Saturday, September 1, 2018

Game 303: Die Dunkle Dimension (1989)

          
Die Dunkle Dimension
"The Dark Dimension"
Germany
German Design Group (developer and publisher)
Released in 1989 for Commodore 64
Date Started: 29 August 2018

When I decided my master list would include foreign games, as long as they were in a language I could easily type into a translator, I expected that I'd be translating a two-paragraph backstory, a one-screen ending, and a bunch of repetitive stuff like "you miss the skeleton!" in between. I wasn't counting on games that were so text-heavy, like Antares, Die Drachen von Laas, or Nippon. Now here comes another one, Die Dunkle Dimension ("The Dark Dimension"), in which I accomplished over four hours what would have taken me 35 minutes in an English title.

Dunkle is a German Ultima IV clone, and unlike the author of most clones, the developer here did a good job retaining most of what makes Ultima IV so special, including the keyword-based dialogue system, the sense of exploring a large world, and the tactical combat screen. It lacks the virtue system, of course, and you control only one party member throughout the game. Still, it's a better clone than most.

The setup even sounds like Ultima IV in its beginning: You, a person in the "real world," decide to take a walk on a warm summer day. You soon stumble upon a crystalline shard in the grass. Picking it up, you quickly learn that it's some kind of portkey, and within a few minutes, you're warped through time and space to another dimension. You splash down into a lake and swim to shore, just avoiding the jaws of a giant serpent. At first, you think you're in the past looking at a dinosaur, but then the dinosaur breathes fire, and you realize you're in another world. (Although: are we sure that dinosaurs didn't breathe fire? That would be pretty rad.) You set out to find out where you are and how to get home.
          
Character creation sure has a lot of text to translate.
         
Character creation is a simple and unnecessarily wordy process of specifying a name and then identifying a primary attribute from among four choices: strength, skill, wisdom, and charisma (I chose strength). You get to specify a difficulty level (I chose "medium"), and whether you favor attacking or defense (attacking). The game then determines your final attribute scores.

Gameplay begins where the story left off: on the shores of a lake with a serpent lurking nearby. You have to get away from the shore before he closes and attacks.
      
Arriving in a new world.
        
The interface is much like an Ultima title. Movement is with the bracket-semicolon-apostrophe-slash cluster (on a PC keyboard anyway; their analogues on a C64 are a little different), and actions are performed with single letters, such as (A)ttack, (K)ommunicate, (I)nventory, and (R)eady armor. The specific list varies a little depending on whether you're outside, inside, or in combat. In any event, it's relatively easy to master.
           
The game came with a map. I believe the starting area is at the lake slightly southwest of center.
           
Near the starting point is a cottage, so naturally I entered it. It turned out to be the home of a druid named Cerfak. Conversation with NPCs proceeds exactly as in Ultima IV except that you only type the first four letters of your keyword. All NPCs respond to NAME (same in both languages), GESUndheit (health), and BERUf (occupation). The rest of their responses are from keywords that they feed you or that other NPCs tell you to ask them. Occasionally, they ask you something that requires a (J)a or (N)ein response.

Cerfak was extremely wordy, and he left me terrified that all NPCs would have as much to say. Fortunately, that isn't the case, because it took me almost an hour just to transcribe his conversation. It was important, because it includes a lot about the backstory and quest.

Name: I am Cerfak
Health: I am exhausted. Are you OK?
Yes: I'm happy for you
Job: I am a druid.
Druid: We druids are wise old magicians, but closer to nature than sorcerers. We see, we heal, and we help.
See: I see how evil conquers our world.
Heal: let me heal you (heals me)
Help: Ask what you want to know. I know a lot.
World: Evil has destroyed the balance of our world.
Balance: Are you from another world?
Yes: Once upon a time, our world was beautiful and bright. The people lived in peace and were happy. But the Evil One brought eternal darkness over us, and the creatures of darkness came out of their holes and overflowed the land. The sun will never rise again, because the crystal is broken.
Crystal: The Crystal of Light that kept the balance of our world. Carried by fire and air, it floats above the lava of the great volcano.  But the Evil One struck with all its cruel power, and the crystal shattered. A splinter broke off. The crystal turned black. With it went the sun [thus explaining the game's name]. The splinter broke out of the upper right corner of the crystal. Remember this point! The Evil One built an impregnable fortress in the form of a huge skull around the crystal. There he lurks and sends out doom. The splinter was cast into another dimension. When you touched it, a spell broke and the splinter and you were teleported here. Do you have the splinter?
No: (At least it's not listed in my inventory.) Go and find it; otherwise our world is lost forever. Go northeast. There you will come to the castle of the king. There, they will help you.
Splinter: The crystal and the splinter must be united!
Bye: My prayers go with you.
            
