Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Eye of the Beholder II: Descent

Not barbarians--just interrupted while sleeping.
      
The area one level below the main entrance turned out to have several guard barracks. When I opened them, I got attacked by guys in loincloths. I assumed they were barbarians or something, but after I defeated them, I entered their rooms and found beds with messages that they'd been recently slept in. The attackers were regular temple guards, and I interrupted them sleeping in their underwear.
         
Bugsy was wrong about the "long abandoned" part.
         
I even found a little bed character to put where there are beds.
          
The first time I rested after picking him up, the thief Insal ran off in the middle of the night, stealing Marina's Ring of Wizardry, Bugsy's Ring of Adornment, Starling's long sword +5, and several potions and rations. (Oddly, he left a few things behind, too, like the armor I'd given him and his own lockpicks.) I was tempted to reload and boot him from the party, but generally I believe in rolling with the punches, so I sighed and gave Starling a spare +4 long sword and continued.
    
This is where charity leads us.
     
In his departure Insal left me a note that hinted a secret door near where I'd originally found him. I checked the area and found what he was talking about: a tiny button on the wall that opened the way to a staircase. More on secret doors in a bit.

There were three staircases down from the dungeon one leading to a dead end where a skeleton held a scroll of "Lightning Bolt." The second went to a small corridor that went down again, into a level I've labeled "D-3," or three levels below the main temple.
         
D-3.
         
This level was full of priests and undead. It was the largest level so far, at almost 300 used squares. A northern room was so full of skeleton warriors that it took me almost two hours to fully clear them all. Towards the end, I was convinced they were respawning, but I eventually got rid of them all.
          
Just part of the horror awaiting in that room. I had to lead them out a few at a time.
       
The southern section housed a series of jail cells. Most of them just had bones, but I found living NPCs in two of them. One was a dwarf cleric named Shorn Diergar, who said he came exploring after he had visions of an evil temple. He found clerics who pretended friendliness and offered him hospitality, and then he woke up in a cell. I gladly took him, feeling I could use another cleric, but he didn't have his holy symbol with him and thus couldn't cast spells. I later looted it from a couple of guards. I gave him a sling and a bunch of rocks.
      
The game offers "good" and "neutral" options but no truly "evil" option.
       
The second NPC was a female fighter named Calandra, whose sister had been looking for her when I first entered the temple. I didn't really need another fighter, but I figured it couldn't hurt. I stuck her in the back with a spear and some daggers to throw.
         
But now the other sister is missing.
       
Calandra wasn't in the party long. Elsewhere in the dungeon, we found a set of bones that the game made a point of saying was a "complete set." I figured that meant I could get them resurrected. At the end of the session, I took them back to the ankh on the upper floors, and sure enough they resolved in to an elven mage named San-Raal. He didn't have anything to say as he joined my party, but a mage is more useful in the back ranks than a fighter, so I let Calandra go.
          
San-Raal mutely joins the party.
          
That covers my experiences in broad strokes, now let's get to some of the details. First, the unresponsiveness of the keys is maddening. I'll have an enemy attacking from my right, and I simply can't turn right. Or I want to back up down the corridor to flee, but the "back" key won't work. I think perhaps what the developers did, perhaps in an effort to combat "waltzing," is to make a system by which your movements don't activate until enemies have completed their own actions or movements for the round. There was something of this in the first game by which the game effectively froze until a spell animation completed. Now, it's like it freezes until any animation is completed, and regardless of whether the enemy is actually in view. But that's not quite it, because I definitely have more problems turning than strafing from left to right, and more problems moving backwards than forwards. [Edit: This turned out to be related to the NUM LOCK key. Toggling the key stops the unresponsiveness from happening. I still don't know why.]

As for combat waltzing, it is indeed impossible here, but not just because of the keys. Rather, the AI has changed. Before, if an enemy faced you and you side-stepped, he would reliably step forward on his next step, then turn to face you. Now, he doesn't do that; instead, he mirrors your action by side-stepping with you. You just have to attack, step to the side, attack, step to the side, and so on. On the other hand, it doesn't work well for every creature. Some, like clerics, seem to enter the square already executing their attack. It also doesn't work well for large groups, as they don't move in lockstep here the way they did in the first game. But for single or double skeleton warriors, it was still an effective strategy.
      
The new combat dance isn't a waltz; it's a two-step.
         
Still, the unreliability of combat trickery means that I've had to rely a lot more on spells, particularly buffing spells, than in the first game. This is a good thing. And of course it's more in line with AD&D rules. None of that makes up for how infuriating it is to pound the "9" key four times to turn once.

