Thursday, February 8, 2018

Eye of the Beholder II: Won!

That would be a good title for a different game.
            
The rest of Eye of the Beholder II was almost entirely about monster difficulty, not puzzle difficulty. The bit I relayed last time with the pressure plates, teleporters, and glass walls was the last challenging puzzle. In replacement, the game severely increased the deadliness of enemies in its final stages.

It began on the fourth level of the tower that started with the "mark of Darkmoon." Aerial servants attacked as I entered. These are tough enemies, hard to hit, who do a lot of damage. From this point on, I had "Haste" active almost continually, and I was a lot more liberal with my spells. As a consequence, I also rested a lot more, which the game thankfully did not limit.
       
Philosophical inquiries later, San-Raal.
       
The level was a huge maze populated by medusae. I'm going to type it that way because the Blogger spellcheck is cool with it, but not "medusas." To even enter, I had to prove that I possessed six mirrored shields by hanging them up in an entry hall. I didn't actually have six shields when I first arrived--I only had four--so I had to spend a little time returning to earlier levels to grab the last two shields, which I had discarded for redundancy.
       
Accurate maps made this not as annoying as it could have been.
       
The shields were not the perfect protection that I hoped. Medusae repeatedly petrified my characters, and as I didn't have Level 6 spells yet, only the half dozen pouches of "magic dust" found early in the game were able to cure my characters. The creatures spawned and respawned like mad, often hitting us from multiple angles. Meanwhile, since I had to hold shields in my off hands, my lead characters had to return to single-weapon combat, which really sucked after I had gotten used to the speed of dual-wielding.
       
De-stoning a character during combat.
      
There was one fun puzzle area, reminiscent of a similar area in Chaos Strikes Back, where I had to lead four medusae onto four pressure plates, then close the doors on either side of the plates so they would remain in the area, weighing them down. They were too fast to do it normally, but I soon found that "Hold Person" actually holds medusae. That was a surprise. With the help of the spell, I was able to get them all in place and move forward.

The level culminated in an area so choked with aerial servants, who respawned so fast, that I couldn't even get through them. If I charged as far as I could, I would find myself in unwinnable combat with packs of them on at least three sides. I eventually won by running as far as I could and then throwing "Wall of Force" behind me so I'd only have to deal with one pack of enemies. Even then, it was hard. Manual dexterity mattered a lot more towards the end, especially with "Haste" always active and thus no reason to take a couple seconds' break between attacks. Whoever decided that right-clicking on the character's name, which is mere pixels from his primary weapon, should initiate the "move position" process, ought to be banned from ever working on a game again.

Eventually, I made my way to a area where glass walls came crashing down around me and an image of Dran Draggore appeared to gloat for capturing us. He then transported us to prison.

The "prison" was a small level full of frost giants. I gather they were also Dran's prisoners, but I don't know why. The graphics showed how cramped they were in a dungeon not designed for their size. My pity only lasted a short while, however, as the frost giants repeatedly punched us into oblivion. Two punches ensured that at least one party member died; three was often enough to kill the entire party.
          
I'd be angry if I was that cramped, too.
         
The short corridors of the level, which offered almost no open spaces, made it difficult to employ the usual tricks. Areas with blinking (appearing and disappearing) pit traps also made it tough to retreat. Making everything worse, the immediate presence of more than one frost giant slowed down the game and screwed up the careful timing I'd spend the previous 30 hours unconsciously calibrating. Still, the level was small, and there were some areas that the frost giants refused to pass by, so except for a couple of corridors, I was generally able to find safe spaces. I assume my characters were repeatedly thanking the creators of this universe that enemies disappear when slain. Otherwise, the corridors would have been choked to the point of impassibility with frost giant corpses.

The level ended in an encounter with the frost giant king, who recited a badly-metered poem saying that Dran had trapped them. It didn't say why. At the end of his poem, he turned to dust for some reason. Behind him was a teleportation door, and fortunately I'd found a stone dagger to use on it at some point.

I was back on the second floor of the temple, near the main entrance. A crimson key found at some point during my journey opened up the final locked path on the second level. I reached a wall (I forgot to take a screenshot) with impressions that required me to place an eye, blade, and hilt "of Talon," which not only opened the way but came together to create a +4 long sword. A stairway soon led upward.
        