The druid has a lot to say.
         
The bit about the crystal, shard, lava, and mountain seem to be influenced by The Dark Eye tabletop RPG published by Schmidt Spiele in 1984 (on which the later CRPG Realms of Arkania was based). I don't know the game well enough to determine if the developer of Dunkle took any other inspiration.

The character starts with no weapons or armor, and there's no obvious place nearby to obtain any. It's not long before robbers, zombies, forest demons, and goblins come wandering out of the nearby woods and start attacking. Fortunately, the character is capable of beating most of these combatants to death with his bare hands. He takes a large hit point loss doing so, but the druid heals for free.
         
Attacking a forest demon in forested terrain. A zombie approaches.
         
Combat is again much like Ultima IV. When it begins, the action transitions to a tactical map based on the terrain you were standing on. You can use environmental obstacles to block and funnel enemies. You and enemies exchange turns, and during your turn you can attack, cast a spell, or switch weapons (I naturally have no spells or weapons yet). When hit, enemies progress from barely scratched (kaum angekratzt) to lightly wounded (leicht verletzt), wounded (verwundet), seriously injured (schwer verletzt), fleeing (auf der flucht), and then death. If an enemy successfully flees (which happens to my weaponless character most of the time), you get his gold but no experience points. If you flee, you lose some experience points. Animals provide no experience, which echoes Ultima IV's system by which it was unvirtuous to kill them.

I made some money hanging around the druid's hut, but I noticed my food depleting (you start with 50 rations) and I figured I'd better stake out for a town or the king's castle, as recommended by Cerfak. It took me a few false starts in which I was killed by an accumulation of combats on the way. Fortunately, you can save anywhere outdoors and reload.
         
Arriving at the castle.
         
The king's castle was a small, one-level structure with about a dozen NPCs. Collectively, they had only about as much text as Cerfak by himself, but it still took a long time to translate. Of course, there was a Chuckles analogue (calling himself a "harlequin") waiting for me in the courtyard. This was his joke:

Q: Do you know the difference between a king and a hippopotamus?
A: The hippopotamus bathes more often!

I'm not sure how that's supposed to be any kind of an insult considering a hippopotamus basically lives in water. I mean, you could bathe twice a day and a hippo would probably still bathe more often than you.
          
Chuckles somehow has the power to annoy me across universes.
          
Anyway, among the NPCs the king and queen had the most dialogue. King Casiodorus said he'd heard of my exploits even though I haven't done much. After a quick pause, he encouraged me to come back when I had more experience--clearly, I go to him to level up. Between him and the distraught queen, they related that there's a terrible dragon (lindwurm) who lives in the mountains to the east. Twice a year, always at solstice, he gets hungry for human flesh. To avoid him razing the countryside, the nation made a deal with him to supply him with virgins twice a year, their names drawn by lottery from all the eligible young women in the kingdom. Unfortunately, Princess Sheila's name came up in the last drawing and she'll soon have to be sacrificed. The king implored me to find a way to defeat the dragon. Not only is this the plot of 1981's Dragonslayer (in which Peter MacNicol is weirdly miscast as the hero), but the king's name is taken from that film. The forthcoming rescue seems to be what's depicted on the title screen.
         
The king introduces himself.
         
