Sunday, August 27, 2017

Game 259: Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra (1991)

     
When I first ran through the Might and Magic series as a teenager, I thought the game mechanics were fantastic but the storytelling was poor. Each game would make allusions to some broader plot but never really engage it. The science fiction elements always seemed tacked on. I dealt with them, shrugged, and just focused on the elements I enjoyed.

If not for this blog, I might still think this way. Fortunately, the process of documenting games has forced me to pay closer attention to them--to read every line of text carefully; to experience the gameplay twice, once as I play and once as I sort through my screenshots. Thanks to this process, I've come to regard the plotting of the Might and Magic series as much deeper and more deliberate than I realized before.

Many series have a trope that ties the entries together. In the Elder Scrolls, it's that the protagonist always begins imprisoned. In Ultima, it's that the Avatar always gets called through a moongate when Britannia needs help, and Shamino, Iolo, and Dupre are always there. In Might and Magic, it's that the heroes are always local yokels on a world in which cosmic things are happening. They only get glimpses of those things. They have to piece together the story. If they're not paying attention, they can "win" without ever really understanding.
      
The introductory screens to this game are quite explicit about that.
     
Nowhere is this more apparent than late in Might & Magic VII (1999), and the next three paragraphs are going to contain some pretty big spoilers for that game. The opening cut scene of VII seems impenetrable at first: eight SCUBA-suited aliens emerge from the surf. They argue. Four go one way, four go another.

Much later in the game, after the party has chosen whether to support good or evil, they are introduced to three "advisers" for the lords they have chosen to support. The lords of light are advised by Sir Caneghem, Craig Hack, and Resurrectra. The dark lords are advised by Maximus, Dark Shade, and Kastore. Either way, these strange advisers have a variety of quests for the party. But who are they? Where did they come from? What do they want?
      
This guy will one day train me in the "blaster" skill.
       
The answer is right here, at the beginning of Might and Magic III. The six names above are the six names of the members of Terra's default party: two good, two evil, two neutral. (There's one more adviser to each of the lords in VII, not offered in the default party but perhaps accounting for the two NPC slots.) The strange NPCs in Might and Magic VII are your characters from this game, ascended. The argument on the beach is about where they should go and who they should support. As well as I know Might and Magic VII, I don't remember this game at all, so it will be interesting to see how my party gets from Terra to the strange shores of another planet.

(Funny aside: I was just reviewing my 2010 first posting for Might and Magic, in which I said, "the first Might and Magic of which I have any real memory is III." I either mis-spoke or, more likely, the last 7 years of game-playing have dulled that memory to the point of non-existence. Either way, I"m starting III not remembering anything at all.)

26 years along, we live in a different world. It's a world of fan sites and wikis and "the world of" books. We can trust the developers at Bethesda to maintain a consistent lore between Elder Scrolls titles. We know that Bioware has thousands of pages of canonical background documents to aid their Dragon Age developers. We've learned to trust the producers of franchises like Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe to care as much about internal consistency as the fans do. We didn't live in this world in 1991. Origin happily retconned every new Ultima title with whatever fancy crossed Richard Garriott's mind. SSI didn't worry about inconsistencies between books and games, or between one game and another. The focus was always on whatever was new, and players couldn't fundamentally trust developers to maintain the integrity of their own game worlds.

John Van Caneghem might be the one exception, and a few years ago, I wouldn't have thought so. If you had made such a statement, I would have said, "What?! The Might and Magic games may be fun, but don't look to them for a story. Nothing ever makes any sense. The story in the manuals never has anything to do with the games. Play Might and Magic for the mechanics, not the plot." But now I've slowed down, learned to pay attention to details, and I realize that this series is planned, perhaps years in advance, in a way that we can't say about the series' best competitors. The opening scenes and manual texts do relate to the plot (although I apparently didn't think so in my caption to the first image of Might and Magic II); they just don't make it obvious.
      
The titular Isles of Terra look like an interesting place to explore.
       
Let's cover what we've learned so far, without reference to any future revelations. Might and Magic concerned six local adventurers who started off with no goal except to adventure. Fittingly, the first game doesn't even offer a backstory in the manual. During the course of their wanderings, they come to realize that all is not right in their land of Varn. They find a crashed alien spaceship in which a dying alien warns them of an escaped criminal. They finally encounter the alien fugitive in the guise of King Alamar. He throws them in a dungeon, but they escape after discovering that the alien is named "Sheltem." They confront him and he flees.

Ultimately, they find their way to the "inner sanctum," which turns out to be a computer room staffed by a beleaguered sysop. He informs them that "Varn" is actually VARN: Vehicular Astropod Research Nacelle, a kind of artificial biosphere floating in space. The administrator ushers them along to the "gates to another world"--the only time in the series that the same party continues between titles.
      
We never find out what happened to this guy.
     
The "other world" is actually the center of the various VARNs attached to the same vehicle, a place called CRON (Central Research Observational Nacelle). The backstory for Might and Magic II concerns Corak the Mysterious, who learns of Sheltem's landing on the VARN and goes off in pursuit of him. Although Corak is referenced in several messages in the first game, none of them suggest that they have to do with his pursuit of Sheltem. Rather, he seems to have been a frequent visitor to VARN, known for exploring and mapping.

Corak dies during his pursuit of Sheltem, as the characters encounter his ghost during their adventures. The core adventure is about going back in time to ensure that King Kalohn survives his fight with the Mega Dragon and thus remains on the throne instead of passing it to his ineffectual daughter. Only after that plot wraps up do the characters, almost incidentally, wander into a dungeon in Square Lake, find Sheltem, and kill him.

A message on a computer informs the party that the CRON and "all of its VARNs" were programmed by someone called "The Ancients" (not Might and Magic's fault, but I'm kind of getting sick of typing that) to populate the world of Terra. But Sheltem, calling himself the "ruler of the planet Terra," didn't want that to happen, so he flew his spaceship to the CRON, made his way to the control room, hacked the flight controls, and aimed the CRON for the sun. The characters stop this disaster, but we don't learn what happens next.
      
Apparently, he didn't stay dead.
      
Oh, there's a lot that doesn't make sense. How does the mythology of the elemental lords work into the plot of the Ancients and VARNs and CRON? How are magic and monsters and undeath justified in a science fiction universe? How does time travel work? But unlike the first time I played the game, I'm now convinced these questions have answers. We just have to look for the clues.

The opening animation for Might and Magic III indicates that it "stars" Corak the Mysterious and Sheltem, "Guardian of Terra and Nemesis of the Ancients." Sheltem's battered face soon appears and offers a message to the player (in spoken sound): "I am Sheltem, guardian of Terra. Twice now, you have defeated my tests, thinking yourself worthy of invading my world. Walk carefully, then, through this third challenge, and take heed that your final decision is truly what you desire--for the course of destiny cannot be turned once set in motion." Already, the game is undermining its own NPCs' expectations: the party that will face Sheltem here is not the one from the previous games, but rather a fresh group of amateurs.
      
