Friday, June 26, 2020

Game 371: Amberstar (1992)

I suspect the title font is in amber, but someone let me know for sure.
                
Amberstar
Germany
Thalion Software (developer and publisher)
Released 1992 for Amiga, Atari ST, and DOS
Date Started: 20 June 2020
   
Amberstar is the first game I can remember that starts better if you haven't read the manual. First of all, the manual is 168 pages--and it explains so little about what you experience in the game's opening hours that it might as well be written for a different game. Second, it sets up a less interesting quest than the game itself. The manual's story is all about the standard evil wizard trying to take over the world. The Amulet of Yendor that can stop him has been broken into 13 pieces, each one hidden somewhere across the land. Yawn. It made me realize that we have the terms Amulet of Yendor or MacGuffin for the Artifact That The Hero Must Find, but we need a separate term for when the MacGuffin is broken into multiple pieces.
 
Anyway, the actual game begins with no mention of any of this. Instead, the starting character is in a cemetery, mourning over (in my case) her parent's graves, recalling how they were recently murdered by a band of orcs attacking their carriage. Left with nothing to do, the character heads into the nearby city and starts looking for adventure.
            
The character is reminded of the backstory when she gets to her house.
            
If you read the manual, there's quite a bit of confusion at the beginning of the game when it comes to character creation. The manual tells you that you can have up to six characters, and it sets up a pretty standard Dungeons and Dragons-derived system for their creation. Races are human, elf, dwarf, gnome, halfling, half-elf, and "half-ork." Attributes are strength, intelligence, dexterity, speed, constitution, charisma, luck, magic resistance, and age. Races have the usual advantages with attributes (e.g., dwarves and half-orcs get the highest strength, halflings the highest dexterity, humans are average across the board); the highest value that anyone gets is 100.
    
Classes are warrior, "paladine," ranger, thief, monk, white wizard, grey wizard, and black wizard. The wizard classes are interesting. Like Thalion's previous Dragonflight (and, oddly, like Final Fantasy), magic is split into white (mostly healing) and black (mostly offensive) varieties. I figured "grey" wizards would be able to cast both, but it turns out they have their own set of spells, focused mostly on adventuring ("Light," "Magic Compass," "Identification") and buffing. Paladines get some white magic abilities, monks get some grey magic, and rangers get both white and grey. There are typical racial restrictions on classes. That is, humans get to be anything. Mages otherwise have to be elves, half-elves, or gnomes. Dwarves can only be warriors or monks, half-orks only warriors or thieves. That kind of thing.
          
This interesting screen precedes the more boring title screen.
            
There are ten derived skills: attack, parry, swim, listen, find traps, disarm traps, pick locks, search, read magic, and use magic. Thieves so far outclass anyone else for swim, listen, find traps, disarm traps, pick locks, and search that it seems foolish to travel without one, although both monks and rangers have some skill in those areas.
       
Anyway, most of this setup is ignored during actual character creation. You only get to make one character, and I guess it's a human since the attributes are all rolled on a scale of 60, but the race isn't specified anywhere on the character sheet. Neither is the class. She gets no initial magic statistic at all, nor any thief-specific or mage-specific skills. Your only choices are sex, name, and the ability to hit "reroll" as many times as you want for the initial attributes. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't create a six-character party, as I had a whole "color wheel" thing worked out, with characters named Violet, Indigo, Magenta, Vermillion, and Chartreuse. Then it turns out that the game only displays the first five letters, so I changed Violet to Viola.
         
Too bad no class favors both strength and intelligence.
         
The character starts in the city cemetery next to her parents' graves. She has clothes, shoes, a knife, and a small, random number of gold pieces. The cemetery is presented in top-down, iconographic form, but most of the rest of the city uses a first-person interface. Either way, movement is turn-based and tiled.
            
A little bit of backstory for the character.
          
The interface and I are going to struggle a bit before we come to some accord. I suspect the game really wants you to play with the mouse. To move, you can either click on the movement pad or on the map window itself, where the cursor changes to an arrow indicating direction of movement relative to the party's current position. If you right-click on the movement pad, other options appear: look, listen, talk, mount/dismount transport, cast spell, camp, automap, battle formation, and disk options. Clicking any of these might change the pad to show even more options. In any event, the numberpad on the keyboard always corresponds, positionally, to the buttons on the screen pad. So far, so good, but if you want to use the keyboard in conjunction with the mouse and you're right-handed, you have to awkwardly position your left hand on the numberpad while your right hand controls movement with the mouse. You don't want to control everything with the keyboard because constant switching between the action options and the movement options is annoying. I really need to invest in an external numberpad for times like this, but it would have been nice if the developers had mapped the action items to sensible keys, like L)ook and T)alk, or at least used the QWEASDZXC cluster as analogues for the action pad and left the numberpad for movement alone.
          
The options on the "action pad" change depending on what screen you're on.
          
Also annoying is that the "Look" and "Talk" commands bring up a cursor, which you then have to click on the object that you want to look at or talk to. Since you can only ever look at or talk to things immediately adjacent to the character, it would have been more intuitive to have the player specify a direction after using those options rather than clicking on something, particularly since it's easy to mis-click on the wrong thing. If you mis-click too close to the character, it opens the inventory screen, which is particularly annoying.
      
Viewing statues in Marillion's tomb.
      
The cemetery has some statues and gravestones that you can look at, plus a sub-area inside the Tomb of Sir Marillion. If you wander into the tomb, you find statues dedicated to Gala, the goddess of life, and Bala, the goddess of death. A memorial to Marillion says that "his life was dedicated to light and his soul will escape from the shadows." Marillion ties into the game's backstory, which has to do with the return, after a thousand years, of an ancient wizard named Tarbos. I'll summarize his full story--which takes up 79 pages of the manual--later on, but for now suffice to say that he was the mortal spawn of the King of Hell and he tried to conquer the world (called Lyramion) a millennium ago. A cabal of wizards gathered in the castle Godsbane and cast a spell that banished him to one of Lyramion's moons. Knowing that the only way for him to return is if someone cast a counterspell within Godsbane, the wizards magically sealed the castle with an artifact called the Amberstar, then divided the star into 13 pieces. A group of knights kept watch over the castle for the next thousand years. Recently, the castle was invaded by a dark wizard named Marmion, who killed the knights and their commander, Sir Marillion. Marmion used magic from the King of Hell to get into the castle without the Amberstar, so now someone needs to reunite the 13 pieces of the Amberstar to get back into the castle and stop him from performing the ritual to recall Tarbos. 
      
All of this is far in the future for our orphan, though, who leaves the top-down cemetery to find herself in a first-person city called Twinlake. A competent automap keeps track of where you've been but not the names of various locations and services, so I made my own. The map occupies 32 x 30 coordinates, but using worm tunnels and still leaving a lot of space unused.
My map of the opening city.
    