I haven't encountered any serious puzzles yet, just a lot of locked doors for which I had to ultimately find keys in other places on the level. There are also quite a few secret doors, and of different varieties. Some are illusory and you just walk through them. Others require activation with a tiny button that it take some serious scrutiny to see. There was a new type on D-3, in an area where I kept getting messages that the walls were weak. There was one place where I could bash down the wall and find a staircase behind it.
       
A "secret door" identified by bashing a wall with weapons.
     
My approach is basically:

1. Map out an area without worrying about secret doors. Mark all locations that I cannot pass (for instance, because I lack a key) in yellow. Mark all untested staircases in yellow. Mark any puzzles that I'm not sure about in yellow.

2. Once I'm done exploring every direction I can, look for places that might have secret doors and test them.

The Eye of the Beholder series uses the "worm tunnel" approach by which every corridor has 10 feet of wall space on the sides. Moreover, every doorway takes up a 10-foot block of physical space; it's not just an opening it the wall. Knowing these facts helps you limit where you need to search for secret doors. For instance, in the diagram below, there's no secret door that can open up into "A" because that would create shared walls. There's also no secret door that could open into "D" because even in the middle, where it wouldn't create shared walls, there isn't enough room for the door itself and something on the other side that doesn't create a shared wall. The "B" squares have the same problem.
 
       
Thus, the only interior walls that could house secret doors are marked with "C." (I actually missed a couple, in the northeast section of the middle room and in the corridor going south, but I didn't save the diagram and don't feel like re-doing it.) Obviously, most of the exterior walls could have a secret door, too.

Once I'm confident I've found all the secret doors there are to find, I fill in the color on the map. It's entirely possible that a staircase will later cut through some of those spaces and I'll have to render them transparent again.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • There is clearly some respawning happening on D-1. Every time I walk through the level, I face a couple of guards.
  • At one point, I found a dagger by clicking on a washbasin. You have to really search the environmental objects in this game.
      
And it was a magic dagger!
       
  • San-Raal came with an "Identify" spell in his spellbook, something I would have loved to have for the first game. 
  • Still enjoying the object descriptions as I click around.
        
The party comes upon a torture chamber.
       
  • I've found two horns that I think will be necessary to break the "Seal of the Four Winds" back on the temple level.
  • If you choose to heal the party when you rest, resting can take a long time. I'm glad these characters don't have ages or time limits.
       
That's quite a while to be studying spellbooks in a damp corridor.
    
  • Picking up all your daggers, arrows, and rocks after a missile-heavy combat is as annoying as ever.
  • I found a couple of journal pages belonging to the missing Wently Kelso, but they weren't a lot of help. One suggested that he might have died on a fireball trap.
       
Some of Kelso's comments.
   
Late in D-3, Khelben Blackstaff contacted me telepathically. We told him what was going on, and he asked us to keep adventuring while he consulted with the Lords of Waterdeep. I can't remember another RPG where the quest-giver periodically checks in on you.
             
I'm not sure if this was triggered by location or experiences.
          
As I close, I'm exploring the third way down from D-1. Starling thinks it's "a secret passage long ago forgotten." Giant spider webs are stretched across some of the corridors, making me grateful for my several Scrolls of Neutralize Poison.
            
I don't want to hack at it with my sword. That's how Frodo got in trouble.
       
So far, I'm enjoying the mapping part a lot, the combat somewhat less, and I'm still waiting for the first really tough puzzle. Of course, it's not impossible that I've overlooked it and am missing half the squares on the mapped levels. Feel free to drop me a hint if that's the case.

Time so far: 7 hours
Reload count: 2

86 comments:

  1. Wow, you beat the skelewall! The non-stop stream of enemies led me to conclude that they weren't supposed to be defeated, and I ended up luring and dancing around them to get the Darkmoon key in the north room.

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    1. That's the part where I gave up playing altogether, as I mentioned in the previous post. I'm surprised to find I didn't get as far as I thought!

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    2. Not sure why so many people seem to have such a problem with this battle. Sure, it's a ramp up from the previous fights in the game, equivalent of a boss battle, but far from unbeatable. I'm pretty sure I beat it in two or three tries when I originally played this game as a kid.

      In fact I don't think the game has a single "unfair" fight. Unfair puzzles are another matter (I'm looking at you, Leave Many Things Behind).

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  2. After you found the solution to the unresponsive keys, did you still find the combat waltz or the two-step in this game much less useful in comparison to the usual Dungeon Master-style game?

