Sunday, October 2, 2011

Game 65: Wasteland (1988)

United States
Interplay (developer); Electronic Arts (publisher)
Released 1988 for Apple II and Commodore 64; 1989 for DOS
Date Started: 2 October 2011

What is that sound high in the air
Murmur of maternal lamentation
Who are those hooded hordes swarming
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth
Ringed by the flat horizon only
What is the city over the mountains
Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air
Falling towers
Jerusalem Athens Alexandria
Vienna London

I had little idea what to expect when starting Wasteland, other than dozens of you love the game and have all but threatened me with bodily harm should I not love it myself. As I indicated a few months ago, I'm not a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, but I can try to suppress that for good gameplay.

Having not even looked at a screen shot before yesterday, I was thus rather unprepared to find a strange hybrid between The Bard's Tale (in combat), Ultima IV/V (in dialogue and the top-down perspective), Pool of Radiance (in the use of journal entries), and perhaps Demon's Winter (in the direct application of skills and items). The latter point is something I'll have to cover in more detail below, because it confounded me for a while.

But first, the story: The game postulates an escalating arms and space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (and their respective allies) between 1987 and 1998. In 1998, just as a new space station was supposed to go online, all of Earth's orbital satellites disappeared, causing the two superpowers to panic and launch "90 percent of their nuclear arsenals," destroying most of civilization.

The PCs come from an outpost in the southwestern United States that used to be a federal prison. The small civilization is made up of the remnants of a company of U.S. Army engineers, who were doing some work in the area, and some local "survivalist communities." The nascent civilization established a martial force called the Desert Rangers to make contact with other civilizations and protect the community from assorted marauders, including the convicts whom the Army expelled from the prison.

The party consists of up to four player-created characters plus NPCs you can pick up along the way. Character creation was a difficult process for me. There are a standard set of attributes--strength, speed, charisma, IQ, agility, luck, and dexterity (odd to see speed, agility, and dexterity)--rolled randomly from 3 to 18, which is no big deal, but then you select from up to 27 different skills. The game manual indicates that the selection of skills, and the number you could select, are both determined by the IQ score, so for all four characters, I shot for the highest IQ I could.

Allotting skills.

The problem was in determining what skills to assign. In all games that feature skills, you almost have to play the game once to get a sense of what skills are valuable. Games have a way of making particular skills sound valuable, then pulling the rug out from under you. For instance, Wasteland features a skill called "acrobat," which the game indicates "can get you out of a tough situation--like leaping off of bar counters while you're surrounded by a hostile crowd." This sounds potentially useful, but it may turn out that there are only four situations in the entire game in which you have to leap off a bar counter, and all of them have alternate solutions. There are several others--"demolition," "forgery," "alarm disarm," "bureaucracy"--that could either be extraordinarily useful throughout the game or utterly worthless. Only time will tell. I gave everyone at least one combat-oriented skill and made the best guesses I could from there.

In character creation, you also get to choose nationalities, including U.S., Russian, Chinese, Indian, and Mexican. I chose one each of everyone but Chinese, wondering at the same time how to explain such a diverse group in the American southwest just before a nuclear war.

I started out in Ranger Center--the converted prison--without a lot of clues about what to do. The manual indicates that my team has been "assigned to investigate a series of disturbances in the desert" and that I need to check a town called Highpool, an agricultural center, and the camp of the Rail Nomads. At first, I thought the game had started me with no weapons or equipment, and I fought the first few battles with my bare hands, but then I realized I actually had an extensive inventory of pistols, ammunition, and goods.

That hand mirror will come in handy.

West of the Ranger Center, I found the town of Highpool, which I wandered around for a while. I like how the game's message box changes to tell me a little about the features and buildings I'm passing:

This isn't entirely useless information, I don't think, as one of my quests has to do with repairing a pump.
Wandering into a shop, I was greeted by a note that seemed to offer a sort of "quest list" for Highpool:

I wasn't sure what any of the items really meant, but in the southwest corner of town, I ran into a child--Bobby, it turned out--who offered me some hints, when prompted by certain keywords, about these quests.