Twinlake has the usual slate of RPG services: a couple of shops, a healer, a food store, a stable, guilds for wizards and thieves, a sage to identify equipment, a tavern, and a store selling rafts. The PC's house is also here, and both it and the tavern switch to a top-down map for exploration. The textured corridors of the first-person section are pretty dull and featureless, so the game's approach seems to be to switch to an iconographic interface whenever it wants to do anything interesting. There are no combats in the city itself.
           
The automap works okay except that it shows nothing where the iconographic sections are.
             
There are a few NPCs wandering the corridors. Some of them offer only a quick scripted dialogue, but others allow you to ask about keywords, including an option to type in your own keyword if it's not on the list. While I like such keyword systems, this one seems to retain in the list every keyword that you've ever gotten from any NPC. This is a bit annoying because I feel like I have to click on each keyword just in case.
           
Speaking with the ghost of a dead knight, I still have options to ask about the COOK in the town's tavern.
          
A wizard warns me that magical items have limited charges. A ranger suggests I take unidentified items to sages and pay them to identify them. A guard warns me to avoid bubbles in swamps because they release deadly gases, and another guard warns me of orc activity north of Twinlake. A young girl named Sunny wants my help finding her lost cat, Felix, for which she promises to tell me a great secret.  The cat was lost near the cemetery. In a castle-looking configuration in the southeast of town, I run into Lord Karwain, apparently the ruler of the town, who is looking for someone to descend into the sewers, where something is stirring and soldiers have disappeared. 
           
The first major quest of the game.
         
My parents must have been pretty wealthy to have such a big house in the middle of the city. I entered using the key that came with the character; keys disappear when they fulfill their purpose, which would have been a nice addition to The Black Gate. There was one locked door in the house, but also a key to open it. Among the various rooms, I found a few hundred gold pieces, a set of chainmail, a short sword, a pair of boots, and a few other items. Right now, my undeclared character can't wear the armor or wield the sword. The family dog is still in the house, hanging around the kitchen, and I feel bad that I can't take him with me. Is he just going to starve to death?
        
My old bedroom.
        
It takes me a few minutes to get used to the game's inventory system. If you're going to make me use the mouse, then let me drag items from chests directly to my character portrait (like The Black Gate) rather than forcing me to click separate buttons for "take item out of the chest" or "put item in the chest" first. But there are things I like about it, particularly the ability to click with the eye icon on any object and get a full rundown of its statistics and what classes are able to wield it. A screen like this should be required by law in every CRPG. Not really, of course, because that would be a huge overreach of governmental powers, and impossible to enforce in an international industry, but you get what I mean. On the negative side, ammunition (arrows, sling stones) seem to show up as individual, unstackable objects, which I think might be a dealbreaker for using those weapons.
        
The short sword's stats show me exactly how much damage it can do and who can equip it.
       
The tavern was a large building also in iconographic form. Initiating conversation with NPCs is a bit different in this interface, but the result--including the selection of keywords--is the same. A beggar tells me that the ghost of Sir Marillion appears at his grave at midnight. A family friend invites me to make use of his father's old house, north of town, where many of his "inventions" still sit unused. A dwarf worries that all the orc and troll attacks lately heralds Tarbos's return. (The game is inconsistent in whether it's spelled "orc" or "ork," unless it intends two different creatures. I guess I'll use the standard spelling from now on.) One cook lost his ring down the drain (perhaps to be found in the sewers); the other wants me to retrieve a decent bottle of wine from the cellar, where something "large and slimy" has lately taken up residence.
               
Trying to talk to something in the tavern's kitchen. Maybe it was a cat.
           
Most important, I soon find my first companion: A shaggy-haired, mustachioed man incongruously named "Silk." Like me, he's an undeclared class. He's looking for the thieves' guild and wants to join. It just so happens I have already wandered through the illusory door to the thieves' guild accidentally, so I know where it is, but when I visit both it and the warriors' guild, the options to join are greyed out. I assume this is how you declare your class, and I further assume that we'll need some combination of experience or money before they'll let us in. I don't know where the other guilds are, so I wonder how long you have to play the game if you want the main character to be a "paladine" (the game is consistent about this, so I'll stop using quotes) or ranger or mage. 
          
We find the guild but not anything to do there.
        
The rumor about Marillion's ghost intrigues me, so I returned to the cemetery (also to search for Felix) and wait in Marillion's tomb until his ghost does, in fact, appear. Unfortunately, it just rants about the attack on Godsbane and doesn't have anything useful to offer. There's a locked door in the tomb, so I expect some later quest allows me to interact with him more productively and unlock this door. I don't see any sign of Felix.
        
Marmillion is clearly reliving his death.
             
At this point, I already have four explicit quests:
         
  • Find Felix for Sunny
  • Figure out what's going on in the sewers for Lord Karwain
  • Find the cook's ring in the sewers
  • Get the wine bottle from the tavern cellars
        
I decide to try the tavern cellars first. I struggle with the interface for a while before I figure out how to light a torch. I don't see why clicking on it isn't enough; you have to click the "use" button first. 
    
Dungeon exploration is pretty straightforward. You get atmospheric messages as you move along. If you want to search something more thoroughly, you stop and hit the "eye" icon. The automap works as long as you have a light source. Unfortunately, torches don't last long, and I only started with two, so after the first dies, I light the second and make a rush back to the stairs. Clearly, I'll have to go to the store for more.
         
The game shows in its iconographic sections, tells in its first-person sections.
                  
Miscellaneous notes:
     
  • There is only one save slot. Saving the game is bizarre when you have party members, because for some reason you also click on the "save" button to get rid of them. The game presents this to you with the question, "Would you like to let members of the group go?" and then presents two options: "Exit" and "OK." "OK" makes it sound like yes, you want to let members of the group go, but if you hit "Exit," you don't save. In fact, what "OK" does is get rid of members that you've selected while simultaneously saving, so to keep the party as-is, you just hit "OK" without selecting anyone. It's still ridiculously confusing like a lot of the interface.
            
How would you interpret this screen?
       
  • There's a day/night cycle, and NPCs in the iconographic parts of the game keep to a schedule, retiring to bed at night and moving about during the day. In the first-person side, NPCs are constantly present, but stores open and close based on the cycle. The character finds a magic painting in his house that changes based on whether it's day or night, allowing her to determine the rough time even in a dungeon, though I can't help but think a watch would have been more convenient.
     
Acquiring the useful-but-cumbersome painting.
        
  • There's a food system, but you don't have to eat to stave off hunger. Rather, you simply have to have food in your inventory if you want to regenerate hit points and spell points when you rest. Both only regenerate 10% even if you have food, so I assume there's going to be better mechanisms for this. There are pools in Sir Marillion's tomb that regenerate both, for instance.
  • If you decide you don't like your main character and change him or her during the game's opening stages, reloading your saved game will just replace the character but maintain your auto-map, dialogue keywords, and save position. I haven't tested how it affects gold or inventory, as I hadn't spent or acquired anything when I changed my character. I assume there's a point at which this is no longer possible.
  • I have a hard time spotting some doors in the iconographic sections. I have an equally hard time telling what some of the icons are supposed to be.
            
