Sunday, July 7, 2024

Whale's Voyage: Won! (with Summary and Rating)

 
At least we got some closure on that damned heart. Jerome Doir is being mentioned here for the first time.
      
Whale's Voyage
Austria
Neo Software Produktions (developer); Flair Software Ltd. (European publisher); Pro One Software (U.S. publisher)
Released 1993 for DOS, Amiga, and Amiga CD32
Re-released in 1994 on same platforms on CD with extra cinematics/dialogue
Date Started: 2 June 2024
Date Ended: 29 June 2024
Total Hours: 22
Difficulty: Moderate-Hard (3.5/5)
Final Rating: (to come later)
Ranking at time of posting: (to come later)    
     
Summary:
      
Whale's Voyage is an odd adventure/RPG/space trading hybrid in the MegaTraveller tradition, though with a bizarre, minimalist, cyberpunk aesthetic. It is not good at any of the subgenres that it tries to combine--excessively generous as a trading game, excessively linear as an RPG, and full of the types of illogical puzzles that adventure gamers hate. Promising elements like a unique character creation system and tactical ship-to-ship combat are ruined by issues of pacing and balance. Worst of all is the interface, which requires a joystick or keyboard emulation of a joystick.
       
*****
      
There wasn't much left to the game after the last session, but it still took me a while because I had to keep replaying so much of it. That's the theme for this game in general. The final number of hours for my particular Whale's Voyage was 22, but at least half that was spent re-doing things I'd already done because I screwed up something unforeseeable or because the next plot point didn't trigger.
     
The next stage on the quest was to get a member of the resistance out of the federation jail in the city of Dymy on Arboris. The jail is in the southern part of the city, and consists of multiple rooms and cells guarded by a variable number of federation soldiers. The main door is shut and locked when you first approach, so you have to wait for one of the soldiers to open it and start attacking you, then fight your way through them.
      
The piece of intel that brought us here.
      
Except there are far too many guards to fight your way through (at least, unless you do something unintuitive that I'll cover in a minute). Even with frequent retreating to the healing center on the planet, I got destroyed badly. They seem to never stop coming. If you wipe them all out, a new pack of about 10 respawns, and a third pack respawns when those 10 are dead.
    
I had my soldier using the plasma caster that I'd purchased on the pirate asteroid, and at some point--probably when I shot it by accident at a blank wall--I realized that you can kill enemies with it through walls. I don't know if this is true of other guns or not. I should have checked but I didn't. That went a long way to ending the difficulty of the battle. I just parked outside a corridor where they spawned and blasted them through the wall. Sometimes, my shot would kill not only the enemy immediately on the other side of the wall but the one beyond that.
      
Blasting a line of foes through a wall.
    
Once you get past the enemies, you find a row of locked cells. A keycard in a nearby room opens the cells. The problem was, they were all empty the first time I wiped out the enemies. I had apparently killed the resistance prisoner by accident. I reloaded and tried again, but again I accidentally killed him. I reloaded and kept my fighting far away from his cell. This time, he survived, but when I opened the cell, he was hostile and started blasting at me (apparently, they let him have a gun in his cell). I couldn't calm him down, and I had to reload again.
   
After I got it all sorted out, I figured out what was happening, but I didn't understand it at the time. I'll take most of the blame on this one. The description for the plasma caster does warn you that it affects enemies "in the area." I think it affects a 3-square radius from where you actually fire it. So you're not really shooting enemies through the wall so much as shooting the wall, and the enemies nearby get a "splash" effect. I kept killing the prisoner because he was in that radius. When I turned him hostile, it was because it caught him at the fringes of the radius at least once without killing him, but even a small amount of damage turned him hostile.
         
Our supposed ally attacks as we open his cell door.
        