    If a game developer wants to make the combat waltz (or the two-step variant) in a Dungeon Master-style game completely useless, I think there's an easy solution:

    Whenever an enemy steps in front of the player, and whenever the player moves to a square that is adjacent to an enemy, the enemy immediately (turns and) attacks before the player can move away. The cooldown before the next attack follows after this. As far as I can see, then there's no advantage to constantly dancing around the enemy anymore.

    This doesn't necessarily mean that combats become static affairs; when an enemy casts e.g. a poison cloud, the player still has to move away.

    I think this would remove the constant combat waltzing while still keeping the good parts of real-time Dungeon Master-style combat. Intact combat waltzing is probably hard to balance for: do you expect high dexterity from the player? Then a lot of players will be annoyed. Do you expect low dexterity from the player? Then the dexterous players will be able to win the fights largely through combat waltzing and won't have to use tactical spells as much.

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    1. That is pretty much the idea behind "Attacks of Opportunity" that were eventually implemented in later D&D rules editions.

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    2. Yup that's what an attack of opportunity does. In the first editions of dungeons and dragons (zero ed and some variants of the first edition) no such system was necessary because combat was abstracted, so there was a spells and archery wave, then a melee wave and then any secondary attacks at the end, you were supposed to imagine the fray, not think of your character in this discrete 10' square and the enemy in that other square over there. Those kinds of tactical combat ideas became de rigueur with advanced dungeons and dragons second edition and even then, a lot of dungeon masters and their players ran combat in the old style to not waste too much time and also because it makes for better imaginary descriptions to resolve the damage of the attack wave and then talk it out about how exactly it happened and where it leaves every actor before the next wave.

      In that space of time, between advanced d&d second edition and before third edition had come out, games like Eye of the Beholder were developed and had to solve some interesting problems about how to adapt d&d combat to their engines.

      When 3rd edition came out and the game became a mandatory battle mat game, then actual engagement/disengagement rules were implemented to restrict free movement of characters through threatened areas by enemies. If you were a rogue you could tumble through, for example, but most characters would incur one or more attacks of opportunity for unsafely disengaging with enemies after having locked into melee with them, or simply passing through their threat range. It became very scholastic and it slowed combat down quite a bit. I still have nightmares of having to resolve 3rd edition combat, especially with high level characters and their absurd feats, and equivalent many-hit dice enemies.

      For Eye of the Beholder Westwood stole their engine premise from Dungeon Master, a game that has a different philosophy about how to do combat to dungeons and dragons.

      As you say it's very easy to restrict the usefulness of the waltz for a game like this. Either do an automatic extra attack roll for the baddies upon disengagement (I would even go as far as to suggest that the extra attack auto-succeeds) or you can just make it so that if you attack an enemy in front of you, you will have to sit and watch them attack you before you have free movement again. They kind of tried, in EotB2 and other games of this lineage to patch that hole in different ways but failed. Some games actually adopted the waltz as mandatory for survival, like Anvil of Dawn, where it makes more sense because you're a single character fighting a single enemy at a time. Grimrock goes all in on the combat waltz with a full party, they see it as an endearing element to pay homage to.

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    3. I think I prefer freezing movement while you have expended hand slots. That lets you run through levels quickly if you're not engaging.

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    4. Grimrock 2 especially explored a lot that kind of AI tricks.

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    5. I mean, I love the combat waltz. It's a feature I want, and it's what makes this little subgenre so unique. Otherwise it's just a Gold Box game with a first person interface.

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    6. There's a more recent RPG like this on Steam called The Fall of the Dungeon Guardians which tried to emphasize hotbar MMO style mechanics over combat waltzing for most fights.

      I haven't played it yet, so I can't say how well it actually pulls it off, though.

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    7. @Tristan: I think there's no need to freeze the player's movement when trying to disable the combat waltz.

      @GregT: I like the combat waltz too. But it obviously has some drawbacks as a game feature. For example, using it it's not difficult to beat the dragon in Dungeon Master without getting hit even once. And people who dislike the fact that an RPG has a significant dexterity requirement are unhappy about it too.

      I'm unsure what I would do as a developer. That I suggested a way of disabling the waltz doesn't necessarily mean that I think it should be done. It might make more sense to cater to players who like the Dungeon Master genre with the waltz included. In that case, it would be best if some enemies shake up the usual patterns, as Legend of Grimrock 2 is reportedly doing.

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    8. "For example, using it it's not difficult to beat the dragon in Dungeon Master without getting hit even once." But it's (nearly?) impossible to beat it if you don't avoid getting hit at all. So what do you do? Artifically let yourself get hit every once in a while just to avoid breaking the immersion?

