Friday, April 22, 2016

Game 220: Fate: Gates of Dawn (1991)

Not a very fantasy-looking opening screen.
   
In the hours that I spent re-visiting Alternate Reality: The City a few weeks ago, I was actually grateful for the game's lack of a main quest. Despite its fame and reputation, I simply didn't warm to the game, and I had no interest in exhaustively mapping the entirety of the enormous Xebec's Demise. I was happy that I could quit playing when I felt like quitting rather than spending dozens of hours following a meandering plot to its end. I thought that the game was far more intent than achievement.
   
Fate: Gates of Dawn is what we get when a developer makes good on the original intent of Alternate Reality, including an integrated city, dungeons, and wilderness and a main quest. The connection between the two games is so obvious that I'm surprised it hasn't come up on my blog before. Almost everything about the game has a clear basis in Alternate Reality, including the main plot, the size of the cities (or, at least, the starting city), the multiple types of each establishment, the importance of "guilds" to learning magic, the copious options for NPC encounters, the types of gear you can buy and equip, the root of the combat system, and the way you have to manage hunger, thirst, and fatigue. Heck, even the damned rain looks the same.
   
The rain falls during my first visit to the City of Larvin.
   
Alternate Reality wasn't the only inspiration, I hasten to add--among other things, there's a clear Bard's Tale influence on combat--nor did the developer lack for his own ideas, but overall Fate is clearly a love letter to the earlier game. This isn't just my guess: in an interview on a fan site, developer Olaf Patzenhauer explicitly says, "I played Alternate Reality and I liked the atmosphere of the game. Since the story was bad, I wanted to create a game with atmosphere and story."
   
Banks offering interest on investments also appeared in Alternate Reality.
    
The question is whether, given the story, I'll ultimately like it better than Alternate Reality. My reactions so far are mixed. I admire everything that Fate manages to cram into floppy disks and the sound is fantastic, but the interface so far is a bit of a nightmare. More important is the length. From the comments on my blog and my initial scouting of the Internet, it's obvious that the game is legendarily large. The opening city alone is a staggering 54 x 54 squares (roughly, anyway--I screwed something up somewhere), and I guess the wilderness extends so far that it can take hours of real-time play just to walk from one place to another. Estimates for the time it takes to win the game top 200 hours, which, if true, is going to be good news for my efforts to catch up on the non-DOS 1980s games.

Let's start with the basics. Fate is a first-person "blobber," based on tiles, with action progressing in real time except for combat. It was developed primarily by Olaf Patzenhauer and Heinrich Stiller at reLINE Software, the same company that published The Legend of Faerghail, although the only name that the games share is graphics designer Matthias Kästner. I'll have more about Patzenhauer in the final entry on the game, but for now suffice to say that he died in 2011 of a heart attack at age 50, so we won't see him comment on my blog.

In its backstory, the game is ironically truer to the title Alternate Reality than the original game. Where Alternate Reality had the player enter an alien-created virtual reality, Fate has the protagonist literally cross dimensions. There is no character creation in the game. Instead, everyone plays (at least initially) as Winwood, a young 20th-century record store owner happy with his work but a little tired of its long hours. (I've been enjoying the thought of John Cusack's character from High Fidelity playing the protagonist.) One afternoon, he lies down to take a nap on his sofa and begins to have nightmares involving an old sorcerer casting some kind of spell. When he awakens, he is not on his sofa but in a dirty room above a tavern. Dressing himself in the medieval-style clothes he finds in a nearby wardrobe, he heads down to the bar and listens to the patrons' conversations long enough to determine that he's found his way to some alternate timeline of human history, in which the development of magic skewed the balance of power and the growth of technology.
   
The opening screen starts Winwood lost in the woods.
   
Winwood wanders outside the tavern just in time to avoid a massacre of all its inhabitants, carried out by henchmen working for a mage named Thardan. He overhears that Thardan is looking for a "traveler between worlds" and surmises that Thardan is the mage of his nightmare. He hides in a tree for a day or so, then takes a chance on approaching an old guy poking around the inn's smoldering ruins. The old fighter, Naristos, takes Winwood in for the evening and fills in some holes. Thardan is indeed an evil wizard, in command of an army of henchmen and monsters, who probably brought Winwood through a portal to exploit his knowledge of advanced technologies. Warning Winwood to avoid staying too long in one place and suggesting that he find some like-minded companions, Naristos kicks him out and points him in the direction of the nearby city of Larvin.
   
That was a freebie.
   
The game begins with Winwood alone in the forest, clad in regular clothing, armed with a dagger, carrying 6 water bottles, 4 lunch rations, and 1,355 coins. There's not much of an indication of where to go. I bumbled about for a while, fighting successful combats against rats, finding a few random treasures (including a short sword upgrade), before I finally found a road.
    
Killing rats wasn't hard.
But not all the combats ended well.
    
I followed the road a ways, and a group of signs started directing me to the city of Larvin. I had to reload a few times after getting killed by bandits (human enemies seem beyond me at this point), but eventually made it into the city. Larvin is apparently one of four large cities in the game world. There are also five small villages and an unknown number of dungeons. The manual warns you not to bother entering the dungeons unless you have a particular reason to be there.
   
I guess I won't head here just yet.
   