Torquill, the king's sheriff, also told me to ask the king about a thieving band that lives in a lair called Mubrak. The king is eager to wipe them out. So I left the castle with two quests which may be side quests or somehow related to the main quest.
Other NPCs included Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who had nothing to say; Dakteon the bard, who told me that no one can pronounce the name of the Evil One without burning alive, but that I'd somehow need to do it; Antonius the priest, who admitted that he doesn't believe in God, but "you have to make a living somehow"; and Theodorus the geographer, who asked if I wanted maps of all the game's dungeons and towns and, when I said yes, told me to send money to the German Design Group and gave me the address.
       
A random maid asks if I'm there to save the world.
         
In a corner, a swordmaster named Ator (from the Italian series of Conan-inspired films) said he could train me when I was more experienced. When you level up, you must get the ability to raise your attributes.

Unfortunately, there was no place to buy weapons or armor in the castle, so I left unsure what to do next. I ultimately made my way back to the familiar territory of the druid's hut, and I'll have to explore outward from there.
        
The druid heals me for free as I slowly build my gold and experience around his hut.
        
Other notes:

  • Magic, which I haven't had any chance to investigate yet, is apparently divided into white magic (healing and protection spells) and black magic (damage spells), a division that we'll see later in the German Dragonflight (1990). Casting them requires reagents, just like Ultima IV.
  • Also making an appearance from Ultima IV are bridge trolls (they have a random chance of attacking when you cross bridges) and patches of swamp that poison the character. 
            
Bridge trolls are a little too tough for an unarmed character.
         
  • Enemies can move and attack on the diagonal but you can't. This makes it impossible to outrun enemies.
  • From the manual's descriptions, horses, ships, and aircraft are due to make appearances.
  • The king's castle has something you don't find in most RPGs: bathrooms.
        
There's even a toilet paper roll holder and a toilet brush.
      
The primary author of Die Dunkle Dimension seems to be one Hendrik Belitz, who went by the pseudonyms "Silent Shadow" and "The Dark One." Belitz had a web site dedicated to the game as recently as a few years ago, but he seems to have lost the domain. I was able to retrieve it from the Internet Archive and get the files that were offered on it, including the game manual and map. Scanning the site and the documentation, I found it more than a little irksome that the author didn't provide any credit to Ultima, from which he'd clearly taken so many of the game's concepts. I never criticize clones for being clones, but I sure do criticize them for not acknowledging that they're clones. We'll talk more about the author, company, and legacy of the game in the final entry.

I'm nowhere near having translated the entire manual yet; I'm just consulting bits and pieces as I need it. This one seems like it's going to be slow-going but perhaps enjoyable in its own way.


85 comments:

  1. Fun fact: Helmut Kohl was the chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998. I'm sure the game must have plenty of other German in-jokes.

    Also, I've been a fan of your blog for a while, but this is my first post. You've mostly covered games that were a little bit before my time, so reading your work has been quite educational. You're getting to my era, though; I played Might and Magic 3 extensively as a child, though I got it a few years after it came out.

    Also, like you, I'm a devotee of Morrowind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting, that he reveals only his first name "Helmut". You have to type "KOHL" by yourself. Then he tells you "Yes, that's my name". Chester just guessed :-)

      Delete
    2. I suppose it's a sad reflection on the education level of most Americans that when one says there's an NPC in the game named Helmut Kohl, someone feels they have to point out that Helmut Kohl was a real person.

      Delete
  2. I wonder how many games would be left on your list if all Ultima clones were removed...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Two more things that may be inspired by The Dark Eye (and can be seen on the screenshots in this post) are the existence of a Parry stat and the name "astral energy" for magic points / mana.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am glad that you are playing this game.Besides of Nippon this is the other RPG I played in my childhood. Lots of memories.

    1. The original game didn't come with a map. So I guess this is the map you receive when you ask the German Design Group for help.

    2. As far as I remember there is a dead end in the game. But it's pretty obvious, and you may not even find it. Slight spoiler: Unf gb qb jvgu Zhoenx.