      "And people who dislike the fact that an RPG has a significant dexterity requirement are unhappy about it too." From my point of view, as someone who isn't manually dexterous, the waltz requires far less skill than simultaneously monitoring which weapons have exited cooldown, casting spells, mixing potions, drinking potions, and swapping character positions.

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    9. No, you let your characters get eaten by the dragon a few times in order to really immerse yourself into the game's fiery atmosphere. No waltzy yankee-doodle for you, slacker! ;)

      Generally, the drawback of the waltz as a game feature is that *any* single enemy in a room of 2x2 size can be defeated this way without much risk unless the enemy has some special counter-measure. According to you, EotB 2 reduces the usefulness of the waltz in a lot of places, so my understanding is that in those cases you're standing in front of the enemies a lot more, using buffs more often, or you avoid melee altogether if the level layout allows it.

      Another way to increase the challenge are special combat mechanics (such as the fight against Lord Chaos in DM 1, who had to be trapped by force field spells on all sides) or environmental hazards. I haven't played LoG 2 yet, but leaving that game aside I think that the Dungeon Master combat system hasn't really been exploited to its full potential yet.

      (Very slight spoiler about Dungeon Master 2 follows)

      There's one fight in Dungeon Master 2 where a certain mid-boss monster (called Dru-Tan in walkthroughs) can be defeated in several ways, and one way is to go toe to toe with him in his lair. There are several pits around, and he can actually push you backwards into them, dropping you to the level below. He also casts poison cloud often, which you naturally have to get out of as soon as possible, so naturally you often jump right into one of the pits all by yourself. The result, at least for me, was one of the most exciting fights I had in an RPG.

      There's also another special way to beat him that is more suitable to players who are not so dexterous, but explaining that here would be a spoiler. But it's actually also representative of the cool things that can be done in the DM genre.

      Regrettably the rest of DM 2 hardly uses these methods.

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    10. "Generally, the drawback of the waltz as a game feature is that *any* single enemy in a room of 2x2 size can be defeated this way without much risk unless the enemy has some special counter-measure." No question, but this is a weakness in the original engine, not in the player who identifies the pattern and exploits it. Combat in ANY RPG is about identifying tactical advantages over enemies and using them. If the game is action-oriented, then many of the tactics will also be action-oriented.

      DM-like games have MANY tactics for screwing up the waltz or any other pattern. We've seen many examples in CSB, EotB1 and 2, as you say DM2. That's great. It forces the player to adapt and find new advantages. I'm having to do that here, and I don't mind at all. My only argument is with anyone who says that dodging enemy attacks--and thus finding patterns by which to dodge enemy attacks--is somehow abusing the original engine.

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    11. In a lot of turn-based roguelikes, there are still versions of combat waltzing, but less extreme. Usually you have to make some compromises - e.g. you may be faster than a monster so you can step back, wait for him to move up to you, then hit him and move back again. But you are losing ground and maybe running into a dangerous area, unless there is a pillar or loop of corridor you can go around. The term of art for this is "pillar-dancing"

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    12. "From my point of view, as someone who isn't manually dexterous, the waltz requires far less skill..."

      The real problem from my point of view is to keep in mind the space around me, while fighting. Although not having clumsy finger I trapped myself so many times, why I figured out how to avoid the waltz.
      Because Dungeon Master is stated repeatedly that it constituted the waltz (or is incredible hard without), i want to disagree (partially). The majority seem to prefer the action-way, probably it's easier to learn and it works.

      Let me give some examples for DM1 (2fighter mage priest), because i didn't played EoBs yet:
      Consider the dex stat when choosing your chars and increase it with a few ninja-lvl to get noticeable less hits. Intensely use both shield spells (respective) to receive noticeable less dmg and simultaneously lvl-up your magic users. Update every piece of armor, the later you find, the better. Always have some healing potions prepared. Have fun to tank two knights in a corridor and slam them into pieces. Don't waste mana, they're immune to magic. Just heal up a few times, it's really not that hard. Keep some freezer and poison bombs for the dragon, spam him with stacking poison clouds to get healthy steaks quiet easily.

      So knowledge can exceed skill, however, those games don't obviously reveal it to the player.
      Hard to say if the developers intended that players will figure things out eventually, but they had the knowledge and were able to play it in D&D style. Additionally they arranged things in a way that abusing the engine is also great fun and it is even harder for me to say if this was intended, too.

