Thursday, July 29, 2021

Arcan: Won! (with Summary and Rating)

I guess "Arcan" is the name of the wizard. He never actually appears in the game.
Softwave Games (developer); published as shareware, in Germany by PD Pool
Released in 1993 for Atari ST
Date Started: 13 July 2021
Date Ended: 24 July 2021
Total Hours: 27
Difficulty: Hard (4.0/5)
Final Rating: 22
Ranking at Time of Posting: 155/428 (36%)
A shareware Dungeon Master, Arcan lacks the production values of the game that inspired it, but it does a better job than most DM clones with the variety (and fairness) of puzzles and navigation obstacles. Its bargain budget is most keenly felt in sound (there is none) and in combat (there are only two monster types in the entire game). It otherwise does a decent job replicating its predecessor's mechanics, including tiled, first-person exploration, real-time combat, leveling based on skills used by the characters, and of course plenty of buttons, levers, pressure plates, spinners, keys, pits, and hidden doors.
Commenter sucinum gave me the help I needed to move forward. The revelation was simply that some levers have to be operated twice in succession to have their intended effect. I don't know why that didn't occur to me. I've certainly seen it in Dungeon Master-style games before. It's almost like I need to keep some kind of checklist to remind myself what to do when I'm stuck in this type of game. Something like:
  • Walk into walls
  • Fall into any open pits
  • Scan walls carefully for buttons
  • Pull all levers and push all buttons multiple times, looking around for changes after each pull or push
  • Try to insert everything in inventory into wall slots
  • Weigh down any pressure plates
  • Search any fire or water squares for hidden objects
What else would you put on there?
The lever opened a back way into the area previously blocked by the "repulsion" square. There, I got a key that I needed to unlock a door that brought me into the west side of the level. That ultimately brought me to a stairway back up to Main -1, and from there the levels opened into a host of interconnected stairways that tied together the three levels I had already mapped parts of.
All the levels turned out to be the same 40 x 40 size. The game started with three small sections of the main level, Main +1, and Main -1, before a pit dropped me down to Main -2. I had to map that entire level before finding my way back to a section of Main -1. At that point, the game took me up and down the original three levels liberally. For all its size, Arcan is both extremely linear and largely one-way. Every time you think you have multiple directions, they fairly quickly collapse into just one, although occasionally you find a lever that opens the way back to an earlier area. I guess one way to say it is the game is open backwards but linear forwards. This makes it easy to get stuck, and there were many times in which I thought I'd have to give up again, only to try one more thing and find the next way forward. Those moments are relatively satisfying.
My final map of the main level +1. All the annotations show how packed with different puzzles it is. The final area was in the northwest corner.
In addition to the puzzles and navigational elements I already wrote about (keys, buttons, levers, repulsion squares, one-way pits, spinners), the game introduced a few additional ones later on. The first is movable walls. They look like regular walls, but when you step towards them, they push backwards into any available space. If there is no available space, the game still alerts you that the wall "looks" movable. The game prevents you from getting into a "walking dead" situation by letting you pull the walls as well as push them. There is one area with nine separate movable walls, each blocking at least one alcove or way forward. Fortunately, the automap annotates movable walls in a different color, so if you miss any (by not barging into every wall), you can still identify them later.
The second is invisible walls or force fields, blocking you from walking down what looks like an empty corridor or through an empty chamber. Generally, there is no way to deactivate them, although one chamber is full of them, and you need to find a lever to change their configuration and make your way through.
The game alerts me to a movable wall.
The third new element is pressure plates, and they came in three varieties. The first simply acts like a switch you can't avoid, closing or opening a wall space the moment you step on it. I did not encounter any that needed to be weighed down. The second type activates a magic trap, sending a fireball or other spell whizzing down the corridor. You have to dart into alcoves to avoid the spell.