Thus, I may have been able to solve the problem by just switching to another weapon. But I didn't understand the "area effect" issue at this point, so I looked at YouTube user Kikoskia's LP of the series, and I saw that he activated a Sonic Absorber before approaching the prison. I bought that ages ago and had never used it, figuring it was the solution to a puzzle that would make itself known. I guess it prevents the guards from hearing your assault, thus vastly limiting the number of them that you face. When I tried it myself, I only had to kill four or five of them instead of 30. It would be nice if the game had clued its use by explicitly telling me that the guards were shouting for reinforcements or something.
   
When I was done, the prisoner was alive and not hostile, although I think that's more of a coincidence than anything to do with the Absorber. Because there were fewer guards, I fought them further down the hallway and thus didn't catch the prisoner in the "splash."
     
Finally speaking to the prisoner.
      
The prisoner, named Ems Krull, told me that the federation was beginning an attack on the rebel's secret base on Lapis. He asked me to travel there and destroy the "cloaking device" that was concealing the federation's fleet. I'd find it, he said, in a "secret mine."
   
We traveled to Lapis and to the coordinates that he gave. The mine was pitch black, so we needed to turn on the Infrared Device to navigate. The mine was full of federation soldiers---at least as many as in the prison cells--and the wall pattern wasn't configured to allow shooting through the walls. I had to just stand and fight. 
       
For a few minutes, we just shot down this corridor.
     
After numerous reloads, I reached the end of the mines with two characters dead. The solution to destroy the cloaking device was to destroy three computers--for which I had to use the "Manipulate Computers" skill. This caused cracks to appear on the computer screens and outer casings. I got a chuckle out of the fact that a character needs a special computer-based skill to destroy computers, and in doing so, he seems to believe that damaging the monitor somehow kills the program or erases the data.
       
This seems like it would be a scene in a bad action movie. "Move aside! I know how to manipulate computers!" SMASH. "What did you do!?" "I manipulated it."
    
But I guess it did. The head of the secret service, General Noth, beamed in and said: "You cannot stop me! Har har har!!" Then, just as quickly, he beamed away.
    
We got out of there and healed our dead characters in the city. Until we resurrected them, I couldn't turn the Infrared Device off, as it had been activated from a dead character's inventory, and you can't get into that inventory--even to trade or drop items--if the character is dead.
          
We gladly pay to make the world look right again.
     
After that, I was lost. We had no more leads, no numbers to call. I decided to go somewhere, I can't remember. It doesn't really matter, because when you try to leave Lapis after this event, you get attacked by the federation fleet.
       
Note that you can barely see my ship (left-center).
       
The battle consists of two waves, each with six ships. They are deadly. If you end a round within firing range of a single one of them, they will blast through your shields and destroy the Whale with shots to spare. I was counting squares, trying to figure out how to pick them off one by one, ending each turn in precisely the right place to avoid damage but still set myself up for the next turn. Then I realized I hadn't tried my new Cloaking Device. It completely trivialized the battle. Enemies couldn't see me with the device activated, so they just fired randomly. As long as I turned it on at the beginning of each turn, I could sit within full range of all of the enemies and pick them off at my leisure.
    
I never really figured out what the Hologram device accomplished, and like I reported last time, the Instant Bomb never seemed to do anything at all.
        
I won anyway.
            
Again, with the fleet destroyed, I still had no clues or leads. No one called to give me anything new to do. It's possible, likely even, that if I had done a circuit of the planets and talked to all the NPCs again, someone would have given me the final mission. But by now I was sick of the game, and I had looked at walkthroughs so often that I figured it didn't hurt to look at one more. I learned that the final stage was to take a bomb back to the computer room on Sky Boulevard and set it off.
    
We'd already bought a bomb and left it sitting on the shop counter on the asteroid, so we returned there to pick it up, then flew to Sky Boulevard. The computer room was still open and unguarded from our last visit. Mr. Wellsgolf took a few shots at us as we walked past.
   
We planted the bomb by one of the computers, and the game started a countdown timer from 500--moving fast. We tried to beam out, but something was blocking the transmission. We had to flee back to the center of the station and beam out from there. That produced the endgame message at the top of this entry. The closing credits have lyrics from "Money for Nothing." I honestly would have thought that "Money for Nothing" came out after 1993, if only just a couple of years after, but it turns out that it was released in 1985. Bloody hell.
          