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    13. Trying to stop the player from profitably moving during combat in a Dungeon Master clone is nonsense, comparable to trying to stop players from blocking attacks in fighting games. You're _supposed_ to move. Many later enemy types will be _literally impossible_ to fight unless you keep dodging their attacks, because their basic attacks are instant kills/paralyses. This is normal. This is expected.

      Only issue with the "waltz" is that it's often too easy. It certainly was in the first Eye of Beholder, where the developers didn't seem like they were very familiar with the subgenre and failed to balance accordingly (to the credit of Westwood, EOB2 improves enormously on that front). But the way to balance it isn't nonsense auto-attacks that effectively eliminate movement as a valid tactic, but rather giving the enemies movement options of their own, area attacks, and setting fights in locations whose geography is inconvenient (ie. trap rooms). A great modern example of this is Grimrock 2, where virtually every enemy has some weird dash, or area denial or projectile attack that pushes the player's ability to keep dodging. The final boss in particular is fairly brilliant.

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  3. Can you not burn the spider-webs? That's standard D&D procedure and I'd be surprised if it wasn't implemented in the game.

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    1. They can easily be slashed with a weapon, the Addict wasn't sure whether he wanted to, though... ;-)
      I believe the loot in there is OK, if nothing special. It might be that there's a key hidden in that area, I don't remember.

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  4. The skeleton room is the first bad gaming design feature eob2 has. You'll find a few more.

    (the halfling that runs away with eq is pretty bad as well)

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    1. Seems like a chaotic neutral thing to do.

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    2. The Halfling running away seemed to fit the character...not a bad design feature...

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    3. Why is the skeleton room a bad design feature? (The Rot13 Contains big Story spoilers)

      Vg'f cneg bs gur fgbel gung Qnexzbba vf nznffvat n uhtr nezl bs haqrnq gb pbadhre jngreqrrc naq trgf rira zragvbarq yngre ba gung gur cnegl whfg sbhtug bar bs gur pbhagyrff yrtvbaf bs haqrnq haqre gur ovt oblf pbzznaq

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    4. You can't justify game design decisions with "it made sense for the story" (not to mention the story makes no sense - there was an army in the basement? and the party defeated an entire army? right)

      Any new player/non CRPG expert coming to that room may well find it extremely daunting, because it most certainly is

      Don't get me wrong, I like EoB2 too, but I don't let my appreciation for it cloud the fact that it was very badly designed.

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    5. The skeletons felt like an XP check for me.
      If the party doesn't have enough XP to push into the room and clear it, they get endless respawns until they level enough to do so.
      The game now knows that regardless of whether you imported from EOB1 or not, you potentially have enough power to handle the next things it throws at you (including lock-ins with monsters, etc).

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    6. You know, it didn't bother me as much as you'd think. It's almost like clearing out that castle full of floating eyes in Might and Magic VI inoculated me against endless mobs of enemies.

      In this, I've uncovered a bit of a paradox: while I prefer turn-based, tactical combat to action combat, I get bored with too much of the former. Those skeletons might be infuriating for different reasons, but I can't say that the two hours I spent fighting them was "boring."

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    7. There's nothing wrong with the skeleton room. It's just a big fight that requires the player to put his big boy pants on. Everything up to it has been a warm-up.

      There are actual badly designed parts in EOB2, but that is not one of them.

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  5. Nothing to worry about, your maps are fine at this point. You'll see why they feel incomplete soon enough.

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  6. I'm not sure your assumptions about how secret doors work in EOB2 are valid. Pretty sure it has a mechanic to make blocks of wall "vanish" without needing a door into them, revealing loot where the wall previously was. (I'm sure about the first bit, I'm not 100% sure about loot being able to be located within the wall.)

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    1. I also agree to that... the D in your example could certainly disappear to reveal an alcove behind. Hidden buttons could also open a wall alcove on A without needing to remove the wall block. And a button on the wall at A could open a door at B too...

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    2. As well as the alcove thing couldn't the B's open up into corners?(only one B of each pair)

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    3. Yes there are mechanisms to make blocks of wall vanish without needing a door, but the block itself still takes 10 x 10 space, and there's always something on the other side. Thus, a secret area always needs at least 10 x 20 space. If there's any place in the game where a secret door opens leaving only the 10 x 10 door space, then I'm wrong, but until I find such a place or someone points one out to me, I don't believe it exists.

      D cannot disappear to reveal an alcove because there needs to be 10 x 10 feet of space leading IN to the alcove. That's the same reason that the Bs can't open into corner alcoves.

