Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fate: Won.

Yes, we'll talk about this in a minute.
     
As we wrapped up my last substantive posting, I was expecting a long journey to Thardan's castle and another interminable 7-level dungeon. What I found was such the opposite that it's hard to be believed. The dungeon under Cassida (where Winwood was separated from, and reunited with, his party) was the last dungeon of the game. Some battle I fought there with minotaurs and ghouls was the last substantive battle. I almost wish I'd known at the time.

As the characters exited from Cassida, Bergerac and the rat-rabbit in tow, one new element became immediately clear. Every wandering outdoor monster in the game--every thief, mage, rat, snake, barbarian, and wisp--was replaced with parties of demons. At first, I thought they were the same old wispy ghosts and liches I'd massacred by the hundreds while mapping the contours of the Forbidden Zone. But when my entire party was dead by the end of my first encounter, I realized they were different. Though using the same images, they had names like "Thor Demons." Like the creatures in the dungeon, they always acted first in combat, and even a couple of them were able to kill all of my characters in the first round, before I even had a chance to act.
    
This was unexpected.
    
Fortunately, there weren't that many of them, and they didn't actually seem to be trying to attack my party, unlike the usual pack of wandering monsters. I was mostly able to avoid them. Perhaps some buffing spells or some more attribute upgrades would have helped protect against them, but I didn't see the point this late in the game.

Since the outdoors were a little dangerous, I spent some time riding the Cavetrain from town to town, looking for hints. I had to buy tickets for Bergerac and the rat-rabbit. There were no clues or new dialogue options in any of the towns. "Going around" in the taverns produced nothing either.

At this time, I was still under the illusion that Thardan would be found in some kind of structure. I thought maybe his little zone had a small town or castle leading to a layered dungeon. The overhead map seemed to support this hypothesis, with a large square that looked like a town in the upper-northeast of the Forbidden Zone. I didn't know if the rat-rabbit in my party was the powerful witch Bergerac had mentioned or if I'd find her in Thardan's fortress. I only knew that with Bergerac in my party, I could penetrate the inner Forbidden Zone. I decided to travel there and at least get a sense of what I was facing.

I followed various roads out of Mernoc. Most of them ended in inexplicable 3 x 3 platforms of pavement that served no purpose. But one of them wound its way to the northeast, past mountains and forest, into a dense thicket. The dangerous demon parties wafted around in my periphery, but they were far less plentiful than the lesser demons that used to occupy this area, and the few times I accidentally ran into them, Elgarette was able to pray them away.
   
Thardan's corner of the world.
   
I saw the end of the road approach and expected I'd find myself facing the door of a town or castle. Instead:
     
Thardan, I don't want to alarm you, but I think your arm is on fire.
    
Yep, Thardan was standing right there in the middle of a square of pavement. And without even the briefest explanation of how he performed the deed, the next screen showed all of my party members dead.

Okay. So I guessed the rat-rabbit probably was Bergerac's witch, and I needed to get her dispelled before confronting Thardan. I had no idea how to do this, so I scanned my map for anything promising. I noted that every location I had marked as "unknown" or "mysterious"--the monolith in the woods, the four pools of water in the northwest, the wand stuck in the ground near Cassida--had turned out to play a role in the game. Everything except a statue of a stone lion in a "memorial area" west-northwest of Valvice. Much of the game world was still unmapped, of course, but I had already used the magic jewels to scan for interesting patterns or structures in the unmapped portions and found none.

I couldn't imagine what a stone lion would have to do with anything, but I was out of ideas, so I took the Cavetrain to Valvice and walked to the memorial. I really didn't expect anything to happen, so I was surprised when Rabby stuck a paw in the lion's mouth, "the strange being vanish[ed] in a cloud of red smoke," and a woman named Morganna stood in her place. She related that Thardan had turned her into the rat-rabbit when she was a young child, "but now I have the power to destroy his evil force! Now it's the time for Thardan to quiver with fear! The day of revenge is near!" Okay, then.
     
Every child in Germany knows that you can reverse spells by sticking your hand in a lion's mouth. It's from the Aesop fable "The Man with no Hand and the Lion."
    
Morganna accomplished a lot in her youth, it seems. She's Level 105--about 40 levels above my characters--has over 1,000 spell points and comes with a dozen magic books, including the "Master" book.

Now, at risk of being again misunderstood and called a Puritan, we have to deal with the issue of Morganna's nudity, because the way it's used here is stupid and tiresome. When I talked about nudity in the context of Wizardry VI, I was not upset at the nudity itself but rather how forced it was. I was annoyed by the implicit expectation that I would enjoy it, because after all, everyone knows computer games are for adolescent boys. It's not even that the nudity was "gratuitous"; gratuitous nudity is fine. It's that it ran contrary to anything that made sense plotwise, and was being shoved in my face for no purpose except that it clearly excited the creepy creator.
    
Fate had gratuitous nudity throughout, but only at the end did it get pathetic.
    
So far, the English version of Fate: Gates of Dawn has only included stark nudity on the infrequent copy protection screens, where it's definitely gratuitous, but whatever. These aren't named characters that we know anything about. They're not even NPCs. They're just window dressing. But here comes Morganna, who has been a rat-rabbit since before puberty, so she has the mental age of a child. Her portrait only suggests a state of undress, but she explicitly refuses to put on armor.
    
    
On the Cavetrain back to Cassida--would you want to ride in a public transportation car with no clothing?--she scares the ticket inspector:
   
    
Off we go back to Thardan's castle--or, rather, Thardan's square of pavement. Look, my last few posts have stressed how tired I am with the game. I didn't really want a big dungeon. But I wouldn't have minded a small dungeon. So as I walked along the pathway--gingerly, to protect Morganna's bootless soles--I half-hoped that Thardan was simply blocking the entrance to his fortress, and now that I had Morganna, he'd run inside and we'd have to chase him a bit, maybe fight a few battles and use that "Master" spellbook more than once, and the game would come to a proper conclusion.

Alas, when we reached his square, what I got instead was Morganna turning to face the party and giving us some full-frontal:
     
     
And then she blasted Thardan out of existence.
     
    
No final battle, no confrontation. Just some pixelated nudity as an implicit "reward" instead of a proper, satisfying ending. In case anyone is still confused: I don't object to nudity. I object to nudity used in such a puerile, juvenile way, in place of a proper narrative ending.

"We've done it! Our world is free again! Thardan has lost all might and will never appear again!" Morganna exclaimed. "All his power is now in my mind! Thus I'm able to create the magical gate for Winwood's return!"

"But wait," the game offered before this return could be shown or described, "There may soon be a FATE Part II!"
   
    
And that was it, except for the option to replay the final scene over again.

What a ridiculous letdown. Almost 300 hours of gameplay ends with a stunted confrontation in which my characters play no role, the big bad is defeated by a deus ex machina character whom I never heard of until 98% of the way through the game, no explanation is offered for Thardan's bringing me to this world to begin with, and I'm supposed to forget all of this because I got to see a fuzzy pair of B-cups.

I want 250 of those 272 hours back.



182 comments:

  1. Almost afraid to ask...what happened to Winwood?

    If the game didn't say...make something up. I need closure!

    -Chris

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    1. Winwood laughed in Morganna's face. "Why would I want to go back? Here I'm a millionaire, owner of a small fleet of ships, have free access to the royal castle, I'm friends with the world's most powerful archmages and a priestess who can just pray away anyone I don't like. Trade all that for a tiny, near-bankrupt record store and go back to being a nobody again? Screw the real world, I'm staying."

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    2. If Winwood is anything like me, he would happily trade all that wealth and power for vaccines, a hot shower, a refrigerator, and an iPhone.

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    3. Temples can cure any ailments. I'm sure they can manage a shower and a fridge in a world where you can buy permanently burning or freezing swords at the local smith. But yeah, no computers is indeed a serious dealbreaker.