Sheltem, looking very unlike himself int he previous games, threatens us.
       
The manual's 32-page backstory, purportedly written by Corak, covers both the mythology of Terra and Corak's journey across the Isles with a group of companions, filling in pieces of the ancient lore. The mythology is much like that of the second game: the land was born out of a destructive war between the four elemental lords. Somehow, elves, gnomes, dwarves, half-orcs, and humans arrived and populated the land. The elemental lords weren't fond of this, so they arranged to use their combined powers to scour the planet. Five "Forces"--gods, I guess--observing what the elemental lords were doing, gave powers of war, arcane and divine magics, and stealth to the mortal races so they could establish the first "classes" and fight the elemental threat.
         
The game weaves descriptions of races and classes into its backstory.
        
The story of Coark's journey serves in part to introduce the player to the geography and cities of the world. His companions are named things like Asa Milchima, Rapha, and Supha, and at first I hoped beyond hope that these were the names of the default characters in Might and Magic II. Alas, no. Various fortunes and ills befall the party as they cross the game setting. The story isn't really interesting out of context, but I might refer to it as I visit each new place.

Only late in the story does Corak confess that "the real search is not for legends and lore but my nemesis Sheltem," who has "twice planned the extinction" of the islands. This contradicts Sheltem's claim of being the "ruler" or "guardian" of Terra. Corak thinks Sheltem's plan involves using various pyramids on the world, and it somehow places "much importance on the three manners of men we have come to call alignment: Good, Neutral, and Evil." Corak then offers some advice for those who might "follow" him and the text ends.

So how are Corak and Sheltem alive again? Is it possible that this game is a prequel, not a sequel, to the first two? (Probably not, given Sheltem's monologue.) Or did the CRON reach Terra and deposit all its humanoids, dragons, vampires, and monsters among the islands? Are we picking up thousands of years later? What happened to the Might and Magic I and II party? Again, how are tales of the elemental lords related to the real history of the Ancients? Is Terra a true planet or another space vessel--or is there really even a distinction? Perhaps these questions will be answered over the course of the game. Even if not, I suspect that John Van Caneghem knows the answers. I welcome your guesses (trying to avoid spoilers for this game, of course).

Someone asked me to stretch this game out, and here I managed to get an entire entry done before even starting the character creation process. I hope that's a good sign.

Time so far: 0 hours

152 comments:

  1. I have great memories of this game. It may not be as challenging as MM1 and MM2 but it felt more polished. Looking forward to your review of it.

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    1. I have very fond memories of this except for one thing... weapon breakage.

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    2. Yes :)
      My party did not wear any armor because I got tired of the frequent repairing :)
      They were naked rather :)

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    3. Ugh, and the weapon (and armor) breakage continues in MM4 and MM5, very frustrating.

      I don't remember it in MM6 and beyond though.

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    4. OF COURSE it was present in MM6. I remember playing most of the time in "all red", that is in destroyed equipment. Early in games, right at the point where hydras and dragons no longer one-shot your party, they still one-shot your equipment.

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    5. What more according to mightandmagic.wikia.com "Repair Item" skill is present in 6, 7, 8 and 9, so in fact M&MX Legacy is "legacy" in the sense that it dumbs down game mechanics. Well, kind of :)

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    6. Oh, okay. Maybe in MM6 it just wasn't as frequent and annoying? I remember in MM4 and MM5, towards the end, there were enemies that just broke all your obsidians every combat to the point of tedium.

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    7. MM6 offered an in-party repair ability, so it ultimately wasn't as annoying because you didn't have to haul the party back to the armory, and pay, to fix items.

      Here, I've been assuming that items only break when you go unconscious. I was prepared to praise this mechanic because it adds some weight and cost to half-assing combat. But if weapons can break no matter what, that's going to get more annoying.

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    8. On the SNES version, weapons breaking was treated more like a status effect some enemies imparted on hit.

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    9. As Addict wrote somewhere else, your party can repair items on their own so it's not that hard, but early in the game swapping equipment between characters to designated "engineer" for repairs is pretty annoying.

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    10. Honsetly as it has keyboard support it's not so long to repair at the shop, you go F1, 1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9R, then F2, 1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9R and so on. You do have to get back to the shop however.

      A ROT13 question on a spell:

      Qbrfa'g cbjre fuvryq cerirag vgrz oernxvat, nf vg cebgrpgf sebz rirelguvat ryfr - qrngu, hapbapvbhfarff, fgbar, cnenylfvf, rgp.? V qba'g erzrzore.

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  2. Oh wow. I've been waiting for you to get to that post for like five years... We all have our pet games, and for me, I don't know why, Might & Magic III's got a unique charm, maybe nostalgia from my teen years when it came out, who knows. Anyway I must have played it like 20 times, despite all the flaws I find in it when comparing it to other RPGs. You'll make your own opinion of course and I'm really eagier to read the coverage, but for example, I've always found combat a bit dumb, dungeons can't remotly compete with dedicated crawlers like DM/EoB/Wiz, there's some broken spells (which they intelligently removed/adjusted in M&M 4/5)... And yet, while on the childish side at times, I've found all the isles' unique settings really evocative and inspiring, if you were happy about open world and side-quests in MegaTraveller 2, just wait and see what's going on here, there's some fantastic puzzles, the equipment system is wonderfully infinite and the (over-the-top) character levelling and development is just plain satisfying.

    On topic for this post : the connection to M&M7 is so quite cool! I've played both and never noticed that :). Thanks for the nice summary of the background story do far, and good luck with your party!

    PS: I don't know if you are going with the default party and I don't remember it's composition, but a quick note, which should not count as a spoiler I hope, this is one of those RPGs where you NEED to have someone with a lockpicking (thievery?) skill, or you just can't open any chests in the game.

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    1. No, I made my own party, but I included a ninja for thief skills.

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    2. I was actually hoping you would make 2 parties, one canonical (including both canonical hirelings) and one with your own characters and alternate your postings between those 2 parties.