I tried just wandering the city at first, but its walls offer no more safety than those of Xebec's Demise. Robbers, burglars, and evil mages kept attacking and killing me. I thus started to carefully map so at least I'd have something to show. Before long, I realized I'd kill a couple of game sessions just mapping Larvin. For this first entry, I managed to get most of the perimeter mapped, but I must have missed a square on the west side, because the squares didn't come together right on the east side. I'm sure that will take a while to work out.

What I've mapped so far.
   
The city has a variety of inns, taverns, equipment shops, banks, temples, and guilds. I've been annotating their locations, but I otherwise haven't done much with them. I've won a small minority of combats, but I'll save a posting on combat for later. About a dozen squares produced some random treasure.
  
I could afford it, but I think I need to save more money first.
  
I also ran into a number of non-hostile NPCs. The game takes an interesting approach to NPCs. The copious options in the right-hand menu bar include "Chat" and "Ask for." "Chat" takes you to a screen where you can insult, adulate (compliment, basically), enchant, curse, joke, brag, tell fibs, or just introduce yourself. "Ask for" gives you more substantive dialogue options like "Name," "Profession," "Hint," and "Being." Back on the main menu, you can also ask NPCs to join you.

In general, NPCs have been friendly but not helpful. They'll tell me their names, but when I say something like "Help," they say, "Why should I help you!?"
   
If this was the default response to JOB in Ultima IV, it would have been a really short game.
   
Over time, however, I got two of them to join me: a mage named Dolly and a mercenary named Auzack. It appears that there are quite a large number of NPCs who will join the party--I guess you can even have multiple parties--so every player's specific composition is going to be different than every others'.
   
The stats for one of my new party members.
   
I read somewhere that if you get stuck, NPCs start offering you clues as to how to proceed. Late in my wanderings round Larvin, Winwood suggested that we start talking to more mages. I'll let you know if that produces any results.
   
You just got here. What do you know about anything?
   
I don't really care for the interface which, like most Amiga games I've encountered, is all mouse-driven. As if the keyboard wasn't just sitting right there in front of the player. Technically, you can hit the number keys to correspond with the menu options, but since they're not numbered on screen, it doesn't help very much. It's very easy to click on the wrong option with the mouse, and you end up insulting an NPC instead of adulating him.

On the plus side: oh my god, the sound. Finally, finally, finally we have a game that could care less about music (there is none) and has instead invested all its efforts into sound effects. They're fantastic. You get birds chirping, rain falling, footsteps, and howling wind in the background, and fun clangs and swishes in combat. This is only the third game I can remember that features decent ambient sound; the other two--Legend of Faerghail and Dungeons of Avalon--were also German games for the Amiga.
  
I can't show sound, so here's a nice shot looking across a lagoon in the middle of the city.
   
There's much, much more to cover in subsequent postings. I haven't even touched on the game's races (they include "Morons" and half-Morons), magic, combat, or equipment. Even if I don't finish, this is going to be a long one.

81 comments:

  1. Morons and half-Morons? That's...interesting.

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    1. And they're also the most intelligent and magically-inclined race too. I wonder what it says about the rest of the population...

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    2. Moron is probably a literal translation from German that didn't convey the correct connotation. Anyone know what that race is called in the German version?

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    3. They are called Moron in the German version, too. Since the word doesn't have any meaning in German, I guess it was chosen for its sound and maybe as a joke.

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    4. It has no meaning in German. Olaf has always annoyed later that he the races so called.
      Olaf had not considered what meaning does the word in English.

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    5. Funny! Well, as they say, never go full Moron.

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  2. Dang, I wish I would've found this as a kid. It looks like it has some of the better parts of Might & Magic and Realms of Arkania.

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    1. This was hardly available in the English speaking world. Reline went bankrupt right after the translation was finished, so very few English copies were sold.
      For a long time the only available English version was an incorrectly cracked pirated one, which made it impossible to advance further into the game (Olaf Patzenhauer was quite proud that nobody ever managed to crack his copy protection). I just hope Chet got a working copy (Seeing that RuneTek's website is down).

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    2. As far as I know copy protection asks you questions in-game about the manual.

      DO ANSWER these correctly, because instead of stopping I've heard the game just starts to behave oddly and slows down.

      I guess as long you answer correctly you should be fine?

      I also hope he is using the hard disk version...

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    3. Flash, do you know for which platform were those few English copies sold? PC? Amiga?

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    4. Amiga. The game only had an Atari ST port, a PC one was planned but never released.

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  3. Maps are 56x56 squares, with the bottom left corner 1,1, although the top and right edges are rarely used so 54x54 is mostly correct. If you get confused while mapping, there's an ingame automap (Armaments / Jewel, each use consumes one jewel though). I'd suggest you get an Enchanter, he learns spells that show the automap (Showmap), your current coordinates (Location) and a light spell that also shows invisible doors (Flare).

    The wilderness is 640x400 squares, in addition there are around thirty 56x56 maps and a few smaller ones. So yeah, it's going to take a while, have fun :)

    "Late in my wanderings round Larvin, Winwood suggested that we start talking to more mages. I'll let you know if that produces any results."

    Yep, that's how the story is advanced: talking to random people on the streets and asking them about Hint, Items, Person and Beings. Easiest way to get them to talk is to pay them (Give alms), this works for everyone except honorable warrior types. Asking for Help is more like asking for personal training, it rarely works but gives experience and permanent stat increases if it succeeds.