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    4. That would have been much less of a deal breaker in 1991 though, almost no internet, only Windows 3.1 or OS/2 as decent home PC operating systems, and most games are well, terrible.

      Being a millionaire and able to spend all day traveling around, writing roleplaying games and finding people to play them with? Would be a strong contender.

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    5. Not to mention, rejuvenation and and resurrection spells exist, so you'd be basically immortal. Given enough time, SOMEONE would invent all that shit you miss.

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  2. Congratulations on finishing this one! It feels like the authors totally ran out of steam by the end of the story, with the game becoming more bland quest by quest. The final "how to make this final scene fulfilling, I know, put breasts on it" is pretty pathetic.

    I have no idea what to expect from the GIMLET, though - it certainly feels boring by now, but it'll probably still be pretty high.

    All in all, I'm glad this one is done, if only because there will be more time for games in which something actually happens :).

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    1. I find the whole thing baffling. If they ran out of steam, or ran out of ideas, the most obvious thing to do would be what every game up to that point had done. Jettison the Morganna character. Have Bergerac join the party, the party penetrates the Forbidden Zone, they fight a few tough combats against an escalating series of enemies, and then face Thardan himself. Thardan gives a villain's exposition and then attacks. He's a NUKE, so the player has to figure out the right combination of spells or whatever to defeat him. When it's over, he says, "You beat me?! I am destroyed." and the game is over. Any one of us could have written it in our sleep.

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    2. After reading through all this....it really, really feels to me like this was someones years long tabletop campaign even including a "DM insert character" who comes along at the end and beats it for the players. I HATE that.

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    3. @Regina

      That is a really plausible sounding suggestion.

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  3. Wow, another in the trend of anticlimatic endings, but this one is probably the most pathetic so far.

    Anyway, congratulations for the achievement, I guess? And looking forward to the next games.

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  4. Congrats! Now let's get a gimlet, and then never speak of this thing again. I'm excited to see Neverwinter Nights is up!

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    1. If you're excited about that, I think maybe you're thinking of the wrong version.

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    2. Hm. I'm excited for any D&D title, in principle. I had heard the solo quest in this one was sort of short, since it was intended to be played on the server, but I bought the GOG version a while back and played a couple of chapters, and it seemed like it was going somewhere. Haven't had enough time to see how far it goes, though.

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    3. @Quirkz: I don't think this version is available on GOG: http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/neverwinter-nights_

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    4. Yeah, the GOG release is the 2005 Neverwinter Nights, which while it had a multiplayer component was also a full featured single player RPG.

      The upcoming NWN is the GoldBox version of 1991 that was only playable on America Online through the early 1990s.

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    5. Ohhhhhh. Well, I've been playing the wrong game years too early in preparation, then. Also, that's terribly confusing. They seriously couldn't think of another title for one of the two versions of that game?

      Now I'll have to wait until later in 1991 to play along with Heroes of Might and Magic 3.

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    6. That's a strategy title from 1999 which likely won't be covered here. The upcoming game is just Might and Magic 3.

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    7. Eheh. Welcome Quirkz to this crash course on everything RPG:) I kind of envy you for having so many great RPG's unplayed, I suppose. Specially Might and Magic 3.

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    8. I am sooooooo looking forward to Might and Magic 3. It's one of my personal favorites from that year, I think I have probably replayed it like 8 times.

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    9. If the 2002 NWN had been published in 1991, it would have been mind-blowing. Quirkz has been a commenter for a long time. I feel like he must be messing with us.

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    10. Heh. Chet's being kind, but I was genuinely having an oblivious moment. Despite the nice graphics and even scratching my head over a D&D ruleset that seemed far too advanced, it just never occurred to me that the version for sale wasn't the only version. Every other game remake/sequel adds a 2 or tagline rather than re-using the exact same name, so logic dictated the version I had *must* be the only one. That is nearly as dumb as having two brothers named Daryl.

      Now, the *Heroes* of Might and Magic 3 bit above was indeed a joke.

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    1. Well that ending was a real let down to say the least. They really should had used the usual 'trial by combat' -resolution and then show us the winning screen(s) that way it wouldn't feel such a deus ex machina.

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  6. I can't help but to contrast this game negatively against Questron. Questron may have been smaller and simpler to play but at least you got a kick-ass ending. Fate is almost the opposite in every way.

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    1. Fully agree. Narrative integrity, including a satisfying conclusion, is always more important than scope.

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  7. I like this ending. It is unexpected and some kind of reward to spare you a final exhausting battle after all those difficult battles before. Innovative ending, gotta give credit for that.

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    1. I don't agree that I have to "give it credit" for the ending. Sure, it was unexpected, but not all unexpected things are good.

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  8. Congratulations! To think, you've been playing this game since April of last year. Not quite how I expected it to end, but at least you can't say it was predictable?

    They missed a trick by not making Morganna blonde like the password protection lady. Could've made the implication that they were the same person and some omnipotent cosmic arbiter, there to punish Thardan and pirate gamers alike.

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    1. Maybe even have her say something like, "I can't remember what is the last magic word to seal Thardan's powers! Quickly! What is the 4th word on paragraph 2 of page 34 in the manual?"

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  9. Well, the route is the goal, I guess...

    Tons of congratulations for this one, you deserve it. I guess the last mammoth to slay is Darklands?
    Morganna reminds me a little of Patrick Danville - Thardan as the Scarlet King?
    Maybe they realised the game already too far too long and cut the end short dramatically, as they might have been out of time to smoothen it out in the earlier stages. Like an author getting some last-minute advice from his editor.
    I wonder how the GIMLET rating will reflect the game's shortcomings.

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    1. The comparison to TDT is apt. I hope the film version changes that ending.

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    2. From what's been hinted, it seems the movie is starting where the last book ended, so it's an adaptation and a sequel. Unless I've misunderstood, which is always possible.

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    3. No, I got that impression, too. There are...interesting implications...to that approach, though.

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  10. Don't be disappointed. At least, it's the first German game that has a working ending ... ;)

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    1. I did finally break that streak, didn't I? To be fair, clearly Legend of Faerghail has a working ending for SOME players, and Antares never threw a shoe. It just lasted too long.

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    2. "Antares never threw a shoe. It just lasted too long." - writing it under the winning posting for Fate is rather ironic.

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  11. The first image reminds me of the ugly "Going for the One" album cover by Yes.

    I don't mind nudity in games, I quite like it in fact if done well, but I'm annoyed when it's one-sided - that is only nude females. That's what most gamers, regardless of age, seem to prefer though.

    Congratulations for finishing the game!

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    1. I agree. More penises definitely would have enhanced my enjoyment of Fate.

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    3. Penises enhance everything. They're like dinosaurs.

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    4. or Pirates ... everything is better with Pirates !

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  12. Victory at last. We feel your pain, and perhaps you can draw some satisfaction that your leadup a execution of the "And then she blasted Thardan out of existence" part was the funniest thing I've seen in months. That upraised arm lighting bolt screen is so sublimely cheesy, it's like Manos: The Hands of Fate showed up at the end. Excelsior!

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    1. By that point, the developer should have just gone in 100% and had the beams come out of her breasts.

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    2. I didn't see it until you mentioned this, but chest-to-chest energy beams may very well have been part of the original design of that image. Then the developer thought, "Beams out of Morganna's breasts is just too much. I'll just make the beams come from her fingertips and maintain a clear sense of integrity."

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  13. " I don't object to nudity. I object to nudity used in such a puerile, juvenile way, in place of a proper narrative ending."

    But video games are puerile and juvenile by nature. That's why we (or at least, I) love them. What better place for gratuitous titillation?

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    1. I don't agree with your premise, I guess is the problem. Sure, being games, there's always an air of triviality about them, but that doesn't mean they have to be adolescent.