NAME, JOB, and HEALTH don't produce any responses, regrettably.

At this point, I got stuck for almost an hour. Bobby had told me that the cave was hidden behind some bushes, but I wandered all over the place and didn't find it. After a long time screwing around, I realized I need to "use" my "perception" skill to find the cave, but even then it took about 30 minutes of searching every bush in the area. I then had to use a rope to climb down.

The game is unique in the way that you can directly employ skills, items, and even attributes through the "use" command. In another place, for instance, I found a locked door, but I was able to "use" my strength to force it open--I assume I could similarly have used my lock picking skill. Usually, games tell you the scenario and offer you the option of using your various skills; this is the only one I've played that really forces you to pay close attention to your surroundings and figure out what skill works best. In another location, I found a shop that indicated there was gambling going on, but I didn't take the "gambling" skill, so I assume that's why I wasn't offered the option to play a game.

To interact with some characters, you have to start an "encounter" with them. This took me a while to figure out.

After that, I really hosed things up. I entered the cave but had to kill Bobby's rabid (or mutated dog). Though I found the missing Jackie (who joined my party), when I exited the cave I was confronted by a heartbroken Bobby, who attacked me and forced me to kill him. I then got into a tussle with a bunch of local kids who laughed at me for falling into a stream and ended up essentially massacring the town. Not a great start. Now that I know a little more about how the game is played, I think I'm going to roll up some more characters and try different skills.

Shooting a kid whose dog you killed is not a great start to the adventure.

On combat, I will say that it's remarkably like The Bard's Tale II and III, which makes sense, as they are both Interplay games. Enemies start from a distance and you have various options for attacking, evading, and fleeing. After you queue up actions for each character, the game executes them--I think in order of the character's speed.

The rabid dog would not let me "hire" him.

The shops are also very Bard's Tale-ish:

$10 for a match. Nuclear apocalypses are really tough on inflation.

As I prepare to start over, I am intrigued by the various gameplay elements and innovations, and I'm beginning to see why so many people like it. But there's a lot to get used to. I'm not entirely sure how firearms and ammunition work, for instance, and I don't know how to determine which of my pistols does the most damage. There doesn't seem to be any way that I can find to "advance" across a field of combat, so I'm not sure what to do when there are 40 feet between me and the enemy and I only have melee weapons. I'm sure it will sort itself out.

In the meantime, I'll be impressed if anyone gets my opening verse without Googling it. I thought it was eerily appropriate.


  1. Not that I recognized your opening verse, but Google confirms it is from the obvious source.

  2. Well i guessed right about the poet but couldn't remember the poem's name without googling it, does it count? :).

    Also about advancing, i don't remember it well but you could run to your enemies if i recall correctly.

  3. I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

  4. Well, it's not Dancing With Tears In My Eyes, that much is obvious ;)

  5. This game directly inspired the Fallout series and many game journalists put it at the top of the best CRPGs of all time lists.


  6. "realized I need to "use" my "perception" skill to find the cave"
    This is one of the things I don't like too much about Wasteland. It can't make up its mind wether Perception is a passive or an active skill. Personally I think it should be passive. Having to guess when and where the designers intended for you to use it (and some items and other skills) actively smacks too much of Adventure games for my taste.

    It's funny to read that you had the excact same problems as me with this and figuring out how to make Jackie join the group.

    The latter should give you a hint that it is not necessary to kill Bobby, though. He doesn't really attack you so you can just walk away from him.

    "I'm not entirely sure how firearms and ammunition work, for instance, and I don't know how to determine which of my pistols does the most damage."

    Logically a .45 caliber gun should do more damage than a 9 mm gun, but in my experience what feels logical and "realistic" to me is now always how it plays out in Wasteland. I felt that Rifles hit less often and didn't do more damage than small firearms, for example.