In a world of teleporters, who needs to waste time shooting thermal exhaust ports?
       
Whale's Voyage is a game of horrendous missed opportunities. With a little more creativity and effort, the authors could have created a series of puzzles that called upon the creativity of the player and the chosen skills of the characters. With a less deterministic and favorable trading system, they could have created a robust economy that had the player analyzing trades before almost every voyage. They had all the ingredients necessary for a tactical ship combat system, but it needed more options and better balance.
        
They could have made a much more interesting game out of this.
     
The game has the mechanics of an RPG but not the reality of it. There are only a handful of battles in the game, and they're all scripted. Only one character can fight at a time, and his only asset is his weapon; there are no pieces of armor or other inventory items that make any sort of difference. Traps and mines can only be used in precise locations as puzzle-solvers. I admit I didn't try grenades.
    
Finally, the interface is such a crime against nature that it beggars belief that it wasn't fixed for the CD version. And yet it's infuriating because it has so much promise. I particularly like the ability to set party roles, and making certain interface elements dependent on those roles, or on using certain inventory items. But I don't understand how even joystick players enjoyed moving a barely-visible cursor around to more than 20 buttons clustered into one-third of the screen. And those stupid temperature and oxygen content gauges sat there on the screen for the entire game and were never used for anything.
   
Aaaargh.
   
GIMLET:
     
  • 4 points for the game world. There's some promise here, but it needed more of a backstory, particularly to make the player feel good about blowing up an entire space station at the end. I did appreciate the detailed planetary descriptions, but what you actually find on the planets is underwhelming.
        
The story is good with geography, not so good with politics.
       
  • 2 points for character creation and development. An interesting character creation system is mostly ruined by having none of the classes, races, or skills matter much during the game itself. Development was sporadic and sudden, and it never felt like it was making us stronger or more capable (probably because of the game's linearity). Most of the skills are unused or used once.
  • 3 points for very frustrating NPC interaction. The dialogue on both sides rarely makes any sense. Why have separate options for "Hi" and "Hey you!" but not separate responses? Why act as if the player has options and then force them to go through everything. Why so many NPCs who just yell at you? Why have bartenders who never want to serve you a drink? Why is everybody so weird?
       
Good talk.
       
  • 2 points for encounters and foes. "Foes" are just people who blast at you. There are no tactics but to blast back. The non-combat puzzles are illogical and forced.
  • 2 points for combat. I've already explained how that was ruined.
  • 4 points for equipment. One of the game's strengths is the ability to look at any piece of equipment and get a full description, including statistics if you have the "Identify Weapon" skill. The game has a dearth of standard wearable/usable RPG equipment, but I like "equipment" that enhances the UI, particularly the varieties of RoomScanners. Amberstar and Ambermoon have a similar approach to making you earn your GUI.
    
The best part of the game.
       
  • 2 points for an economy with promising elements but ruined by lack of balance. Did the authors really imagine people were going to spend time mining with trade so favorable?
  • 2 points for a main quest line that gives you no options. I saw exactly two side quests, both of them kind of stupid in one way or another, and I'm not inclined to give an extra point for those.
      
The end to one of those side quests.
      
  • 2 points for graphics, sound, and interface. I give no points for the interface. Every image of the Whale looked nice, but regular exploration graphics didn't do much for me. They try to achieve more than the resolution supports. There were a few nice sound effects, but not only can you not turn them on or off independently of the music, you can't even turn the music off.
  • 2 points for gameplay. It gets that for having a modest length. But most of the verdict here is negative: too linear, not replayable, and alternately moronically easy and absolutely exasperating.
   
That brings us to a final score of 25
           
The Whale looks a bit like Moya from Farscape here.
          