    Fun trivia: a lot of the sound effects come from the Monty Python movies, for example the wilderness wind sound is from this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsKDg7Y28D8

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  4. "Late in my wanderings round Larvin, Winwood suggested that we start talking to more mages. I'll let you know if that produces any results."

    Yeah, that's how the story is advanced, by talking to random people on the streets and asking them for Hint, Items, Person and Beings. Easiest way to get them to talk is giving them money (Give alms), except for honorable warrior types. Asking for Help is more like asking for personal training, it rarely works but gives experience and permanent stat increases if it does.

    The wilderness is 640x400 squares, other maps are 56x56 internally but the north and east edges are very rarely used, so 54x54 is mostly correct. Bottom left corner is 1,1. Make sure to recruit an Enchanter, they help a lot with mapping with spells that show an automap (Showmap), your coordinates (Location) and secret doors (Flare).

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    1. Yes some types can train some stats. Thieves can give +1 to DEX (i think, just remembering), Barbarians +1 STR, some ladies - Faeries or sometging like that rasie 2 or 3 stats.
      But it is limited to (as i remember) 20 and after taht no increasing appers.

      If you are crazy you can spend many hours by grinding stats (like STR, INT, DEX...) by conversations to 20 to all party characters. You can save skill-points for raising stats, but it is nearly crazy because it is very time consuming and i do not reccommend this at all.

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    2. Up to 40 but yeah it's pointless grinding.

      Also, guilds in Larvin mostly only train one stat increase per ability point, other cities give more, so it's best to save them and figure out which one gives the best bonus first. Feel free to buy spells though, those are the same everywhere.

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    3. I checked my playthrough journal and i read additional info about this stat increasing. Cap is 40 and there is another restriction, if you reach 40 in some stat you can not raise (by conversation) others any more.

      That means, if you have DEX 20 but you reach INT 40 you are finished and your stats will not increase by conversations any more.

      I did not remember this, but i wrote it in my journal back in time, so i believe it is true.

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    4. Whoa! That's some deep Quantum Break sh!t there.

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  5. "Finally, finally, finally we have a game that could care less about music (there is none) and has instead invested all its efforts into sound effects."

    A lot of those sound effects will be familiar if you watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail. For example, the wind howl is from the start of this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsKDg7Y28D8

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    1. At last we've found *something* from the Holy Grail that The Addict can appreciate. Could sound effects be his path to enjoying the rest of the film? (I'm not holding my breath.)

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  6. "It is notable that from these copies of the game only the copy protection but not the password protection was removed. Password requests are not made at the start of the game but at intervals in the game repeated after some time. Just ignoring these requests or a wrong answer leads not to an abrupt end to the game, but gameplay deteriorating until it becomes unplayable. Therefore, a copy of the manual is still required for the right code."

    Just saw this on wikipedia and thought I'd post it in case you don't already know.

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    1. Good post, yeah it is true (the existence of another layer of DRM). Sometimes - and i do not know exactly if this is triggered by time or by going somewhere - a naked woman spawns and asks some question about something what you must read from game manual.
      I never underestimated this a i always checked manual for right answer.
      Better to do this right way than risk some bullshit after 200 hours of gameplay :-D.

      But this game has a 3rd layer of DRM !! But it is connected to manual as well, so you just need to have a copy (or PDF scan) of game manual which can be downloaded without any problems.
      This DRM layer is about reading and using info from a couple of map pictures in manual at some places where you are told to.

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    2. I'm playing a version that was in a large package Abalieno gave me when he configured an Amiga emulator for Antares. I don't know if it's a good or bad version. How long in a typical game before some kind of copy protection request appears?

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    3. I do not remember exactly, but i think i saw this naked woman.... maybe 5-6 times during playthrough, which was about 160 hours of clear-time (that means in-game count, without dead-time lines due to loading so the real gameplay time was closing to 200 hours)

      But do not worry, just download manual and you are good to go without any troubles.

      It is just a simple question connected to manual. I did not have any problem answering those questions.

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    4. Abalieno is me under a different name ;)

      Anyway, the WHDLoad version is the 1.6 English, and as far as I know is bug-free. I saw reports of crashes during dialogue but I think it was only for some German version. Supposedly it's well tested.

      There's only one version and there weren't any updates to it. The only notes are stuff like:
      - Stack relocated in fastmem
      - OS stuff pacthed
      - Snoopbug removed
      - Quit with '*' (PrtSc)

      REMEMBER that due to caching it's possible that the game won't save progress UNTIL you exit the game back to Amiga desktop/workbench by pressing '*' on numpad.

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    5. I did not have registered WHD load so i played DOS version from Runetek page - "Fixed (saves) HD version Fate-Gates of Dawn for the UAE emulator. This is final 100% working HD version!" under Workbench system.

      Sometimes game went crazy - graphical glitches or game crashed leading to alt+F4... just emulation problems, happened once per many hours of gameplay.

      Quitting by "*" is a standard emulator feature - "saving game cache" but player MUST remember this.

      WHD version of game is 99,99% OK, my friend played it without any problems to Grottos of Gahmos.

      Then he started to play other games and he was not able to return back to Fate.... sad story.