           
(Side note: what if I hadn't found all of the Talon artifacts in the previous levels? Would I have been able to repeat my journey, get captured again, end up in the halls with the frost giants again, etc.? I should have tested it.)

The final area consisted of multiple small levels with a crimson theme and intricate wall and carpet patterns. The area started with a bunch of teleporters and levers that turned them on and off. There were a lot of small areas connected by stairways and a couple of places where I had to put crimson rings on the wall to teleport forward. Enemies were wizards, and I learned to dart around corners to avoid their spells. Honestly, the puzzles in this area were minor and not really worth relating, and I'm writing this days after winning, not having taken clear notes on them all.
       
The final area had a starker color and more intricate graphics than anything so far.
       
Towards the end of the level, we were attacked by hellhounds, one of the few enemies from the manual not yet encountered. They died in about two hits, and there were only about four of them. A pathetic appearance from an underpowered enemy.

A hole in the ceiling brought us to the final level. It consisted of a large central area with openings to the west and east that led to networks of corridors and rooms. Salamanders swarmed the area and did a lot of damage if I couldn't avoid them; fortunately, they were susceptible to the side-stepping trick.
          
A welcoming party on the last level.
        
The western opening led to rooms occupied by mind flayers. I have no idea what treasures there were to find within those rooms because I gave up after about an hour. The mind flayers have an invisible ranged attack that paralyzes one or more characters. I could barely approach them. I tried to lead them out of the area one at a time and dance them to death, but one screw-up could paralyze half my party. I soon ran out of "Remove Paralysis" spells, and there was a lot of reloading. Eventually, it became clear that the mind flayers were re-spawning and I wasn't making any progress. I moved on to the eastern exit.
        
These guys are real bastards.
        
To get through a door, I had to cast "Dispel Magic" on two alcoves, one of which had an Amulet of Life and one of which had an Amulet of Death. I assumed they were plot items, but I never ended up using either.
            
        
Beyond the door was a single special encounter with one of Dran's servants, but then no more battles or encounters until I found Dran. When I reached him, he was working on some kind of spell, but he sensed our approach. In his subsequent villain's exposition, he related that he had ordered the Drow to build Darkmoon "long, long ago" but "the fools destroyed themselves and I was greatly injured in the cataclysm." When he recovered a long time later (presumably recently), he began reconstructing the temple and allied with Xanathar, the beholder from the first game, to take over Waterdeep.
          
The thinnest thread ties the games together.
           
He finished by saying that a new skeleton army--of which we had destroyed "one legion" back towards the beginning of the game--was preparing to march on Waterdeep and "destroy Khelben."

We had come upon Dran unaware, and thus un-buffed by spells, so my heart wasn't in the first attempt at defeating him. After a reload, with "Bless," "Prayer," "Protection from Evil," "Haste," "Aid," and a few others active, we tried again. Dran flung spells most rounds, so again we resorted to dodging to avoid them. We couldn't really do a "waltz" or "side-step" with him because he varied his pattern of movement, sometimes stepping forward, sometimes strafing, sometimes just wandering off down a corridor. But with patience, we whittled him down and defeated him.

Or so we thought. After he collapsed, he boasted that our "pain will be legendary, [our] agony exquisite!" He rose again and revealed himself as a red dragon. (I guess "Draggore" should have given it away.)
          
         
After his little speech, when combat resumed, the dragon blasted us with a breath or spell that immediately killed Starling and put almost everyone else into the single digits, hit point wise. I had to reload and defeat the human Dran all over again. This time, I was able to side-step in time to avoid his opening blast. When I did, rather than risk losing any more progress, I ran out of the room, down a long corridor, and into another 3 x 2 room before quickly saving the game.
      
Our first (unsuccessful) combat against the dragon.
       
That was the pattern for the rest of the combat, really. The dragon was so deadly that if I let my guard down for even one attack, a few of my party members would be killed. I settled into a process of hitting him a few times with a mixture of weapons and spells, then running down the corridor to save. He'd follow, I'd hit him a few more times, then run back down the corridor into the other room and save. A little pathetic, I guess, but when you have an enemy so over-powered, the fun is mostly gone anyway. I was just looking to survive and get to the end.
      
