Friday, May 11, 2018

Silvern Castle: Won! (with Summary and Rating)

Ha! Beat 468,038!
     
Silvern Castle
United States
Independently developed and published
Finished in 1988 but unreleased until 1999 for Apple II
Date Started: 4 April 2018
Date Ended: 6 May 2018 
Total Hours: 35
Difficulty: Moderate (3/5)
Final Rating: 39
Ranking at time of posting: 232/290 (80%)
     
I was just witnessing yet another unproductive dialogue on Reddit about Fallout: New Vegas vs. Fallout 4. It's an argument that I both understand and fail to understand. Yes, New Vegas has perhaps more dialogue options, quest choice, role-playing, and faction immersion, but 4 is far from having none of those things. (Even while disdaining the argument, I feel compelled to note that 4 has no level caps and lets you call in artillery salvos on enemy fortifications.) Frankly, both games have more content than a sane person should deliberately experience. It feels like someone arguing that the Pacific Ocean is better than the Atlantic Ocean because it has more water.

Then again, my perspective is a bit different. I'm nearly 300 games into this project, and I can still count on one hand the number that have offered any meaningful "choices." When you start with the wireframes of Wizardry and the bare icons of Ultima, the differences between the last two Fallout games are so trivial as to be nearly nonexistent. Haul these modern game boys back to 1988 and put them down in front of Silvern Castle and see if they even recognize it as the same genre. I'm sure they wouldn't. Half of them begin their arguments with, "Well, the first thing I look for in a role-playing game is that it lets you play a role," a statement that at once betrays both their lack of originality and their lack of awareness of the history of the very genre they claim to enjoy.

It's hard to imagine that they wouldn't run screaming from a game like Silvern Castle, which in some ways feels like a throwback even for its year. It took me almost as long to win it as it took me to win Wizardry, permadeath and all. It has only the barest story and no sense of purposeful design in its overly-large dungeon. And yet in many ways, it never stopped delivering.

I came to regard the character class system as mildly brilliant. At any time, you can change classes or restart in your current class, returning your experience points to 0 but not resetting your hit points. By the time you're strong enough to explore Level 9 or 10 of the dungeon, a single expedition can get you from character level 1 to 9. Thus, there's a huge temptation to constantly restart levels to build skills in new classes and increase hit points. However, one of the most important determinators of success in combat is initiative, which after you max your agility only increases with levels. You also don't get certain abilities or spells until very high levels.
            
"Lightning Bolt" is one of several all-enemy damage spells.
         
The equipment system is also pretty awesome. Practically every battle delivers an upgrade, a spell you need, or a useful magic item. With the right selection of items, every character is capable of mass-damage "spells." Part of what I love is how inventory subverts the game's usual rules. Priests can't use edged weapons--unless they find a rare "Holy Sword." Mages can't use most armor, but they have a special set of equipment--mage's caps, mage's cloaks, and mage's shields--unique only to them.

Perhaps most important, for one of less than five times in my gaming chronology, the economy never loses relevance. I reached the endgame still without earning enough gold to buy the most expensive items in the shop, let alone pay for enchantments. To avoid over-encumbrance, I had to create a dummy character called "Mule" who just sits in the guild all day and watches over the party's stash.
             
Late in the game, I'm still buying advanced spells.
         
It took forever to get my mages to Level 15 and then convert to wizards. That wasn't as groundbreaking as I expected. Wizards only have two spells that no other classes do: "Striking" and "Deathray." Of the two, I only found one scroll with the former and none with the latter. Converting my cleric to a druid brought a lot more functionality as it enabled her to learn the "Cureall" spell, which restores all hit points to a character.
          
Rapuna can finally become a wizard--as well as just about every other class in the game.
            
I messed around in the "proving grounds" long enough to get everyone's agility to 21, but I never got every ability to 21, which is necessary for conversion to "Mystic." This is only possible with attribute boosts that come with fountains and wishing wells, which occur at random locations as you enter the dungeon each time. I hardly ever found them.
           
Editing agility to 21.
         