      Imagine if in the khazad-dum scene of Fellowship of the Ring, after battling their way through Moria, desperate and tired, the Fellowship had reached the bridge and found not the balrog but the Knights Who Say Ni.* Instead of an epic confrontation, you get a bunch of broad comedy that belongs in a different movie. Wouldn't you feel a bit betrayed? You'd want to go to Peter Jackson and say, "I thought we had something of an understanding. I thought we were partners in this. I thought we both took this material seriously, that we both cared about these characters. But instead of giving me a proper confrontation, you pulled the rug out from under me with a bunch of sophomoric nonsense."

      That's how I feel about the end of this game. Not the nudity per se but the attitude towards the game that it, plus the lack of any other plot developments, coneys on the part of the creator, who has lured me along for 272 hours only to show that he didn't take his game as seriously as he led me to take it.


      *Cue 50 commenters responding that they think it would have been AWESOME if the Fellowship had encounter the Knights Who Say Ni in khazad-dum. There always has to be someone like you Remember, I'm not talking about a SNL sketch that you watch after the movie is over; I'm talking about the ACTUAL MOVIE that you waited years for.

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    2. Following that reasoning then, at least as far as nudity is concerned, you haven't been betrayed by the game but by the censorship.

      Had you been playing the german version, naked women would have been a common sight throughout the game, so the ending bit wouldn't stand out so much.

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    3. Look, you start the game as a 20th century record store owner. I am old enough to remember these guys. This breaks any immersion right from the start. I understand your comment but here, in Fate, Olaf did not cheat you, he said from the beginning this is just a long joke.

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    4. Ok, we could be just be sitting still here with analogies the rest of the day, but you're comparing an obscure german RPG from 1990 with the blockbuster movie adaptation of the most revered fantasy book series of all time.

      I remember a QA session with Spanish horror director Nacho Vigalondo, where he, while explaining the frame of a scene said:

      ...And The naked woman is there because I always wanted to have a full naked woman on one of my movies.

      How can you argue with that?:)

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    5. I think your analogy is false. The Jackson movies are based on Tolkien, and as Tolkien did not have the Knights of Ni in Moria, of course it would make no sense to have them in the movies. And if Tolkien had written such an absurd episode in the otherwise serious/mythic Lord of the Rings, of course we would find it incongruent.
      But that’s not what we have here. Fate (like 99% of video games) is from the outset absurd. You have a record shop owner who is transported from modern times for undisclosed reasons and by undisclosed means and put into a generic fantasy world, with all the silly fantasy game trappings that we know and love (spells, a traveling genocidal player and party, gobs of gold on wandering monsters of mostly familiar sorts, random strangers or writings giving clues to puzzles especially contrived for the player, hackneyed dialog with tons of exclamation!, etc.). This is a game world where technology hasn’t surpassed beyond 1200 A.D. our world but for some reason has a functioning train with a mutant gorilla ticket keeper. It has a deformed rabbit that changes back to a woman by sticking its paw in a lion statute. It’s like Samuel Beckett on LSD. It makes no sense, and now we’re supposed to pause and decry exposed nipples as somehow shattering our illusion of immersion into this world? Please.

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    6. I can easily imagine developer sitting in his basement laughing maniacally and thinking "and then, at the end of Fate 3 and thousand of hours of gameplay I reveal that he simply feel asleep listening to Manowar! Mwahahahaha!"

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    7. Chet's mostly complaining about the lack of agency and finality. After 272 hours, a little closure or a boss fight is hardly too much to ask no matter how silly the setting.

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    8. And that's a valid criticism. But he often seems to focus on nudity when it appears as being especially egregious. It's not.

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    9. I'm complaining about nudity *as a substitute* for a proper ending, as if the pixelated curves are somehow a reward in themselves.

      Posidonius, addressing your longer comment above about the overall absurdity of the game: I can see why you'd view it that way. Despite several "comedic moments," I never got the impression that I was playing primarily a comedy game, but perhaps that's what the developer intended. If so, it raises other problems. Satire isn't epic. No one wants a 272-hour Keef the Thief.

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    10. I agree 100%. As a 42 year old man myself, playing CRPGs (and video games in general) is about as juvenile as you can get. Knowing that I am "roleplaying" a long bearded wizard flinging spells around, or a sword wielding warrior who is on a side quest to kill 10 rats...well it's not something I want to use as a conversation piece around a random group of similar aged adults any time soon. Yes, the nudity is immature and juvenile, but it *is* a video game, not a research paper on quantum physics. If you think this is bad, just wait until you get to the BioWare romance crap in Dragon Age or Mass Effect, or the Witcher series. Boobies galore! Lol

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    11. I'm going to kick a hornet's nest and say the "dwarf tossing" lines in the LOTR movies were damn near as shocking to me on first pass as nudity would have been, and really felt like a Knights of Ni moment to me.

      Beyond that, as someone else pointed out, I think the weird part is not that Morgana is nude in the American version, but that she wasn't censored along with most of the other images. It's clear in the original version every woman is naked all the time, and I agree that's got more to do with objectification than European open-mindedness. My guess was the developers figured if you're going to be staring at something for a year, they might as well include boobs to keep people interested.

      I could kind of see her refusal to wear clothes as either 1) some psychological joke, after having been in the body of an animal for decades, or 2) forced out of an odd sense of continuity, so that she wouldn't be wearing the "wrong" outfit when depicted in the final scene. Neither makes a lot of sense, though.

      All told, I think the lousy scripted ending is a more important topic of discussion, but since everyone agrees on that and there's no nuance to squeeze out of that part of the experience, we might as well debate the more nebulous aspects.

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    12. I can't help but sympathize with Chet forgetting the frivolous nature of the game after pushing through 272 hours of it. It's easy to criticize in hindsight, but we weren't there at the final moments, experiencing that excitement you get at the end of the game (after almost a whole year of playing!) only to be disappointed.

      Two more things- One is I totally agree about dwarf-tossing. A few things in the movies really didn't age well. Two is that there's nothing inherently juvenile/trivial about role-playing. Tolkien invented a language for a fantasy world of wizards and orcs. It might sound silly but his work changed the course of our culture, and we're all just continuing his legacy with this stuff, the way I see it.

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    13. I have to say that the entire "games are juvenile and unworthy of an adult" attitude is evidence of a fundamental disease in our culture.

      Work and productivity should be treated as the means to allow us to find enjoyment, not goals in and of themselves, and anybody who lives for work isn't really alive in any sense but the physical.

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    14. I think the "dwarf-tossing" is a good analogy, and now that we're on it, I'd think that if Bilbo showed his dong every 10 minutes on the Hobbit films, It would break less the atmosphere than all those stupid songs, "jokes" and overall lack of seriousness.

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    15. Thank you for the dwarf-tossing comment! That scene is indeed the first thing that came to my mind, apart from the shield-surfing-on-stairs incident, the Gimli-losing-drinking-contest-to-elf waste of screentime, and the Faramir-is-now-a-kidnapper story.

      I don't think you'd mind the bad ending so much, Chet, if you hadn't sunk more than 11 full days of lifetime into this 'gem'. After all, we don't play games for the ending, just like we don't go on holiday purely for that "it's good to be back" feeling, or have dinner at a nice restaurant purely to fill basic caloric needs. If the game on the way to the ending is engaging and well-paced, I don't mind a slightly botched ending, even a deus-ex-machina one, quite so much.

      BTW, many adventure games have this problem to a degree IMO. The final areas and puzzles are almost always much smaller than the previous game world, leaving that much less room for the 'typical adventure game experience', and railroading the player to simply go through the motions and get a move on finishing the thing.

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    16. "You'd want to go to Peter Jackson and say, "I thought we had something of an understanding. I thought we were partners in this. I thought we both took this material seriously, that we both cared about these characters. But instead of giving me a proper confrontation, you pulled the rug out from under me with a bunch of sophomoric nonsense." - But Jackson's movies are exactly like that, they're full of sophomoric nonsense. Take Gandalf vs. Saruman battle for example - it's absolutely hillarious in how tone-deaf it is to the source material. I literally couldn't watch them because of constant facepalming.