My party is brutal. We didn't just kill him; we tore out his heart and sacrificed his body on his own altar.
      
Of course, we defeated him in the end, prompting the endgame screens and text:
    
Finally, Dran has been defeated. Suddenly, your friend Khelben appears. "Greetings, my victorious friends. You have defeated Dran! I did not know Dran was a dragon. He must have been over 300 years old! His power is gone. But Darkmoon is still a source of great evil. And many of his minions remain. Now we must leave this place so my forces can destroy it once and for all. Follow me."

Powerful mages stand ready for the final assault on Darkmoon. The temple's evil is very strong. It must not be allowed to survive!
                 
What are they casting? Is there a Level 9 spell called "Destroy Building" that I don't have for some reason?
            
This is accompanied by a cinematic of a bunch of spellcasters blasting the temple with lightning. Eventually, it disappears and the dark skies turn bright blue. Khelben pops his head in the frame one last time to say, "Thank you. You have earned my deepest respect. We will remember you always." And the "The End" followed by the screen at the top of the entry.
       
Any chance I've also "earned" something more tangible?
         
There's no final save of the game, so I guess characters imported to Eye of the Beholder III don't get the experience from defeating Dran Draggore. [Edit: I was wrong. I just missed it. The game automatically creates a "FINAL.SAV" file.]

Some notes and thoughts on the final session and ending:
    
  • The mapping of the click areas is off for the character in the sixth position. Right clicking on roughly the top fifth of the left-hand object activates the right-hand object. San-Raal was constantly throwing daggers when I meant for him to cast a spell.
  • At some point, I found a stone cross for the teleportation door, but I don't think there was any way for me to get back to the teleportation door (at more than one point, the final areas become one-way). Maybe that's what the mind flayers were guarding?
  • It's funny that the chief bad guy of both games attacked alone, without a supporting party.
  • It's left open-ended why Dran Draggore wants to rule Waterdeep so bad. Why do evil creatures always want to "rule"? Don't they understand what a headache that is? If I was an evil boss, I'd just be trying to make enough money that I could buy a house on a beach, play video games all day, and fly first class to New Orleans once a month.
  • I was in the midst of writing a paragraph challenging anyone who thinks it's possible to win the game without dodging to show me a video of someone doing it, because I doubt you can survive against the dragon or the mind flayers without some level of dodging. To verify that someone hadn't already posted such a video, I checked out YouTube for endgame videos. In the videos I watched, the players absolutely dodge (or try to), but they also repeatedly use the "Starfire" scepter to cast a "mystic defense" spell that I guess helps against some of Draggore's spells and the dragon's breath. I completely forgot about that scepter.
  • Other items that are a bit of a mystery: several leftover keys (copper, Darkmoon, skull, crystal), the Amulets of Life and Death, "Jhonas's Cloak," "Brahma's Boots," and two extra crimson rings.
  • I guess the different sections of tower levels make sense when you look at it from the outside. There are multiple towers extending from the central keep, offering multiple ways up and down. It even makes sense that some of the top levels are bigger than some of the lower ones.
  • The endgame credits confirm that San-Raal is a Drow. It would have been nice to have a little backstory there. In general, it's too bad that the NPCs didn't get more story. I never encountered the thief Insal again (or got my stolen items back), Khelben didn't seem too bothered that I never resurrected Amber, and I suspect that Calandra never re-unites with her sister.
  • My final experience point total was 578085. Starling the paladin ended at Level 9 and only gained one level the entire game. Bugsy the fighter/thief ended at levels 9 and 11 having gained 2 fighter levels and 3 priest levels. Marina the mage ended at Level 11 having gained 2 levels. Gaston the ranger/cleric ended at levels 9 and 10 having gained 2 ranger levels and 3 cleric levels. According to the manual, the game supports experience points up to 1.5 million, so there's room for some serious grinding. In my case, Starling was only 22,000 experience points away from hitting Level 10, but everyone else would have required at least a couple hundred thousand.
       
I look forward to browsing a cluebook before the GIMLET, particularly seeing what I missed on the other side of those mind flayers. In the end, I think I liked it better than the first Eye of the Beholder, but not by a lot. I expect it to score higher in "encounters" for offering more special encounters with basic role-playing options, and in "magic and combat" for enhancing the importance of spells. We'll soon see.