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  7. This game is notoriously long, maybe among the top 3 longest CRPGs ever made, and even a dedicated player is going to spend a LONG time playing it, and I consider the Addict as good as they come. As for the copy protection, if you have a copy of the manual, it should be fine, but you have to read the opening story to figure out the answer. If he needs it, I have a PDF copy. That said, finishing this game might take til the middle of summer.

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  8. One of the cooler sounding Amiga exclusive RPGs is Swords of Twilight, which is from '89. Evidently three people can play as one of the three party members simultaneously, which I'm guessing is crazy when everyones crowded around one keyboard.

    http://hol.abime.net/2248

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  9. >This is only the third game I can remember that features decent ambient sound

    Part of that is because of the Amiga's good sound hardware. It could do four channels of arbitrary 8-bit sound, with two channels on each side (left and right). This wasn't great fidelity, but it let programmers make any sound they wanted. Suddenly, effects were easy, but music was involved, so you saw lots of sound effects in Amiga games. (lots of good music, too, but that took real effort.)

    On the PC, pretty much all you could do was lousy OPL3 synth music, at least until the Soundblasters took over the market. And even then, I believe they had just one 8-bit sound channel. It wasn't really until the advent of the Soundblaster 16 and MIDI daughtercards, in 1992, that sound started to get reasonably good on that side of the fence, and it took even longer for market penetration to reach critical mass. Probably by 1994 or 1995, you could routinely expect PC games to sound better than anything on the 1985 Amiga, but it *was* ten years later.

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    1. I figured it was something like this. I appreciate the technical detail.

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    2. It's probably also partly due to the fact that Sierra put the focus on music hardware by pushing Adlib and Roland synthesizers, neither of which were any more suited to digital sample playback than the PC's internal speaker.

      A lot of PC gamers didn't bother to upgrade to a sound card with a DAC (eg Sound Blaster) until CD-ROMs became a thing in the early 1990s.

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  10. "The old fighter, Naristos, takes Winwood in for the evening and fills in some holes." - Goodness, I'm 36 and I still snickered stupidly at that. I'll never grow up.
    I remember seeing this game in Amiga Joker magazine in 90-91 and thinking:"I need that!" I never got it, though, I wonder why.

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  11. This, Wizardry 7, Darklands and Ambermoon are MASSIVE games. They get the better the longer you play them. You might consider downloading the maps from the internet rather than drawing all of them. You haven't even mapped the first city and there are many cities like that + a huge wilderness. I wonder if you'll finish this game. I read that it needs about 200 hours of gameplay. I sadly never finished.

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    1. I needed cca. 200 hours to finish Fate but WITH (downloaded & printed) maps and with consulting walkthrough as well.

      I think, gameplay including mapping and no hints/walkthrough checking can take much more than 200, maybe 400 hours.
      Mapping is very complicated due to a very (i mean VERY) large number of 1-side passable image walls and quite large number of teleports.

      I succesfully finished all the games you mentioned and my result is that the order (sorted by massiveness) goes:
      1) Fate
      2) Ambermoon
      3) Wizardry 7
      4) Darklands

      I heard a rumor about cheater, who was not able to finish Fate under 70 hours. (Pat`s Nostalgia review of the game on youtube).

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    2. I skipped Fate from my own play list, since I was intimidated by its size. But if it's of comparable size with Wizardry 7 and Darklands, both of which I completed, I think I'll give it another try. It will be very interesting to follow Chester's progress and see how much time he uses.
      Incidentally, Wiz 7 is the longest CRPG I've played, using 2-3 months to complete it. I use 1-2 weeks to complete an average CRPG and less than a week for short ones.

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    3. I completed in in 45 hours according to the in-game timer with maps and walkthrough. Those make a huge difference with the large numbers of one-way doors and teleport puzzles. There are also several (perhaps cheap) tricks to avoid/shorten combats.

      With no prior knowledge of the game, drawing maps and using no tricks, 200 hours do sound reasonable.

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    4. I'm not going to use maps from the Internet, but if it really is that long (and I don't hate it after 10 hours or so), I'll make a change to my normal practice: instead of alternating a post on Fate with a 1980s game, I'll just go back and forth between Fate and whatever else is on the list. That way, I can still make progress through both 1985 and 1991.

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    5. "Whatever else is NEXT" on the list, that should have said.

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    6. 45 Hours sounds incredible.
      My in-game time was about 160 hours, but yeah i spent maybe 20-30 hours by grinding stats or EXP.
      Anyway it is still 130 hours of pure gaming and progressing versus 45....

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    7. I've heard Dragon Age: Inquisition has a lot of content for a modern era title.

      Of games released in the past 10 years, what are some that would be high on the list? Is Skyrim up there?

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    8. I've heard Dragon Age: Inquisition has a lot of content for a modern era title.

      Of games released in the past 10 years, what are some that would be high on the list? Is Skyrim up there?