One of the tavern rooms. There's a door in the west wall.  There are tables with place settings on them, but what are the four objects lined up north-south on the right-hand side of the tables? And what is that thing in the far left-hand side of the screen?
         
  • The game apparently has no sound effects, just music. Town exploration is accompanied by a theme-and-variations composition. The theme is eight bars and goes through eight variations with different instrumentation and ornamentation. Each variation takes 10 seconds, and the A section is repeated, so you have 90 seconds of music before the piece cycles back to the beginning. I say all of this because the game gets praised for its music, and I wanted you to know I took time to listen and analyze before turning it off permanently.
          
It always feels incomplete when I don't have the opportunity to even taste combat for the first entry, but this was already getting pretty long.
      
I end where I started: This is a promising beginning to a game that would be more promising if I didn't already know it was going to devolve into a quest to collect 13 pieces of something to save the world. My idea of a perfect RPG is one in which my highborn ingénue, now forced to fend for herself in the real world, slowly develops the skills she needs to survive, assembles a team around her, and solves local problems until she's strong enough to take on the orc band that killed her parents. Take her from Level 1 to Level 8 during this process and leave plenty of room for continued growth in the sequel.
            
This is the type of quest I enjoy.
          
The only thing I can hope now is that the game doesn't make the collection of the 13 pieces completely uniform and bloodless. Like each one is at the bottom of a 10-level dungeon. That would suck. A couple ought to be at the bottom of 10-level dungeons. A couple ought to be acquired by solving some kind of puzzle. A couple ought to be for sale. Mix it up. Keep the player guessing. Let him hope that the next one might be easy. Ultima VI did it well with the map quest, for instance. At first, I had some hope that the entire trilogy would be about finding the 13 pieces, and Amberstar was just the beginning, but a premature trip to Wikipedia killed that theory.
    
At least the game understands the concept of "side quests." As I return to the rich world of Britannia, I'm reminded that ORIGIN never really got that concept right, not even in The Black Gate, which admittedly has more than the previous titles in the series.
     
Time so far: 3 hours

               

142 comments:

  1. Thalion was pretty much an Amiga developer (the sequel Ambermoon was only released for the Amiga), so it wouldn't surprise me that the Amiga version of the superior one.

    Unfortunately we're still some years away from you experiencing Albion, Ambermoon spiritual sucessor, which is incredible and criminally underrated.

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    1. Ohh, nice to see someone who knows Albion.

      I really loved that game.

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    2. Albion has been mentioned in the comments quite often. I cannot replay it now (the 3d parts are awful) but loved it to bits at the time.

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    3. Albion was great! I loved playing it and I'm still mad at that bug that prevented me from entering the last battle and properly finish the game

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  2. Since I discovered Amberstar on your master game list I longed for the day you'll start the game. I'm happy that day has finally come :-).

    Maps and hints in English language can be found on my website - just in the rare case, you got really stuck.

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    1. Thanks for your page, I've used it often in trying to find out more about how the game works internally ;)

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  3. For some reason I really love this game. Like Gerry, I've been waiting impatiently for you to reach it ;)
    I've slowly been reverse-engineering the game, to find out how things work. For example, NPCs on the first-person-map *do* move, the game internally has a way to store a new position in 5 minute steps. The guards of Twinlake near the exit use this to move around, for example ;)
    You'll find more to do with Spike (your dog) later.
    The UI is not very nice from a modern perspective, but for me this is one of the better games from that era.
    I've succeeded in rendering every 2d and 3d map from the game data, in case you need that, you might check out https://github.com/ecraven/amberstar.
    From what I can tell, there are close to no gameplay differences between the amiga and the dos version.

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    1. "From what I can tell, there are close to no gameplay differences between the amiga and the dos version." This sentence has probably never been uttered before.

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  4. I'm gonna have to disappoint you - many of what sounds like sidequests will turn out to be tied to the main quest in some way. On the plus side, they mostly have very interesting setups and dungeons.

    And yes, guilds for other classes are in other towns. Mages in particular are hard to get. So you'll be best served classing your main character into a warrior. Alternatively, the city of Crystal is a relatively short and safe journey to the North.

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    1. But the "side quests", even if they tie in with the main quest, are nicely done and diverse (imho) ;)

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    2. Come now! Don't spoil the game! Let him find things out on his own, eh?

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    3. Travelling the world map is mostly safe, you can risk visiting every city and even explore some of the sea. Classless starter characters are especially weak and can use every helping hand.

      There is also something more to discover in Twinlake.

      The main quest is what keeps everything together and you are supposed to collect all pieces, but you have options not only in the order of collecting them.

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    4. "Don't spoil the game, guys!"
      *next message spoils the game*

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  5. PetrusOctavianusJune 26, 2020 at 1:26 PM

    Too bad there was no combat yet. I have a hunch it will not be very good (I have probably read it somewhere), but one can always hope I'm wrong. But I have to say the game _looks_ rather dull, but of course you shouldn't judge by look.

    I'm currently playing Gothic myself, made by another German developer, and I can see some similarities, like the rather poor UI, and your comment "The game shows in its iconographic sections, tells in its first-person sections." reminded me of how in Gothic your character has no name, but shows your character's face since you are forced to play in third person. I thought it a bit weird combo.

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    1. In Gothic, your character does have a name - he just never gets the chance to tell it :p

      Whenever he's about to say "I'm..." he gets cut off.

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  6. Don't worry, Amberstar gets most aspects of gameplay right. There is a variety in quests and there is storytelling. The world is open to explore and you are not forced to keep a specific order.
    Also compared to Dragonflight it does not drag on too long.

    The interface worked for me very well on my Android smartphone. I mapped the icon buttons with Magic DosBox so I could use the icons with a single touch. I actually completed the game for the first time on my phone.

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  7. Fun fact: every copy of an item contains all the item data, there is no "item type", but each torch is described by the same ~40 bytes of data ;) Interesting choice, I've never seen this in the other games from that era that I have investigated.

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  8. A character that has no class can join a guild if you have enough money. Weird that it doesn't work in the thieves guild for Silk, >1000 gold should be enough. A warrior definately needs less.

    Careful, money weights a lot, and you can't put stuff back into containers (you can in Ambermoon, but I didn't notice until halfway through the game). Sometimes it's better to leave stuff for later.

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    1. You need to be level 1 to join a guild, both Viola and Silk are probably still level 0.

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    2. You have to remember the weight of gold especially when selling stuff. Awkward if you can't carry out your fortune - at least you can usually buy something.

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    3. There are shops where you can buy gems that are worth a lot more than their weight in gold. You should have a character with very high charisma before trading gold into gems though, unless you enjoy being the victim of daylight robbery.