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    17. @Posidonius: "This is a game world where technology hasn’t surpassed beyond 1200 A.D. our world but for some reason has a functioning train with a mutant gorilla ticket keeper."
      This could be a very serious, dark backdrop. In Stephen King's The Dark Tower the Gunslinger is walking exactly such an environment: A low tech world with magic-like skills where a mad, psychedelic train from an unknown high-tech past is turning it's round, crazy as Hal. I wonder if Stephen King played this game or if the author of Fate read The Dark Tower. Does anyone remember if the book with the train episdoe came out before or after Fate? Stephen King took decades to finish the Dark Tower and i read the first few books when i was ten years old, and restarted it almost three decades in my mid-thirties to finally finish them. I think the mad train only appeared in my second read through... Ok, I just looked it up, Blaine the Mono appeared only in the 1991 The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands. So maybe King played Fate before writing the third book? ;-)

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    18. I see your ;-) and with the 1991 Fate release and the August 1991 The Waste Lands release, it's a pretty interesting case of artistic conjunction. Both were in production (in Fate's case as early as 1986) and finished months (or as Fate's laser ex machina ending might indicate, days) before actual release. SK was doing a lot of stuff, particularly before Tommyknockers in 1987, but playing German CRPG conversions is probably not one of them (hence your ;-).

      But that's a strange conjunction indeed, and very much in keeping with all roads leading to the Tower. It's the same way that Charlie the Choo-Choo seems like a children's book that existed in my memory, but like Nozz-A-La, it's across the thinny in a parallel world. "Blaine is a pain, and that is the truth."

      "When is a door not a door?"...
      "Why did the mutant gorilla ticket keeper cross the road?"

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    19. I did remember - or imagined remembering - a train in a children's book of my childhood looking like Charlie the Choo-Choo but maybe I saw it on the internet. Oh no, worlds overlapping and the wall is getting so thin!

      Maybe all Germans and US Americans (a term the German’s use when referring to Americans of a certain country between Canada and Mexico) grew up with a children book with a train, including King and the creator of Fate.

      "What do I have in my pocket?"
      (Sorry, a bit too obvious but I had to do it...)

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    20. Was it maybe Jim Knopf / Jim Button? Story by Michael Ende (Neverending Story) with a few TV adaptations about a kid and a train conductor going on adventures.

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  14. I'm sorry, I don't know how to end all of this other than with this one here:
    http://giphy.com/gifs/reaction-applause-b9aScKLxdv0Y0

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  15. Wow. What an epic letdown. Thanks for sticking with this one if only for the sake of the blog.

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  16. Sheiße, that was the most underwhelming ending ever. Having seriously enjoyed your journey through this game I feel your disappointment. Sheesh.

    However, love your blog and how it has grown/evolved. I first dropped in some years ago but didn't stick around. Then I rediscovered it through the digital antiquarian and really fell for it! Have been following your Fate posts religiously.

    Anyway, keep up the hard work, buddy.

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  17. Really don't see the big deal about nudity. I think that's really an american thing. Even if you think you're not puritan, you most certainly are more than the average continental European. Specially if we're speaking about germans or scandinavians. Just pick any random american and euro movie and check the differences.

    Don't see the big deal, I really don't. Isn't almost everything "gratuitous" in most videogames (it's not like if most games are higher art)? Why must nudity be subject to different rules?

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    1. Ah, yes. That old argument. "Man's natural state. We see it all the time in Europe. Breasts aren't even sexualized here."

      Clearly, the developer didn't deliberately put nudity into the game thinking it would titillate his players. He just forgot to draw the clothes! As might any European, since people ride trains nude, walk through forests nude, and fight wizards nude all the time.

      I knew as I was writing the post that someone would still manage to willfully misinterpret it, not read the entire thing--especially the part that I actually bolded for you--start a comment with "I don't see the big deal" and chalk it up to me being "an American."

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    2. If nudity is no big deal then what does it add to a story besides nudity being in the story? Nobody could have tossed the girl a shirt? I agree, it's just cheap and silly.

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    3. It could have been fine if the game narrative made her nudity an important story point. "All of my power comes from my direct connection to nature. Any armor or clothing will get in the way." And maybe set that up with something about having to overcome the transformation by learning natural magic.

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    4. Mr. Pavone makes my argument more succinctly than I did. Not "offensive," but cheap and silly. At the beginning of the game, maybe I wouldn't have cared. As the focus of the end, on the other hand...

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    5. If the nudity in Fate was merely casual and not intended to serve purely as gratuitous titillation, then where are the naked men? While I sympathize with the argument that we Americans are weird for glorifying violence and being horrified by nudity/sexuality, it's intellectually dishonest to claim that the nudity at the end of Fate is anything but fan service for the 14 year old player.

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    6. CRPG Addict, I understand that the core of your problem is the ridiculous lameness of the ending, not Euro vs. American mores. But I did have to query this:

      Ah, yes. That old argument. "Man's natural state. We see it all the time in Europe. Breasts aren't even sexualized here."

      Is that what's being argued here, or is it something more like "We don't see an issue with mixing things specifically intended to produce (mostly male) sexual arousal into our cultural products"?

      Or, to put it in more high-falutin' terms, the idea that there need be no firewall between the erotic and the rest of life -- that sexual arousal is part and parcel of daily life, and eliciting that response is no more shameful than eliciting any other emotion/feeling, so why not drop titillation in as casually as anything else, e.g. humor, social commentary, etc.?

      (Similar thoughts attend to bodily waste/elimination, at least in Germany with their beshelved toilets.)

      Note that I'm not making that argument (though I'm strongly in sympathy with it), just asking if it might be some commenters' point. And of course, for it to work, the ending would've had to successfully titillate. (There's a pun involving "late" and a body part begging to be made here, but I'll forbear.)

      Which raises an interesting question: if the ending had somehow been powerfully, compellingly erotic, would that have justified its lack of substance?

      (Probably not, if only because of expectations: no one wants to find a steak, however well cooked, at the bottom of their chocolate sundae.)

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    7. Okay, maybe. If that's the argument, then at least we've identified the stasis. I do object to attaching any kind of moral value to either view--the suggestion that the European way is somehow more "enlightened" than my American mores.

      Already I've spent more time arguing my point than makes sense given that it only slightly irked me rather than really offending me, but I'm curious about something: If any of you arguing in this thread had been blogging about the game, and you'd reached that ending, would you really have covered it--screenshots and all--without even MENTIONING the nudity? You would have just discussed the end of the game and acted as if Morganna's refusal to put on clothes was perfectly normal and not worthy of any comment? I'm honestly asking.

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    8. "If the nudity in Fate was merely casual and not intended to serve purely as gratuitous titillation, then where are the naked men?"

      HunterZ is 100% right about this. The whole Europe v. USA argument has always really bothered me. I went to film school and watched plenty of foreign films. There aren't a whole bunch of women filmmakers showing men's nudity or men filmmakers doing that either. Men generally make movies with naked women because they like seeing naked women. I agree that there's nothing wrong with the erotic, but gratuitous nudity isn't inherently "enlightened;" more often than not it plays into a long history of exploitation and excludes female audiences.

      Delete
    9. Joet88, I have no idea what kind of movies have you've been watching. Nudity is a great way to show intimacy between a couple for example, it doesn't have be necessarily be about exploitation or anything. That's the kind of argument that makes most "respected" american actresses to shy way from any nudity scenes. Just check what Paul Voerhoeven said about the making of Elle, which was supposed to be an American production with an American lead:


      Verhoeven's inability to convince a major American actress to play the part left him frustrated, as he later explained, "I agree that there are not many female parts – certainly not in American cinema. It's weird that when there is one, they lacked the audacity to be controversial. I hope all these actresses see the movie."[12]
      The film was originally supposed to take place in Boston or Chicago but, according to Verhoeven, it proved to be "too difficult" to shoot the film in the United States due to its violent and immoral content as "that would have meant getting more into the direction of Basic Instinct, but a lot of the things that are important in the movie would probably have been diminished.