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    3. Yes, with one party making good choices and the other evil. That would certainly be one way to "stretch" the game out :)

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  3. As a veteran of all things M&M I'm ashamed to admit I never got to playing this installment, so I'm really looking forward to it. At first I could'nt get the game plain and simple, and when I got it through a special M&M VI box as part of the anthology, I already played Worlds of Xeen (which I recommend you play instead of the seperate IV and V installments: it's both games as they are but you get to crossover between them and I believe there is some extra content), and I didn't feel like "going back" to an "older title". Now I regret doing that. I also always regarded the SF portions of the M&M series as a bit silly and tried to disregard them in favor of the fantasy elements, amd I surely didn't pick a coherent overarching gamestretching backstory. I will be very interested to see how that works out... :)
    I'm very happy to see you go through a M&M game again after a long stretch of quite unfamiliar games for me that you played through, Have enjoyed reading though! Thumbs up for stretching this!

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  4. Aaaaaahhhh! MM3! Where do I start? From my personal point of view Might&Magic III is one of the best
    RPGs ever and on a grander scale one of the best games I have ever played.

    The sense of exploration in this game is simply mind-blowing!

    A huge, mythical and colorful open world with
    such a variety of terrains and places to explore and at least 100+ different species of monsters,
    a cool battle system and tons of weapons/items.
    Dungeons are not too big and have a distinct layout that gives a sense of structure yet does
    not make things too easy.
    The game creates such a flow once you get started -just one more dungeon, just one more chest
    to open and distribute loot to your characters, sick of some frozen island you've been wandering around?
    Hey, let's travel to a desert island and so on..
    Character development is smooth and almost unlimited (though at later stages in the
    game the party tends to become a little overpowered...).
    There is not too much of a background story but who cares? It is all about exploration
    and character development.

    The beautifully detailed and colorful graphics stand
    the test of time (unlike many other games from this period) and even look
    beautiful by today's standards. The atmospheric and catchy music, the sound effects
    and elegant keyboard controls adds up to the fun.

    MM3 is so much more than the sum of its already excellent parts.
    It is one of the rare games that get everything right
    creating a timeless piece of beauty that stands the test of time.

    Hope you enjoy the game!

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    1. You clearly enjoy the same things I do about RPGs.

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  5. The whole plot of the first five games will more or less be explained in M&M4+5. In 5 the party will find a computer logs of Corak and Sheltem, outlining, from their respective points of view, who they are, what their conflict is about, what has happened before the start of the first game, during the first three games and how it lead to 4th and 5th.

    So, it's best to wait until you play M&M 4+5 and find it on your own.

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  6. I hope people will use ROT13 to not spoil the game for you.

    As far as I know the 3rd part is first game in the series for many fans or for those who decided to backtrack older games (but treated first two titles as too obscure, archaic and difficult to play).

    I'm glad you will find yourself again in game enviroment wich gives you such a fun.

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    1. So right, I started with MM3 when I got my very first PC in 1991 and later gave MM2 and MM1 a try but also found them a little obscure and unpolished plus they were graphically underwhelming (which is of course not their fault but rather the lack of VGA-graphics in off-the-shelf PCs when they were published).
      MM IV and V were also great games but they felt a little too calculated and somewhat empty compared to III.

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    2. I have the opposite perspective (though I was very young when MM3 came out, being 11 at the time)--I started with MM2, and thus MM3 seemed like a streamlined version that took too much out of MM2. I now see that not all changes are bad; the one that I still can't get over is the lack of information, but then again it is more "realistic" to only know general status and not hit points of damage inflicted. So, I was late to MM3 but I find it a very good game now, even though starting with MM2 means that from my nostalgic perspective, MM3 is the one that altered the series!

      I have an interesting idea I may start--playing through RPG series in reverse order...start with MM9 (since MMX is meant to be distinct anyway and came over a decade later), then work backward to see what insight that perspective may give. I suspect it may help me see perspectives like yours more clearly, where MM3 is polished but MM2 seems clunky.

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    3. I loved MM1, but I got really annoyed with MM2 early on. The continuous scaling of random encounter levels and the way the edges of the world folded on each other turned me off to the point where it is the only MM I started but didn't finish. (Never played 9 or 10.)

      MM3 was one of the best, along with 7. Got everything right.


      I am planning on playing the whole series again, starting with 1, but first I am replaying HoMM 5. And I am far slower than Chet in getting through these games, so it will be a while.

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  7. M&M 3 was the first RPG I have ever played. Being 8 at the time, I didn't went quite far, but I remember being stunned by the overall feel of the game (and the quality of the music), which succeeded in making me believe I was leading a party of adventurers in a fantasy world. It was also the last game my father spend a lot of time playing with, spending dozens of hours in documenting items especially. A game breaking bug in the French release of the game caused a crash to desktop just before the ending sequence, making it impossible to achieve victory. As it was before the advent of the Internet, and thus, of patching games conveniently, it did upset my father greatly. He would never ever spend as much time playing a game as he had spent playing M&M3. As for me, the first RPG I successfully completed was M&M5 a couple of years later. I'm glad I started playing RPGs with this game series, that passed surprisingly well the test of time.

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  8. About two years ago I read the manual, made my party and was keen to sink my teeth into the game.

    Then the initial combats wiped me out repeatedly and I gave up.

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    1. The combats in Fountain Head are significantly more difficult than those in the surrounding countryside. In most games, the opening map would have the easiest combats, but not here.

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    2. I decided to play along, since I've never played much of this game personally. Spent an hour in character creation, fitted my party out as well as the blacksmith allowed (since it did not occur to me to strip the default party naked before getting rid of them), didn't think to save, and got wiped out in the first fight I wandered into.

      Pretty typical M&M fare.

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    3. Yes, that's the spirit! I started and gave up in disgust about 5 times on this game before getting properly started. One major error I made was mistaking the "quick fight" button for the "attack" (melee) button. Quick fight was either not programmed, or programmed with useless actions, because I kept clicking it and never getting anywhere. Once I realized that I should be clicking a different button, that made a huge difference. (Normally I'm a big proponent of RTFM, but the interface *looked* intuitive enough I thought I could just muddle through.)

      Second is (and this may be a vague spoiler, but it's been stated on this very page already) that the city is unintuitively not the ideal place to start fighting, and it's better to step outside first.

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    4. I thought quick fight repeated the last action. Then again I haven't played since the 90's.

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  9. My memories of this game from younger days are not fond at all. I was put off by the change in interface that provided less information, since MM2 was my first CRPG that wasn't an indie ASCII art endeavor and MM3 looks so different. It is akin to how a new Star Trek movie has high expectations...with potentially high payoff but it must be exceptional to succeed because there is a reputation to uphold.

    MM3 has grown on me now, though, looking at it through more mature eyes and being willing to accept the interface differences. MM2 will always be my favorite in the series due to nostalgia (I never found the Cuisinart exploit which helps a lot in enjoyment of it), and I wonder if MM3 would be better if it were more MM2-like, but MM3 is quite good in its own right. I look forward to following this, and have started up a game of my own recently as well.