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  9. The three colors of magic plus 'Paladine' suggest that the authors are fans of Dragonlance. The character Silk suggests they're fans of David Eddings as well.

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    1. Didn't Dragonlance have white / *red* / black? The german pen&paper system "Das schwarze Auge" (the black eye) has grey magic, maybe that was the inspiration.

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    2. The game also contains a very subtle reference to the band Marillion.

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    3. Ah, but does DSA have a Paladine? :)

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    4. I think the German version just spells it 'Paladin'.

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    5. @Radiant

      I guess technical the fighters of the Rondra church are paladins. But there are fighting orders of other churches too, like Praios which are more like mage killers

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    6. I came here to make the same comment about them being fans of late 80s pulp fantasy, based on their names, but Radiant beat me to it.

      (Or as Buck says, possibly just the translators.)

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    7. Tarbos is a pretty odd name, though. I feel bad for whichever of the developers is named Sobrat.

      Castle Godsbane? Have they no hubris in this world? Whoever would name a building that? Or is it a nod to Enab's dog? People will do anything for their pets.

      And since I'm apparently on a rant, life and death are Gala and Bala? I'm sure nobody would ever mix those two things up, and accidentally pray to the wrong one.

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    8. I think "Godsbane" came was named after the events of the backstory.

      "Tarbos" just sounds Greek to me.

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  10. To possibly answer your tavern graphics questions:

    On the far left there is a table with table settings, below it a chair facing upwards towards that table, and a couple of spaces to the right of the chair are two barrels.

    The four things on the right hand side look to be stew pots over an open flame, like a pot over a campfire.

    Can't say I'm a huge fan of the graphical choices they made here, but I'll be interested to see other areas as you progress!

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  11. For the "MacGuffin [that] is broken into multiple pieces" may I suggest "Rod of Seven Parts?"

    The rod has been a mainstay in traditional D&D ever since being introduced in basic D&D's 'Eldritch Wizardry' from 1976, it's been present in every edition since then, even having a whole boxed set dedicated to it during 2nd ed. When the first piece of the rod is found it has no powers other than to lead the bearer to the next piece, gaining in power as each subsequent piece is assembled.

    Dragon Magazine #224 printed a history of the Rod of Seven Parts in 1995, though the second half is mostly an ad for the box set. https://www.annarchive.com/files/Drmg224.pdf

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    1. PetrusOctavianusJune 26, 2020 at 2:53 PM

      Bard's Tale 2 had "Rod of Seven Parts".

      Sounds like the designers took inspiration from lots of sources, from Dragonlance to Marillion.

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    2. Yes, the "Rod of Seven Parts" is definitely the correct trope. I came down to the comments to post that, then saw that Wonko did it first.

      I used that trope in Tower of Indomitable Circumstance (D&D module in 1980 or thereabouts), and it has showed up in several of the tabletop D&D games we've run or played.

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    3. Yeah but this is in thirteen parts, not seven. Besides this blog will probably get sued by Hasbro/WOTC for appropriating their intellectual property. They're quite litigious, always suing even for things they don't own.

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    4. TVTropes, somewhat unimaginativel, calls it Dismantled McGuffin, although a related (and possibly more fitting Amberstar) trope has a funner name: Sealed Evil in a Six Pack.

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    5. Being TVTropes, it probably had a more interesting name before some humourless anal-retentive git had it changed to something blander, because the people who spend their time lording over wiki pages are just the worst.

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    6. See, I was looking for something on TV Tropes, but nothing ever came up when I entered games or films that I recall using the trope.

      Yeah, "Dismantled MacGuffin" is a little too on-the-nose, as I fear is "Rod of Seven Parts," even if that's the ur-example. As for TV Tropes, they swing and miss sometimes, but terms like "Heroic BSoD," "What the Hell, Hero?," "Noodle Incident," "Affably Evil," and "Put on a Bus" are all home runs.

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    7. Personally, I'd say better to be too obvious than to have something that not everyone's gonna get for something like that, but that's just me.

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    8. How about "Horcruxes" ? Or is that too specific to soul-split-in-parts, rather than MacGuffin-split-in-parts ?

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    9. Yeah, that's the issue. I don't mind the modern reference--everyone would get it--but it seems specific to souls.

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    10. I kind of think "Shards of Yendor" would work well. ;)

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  12. I propose the following neologism: The Aggregate of Yendor.

    Or call them Triforce pieces.

    I really need to invest in an external numberpad for times like this

    LOL I actually went an bought a USB one back in the day, when my laptop had one of those abbreviated keyboards. I used it for playing nethack. It worked well. Ever since I have made sure to get a full size keyboard when I get a new laptop. I think it's still in a drawer somewhere.

    you have 90 seconds of music before the piece cycles back to the beginning. I say all of this because the game gets praised for its music, and I wanted you to know I took time to listen and analyze before turning it off permanently.

    Bahaha, that sounds about right. S'what I do, listen until it gets repetitive, then turn it off for the rest of the game. I just don't get people who can listen to the same clips of music over and over. My wife is like that, she has been listening to the same song for two weeks now, it drives me batty.

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    1. I usually prefer the music to playing without it, unless I really hate the songs used by the game. Spiderweb games have no music and I always have to play some of my own in the background, otherwise it feels lifeless.

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    2. I was toying with something like the "Dissasembulet of Yendor." I feel like we're almost there.

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    3. Roll these around and see how they come off the tongue:

      The Assembulet of Yendor
      The Accumulate of Yendor
      The Accumulet of Yendor (alt. spelling)
      The Dismantulet of Yendor
      The Apartulet of Yendor
      The Dissapate of Yendor

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    4. How's about... Gimlet of Yendor?
      1) It directly refers to something composed from parts;
      2) It sounds rather similar to amulet;
      3) Self-explanatory.

      Delete
  13. I played this Game years ago and I think is one of the best rpg Games on Amiga.
    The Story is great and I remember fondly the Pharao's tomb...

    ReplyDelete
  14. You could try swapping your mouse to your left hand. I had to do that for a while due to RSI, and it really wasn't that tough to switch over.

    Those little things on the right look like fountains to me, although bubbling pots of food makes more sense.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yeah, at first it's awkward but a while you don't notice any more. Kind of like eating with chopsticks.

      Delete
    2. All I can say is, if there's some threshold after which I "won't notice any more," it's a hell of a lot more than 10 minutes. I don't think that's going to work.

      Delete
    3. Took me a few 8 hour work days I think; pain is a great motivator! A poor UI is probably not quite as motivating.

      Delete
    4. Yeah it does take a while to get used to it. It helps to have one of those mice that is symmetrical instead of a right hand-shaped one. It really helped with the wrist strain, though.

      Hey man, you're the CRPG Addict. You should be the master of this stuff. :P Look at him, he can switch mouse hands on the fly and not even notice. Wow, is he dual wielding two mice at once because this game is easier that way? What a master!