Whale's Voyage was extensively reviewed in European magazines of the period, with a low of 35% in the Swedish Datormagazin (August 1993) and a high of 85% in the French Joystick (March 1994). In general, magazines that rated the CD32 version tended to rate it higher than the regular Amiga version, which tended to get higher ratings than the DOS version. CD32 reviewers seemed to be happy to have something to review other than simple action games (this was the first game with RPG elements for the platform; there would only be a handful of others). A number of reviewers were encouraging of an Austrian developer entering the market.
      
The lowest review for which I could find full text online, is from the August 1993 CU Amiga. Reviewer Paul Presley gave it 45%. The review starts:
     
Let's see, how do you best describe Whale's Voyage? Hmm . . . take Elite. Now take all the bits that made Elite good . . . and throw them out. Next reduce the hundreds of visitable planets to six and add a sub-standard Eye of the Beholder routine to simulate planet exploring. Hey presto. Whale's Voyage. And boy does it flounder.
    
The rest of the review finds some praise for the character creation process and some of the graphics but basically just mocks the game. 
   
On the other end of the scale, the Joystick review came in at 85%, but I don't get the impression that the reviewer got very far. He seemed to regard it more as a trading game than anything else. Like me, he contrasted the nice space-based graphics with less than pleasant planetary graphics. Not a word about the interface unless I mistranslated something.
         
I didn't translate all the reviews, but I couldn't find any that had anything to say about the control scheme. How did no one else note how awful it was? Am I the only one who thinks it's awful? 
     
A shot from Whale's Voyage II.There's a mouse cursor, everyone has a weapon, and the dialogue options actually make sense. So far, so good.
         
Though not publishing many more RPG or RPG hybrids, Neo would be around for a while, with a variety of action, simulation, and strategy games throughout the 1990s. Other than Whale's Voyage II, it doesn't appear that any of them are RPGs. The company was acquired by Take Two Interactive in 2001. Take Two owns Rockstar Games, and they rebranded Neo as Rockstar Vienna. The studio handled German conversions of series like Max Payne and Grand Theft Auto before they were abruptly closed in 2006. Lead developer Hannes Seifert continued in the gaming industry with credits on the Hitman series by IO Interactive through 2018. His LinkedIn profile shows him currently working for Riot Games.
      
1995 saw the sequel to Whale's Voyage, subtitled Die ├ťbermacht ("The Superiority"). It was released only in German, although there have been fan translations. I watched some YouTube videos of the game, and it seems to have promise. I don't know if it has any better keyboard controls, but it at least supports a mouse. The graphics are clearer even with a switch to continuous movement instead of tiled movement. The exploration window is more interactive. All characters can attack in combat. Dialogue seems less bizarre. I won't say I'm "looking forward" to it, but at least it's possible that I shouldn't dread it.
      

46 comments:

  1. I guess you didn't have a whale of a time with this one? Anyway, congratulations with another notch on your desktop.

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  2. That really is a very good illustration of the titanium merchant.

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  3. The most exciting thing about this update is Betrayal at Krondor appearing on the upcoming games list

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    1. Hell yeah. BaK is such a treat, especially the music. After so many years, I still listen to it sometimes.

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    2. I never clicked with BaK. I did not enjoy what was told, how it was told, and how it was played, any of the at least 40 times I reinstalled the game and each time went just a bit further.

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    3. I too, was very happy to see this!

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    4. This was exactly my thought. Can't wait to see Chester try and review this absolute classic.

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    5. Looking forward to BaK coverage.

      I replayed it a couple of years ago and I didn't find it as good as I remembered (mostly because of the clunky movement and badly aged 3D graphics), but it is still a hugely impressive game for its time, the attention to detail and the care with which the setting was realized in game form is truly remarkable.

      Turn-based combat, varied items and spell systems, interesting narrative structure, vast world with lots of optional encounters, riddles... I cannot imagine Chet not enjoying it to some extent at least.

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    6. I was going to add that BAK is the first game involving a famous published fantasy author, but I'm thinking the Gold Box games probably did that several years earlier?