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    9. @Tristan Gall
      "Of games released in the past 10 years, what are some that would be high on the list? Is Skyrim up there?"

      you mean what are the longest RPG games released in the last 10 years? I can name a few that felt long (epic), some haveing 100+ hours

      - Fallout New Vegas
      - Drakensang The Dark Eye / Drakensang the River of time
      - Dragon Age games (all 3)
      - Neverwiner Nights 2 + expansions
      - Dark Souls games, first play-through took me 120 hours
      - Pillars of Eternity + expansions, maybe 150 hours
      - Inquisitor
      - Avernum series
      - Gothic series, especially Gothic 3 is long
      - Divinity 2: The Dragon Knight Saga
      - Mass Effect trilogy
      - Witcher trilogy, Witcher 3 took me 100+ hours
      - Xenoblade Chronicles X, not a PC game

      Concerning Skyrim, it is difficult to tell because it is a sandbox game, you can finish it in 5 hours and you can finish in 500 hours. I personally do not like Bethesda games, they can create a beautiful detailed world but the world somehow feels shallow and empty. I hate level scaling. I quit Skyrim after 40 hours, being bored.

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    10. @Tristan Gall, Lords of Xulima is HUGE. If you do all the sidequest it could easily take you into 100-150 hours range. Although part of that time will be grinding - but I suspect that's the case with Fate and Wiz7 as well.
      Another very long indie RPG is Balrum, people on steam forums report that a non-completionist playthrough of that game would take around 80-90 hours, with completionis playthrough being easily twice as long. Although, once again, a lot of that length may have to do with slow walking speed and farming elements (they're optional, but you'll have to do a lot of grinding if you don't want to farm).

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    11. Obdurate Hater of Rhtyhm GamesApril 24, 2016 at 1:45 PM

      Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and 2, The Witcher 3 and the Drakensang series are excellent, challenging games with lengthy playtimes. Xenoblade games are unique and awesome and have a lot of imagination. Drakensang: The Dark Eye is a bit too much of a hack and slash, but The River of Time really expatiates it: It has a much more interesting story, many more role-playing choices, a number of situations where you can choose to avoid combat and a lot more depth. I also love the Witcher 3: It captures the same magic as the 3D Zelda games, although it never reaches the heights of the 2D games.

      I also recommend Half Minute Hero 1 and 2, The Real Texas, Little King's Story, The Binding of Isaac, Cthulhu Saves the World, Two Brothers--if the Elder Scrolls series has inured you to crippling bugs--Evoland 2, Dragon's Dogma, Dead Rising, Citizens of Earth--a far better tribute to Mother than Undertale--and Mother 3 if you want lengthy, imaginative, challenging R.P.G.s from recent years.

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    12. Don't scare me off of Wizardry 7! I'm about to finish Wiz6 for the third time so that I can once again attempt to carry a party through Wiz 6-8.

      I've completed Wiz6 twice and Wiz8 once to date, but have never beaten Wiz7. It's not just its size, but also the fact that NPCs run around scattering quest items so that walkthroughs are of limited use.

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    13. OHRG, I'm impressed that you manage to mention your indie favourites (yet again) in a thread about game length :p

      VK, I've never heard of Balrum, it looks a lot like those Eschalon games eh?

      HK, I don't think the ME games are distinguished by their length

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    14. "I've never heard of Balrum, it looks a lot like those Eschalon games eh?" - it does, but it's quite different in gameplay.

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    15. Obdurate Hater of Rhtyhm GamesApril 25, 2016 at 12:14 PM

      We were talking about good R.P.G.s from recent years, so I mentioned some.

      Regarding more games from that list: The Souls series is a horrible, tedious slog with poor controls, awful level design, no story and no satisfaction. It feels like a third-rate C.R.P.G. from the time when half of the genre was a bunch of Wizardry clones. Bloodborne was supposed to be the opposite, but it was exactly the same. Gothic 1 and 2 were very good games with a lot of depth, though I heard the later games were terrible. Dragon Age: Origins was a great game, but then Dragon Age 2 was almost as horrible and pointless as Dark Souls. Nothing you did in that game was relevant or affected anything, and after that, I had no interest in Inquisition. Mass Effect was a good game, number 2 was also good but the plot made no sense, and then 3 was a horribly designed mess with a nonsensical ending. Pillars of Eternity was a good game that felt like the skeleton of a great game, kind of disappointing by Obsidian's standards. It also became very buggy later in the game. Fallout 3 and New Vegas were great: Worthy sequels to one of my favorite C.R.P.G. series, with interesting takes on the world, despite also being very buggy--no surprise, as they were made by Bethesda and Obsidian.

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    16. Heh, it seems that you and me are possibly the only two people that consider Dark Souls' controls to be poor - to say the least. All people that I know who played DS praise it for "excellent controls". I don't know how to respond to it, I feel that at least half of this series' difficulty comes from ridiculous controls...

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    17. DS controls are fine, you just need to use gamepad and not K+M if playing on PC. DS 1 is one of the best games of the last decade, it has an awesome dark fantasy setting. I just love all the environments in the game and the monsters and bosses. The story is a little confusing, because it is not told explicitly but implicitly. I would compare DS story to movies by David Lynch (i.e. Mullholand Drive) - there are many interpretations. The game is hard but also very rewarding if you beat it.

      And BTW, if you like Fallout, try UnderRail. It is hard as hell but has amazing atmosphere and very fun combat.

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    18. Also, if you're playing Dark Souls 1 on the PC with a controller, you *need* to get a mod that fixes the input. The unmodded controller input scheme is broken.

      Also, never use lock-on on bosses.