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    4. I'm with Greg here - I can't remember specific sections that would demonstrate this off the top of my head, but I'm ~90% sure that "there's always something on the other side of the wall" part of your assumption is false. Nothing needs to be behind the secret wall, not even empty space. Items can reside "inside" a wall block, occupying the same square, and when that block vanishes, the items are revealed from under it.

      And even if I'm wrong on that, which I don't think I am, there is the issue of alcoves (not walk-in ones, but tiny embedded-in-wall ones that can hold items). These do not occupy any space; they're pasted onto one side of a wall block, and the wall will appear normal from all other sides.

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    5. I guess the official cluebook will settle the disagreement once and for all once I finish the game. If I look at it and verify that I'm right and there are no illusory or secret doors that JUST occupy a 10 x 10 wall space, you're all going to owe me an apology for making me search every frigging wall.

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    6. If the converse is true, I hasten to add, I will owe you an apology. But not having found any such configurations in 10 levels (my playing is ahead of my blogging), I refuse to believe they exist.

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    7. After a quick glance at the cluebook, while what we were suggesting could happen in the engine in theory, indeed the devs chose to not do it here. Chet is right.

      It's a bit like DM vs CSB. In DM, secret/hidden walls were mostly "fairly" placed like that, only in logical 10x10 locations. In CSB, devs went to any extremes/tricks the engine allowed.

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    8. Chet is MOSTLY right. There are some illusory doors that use shared wall space, and there are some places with no "space" on the other side of a door, but in all these cases it's clear that there's some kind of puzzle going on. Chet's strategy will find every secret door findable via random searching.

      There are no places in the game where items are placed in spaces that held closed doors, secret, or illusory doors despite the fact that the engine allows it.

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  7. Despite the nerfs to combat waltzing, it's still useful because it can nonetheless buy time for the cooldown of weapons and spells, as well as give reaction time for the player. Those skeleton things (as well as most other creatures in the game) can murder the party pretty quickly if they succeed in cornering it.

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  8. I remembered that thief stealing your stuff from way back i played this. big bummer moment

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    1. Part of the reason I let it go was I assumed I'd encounter the thief's corpse later on and retrieve my stuff. I'm still hoping that happens, but nothing yet.

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    2. Your EOB1 weapons are overpowered for this game anyway. Better to be rid of them. The first game went kind of nuts with the pluses (what kind of DM lets a level 7 party have a +5 weapon, let alone multiples? Sheesh).

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    3. Well, he is down to a +4 now. That thief was an obvious DM plant to remove some of the overpowered items. Can't believe Chet didn't call it out more. ;P

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  9. The last time I played this (almost 7 years a go now) Shorn just wandered off without even asking to join my party after I freed him. My party only had 4 members at that point, so I don't know what caused that. Speaking if which, you can also prevent Insal from running away with your stuff by removing other characters so he's in a minimum-size party. Of course he's not really that good anyway, so I'm not sure who'd want to do that. He steals the main-hand weapon of whoever is in the top-left position, and I THINK it might be possible to exploit that to get a cursed weapon out of someone's hand (there are a couple not all that far from where he's found), but I'm not entirely sure.

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    1. I can't find any internet evidence of this "Shorn doesn't join" problem but with two commenters here mentioning it it's probably a real thing. Were you playing DOS or Amiga? Is it possible it's a version difference?

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    2. I´m fairly certain my Uncle had Shorn in his Party on the Amiga while he didn´t want to join mine. I´m also fairly certain I had it on Dos that he joined in one playthrough and in another he didn´t and I usually play the game with the same Party / Alignment Set up so guess it´s random?

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    3. Possibly, he only joins you to leave with the equipment if you played the game with EOB1 character - and equipment. That would be a good mechanism to level the field a bit. That's easy to test, but I don't have the game handy

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    4. Might it be Shorn running off is a matter of party composition or alignment? I remember taking him in, but then I already had a dwarf in my party. Maybe he runs off if there's no dwarves, or maybe no lawful characters in the party.

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    5. Paul's hypothesis seems the most likely to me. Does someone want to look up what the cluebook says?

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    6. "There is a chance that he will ask to join your party." Most walkthroughs don't even mention him running away at all. Possibly just a random chance.

      Whatever, he's worthless anyway. A 13 Wisdom for a Cleric is abysmal.

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    7. I'm pretty sure Insal ran off with my stuff with a new party in the Amiga version.

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    8. Shorn offering to join is random. I think Calandra too. Whether it's a hidden Charisma roll or just pure random chance I don't know. Saving before talking to anyone is advised (but anyone playing this era's games should be saving every five minutes anyway).