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  10. Like you, I'm far more familiar with the likes of M&M7 than the early games, but I was aware of that odd connection between 3 and 7. What's odd about the Erathia-set games is that they share an ongoing mythos with the Heroes of Might & Magic series too, so you might play a new entry in the RPG series based on events that happened in the most recent edition of the strategy game.

    The thing I remember most vividly about M&M3 is the bizarre soundtrack it was given for its Turbo-CD console release. It's worth looking up a gameplay video of that version just to soak it in.

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  11. "We can trust the developers at Bethesda to maintain a consistent lore between Elder Scrolls titles." I assume you're referring to a different Elder Scrolls series from a different Bethesda game developer that doesn't do a soft-reboot (if not outright contradiction or retcon) of lore in every sequel?

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    1. Really? I assumed that they keep it intact, but I must say that i don't think i ever read more than few sentences from even fewer books in all TES series.

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    2. The Elder Scrolls universe is complex enough that someone with an axe to grind can always find things to complain about. But I agree with MWS. I think the lore has generally been consistent throughout the series, with minor additions from game to game so as to accommodate a new plot.

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    3. Eh, The Elder Scrolls gets retconned a lot, but their pretty good retcons. Oblivion's big reveal--that Tamriel isn't the "real world," it's just a Daedric Plane that kicked out it's owner--is almost certainly a retcon, but it fits really well within the story.

      A bigger example is Skyrim. The idea that the Blades are actually dragon slayers is a big retcon, never mentioned once before in a single game. The legendary Dovakhin, founder of Skyrim's empire and hero of the nords is also somehow never once mentioned in any previous game. But eh, it works fine.

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    4. Oblivion's big reveal was that Cyrodiil wasn't as described in prior games, but a generic fantasy Western Europe.

      My point that TES isn't carefully plotted still stands. The closest it got was the writings/ramblings of Kirkbride, half of which aren't "canon" and likely never will be. Sure, Skyrim makes some (admittedly neat) references to prior TES lore, but the games are just whatever the current developers on each game think will sell, with no real overarching plot or direction between them.

      I'm sure you can find longer articles on this subject matter.

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    5. I'd like to note that I'm not (necessarily) saying that it's bad, even if I prefer Morrowind's lore over the lore that replaced it. As B.J. says, it works with each game. It just doesn't contribute to some internally-consistent masterplan.

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    6. It's important to note that from an IN CHARACTER perspective, many of these things should be taken similar to reading the bible. While it very well might be the 'true' religion, so might Voodoo be (or Buddhism or Islam, etc.) Is it a retcon if you have never actually seen evidence of something in world? Or is it merely a case where one of your PC's read something in a book and it is assumed that anything in a book must be true? If it isn't the case in the real world, why must it be so in a fictional one? Part of really strong lore (IMHO) is establishing a set of commonly held beliefs, but ensuring not all of those beliefs are wholly accurate in the setting. People are imperfect and thus should not have perfect knowledge of how things work in any fantasy realm.

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    7. Whereas the most PLAUSIBLE answer is that BGS simply decided that a generic Western Europe setting would sell better and went with that. You're overthinking things.

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    8. I'd like to point out that what were do here, that is discussing value of old games, is overthinking at its best.

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    9. I'd like to point out that what were do here, that is discussing value of old games, is overthinking at its best.

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    10. Agreed with Mag in that we don't have to read too much into a game series' back-sroty. The lore for Elder Scrolls is planned, alright. Planned against profits from the last sequel, that is. Much like the new Deus Ex series.

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    11. I mean, given the Roman style names I assume Oblivion should have been set in a roman style region, not a more generic one. Hopefully they will retcon that in future, as they've done with various races appearance.

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  12. I've always thought that the plot was the weakest part of Might and Magic games, and after this post I'm not entirely convinced that it's still not the case, but you've made me realise it's perhaps not as bad as I've always thought. In any case I'm really looking forward to the coverage of this game, it excels at a whole heap of things, primarily exploration and cathartic monster slaughter!

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    1. There's a quantity vs. quality thing going on here. I would never claim that the MM series offers a lot of DETAIL in its plots, and thus to that extent I don't necessarily disagree that the plot is weak. In this entry, I was speaking more about plot INTEGRITY than quantity.

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    2. My inclination after reading the opening post was to side with Mirakov. It's not as disjointed and random as it may seem at first, but the first few "aha, it really is connected!" moments don't hold up in my mind. Certainly not in a "this was crafted out years in advance" sort of way. I'll grant it's not nearly as egregious as Ultima, but it's still pretty wobbly in my mind.

      But that's okay. It's coherent enough that it won't guide you wrong, and for most of the game the super-structure is irrelevant. Beyond that, it's just a fun RPG.

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. WHY did you just randomly blurt out the ending.

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    2. That was not cool, Steve. Have we gotten to the point that I have to avoid reading any comments until I finish a game?

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    3. Spoiler? If you already know what happens in MM7 then what's left to spoil? And haven't you already played through this? My bad, but as a consolation, with the M&M games it's always the journey and not the destination.

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    4. Oh, great, Steve. Because the Addict is the only one on the blog communicating with you. And just because he played it, it doesn't necessarily meant he beat it.

      What a D.

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    5. Maybe delete Steve's comment for the benefit of other readers if Steve isn't willing to do it himself.

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    6. @Steve So you don't read the post, where he specifically says he doesn't remember the game, and then when called out, you don't even apologize, you just shrug and act like it's no big deal? Rude and inconsiderate.

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    7. I made a mistake and apologize, I incorrectly assumed that he already knew the story. I can't delete/edit posts but feel free to do so, Chet.

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    8. Bahahaha...after all that's happened, after all the previous games ruined, after an explicit note "trying to avoid spoilers for this game, of course", someone STILL pops up and shouts out the ending. It would be hilarious if it weren't so sad.

      There needs to be a separate post on the desire of commenters to ruin the game. It keeps happening, and I sense a deep-seated desire to do it. It's like Homer telling spirit guide Col. Klink that Hogan has tunnels all over his camp, and hee-hee-heeing about it. There must be a psychological dimension to it. Some kind of desire to be the messenger of woe.

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    9. Since Steve was okay with it, I got rid of the comment.

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    10. " It's like Homer telling spirit guide Col. Klink that Hogan has tunnels all over his camp, and hee-hee-heeing about it."

      Spoilers, dude!

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  14. As much as I want to read this, I'm going to be avoiding all of your coverage of Might and Magic 3 until I've started playing it. I've already had 1 and 2 spoiled by you, so I'd rather not have 3 be the same way.