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    19. i've been using gamepad. i had no problems with god of war, final fantasies, soulcalibur, tekken, ratchet and clank or racing games, and yet dark souls seemed clunky and irresponsive. maybe it depends on character's stats/skills/class/characterisitics/whatever, but even then it is irredeemable (?), just like Thief, where even running seemed like Grandpa Simulator.

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    20. Ok, it is possible that with mod it is better - but the question is, by "scheme" do you mean buttons' functions, or responsiveness? if it's former, the it won't help, but if the latter, then i will give it a try, i always thought that it would be fun game if it wasn't for the controls.

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    21. Oh, and re: Responsiveness - wearing light armor is key! Seriously. If you wear full plate, your char WILL be slow as hell in (almost) everything he does.

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    22. Speaking of controls and God of War in the same sentence, I tried to play that game once but quit when I failed to traverse a plank between boats, falling off and dying roughly 20 times in a row. I don't know whether it was me or the game, but I didn't see it going anywhere good, and haven't tried it since.

      Delete
    23. @dahauns: I had problems with controls at the very beginning of the game where you start basically naked, so armor certainly wasn't a problem.

      @Quirkz: God of War games have their own charm, but they certainly can't be classified as CRPGs, those are action games with elements of beat 'em up games with very light puzzles. Never the less I never had problems with controls there. Of course it is possible that Playstation's controllers are simply better than the one that I bought for PC...

      Delete
    24. I love how this thread progressed from longest RPGs to control schemes with all the stops in between.

      Delete
    25. @Obdurate Hater of Rhtyhm Games: "Pillars of Eternity was a good game that felt like the skeleton of a great game, kind of disappointing by Obsidian's standards."

      I'd agree with that. There were quests and choices at the very end that made me go "Oh THAT's the thematic stuff you've wanted to play with this whole time" that was reasonably cool, but for the most part, it felt like a game that simultaneously had too much going on (quests and NPCs that felt like they didn't have a place in that theme) and too little (there really wasn't that much of either).

      The proliferation of backer-sponsor characters, while understandable, didn't help with feelings of hollowness, either.

      Delete
    26. Just finished a month-long playthrough of The Witcher 3, so I'm with the Addict in spirit if Fate: Gates of Dawn ends up taking him a similarly long time.

      There's been a recent spate of great RPGs for both computers and consoles, so I have these contrasting emotions of "Yay! I get to enjoy more games in a beloved genre that was relatively sparse just a few years ago" and "But when will I have the time to play even half of them?".

      It's part of the reason I like reading the Addict's stuff; I can live vicariously through all his grinding, farming and side-questing.

      Delete
  12. Where is a good download link for game and manual? I'd love to play this game (and the other ones as well) but... does anyone have any links?

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    Replies
    1. http://dungeony.rpghry.cz/fate/fatedown.html

      Delete
    2. High quality PDF scan is here
      http://www.oldgames.sk/en/game/fate-gates-of-dawn
      download manual-new.pdf file

      Delete
    3. If you also want to use maps, statistics for magic, weapons and gear, and other stuff, a German fan has made a program that includes all information (also including manual, copy protection, etc):
      http://www.mightandmagicworld.de/phpbb/ftopic25285.html

      (Yes, Fate still has an active community)

      Delete
  13. I am really curious about Fate! That is a classic I totally missed. It looks very intriguing so far! Let's see, if it delivers.

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  14. I'm curious, do you again feel that awkwardness as with other German/European games before?

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, there's a little of that. Perhaps not as much as the others. Like a lot of European titles of the period, it has some "innovations" that you can't imagine anyone would want. I don't really look forward to the idea of having to manage more than one party, for instance.

      Delete
    2. You do not have to manage more than 1 party in the whole game.
      It is just an option if you want (from any reason) but are not forced to use this multi-party feature any time.

      You can finish the game with only one single party, yes very few times (i think only 2 times) you MUST split party to execute some "puzzle solving action" e.g. step on plate somewhere to open door, and then go through with other characters while someone is on plate.... nothing special and only very few times in the whole game.
      So do not worry about managing multiple parties, you will never need to do that.

      I know, splitting party will create second party technically but your total number of characters will not change so it is not like managing multiple parties as it sounds.

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    3. That's good to know. Thanks!

      Delete
  15. I know I'm usually really cynical about these games, but I'm getting a good vibe off of this one. It just seems to exude 'effort'. I really get the impression that the guy who made this genuinely wanted to make a good game, and not just cash in by ripping off some other successful RPG of the time (which is ironic, given how its clearly inspired by Alternate Reality). The plot seems really generic (I'm pretty sick of the whole 'average guy gets teleported to medieval fantasy dimension' thing), but I'm looking forward to seeing where this game goes. It's got potential.

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  16. Cool. I have been looking forward to your arriving at Fate. This is truly the Mother of All RPGs. Unsurpassed. I have been starting and abandoning it over and over over the years.

    I'd recommend using the number keys. Yes, the options are not numbered, but you get the most common options often enough to memorize them and zap through conversations and fights quickly.

    In talking to people, butter them up. Adulate them, crack a Joke, Tell fibs. If they like your chatting, they will be motivated to Help you, give you Hints etc. Or they may join you. (Piece of advice: NPCs will only join you if they are alone and they start the conversation right in front of you, not some distance away.)

    Always finish conversations by saying Bye. It's polite. Plus, you get XP that way.