The third type is bizarre. I've never seen them in any other game. When you step on them, they immediately propel you forward. At first, I didn't get the point--they just shoved me into the next corridor space, where I could continue on my way. But I soon realized that if I walked sideways onto one of these plates, it would propel me in the facing direction, even into a wall space. To be clear, these aren't illusory walls or secret doors; they don't show up on the automap, and you can't detect them with "Magic Eye." The pressure plates are actually letting you walk through walls, into places that would otherwise be inaccessible. Sometimes there are items in those wall spaces, which breaks another of the game's usual rules.  
For a while I was mapping "repulsor" squares (which knock you back to the previous square) and sliders as the same, but there's a key difference: by pounding the keys enough, you can fight sliders. There is a huge section of Main -1 with sliders everywhere, forming a series of looping conveyor belts. I had to find a couple of key items while constantly fighting the direction the squares wanted to take me. 
A final navigation element is something I mentioned last time, but not extensively: the four-way button. I don't remember seeing anything like it in previous Dungeon Master clones. It's a button with an arrow, and the arrow points a different direction every time you push it. The game uses it to cycle various wall openings. For instance, you might enter a dead-end room from the east. There's a button on the center pillar. Pushing it once closes the east exit and opens the north. Pushing it again closes the north and opens the west. And so on. The game offered a couple of places with two or three buttons of this type, each combination of presses creating a slightly different wall configuration, requiring a lot of testing and careful mapping.
Much like Abandoned Places 2, enemies are basically an afterthought. The real point of the game is the puzzles. After five or six hours of fighting blue-robed swordsmen, the game finally introduced a second type of enemy: red-robed, staff-wielding mages. They're capable of devastating fireballs at a range. ( I should mention that although the enemies in the game all look the same, they come in a wide variety of difficulty. Some have 10 hit points, some 500. Some do 4 points of damage against you, some 40.) Just like the swordsmen, they're too tough to face in a stand-up fight, even starting at full health. Fortunately, the standard Dungeon Master tactics work, including the combat waltz, missile weapons, and hit-and-run skirmishes in long corridors. Your hit points are basically just a cushion for the occasional time in which you flub the fingering on one of the classic patterns.
A roomful of the second enemy type. Enemies almost always attack in pairs.
Because you're forced to fight this way, the few upgrades in weapons and armor really don't matter. You have to avoid getting hit at all, so whether I'm wearing a horned helm or a greater horned helm doesn't much matter. Nor does it matter whether I'm using a bronze sword, iron sword, or axe. It's just a difference of the combat waltz taking four and a half minutes instead of four and three-quarters. The only things have really excited me are bows and magic wands for my rear characters so they can participate more. Because of the dearth of such weapons, they ended the game with about one-third the experience points as the main characters.
One of the oddities of this game's approach to combat, in which you can only hit the enemy literally in front of you and enemies never change their positions in their groups, is that improvements only help when they're symmetrical. If one of my lead fighters has a much better weapon than the other, he'll kill his enemy faster, but I still need to keep waltzing away while the other one does his job. Since having to click on one "attack" button is hardly a time savings over clicking on two, you really want them to kill their foes at about the same time. This is naturally also true for the rear characters. One bow doesn't do anything for me because it just speeds up the death of one enemy in a pair. Only when the two rear characters have comparable weapons do they really help.
Waltzing the swordsmen to death. They're no danger until they turn and face me, at which point I'll side-step to the left and pivot.
My front characters ended the game at Level 9, my rear at Level 6. I didn't try to spread out their class advancement by having the front characters cast spells or having the rear characters occasionally fight in melee; thus, my front characters have nothing but "warrior" levels, and my rear characters are a combination of "gladiator" (from throwing things) and the magic classes. I believe the levels went from grüschnabel ("rookie") to anfänger ("beginner"), abenteurer ("adventurer"), draufgänger ("go-getter"), profi ("professional"), fortgeschrittener ("advanced"), meisteranwärter ("master contender"), meister ("master"), and meister & lehrer ("master and teacher"). 