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  15. Growing up I mostly played consoles; my first CRPG was the first Diablo. So this blog was a window to that old world and I've started playing those old games (I've now done Ultima 1-4 and MM1-5). I ended up playing MM1 several years ago and wasn't ready to pick up the second game because of the commitment it required. But then last year the retro forum I belong to decided to do MM3 for our bimonthly "Together RPG" everyone plays the same game and shares experiences event. And oh man, did I have so much fun with it. So I've been looking forward to you finally getting to it in your travels and to follow your playthrough.

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    1. There's a retro forum that goes through games together? That sounds really nifty. Mind telling us where that is?

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    2. THat really sounds like a great idea.

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    3. TouchArcade does rpg forum playalongs as well, though they're all games that have been released for iOS (many of which are classics proted from consoles or PC).

      Delete
    4. I've often wished the Addict had a proper forum for discussion rather than this comment section, as there's been a lot of interesting discussion that the comment section is ill-suited to. IIRC, he shot the idea down because of the time needed to administer one, which is unfortunate but understandable.

      Delete
  16. The "time spent 0 hours" made me chuckle, I must admit.

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  17. First, if you haven't seen it already, ignore Steve's comment since he gave away a bit much of the end of this game that is better for you to discover yourself.

    I played this game a few months back when I thought somehow that you were getting to it earlier. It is FANTASTIC and I am looking forward you playing it again through your eyes. It does take some getting used to as the interface is so different from MM1&2, but in my case I had ONLY played the first two; since you've played later games this may seem more "normal" to you.

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  18. So... question for the gallery... I haven't substantially played a CRPG for approaching 25 years. If I wanted to play one M&M game is #3 it? I've never played any of the M&M games... I may not have seen them firsthand. Time is just too limited to really get back into them... I finished several Ultimas, Wizardy I, Starflight, and Magic Candle I back in the day, so I've always been curious about M&M! (I also played but didn't have time and liked multiple others.)

    Thanks for the thoughts! Actually... I did put together a TI99/4a emulator and spend a long weekend playing Tunnels of Doom about 10 years back. Amazing what they did with a tape cassette and 13k of memory in that one!

    Chet - love the blog, appreciate you greatly for letting me live vicariously and take a break every now and then and see what was out there!

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    1. My quite biased recommendation would be M&M2. I think the interface is easier than M&M1, but with your pedigree of playing 1980s CRPGs in the past, it would be a good one.

      If you prefer something with a graphical interface that is for more than just to convey information, then M&M6 (3-D) or M&M 4-5 (2-D iso) are typically the biggest vote-getters among the fanbase.

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    2. I would also recommend MM2 or even MM1, with the important caveat that you should really play the Mac versions of the first two games. The interface is far, far better than the DOS version, at the small cost of not having color in MM1 (as well as the somewhat larger cost of setting up a Mac emulator in the first place).

      If you decide not to play MM1 to completion, I'd still recommend using it for character creation, grinding out a few levels in 1 (IIRC, you get dropped to level 5 on transfer, 6 if you completed the first game) and transferring to 2. This greatly reduces the early-game grind of 2, and makes for a much more pleasant early-game experience.

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    3. I downloaded GOG's M&M 1 and it appears to be in CGA... I think black and white Mac would be better on the eyes in any case! I was fortunate to have a Tandy 1000 (based on IBM PC Jr technology) that at least had reasonable graphics back in the day. Thanks for the recs!

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    4. My answer for your question is: depends, how much old game is acceptable for you. I personally haven' t play MM1 and MM2 (yet), but it' s in older graphic and you must input commands via keyboard by different letters (similar with Gold Box games, what I was able to see). MM3 is with full-mouse support, although you could use keyboard as well.
      So if even old interface is not bad for you, it' s probably best to start from beginning, MM1. If games from the end of eighties are too old for you, then probably the best to start is MM3.

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    5. GOG has 1-6 in a pack for $9.99. You could try booting up a few of them and see which you like best.

      There are valid reasons for choosing each (counting 4/5 as one):

      MM1: the first
      MM2: oldest MM style, better than 1
      MM3: new graphics, good game
      MM4/5: two linked games, graphic style of 3, linking means 4 is really easy
      MM6: new 3D graphics, again a good game

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    6. Note that it is more "3D" than 3D. I love M&M6 but find graphics to be barely serviceable. And sometimes its crudeness makes me cringe - but I prevail, because all in all it is one of the best RPGs I ever played.

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    7. [Many think 7 is the best, and 8 is fine too in my opinion. 9 is generally considered a bit of a dud. X is a new style again, and pretty good.

      There's a MM for everyone... and that's before you get to Heroes. Or Messiah (action game). Or Clash of Heroes (combat tetris, I guess...)]

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    8. (I remember that my friend tried to play it few years ago after I recommended it to him and he said that unfortunately company's name should be treated as a fair warning, it says it on the box: '3D NO').

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    9. I had a habit of drawing maps on grids for my M&M games and when I hit 6, I was genuinely a little peeved. XD

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    10. Might & Magic: Duel of Champions was one of the best CCG engines ever designed. Sadly it was plagued by bugs, bots and weird monetisation choices, and died an ignoble death.

      Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes was loads of fun :)

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    11. 3 was my first M&M, love the memories! Linked 4&5 is my favorite that I've replayed now and then, that's what I recommend from person so preference.

      OT: Rereading 8bit Bard book and just got to the CRPG Addict homage! That is lots of fun, too.

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  19. It's always possible Sheltem is addressing the *player* rather than the *characters*. Thus a new party might not have met Sheltem before, but the player might.

    Also, while I didn't get to play much other than Gold Boxes in my misspent youth, there was quite a bit of continuity between games in the series--in Curse, you pass the outpost of Zhentil Keep and the buccaneers' base you trashed in Pool, in Secret the clerk comes back, and Pools is full of callbacks--the clerk again, Bane is P.O.ed at your party for defeating him the first 3 times, Tyranthraxus (from Pool and Curse), Nacacia (from Curse), Priam (from Secret and Curse), and Vala (from Secret) make comebacks, locations in New Phlan roughly match locations in Pool of Radiance civilized sections and slums, and a few more I've forgotten. Similarly, in Death Knights of Krynn, you meet Sir Karl, Maya, and the dragonlance again, visit the Gargath outpost and Throtl (with many of the side texts reflecting the contents of Throtl in Champions), and so on.

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    1. I assume he is speaking to the player. He says "twice you have defeated my tests." He's not talking to the party from M&M1 and 2 because they're still on CRON. The group in M&M3 are completely different. Also explains the credits, in which the game is "starring" Corak and Sheltem and "introducing" a new group of adventurers. They need to explain that stuff to the player, not any in-game character.

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    2. You could spin it that way, and you're probably right, but I prefer to think that he's speaking to the party and is just wrong. He's wrong no matter what--the MM1 and MM2 party had no desire to "invade Terra." Neither did the player. They had no idea what was happening.