****

We've had a bit of a massacre on the "upcoming" list.

DC Game (1988) is actually a construction kit that goes by about 17 different names. On its title screen alone, it is called "Graphics Adventure Game System," "Graphics Adventure Game Builder," and "Generic Adventure Game System." Most of its documentation refers to it by the executable names: DC-GAME or DC-PLAY, with the hyphen sometimes there, sometimes not, and the text sometimes in all caps and sometimes in proper case.

We already saw the output of the builder in The Rescue of Lorri in Lorrintron (1991). I was going to play the sample adventure that comes with the builder, except that a) its graphics and features are limited until you pay the shareware fee, which of course you can no longer do; b) it's not much of a game. (General rule: any game in which you must play a character named "John Doe" is probably not worth playing.) Even the 1988 date is suspect. Most of the documentation offers "1988-1991" or "1989-1991" for the copyright dates, but I can't find a version older than 1991, and that seems to be the date of the sample game. Since we already saw the kit at work in Lorri, I don't see any need to mess around with this.
        
The kit limits you to CGA graphics unless you pay.
       
The game called Demon's Maze at MobyGames is just called Demon on its own title screen. It's a senseless little variant of The Wizard's Castle (1980) in which you don't even have a real map, just a "concept map," and all action is controlled abstractly from a kind-of control panel. There's no documentation with it, including no developer's name and no real proof of the 1988 date. I'm rejecting it based on the notability guidelines in Rule #4. I'm not going to play everything that someone whipped together in two hours just because someone else bothered to preserve it.
          
Demon makes playing an RPG as fun as filing taxes.
       
Escape (1988), a roguelike for the Atari ST, seems to have existed at some point, as there are screen shots on MobyGames, but I can't seem to find it. It doesn't help that there are a bunch of other games with the same title or the word "Escape" in them.

Fountain of the Gods (1988) is another title in the DND line that stretches back to the earliest PLATO games. This one was directly inspired by Telengard (1982). It's certainly notable enough to play--one of the few titles released solely for the Atari 800. Unfortunately, either it's severely bugged or something is amiss with the emulator. I can only explore about 15% of the game before the game freezes on a gray screen every time I try to exit a room. It also has persistent problems by which I exit one room via a hallway and find myself embedded in the middle of a wall on the other side. I'm working with the developer to see we can solve the issues, but until then I can't really offer a full entry on it.
               
Fighting a demon in Fountain of the Gods.
       
Moving on, Gold of the Realm (1988) is a console-like action/adventure. Only GameFAQs thought it was an RPG, and they're almost always wrong when they go up against MobyGames or Wikipedia. Last Armageddon (1988), a Japanese game, was mistakenly on the list because it has an English translation for the NES, but not for any PC platform.

That jumps us all the way to The Legend of Blacksilver for the next 1988 title pending a discovery of Escape or getting Fountain of the Gods to work.


69 comments:

  1. I distinctly remember the game creating FINAL.SAV upon completion, so check the game folder for that. On a related note, EOB3's transfer simply takes the first four characters of the party rather than letting you choose. That probably won't be an issue since you just left the new recruits in back, unless you gave one of them something you really want to keep. There are a couple things you seem to have missed in the final tower, but I suppose you'll find out about them reading the clue book.

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    1. Yes, you're right. That FINAL.SAV is there.

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  2. Congratulations with another notch in your uh...desktop?

    I recall the evil pair or clerics (or as I called them then: "fine young republicans"), the basilisks, the "kill yourselves" trap, and the Frost Giants, but not much else of the game, so obviously it didn't have much impression on me. And it seems I quit it right before the end. :-(

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  3. Congrats on the win, though it seems you were getting pretty done with it by the end, at least your tone seems to indicate such. Got to say the image of those cramped frost giants did make me laugh, surprised Dran wasn't cramped up too being such an old Dragon.

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    1. As much as I've defended the practice of "waltzing," or whatever we call it, I don't like relying on it exclusively. The final area really made things impossible in a straight fight, and it kind of annoyed me for that reason.