    Be very careful about Equipping ammo clips. Even if your gun is still loaded this will waste the whole clip reloading the gun. Ammo is scarce in Wasteland...

    Use Run to move your party, or single characters, closer or away from the enemies. You can even slit the party in two, with the melee types in one and those with guns in the other. One thing I _did_ like about Wasteland combat is that you can use walls and corners to your advantage.

  7. BTW, no comments on the "fix water purifier"?!?

  8. I'm surprised you didn't use the games opening quote, "Diplomatic solutions to the world's problems fail and war erupts as some madmen press ahead with their insane dreams."

  9. I only know this from reading a Lets Play: XP is awarded to whomever kills the monster. So support characters will level up very slowly.

    Hope that doesn't count as a spoiler.

  10. Oh, duh, T. S. Eliot. I must admit, the only poem of his I'm familiar with is The Hollow Men.

    On a related topic:

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

  11. A couple of tips:

    * "disband" just means to split up your party members into separate action groups - not to completely disband your party (although you use that command to dismiss NPCs if you want to get rid of them, but it will ask you if you want to do that first)

    * As already mentioned, you use the 'run' command to move in combat. Combat actually takes place on the map you're on, even though the initial combat interface makes it look like it's abstract. I think there is an option to look at the map in the combat menu.

    * The game saves automatically in the only save slot when you enter/leave locations. There are a few places where you get pushed out of locations automatically, which means it's possible to autosave yourself in a really bad situation. I'd recommend making regular backups of your game directory here or else you can end up losing your entire party and potentially having to redo massive amounts of the game. I don't know if the developers intended it this way or if it was just to make it so you didn't have to manually save all of the time, but this game was definitely the first to make me feel like my actions had consequences, as you could rarely do things without fear of not being able to restore.

  12. I was all set to start playing this along with you, but then I ended up installing a new Linux version on the whole drive, so I'll have to grab it again. Good thing I wasn't halfway in...

    I read on someone else's walkthrough that disbanding your party allows you to talk to more people individually and getting additional quests. (Especially if you have a high charisma party member). Sounded like you ought to do that often.

  13. This game has a rather extensive manual as well as a shorter 'help' card. The manual may be helpful to you. As well, it is entertaining in its own right.

    You can get a scanned copy of the manual and 'help' card here:

  14. I would hope that CRPG Addict is using the manual already, as Wasteland is one of those games that is filled with the annoying "read paragraph X" prompts.

  15. I have started to play it myself now ... this is not really an easy one!

  16. Yeah. Despite being a post-nuclear fiction fan myself, I've tried and failed a couple of times to get into Wasteland. Its interface just hasn't aged well.

  17. I was not talking about the interface. The game itself is hard

  18. I think I would have been able to stick with Wasteland if I had the actual paper journal. Referencing a PDF got tedious.

    Starting playing The Magic Candle. This game is *slow*. And I don't mean the pacing, I mean the actual speed of the game. Each step takes a bit over a second to execute on a 8mhz machine. I guess DOSBox would alleviate that, but it looks like I'll be at this for awhile.

  19. bbbbbbbbRaifield:
    They have these magic things called 'printers' nowadays. They take PDFs and make them paper.

  20. Raifield, just started playing The Magic Candle myself. Very nice game.
    It should be one of the first on Mr Addict's list once he's finished with 1988.

  21. I tried to play this game so many times, but it is just too unforgiving. My most recent attempt, I got my main character slaughtered, and then I got kicked out of the zone I was in, so his death was permanently saved. I spent 4 hours building that character up trying to make him strong, and BAM, dead gone, and I can't even restore. Screw this game.

  22. Someone's been watching Zardoz, I see...

  23. As a note: If you do want a nice backup service that lets you restore to any point in time Bitbucket now supports both Git and Mercurial, the two best version control systems.