    If you are looking for company, you may want to Go Around in a tavern. You can pick up a few... interesting... character classes that way, which you won't find on the streets. (Another piece of advice: once you've Gone Around in one tavern, you can't do it again successfully in that tavern, not even by leaving and re-entering - you first need to Go Around in another tavern. Having two parties in front of different taverns and switching back and forth is helpful.)

    Wooot! I just had the password nymph show up (no, she's not nude - but you may meet Ines) and ask me for the magical power of a particular spell as a piece of copy protection. A little later, one of my party members spoke up and told me I gave the wrong answer - I should read my manual more carefully in the future! I never saw this before. I love this game.

    Note those Battle Statistics. Another word to the wise: don't neglect them. If you can either whack something or Throw your weapon, always Throw. Later on, you can usefully Grope - do so. Trust me, it will make a difference in the long run, once you visit a specific place.

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    Replies
    1. "Always finish conversations by saying Bye. It's polite. Plus, you get XP that way."

      It's actually a good way to get some early experience. Instead of ignoring them which gives no XP, start a conversation then immediately finish it. Same two button presses, more rewards.

      "Wooot! I just had the password nymph show up (no, she's not nude - but you may meet Ines) and ask me for the magical power of a particular spell as a piece of copy protection. A little later, one of my party members spoke up and told me I gave the wrong answer - I should read my manual more carefully in the future! I never saw this before. I love this game."

      She's not nude in the English version which is mostly censored, but in the original German... let's just say if Chet was annoyed by David W. Bradley and his obsession with bazoombas in Wizardry 6, these guys are worse. Much worse.

      Also make sure you get the copy protection right next time, there will be no more warnings, instead your saves will become slowly corrupted.

      Delete
    2. Password Nymph was not nude? Strange....
      http://www.oldgames.sk/images/oldgames/rpg/Fate/mazar1234_4ebc4964ba12c.png

      http://www.oldgames.sk/images/oldgames/rpg/Fate/mazar1234_4eccfb2a9b242.png

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    3. The English version is mostly censored, the original German isn't. If Chet was annoyed by the bazoombas in Wizardry 6, these guys were worse. Much worse. There's an image in the Wikipedia article that shows the differences.

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    4. ReLine has a history of naked women in their games: Hollywood Poker, Biing! 1+2 and maybe there is even one hidden in Oil Imperium.

      Also: "having two parties"? What? I'm not sure if that is great or stressful.

      Delete
    5. There was a sequel of Fate in the works in early 2000s, which was going to be a hentai game. You can see some screenshots here: http://www.fate2.de/fate2/index.htm
      Part of me is kinda thankful it won't see the light of day.

      Delete
    6. @sucinum: sometimes you *need* two parties, or even three. One party may need to do something somewhere while another party is somewhere else.

      However, having too many characters is not great, either - part of the XP from encounters are divided up among all characters, so you'll progress more slowly if you have four full parties. (Plus, sometimes you need to divide an existing party, so it makes sense to have one party slot free at all times.)

      I'll usually work with one main party and keep one strong barbarian in a secondary party - he gets to sit on all the equipment I can't use right away, because you meet some important NPCs later on, and they may be able to use it.

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    7. @VK: Fate2 *did* see the light of day. AFAIK, you had to contact Olaf Patzenheuer and answer a few questions on how you'd play the game, then he'd compile a custom game just for you, based on your answers. With him dying unexpectedly, this probably doesn't happen any more. The folks at the Fate forum would know best.

      Delete
    8. Wow, Fate2 seems to straddle the border between Hentai and anime that ventures into nudity for no reason. An odd choice, given how much content there appears to be. I can only imagine it limited the market.

      For 1998 (if I'm intuiting the date on the page correctly), it may have faced an uphill battle being 2D (pseudo-3D in the vein of Wizardry and Might & Magic), but considering how many of the games of that period struggled to make something that wasn't horrible utilizing 3D for the first time, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

      Delete
  17. Rangerous the SecondJune 14, 2016 at 8:26 PM

    I've been trying to play without scum saving, but the critical deal-breaker is MONEY.

    Just staying well-fed costs about 150 Piasters per day per character, or about 1050 Piasters per day for a full party of seven. Thankfully water can be found for free.

    When anyone dies, there are two choices.
    1) Release dead character from party, and recruit a replacement. But honestly, is this what we would want for ourselves? No, we would want a long and (mostly) happy life, which takes a little more effort.
    2) Alternatively, we could head to the nearest cleric and procure the following services:
    2a) "Revive." Less than 1000 Piasters.
    2b) "Heal." Less than 100 Piasters.
    2c) "Aid all." I hope I'm doing this all wrong, because "Aid All" typically costs more than 3000 Piasters.

    This is what it seems to take to restore a dead person's statistics. When a person dies and is revived, characteristics take a big hit. For example, Strength=1, Dexterity=1, Intelligence=3, etc. That person is not effective without restoration of lost characteristics.
    TOTAL COST TO RESTORE THE DECEASED TO FULL EFFECTIVENESS: In the vicinity of 4000 Piasters.

    At first blush, "Aid All" would seem to imply that the game designers gave some thought to unnecessary keystrokes and, to make gameplay less work and more fun, offered a money-spending one-key-fix-the-whole-party's-woes button. However, it doesn't seem to play out this way. This choice only seems to affect the specific character currently chosen to interact. *sigh* oh well, (while pressing many, many keys for boring but essential clerical effects) if anyone knows a better way to restore full function after death, I'd love to hear of it!