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  4. I still think EoB1 was the better game. Reasonably innovative, less flawed, better design, etc. There's nothing "new" (or even "better") in EoB2.

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    1. Both games have great merits and serious flaws. I prefer EoB2, for emotional reasons. It just looks and feels more… cozy. I like the many smaller levels. I enjoy blowing the four-six major chord out of the four horns, I feel relaxed when I hear it. I enjoy the look of the walls. EoB1 is great but gives me a disturbing feeling. EoB2 with all of its mistakes makes me feel at home. To each their own :) I find it beautiful, and after all, that is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it?

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    2. EOB1 has the virtue of being non-linear (e.g. you can teleport from level 5 to level 10 and work your way back up from there); I'm not aware of a lot of other dungeon crawlers that are non-linear.

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    3. I really liked the design of the "dungeon" about EoB2. Sure, it is essentially as linear as EoB1, but I really liked that you start outside, and then first move down, and finally up different towers. Just felt more alive to me. Also EoB1 was a little too straight forward in its dungeon design in many places I think.

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    4. Most non-linear dungeon crawler ever was Chaos Strikes Back.

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    5. My love for the Chaos Strikes Back dungeon design cannot be expressed with words.

      That being said, I prefer EOB2 as well to EOB1, I think Mirnaia above summarized my feeling. It feels more polished, more complete, kind of. But I think the main flaw here is the frankenstein match of D&D (turn-based) rules with a real-time crawler. When the developers got free of that, they made Lands of Lore, which is arguably on par with Dungeon Master (and Grimrock 1 if we include modern era) in the best square-grid real-time crawlers ever made.

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    6. I found EOB1 a bit thin and easy compared to Dungeon Master, though it did have some nice features. EOB2 was a more satisfying experience.

      One thing that annoyed me about EOB compared to DM was the way a spell (typically a fireball) existed in only one space in each square instead of four. If you were in a corridor in DM watching a fireball go by in DM, you would see it move. In EOB, it would just blink on once in a square as it passed.

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  5. Long time reader here.
    Congratulations on beating EoB2! That final boss fight is quite something, isn't it? :)
    I'm currently replaying the series, and not at Dran yet, but what I remember from muscle memory is this. Against fast-moving enemies, such as Dran (both phases), simply strafing left-right and limiting yourself to a single character's attacks per step gets the job done (alternating between characger 1's and 2's hands). The monster will keep facing you. Occasionally it will step next to you at which point you need to do a proper waltz move, and then continue strafing.
    I feel your sentiment about the end being impossible to do straight, but I do remember my 13-year-old self's sentiments, too. At that point, I felt really great about it, because I thought the party was up against a real (grand) old dragon, and of course mortals are going to have to employ tricks to defeat it. I would have been disappointed if I could have won the mundane way. Back in 1993, it felt epic that you had to outsmart the boss.

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  6. Huh... I have DC Games on my own big list for my blog on game creation systems, but I have it dated to 1998, which is clearly wrong. I think I got that date from the oldest version of the DC Games website I could find on the Wayback Machine, but apparently either it doesn't have older versions of the page saved, or the game system used to have a different URL. Hm.

    Well, even if you're not covering it here, I'm going to be covering it eventually on my blog, so I guess I'm going to have to figure out what year it actually was... though there's no hurry, because I just (re)started the blog and am still on the first system, and it's going to be some time before I get to 1988...

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  7. Epic post!

    A) Tolkien is not a bad writer, he is intentionally using archaic/epic style... duh.

    B) My provisional top 10:
    1) Deus Ex
    2) Ultima 5
    3) Baldurs Gate 1/2
    4) Fallout 1/2
    5) Wasteland
    6) Ultima 7
    7) Ultima Underworld
    8) Magic Candle
    9) Wizards Crown
    10) Sword of Aragon

    Based purely on subjective remembrance of these titles.

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    1. number 1 and 2 fight it out constantly... btw.