      Delete
  15. Have you tried a laptop with touchscreen mouse? If it works with DosBox, it might be more confortable than a physical mouse, but you will have to keep the screen closer to you (I use a wireless keyboard and keep my laptop almost one meter away).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Abacos. You don't know the nerve you've hit. I have a touch-screen enabled laptop, but disabling the touch screen was essentially the first thing I did. I hate touch screens so much, and gotten into so many stupid arguments with Irene about this issue, that never using a touch screen has become an iron-forged part of my identity. I know it's stupid, but I could no longer bring myself to use a touch screen than to eat soft-serve ice cream. I can't imagine it being anything but horribly awkward anyway.

      Delete
    2. Outside of things like "information kiosks" and "ticket machines", where your interactions are brief and highly directed, touchscreens on anything too large to hold in one hand while you work it with the other are an abomination against all that is good and holy in human-computer interface ergonomics.

      Delete
    3. Not to mention those public touch screens get coated in a thin film of disgusting bacterial soup from people's greasy fingers, kept warm and incubated by the glow of the machine. If you're going to touch one of those you might as well go jump in the ball pit at a McDonald's.

      Delete
    4. The only thing I dislike more than a touchscreen is the horrible touchpad that most laptops use for mice. I think I would do better trying to control the computer with knitting needles, and I somehow cut myself the one time I tried to learn to knit.

      Delete
    5. IBM eraser nub Trackpoint mouse 4 LYFE!

      Delete
    6. My wife loves those things; they're super hard to find these days.

      Delete
  16. Sir Marillion = Silmarillion? Maybe Tolkien fans?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or less subtle to the British rock band Marillion (which got it's name from the Silmarillion)

      Delete
  17. The english version on amiga has a bug where octopus enemies have 10x more health then they are supposed to causing them to be harder then any other enemy. Will be interested to see if that’s present in the DOS version.

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    Replies
    1. There are patches for Amberstar, not something you would expect from a 1992 game. But I don't know what they fix.
      With F10 you can check the version number (at least on the Amiga).

      The Amiga versions are:
      Amberstar German v1.93
      Amberstar German v1.73
      Amberstar German v1.33

      Amberstar English v1.96
      Amberstar English v1.91

      Don't know the DOS version numbers, but there is a patch for the german DOS version here:
      http://thalion.exotica.org.uk/games/amberstar/credits/credits.html

      Delete
    2. Just found out that the German DOS patch is an unofficial patch for the CD version. All German CD versions later than 1995 are likely based on the same bugged master and have two corrupt files, which lead to some graphic bugs. The files MAP_DATA.ALL and LABBLOCK.VGA are damaged.
      The above linked patch is fixing only the MAP_DATA file, here you can find also a patch for the LABBLOCK file:
      http://thethalionsource.w4f.eu/Artikel/Astarloesung.htm
      (WARNING: This page is full of spoilers, you can find the patches at the bottom of the page. To avoid seeing spoilers best use the PAGE END key.)

      Somewhere in that document are also some bugs of the English DOS version described:
      "Two of the main bugs of the English PC version worth mentioning are the 'Item Charge' bug and the 'Missile Bug', as I call them.

      - The Item Charge bug occurs when you use up all the charges in a magic item, and while the item will disappear from your inventory (make sure it's equipped before you use the last charge), all the attributes the item gave will stay with your character. ... *SNIP*

      - The second bug, the 'Missile Bug', occurs when you hold a missile weapon (bow, longbow, sling) in your hand and instead of holding an arrow in your right, hold a shield (towershield, Shield of Parry, buckler). Next time you attack, your character will fire the shield as if it were an arrow, and the shield's defense/ attack and anything else you gain while holding it, will be added to your character! But the shield will disappear, ... *SNIP*"

      Delete
    3. At the thalion source page following fun cheat for the Amiga version is described. Typing 'schnism' in the game gives you these messages (tested is myself, and the messages are in English in the German version...):

      - You almost found the password... ·
      - Do you really think entering "SCHNISM" twice will bring anything? ·
      -Look, nothing will happen, no matter how many times you enter "SCHNISM". ·
      - How many texts do you think I've got in here?
      - Alright, you win. If you enter "SCHNISM" one more time, the cheatmode will be activated. ·
      - Fooled you! (I admit this was a very bad joke.)
      - You are obviously deranged. Please stop entering "SCHNISM" or I'll kill all your party members. ·
      - That's it! No more "SCHNISM"s!!!

      An there is a real cheat code in the game, typing tempus fungit activates it. With the HELP key (yes, the Amiga had a help key) you can see the commands (the page above also lists the commands...). The teleport command could help to escape a dead end scenario.

      Delete
  18. I really like Amberstar and have completed it like 12-15 times. Even my nickname is latin for amber. It's a game which does a lot of things right. Have been looking forward to this as well.

    I also hex edited the hell out of it and managed to activate the invite to party-button for many NPCs, but sadly, they wouldn't join. ;-)

    I have read how you struggled with Dragonflight, but Amberstar really is an evolution. Even the largest dungeon has only a single digit number of levels.

    The four objects on the screenshot are fountains - only decoration. The thing on the left are two barrels.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Since no one else has said anything, yes, the logo is amber.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting. I showed it to Irene earlier and she insisted it wasn't. Now I don't know what to believe.

      Delete
    2. stepped pyramidsJune 28, 2020 at 1:14 AM

      It looks more gold than amber, but it's certainly close enough that it had to have been intended as amber. Some people are very picky about precise colors (that isn't amber, it's ochre!) but in the case of amber the actual substance comes in a range of shades, so...

      Delete
    3. Yeah, gold is my thought too, although that's mostly because it's trying to look shiny to me. Had it been either darker or duller, I'd have probably said amber.

      Delete
    4. Amber is, to my mind, close enough to gold that it doesn't really make a difference one way or the other. It's a orange-yellow color, that would be enough for me to understand the intent as "amber".

      Delete
    5. When it comes to particular shades of color, always believe the woman.

      Delete
  20. Eye of the Beholder had the same kind of awkwardnessful keyboard+mouse setup with the number pad.
    That said, if you grow proficient enough with jumping from the numpad to the mouse and back, you can practice left hand-only pieces (Ravel's concerto, some of Godowski's Chopin variations, the first page of Liszt's transcendental etude in g minor) while clearing dungeons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm playing through Eye of the Beholder now while mapping in a spreadsheet. DOSBOX's key remapping feature has been sorely tempting, but like Addict I consider it cheating. The best I've been able to do is to move my keyboard and mouse as far apart as will fit on my tiny desk.

      Delete
    2. "Awkwardnessful" is such an awkward mangling of a word that I'm wondering whether you've done it on purpose..?

      Delete
    3. What. To me the EOB movement and controls are like WASD+Ctrl.