Combat also remained well-balanced to the end. There were plenty of parties I could decimate with a first-round barrage of "Coma," "Lightning Bolt," and "Acid Fog," but enough enemies have immunities that you can't rely exclusively on the most powerful damage spells. Some are vulnerable to low-level spells when high-level ones don't work. Others--like the maze demons that dog you on Level 10--seem to be immune to just about everything, and hard to hit besides. There were many late-game combats in which I had to take extra care, round after round, healing, de-stoning, and waking characters while attempting to whittle down enemy hit points.

I don't mean to suggest that the game is great. The story remained threadbare until the end. Except for one level, the dungeons never got interesting. It lasts way too long despite the constant character development. Identifying, distributing, and disseminating equipment after combat became very tedious even when the equipment was useful. But on the balance, I had more fun than not.

Progressing through the game was largely a process of finding a series of keys. First, you need gold, silver, and "magic" keys to open even regular doors on the lower levels. Eventually, on Level 10, you find a "skeleton key" on the body of a priest. This is necessary to open any of several doors on the first 9 levels, all of which have the same thing behind them: a lithium power crystal.

Back on Level 1, some monks take the lithium power crystal and give you a talisman necessary to enter the evil wizard Drachma's inner sanctum. To find that, the monks add, you have to find a hidden underwater entrance. There are several suggestions that you'll eventually explore underwater, including the existence of an "Air" spell and several objects that replicate it.
          
The monk is making an Apple II.
         
Level 10 starts you off with an alarm and a battle with a very difficult party, including a group of "maze demons." These demons continue to dog you through the level, always heralded by an alarm. You can duck into rooms to avoid them sometimes.
           
Arriving on Level 10.
          
The southwest area of Level 10 closes itself off when you walk on a trap square--you have to find another way into the area. I had to look up a hint to figure out how to get to the underwater area. It turns out that you can only find it by casting "Teleport" and then teleporting to an invalid place, like Level 11. This dumps the party in the castle moat, where you have only one round to cast an "Air" spell before drowning.

The moat is swarming with creatures, and it was a great place to grind. They don't deliver as much experience as their Level 9/10 colleagues, but they deliver a lot more than their difficulty would suggest, and they don't leave any treasures, so there's no post-combat clean-up. I spent a lot of time here when I was trying to level-up party members after changing classes.
          
I don't think this graphic was copied from Wizardry.
        
The moat seems to be the only hand-constructed map in the game. Most of it is completely open, but to get through it, you have to navigate past invisible "mines" that show up on the automap. (They just return you to a central square; they don't blow you up.) The correct path leads to a doorway and a set of corridors in the southern part of the map.
     
Part of the "moat" map with the "mines."
        
To continue at one point, you have to enter a pass code found behind a secret door. Later, you have to answer a very easy riddle from a sphinx:
            
In addition to the obvious answer, the sphinx also accepts "this really weird goat I found."
         
Passageways lead up to the inaccessible area of Level 10, and in one of those rooms, you find Drachma and his minions. He attacks with a few demons and four dragons, and everyone has 10 times more hit points than their comparable colleagues on the regular levels. I had no chance of winning the first time I encountered him. I had to go through several class changes, a lot of grinding, and much higher hit point totals before I could win, and even then it was with a lot of save-scumming.

The dragons meant that someone has to cast "Breath Shield" every round. Healers are busy with "Cure All" and "Cure Stone," but with luck you can get some castings of "Stun," "Striking," or "Deathray" every couple of rounds. Magic items that anyone can use really help here.
             
A few "Breath Shield" rings and "Healing" rings scattered throughout the party means the druid doesn't have to handle everything.
          
Defeating Drachma produces this set of messages:
        
After a tough fight, the party is victorious over the evil wizard Drachma and his minions! Suddenly, a flash of light erupts from an object on the floor. The remains of Drachma and his cohorts have vanished! Upon a brilliant white dais is a crystal ball. The image of Drachma appears within the globe, caught in miniature suspended animation! Suddenly, you realize you are seeing a mirrored image of the Crystal Orb. Drachma and his evil guardians are trapped inside!
                   
Winning also produced the highest experience reward in the game.
            
You get the orb and bring it back to the surface. As you try to enter the town, you're asked if you will "give up" the orb. If you say no, you get into a fight with a group of high-level ranges, thieves, druids, and wizards.
            