Ratakresch's character sheet towards the end of the game. Is it just my color blindness, or are the spells in that list nearly impossible to read?
Spells were underwhelming. Some of them are mysteries. Here's what I found:
  • Magisches auge ("Magic Eye"): Reveals secret doors. Useful, but I prefer to explore with it off, so I can tell what's a secret door and what's a regular passageway. With the spell active, they look the same.
  • Körperschutz ("Body Protection"): Increases armor class by 8 for the group. Useful in the rare occasions I have to fight face-to-face.
  • Kraftspruch (???): This translates literally as something like "Power Speech," although it vernacularly means "slogan." When cast, it puts a little "K" in the spell grid, but I have no idea what it does.
  • Donnerkugel ("Thunderball"): Casts a magic missile. Very useful once I had two copies. Most of my spell points go into this. They run out quick, but at least I don't have to spend several minutes after each combat picking up my donnerkugeln the way I do arrows and knives.
  • Lichtschild ("Light Shield"): I'm not sure. It puts a "L" in the spell grid but doesn't affect armor class. I suspect it helps against magic attacks.
  • Tuer Oeffnen ("Open Door"): This has been useful exactly once, in the puzzle I related in the first entry. I suppose I should use it every time I have to open a door so someone gets skill for it.
  • Magiewand ("Magic Wall"): Creates a temporary wall square. I can only imagine it's to block enemies from chasing you while you rest and heal, but I find it easy enough just to run far away or close a door (enemies can't open them). You can't use it to weigh down pressure plates.
  • Federleicht ("Light as a Feather"): Another mystery. It doesn't stop you from triggering pressure plates or falling down pits. Maybe it helps with over-encumbrance? That hasn't been an issue.
  • Vitalität ("Vitality"): And yet another mystery. It doesn't seem to affect statistics, heal, or do anything its name would suggest.
  • Eiskugel ("Iceball"): The second of only two offensive spells, I found it in the game's final chamber, so I didn't have much of a chance to check it out. It does about twice the damage as "Thunderball" but for about twice the spell point cost.
I only found 5 spells that put letters in the spell grid, and there are 24 cells in the grid. Either the developers left lots of room for expansion, or there are more spells in the post-game (see below).
What I'd really hoped to find is something like lebensmittelkreation. Food was my constant problem until nearly the end. You simply don't find enough to keep the party nourished if you explore carefully, do everything, and have to backtrack a bit. I had to settle into a pattern of saving, exploring for a while to map and figure out how to solve the puzzles, then reload and rush through the areas previously explored. It was the only way to keep from starving to death. There's a fountain in the starting area where you can fill up canteens and bottles, but it's no longer accessible once you drop down to Main-2. Finally, towards the end of the game, I found another one and filled up every item I had. That lasted me for the rest of the game. It occurred right before I found a lever that returned me to the starting area, so having two fountains was a bit redundant.
Filling a bottle at the fountain.
The endgame takes place mere steps from the beginning, behind a door for which you've had to explore the entire dungeon to find a key. The antechamber has about six pairs of enemies. I led them out carefully one-by-one, closing the door behind each pair, so I could waltz them to death. Once they were dead, I searched the chamber and found a third wall message:
So you've actually managed to get to my treasure chamber. But you are not in possession of my treasures yet - you still have to conquer them. . . hahaha. My guards will know how to prevent this! So think carefully about whether you dare to enter the treasury or whether you prefer to turn back.
I thought carefully, then entered the treasury. A floor plate closed the door behind me. The inner area had another half dozen pairs of tough enemies. They were dispersed in a square corridor surrounding some central pillars, and there was only one area with enough space to waltz. It took me a few reloads to safely clear out enough pairs with hit-and-run tactics (without getting trapped in the hallway) so that I could lead the rest to the ballroom floor.
The door opens to the final area.
Once everyone was dead, there was no actual treasure to find, just a textual suggestion that we'd met our goal:
Arcan's Treasury. Congratulations, you did it! Your unsurpassed heroism has brought you to the goal of your search. Since you have proven yourself to be worthy opponents, I have decided to impose further tests and puzzles on you. Just for fun. Haha!