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    7. Maybe Douglas Adams did it first

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    8. BaK didn't really involve Raymond "you can't afford me" Feist, did it? All the writing was by Neal Hallford, AFAIK. I reread the Riftwar Saga before playing BaK, and actually found the writing in the game superior (less juvenile).

      IIRC Douglas Adams was directly involved with the Adventure game Bureaucracy, and maybe others.

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    9. I have been waiting for BaK for what, like 3+ years now? When did 1993 games start?

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    10. Good point about Douglas Adams! That was all the way back in 1984 (although it's not an RPG). I'd also argue that Adams is more famous than Feist, but YMMV on that.

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    11. "Can't wait to see Chester try and review this absolute classic." That suggests that this commenter thinks there's a possibility that I might somehow fail.

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    12. Besides Hitchhiker's and Bureaucracy, Adams was also to some extent involved in Lucasfilm Games' Labyrinth (and much later in Starship Titanic).

      If we don't stick to the fantasy genre (not sure if Adams is "fantasy" either), there is also e.g. Michael Crichton and Amazon (1984). Both Adams and Crichton were quite interested by computers.

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    13. A couple years after Hitchhiker's, and also (like Adams) more a science fiction than fantasy author, but there's Thomas Disch's Amnesia from 1986. (And for other famous authors, there's Mindwheel in 1984 by Robert Pinsky, later the Poet Laureate of the United States).

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    14. Not in the same vein, but Michael Berlyn was already a published author before venturing into creating text adventures with Oo-Topos and went on to become an Infocom implementer.

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    15. This thread made me curious if there were other examples I had forgotten or did not yet know about, so I looked at two articles about the subject of (famous) writers (of books) who worked on video games here and here (going from older games up to recent ones, like George R.R. Martin penning the lore of Elden Ring).

      Additional rather earlier entries, all from the adventure genre, I had previously heard about include Arthur C Clarke with Rama (1984, though, according to the Digital Antiquarian's coverage, his participation was rather limited), Harlan Ellison - I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream (1995) and Terry Pratchett and the Discworld games in the mid- to late 90s (it seems he also had some input on 1986's The Colour of Magic).

      But I was not aware e.g. of Pratchett's love for TES which apparently led to him writing the dialogue for a mod of Oblivion (his favorite game) that added a new companion to the game and a similar mod for Skyrim that added her descendant.

      Or that Orson Scott Card is credited with writing the dialogue for the famous insult sword fighting in The Secret of Monkey Island (!).

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    16. Didn't know Pratchett liked Oblivion, but I remember him being active in the Thief: The Dark Project newsgroup on Usenet.

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    17. Count me in the group of people who doesn't care for Krondor; Just because you can write more doesn't mean you should, and Krondor is a very good example of why less is more.

      Anyway, Telarium had a lot of games which bragged about having famous authors writing in them. One of which was Roger Zelazny, who would definitely qualify as the first famous fantasy writer attached to a game. In my experience I'm not so sure that Feist is that famous, considering I've only ever seen a book of his once, and even then that was just bragging about its connection to the game, long after the fact.

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    18. I too can’t wait for BaK. It’s my favorite gaming experience/ memory. If the review doesn’t validate my personal
      opinion, then Chester is clearly some kind of bad person/murderer (more than likely).

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    19. @Morpheus: I guess it depends on your definition of "involved" or "attached". If it just means his name shows up on the box, Zelazny definitely is a prime candidate - Nine Princes in Amber (1985) is based on two of his novels, one of them being the namesake one.

      When looking at some (more) actual involvement in creating and defining the game as such, I'm not so sure. He is not mentioned as one of the writers or other creators on Wikipedia or mobygames and according to the Digital Antiquarian, he "was happy to cash Telarium’s checks, but otherwise contributed even less to the project than had Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury [Fahrenheit 451, 1984] to their respective games. He did graciously sign his name to a suitable back-of-the-box blurb [...]. The actual game, however, is a product of the same committee approach that yielded Perry Mason."

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    20. I note that almost all games mentioned here are adventure games; so I am curious what is the first _RPG_ that involves a well-known writer.