    3. The main game logic was written in Basic. In the original game by pushing some keys (CTRL and RUN/Stop or something) you can stop the game and look at the source code by typing "LIST". "RUN" restarts the game. Or you can simply load the files on the disk and type "LIST" to see the source.

    4. In 2007 the primary author also published a (Java) mobile RPG game "Die dunkle Dimension", which was a much simpler game. I played it on my tiny Nokia mobile during that time.

    And now to the bad part of the game: grinding. The warp mode of your emulator might get very handy here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I took a look at the map. Please don't use the map! It contains a lot of spoilers.

      Delete
    2. Bitte Nutz die Karte

      Delete
    3. Hinfort mit Dir, Du böses Wesen, sei's gewesen.

      Delete
  5. I am familiar with the Dark Eye RPG, but I do not see any connection with the crystal and lava. Where is there supposed to be a connection there?

    I do remember watching my father play this game. Some minor points which should not count as spoilers:

    1) There is pseudo-morality system in which some enemies count as "non-evil". They still attack you, but if you kill them you LOSE experience instead of gaining it. So you have to hurt them enough to run away. I think one of the most annoying enemies with this property was the "Waldschrat".

    2) Dark and Light Magic is taught by the respective guilds.

    3) It is good that you are reading the manual. It contains a lot of important information.

    4) Monsters in the open world appear based on your level. I think this is also given in the manual. There are probably some exceptions, like the Sea Serpent at the start.

    My father ran into two show-stoppers back then, so I will add those as spoilers. I do not know if there is a workaround or they were fixed in a patch.

    The first one is more a bug and not a large spoiler:

    Nf lbh znl fhfcrpg lbh arrq gb svaq gur fcyvagre bs gur pelfgny. Vg'f va n qhatrba. Jung unccrarq onpx gura jnf gung vs lbh ragre gur yriry bs gur qhatrba vg vf ba, gurer vf ab rkvg. Gurer znl or fbzrguvat uvqqra jr qvq abg svaq, ohg V qvzyl erpnyy gur tnzr qri npxabjyrqtvat vg nf n oht naq fraqvat n cngpu. Abjnqnlf lbh pbhyq cebonoyl whfg urk-rqvg lbhe ybpngvba.

    The second one is bit more specific and spoilerish:

    Gurer vf n uvqqra pvgl bs bhgynjf/cvengrf. Vs lbh orgenl gurve ybpngvba gb gur xvat lbh trg n erjneq. Ohg lbh jvyy abg or nyybjrq onpx va gur pvgl naq lbh trg n cybg-pevgvpny vgrz gurer. Fb vs lbh unir abg fher lbh unir tbggra vg lrg, qb abg orgenl gurz gb gur xvat. Ntnva, sbe nyy V xabj gurer zvtug unir orra na nqqvgvbany frperg ragel vagb gur pvgl be fbzrguvat. Ohg jr qvq abg svaq vg onpx gura.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The second show-stopper is the one I mention in my other post.

      Delete
    2. The first bug mentioned by the OP happened to me as well. I replayed the game a few years back with the disk images from the authors site, and that bug was fixed.

      Also, as mentioned in the manual, don't kill animals, they give minus XP. I hated those vipers back in the day. Not only are they poisonous, they also cost you XP if you kill them.

      Concerning the map, yes it contains spoilers. On the other hand, the manual contains a long section describing the lay of the land. Much of the information on the map can also be gleaned from that section. Only its in German. So using the map might be considered a fair trade off.

      Delete
    3. The map show positions of important items, which you should not know yet. It is not about the lay of the land.

      Delete
    4. There are less spoilery maps on silent shadow's site. For example, this hand drawn map: https://web.archive.org/web/20050211174002fw_/http://www.die-dunkle-dimension.de:80/ddd-mapdf.zip

      It contains "only" the edifices in the dark dimension.

      Delete
  6. I hadn't heard of this game before, so I watched a video of it yesterday. Some interesting bits of info:

    Apparently the rules are based entirely on DSA (the newest edition at the time). Some location names were taken directly from DSA and changed in a later version (eg. Thorwal became Whortal).