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    10. My opinion comes from my experience with Godard and Truffaut, where I suspect the Europe v USA thing really came from, in the 60's when French new wave was probably the most popular kind of foreign cinema, and where the contrast between American Puritanism and European sexuality was most obvious. Also a time when the hippie generation was looking to other cultures to help validate a more liberal outlook. I agree that nudity is good for conveying intimacy, and I personally have no problem with it as a concept. In execution, however, intimacy would theoretically be accessible to both men and women audiences, and yet women are expected to reveal themselves, and men don't have to risk any kind of physical vulnerability. It's easy from the perspective of being an audience member to expect nudity without realizing the courage of it. In French New Wave this was often the case, and continues to be so (note the word "often," not all cases.)

      I'm not familiar with Elle, but I am little familiar with Verhoeven, who I wouldn't consider to be very sensitive to women, and I doubt that he had the integrity of his actresses in mind, especially considering that he considers the role "controversial," which to me reads as "exploitative." And especially for contemporary films, that reads wrong- there's plenty of blatant sexuality in American films today, and the Europe v. USA argument seems even less sincere, and more like a way of shaming actresses into taking their clothes off.

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    11. We're coming from different backgrounds, so it's hard to argue. I don't have any historical perspective on that. I started this hobby of going to film festivals and going regularly to movie theatres who screen mostly non-USA movies (I'm going to avoid the use of "american" since I watch many Brazilian films) since 2001 or so. And ever since then, the difference is quite jarring, and even more nowadays. I said I don't have an historical perspective because most of my knowledge from eurpean cinema comes from the XXI century.

      Anyway, I digress, but you really should watch Elle. I didn't find it exploitative at all, but you might have a different perspective. It would be great if Isabelle Huppert could fetch the oscar, but I highly doubt it.

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    12. Nudity: No inherent problem.

      Eroticism/titillation: No inherent problem.

      Historically lopsided objectification across genders: Inherent problem.

      Almost context-free pinup shots in lieu of an actual ending to an extremely lengthy journey: No inherent problem, but hardly surprising that someone would find it irksome and unfulfilling.

      Delete
    13. I will check out Elle, I like Isabelle Huppert :) And to be fair, I tend to look at older movies and fall behind with what's happening now, so my sense of the contrast is probably skewed.

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    14. Yesterday i watched "Things to come", also with her. Yes, she's really great.

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    15. But Morganna is a Witch! Only women can be Witches. Witches gain powers from dancing nude under the moonlight with their coven. There is absolutely nothing wrong here in both context and lore!

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    16. >> Witches gain powers from dancing nude under the moonlight with their coven

      Kenny, I suspect that the whole dancing nude (and orgies et al!) came from the over-active imaginations of men (and male artists more specifically) ;)

      Delete
  18. Why do RPGs have so much trouble with endings? This is still a problem today: reading the account of this ending reminded me instantly of ME3, where the final boss is Marauder Shields.

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    1. Endings almost always suck, the question is just how much and is there sadness or relief. Words of Confutius.

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    2. It has a lot to do with how they are made. Usually by committee, with the programmers being good at coding but terrible at writing. The 'game minded' come up with a good mechanic but the writers don't play to its strength. The marketers don't know the demographic to whom they're selling the game. The players want something different but the same. It's all a big mess.

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    3. I rarely even remember endings on RPG's. I know that "it's the voyage, not the destination that counts" is a big cliche, but when a game is between 50h and 100h, it's easy to see why.

      And yes, they're usually very shit due to trying to be epic and over the top, and that usually doesn't do anything for me.

      Witcher 3 had awesome endings though.

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    4. My favorite ending is The Summoning's true ending. It's absolutely brilliant.
      Paper Sorcerer, a recent indie game, has a very fun ending too.
      These are probably the only two RPG endings I care to remember.

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    5. I can't find the source to back this up at the moment, but I think I've seen it claimed that, for Steam at least, the average completion rate for a game is about 1/3 of its players. Given those numbers, it's easy to justify devs not spending as much time on later levels and the ending as they do on the earlier parts, when they can reasonably expect the majority of their audience is still there.

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    6. I've seen the same figure, which has one very important caveat in that it doesn't take playtime into account. That means that it includes everyone that buys a game, tries it, dislikes it, and puts it away forever, as well as the folks that get games in bundles and never touch them.

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    7. VK, you're right on Paper Sorcerer. I'd take a silly and original ending like that over a cliched epic ending any day.

      Vampire: Bloodlines also had some really fun endings, but that game is on a class of its own.

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    8. VTM: Bloodlines isn't a game. It's a masterpiece.

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  19. You all did not understand the clever trick! Thardan was a man and when he had seen the nude woman, lost his breath for a moment and Morganna blasted him out from the universe.

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    1. I think I would have actually preferred that. Thardan DOES look a little googly-eyed in that penultimate shot.

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    2. Kind of like this LotR scene, but with boobs? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrCvgiQGh1o

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    3. You joke, but the "sex attack" really existed in the Fate 2 betas :)

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  20. I'm supposed to forget all of this because I got to see a fuzzy pair of B-cups. - not really because in the original German version there were fuzzy B-cups all throughout the game.
    But congratulation on beating this mammoth anyway!

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  21. What an awful and anticlimatic end. The game totally lost every kind of proportion - the first dungeon, which just gets you started, is the longest and the endboss just stands there on pavement and is defeated in a cutscene. You play for over 250 hours for a single "pew". I can't even ridicule that.

    There were lots of good ideas and I like the variation all those classes and spells offer.
    But I think too much energy was wasted in forcing the player into a playstyle, like all those "walkthough-protections" and mapping obstacles. You are forced to collect docens of hints throughout the game to enable certain actions, but you are still clueless half the game.
    Most of the exploration was done just for the sake of it and doesn't fulfill a purpose. At least you like mapping.

    No, not my kind of game.

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    1. And the sound of that "pew" is this http://soundbible.com/472-Laser-Blasts.html

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  22. I'm surprised no one commented on the 'the attractive naked woman scared away the nightmarish ticket inspector'.

    All I can keep thinking of is that old Twilight Zone episode...

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    1. Now I'm curious if it's just Morganna, or if he'd run from any naked PC? Could you exploit free train rides that way?

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  23. Congratulations on finishing the game. There should at least be a certificate admitting you to the secret club where the five or so other people who have ever finished Fate hang out.

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  24. Sorry the ending was a bummer, but don't let that tarnish your achievement. You persevered where almost everybody else gave up. This is truly one of those cases where I'm very glad you played this game so I didn't have to. My pride still hurts from my multiple failed attempts at Dark Heart of Uukrull, but I don't mind letting you take care of Fate one bit! Thanks for letting me follow along with you.

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  25. In the context of 1990s where the only porn a teen can get came from surreptitious purchase of porn magazines, those gratuitous B-cups are the only things that would make a teen buy the game and stick with the whole 270+ hour ride.

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  26. Congratulations! I can't even begin to imagine your disappointment.

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  27. "There may soon be a FATE Part II!"

    One of the most sinister threats in RPG history.

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    1. Here's a fan site about Fate II: http://fate2.de/fate2/index.htm
      Based on the screenshots, it looks like the guy wasn't sure if he wanted to make an RPG or a hentai game. (A lot of the screenshots are NFSW, obvs.)

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    2. And of course one of the command icons in combat is a pair of boobs.

      "The game was playable, but a lot of work was still to do. Roughly 15 percent of the "outside" world (2000x2000 fields) were designed. And a lot of dungeons up to 10 levels exists. More than 10 towns with lots of shops and guilds. More than 1800 PCs, NPCs and monsters were designed."