The "further tests and puzzles" are found on one or more optional post-game floors. I already knew there was a Main +2 because one set of stairs had brought me up there before immediately dropping me back down. I had assumed the endgame would be there, and I was surprised to find it where it was. The rest of it is accessed from a stairway in the treasure chamber. It brought me into a large room ringed by alcoves, every one of which had a pair of wizards flinging fireballs.
The party stumbles into the area before it's ready.
I wasn't much interested in continuing, but I took the time to clear the wizards. They refused to leave their alcoves, so there was no waltzing. I had to start with a pair that were positioned in such a way that no other wizards could hit me, then dart in front of their alcove, hit them a few times, and sidle away. After 30 minutes of this and a lot of reloads, I had the room clear. At that point, the only way forward appeared to be a door with a keyhole for which I hadn't found a key. Holes on the ceiling suggest another level above this one, so I decided to take my win and call it a day.
The challenge area started full of tough enemies (!!) with few safe places since they can shoot down their adjacent rows and columns.
In a GIMLET, I give the game:
  • 1 point for the game world. The only story is that you're there to find treasure.
  • 3 points for character creation and development. There's no creation, which hurts some of the potential replayability of the game, but I do like Dungeon Master-style development. I'd have rated it higher if combat had been more meaningful.
Menthor levels up.
  • 0 points for no NPCs.
  • 4 points for encounters and foes. When a game has puzzles, I use this category to rate the puzzles, and I found Arcan's reasonably satisfying. They're not quite as creative as Dungeon Master, but they do a lot better than many clones. More on that in a bit. The foes are otherwise nothing to praise, especially where they're fixed in number. I wouldn't have minded at least one grinding opportunity in case I didn't want to fight all my battles with keyboard tricks.
  • 3 points for magic and combat. Like some other DM clones, Arcan errs too much on the side of requiring combat waltzing and other maneuvers, thus damaging what would otherwise be a fair system of melee and missile weapons and spells. A game would need a better variety of foes, and thus a more interesting variety of spells to affect them, to get a higher score.
  • 3 points for equipment. As covered above, modest upgrades with limited utility.
A few treasures await in a late-game treasure room.
  • 0 points for no economy.
  • 1 point for its nebulous main quest.
  • 3 points for graphics, sound, and interface. The graphics are only functional, the sound non-existent. The interface needed more keyboard shortcuts but otherwise works well. I particularly like the automap, which cleverly uses colors and shading to depict buttons, plates, pits, moving walls, secret doors, and the like. When I was stuck, reviewing the automap almost always helped.
  • 4 points for gameplay. The length and the challenge were about right for its ilk. 
That gives us a final score of 22. As usual, DM fans will argue that no NPCs and no economy are not necessarily weaknesses, so in that case, remove and rescale for a score of around 28-30, depending on whether you think a story should be important to the sub-genre. Either way, it falls short of what I would consider "recommended," even for the sub-genre, but not too far short. 
Since the game is so heavily about its puzzles, as I played I took careful note of my reactions to them. To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, I hate solving Dungeon Master-style puzzles, but I love having solved them. I love it so much that I carefully annotate my maps with the solutions even though I'll never be coming through this area again. Then I move to the next room and find some contraption or configuration I haven't encountered before and swiftly go through the five stages of grief: "Screw this!"; "Weren't levers and pressure plates enough for you!?"; "All right, I'll try to figure it out for five minutes, and then I quit"; "I'll never get it; someone like sucinum will have to bail me out again"; and "Wait a minute. What if I try this?" But even though I ultimately get some satisfaction solving them, I'll always prefer logic puzzles, riddles, wordplay, treasure hunts, and inventory puzzles to the mechanical variety exemplified by Arcan
Thus, rather than spend any more time on the "bonus" levels, I'll save my stamina for Arcan's sequel, Walls of Illusion, coming later this year. Say what you want about Motelsoft, but they sure did produce.
[Ed. To clear up any confusion as to whether the "bonus" levels were in fact the "real" end of the game, I played for another 12 hours and posted another entry.]