    The difficulty level only determines how many random bonus points you get for your attributes.

    When you die, you can resurrect yourself by pulling out the disc at the right moment.

    One thing I noticed about German RPGs is that they all seem to be needlesly wordy. From what little I've seen, this one seems to be slightly better written than most, at least. It avoids awkward phrases an anachronistic expressions that you often find in older German RPGs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems inspired in some way, but the rules seem inspired in the same manner as Wizardry and Ultima were from D&D.

      Differences:

      * Stats are missing courage as an additional attribute and would start between 8-13 in PnP
      * The magic system is very different besides the name for the magic points
      * Your hit points are much too high at the start

      The largest similarity in the rules seems to be the attach/parry rating.

      Delete
    2. DSA is German and is the abbreviation of the tabletop game "Das Schwarze Auge".
      It is referenced as "The Dark Eye" in the blog post. See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_Eye

      Delete
    3. Also some of the bestiary (e.g. the waldschrath) is taken from DSA. But it is more inspired by DSA than really a implementation of its rules (at least in now way as the Gold Box games are implementing AD&D rules)

      Delete
    4. The waldschrat might just be based on the mythical creature from south German folklore. It makes an appearance in Darklands, too.

      Delete
    5. Thanks, Sebastian. I'm aware of The Dark Eye, I just wasn't aware of what Commentman was talking about.

      Delete
  7. Rule 1 for the aspiring adventurer:
    NEVER trust a dragon who is grinning broadly.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is probably the rpg I spend more time on than on any other. Not because it is exceptional good or long, but simply because I had nothing else. I had a copy of Ultima IV and a few other rpgs, but I hadn't learned any english at that time and my friends and i couldn't figure out what to do e.g. in Ultima IV by using a Langenscheid Wörterbuch. We were very thrilled by the gameworld and gameplay of Ultima IV even without understanding only 5%.

    I got the copy of DDD's manual - which is well done - two weeks before I got the disks and damn this were some mega exciting weeks. My Kopfkino was so intense that I still remember some of the battles I fought in my head or the time I spend exploring the Dunkle Dimension without having ever played the game. When I finally got the game it seemed like a perfect continuation of my dreams...

    Just a bit about myself: I'm following your game for 5 year but never commented much and if i tried blogger ate my posts. But in honor of this game i have to try a little bit harder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for introducing me to the wonderful German word "Kopfkino"! English has some terms for similar concepts ("the mind's eye", "daydreaming") but I don't think we have a succinct term for the phenomenon of Kopfkino.

      Delete
  9. Beating a zombie into pulp with your bare hands sounds extremely grisly.

    Maybe we are to imagine you armed yourself with a makeshift weapon - a branch, or even a rock (a rock still sounds pretty grisly).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Before I had found my first weapon, I had beat HORSE to death with my bare hands. That sounds a lot worse.

      Delete
  10. First things first. Addict, thank you for providing high quality entertainment. Your well written, informative and insightful posts are something I look forward to with fervor.

    I have been lurking here for quite some time and quietly enjoying reading your posts, but as with Sasa I cannot sit this one out. DDD was the formative computer game for me. It was my first cRPG ever. Coming from a rural province, there were simply no computer game stores to obtain games from accessible to me back then. So my best, and only, source for new games were Diskmags sold at the next town. Luckily for me, one such, I believe Golden Disk C64, contained DDD. I can vividly remember the drive home devouring the manual and seeing myself explore a world plunged into eternal darkness and ravaged by monsters and beasts beyond my wildest imagination. I spend countless days exploring the dark dimension, fighting its denizens (expect grinding), and solving its mysteries. This information was burned into my impressive little mind, so that I still remember where to obtain all magic items and reagants, where to obtain the spells, etc. even almost 20 years later.

    Looking back and tacking off my rose tinted glasses, it's faults become obvious; most apperent it's plagiarized plot, it's derivative nature, and also extending its length by grinding. DDD is certainly is not a game that will ever objectively be ranked in the higher echelons of RPGs. However, given the comments here and to the Nippon posts, and including my own opinion, I believe this game has produced a number of cRPG enthusiasts, and dare I say it cRPG addicts, in the German speaking community. And this is a worthwhile achievement!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad to see that there is still a fan community for this game. I fully agree with you that Chester would have much less German readers without this game.