This is a good grinding opportunity, too.
            
Winning this battle just kicks you back to the dungeon. You're asked if you will give up the orb the next time you try to enter town. So I guess there's no way to keep it. Giving it up produces another series of messages:
          
A hearty congratulations! You have accomplished something very few adventurers have lived to tell about: Reaching the well-guarded lab and defeating its occupant, the evil wizard Drachma. You are crowned the sovereign of Silvern Castle during an enormous celebration.

As the badge of your noble rank, the Crystal Orb is entrusted to your care, for as long as the sovereign carries the orb, Drachma's return is sealed!

However, your peaceful rule is broken soon after by dreadful news of an ancient enemy from another time that is intent on seeking revenge on the good people of Silvern Castle. Adventurers have reported seeing the image of this evil force trying to escape from an archaic pentagram on level 2, but fortunately that portal is sealed permanently. Reportedly, an activation device exists which will allow passage to the realm of this ancient enemy. The royal seers believe the key to locating this portal may be found in the old catacombs, which sank into an underwater chasm during an earthquake centuries ago. Only the rightful heir has the power to carry out this quest. Do not fail!
             
Oddly, the game somehow decided that my assassin, Obetyne, was the king. (I guess maybe he was carrying the orb.) Everyone else gets titled "baron" or "baroness."
          
"King" Obetyne with his crystal orb. I like to think he shakes it up every once in a while.
         
The further scenarios do not whisk you to a different dungeon. They actually make some use of existing maps. To start the second scenario, you have to enter the moat again and explore a previously-inaccessible area to the southeast. This gets you a code that allows to pass a door and so forth. I assume eventually I'll find something that will allow me to pass through the pentagram on Level 2. "Returning" from the other scenarios always takes you back to the same city hub. I'd try them but I've already spent too much time with the game. I'd love to hear from others' experiences, however.
          
Exploring a bit of the next scenario.
          
In a GIMLET, I give Silvern Castle:
            
  • 2 points for the game world. There's a basic story, but it's not much.
  • 6 points for character creation and development. Great system mechanically. The classes and races aren't used enough in-game for a much higher score, though.
  • 1 point for NPC Interaction. There are a couple of encounters. One point is generous.
  • 4 points for encounters and foes. The enemies have a nice variety of strengths and weaknesses, but they're not very original. A few non-combat encounters and light puzzles aren't worth much, but I gave an extra point for the randomized "lair" encounters.
              
A dragon lair can be found on Level 9, but it changes locations and I only found it once.
          
  • 5 points for magic and combat. It's an excellent Wizardry variant in which spells are well-balanced and copious items give even more tactical options. Even though I didn't use it very often, I particularly love how you can throw broken items for an almost-sure hit.
  • 6 points for equipment. Awesome variety of stuff, and you have the ability to add your own enchantments.
  • 6 points for economy. It's one of the few games where the economy remains relevant to the end. It only lacks a certain complexity that I like to see for higher scores.
  • 2 points for a main quest with no side quests and no branches.
            
After the evil wizard Drachma fell, a new villain named Euro rose to take his place.
         
  • 3 points for graphics, sound, and interface--all for the easy keyboard interface, of course. The automap is particularly well done. Keep in mind that I played it with the AppleWin CPU speed cranked, however. On era-accurate speeds, I think this category might score in the negatives.
  • 4 points for gameplay. It's a bit too linear and a bit too long, but it offers a nice moderate challenge and some limited replayability with the different character classes.
           
That gives us a final score of 39, almost exactly what I gave to Wizardry. Wizardry was much more ground-breaking and influential, of course, but Silvern Castle is a rare clone that manages to equal the original in most areas and even exceed it in a few. It's not the highest score I've ever given to a shareware game, but it's close.
        
The "Silvern Hall of Fame" gives a few game credits.
         
Creator Jeff Fink continues to release periodic updates of the game (the last was in 2014), so future readers might want to keep an eye on his web site for the latest.

Winning this brings us closer to the end of 1998, with only three more games to go. Before we pick up Talisman, though, it's time to wrap up Quest for Glory III.