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  10. I'm pretty sure those skeleton warriors do respawn, as I'm convinced I had to fight way more of them than would actually fit in the room. I would frequently retreat back as far as the large entrance hall, then the next time I walked up to the corridor outside the room there would be just as many milling about. I eventually decided there was some invisible trigger - either time or distance - that meant I should be pressing the attack and not retreating so far. It helped when I discovered the two-step technique which meant that as long as I only pulled one group at a time, I only had to go back as far as a 2x2 room down the corridor. Even then it took me weeks to defeat them all (my playing opportunities are limited) and I only kept going because I looked up walkthroughs which casually said to kill them all and get something important from the room. Losing the save games where I'd completed that made me quit the game.

    In retrospect, I think maybe my main issue was continuing with my EOB1 characters, whom I'd made no attempt to optimise. When I picked up Calandra, she was much better than my current fighters.

    Weird note: when I freed Shorn Diergar I never got the option to add him to the party. He just ran off to join his people - not sure what roll I failed there.

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  11. On CapsLock: it's an issue I've found in many games of this genre, I think Balck Crypt, but definitely Lands of Lore in DOSBox, but, not for instance when played in ScummVG. it's not EoB specific; I think it's a DOS / DOSBox thing.

    Shorn Diegar not joining the party: could it be an alignment restriction?

    Combat waltzing: I just love it. EoB I think it's more a dungeon crawler than a pure RPG, it focuses more on arcade aspects in exploration / combat than in strategy, and I mean, the core of the game is built around that.

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  12. I always felt that doing the combat waltz was cheating the system. It's interesting that they balanced the game mechanics around you not being able to do it.

    Or did fixing the numlock issue resolve the problem and you can do the combat waltz as normal?

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    1. Nah, you can't really do it. As I noted here, since enemies can strafe now, the pattern changes and they enter their new cell already facing you, so you don't get a free hit at their sides. There are also fewer open areas to do it, and enemies react faster. I tried doing the waltz with some "mantiss warriors" on a higher level and got torn apart in 5 seconds flat.

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    2. Long corridors with lots of bends are still tactically valuable, I should add--at least until you back into another enemy, which seems to almost always happen to me.

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  13. I did a little "Rant" about "modern" Dungeon Crawler that advertise as "Old school" style Dungeon Crawlers but they fiddle around with the combat System way too much especially the "Combat Waltz" a few weeks ago.

    The Deep Paths: Labyrinth Of Andokost => The Game "locks" you in place as long as one characters weapon is on cooldown so no combat waltz and Enemies hit HARD in that game ...

    Heroes of the Monkey Tavern => Once you engaged with an enemy in combat stepping away damages the whole party quite alot

    The Fall of the Dungeon Guardians => I think the combat "resets" when you leave the square but only the enemy regains health? I can´t remember but it was weird, it also had some sort of ... World of Warcraft style combat in a Dungeon Crawler .. quite funky, I didn´t like it.

    7 Mages => Has some sort of "Real Time Turn Based Combat" where each party member can sorta act on his own and even split away from the party. Seemed decent enough but I couldn´t warm up to the game too much.

    I loved how Legend of Grimrock 2 handled all this with enemies being able to move and do a side attack or jump over squares, lots of narrow corridors where the combat waltz just isn´t possible etc pp... In my humble opinion a way better approach than trying to change too much on the combat itself, might as well just do a combat system like Might and Magic 3-5 if you want to see the enemies on screen but don´t want real time combat.

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    1. 7 Mages is real-time only outside of combat, once an enemy notices you, it goes fully turn-based. And because it has action points, it's closer to Goldbox/RoA-style than DM-style.
      It's a game with some very cool ideas and great level design, but ultimately held down by the limitations of mobile platforms, particularly not supporting more than two enemy types per level.

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    2. Those are all good ideas. I still think dodging and maneuvering in combat is a valid technique, but that doesn't mean I don't think it should have penalties associated with it. A good game is all about challenge and balance.

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  14. Keep up with the whole "combat waltzing" thing, as there are going to be some significant usage of it later with "crowded hallway" combats. You will also need to be quite good with movements by the middle-late of the game. If you are still having keyboard-related woes the game might not be playable.

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    Replies
    1. Fortunately, I'm cool now. But tell that to all those commenters insisting that you can win the game just standing in front of enemies and taking the damage.

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    2. I think those commenters may have some overlap with those who... exaggerated a bit when using the "modify" command to match their favorite D&D characters.

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  15. Keep in mind that I've never beaten the EoB games--they were too hard to map when I was younger and it's been 15+ years since I had a computer with the 5" floppy drive to install them--but I much prefer playing THESE games without the waltz.

