute an immediate effect, (b) add a token to the current command string, or (c) execute and reset the command string.

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    1. [I meant to add] In other words, their "GO N" was just bad design, probably a result of playing lots of text adventures or adventury hybrids, and not realising that this interface is really pretty bad and could easily be improved.

      We forget that nowadays we have decades of game interface history, so very few will make such faux passes.

      (This is also why I have little time for open source as a philosophy - ultimately wisdom comes from being aware of many things that have been tried independently, rather than making it easy to follow in the tracks of what has been done so far.

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  9. Some other bits od information about this game from the Crash magazine:

    http://www.crashonline.org.uk/15/mizar.htm

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    1. Thanks! That's a good source of background. I'm sorry I missed it. I have to start Googling better.

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  10. I have more ideas for your list of firsts: First game where all of your characters die at the end; first game where you can destroy the world instead of saving it; first game which tries to develop dozens of characters rather than making them faceless N.P.C.s, like Suikoden; first game with no combat; first game where the final boss take increasingly weird forms as you kill him; first game where the main character appears to be an amnesiac, but turns out to be a pathological liar who stole someone else's identity, lke Cloud in Final Fantasy 7;

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    1. If they can join your party, they can't be faceless, can they? Unless you're talking about character portraits? Like Ultima 6? All your ideas are pretty JRPG-centric. Anyway, "first game where the main character appears to be an amnesiac, but turns out to be a pathological liar who stole someone else's identity" is Planescape: Torment.

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    2. Planescape: Torment must also be one of the few, if not the only, PC games, where having all your characters die at the end is a legit way to finish it.

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    3. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesJuly 13, 2015 at 12:32 PM

      I love Planescape Torment, but I have not played it in years so my memories are pretty vague. It could be an interesting source for firsts then.

      I meant that developing dozens of characters by either putting them in the party and giving them characterization, or keeping them out of the party but giving them plenty of dialogue. I did not literally mean giving them faces.

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    4. In Pool of Radiance, some or all of your party can team up with Tyranthraxus at the end. Although this results in the same game over screen as usual, you could consider it an evil (if not quite world-destroying) ending.

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    5. Ah I forgot, you can also "win" Mass Effect 2 with all characters dying at the end, unless you count the pilot, what's his name, Joker...

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    6. Joker's not really a party member, though. I know you do briefly control him for a short segment in one of the games, but that's like elevating Vicks/Biggs and Wedge to party member status for FF3/6

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    7. If these games weren't more than 10 years away, I'd be seriously pissed about the spoilers.

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    8. Yeah. I still haven't played all those games either. The comment section for this blog should probably try to abstain from major plot spoilers of RPGs.

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    9. Other than Planescape: Torment (the so-called Big Reveal that "you're an amnesiac, but turns out to be a pathological liar who stole someone else's identity" happens in the 1st area of the game to trigger your main quest), Final Fantasy games (JRPGs on consoles) and Pool Of Radiance (you already beat it), the only game that's actually spoiled was... Mass Effect 2.

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  11. I like how vision is obscured in a straight line and not in grids like Ultima. Looks a lot more organic.

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  12. So is the combat in this game real time, or does it wait to take turns? I wasn't sure from the descriptions.

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    1. It's real-time. Sorry I didn't make that clear. If you just stand there, enemies continue to attack you. That's why the control scheme is so annoying. You have to type A E (attack east) and hit ENTER while the enemy is still standing to the east. One typo or hesitation, and he's moved.

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3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

NOTE: Spam has gotten so bad lately that I've had to turn on comment moderation for posts older than 10 days. I apologize if it takes a little while for your comment to appear.