63 comments:

  1. This game really reminds me of Mordor: Depths of Dejenol, I wonder if the latter had influences from this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Couldn't be, this wasn't released to the public until 1999 and Mordor was released in 1995. Granted, they both likely had very similar inspirations.

      Delete
  2. Out of curiosity, how heavily did you weight the class change system in the Character Development rating? Going by your entries, that seems like this game's best feature by far. I can't think of any other game that uses a similar system until 2003, although I'm sure somebody else will come point one out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Challenge accepted! That “change your clas but keep your hit points and recover your old abilities once you level up to where you used to be” mechanic is very similar to AD&D’s dual-classing rules, which were implemented as early as Pool of Radiance - though there they only apply to humans (non-humans get to multiclass), there are strict ability score prerequisites, and you can only do it once. Still an important ability, and one that many of the powergaming strategies center on. Baldur’s Gate 2 was the last game to use the rule - Imoen was a thief in BG1 but dualed to mage in BG2 - but then dual-classing got dropped in D&D 3rd edition as they revamped the multiclassing rules.

      Delete
    2. Not exactly. That could only be done to multi-class, and could be done only once. This can (based on the entries) be done as many times as you want, and you always end up with only one class at a time.

      Delete
    3. Didn't Wizardry allow class changes? One reason many people liked Wizardry 8 was that it toned down the over-powered class changing of previous games.

      Delete
    4. Pedantry Ahoy! Dual classing was not possible in Pool of Radiance, but was introduced in Curse of the Azure Bonds.

      Delete
    5. As far as I can judge the class change system looks very similar to Wizardry 6 & 7. The idea is roughly the same - in Wizardry you drop your experience to 0, and use the quick level ups from the early levels to gain extra hit points, more skill and spell points, and more spell picks. I don't think Wizardry allows you to change to the same class, though.

      The cost in Wizardry is having your attributes dropped to race/class minimum on every class change, so you need to carefully plan ahead which race/class combinations you use and which classes you want to switch to. Also, attribute increases are random and there's no way to trade points between attributes, so some luck (or save scumming) is involved.

      Delete
    6. I was about to mention Wiz 7. (Only played through Wiz 6 once.) Bapr lbh trg vagb vg, vg vf gur rnfvrfg jnl gb trg bofpraryl cbjreshy, rira gubhtu gurer ner rapbhagref jurer lbhe pheerag yriry pbhagf n ybg.

      Delete
    7. Both the class change system and the ability to buy and sell stats was worth a couple of points. The clear value of the prestige classes was also something in the game's favor.

      I must have liked the same thing about W6 because I gave it the same score.

      Delete
  3. Fine work. It's been exactly a month since you started bouncing between the current trio of QfG III, Legend and Silvern Castle; must be a relief to be back to only two concurrent games again. 39's a respectable score for any title shareware or no - definitely silvern medal territory.

    I took up Might and Magic: World of Xeen at the start of this month, inspired by your M&M III run. It's as far back as I've ever dared to go with that series, having more experience with VI onwards, but those Isles of Terra blogs really helped prepare me for how much teleporting and trap avoiding was required. No spoilers here, of course, but as one of those "spoiled by modern CRPGs" types that you spoke of in the lede I've found that I'm enjoying it more than I anticipated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As a guy who got into RPGs in the early 00s with stuff like Diablo, Baldur's Gate 2, Arcanum, Morrowind etc, I can say that M&M World of Xeen is one of the most accessible RPGs of the early 90s. Even for someone who has only gotten into the genre later it's easy to pick up, with a very intuitive interface and fun gameplay focused on exploration.

      I played a lot of late 80s and early 90s RPGs after I got into the genre, and World of Xeen has to be THE most easily accessible game of them all, from a modern perspective. The interface is just amazing for its time.

      Delete
  4. "You find Drachma and his minions."

    So he was banished from Brittania and ended up here?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think he was sent away from where he used to reign by the treacherous, but well backed, Euro. His supporters still covertly wish for his return I am told.

      Delete
  5. PetrusOctavianusMay 11, 2018 at 11:08 PM

    "Ha! Beat 468,038!"