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  20. By the way, when you get to Might & Magic 4 and 5, are you planning to play through 4 and stop, to maintain your ability to judge evolution and contemporaneous developments? Or are you going to play them as one game and get the "real" experience?

    (This is probably relevant to how you eventually handle DLC too.)

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    1. I asked that same question a few years ago when we were at M&M 2... I think he should definitely play The World of Xeen together as intended. It's really one game just released in two parts - there's so many locations that are innaccessible or just don't make sense on the MM4 map if MM5 is not installed yet. My reccomendation would be to pick either MM4 *OR* MM5 as the release date for playing it, and go with the whole package. (The Swords of XEEN is a less relevant DLC structure-wise, he can do what he wants with it).

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    2. PS: I remember searching the entire map like crazy for a key to a locked tower... only to learn eventually that the key is in the "sequel"... uber-cool cross design but also useless and misleading frustration for the player.

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    3. I THINK I played all of MM4 before realising that MM5 was less of a sequel and more of an expansion... but I'm not sure. This was some time after they were released - I think they might have been included as a free extra in my copy of MM6, bought around the time that that that one came out...

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    4. WoX is one of my favorite games, but IMO the problem with the WoX combination is that it's horribly balanced, especially in the early game. It's far too easy to trivialize the IV content with short visits to power up in the V content.

      If he does play the combination, some sort of self-rule to avoid changing sides until it's necessary as part of the plot would make for a better experience.

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    5. If it matters, I vote play WORLD of Xeen. It is basically a single game.

      -Chris

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    6. I agree with playing 4/5 together as Chris describes, but with one exception. I did everything except beat the final boss of 4 (including getting to the final boss of 4) before switching sides, but technically did not beat 4 first. Rumor (unconfirmed) was the boss of 4 is much stronger in WoX to balance the added levels.

      With 4/5, not only should they be played together, but also with speech on. This adds even more character with how some of the voices were done! (There is a full speech version of 4/5.)

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    7. Correction--as JPublic describes. Oops! Phone scroll misattribution. Play it as JPublic describes, but with voices and perhaps switching sides if needed just before beating the boss of 4 (Clouds of Xeen).

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    8. I wondered how the balance worked with WoX. If you played through all of 4 you would have a super powerful party and breeze through most of 5, which would take most of the fun out of it. Can anyone with experience comment?

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    9. Darkside of Xeen was balanced for higher level play. After an hour or so, a party created in V would be pretty close in power to one that had beaten IV.

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    10. If he plays the World of Xeen instead of the 2-parter that most of us did back then, he won't be able to experience our head scratching frustrations at certain areas of the game in 4.

      Remember that Internet wasn't a thing back then and having 2 whole games (not expansions) being able to combine into one is unheard of, rarer still in this day and age.

      So, it was a nail-biting 9 month wait for those of us who got on the bandwagon early. Sorta like waiting for your baby brother to be born.

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    11. He could play 4 on its own in 1992, 5 in 1993, and Worlds in 1994. Why miss a good excuse to play them twice!!!

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    12. This is a tough call. Playing them twice seems like a waste of resources, and a lesser experience besides, but I'm not sure I can consider the combined package a 1992 or even 1993 game. Maybe I'll offer an initial post on each in its respective year but wait until WoZ before actually winning it.

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    13. IMHO it would likely make the most sense to:

      1) Play Clouds as the last game of 1992
      2) Play Darkside and Worlds as the first and second game of 1993
      3) Label the play through write-ups per game, but do a combined Gimlet/Won post.

      Hadn’t played any M&M games prior to reading your write-ups of MM2 and a LP of 3-5. I’ve since played some MM2, and all of 3-5 and really enjoyed them. To the point that I did all of the *really* hard optional content in 4/5, and had the whole party in the 150+ range.

      4-5 really don’t feel like complete games separately, the way 3 does. 4 especially.

      I feel like the combined game of Worlds is quite good though, and it likely makes the most sense for a current write up to consider the finished product, rather than the separate sections. Especially since the game is sold as a bundle now, and not separate games.

      That being said, it does make some sense to separate the reviews, for the sake of accuracy. In that case though I envision a medium/low GIMLET for Clouds/World, and a medium for Darkside; whereas a combined review would likely end up in the High range.

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    14. Just a heads up btw, in case there was any confusion, Worlds of Xeen content was available as soon as Darkside was released; assuming you had both games installed on the same system.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Might_and_Magic_V:_Darkside_of_Xeen

      "If Might and Magic IV and V are installed on the same system, they can be combined into a single game. The combined game contains all of the content from IV and V, as well some additional quests,[2][3] and is known as World of Xeen.

      In 1994, NWC released an enhanced World of Xeen CD, which expanded the amount of digital speech in the game.[4]"

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    15. I was also going to suggest this plan. The big downside is it puts THREE great games right together, reducing the great game density in the rest of the year.

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    16. I think 4 and 5 should get separate gimlets, because I think that they both have a somewhat different feel, despite being combined by Worlds. I think 5 will score several points better, it seems better written and has better npcs and quests.

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    17. I think a similar dilemma at the opposite end of the spectrum will exist for Ultima 7. Is it 7a and 7b or all 7?

      It may be hard to play MM4 separately, but possible to play MM4-5 only on Cloudside, which is essentially nearly separately. Then an intermediate post could be written, save the characters, and pause until 5 was released. That preserves the (real world) chronology. Similarly, Ultima 7a could be played, then pause, then play Ultima 7b.

      It depends on how much real chronology matters to the blog, since we are talking about a year in between not a huge gap in time...but if chronology of release is a primary factor, that may be the best approach.

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    18. Mikrakov: Chet doesn't try for chronological order within each year, as there simply isn't enough documentation to make it viable (yet, at least).So if he played one as the last of one year, and the other as the start of the next, his order would still be preserved.

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    19. It's interesting to consider. Playing just Clouds on its own, rating it on its own, makes sense to compare with games released in the same year; however, such a review probably isn't going to help anyone today as most will be playing the full Xeen. I wonder how many people actually played Darkside on its own.

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    20. @Zenic
      Just like there will always be a fan for any game, no matter how bad it may be, there will definitely be someone who played Dark Side only.

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    21. I'd be most interested in reading about a playthrough with all the content installed together and presented as a single session instead of having to wait months/years to continue.

      I think it's fine to just do this at the end of 1992. The rest came out later, but it's basically the same engine and just additional content.

      The issue of what it would have been like historically to tackle these pieces individually can still be dealt with in a side post.

      Of course, I'll be happy to read it however it's presented!