      Delete
    4. That plus spacebar to cast the selected spell.

      Delete
    5. Alan, it was on purpose :) it's not my joke originally, sadly.

      Delete
    6. Poe's Law... I enjoy indulging in a bit of deliberate stupidity myself. Accusations of pedanticism, that sort of thing.

      Delete
    7. Paul Wittgenstein approves of your comment.

      Delete
  21. Amberstar was my first RPG, at least the first one where I understood the full set of general RPG concepts (like character classes and leveling). For a beginner it was really nice that it didn't throw everything at you all at once but introduced the concepts step by step. From today's perspective you could probably call that first city a tutorial.

    Word of caution: Create some backup of the savegames! The game has some walking dead scenarios (two that I've experienced). But to be fair, in both cases the game world gives you hints that you are doing something dangerous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's exactly those 2 situations where you can mess up. I already provided spoilers via e-mail a year ago. Regular backups can't hurt, though, at least until those hurdles are passed.

      Delete
  22. "My idea of a perfect RPG is one in which my highborn ingénue, now forced to fend for herself in the real world, slowly develops the skills she needs to survive, assembles a team around her, and solves local problems until she's strong enough to take on the orc band that killed her parents. Take her from Level 1 to Level 8 during this process and leave plenty of room for continued growth in the sequel."

    Maybe when you get to 2004 and play legend of heroes trails in the sky - a jrpg that was released for windows in 2004 - you will see that kind of gameplay (including a female protagonist!)

    Also a huge world, a lot of npcs with conversations, a pretty cool magic system based on combinations of different gems, a
    turn based positional battle system and a dual currency economy (money and the stuff you need to craft magic gems) which keeps things interesting even when you're overflowing with money in the end game.

    you can grind when you want to and when you don't you can try to find these special enemies which give you huge amounts of xp so you don't have to.

    it is pretty much turn based rpg perfection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seen it advertised, might have to give it a look, that’s high praise!

      Delete
    2. I hope it's clear from my writing that that EXACT plot isn't necessary for a "perfect" RPG, just that I like it when the plot is small, local, and personal, rather than always involving the end of the world.

      Delete
    3. I understood that. However, I had just completed the second chapter of legend of heroes trails in the sky where I was literally doing local quests that in the end tied together with the overarching one so I had to bring it up. Also I'm like the LOOM(tm) sailor for this game so I'm sure you'll hear me bring it up a few more times until you give in and play it...

      Delete
  23. "First of all, the manual is 168 pages..."
    "I'll summarize his full story--which takes up 79 pages of the manual..."

    Yikes! Don't tell me you actually READ all of that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did. I meant to ask my German readers: Is it normal in German to put dashes before lines of dialogue or internal narrative? There are a lot of paragraphs that go something like this:

      ****

      John entered the kitchen, where Mary was baking a cake.

      "Good afternoon, Mary," John said.
      "Hello," Mary replied.
      -"Are you baking something?"
      -"Yes, a cake."
      -A cake?! She's never baked anything that complex before!

      ***

      Basically, it acts as if a dash takes the place of specifying who's speaking the dialogue when it's clear from context.

      Delete
    2. No, it's not normal, it's only used sometimes in lyric, like here it in the Erlkönig (Goethe):
      "Mein Sohn, was birgst du so bang dein Gesicht? –
      Siehst, Vater, du den Erlkönig nicht?
      Den Erlenkönig mit Kron’ und Schweif? –
      Mein Sohn, es ist ein Nebelstreif. –"

      German Wikipedia:
      "Zwischen zwei Sätzen eingefügt, kann der Gedankenstrich einen Wechsel verdeutlichen: Der Sprecher (Sprecherwechsel in Dialogen), das Thema, der Gedanke oder der Gesprächsgegenstand ändern sich. Damit wird oft ein Absatz ersetzt. Beispiel für Themenwechsel nach dem Satzabschlusszeichen: „Das Unglück ist lange her. – Hat man eigentlich jemals …“ – Beispiel für Sprecherwechsel: „Ich mach das!“ – „Nein, geh weg da!“"
      https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halbgeviertstrich

      Some English authors use the dash, too:
      ―Oh saints above! Miss Douce said, sighed above her jumping rose. I wished I hadn't laughed so much. I feel all wet
      ―Oh Miss Douce! Miss Kennedy protested. You horrid thing!
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dash#Quotation_mark-like_use

      btw, the German Amberstar manual is using the exact same formatting, it's looking strange.

      Delete
    3. Don't know about German, but it's a standard in Russian. We only use quotation marks if the spoken part is in-lined. If it's a longer dialog and a separate paragraph, it's exclusively dashes, and we also use them to separate dialog lines from author's remarks.

      Delete
    4. It's standard in Spanish as well (which makes reading your first English books a bit hard on the adaptation factor). There are other small differences in layouts, as the fact that we add just a bit of an extra space between paragraphs to make it easier to read. And exactly with the same rules VK explains.
      For example

      While he was walking home John saw Jack

      - Hello John!
      - Good morning Jack! How are you today?
      - Not bad at all thank you!

      "He looks way better than yesterday" Jack thought.

      Delete
    5. Can add Polish to the list of languages that uses this style of formatting for dialogue

      Delete
    6. I think it's common in old books, when the speaker of direct speech changes but there are no other partial sentences in-between a dash is used. Also the >> and << for indicating direct speech. Both is rarely to not used nowadays

      Delete
    7. The Wikipedia has some more info on that in the Quotation mark article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark#Quotation_dash

      It is common in some languages, but details vary. The Polish convention, for example, is to replace all but the last quotation mark in the line with quotation dash; this is easy to notice in the lines when there is both character speech and narrator speech. For example:

      - I seek love and truth - said Avatar.
      - And what about courage? - Lord British asked - Thou shall not forget courage.

      I actually like that convention much better than English use of quotation marks, especially single quotation marks, which look very similar to apostrophes, but I admit that it might be because I've been reading books in Polish for a decade before I started reading books in English.

      Delete
  24. Tried it again now that the addict is on it, and sorry but the interface is too bad. Someone compared this to EOB, but in the beholder games you don't have so many weird icons and the numpad has always the same action, not movement and if you right click it switches to some other stuff. The 80s and early 90s will always be remembered as the times where accessibility was considered part of the difficulty of a game.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Have you considered Violet, Vermilion, Viridian, Vitellary, and Verdigris? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Viola is a perfect name for someone who'll be instrumental in saving the world.

      Delete
    2. stepped pyramidsJune 28, 2020 at 1:16 AM

      Hey, this isn't Puzzle Platformer Addict!

      Delete
  26. A screen like this should be required by law in every CRPG. Not really, of course, because that would be a huge overreach of governmental powers, and impossible to enforce in an international industry, but you get what I mean.