    OK.
    http://i.imgur.com/slb4BJ8.png

    Congratulation of finishing this game and the year 1988 (not 1998).
    I had much of the same reaction to the game as you did, but subjectively I think Wiz 1 is a much better game even though the Gimlet makes them equals.

    I thought the game was overall too easy, so I was a bit sad to read that you found the need to grind.
    And as for class changing I swear didn't have you in mind when I some years ago wrote "If I had abused the character class changing system I would have had them [prestige classes] much earlier, but who in their right mind would do that in a game as easy as this one?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't understand how you achieved a score that high WITHOUT grinding. Just mapping the dungeons only took 50% of my game time. If I'd been capable of taking on the final boss at that point, my score would have been half my actual total.

      Although...I don't really know what goes into the final score. Maybe it's higher if you win SOONER?

      Delete
  6. And by his minions do you mean lepta?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think this is the first time I've seen a CRPG on this blog having post-game content after the main questline is finished. In a 1988 shareware title, no less. Quite impressive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I mean, it's more like the additional "scenarios" of the original Wizardry, only this time they're all in the same application.

      We've had other games that allowed you to continue to play after the main questline, but none that had real content in those additional hours.

      Delete
    2. There was Dave's Challenge in Pools of Darkness and maybe another one of the Gold Boxes

      Delete
  8. That picture of a crab thing was stolen from Wizardry. Knight of Diamonds, I believe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here are all the beasts images in the game: https://ibb.co/n4vD4H

      I'm pretty sure they're all from various incarnations of Wizardry.

      Delete
  9. Endgame content? That's pretty wild. I hope someone can let us know what it's like.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Good to see you back Chet, and Silvern Castle appears to be a great wireframe rpg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is a great rpg! But I have no the patience to constantly cranking up and down the speed of the emulator :)

      Delete
  11. "RPG" is such a muddy term these days. As far as I can tell, the only consistent meaning of "RPG elements" in a game is you get to watch numbers go up, which indeed is in line with the wargaming roots of the genre.

    I don't really care to get into the best Fallout game (it is clearly Fallout 2 as long as we are only taking my nostalgic feelings and nothing else into account), but the most egregious example of this kind of numbers-go-up philosophy I think I ever played was Dungeon Siege, which is pretty inarguably an RPG. It was developed by Microsoft before they had really done that kind of thing before and it showed. Literally nothing more than animations on top of a numbers-go-up simulator. Essentially no story or characters at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't Dungeon Siege the game that almost plays without human intervention? Either that one or the sequel, I think.

      Delete
    2. Both. DS2 is slightly more interactive, but not by much.

      Delete
    3. I would like to point out that Dungeon Siege was developed by Gas Powered Games and only published by Microsoft. I'm sure Microsoft influenced the direction DS took, but given that Chris Taylor's previous game was Total Annihilation (at Cavedog/Humongous) the style kind of makes sense.

      Also the GPG Chris Taylor is not the same Chris Taylor that worked on Fallouts.

      Delete
    4. I really liked Dungeon Siege back in the day, but I was young and new to the genre and impressed by the graphics, so watching my main girl and her group of dudes walk through the land and beat up monsters was kinda fun.

      Delete
    5. I wouldn't sell Dungeon Siege short, if you look at it as a 3rd person dungeon crawler, a hybrid of Baldur's Gate and Dungeon Master, the lack of anything to do but fight makes more sense.

      And I didn't find it very easy at all, myself. Maybe I was doing something wrong.

      Delete
  12. There appears to be a lively community about the game. Very cool. I'm about to actually try the game based on these posts and the fact that the guy still works on it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. F:NV and F4 both have a ton of content, and are both great games in my view, but they scratch somewhat different itches. I feel New Vegas is 'intellectually' immersive. The stories, the characters, the settings, the factions and the dialogue are what make the world feel alive. F4 is different. Although the aforementioned stuff isn't necessarily bad, it's the mechanical things that put you in the world. The settlements, the crafting, the sneaking, the gunplay - and getting to and from places via vertibird.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The settlement mechanic in Fallout 4 scratches some itches I didn't know I had. I could play the game for dozens of hours without touching the main questline. I'd pay triple A money for a game that was just managing the Minutemen and dealing with building and improving the wasteland. Patrols, outposts, settlers that equip themselves, the whole nine yards.