  1. Someone was going to mention that the mages' robes are green instead of red, so I might as well be that guy and get that out of the way.

    The spell names are indeed almost unreadable. Who thought dark green on dark grey was a good idea?

    "Kraftspruch" translates to power/strength spell; "Spruch" in a fantasy context is basically shorthand for "Zauberspruch" (magic spell).

    1. Ha, I hadn't read that far, but "Eiskugel", while technically translating to ball/sphere of ice, would much more commonly be understood as "scoop of ice cream" in a non-game context. So of course I choose to interpret it that way. I imagine it might lead to a few sticky situations in combat.

    2. It would solve the food problem.

    3. That's weird. I would have thought red-robed mages were more thematically consistent than green-robed ones.

    4. Green robes are definitely an unusual choice, especially because their hoods are actually red.

    5. Is that hood? It could be hair.

    6. Red and green
      Should never be seen.

      Not that Chet cares!

  2. Are you sure you've won? Are there credits, etc? After receiving a message like that, I'd have thought the objective was to escape - or that the speaker was lying to the player about having found the goal.

    1. Have anybody played the extra levels and could confirm that they are just extra?

    2. Well "nur so zum Spaß" very much suggests to me as a German reader that everything that follows now is only optional content.

    3. Yeah, I also think that final "Nur so zum Spaß" is meant as an equivalent to the English phrase "for shits and giggles".

    4. Yeah, I interpretaded nur so zum Spaß a bit ddifferent, I got the meaning that he teases you for his amusement to go find the final boss, but Iam not a native speaker so after reading the last two comments I think they are more correct

    5. I generally feel that if you haven't seen all the gameplay content then you haven't finished the game, but the "mood" of the game can change how I feel about postgame content.

    6. Well, fortunately my blog runs on my definitions, which say that you have "finished" the game when you get a screen that says "congratulations!" (or the equivalent in the local language). Eventually, we're going to get into games where the totality of the side quests absolutely dwarf the main quest, and if you don't think I've properly "finished" the game until I've played all those side quests, you're either going to be disappointed, or my blog is going to end up covering maybe one game per year.

    7. The idea of "postgame content" already implies that it happens after the end of the game. Therefore, you have "finished" the game before going through that content by definition.

      I rarely bother 100%ing a game, especially modern games that have tons of side content. When I finish the main quest and the DLCs and all the side quests that interest me, I'm done. No need to waste my time doing a bunch of leftover fetch quests just because they exist. It's not like they're gonna offer a fundamentally different experience to what I've already seen to this point.

    8. Sorry, the "you" in my content was rhetorical, and I should have phrased it as "I don't feel that I've finished" - i.e. a subjective opinion.

      There certainly are games, though, when the point where the credits roll is effectively just the end of the tutorial or prologue, and anyone who stops there has unambiguously not played the "real game". (The Monster Hunter franchise is the first thing that comes to mind, or any of the games in the Drakengard/Nier franchise, although I admit I can't immediately think of an example that's unambiguously an RPG.)

      My general guiding rule is that I'm not done if I'm still in a place where I could sit down with another player and have a discussion about the game, and not have a clue what they're talking about because I stopped too early. So if the postgame is just the same stuff, but harder, I'm probably fine. If it's some derivative content that's going to play out exactly how I might guess it would play out, I'm probably fine. But if the postgame resolves additional plot points, adds substantial new mechanics, adds substantial and memorable new art assets, or substantially deepens the gameplay, then I'm going to want to see some of it (providing the underlying game was vaguely good enough to justify that kind of respect).

      Again, subjective. There's definitely going to be postgame stuff that you'll play, if you get to it, but I don't think you're going to disagree about that. (The modern Bioware RPGs, for example, often have their absolute best and most emotional moments in the DLCs...)

    9. Pokemon! It came to me as soon as I hit publish. Pokemon is unambiguously an RPG, and unambiguously you haven't played the same game as everyone else if you stopped filling your Pokedex when the story finished.

      But it's a console RPG so it's possible it will never come up here.

    10. If the devs want me to keep playing after the credits roll, they should just make the credits scene later. Dropping the curtain like that is just going to communicate to me that nothing that follows is worth seeing.

      The whole idea of a 'post-game' is stupid. Just put that stuff in the main game!