    I use Mercurial as Git is only now supported in free, private archives. It also has better Windows support, with right-click commits and backups to the server. You could just put your whole DOSBox folder in a Mercurial archive then commit all changes.
    However I had a thought: If you use a free, open source archive we could download your save games and see where you are. Doubly easy if you put your whole DOSBox folder in there.

    Also: Now that you are playing again are you interested in that IRC channel?

  24. There is a text version of the paragraphs floating in the web. This helps.

  25. I'm also not a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, but Wasteland was one of my favorite CRPGs. I played it shortly after it was released and replayed it about seven years ago.

  26. if you missed the cave clues, asking about it to other characters iirc, tells you where it is, or bobby tells you where it is. or the room you break into next to the store tells you. there are clues in highpool about its location.

    watch out for the Red Ryder in highpool!! :)

  27. Bobby actually tells you exactly where the cave is. After several times talking to him.
    Curiously, my second party failed to realize that a rope needs to be added a couple of times and using it did not work a few times.

  28. Wasteland has its flaws, but it's still a lot of fun. My ex-husband had bought it for himself, then gave it to me after declaring it "too unrealistic". I played it through and loved it.

    Once you get the quirks sorted out, you'll either love it or hate it. I hope you'll love it.

  29. No idea wether other people have told you this, but be VERY careful whenever you exit a location, because the game automatically saves *on the only damned available slot* - I learned this the hard way when two of my chars died (permanently, of course) because I couldn't get them to a doctor in time. Horrible, horrible design choice for an otherwise marvelous game.

    Wait till you get to the Citadel and start blowing up those damn nuns with RPGs - those were the times! :D

  30. I'm telling you addict: Version control system.

    How I back up things in Mercurial:
    Right click on folder with stuff I want to back up.
    Select files if they are new.
    Possibly type a comment on what changed
    Hit commit.
    Optional: Right click and hit synchronize to copy my files to BitBucket just in case.

  31. OMG
    The CRPG Addict has left us.
    Steve Jobs has left us.
    I.E. Steve "NOT-Chet the CRPG Addict" Jobs is dead.


    At least I hope not (cries a little).

    - Giauz

  32. Just read the interview at Toronto Thumbs - fun read and reminded me of all the reasons I like your blog. One is that I'm doing a chronological run-through myself, much sketchier than yours (I'm playing much fewer games but from all genres, not just RPGs, and being a little less strict with the rules since I usually only play during my hourlong morning commute). I'm lucky to be just slightly ahead of you so I really enjoy your recaps of the ones I've played - for instance, I finished Wasteland a little less than a year ago and I'm sure you'll find it interesting at the very least.
    You mentioned Wizardry 5 in the interview, which I've played very recently - I hope I'm not spoiling anything by telling you it really didn't advance the technology much since Wizardry 4. However, it is a lot more accessible than the previous games and I got about halfway through it - I eventually gave up because I spent an entire play session doing something over and over again waiting for a random occurrence which never happened. I looked up a walkthrough afterwards and it turned out I was doing exactly the right thing but was just unlucky. Suffice to say I'm happy I stopped playing where I did.
    I'm now in the second half of 1989 and playing Quest for Glory. I've never played it and have really been looking forward to it. Now I also have your playthrough to look forward to as well. Thanks for the blog and best of luck with all your "actual" responsibilities - I feel like I can relate any time there's an extended hiatus.

  33. The Quest for Glory series is among the best series of video games ever created. You'll definitely enjoy it. My personal favorite is the second one. I can play that game an endless amount of times.

    Even the fifth game has a certain amount of charm, if approached with the understanding that 3D was all the rage back in 1998 and every game had to have it, even if the quality suffered as a result.

    You know, like how movies are now.

  34. Not to stray too far off-topic, but QfG is indeed good. It's not a hardcore RPG series, though, but rather a Sierra adventure series with a good dose of RPG elements mixed in (classes, stats, leveling, random-ish combat encounters). The mix works fairly well, but they are definitely adventure games first and RPGs second.