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  21. Maybe its all the JRPGs I've played but I was never bothered by the scifi parts, I actually love the blending of sci fi and magic and wish more franchises did it. But I got to say I started with MM1, loved it, loved 2 as well but I have a hard time getting into this game and the sequels, next one I really enjoyed was 8 but I am determined to complete this game this time.

    All I got to say on story is its there, but you have to dig, I love that too. The elementals are explained more in the next game, and the explaination makes me feel that all the magic in the game is actually technology or genetic enginering that even the characters don't understand but that may be me reading too much into it. Either way can't wait to hear more on your thoughts.

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    1. I also love the sci-fan blend! I don't get how they don't mix; if you ask me, no two better genres fit together. It's like Star Trek, if you will. Sure there are guns and lasers and spaceships, but there are still planets that are living in the past because they have not developed yet. I think that's a great idea.

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    2. A medieval planet within a science fiction setting (that's pretty much "Traveller") would not be mixing fantasy and science fiction. A planet with magic & dragons would. Fantasy is "fantastic" while science fiction is, well, not "scientific", but more based on reason and actual science. So they're a kind of at opposite ends of a spectrum.

      That doesn't mean they don't mix. Star Wars is basically fantasy in a science fiction setting, and people seemed to like that.

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    3. You forget Clarke's Law: a sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

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    4. What Gerry said is more of what I meant. For example, in Wizardry 6-8 the party refers to spaceships as flying metal birds, and in Wizardry 8 they say that the pilot of the ship that carries you to a new planet must be a "very powerful wizard to be able to make the ship fly" or something like that. Also the lines between magic and science don't seem that big to me. I mean, there could be very very scientific reasons as to how people use magic. We just don't know it.

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    5. I had to think of that quote when I wrote that :) But my point was more about the genres than about science vs. magic.

      Personally, I think the mix can work very well. One of my favourite settings is the Shadowrun universe.

      Speaking of Wizardry 6-8, they do have a lot in common with Might and Magic story-wise. Not going into details to avoid spoilers, but i wonder how much they influenced each other.

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    6. I remember playing Wiz7 and wonderimg whether it was same universe but from different perspective. I don't know if I ever reached some consemsus with myself regarding it, but I do remember i've been looking hard for any evidence. I don't think I ever found one, bit still...

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    7. I don't think both universes run parallel. Existing together, sure. Like how Earth is in both games.

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    8. There was a setting that blended them very well, but I really don't remember where it was from. Maybe a webcomic?

      Divine magic was explicitly nanotech controlled by "Gods" who were actually survivors in a great space battle in orbit of the setting, each "God" a biological being fused in body and mind with a very advanced ship that lost all its propulsion parts. Meanwhile arcane magic comes from "amulets" that were used in this war by individuals to perform special tasks. These amulets bury into your brain cortex and meld into the sensory parts of the brain. The amulets had a powerful power source and exploited science to create magic. Like, projecting microwaves to boil an animal alive, generating a petrol bomb to simulate a fireball and the like.

      People then refer to several high-tech tools as "wands" and "staves", including some that were clearly high tech sidearms and rifles, while others, like a "staff of levitation", was more akin to a thin mounted hovercraft. Also, all the races were actually different sapient alien species trapped in the planet generations ago.

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  22. Chet, I understand that you were not playing HoMM series but they tie together. And the default characters that keeps turning up as NPCs later in the series are actual Heroes in the HOMM universe that also affects the storyline if M&M and vice versa.

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    1. Didn't he say he WAS playing them? We just have to wait a few years to get to 1995. But with each new Heroes game, they added in more RPG elements. And he did play King's Bounty after all. IIRC, at the end of King's Bounty he said he would play HoMM.

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    2. All the HoMMs (especially 3+) could be regarded as strategy games with RPG elements.

      HoMM 4 could almost be regarded as an RPG with strategy game elements.

      None of them would score that well on the gimlet.

      Delete
    3. @Kenny McCormick

      True. But it becomes relevant only in M&M6 and onward. I'm sure, by the time Mr.Addict gets to the 1998 RPGs, he might find some time to play HOMM1-2.

      And even that is not at all mandatory. Reading about HOMM plots from wikias should be sufficient to play M&M6-8 and getting the full picture.

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    4. But, again, we don't need to discuss it that much, because I double checked. He IS going to play the Heroes series. Read the final line of his King's Bounty post. Sure it won't score well on GIMLET, but neither did King's Bounty and he still played that. He has said that he will play Heroes in order to see the connections to Might and Magic

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    5. Well at least there is one difference... all the M&M RPGs are good and each is good in its own way. But for HOMM, there is one king: HOMM3 is the best by far.

      (Some say HOMM2 and I will not dispute them, but you probably had to be there. But generally speaking, go for HOMM3 and you will not go wrong.)

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    6. Guys, note that I stated "were, as in he did not play HoMM released in 1990 even though he played M&M7 in 1995.

      I'm not saying that he won't touch HoMM but that M&M7 is affected by as much M&M3 as the HoMM series.

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    7. I'm confused by your last comment, Kenny. Wasn't the first HoMM released in 1995? In any event, AdvancedHero is correct and I will check them out for the thematic connections even if they're not full RPGs.

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    8. Now there is an advantage to how long it takes you to get through games: Longer before you get to 2005 and the painful, PAINFUL HoMM5. Where then decided to go with in-engine graphics for the cutscenes. In a strategy game. Also, the single worst voice acting I've heard in a game, including Resident Evil 1.

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    9. @Chet
      Hey, you're right! I'm pretty sure HoM&M was released before M&M7 though.

      Delete
  23. Great game--I'm very much looking forward to your spin on it. You've already tied the story line better than I picked up playing the games years apart as they were released. I'm tempted to restart another run through if my now modern, handheld sensibilities can survive the traditional MM killer first area.

    If you haven't created your team yet, having 4 or more pcs learning the recall spell will make things a lot easier.

    The initial release shipped with an early broken quest (back when patches were not easily obtained). I did find a work around that I published in QuestBusters, but abuse of the exploit would break the game.

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  24. I was looking forward for this game, because I have fond memories about it. MM3 was one of the first CRPG games, which I have played (probably after EOB1) and maybe the first one I have finished. It had beautiful graphic, music and sounds, and I liked very much that sense of exploring and adventure.

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  25. Really looking forward to seeing your thoughts on this game. I played it for the first time several years ago- I've been going back to play the games I missed at the time. I found the lack of graphics in MM1 and MM2 offputting, so I started here, and it was delightful. (Usually lack of graphics are not an issue, I was raised on roguelikes, but in MM1 and MM2 I found it a barrier)

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  26. I played M&M3 first on the Mac. Unfortunately during the VGA period of PC gaming my parents were all into Macs, which for a teenaged gamer was *brutal*.