      Delete
    2. Heh - your experience with DDD almost mirrors mine!

      At least I could convince the shopkeeper of our neighboring ADEG store to start stocking Golden Disk/Game On. :) And the next city had an electronics store that had a handful of C64 games (bought Curse of the Azure Bonds there!)

      The most influential thing about DDD is that for many, it was the first RPG they ever played *in German*.

      With Adventures, we had the great Lucasarts translations of Boris Schneider, but to my knowledge no notable english RPGs had a german translation - and for an 11 year old, that's a big hurdle. OTOH, english games were the best language teacher I had at the time. :)

      Delete
    3. I really appreciate comments like yours, Ere, since I can't recreate that experience myself. As an entry into the world of RPGs, this one isn't so bad.

      Delete
  11. Mayhap playing an Ultima clone will inspire you to finish Deathlord?

    ReplyDelete
  12. I felt for the poor sacrificial virgin on the title screen. Clearly if the dragon doesn't get her, the volcano will.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's face it, sacrificial virgin is a crappy job no matter how you look at it.

      Delete
    2. And the benefits package is terrible! The health insurance refuses to cover contraception, you don't accrue any vacation time until your probationary period is over, and don't even ask about parental leave...

      Delete
    3. On the plus side, it's a job you could easily get out of. Though I'm not sure why a dragon should care about the "virgin" part anyway.

      Delete
    4. "On the plus side, it's a job you could easily get out of." Is there a film with that plot? A virgin is going to be sacrificed, and the hero solves the problem by simply having sex with her? It seems familiar.

      Delete
    5. It is the big twist at the end of gur uneqobvyrq Ybirpensgvna syvpx Pnfg N Qrnqyl Fcryy.

      Delete
    6. Never saw that. I thought I was thinking of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film End of Days, but I just re-read the description and that doesn't seem to happen, even though it would have been the most logical way out of the crisis.

      Delete
  13. "If an enemy successfully flees (which happens to my weaponless character most of the time), you get his gold but no experience points."

    That's an interesting design choice... You'd think the enemy would be taking his gold with him, but you'd get the experience, since you did defeat him. Instead of the other way around.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is an interesting design choice and certainly a little bit illogical. However, I believe it ties in well how difficulty scales in this game. As outlined in the manual, which enemies appear is strictly tied to your level. You do get stat increases on a level up, but not all are automatic. I believe it helps to take it slow in the beginning and also scale your equipment on levelling, hence getting less XP and more gold is not a disadvantage.

      Delete
    2. I am not sure if the following example of the surprises that wait in the monster list is too spoilery, hence the rot13:

      VVEP ernpuvat yiy. 3 haybpxf na rfcrpvnyyl anfgl rarzl, gur Arffryonhz. Gurfr ohttref cnenylmr naq cbvfba jvgu n enatrq nggnpx. Abg avpr. Zl fgengrtl jnf gb unir ng yrnfg Trfpuvpxyvpuxrvg 9, fb gung V pna jvryq n fjbeq ba yriry 3 cnverq jvgu univat n uvtu nggnpx gb gnxr gurz qbja dhvpxyl. Tbbq nezbe urycf yvggyr ntnvafg gurfr gerrf, nf gurl qba'g qb n ybg bs qnzntr naq gur nezbe qbrf abg fgbc gur frpbaqnel rssrpgf.

      Delete
    3. I think you can run much faster after dumping all your gold. If all monsters do it, you can get experience from that at most once. And since your characters never learns (duh, no exp!), he always goes for the gold.

      Delete
    4. I wish I'd Rot-13'd your text sooner, Ere. Those bastards are the bane of my existence.

      Delete
  14. Considering how Richard Garriott reacted to Questron -- which was certainly deeply indebted to Ultima, but was fundamentally its own game -- his head would have exploded if he saw this. You could have convinced me that some of those screenshots were from a German localization of Ultima IV.