    11. DLC content isn't really "post-game" as it's additional content you pay for as a separate product. You expect to play this either in between the original game or after it, just like expansion packs in the old days. That's very different from modern "post-game" content like New Game + and stuff like that.

    12. The game Nier Automata has a lot of subversions of expectations. The very final battle literally happens "inside" the real final credit rolls. And this surprisingly make sense in the context of the story. If you win this battle, the games also deletes all your saves. There is no way to continue playing after the real ending other than restarting completely from zero, as nothing has happened. And this also surprisingly makes completely sense in the context of the story.

    13. As someone who both enjoys Pokemon and doesn't generally go for either multiplayer stuff or Pokedex completion, the postgames in those are typically there to wrap up any outstanding plot threads and aren't a case of the real game beginning. There are exceptions, like the Generation 2 games having a severely cut down version of the first games to go through and a true final battle, or Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon having what is effectively a sendoff to the handheld games, but for the most part you can stop playing Pokemon games when you hit the credits and not miss out on a whole lot. It's a nice bonus, not a major part of the game.

    14. Generation 2 was particularly what I was thinking about, with the "real" Pokedex not unlocking until you finish the main story, and a significant number of Pokemon not even appearing until that point. Also generally the legendaries are post-game content, and they're explicitly set up as the greater aspiration of trainers beyond merely winning the local league.

    15. "Well "nur so zum Spaß" very much suggests to me as a German reader that everything that follows now is only optional content."

      That's absolutely what the message says, but, like mecha-neko, unless there's some meta-indication that the message is a fourth-wall-breaking one from the game designer, I'd be inclined to take it as the game's villain lying. "You've found my treasure....Psyche! Now deal with these wizards casting fireballs at you!"

    16. Well, the doubters were right:

      That doesn't mean I don't still hate you all a little, though.

  3. I'm really glad you have won already, I have quit the game after meeting the first mages because saving and loading took too long.
    The "Kraftspruch" is a buff spell which increases melee damage, so quite useful actually.
    Having to use this lever two times feels unintuitive and like a bug. Each setting should be one state. But the same happened in lever riddles before, so the engine seems designed this way, deliberately or not.
    I also didn't like too much that you have duels in combat, since swapping your melee dudes takes too long. That was far less clicks in Dungeon Master.
    It's also very annoying that you don't see enemies on the side or diagonal to you. So they are often in a blind spot when you dance around them.
    Altogether, the engine is a step backwards from the then 7 year old DM.

    I have played 2 other dungeon crawlers from the same team on my early PC days, Escape from Ragor and Megrim's Rache. Didn't complete either and they have the same amateurish feel as this one. Both okay dungeon crawlers, though.

    1. It's too bad I didn't figure that out. It would have cut down the waltzing time a bit.

      Both those other games are on my list for 1994.

    2. 1997 will be the first year without a Motelsoft game - up to 1996 you have two Motelsoft RPGs per year to look forward to! 1993 would have had four but two don't seem to be available anymore.

      I was surprised to see English reviews for some of the games linked on Turns out they link to your blog.

  4. I am not colour blind and I didn't even see the spell names until you pointed them out! That is very poor design.

  5. On the subject of colorblindness, I remember playing a boardgame that had tokens in the colors yellow, beige, orange, light brown, hazel, lemon, amber, and a few other shades of, well, yellow. We indeed had a colorblind player at the table, but for everybody else this palette was also extremely annoying!

  6. * Go back to previously explored levels to see if anything has changed

  7. Since there's already a guy(?)named 'Ratakresch' in your party, you should add 'Ritschwumm', Schlupp' and 'Beni' too. Greetings from Germany.

    1. So that's where this was coming from. I wonder how much of the "Augsburger Puppenkiste" is known outside of Germany though.

  8. Honestly the 15 hours length makes this one seem much more inviting. I'd rather play a short DM clone with a handful of well thought out puzzle and tricks, then one that has a bunch of filler. 15 hours is about the optimal adventure game length for this reason too.