    M&M3 is a really fun game I go back and play often, but you can see the refinement and improvement they put into the WoX combo after. Speaking of WoX, I remember that when they ported M&M3, they promised they were working on WoX, but by that time I was a college student and just ended up buying copies of IV and V in bargain bins to play on the PC I rationalized needing for my engineering classes.


    I'll be honest, the point I'm looking forward to is when CRPGAddict gets to the point that he starts *really* mapping the world (I'm very carefully trying not to spoil any game mechanics). It's a really hilarious process for me, and I look forward to his writeup of the experience.

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  27. This was my first MM game. So much to love. I replayed it a few years ago, and it still holds up so well. The incremental upgrades to your characters, and the plethora of skills. Play sessions were always: "I've only been playing a few hours....crap it's 4AM!"


    The only thing I didn't really like was not having stats on gear.

    Which does more damage a Long Sword or a Sabre?

    Is Pyric "hotter" than Seething?

    What is stronger Lapis or Amber?

    Aside from that A++ game!

    Really looking forward to M&M 4/5 combo. As the mine cart would say "Where Toooo?".

    -Chris

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    1. You could get gear stats by spending money at weapon/armor shops, which was sub-optimal. But, if you were careful about note taking, you could eventually learn how to figure that stuff out based on name.

      Which then ties into a tip for CRPGAddict - don't fall into the 'AC is everything' trap. Yes, an item that boosts your AC is nice, but not necessarily nicer than one with a massive Fire Elemental resist.

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    2. I'm more likely to fall into a different trap: assuming that the higher value item (e.g., the one that sells for more) is always the one worth keeping.

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    3. Yes I agree that no actual numbers on equipment was really annoying and I ended up playing with a printout of the table that tells you whether pearl is better than coral, as well as one with what all the special adjectives meant.

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    4. Pretty sure you can pay to get items identified at shops. That being said I used a FAQ for that stuff, as it is quite complex.

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    5. Pffft. We all know that Leather Swords are the most powerful weapon that exists! Combined with Wooden Belts you become unstoppable!

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  28. I think the is the first time you're playing a game I already finished. It'll be interesting to note just how different this one plays out.

    As for timeline, it's difficult to say if different "worlds" are using the same calendar, but at least on console the years displayed place this game as a prequel to both 1 & 2 by a good couple centuries.

    It's too bad Steve spoiled part of what happens in the end, but there's more to it than just what happens between Sheltem and Corvak, so you have that to look forward to.

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    1. Then again "time" is just a variable that can be adjusted with a twist of a knob on the CRON.

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  29. I always forget how HUGE that game is when I replay it but nonetheless one of my favourite older RPGs, just fun to go through every time anew :D

    Oh and regarding "The administrator ushers them along to the "gates to another world"--the only time in the series that the same party continues between titles"

    ROTed to be on the safe side :D

    V´z snveyl pregnva gung gur Cnegl orgjrra 4 naq 5 vf nyfb "Pnaba" gur fnzr cnegl rira vs lbh qba´g "zretr" Krra gbtrgure fvapr gur qrsnhyg cnegl vf obgu gvzrf gur fnzr.

    Gbhtu lbh znl nethr gung Z&Z 4 naq 5 vf xvaqn bar tnzr.

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    1. That was kind of a dumb statement on my part. I'm sure I was thinking of 4/5 as the same game when I made it.

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  30. I've played through 4, 5, World Of Xeen, 6, most of 7... I LOVE this series so much. Thank you so much for doing these mega posts before you started :)

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  31. Since you don't remember much, a word of advice: DO NOT enter the pyramids until you've explored everywhere else. It's quite possible to survive in there earlier... and in so doing, discover information that explicitly spoils most of the game's more clever puzzles.

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    1. If he could do it on his first try, I think he should still go for it.

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  32. Oh yes, I just remembered what this series was like...

    I spun up MM4 so that I could have a MM experience while you played this one and got a few hours in before I screwed myself. I finished the first town and just outside there is a place where you can seemingly teleport to a castle on the other side of the world. I left the castle only to find enemies far beyond what I could deal with and no way to get back to the starting area without paying a ton of gold which I don't have.

    And unfortunately, I finger-memoried saving my game and so I'm stuck and probably have to restart from scratch.

    Now I remember both why I like this series and why it is frustrating...

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    1. Ah... I remember trainer programs being written just for such occasions (and more).

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    2. You can ask Mr. Wizard for help in the tab-key menu. Pretty sure you get penalized an experience level for doing this, or somesuch, but probably better than starting the whole game over.

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    3. TAB? The menu key I've been looking for is TAB? That will help a bit, if only for the easy access to LOAD.

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  33. Oh yes, this is what I've been waiting for you to get to. Now the blog can truly begin!

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  34. Someone's already mentioned thievery for the party composition, but another important one is that due to the insular nature of the world your life will be a lot simpler if you have someone who can cast "walk on water", ie a druid or ranger, and there's none of those in the default party.

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    1. I believe one of the first hirelings is a druid. I'm fairly sure you could get away without one once the cleric is sufficient high level.

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    2. You are correct. There's a druid hireling at the Fountain Head Inn.

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    3. I did finish the game recently without any "Walk on water" spell. It may be a bug on my game's copy, but you can use "teleport" into a water tile and the engine will let you keep waking on them until you arrive to a land one. "Etherealize" works too, but for role-playing reasons, I ended using the trick on just one specific occasion

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    4. Absolutely, you can Etherealize once then have fun across the ocean, I never bothered with the Druid spellbook myself.

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    5. PS in ROT13 (spoiler) :

      Rgurernyvmr vf nyfb bire ohfgrq va cynprf fhpu nf gur Znmr sebz Uryy - lbh pna whfg Rgurernyvmr bire gur juvecbby gryrcbegref naq rkcyber gur znmr fgenvtug nurnq nf lbh jvfu.

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    6. RE @Georges' comment: Gryrcbeg jbexrq whfg nf jryy ba gur farf cbeg. Abg fher vs CP nyybjrq gur fnzr fcryyf.

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    7. Gryrcbeg jbexf whfg svar va gur crefbany pbzchgre irefvbaf bs gur tnzr. V sbhaq vg pevgvpny sbe pyrnevat gur Plpybcf Pnir ng ybj yriry (tbg yhpxl jvgu gernfher trarengvba). Gryrcbeg naq Rgurenyvmr (juvpu jbexf va fbzr cynprf Gryrcbeg qbrf abg) ner "oernx guvf tnzr bire lbhe xarr" va zbfg ZZ tnzrf.

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I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) THIS ALSO INCLUDES USER NAMES THAT LINK TO ADVERTISING.

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