    It's great to hear how influential this game was among German RPG fans, though. I'm not really shedding any tears for Lord British here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was a great pioneer for crpgs in his day, but today he stubbornly ignores the fact that his heyday is long past.

      Delete
  15. Torquil is also the name of the leader of the band of thieves from the movie Krull. Ironically he is made the King's Lord High Marshal at the end of the movie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for catching that. The game seems to be a melange of themes from popular fantasy.

      I re-watched Krull recently because I remembered it fondly from childhood. Bad idea.

      Delete
  16. This was the first RPG that i really played and "got" back when this was published as a gold disk.
    Never beat it cause it took awhile but was really good, for its time.

    Ultima actually came afterwards for me.

    While being an ultima clone to the bone (even the tiles look similar), there are some nice additions.
    A few hints:

    - vs lbh fynl navznyf, lbh ybbfr gurve rkc inyhr lbhefrys
    - gurer ner mbzovrf yhexvat va gur fjnzcf whfg yvxr oevqtr gebyyf
    - orjner gur jbbqf, rneyl va gur tnzr. gurer vf n Jnyqfpueng (yriry 8 be fb) zbafgre jnvgvat sbe lbh.
    - fnir orsber gelvat bhg gur genvaref, gurl envfr bar fgng cre yriry VVEP naq bayl bar fgng cre genvaref

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. According to the other posts you are not alone :-) . It was one of the rare (and good) RPG games in the German language. For me the language barrier was the main reason I couldn't play Ultima and co.

      Delete
    2. :26 PM
      For me it was not living in Germany. All the computer game shops I knew through magazines, such as, C64'er would not ship to my home country. At least not with a payment method my parents would agree to.

      This made me buy all German Design Group games that came out on Golden Disk 64, just in the hope to get another DDD.

      The hope was vain of course and I had to wait years to get my hands on U4-U6 for a comparable experience. However, I do remember getting a choose your own adventure style RPG called Schwert & Magie through buying all GDG Golden Disk 64s. It was authored by The Dark One, one of the synonyms used by the DDD author. Although no DDD, I do remember Schwert & Magie very fondly.

      Delete
    3. I played Schwert & Magie as well. However can't remember much. In my memory it was more a text adventure than an RPG. No comparison to DDD. I'm still waiting for a successor to DDD.

      Delete
    4. I got two good games on gold disk:

      - DDD
      - Sterne wie Staub which might have been a nice game if I had found a second player, in single player it was no fun

      Delete
    5. @Sebastian
      You and me both! I am also hoping for Chet to unearth a game in DDD's vein, i. e., an Ultima IV/V clone I have not yet played and that actually sounds interesting.

      Schwert & Magie is an RPG. It has stats, I believe the same as DDD, stat based combat, the stats improve over the course of the adventures, and I do seem to remember an inventory system at least for weapons and armor. However, the interface is purely text based with multiple choices. I replayed all 8 modules a few years back in a binge session.

      @Clarco
      Sterne wie Staub, I think I remember this name from a GDG ad/catalog. Strategy game?

      Delete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  18. I think this game introduced many german kids to the crpg genre back then including myself. Though given my childish impatience I never got very far. The first cprgs I (later) played seriously were Bard's Tale and Ultima IV so I'm glad you give this one a try.

    Regarding the upcoming Cobra Mission: You might want to check it out briefly before because I remember rape content in this one...but I could remember wrong. Or you give us a Rance-like review with 1000+ comments incoming etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I remember things, there is no forced sex in the Cobra Mission on account of the main character. Just as in Xentar, everything is consensual, and a lot of it is optional.

      Delete
  19. If you're not tired of reviewing shareware Ultima clones, you could checkout the Excelsior RPG series (consisting of two games, I believe only the first one got some positive reviews). I've registered my Windows copies of both games some years ago.

    They have a long history (started as DOS games in the late '80s (I think), they were later ported to Windows). I believe the authors can send the DOS versions on special request.