      And yes, as Busca points out, there's quite a gap between actual involvement (as in Douglas Adams), and just allowing the use of their world/name/characters (as in Zelazny and for that matter Feist).

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    21. If Zelazny isn't credited on the actual game, I'm sure that's the end of it, which does make it seem like there are very few fantasy writers who actually had a hand in a game adaptation of their work. Certainly no RPGs, unless there's some European title with regional popularity.

      @Dalinar, hmm, Elden Ring? Well, you didn't say fantasy writer and I still have that in my thoughts, but there's probably someone else before that either way.

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  4. Congrats on another win. And thanks for your patience - as others have said, your articles about games which are badly designed or at least not to your liking, sometimes are among the most entertaining reads.

    Since you have (understandably) not tried to contact the developers and as I'm not sure any of them will show up here after what you threatened them with, I'll take the liberty to copy a few comments one of them, Peter Baust├Ądter ('eggnoggerino') made on some of Kikoskia's LP videos in 2010/2011:

    "It was our first big effort - Hannes Seifert and me (Peter Baustaedter) made one game before WV, also an RPG but much smaller, good training for WV though. We were all around 21, 22 years old and had a lot of fun making it. Watching this makes me quite sentimental, missing a past where a couple of kids could just sit down and say "What kind of game would be fun to make"? Hannes & Niki are still in games, very successfully too. After WV I started a career in visual fx."

    "I moved from games to post production. Then, in 1995 I moved to the United States to work on visual effects for movies. Still doing that - these days I'm a digital matte and environment artist working as a freelancer."

    "it's so long ago and all I remember was how much fun it was making a game back then. We were two, and then four people working on it and we could do whatever we wanted and thought up. I've worked on a few games ever since and everything has gotten so huge and money centered ... needless to say one can't do what one wants anymore - it's all focus groups, marketing, politics, etc."

    "WV was obviously quite inspired by Elite / Frontier. I used to play it a lot back then and soem [sic] of the principles flowed into this game. It's so strange to look at this - it beams me right back to 1992 when we worked on this. The core crew were 4 people, with some other ones coming in to finish it."

    "The music was done for 'adlib' compatible soundcards back then (soundblaster). The format is called .hsc and there are some players for that format out there and AFAIK you can find the files too. The music was made by Hannes our team lead and lead programmer. He coded his own sound routines and the tracks are awesome - he was on fire back then. I actually composed the game over track on the Amiga and he translated it to .hsc"

    "We pretty much had only 32 colors for the whole rpg section of the game. 32 colors for the menus, the dungeon display and everything else. We needed to use the same palette for everything. So in order to get variation, we also had to deploy the really ugly colors in the palette too."


    And finally, as a sort of vindication for you, in reply to other commenters criticizing the interface:
    "Hey! I designed that interface! But yes, it's clunky ..."

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    1. IMDb last has Peter Baustaedter as the visual effects arts director for the well reviewed TV show Spartacus: Blood and Sand (2010-2013). His LinkedIn notes he worked on the more recent Rings of Power series, though. Maybe RPGs (or control schemes) weren't his thing, but he's had a pretty accomplished career in visual effects / matte painting when you look at the list of projects he's worked on (or I'm just a sucker for Strange Days and Fifth Element).

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    2. The European Amiga scene held on to the ethos of the "bedroom coders" from r a long time, didn't it? Many big releases for that platform were created by a small circle of friends way into the nineties. You don't get such big releases for PCs as the primary platform at that time anymore, I think (not until the rise of the Indie scene with Kickstarter, Steam Greenlight and itch.ii, at least).

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    3. I think that's more symptomatic for the European developer scene in general (UK maybe excluded). Smaller markets (and a lag in technology adoption) means less money and smaller teams. I think one of the reasons Germany produced so many management games in the 90s is that they were just much cheaper to make.