    In medieval Europe, this kind of thing was regulated all the time. How big, heavy, and expensive a loaf of bread was, for example. Upon punishment of torture, according to the Museum of Torture I visited in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

    So, I think this is a very American idea of governmental overreach. Point taken about difficulty of enforcement, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I mean, EU still has a standard for what size cucumbers should be...

      Delete
    2. No, it doesn't, it was abolished 2009. But most countries still have and had before it tried to standardise for the whole EU an regulation which sorts produces in classes. And the higher the class, the more straight the cucumber has to be.

      And when you are asking why a the EU should regulated something like that, it's because the food handling company wished it that way, a straight cucumber us easier to transport and to cut and handle by automated machines. When the German food handler wants to buy am A grade cucumber from Spain it's easier for him when Spanish A grade means same as the German A grade.

      Maybe I'm a bit to much into it, but I have heard enough groundless shitting on the EU by domestic politics and the cucumber story is one every time falsly is mentioned.

      Delete
    3. My partner works in agricultural tax and levy policy, and if you hear about some weird law affecting agriculture in any way, you can bet money that:
      (a) it's there for a reason (although possibly an arcane and strange one); and
      (b) the relevant industry wanted it.

      Delete
    4. This blog spins off into some truly weird discussions sometimes. I guess I started it, though.

      Delete
    5. Having been raised in the USA — even though, in general, I'm very much in favor of regulation when it's necessary — the idea of regulating something because it's more convenient for a special interest is just kind of unthinkable. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, it happens all the time. We call it "Corruption."

      Now that you mention it, the English cucumbers in the store are pleasingly straight as an arrow, but our typical cucumbers vary in deviation significantly.

      So, it's not to say that it's bad for the EU to decide to draw the line in a different place. God knows there's a ton of low-quality chocolate in the US. That's my personal gripe. Lassez-Faire Capitalism means there's plenty of chocolate available to people of any class, but it's mostly Hershey's, and they bulk it out with sand or something to eke out a larger margin.

      My real point is that we need an international CRPG watchdog organization to prevent tragedies like games without equipment details screens from being inflicted upon us.

      Computer Roleplaying International Taskforce

      Delete
    6. Just read a book about food adulteration. My favorite tidbit was that the US needed 25 years and two presidents to ban arsenics in candy, because that ban would hurt the candy industry.

      Delete
    7. Well usually the cucumber regulation is framed like the ivory tower buorocrats in Brussels don't know what they do and dictate the countries regulations at will.

      That does regulation happened because delegates of industry, agriculture and transport services came together and discussed about harmonising standard for food grades through the EU makes a bit more sense

      I don't say the EU is flawless, she does much for companies and economy which shows its inception was through a trade union

      Delete
    8. Oh, that wasn't my intention to criticize the standardization of cucumbers. If nothing else, it allows veggies to be sold by unit rather than by weight, which simplifies my shopping a great deal. I was just commenting that it's not an exclusively Medieval European thing.

      My only reservation about CRPG taskforce is that it might make quest compasses and multiple-choice dialogs mandatory.

      Delete
    9. ComputerRollenspielGegenstandsStatistikBenutzerschnittstellenGesetz (CRGSBG)

      Delete
    10. A proper CRPG taskforce would make quest compasses illegal.

      Delete
    11. USDA cucumber food grades for your own knowledge and enjoyment:

      https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards/cucumber-grades-and-standards

      Delete
  27. Little tip about the controls: You can use the enter key on the number pad to toggle between the movement and the action pad, no need to right-click. But you will still need the mouse in the 2D view to select the target for look or talk actions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I played with that, but it didn't really work for me for that reason, plus I was always forgetting to hit it and thus activating "Listen" when I wanted to move forward. Maybe I'll get used to it.

      Delete
    2. I have my problems with the controls, too. When you are used to the Ambermoon control scheme Amberstar is tiresome. It's very similar, but they optimized it in Ambermoon. Optimized in a way, that you best use always the mouse for movement, but it works good. In Ambermoon you can move freely in the 3D view and with different speeds. This only works well with the mouse. (And there is nice QOL stuff like quick travel in towns and dungeons.) In the 2D view you can right-click to change the cursor, so you don't need the command pad, this makes a great difference and would helped Amberstar a lot.

      Little side note: The Amiga version of Amberstar is requiring that you install the game, you can't play it directly from the disks. You have to install it to 3 other disks or to the harddisk (in 1992 nearly no Amiga user had a harddisk). And when you want to start a new game you have to reinstall the game!

      Delete
  28. Nice to see another German RPG on here. I always like it when you cover one of those.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Yeah I know I should be running this with WinUAE but the loading times and also I had a hard drive configured for it but somehow I broke it, so, Dosbox: has anyone tried Amberstar with Dosbox ECE? For some reason the mouse cursor dissapears on ECE (I actually had some issues on other games with this Dosbox version). I prefer it because of the pixel perfect emulation and the nuked opl3 which is more accurate but yeah, the mouse is invisible. When I click several random things activate (so the mouse is active) but the cursor is not visible.

    And yes, with the numpad enter key to switch action/movement the game improves a lot in usability.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. replied to myself: cycles=max breaks quite a bit of the dosbox emulation. With cycles=6000 which is quite a lot, the game stops having issues.

      Delete
    2. Adding a hard disk in WINUAE is easy:
      - optional: load you preferred config file
      - go to "Hardware->CD & Hard drives" and klick "Add hardfile..."
      - under "New hard disk image file" enter the desired size (40MB or 80 MB are more than enough)
      - click "Create", enter a name and done. The path to the disk image will be set automatically.
      - save your config

      My suggested setup, works fine with Amberstar and will run Ambermoon, too:
      - Kickstart 3.1 (A1200)
      - Workbench 3.1
      - a lot of RAM
      - OCS chipset for Amberstar, AGA for Ambermoon
      - for Ambermoon you can choose a faster CPU like the 68040

      Delete
    3. Thanks, I did that in the past, but after that there is the challenge of finding the right OS and knowing exactly the parameters on what to install.

      Actually I found a Czech site that provided packages with the hard drive already detected. And tried for a bit the Amiga version. I am still confused on what bugs are present on the Amiga and the DOS version, but as for the rest, I must say that they are really similar, very similar, with the Amiga tracker replaced by OPL2 synths sounding basically the same, and with similar speed.

      The difficult part about Amiga emulation is that it seems you must have a set of different configurations PER GAME. Games that are compatible with Amiga 500 are not compatible with Amiga 1200, and for each one you need one ROM and one S.O. installation, which takes a lot of time. I have an Amiga Forever licence as well but somehow it does not make things easier.

      Delete
    4. It must be noted what the "cycles=max" should be used only with certain high-end DOS games like Fallout, Quake, Pyl, etc. For all other games, especially released before 1996, cycles should always be set to the fixed number. With a number itself depending on a game.

      Delete
    5. Yep, now I know that for sure. I knew that too many cycles broke the Adlib card detection in games like LHX, but not that it broke the emulation itself. In anyway, I think 6k cycles in my pc is more or less a 486, which is fine.