    Beyond that, death seems unavoidable and is VERY costly, often exceeding the loot from a given encounter.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Rangerous the SecondJune 14, 2016 at 8:38 PM

    After grinding for a few hours, and after the permanent loss of several party members, I got lucky. I saw something I have never seen before or since: the encounter type, just this one time, was little green robed and capped figures -- Gnomes and Dwarves! They seemed almost always hostile, able to be defeated, and almost always LOADED with Piasters. I stayed outside until I had lost half my party, but I had made a bundle. Even after all the clerical party restoration expenses, I had landed a sweet nest egg of about 30000 Piasters!

    But, we all know how those rogues, thieves, and bandits can be very effective at parting a fool and his money. "I better get this into a bank," I thought. Maybe the interest could cover my daily expenses!

    After a little research, I concluded that MAYBE the interest would be adequate for food, but it wouldn't even cover the restoration of a single death per day.

    I wonder if the banking system could be broken? So far I've only been to Larvine and Laronne. We can use expected value to estimate our average return from each type of account. (DANGER: MATH AHEAD!) Basically, calculate expected interest gains by multiplying your grubstake times the daily interest. Calculate expected losses by multiplying your grubstake times the general failure rate. Expected costs are simply the stated daily cost. Subtract expected losses and expected costs from expected gains to estimate the expected daily value.

    That result tells you the average rate of return that can be expected across many, many such investments.

    The banking image from above, on this page, says, 'An investment account class 3 at our bank has a daily interest at the rate of 24,00 % by the general failure rate of 36,00 % per day and costs 180 Piaster daily.'
    By my calculations, on average, that account would lose 3780 Piasters a day.
    Breaking it down, I interpret this to say that my 30000 Piasters can expect to earn, on average:
    INTEREST(30000*24%)-RISK(30000*36%)-FEE(180)=-3780 Piastres
    The same pattern holds for any bank account I've seen so far.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Rangerous the SecondJune 14, 2016 at 8:40 PM

    (WEAK SPOILER ALERT: LIMITED BANKING DATA TO FOLLOW)

    YMMV, and there's no assurance that banking rates are not generated randomly per game.

    In Larvin, for a 30000 Piastre investment, here's the expected rate of return from accounts at the bank to the SouthEast:

    ACCT: EXPECTED DAILY RETURN FROM 30000 PIASTRE INVESTMENT
    CHK: -60
    SAV: 1410
    INV1: -990
    INV2: -1830
    INV3: -3780
    GEN: -1000

    In Larvin, for a 30000 Piastre investment, here's the expected rate of return from accounts at the bank to the SouthWest:

    ACCT: EXPECTED DAILY RETURN FROM 30000 PIASTRE INVESTMENT
    CHK: -58
    SAV: 938
    INV1: -1358
    INV2: -2465
    INV3: -4180
    GEN: -1000

    In Laronnes, for a 30000 Piastre investment, here's the expected rate of return from accounts at the bank to the SouthWest:

    ACCT: EXPECTED DAILY RETURN FROM 30000 PIASTRE INVESTMENT
    CHK: -61
    SAV: 565
    INV1: -895
    INV2: -690
    INV3: -740
    GEN: -1000

    We see the same basic progression, which doesn't seem to make sense: the only account that can expect to make money is the savings account.

    The premium cost for a general account, which is accessible from ANY bank in ANY city, is quite high, but can be understood as a premium fee for a very particular service.

    But, why would high risk investment accounts offer less expected value than a savings account? The idea (if I understand it correctly) is that sometimes you lose the whole amount. If interest is 12.8% daily, but risk of loss is 26.4% daily, how does that make sense? Interest must exceed risk of loss, or there's a negative expected value. It makes no sense.

    I haven't experimented (because I HAVE NO MONEY!!!). Maybe interest, fee, and loss risk mean something different than what I think they mean. As of right now, I've put my cash into savings because everything else looks like a losing proposition.

    There are several alternate observations that could make sense, such as:
    -You idiot! Somehow (but how?) you misunderstand the terms that are being offered.
    -You idiot! Invest in adventuring equipment and have fun! This isn't a banking game!
    -You idiot! Just scum-save and have fun!

    I'm sure there are other equally valid observations along these lines...

    Chester, I don't know if you're planning to cover these topics, but character restoration is probably a topic of general interest. As for banking and math? Right, I know. It's just possible that I'm the only guy in the world who's ever cared to crunch the numbers for this game.

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    Replies
    1. Honestly I've never found money to be much of an issue. Get to level 5-ish, grab the Ice Sword and a couple of Warlocks with the Firewall spell, then go out for some dwarf-hunting. Problem solved.

      Later I just dumped excess money into a savings account, and never had financial problems. Banks are insane in this game, they pay daily what a real-world bank would pay yearly. But make sure to always keep enough money, because savings accounts only allow withdrawal on the 1st and 15th of the month.

      For character restoration, the more pressing issue is something I believe no other game ever did, because it's not much fun and an acceptable break from reality: characters leave the party after a certain number of deaths. I'm not sure about the exact figure, heard everything from 7 to 15. Later there are ways to avoid this, though.

      Delete

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