      Sinister threat indeed.

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    3. I'm pretty sure that 4M fields is more than enough for MMORPG. And honestly I can't even begin to imagine how many people would be needed to feel this kind of map with meaningful content. Of course Addict showed us pretty clearly, that Fate isn't about meaningful content. It is definitely about exploration, though not meaningful exploration.

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    4. What's hilarious is, the screenshots show so many stolen assets from anime, including Shinji Ikari as a recurring NPC (what?), and the character called Caitlin uses art of Rance's sex slave (why?!).

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    5. Fate 2 was a private one-man project and never had a public release. To play it, you had to register directly at the developer who then created a personal version for every player. This way, copyright wasn't an issue.

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  28. Really there's two things going on with the ending. Even if we ignore the nudity, it's just a really bad ending. Incredibly sudden with a plot point that comes out of nowhere. It's incredibly unsatisfying. If you're not going to do a dungeon or a last battle, at least make an interesting puzzle! Not just randomly bump into the guy and then, depending on whether you accidently got the rabbit and went to a random statue, win or die. Ugh!

    On the nudity - as others said, the original version has this kind of nudity throughout, so the nudity in the ending isn't as shocking and stand-out. Europe does tend to have a lot more nudity (mainly female, of course) in their entertainment - of course, this is purely for titillation. Culturally, Europeans are less hung up on titillation for the sake of it (though this brings up a load of issues of equality and feminism). There's pros and cons really, though it is weird to both American and British sensibilities.

    There would have been an assumption that the people who play these games would be straight males, probably teens or young adults, and that they would enjoy seeing nudity in whatever form. In the US and the UK it would be regarded as tacky and offensive. Not just because it makes assumptions on the audience, but also because it just doesn't fit the universe. From all the other stuff in this game, I doubt they really cared whether anything was consistent though. It's all just a grab bag of whatever the coder felt like putting in. That was kind of charming with the Ultima games, but just feels a bit too random here.

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    1. The original version doesn't have nudity "throughout," exactly--just in a couple of the NPC portraits that you occasionally encounter. It's not like every character is topless. Nonetheless, your overall comments are thoughtful and appreciated. I wouldn't even go to the level of "offensive"--just "tacky...makes assumptions on the audience...doesn't fit the universe" is where I'm coming from.

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    2. Ah, Gitzy Hate said what I was trying to say above, and probably better too.

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    3. So long Winwood, You have visited almost every square in another reality and it was almost pointless. Now it's time to see if in the real world there's any need for a warrior/chartografer (Because i don't think that after all this time missing you'll still have that job at the record store).

      I think that the fact that the censorship for the english transltion was self imposed is telling. Mind that in 1991/2 an english version was the only version you needed to do for selling a videogame outside of your non english-speaking country as it was considered THE language to know if you wanted to use (and play with) computers, even home computers, especially if you wanted to play crpgs. Also, the whole argument "Europe less puritan than U.S in their media" is moot when you consider that at the time it was the europeans that thought that in the U.S they where a lot less puritan in their media and the general justification for almost nekkid girls in any media was: In the U.S they are already doing it and we are too puritan and, for example, it was general consensus that in California girls mostly didn't even bother to wear clothes doing just fine in their bikinis. (Adult entertainment is a different thing and is the same all around the world so porn production in general doesn't count). But as we also know the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, right?
      Let's also consider that if you felt titillated by those bunch of pixels all you needed to do to have porn was knowing how to draw a fuzzy triangle and that there was a lot of "poor man's porn" that was better in this regard and that it was a lot less expensive and time consuming that a 300 hours crpg.

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  29. I'll echo the well-deserved congratulations at slogging through this disappointing behemoth of a game.

    I think its a bit funny that the previous nudity in Fate, or rather where it would have been in the European version, is hand-drawn computer graphics, whereas the more photo-realistic Morganna is obviously a scan from a magazine that someone cleaned up a bit.

    I do think you deserve a bit of a CRPG vacation after this one. The Magic Candle II is coming up and while the first game is regarded as "better", I believe MC2 is a solid, entertaining game.

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  30. Is it just me or is the women in a different art style from the rest of the game? She looks digitized. If so, I wonder if they got someone to pose for the image, or if they stole it from an adult publication or art book?

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    1. Yeah, they struck me as digitized pictures rather than hand-drawn pixel art as well. I also wondered what their source material was.

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    2. It's possible that this was just an art asset which reLINE Software GmbH had still in storage. They did create "Hollywood Poker Pro" in 1989/1990 after all.

      You'd be amazed how some art assets "traveled" in the small German game developer community. In the Amiga game "Master Blazer", a remake of Lucasfilm Games' "Ball Blazer" (properly licensed and everything) there is a stop-motion animation of a rotating asteroid on which the tournament is supposed to take place.

      Uwe Grabosch, one of the owners of reLINE Software GmbH, originally created that animation using a NewTek "DigiView" device on the Amiga, recording the individual frames. That asteroid was made out of grey modelling clay.

      I don't know what game it was originally intended for, but reLINE Software GmbH didn't produce one in which that animation could have been useful. The animation, however, traveled to Softgold GmbH which published "Master Blazer".

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    3. That is really cool, thank you.

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  31. Sheesh, what a bad ending. Kind of reminds me of TES: Oblivion where you are treated with the thrill of watching an NPC defeat the big bad guy.

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  32. Chet: Congrats on both sticking with this one and finally knocking it out. On to smaller and better things I hope.

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  33. Congratulations! You have so much more patience than I do. I just pretty much abandoned FF15, after abandoning Witcher 3, after abandoning Fallout 4... In fact, I don't think I've won one of the big open world console RPGs in a while. (I think I beat Skyrim, but not Oblivion. Also not Fallout 3...)

    As I've gotten older, I have less patience once I think I see how the game plays. 30 or so hours and I'm done. I'm glad you seem to experience the reverse because it makes for better reading when you win...

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    1. You're like me. Nowadays i just leave many RPG's installed and change the game every now and then to avoid tedium.

      Except the witcher 3. I went all the 100 hours I poured into it straight. Fantastic game

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  34. Scanned nude woman erases hand drawn mage. Some kind of metaphor, I guess. :)

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  35. Part of me is happy that this marathon is over, but another part laments the lost opportunity for a Fate: Worse than Death headline.

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    1. Well played, VK. I was clamoring for Fate: Won back at T, and now you've made me regret my own request in favor of this one.

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    2. Damn it. That would have been good. I keep missing the obvious ones lately.

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  36. Thanks fpr playing the game, and for offering us so many interesting epsiode. I don't really care about the ending. I'm just glad that the game does offer an end. Imagine how you would have felt if you would have ended with a bug, preventing to see end. Or, what if the game would have ended with a cliffhanger ("to be continued").
    Could the end have been better? Yes, of course. But if you compare the end with the end all other games offered during this time, it isn't such a bad ending at all. There is a legion of games from this period which offer far worse (if at all) ends.
    Yes, you're right, the developer could have easily offer a better end. But that is true for the entire game. They could have easily offered a better game before the end as well.
    Long story short: thank you so very much for this great entertainment, even with this last entry I had so much fun reading it. You're a great guy, you created great entertainment with this game, and when you will look back some month or years in the future, maybe you will even agree that this end helped beautifully to bury Fate once and for all, with no hard feelings at all.
    Keep up the good work!

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    1. "Could the end have been better? Yes, of course. But if you compare the end with the end all other games offered during this time, it isn't such a bad ending at all. There is a legion of games from this period which offer far worse (if at all) ends."

      Maybe, but you could win two dozens of them in the time that it took to finish Fate.

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    2. You're right. But on the other side: this is the game which was played, and I'm glad that I know now how it ended, and I've enjoyed each and every blog entry about this game, espcially the last one. So I had a great time, and I'm very thankful for that.