    I like the mechanic when it's balanced (Grimrock 2 is excellent about this), but I feel like DnD's AC system already should account for dodging, and it feels a little bit too much like cheating.

    Don't ask how I reconcile that with my belief that it's okay to run away much faster than the enemies can move.

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    Replies
    1. As I said in the first entry, the fusion of AD&D rules with action gameplay was destined to be imperfect.

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  16. Looking at these screenshots is making me want to play Dungeon Hack again. That game ate up years of my life and I've played it on and off ever since its release.

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  17. You are doing alright: I cannot remember any puzzle for the first underground levels, and though the game has some difficulty spikes as the skeletons the design is really closed and you will ever know what to do - and yes, you will find puzzles. Without being too spoilerish, try to have a variety of inventory items.

    Enjoy the mapping. I insist that the maze/level design is where this game truly shines. Apart from the graphic design, the sounds and music of an underage Frank Klepacki and what I believe was the soul of that unique Westwood aesthetic, Rick Parks.

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    Replies
    1. Somewhat later in the game, I was glad I'd bothered to annotate the locations of stray bones.

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  18. I parsed "I stuck her in the back with a spear" as a traitorous act before arriving at the end of the sentence. I apologize for not giving you the benefit of the doubt there.

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    Replies
    1. That's pretty funny. I wish I could say I wrote it like that intentionally.

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  19. For what it's worth, I think 'helping' or 'leaving' a starving person contains the full range or ethical responses. It just doesn't have a ludicrous 'FOR THE EVULZ' response.

    I mean, an option to "kick him in the teeth and laugh at his misfortune" might let you roleplay a 10 year-olds conception of what a bad guy is, but I don't really want that option in a game world that I'm supposed to take seriously.

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    Replies
    1. That's a fair point. "Evil" need not be psychotic.

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    2. Reminds me of SW:KTOR to be truly on the dark side you had tobe creative; just taking the "obviously evil" to each problem netted you pitiful dark side points.

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  20. San-Raal! That sounds like Sun-Ra. I don't suppose that Elves comme from Saturn though.

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    1. I thought of him later too. Interesting that both characters are rogues of their race, if the drow theory below is correct.

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  21. By the way, San-Raal is not just an elf. He is actually a drow, albeit a rare non-evil one.

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    1. You know, I was wondering about that, but you don't want to assume things based on skin color. Does he get any more backstory?

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    2. I think that in Forgotten Realms, a black-skinned elf can only be a drow, who are always chaotic evil unless they happen to be called Drizzt. San-Raal never gets any backstory, which made me think that he's not a drow after all but just a matter of limited VGA colors, because one wouldn't be helping the heroes, or at least you'd expect someone to say that it is very exceptional. He's not even evil.

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    3. In the FR setting, drow are primarily evil because of cultural reasons rather than biological. Even in the Drizz't books, he isn't the only one who doesn't succumb - his father had much the same worldview Drizz't had but lacked the courage to flee, and it was heavily implied one of his sisters only fully embraced drow values very late in life.

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    4. It would make sense, though, since the temple was supposedly built by Drow. Is there a limit on how long someone can be dead before "resurrect" stops working?

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    5. Per tabletop rules.

      Ressurection requires that the target has been dead for no more than 10 years for each caster level. For most clerics, this limits the spell to under 200 years.

      I don't think this clause ever changed between editions.

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    6. It didn't change in third edition, but it did in fourth and fifth. In fourth edition there was no resurrection spell at all; the closest thing in the core books was a Raise Dead ritual that only worked on creatures "that died no more than 30 days ago". Fifth edition put things back closer to how they were in earlier editions, but still not exactly; now the subject could have "been dead for no more than a century", independent of caster level.

      All of which is of course moot since EoB2 used second-edition rules...

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  22. I remember when I played this as a kid finding the first set of dungeons in this kind of viscerally unpleasant looking - they always looked like they were smeared with poo to me.

    Actually, I think I might have had the same reaction to the first sewer levels in the first game too...

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  23. Your mastery of UNICODE glyphs for Excel maps puts the rest of us to shame...

    (How did I never think of searching the emojis?)

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  24. Prompted by your playing the game, I loaded up a savegame from 2012, when I was doing a bit of research on the NPCs characters of the series, and I discovered that while I still almost remember by memory the catacombs maze layouts, and the first floor of the temple, as soon as I reach the one beyond the 4 winds walls I strongly missed an automap feature, as I'm used to play with that these days.

    It was a bit of a surprise.

    So, thumbs up to you for the effort of mapping the game yourself!

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