      Which is not to say that I found anything wrong with New Vegas, but it is limited to a conventional sandbox RPG in ways that Fallout 4 exceeds with its construction elements.

      Delete
  14. Lol, once again I'm puzzled by the specifics applied when coming up with a GIMLET.

    "For one of less than five times in my gaming chronology, the economy never loses it's relevance".
    Yeah, slightly above average score.

    "The character class system is mildly brilliant!"
    Yeah, slightly above average score.

    "There's an awesome amount of [equipment]".
    Yeah, slightly above average score.

    I wonder how you'd talk to your employer if you were to negotiate a bonus based on some criteria, up to a maximum of $100k, and after the projects conclusion he'd be like "The way you designed the database layer is mildly brilliant!". You get 60k for that. :D

    Other than that, nice entries about a game I'll definately never play myself. Thanks as always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It might make more sense if you see it this way: out of almost 300 games, covering almost all RPGs released until 1992, there are only 11 with a better equipment score. Apart from Nethack, which most modern games would fail to beat in the equipment category, it's only 1 point off from the highest equipment score ever given.

      I'm sure the other categories look similar.

      Delete
    2. Considering how few RPGs have an economy that remains relevant until the end, it's nice to see a game that seems to get the balance right between not having a penny to buy one ration of spoiled food and having enough money to buy 6 ships and forgetting where you left them. However, that doesn't mean the economy itself is great. It simply means it didn't fail like in most other games. I also think the Addict explains why character development doesn't score higher. As for equipment, I agree with rezaf pzc that the score seems low when compared with the praise in the text. Still, we're talking about one point, so it's not exactly a game-changer.

      Great posts as usual, laughed at the comment about the king shaking the orb.

      Delete
    3. For the record, I don't really care about the scores, especially when it comes to this game of which I had never even heard before the addict started playing it.

      Still, I can't help but wonder how a game economy would have to look like in order to warrant a score of 10 (or at least somewhere close). What is the ideal there?
      Something like Diablo 3, where there are always more tiers or stuff? Just curious.

      It's similar with the other categories...

      Delete
    4. Two of the three you comment on have explicit statements of why they didn't get a higher score.

      On the economy: "It only lacks a certain complexity that I like to see for higher scores."

      On the class system: "The classes and races aren't used enough in-game for a much higher score, though."

      Delete
    5. Some ideas for a "better" economy: the ability to hire helpers (as in Might and Magic), bribe opponents, buy a house, transport, ...

      Or buy yourself some time: in Fallout 1, you need to complete part of the main quest in a certain amount of time. Failing that, you lose the game. You can however talk to a certain faction and buy something from them to give you more time (yes, that's pretty vague, but I really don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't played Fallout yet - ROT13 for specific info: lbh pna cnl gur jngre zrepunagf gb fraq n jngre pnenina gb lbhe inhyg, vs lbh pna'g ercnve gur oebxra jngre puvc va lbhe inhyg va gvzr; qbvat fb zrnaf gur zhgnagf svaq lbhe inhyg fbbare, fb lbh rssrpgviryl ohl gvzr gb pbzcyrgr gur rneyl tnzr, ng gur rkcrafr bs gvzr sbe gur yngr tnzr).

      I do wonder if Chet has already played a game (a more recent RPG) that would score a 10 in any category. I don't think we have seen such a score yet.

      Delete
    6. Any of the last three Elder Scrolls titles would score a 10 in "game world." Baldur's Gate II is my idea of a perfect 10 in "quests" and perhaps "gameplay." A lot of Bioware titles would be contenders in "NPCs." Fallout 4 would get pretty close in "equipment."

      But no, I don't think I've seen a perfect-10 "economy." Always having something to buy is a major component, of course, but I also like to see a variety of ways to gain and lose money, plus maybe some real-world complexity like shopkeepers not always having infinite wealth or coin having less intrinsic value the more you flood the market or something.