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    3. I've got to say, if there is anyone qualified to talk about the quality of endings in 80s and 90s RPGs, you are already reading his blog. ;)

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  37. What? Just "Fate: Won"?
    What kind of ending is this to your series of posts?
    I am sure that you could use many more descriptive sentences (Fate: @#$%) to convey your feelings for this particular game in the final post.
    I guess the game's anticlimatic ending affected your own ending as well.

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    Replies
    1. The lack of the usual exclamation point was supposed to say it all.

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  38. Wow. That's quite a bummer. I'd already lost enthusiasm for trying my hand at Fate a couple of posts back, your descriptions of the late game being relentless grind, a bounty of NUKEs, and aimlessly waiting for the right clue to pop up or being in the right square at the right time with the right character, etc. Then you hit the solo adventure. Now this. Consider me disabused of the notion that this is a game I want to play.

    If you hadn't mapped as thoroughly as you did, you probably could have shaved time off the game, but even with more optimized play, you're still looking at way too much padding for this game, and a wholly unsatisfying final act. Designers love their ideas, but this needed an editor's touch.

    Kudos for sticking it out, and overall "The Addict's Journey Through Fate" was entertaining and memorable. Thank you for providing such quality entertainment.

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  39. Congrats for hanging in there and getting all the way to the end.

    For such a lame ending she should have at least had a good set of C's, and their should have been a donkey and a midget with a Polaroid camera in the scene. At least they could have given us a good laugh if not a good ending.

    I am glad this one is over. As a reader of the many posts for this game I started out interested and even played about twenty hours of it myself on an Amiga emulator, but the last couple months was starting to lose interest in reading posts about this game. Glad it's over! GIMLET it and lets move on.

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  40. I had a feeling the end of the game would be a let-down, but I had no idea how bad it was going to be. Yeesh.

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  41. Congratulations on finishing this one. I agree with you that the ending seems tacky after so many hours.

    The argument over the nudity kind of reminds me of Duke Nukem Forever. The original Duke games contained some juvenile humour, but they were never meant to be more than silly fun put together by a small start-up. By the time DNF came out, it was a big-budget game over a decade in the making. People expected a more serious effort from the developers and reacted accordingly.

    The same thing is happening here. An amateur effort by a single developer can be sophomoric and get away with it, but a game designed to immerse you for 200-300 hours is setting standards for itself that Fate ultimately didn't live up to. More disappointing than anything.

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    1. Thanks. I agree that's an apt analogy.

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  42. I may be able to add a little context to what happened to "Fate - Gates of dawn".

    Back in 1990 I was tying up all the loose ends of the "Legend of Faerghail" production at reLINE Software GmbH. Matthias Kästner had created almost all the graphics for that game, and as "Legend of Faerghail" was winding down, he was available to work on the "other RPG" then in production at the company.

    You can see Matthias Kästner's art style in pretty much every screenshot of "Fate" which you published so far, including the colour scheme, the world and character design. If I remember correctly, Matthias was kept very, very busy while "Fate" was in production.

    The project work also seemed to go on forever. Whenever I asked Matthias back then (1990-1991), he always said that he was still involved in doing the graphics for the game. Presumably, this work also included adapting the graphics for the Atari ST version, once the Amiga version was shipping.

    To me it appears that the project was "stuck in act two", so to speak, never paying off the "narrative debts" in the "act three" which never arrived. The "Deus ex machina" ending must have been necessary to get the game ready for release.

    Another clue that the game production was brought to an "early" end is in the end graphics. The images of Morganna in the nude do not match Matthias Kästner's style. Back then Matthias was only beginning his professional art education, and he was not quite that good in capturing human anatomy (ahem) on the screen yet.

    My best guess is that "Fate" was just about as tough to create as "Legend of Faerghail" in the two years it took to make each project happen. An evolving game design will break your heart before it breaks your project, eventually breaking your publisher. reLINE Software GmbH went out of business shortly after "Fate" was released.

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    1. Very interesting information -- thanks for this. It's a shame how often the projects with the noblest ambitions end up in heartbreak, or simply get cut short.

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    2. Thanks for the insight, Olaf. All in all I wish I would have come across Fate back in the day as a kid. I probably would have played it hard, like I did most games back in the early 90s.

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    3. Hi Olaf, throughout the walkthrough I kept myself asking what went wrong with the marketing, too. I honestly knew nothing about Fate, I was not aware of it back then and I know no one who played it. I am from Germany and was 14 in 1991 and loved crpgs. What went wrong, any idea? I can guessthat there was probably a budget issue but I also do not remember a major mag like power play pushing the game.

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    4. A small company on a tight budget, that went out of business soon after probably couldn't afford to do a lot of advertising. At any rate, Amiga Joker and Aktueller Software Markt both published complete walkthroughs. Guess you weren't reading those back then?

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    5. I'm now imagining that these walkthroughs were commissioned as jobs, and paid for at a stock rate. Poor walkthrrough creators whose dream job slowly turns into a nightmare as they can't believe they still aren't finished, meanwhile their rent goes unpaid and their children slowly starve...

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    6. I was hoping you'd comment, Olaf. Thanks for providing some additional context.

      Zardas, can you link to where you found "complete walkthroughs" for the game in AJ and ASM? I only found reviews.

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    7. http://www.kultboy.com/index.php?site=pic&id=835&s=1
      THere you go

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    8. They should be in:
      Amiga Joker 10/1991 p. 90
      ASM Special Nr. 15. 03/1992 p. 58-64; 69-73

      I've found them in FateMaster: http://www.mightandmagicworld.de/phpbb/ftopic25285.html

      Delete
    9. ReLINE released games until 1999, with Biing2 being their last game. But I see it was a private company then, so probably the GmbH (=Ltd.) went belly up. I can imagine it did, they surely burned a lot of money on Fate, even though Olaf Patzenhauer must have done like half the work of the whole project (see the credits: http://www.giantbomb.com/fate-gates-of-dawn/3030-20340/credits/)

      I liked their business simulations, Oil Imperium and Biing were some hard nuts with lots of replayability. I just think that they overdid the naked women theming on Biing, which otherwise could have been much more popular, comparable to Mad TV or Mad News.

      The walkthroughs were usually written by readers of the software magazines who were fans of the games and got some bucks for it (rather compensation than pay) and could read their names in a popular magazine.
      This never was a proper job. I have written lots of stuff for a gaming website and also did administrative work and basically got a forum avatar as compensation (and introduced a whole new loot run in Diablo 2, played by 100s or 1000s of players, I can never know). It's a labor of love - but I don't think any walkthrough writer hungered as much as the creators of Fate.

      Delete
    10. Yes, reLINE Software GmbH did go out of business. The Holger Gehrmann and Olaf Patzenhauer subsequently reformed reLINE a couple of years later, and it was this company which produced "Biing2", for example.

      The major difference between the two companies are in that the first version was a limited liability company, which required significant prior investment of capital just to found it. The second version was considerably cheaper to set up, at a higher risk for the founders, who were both personally liable.

      In case this has not been mentioned before, both Holger Gehrmann and Olaf Patzenhauer have already passed away.

      Delete
    11. @Oliver

      I believe that this came down to a question of money, and how their publisher (Softgold) saw fit to promote the product.

      When "Fate" was ready for release, reLINE Software GmbH was already in trouble. The payments which we (the authors of "Legend of Faerghail") received ceased, and we never saw any further money for our work (in spite of the fact that the game kept selling after reLINE Software GmbH had folded).

      If I remember correctly, the publisher paid for the advertizing back then, and it was not uncommon to see a game appear only once in the game magazines. These magazines were usually published monthly, so a game's initial sales had to justify a longer campaign. The mail-order services which advertized new games usually kept games in their lists for a lot longer, but that's hardly comparable to half page or full page colour ads.