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    2. Mega props for respecting the power of Ultima 5

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  8. By the way, at least according to the books, the answer to San-Raal's question in the second post is "no". Aerial servants aren't ghosts; they're creatures from the Elemental Plane of Air. <Bad anachronistic D&D joke>Apparently San-Raal failed his Intelligence (Arcana) check.</Bad anachronistic D&D joke>

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  9. Khelben's final lines are pretty funny. Bear in mind that Khelben is over 900 years old, Archmage of the city, intelligence well off the scale for humans, and chosen one of the goddess of magic. And this evil guy is basically called "Dragon Dan" and Khelben has NO IDEA that it's a dragon... :D

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    1. Makes me think of Franz Draco.

      In the third-edition days, Wizards of the Coast released a "d20 Modern" system that used something similar to the D&D third-edition rules for modern settings. Their most developed setting for d20 Modern (which isn't saying much; the system was never well supported) was "Urban Arcana", basically magic on present-day Earth. And one of the major villains of the setting was an evil businessman named Franz Draco, founder and president of Draco Industries.

      So. Franz Draco has red hair. The Draco Industries symbol is a stylized red dragon. And, well, his last name is "Draco". So obviously, he's actually... na rserrgv. N travr sebz gur Ryrzragny Cynar bs Sver. Cflpu!

      Frevbhfyl, V gubhtug gung jnf xvaq bs n arng gjvfg. Rirelguvat nobhg Qenpb jnf pyrneyl vagragvbanyyl frg hc gb znxr cynlref guvax ur jnf n qentba... nffhzvat, bs pbhefr, gurl unqa'g ernq gur fbheprobbxf gurzfryirf...

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    2. I love how ROT13 makes it look like commenters have suddenly experienced a brain aneurysm in the middle of a sentence.

      Apropos of nothing, the other night I fell asleep while reading a Reddit thread on my iPhone. Later, I saw that the random flopping of my fingers had somehow hit the auto-text buttons enough to type something like:

      No
      The only problem
      Is that I'm not going home
      Tomorrow
      I'm glad you like it

      And post it! By the time I discovered it hours later, I had 8 upvotes and one reply saying "You're drunk."

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    3. Actual LOL here. That reads like lyrics from a Smiths outtake -- all I can imagine now is Morrissey's voice singing those words. (Early R.E.M. would work too.)

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  10. One funny thing not mentioned about the final fight. Unlike every other area in the game where you can close a door to avoid monsters on the other side of it, Dran in dragon form crashes through them.

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    1. Ha! I just tested that. I figured you meant that he just opens them, and I was going to point out that a lot of monsters do the same thing. But no, he actually comes crashing through.

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    2. Impressive. Please post an animated GIF of that with your final rating :)

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. just looing to survive

    What was IN those rations?

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  13. Those medusae sure know how to dress. Maybe returning from a dinner party with the mind flayers?

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    1. In a different game by a different man they'd have been dressed for a very different occasion.

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    2. So long as they can still turn a man to stone it's all good...

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  14. Mind Flayers are supposed to be frighteningly overpowered and leave you helpless... I have memories of a LOT of reloading in Baldur's Gate (2? don't remember...) in conjunction with them. Also, overpowered dragon is also suitably fine for me. I feel that there are so many games recently where you commented about how the end bosses were too easy and anti-climatic (or on the opposite, plain impossible without cheating), I feel that a very hard but doable, causing you to run for your life but not totally unfair, is actually a pretty nice balance, all things said.

    Anyway, waltz or no, what adventurer is supposed to stay in front of a dragon and "support" its attacks? Dragon attacks are by definition unbearable.

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    1. You know, playing Gothic 2 NOTR yesterday that clicked: EOB2 is actually that kind of game, like Shadow of the Colossus, like Dark Souls, where you just learn how to move, how the timing goes, and the "combos". But with squares.

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    2. Mind flayer as a playable race had an ECL (effective character level) 3.5 of 9 IIRC making a starting character a lvl 1 a lvl 10 character in terms of XP progress.

      Which gives a hint on how powerful a mind flayer actually is with it's array of psionic powers.

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    3. Oh, no, no. It's worse than that. A mind flayer had a level adjustment of +7. But for a monster with more than one hit die, the effective character level was equal to the level plus the level adjustment plus the hit dice. And mind flayers had eight hit dice. So a first-level mind flayer character would actually have an effective character level of sixteen.