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    4. His IMDB just hasn't been updated, though curiously it lists that he won an award for Rings of Power, but not that he actually worked on it. That said, I wonder if he would have been better at interfaces if he didn't have to stick to joystick controls...

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  5. Datormagazin did a lot of complaining about the controles.

    "The controles is the next fiasco. Instead of the practical mouse the game makers have chosen the joystick and menus as a control tool. All battles take place in real time and that In the heat of battle try to jump to the submenu where the coat of arms is elective at the same time as one's old man constantly takes a beating is a Nasty experience I don't re-.compilment someone to expose because it's all terrible"

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    1. Thank you. Good to hear. Please choose a name next time.

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    2. Sorry it was me, I used to comment some before, I just was intrigued why datormagazinet score was so low.
      And sorry for not correcting Google translate. Cote of arms is weapon and old man is guy.

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  6. Congratulations! Wow, that was quite underwhelming. Guess I can be glad now I never played it.
    The interview in the comments is telling. The inspiration was a space trading game, not an RPG. The best part of the game seems to be the music.

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    1. The character generation music, which does differ from version to version, is the best music I'd heard in a long time. It alone is the reason I kept trying to make the game work.

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  7. I was going to say that "Money for Nothing" seems extraordinarily 80s to me, but maybe I just mean that it was on the radio before I stopped listening to it.

    Anyway, thank you for playing this game so we don't have to. At least that soundtrack you linked a while back was kind of cool.

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    1. My music collection includes exactly three songs written after 1970, so I'm never the best person to estimate such things.

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  8. "when I opened the cell, he was hostile and started blasting at me (apparently, they let him have a gun in his cell)" for some reason this part made me laugh a lot.

    Everyone in the game I guess has a gun and shoots the exact same way. Which gets me in my childish mind with the fact that they all shoot from the crotch.... Plus that prisoner being taller than the door so he can't even see you.

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  9. This seems like it would be a scene in a bad action movie.
    Many, but the only one that comes to mind is The Last Boy Scout using "circumvented" in lieu of "manipulated."

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    1. You're saying that The Last Boy Scout is a bad action movie?

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    2. Seriously, though: I'm 100% sure that I was thinking of that scene.

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  10. Shooting through walls? Hardly sporting, old chap!

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  11. Going through Mobygames' review section for the game, 2 German magazines mention the controls. "Power Play" says they're tremendously clunky, but "Mega Fun" praises them for being tailor-made for the joypad...

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  12. I looked at some of the German magazines and whether or not they mention the controls.

    In PowerPlay 9/93, Knut Gollert mentions that a "player of PC roleplaying games who is spoiled by mouse controls is forced to switch to joystick and keyboard, which is initially difficult".

    Michael Hengst (PowerPlay 2/94, review of the CD version) calls the joystick controls "fussy". Heinrich Lenhardt (PC Player 8/93) calls the controls cumbersome .

    Interestingly, the review for the ASM (2/94) praises the controls of the Amiga CD32 version, which use the system's gamepad, from what I understand. Quite a few of the other reviews I've found mention the controls, mostly calling them unusual.

    I find it interesting when reading older reviews how certain things are mentioned casually in the review when, for me, they would be a huge barrier for playing the game. Probably because with so many old games I could be playing, why would I play one that, like this one, is really cumbersome to play if I have enough alternatives?

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  13. Well. So ends Whales Voyage.

    A game I wanted to adore in 1993 that looked amazing but I was so confused by everything I never managed to get very far.

    It turns out it was it, and not me.

    It's sat on my computer for decades, and twice I'd tried to fire it up and play it again. Never could get much past character creation.

    I'm glad to know it wasn't just me. It's just not a very good game it would appear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny how the experience of buying a nice-looking game and finding it disappointing never changes, whether it's Whale's Voyage or Starfield.

      Delete
  14. "the types of illogical puzzles that adventure gamers hate"

    I think it might be more appropriate to say that adventure gamers love to hate these illogical puzzles and hate to love them. I don't know if a game really qualifies as an adventure without at least one WTF moment in its design.

    ReplyDelete

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