      Rezaf, as Kish points out, I do make some explicit statements as to why the scores aren't higher. This is a shareware RPG from 30 years ago. Clearly, we have to understand all my praise in that context. I'm not going to append "Of course, the game can't compete in this category with more thoroughly-developed commercial titles of recent years" to every positive statement I make.

      Delete
    7. Some of the confusion as to GIMLET categories will be cleared up once I get my "page" finished for the scale, with more detailed descriptions of each category.

      Delete
    8. PetrusOctavianusMay 16, 2018 at 3:58 AM

      One weakness of the Gimlet system is that there's no category for level design. For blobbers level design is IMO the most important aspect of the game. So the result is that Silvern Castle gets the same score as the superior Wizardry 1.

      Delete
    9. What you're calling "level design" is reflected to some degree in the "game world" and "Encounters" categories. I spent most of my second entry on this game talking about it, so it's not like I completely ignore it. But, yeah, it's only one element of a particular genre. I can't make a whole category for it.

      Delete
    10. I would expect level design to factor into the Gameplay category as well.

      Delete
  15. Nobody does old-school like the addict!!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. "high-level ranges,"

    I hate oven-users.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG... I'm pretty sure that I just sprained my diaphragm laughing so hard! That... was... awesome!!!

      Delete
  17. what the... That's a picture of Blackthorn from the NES intro of Ultima V...

    https://youtu.be/TVfluA2H-TU?t=146 <- you can check it out here

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha. So artwork wasn't this guy's strong suit, clearly. If these stolen graphics were in the original version, it's probably a good thing Softdisk never published it.

      Delete
  18. To be fair, stolen art wasn't unusual at the time in real games either; on the other hand, a publisher could help fund new art.

    But yeah, that might be why it got turned down. Why pick up the game you need to change if there's some other crappy game you can publish with no additional cost?

    ReplyDelete
  19. The version Softdisk purchased did not have any monster graphics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeff, thanks for stopping by, but of all the things I said about the game over four entries, both positive and negative, I'm sorry that's what you felt you had to focus on. You have some great elements and I hope you feel we gave it a fair shake.

      Delete
    2. No apology necessary. The review was more than fair. Regarding Softdisk, in 1989 they told me they had second thoughts and decided to use the ideas and data structures from Silvern Castle for an in-house project instead. I'd like to think this was some small inspiration for later titles like Dark Designs and gaming history.

      Delete
    3. I saw this reply pop up in the thread and I thought it was a fascinating piece of information that put a questionable aspect of the game into perspective. I didn't realize it was from the programmer because I guess I don't pay good enough attention!

      Out of all the games the Addict has reviewed that I have never played, this is the first one that I'm really itching to dig up and try. I know I definitely would have played the crap out of it when I was younger and had more free time.

      Great work on a lot of design elements, Jeff! It sounds like the way it was programmed limited the way the dungeons were created. But with all the thought put into other aspects of what could have been just another bland Wizardry clone, it seems to me the programming limits were what really kept you from creating a really great map with interesting dungeon specials.

      Delete
    4. Addict, were you using the Applewin emulator? If so, what key did you use for OA (open apple)? Or did you just forgo its use?

      Delete
    5. Thanks!

      I can't remember if you mentioned it but I like that the priest can identify already identified items to get a bit of information about the item.

      Delete
  20. Huh... so... if you don't give up the Orb, they'd kick your arse back into the dungeon.

    But if you give up the Orb, they make you keep it anyway AND make you a king. WTF am I missing?

    ReplyDelete
  21. The mage "Drachma"! It reminded me of Return to Heracles. Loved the joke about the "euro". I need to create a mage called "Dollars" or "Francs" or "Solidi" or something. There are plenty of good, real medieval names to use, without resorting to such silliness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be fair, it would be easy for someone to start with "Drac" thinking of dragons and then settle on "Drachma" as something that sounded a little familiar. This is pre-Internet, so there was no quick way to do a search and realize you were naming your villain after currency.

      Delete
    2. I suppose. I mentioned Return of Heracles because it was my introduction to the term. Still, interesting game and it seems an improvement on the standard Wizardry mode. I prefer the isometric approach, if only to combat. Thanks for rescuing these games from oblivion.

      Delete

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

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

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

NOTE: I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.