      Delete
    6. There aren't that many configurations, let's have a look at them from a historical view of the most common Amiga models and configurations:

      The Amiga 500 was shipped with 512 KB chip RAM, later there was an expansion board with 512 KB slow RAM. That expansion board had a switch to disable it, because some old game don't run with the additional RAM. But a lot of the new games require the additional RAM and other games run better with it.

      The Amiga 500 came with Kickstart 1.3 and the Workbench 1.3. Almost all games could run directly from the disk, most Amiga 500 users didn't ever booted up the Workbench. Only a few games offered a HD install, and a few other could be tricked to install on HD (with assign commands).

      About at least 95% (or 99%) of the Amiga games run on a Amiga 500, some only with additional slow RAM, some only without it, but that's all.


      The other important plattform is the Amiga 1200. It shipped with 2 MB of chip RAM, Kickstart 3.1 and Workbench 3.1. It had a 68020 processor and a new chipset called AGA, which allowed better graphics.

      The 1200 can run a lot of Amiga 500 games, but not all. For compatibilty you could bootup the 1200 with the original chipset (OCS), but some Amiga 500 games will still refuse to work.
      There are only a few games that use the new AGA chips, and most of them run also on older Amigas and only have slighty better graphics with the AGA chipset. Only a handful of games is AGA exclusive.


      That leaves you with 3 basic configurations for the emulator:
      1. Amiga 500 with only 512 KB chip RAM
      2. Amiga 500 with 512 KB chip RAM and 512 KB slow RAM
      3. Amiga 1200

      Then some games don't like faster floppy speed, they only work with 100% speed, mostly because the copy protection or because they have their own floppy speeder included.

      Some games run better with advanced configurations, may it that they benefit from more ram or a faster processor. Fate for expample greatly benefits from more RAM, to the point that there is no more reloading, because the whole game resides in the RAM. And Fate also runs better with more CPU power. In Ambermoon the 3D enviroment needs a lot of CPU power, depending on the game settings even more than the 68020 have. Amberstar didn't realy benefit from more RAM or CPU power.
      The main reason to have one configuration per game is that you can have already the floppy disks inserted.

      For games that can be installed on the hard disk I prefer when possible an Amiga 1200 configuration, because of the much better Workbench. And you don't need different OS installations per game. One hard disk per platform is enough, I even only have one Workbench 3.1 installation, but with an additional 1.3 installation you need less fiddling with compatibility settings.

      And to make things simpler avoid WHDLoad, which greatest benefits are on the original hardware, but not in the emulator, imho.

      Last but not least, that Amiga Forever frontend is bad, better use only the WINUAE frontend (when Amiga Forever is installed directly starting WINUAE gives you a unnecessary warning which can be ignored).

      Delete
    7. The problem for me, as someone who didn't really have much exposure to Amiga contemporaneously, is knowing all that good information. PCs were endemically variable, so almost anything is possible... and games generally had to work across all that variety of CPU, memory, graphics, sound configurations.

      The Amiga emulators don't seem to give great guidance on when to use what, or what is safe to tweak and what isn't.

      Delete
    8. DOSBox makes it easy to play the old games, but back in the days configuring MS-DOS to run a game was often a real pain. There were different incompatible sound and graphic cards and not every game were compatible with all common cards.
      You needed to tell the game the interrupts and DMA ports of your hardware. And you needed enough free memory in the lower 640 KB RAM to start the game, problem was that drivers also resides there, so sometimes you had to pass the mouse driver or do other tweaks. There were XMS and EMS memory and a lot of other stuff to know. You needed different boot configurations for different games.

      The Amiga was the easy and uniform platform and the MS-DOS PC was complicated and fragmented.

      Delete
    9. Fair enough that DOSBox smooths over many of these rough edges for you. But that's exactly what Amiga emulators do not do for you. Even though there were only a handful of actual Amiga models, the emulators are throwing Agnus and ECS and Picasso at you, and chip RAM and the answer is you really don't want to touch any of it for most games. But then a game doesn't work and then what?

      I guess I'm saying that Amiga emulator UX could do a better job serving their Critical User Journeys.

      Delete
    10. Those rough edges in DOS were not that big a deal. Pretty much everything was little more complicated than keeping a post-it with your sound card settings, and the biggest hassle was just freeing up enough Conventional Memory before DOS Extenders were invented.

      For outliers like Ultima VII, a bootdisk was a viable solution. I remember that I set up a ton of nested config files selected from a on-boot menu, but I was strange.

      Delete
  30. Orc is english and Ork is german. I guess some orks slipped past the translator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Ork" also became what GW calls their Orc-like creatures for WH40K. Until they renamed them "Orruks" for copy-right reasons.

      Delete
  31. As a 90s kid from the UK, pieces of a MacGuffin that must be collected and reassembled to save the day in a fantasy scenario would of course be 'Veetons' (from the edutainment TV series Through the Dragon's Eye shown in schools, where they're the broken shards of the power source / good-vibes generator that the heroes must repair).

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  32. When MacGuffin is broken into several parts - it's MultiGuffin.

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  33. Going first into the sewers beneath the tavern? Sounds like The Bard's Tale

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    1. That was my initial reaction as well... Oh, the memories!

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  34. I hope this isn't too much of a spoiler, but you've got to make sure to search all of the barrels and chests and bits of furniture you see. Some of them have vital items. For instance, gur cnagel unf gur pebjone lbh arrq sbe gur gnirea pryynef.

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  35. I'm hoping someone can tell me what I'm missing here. The characters can't choose classes because, as I understand it, they need to rise to Level 1 before they can choose guilds. Until they choose classes, they can't equip any decent weapons and armor. With what they have, though, they can barely defeat rats, let alone the tougher enemies in both the wine cellar and the sewers. Viola NEVER hits, and Silk only does about once every six tries. Is there something obvious that I'm missing?

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    1. You need only 30 XP to join the guild, that are about 4 rats to kill.

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    2. Ha. I had the manual for a different game opened accidentally. I thought it was going to take 100 xp, or about 200 rats.

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    3. Your chance to hit depends on the attack ability (ATT). You can raise abilities at the guild when levelling up, depending in your class. The game isn't fully clear about that beforehand, but you can join only one guild per character.
      Your damage is mainly dependant on weapon and other equipment and displayed in the inventory with a sword symbol.

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    4. At the inn in the town to the north you can get a couple more companions, one of which will be immensely helpful when you're starting out.

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    5. ↑↑↑ SPOILER ALERT ↑↑↑

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  36. ↑↑↑ SPOILER ALERT ↑↑↑

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  37. Back in those day, we called the game "Bugstar", because noone I know was ever able to finish it. However, the one thing I still remember about the game, is its absolutely stunning music! In my memory it was truly magic and I didn't notice that it loops every 90 seconds :D

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