      However, this should be accompanied by a few caveats. First of all, the effective character level business was always kind of iffy and wonky, and didn't necessarily really reflect how powerful a given monster really was. Secondly, ECL was a third-edition concept, and EOB2 was of course a second-edition games, and some monsters' power levels changed quite a bit between second and third edition. So saying that a first-level mind flayer had an ECL of 16 in third edition may sound impressive, but it really doesn't say a whole lot about how powerful second-edition mind flayers were.

      And actually, as dangerous as mind flayers are, in every edition they were significantly less dangerous and powerful than beholders, but it sounds like in EOB2 the mind flayers were much harder than the beholders. Which I guess brings up a third caveat: the difficulty level a monster is to beat in a pencil-and-paper doesn't necessarily match up to its difficulty in a video game adaptation, even if it's trying to be relatively faithful to the pencil-and-paper rules.

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  15. Baldur's Gate's Mind Flayers were a real pain in the ass. Also for some reason when i confronted them I totally forgot about "Chaotic commands". So before I remembered about them an overbuffed Minsc had to rage-slaughter solo half of the nest. It fits the character though.

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  16. Apparently Insal appears again later in the Dungeon but I can´t say that I ever found him myself, my Russian is a bit rusty (i.e. nonexistant) but he plays the english version of the game so there you go, it´s right near the beginning of the video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbFuuaJd9_Q

    Other than that good job finishing this awesome game ^_^

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    1. This video is from the Amiga version of the game, so there is no 100% guarantee this encounter being present in DOS version.

      And the player in this video speaks Polish, not Russian.

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    2. Whoops, My Bad @Language Sorry ^_^

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    3. Insal is there in the PC version. Whether or not he appears depends on how you treated him earlier.

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    4. The cluebook told me where Insal is supposed to be, but all I found there was an energy field that didn't respond to "Dispel." I feel like I treated him well!

      When he does appear, does he still have the stuff that he stole?

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    5. Guess you need Disintegrate (Which I also think is the spell the mages cast on Darkmoon to make it dissapear *ponders*) to get rid of the Wall. And alas no, he only has a coin for you that you apparently didn´t need to finish the game xD

      I do wonder how he managed to get infront of you ... heck how did that one dwarf get past the wall of 4 winds?

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    6. Maybe, but traditionally Disintegrate creates a thin green death ray. I'll look through my 2e books and see if I can find a spell that might fit.

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    7. I've read multiple guides that tell of the second encounter with Insal, but I have never managed to trigger it in 5+ playthroughs (one on Amiga, others on PC). I assume it's heavily glitched or outright missing in the versions I've played.

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    8. I remember reading somewhere that you were supposed to see him again and he would repent and give you your stolen stuff back just in time to help you for the final battles, but they made a coding mistake so it never happens.

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    9. As far as I remember, the encounter with Insal is not glitched: you just get only one of the possible encounters that award you the coin (which I don't remember what was for): either Insal or the giant wrapped in vines.

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    10. By D&D rules, Disintegrate does destroy a Wall of Force (which is immune to dispel magic). It would be pretty weird if this was the ONLY randomly picked encounter in the entire game.

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    11. Whether "disintegrate" or "dispel," I didn't see Insal or anything else in the field. On the other hand, I guess there are some other encounters that are invisible until you walk into their squares.

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    12. I just read the (Polish) description of that YouTube video with Insal. Apparently, there is a very simple bug with Insal - you're supposed to encounter him again if you took him into your party, but instead, you encounter him again if you did NOT take him into your party. If that is indeed the case (I can only go by what the video says), it sounds like a simple true/false mistake somewhere - quite remarkable, given the game is hardly so complex that something like this could slip by in testing.

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    13. I'm not surprised something like this wasn't noticed in testing. His two appearences are pretty far apart - pretty much at the start and at the end of the game. He's a side character, it's not immediately obvious that he should appear, and you can finish the game regardless.

      I don't have much insight into testing games, but I imagine it is quite hard, and in the early 90s it probably wasn't very organised. More than with any other kind of software, you're testing a moving target. And how does a tester know that Insal is supposed to be there? I doubt there were test case specifications back then, and if there were certainly they didn't go down to this level of detail.

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  17. I wonder if Dran Draggore's human form was inspired by Q's judge costume in Encounter at Farpoint, the Star Trek TNG pilot? I mean, tropeanddagger.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/qjudge.jpg

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    1. Wow, good catch. That does seem incredibly likely.