    If you're already familiar with them, I'm sorry to have wasted your time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes, I searched in your game list with my browser's find function instead of Google Doc's. I now see they were both on your list. Sorry!

      Delete
    2. I remember playing this! is it still possible to register for these?

      Delete
    3. Interesting, thanks for pointing these out.

      Delete
    4. I loved Excelsior and at the time had not played anything like it. I think I started playing the Ultima series because it looked like Excelsior!

      Delete
    5. The last time I registered one of their games was only one year ago :) They should be available from excelsior-rpg.com

      There seems to be a series of let's play videos on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N-Cn90NLNc

      Delete
  20. The terrain reminds me a lot of Deathlord.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks for the fascinating comments from the guys across the pond in Germany and elsewhere! I would love to continue hearing about games from Europe that we wouldn't hear so much about this way. Unfortunately, the art of teaching other languages in our schools remains fairly pitiful and it is good to have you hear to join in the discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  22. After hearing the bit about a crystal turning black after getting destroyed I'm wondering if the game got some additional inspiration from the movie Der Dunkle Kristall, which has a similar thing as a plot point. The Dark Crystal came out in 1982, so it would be early enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point. I have to see that movie one of these days.

      Delete
    2. If I remember this movie correctly, watching this Jim Henson's piece is an idea as good as rewatching Krull :)

      Delete
  23. On your 1992 list, Antepenult has a 1989 date in-game. You can have a look on this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjbYMwGy-sA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Technically, it says "NOT (c) 1989" on the screen in the video, just as it says "no rights reserved" underneath it. In any event, having done some additional research based on your comment, it appears that the game may have started development in 1989 but originally appeared on a 1990 shareware disk. Master list updated accordingly.

      Delete
    2. Ugh. I hate people who start paragraphs with "Technically . . ."

      Delete
  24. I've been having decent luck with translating Chinese and French from Deus Ex: Human Revolution by taking pictures of my screen in Google Translate on my phone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heh, tried that myself. Unfortunately, the app just doesn't like the font in DDD. It mostly results in garbage...

      Delete
    2. That makes sense. I can barely figure out what the letters are half the time. K and X look almost the same, as do D and N.

      Delete
  25. Die dunkle Dimension was first released at Golden Disk C64, a two monthly magazine with disks, for 20 DM. Cover: http://www.kultboy.com/magazin/7099/

    Then it was released as boxed version for 70 DM. Pictures of the box: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/the-Dark-Dimension-by-GDG-Commodore-64-c64-Disk-OVP-Big-Boxed-German-/253327165703

    Reviews: http://www.kultboy.com/testbericht-uebersicht/48/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The short review in Amiga Joker is so bad. Obviously the reviewer didn't understand the game or even RPGs and played at most 2 hours of the game.

      Delete
  26. Of all the CRPGs out there this has a special place for me, because... it was my first. Followed by Bard's Tale... III, i think. And then Might and Magic 2 (which i still play occasionally - i think i could run it on android... hmm...)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Are you sure you chose strength at character creation ?
    Males get +1 str at creation and the primary attribute adds another +2 to the starting value of 5, so 7 is too low for this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know what happened. I'm pretty sure I chose strength, and the screenshot clearly shows that I'm a male, but you're right: when I recreate the process, I end up with at least 8.

      Delete
    2. Ah, wait. This is weird. If I start a new game, and indicate the sex, half the time I end up with a strength of 5 and half of the time I end up with a strength of 6. So either sometimes the game starts you with a base of 4, or sometimes it doesn't add the "male" point for some reason.

      Delete
    3. After entering the character name the game guesses the gender, sometimes guessing male and sometimes guessing female so confirming with "J" can yield a male (+1 str) or a female (+1 cha) character, maybe overlooking the one word change in the question caused your confusion.

      Delete
    4. Ah, yes. That is indeed the solution to the mystery. Thank you.

      Delete
  28. You know your king is a dick when it's perfectly fine for a peasant's virgin daughter to be sacrificed but instantly call for a hero once it came for his own daughter.

    ReplyDelete

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.