      Finally, game magazines did not necessarily devote much space to new games being published. If you find it puzzling how little interest a major magazine such as PowerPlay could muster for "Fate", consider how it treated "Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss" a year later. The earth shifted with the release of that game, but you would not have noticed it...

      Delete
    12. Many thanks for your insights. I made some grumpy comments about Fate. Still, whatever its flaws this was an extraordinary game for a German developer in the early 90ies. I think it deserved more attention back then. The PowerPlay Review is friendly but also a bit lukewarm. I read that Magazine passionately and remember even obscure reviews. Did not remember this. I wondered how much the relationship between developers, publishers and Magazines mal have pushed games in certain directions.

      Missed out in uu but i do not know how to describe how much i Love both System Shocks and Deus Ex.

      @Zardas: read only power play, asm was not my cup of tea.

      Delete
    13. Hello Olaf,

      great posts about Fate, a lot of interesting history that is nowhere else to find out about. I have to wonder though, do you know anything about Fate 2? It was a private project being developed by Olaf Patzenhauer and even had (or still has?) its own website. Did anything come out of that? I think I've heard of some private betas of the game being distributed if I recall correctly.

      Delete
    14. > The walkthroughs were usually written by readers of the software magazines who were fans of the games and got some bucks for it (rather compensation than pay) and could read their names in a popular magazine.

      I assumed as much. I just couldn't help imagining a perverse alternative and sharing. :)

      As it is, that "read their names in a popular magazine" was actually a good bet in this case. Here we are a couple decades later discussing their work. If I had access to the magazines, I would look at the articles just to marvel at more people that had the will (stubbornness?) to make it though.

      Delete
    15. @Anonymous

      No, it was too late for me to keep up with the daily work at reLINE Software GmbH, starting around autumn 1990 when I went to study at university.

      Prior to that one could get a good look at the various projects in development (e.g. "Dyter-07", "Hollywood Poker Pro", "Transatlantic", "Centerbase" and "Rotator") in-house.

      If I remember correctly, Olaf Patzenhauer visited the company's office now and then, just like the three of us who worked on "Legend of Faerghail", but we rarely bumped into each other, if at all.

      So, there was no knowing what "Fate" was going to become, unless you were involved in its production. The same goes for "Fate 2".

      Delete
  43. As a note, when I was in Prague for a few days I didn't see any female nudity, but there was a fully nude man in an advertisement on the subway. No idea what it was for, since I don't speak Czech, but no one seemed to pay any more attention to it then any of the other subway ads, which is to say, none.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know about you but I won't pay attention to a nude man either. XD

      Delete
  44. Are there any options to still see the end of the alphabet for fate? I'd be nice to, see published the final rating as "Fate: zstats". :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could whip together "Fate: X-rated ending" and "Fate: You've Got to Be Kidding Me" if it would make you feel better. Or maybe just combine them: "Fate: XY Player in an XX World."

      Delete
    2. Just leave it as it is, maybe another game will make it to Z ;-)

      I developed a strange attachment to Fate postings like every other reader here, but I'm sure there will be other interesting games. And even if there weren't, I also enjoy your writing about uninteresting games. You made clear you have enough of Fate and I can fully relate. Also, a sudden end of Fate postings resembles the ending of Fate quite well.

      I'm very curious for the GIMLET and your writing about the history of the game and its developmnt.

      Delete
  45. While I am sure this was intended as titillation, isn't there a whole German nudist subculture called FKK, or Freikorperkultur?

    ReplyDelete
  46. The usual, lurking in the background, long-time-reader/not-commenter in me just wanted to say "Thanks" for playing Fate til the end. I enjoyed following this peculiar journey very, very much, reading your posts felt very pioneer-y, especially the parts concerning the mapping.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Congratulations on completing this one. Sorry to hear the ending was such a let down after the massive commitment you made to it. I vaguely remember seeing a very small review of the game in one of the Amiga magazines back in the day but I didn't much care for the art in the screenshot so didn't pay it much attention.

    I suspect if i'd played it back then I would have loved it, not realising until many years later that I would never have completed it. Similar to the way I feel about the Faerytale Adventure now.

    I remember being frustrated walking around the edges of identical looking mountain ranges in Ultima 6 and wishing the developers had just made the map a bit smaller - if only I'd known about Fate!

    I have really enjoyed reading your posts and they've given us another great insight into what can make or break a CRPG. I look forward to reading the GIMLET. Thanks again.

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  48. I think this is easily the longest comment section after the longest game Chester ever played! I keep coming back to this blog for many years already without commenting, but starting with the latest Phantasie II I had to come out of the dark and comment - due to obvious reasons of my online handle…

    Anyway, this is the first entry where I check on three days jn a row and there are still new comments coming up.

    I think Chester should go all the way until to the character Z with his blog entries on Fate. This game breaks the records in multiple categories, among them:
    1. most hours played
    2. most blog entries and
    3. most comments made within a single entry.

    How can we find out which entry has the most entries? Is there a function which ranks the most commented blog entries?

    @Chester: Maybe you would like to finish the map until Entry Z? Maybe you can reserve the Z entry until the day you finish it in 2020 or something…

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Finding the game with the most entries should be simple, there's a complete list linked in the right column. Looks like the previous champion was Ultima V with 13+2 entries. Fate sure demolished that record.

      Delete
    2. There should be such statistic. And then we could find a game with highest post to time played ratio - and this is only the beginning!

      Delete
    3. But I suppose that the winner would be some really short game with two entries, one "won!" and the other one with GIMLET.

      And that's the reason why statistics, especially ratios, are easy to manipulate - some time ago I have downloaded CIA World Factbook's database (either xls or cvs or maybe some crawler downloading data? I honestly don't remember) and checked few silly statistics, like shore length to population ratio - I remember that it was always some ridiculously small place winning. Obesity was highest on some tiny island, they probably had two obese guys, but there was only one thin, so obesity ratio was 66.6%, shore to population was won by some archipelago under IIRC under GB jurisdiction, where there were only few researchers - it was always, *always* like that.

      Delete
    4. A shore to population is very tricky, as the shoreline of any landmass can reach infinity if you reduce the minimal length of measurement far enough:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coastline_paradox

      Delete
    5. But I do agree with you that some statistics would be fun, as we have enough data available already. Chester wrote so much over the last few years that his entire blog almost be classified as "big data"... Ah, this is a dangerous rabbit hole we could potentially dive into. But then, why not? I believe we can pull out some fun data out of this blog. Just some examples:
      - The simple ones which Chester surely sees in his backend: visitors by country, commenters by country
      - What are the most frequent words / terms used in the blog? Besides the obvious candidates like RPG, fireball, it could be "naked woman" after this post. I hope Google doesn't rate this blog as adult after this.
      - AI to human ratio
      etc etc

      Delete
    6. "the shoreline of any landmass can reach infinity if you reduce the minimal length of measurement far enough"

      I read about it when doing this very exercise I described above. Of course I told my friend about it and being one of "those" guys he immediately commented that one can apply the same measurement methods to juvenile penile measurements for great gains in self-confidence.

      Delete
    7. This entry might ultimately have the most comments, but currently there are at least 10 that have more than this, including my first entries on Pools of Darkenss, Eye of the Beholder, and Ultima VI.

      Delete
    8. But I'll bet that this is the only entry with comments about genitalia measurement.

      Delete
    9. That's only because they never made a 'Breakfast of Champions' RPG.

      Delete
    10. Or a CRPG version of FATAL (Thank goodness. I can't expand the original version of that acronym without skirting Chet's rules. It has content in it that makes Rance look good.)

      Delete
  49. Congratulations for finishing this giant game, Chester!
    It was fun to read about it, but to play 200+ hours really seems too much.
    Thank you for review this game for us from the beginning to the end.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I suppose they gave you the option to replay that rather anticlimactic ending just in case you didn't climax the first time.

    ReplyDelete

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