      Delete
  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Its always good to see you, William, but if Steam wants their games advertised on my blog, they can pay me.

      Post your comment to one of my Drakkhen entries, and I'll let it go.

      Delete
    2. That's fine- wasn't trying to advertise anything- was just trying to let you know the game was actually for sale in the Real World anymore. This is your blog- delete my comments whenever you have to, I imagine. You got my intent, so the fact that my little blip of knowledge has been deleted from everyone elses eyes is- fine I guess. Yeah, I've been misunderstood. How special. I comment every few hears- now it'll be even longer when I remember the last comment I left was deleted.

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  19. Congratulations on your win!

    If it makes you feel any better, towards the end of the game I basically rested, saved and walked up to one enemy, either died immediately to their various attacks or successfully saved against them and beat them. Then rest, save, repeat. So it's not like the waltzless method is any less silly.

    I still love this game a lot and it's been a great ride to vicariously play through it through your entries. You're a very good writer. Onwards!

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  20. My final battle was total waltz but I just did left step-turn right-left step-turn right-left step-turn right. I don't know if this needs to be done somewhere in particular for it to work, but the result was me remembering the final battle as disappointingly easy.

    It is pretty annoying to have to do that -- sort of like an adventure game where all the puzzles are either trivially easy or ludicrously hard with nothing in between.

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    1. I guess that's how I feel. It's not so much that I can't beat the dragon in a straight fight; it's that the alternative ignores every other achievement the characters have made. A single unbuffed fighter with fists could eventually defeat the dragon given enough time and patience. Try that in a Gold Box game and see how far it gets you.

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  21. Theres a puzzle near the end that I feel was worthy of a mention: there’s some object you need tonpick up (a ring?) but it moves a square out of reach every time you walk towards it. The trick was to use a piece of sticky paper which you lay down to catch it.

    I mention it not because it was especially challenging, but because it was more akin to an adventure game puzzle than an RPG puzzle, and I always thought that was pretty cool. Possibly unique even?

    Anyway, congrats!

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    1. Weird. I found the sticky paper and wasn't sure what it was for. After you made your comment, I looked in the cluebook and saw the same information. The problem is, I'm 99% sure that I never did anything with the sticky paper and somehow got through this area anyway.

      It doesn't sound like something that I would have figured out easily because, as you point out, it's a different sort of puzzle. My own maps simply note treasure on the floor in the hallway. I wonder if there was some bugged method by which I picked up the items without solving the puzzle.

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    2. @Midas, try Anvil of Dawn. It's also a Dungeon Master clone, but with only one character. And it's choke full of adventure-style puzzles in addition to DM-style puzzles.

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    3. The area contains four crimson rings and you only need two of them, therefore the puzzle with the sticky paper isn't needed.

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  22. Regarding "Escape" for the Atari ST. Did you try e-mailing Tomas Pettersson? At the bottom of every Mobygame entry you can see who submitted the game. Tomas included an e-mail address in his profile that you could try if you want to get an image of the game.

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    1. There is a game called Megamaze from 1988 by the same author that can be found online (ST file at emuparadise.me). They look very similar, but it seems
      Megamaze is an earlier version missing the (few) RPG elements.

      https://www.atariuptodate.de/en/4753/megamaze

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  23. Earlier I mentioned Invisibility being extremely useful against a specific enemy. For the record, that enemy is the Frost Giants. They normally hit every character in your party, but if you cast Invisibility on your backrow, they're safe from the multi-hit effect (as long as they don't attack or cast spells), leaving your more durable front row to hack at the giants.

    As for the Flayer room in the end, it's definitely by far the hardest room in the game. Your reward for making your way through it is a neat but useless cutscene.

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    1. Ah, that's interesting. I guess that would have been helpful.

      Delete
  24. I believe I have solved the mystery of Insal behind the wall of force. When you first meet him in the dungeon, if you do NOT free him, the Darkmoon priests will (eventually) move him to the penultimate level behind the force field. If you DO free him, Insal escapes from the temple (with your gear) and is never seen again.

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    1. That does make logical sense, even though the hint guide has it the other way.

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