    1. It's not too impressive that it has only two kinds of monster, though. Dungeon Master was not a long game, but it had a lot of content, and nothing outstayed its welcome.

  9. For your checklist:
    - throw objects over a pit to weigh down a pressure plate on the other side;
    - walk into teleporters coming from different directions (don't know if that's in any game, but I assume it's possible that the direction matters)

    1. Nice additions, IIRC he already had to deal with both in the past.

    2. I agree. I remember both of those coming up.

    3. I don't remember if it was a DM clone, but there was also a game that required you to try a teleporter multiple times.

    4. one time in EOB1, addict had to throw everything at every wall

  10. * - Tap all over the walls looking for secret doors or buttons.

  11. I would appreciate if you uploaded the save file so that someone else can see what happens next in the post-game content.

  12. I wonder for whom games like this one were made. Poor kids with a PC? I suspect they went for the cracked version...but then, this one had a pretty good copy protection if I remember correctly.

    1. You probably meant withOUT a PC. The irony for me is, as I remember the late 80s here in Germany, the Atari ST and the Amiga were everything but the poor man's home computers. I know because I "only" had a C64 back then and even into the 90s. By 93 this might have changed as the PC took over.. But wasn't one of the reasons the PC won also that it became cheaper while ST and Amiga kept their relative price levels, so finally offering more for the bucks?

    2. Made by hobbyists for hobbyists. From what I've read about these developers, they just loved making games and doing all kinds of creative work on a computer. And there's always an "indie scene" of people who like checking out small passion projects like this.

      Some of the Motelsoft games I tried even had insider jokes that seemed to refer to IRL buddies of the developers.

      They're clearly hobbyist niche products. There's a lot more of that in pen and paper gaming (since writing a p&p module and having it printed at a small press publisher is a lot easier than coding a PC game), and it's incredibly charming. The quality varies, of course. But that stuff has soul.

    3. Back in 1993, when I got my first PC, I had some CDs with collections of shareware and shovelware games. There were at least 2 German companies who distributed such collections, Pegasus and TopWare.
      That's where I came in touch with Escape from Ragor.

    4. I can't remember having one none pirated Game in either the C64 or the Amiga of my dad. Every odd month he took some disks to the Work and came Back with New games.

    5. Edit: ..the cracked ORIGINAL version..

  13. On average, how many hours per day do you spend playing the games and writing them up on the blog?

  14. I sometines have the feeling, the majority of the readers here are german speakers anyway. Mr. Addict, could you provide us with country statistics? Greetings from Austria.

    1. Let's see. In the last three months, I've had 27,742 users and 99,158 sessions. Countries are given below with their user percentage first, followed by their session percentage:

      1. United States - 47% / 40%
      2. Germany - 8% / 10%
      3. Canada - 5% / 6%
      4. United Kingdom - 4% / 4%
      5. Australia - 3% / 4%
      6. Finland - 3% / 4%
      7. France - 2% / 2%
      8. Sweden - 2% / 2%
      9. Russia - 2% / 2%
      10. Poland - 2% / 3%

      Austria is 13th (1% of each). Switzerland (#25), Belgium (#33), Luxembourg (#59), and Liechtenstein (#103) each make up less than 1%. Overall, the numbers suggest that only about 10-12% of my readers would speak German natively, but it's definitely the #2 language among my blog's visitors.

  15. Talk to everyone again; sometimes people have new or alternate dialogue.

  16. Just chiming in to say that since this is a DM clone, those "conveyor belt" pressures plates are lifted off DM which had those in one place in Dungeon Master on level 10 ("ZOOOM") and they made a comeback in the Diabolical Demon Director in Chaos Strikes Back. They didn't let you phase through walls though, that's definitely weird... I'd say it's a bug but you say there are sometimes items there. Could still be a glitch, or some intended "super secret" meta-gaming an engine flaw.

    1. It's really two separate things. The "conveyor belts" always move you in the same direction regardless of the direction you're facing. The special plates propel you one square in your facing direction rather than a fixed direction. I'm sure it's not a glitch; there are entire areas and puzzles organized around using these squares.


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