    Also, there is an official 256-color point-and-click remake of the first game, whose original incarnation was a 16-color parser/click hybrid. The second game has a similar deal, except that the remake is fan-made (but reportedly of high quality).

    Also also, the QfG series lets you import your character from each game to the next, so keep those save files!

    I beat the 256-color remake when it was new, the 16-color sequel and also QfG3, but I didn't beat them in order so I didn't carry my character through. I hope to someday play the 16-color original, followed by the 256-color QfG2 remake, then the rest of the series so that I can see what I missed with parts 4 (which I've only partially played) and 5.

  35. It's funny, but the more movies become CGI and games become interactive movies, the less they both interest me. As a consequence I'm now a retro gamer and I haven't read so many books the past few years than I have since I was a kid.

    And like Bunyip I'm also doing a chronological run-through, with fewer games and more genres. Currently in early 1989 playing The Magic Candle.

  36. Hope everything's ok for you back there. Been waiting anxiously for your next update :)

  37. I worship at the altar of the QFG games. I played the VGA remake of the first game... played the second game at a friend's house. He went to bed, I stayed up allllll night playing it. I bought the third game shortly after it came out, and then bought the fourth game the day it came out. I think the first and fourth are my favorites, but they are all very high quality. I have played through all four about a dozen times each, minimum.

    That said, I hated the fifth game, and especially the combat, which was atrocious beyond belief. I struggled with that game for about a week before I realized I would never like it, or even respect it, and now prefer to pretend it was never released - it really betrayed the series in a number of ways.

    I also look forward to CRPGaddict getting to those, but I suspect the adventure aspects will result in lower scores than people think. It's definitely RPG lite lite. However, if the game's sense of humor aligns with the player's, it's a magical experience, the best Sierra had to offer.

  38. Don't worry, but I've got the tar and feathers ready, in case you don't love this game as much as I did years ago. :)

    Seriously, I don't remember the game being that hard. And it must have been rather short, because I think this is the only RPG I've ever actually completed - twice, if I remember correctly.

    But it's been a long time, so I'm anxious to see how the game looks these days. (I do remember that I loved being able to "use" skills, items, and attributes. But yeah, it was hard - in those days before the internet - to know what skills were really useful.)

  39. @JosephCurwen
    I don't know about a necessarily lower score for QfG, Beyond Zork didn't fare so bad. But it's also one of mine favourite series, that's why I dare to digress further into off-topic territory. :P
    I played Hero's Quest on the ST, and got reacquainted with the series when part 3 was released for the PC. I still think I like the first game best - the time-dependence of II, lack of difficulty of III and bugs of IV were small detriments to my enjoyment.
    Also it's great that fantastic series like QfG and Thief don't have a terrible last game that ruins the fun for everyone. ;)

  40. @trudodyr
    You make good points that are well taken! I developed about three different replies, but decided they all gave too much away about the games, and know CRPGaddict tries to avoid such things. I will try to remember when he gets there...

  41. JosephCurwen: There was a fan-made VGA version of Quest for Glory 2 a few years back,

    I started playing it and enjoyed their work quite well. I had to stop when I got to the actual combat unfortunately; my laptop didn't have a separate num pad and the num lock functionality didn't work right.

    Which reminds me, I picked up a cheap USB num pad a while back. Suppose time to give it a new shot soon.

  42. The VGA remake of QFG2 was good, but I found I still prefer the original one, though I do like the VGA version of QFG1 over the EGA one. I couldn't get a handle on the original QFG1's combat system.

    I remember when QFG2 first came out, my friend and I each got a copy. We were six years old and couldn't navigate the town at all, even with the map. Hilariously, my friend lost his copy when his mother caught us watching Shema dance. Never fails to amuse me when I remember that, twenty years later.

    Just fired up my old Tandy 1000SX, hoping to get some QFG action in...turns out a 8mhz NEC V20 simply isn't enough. Bummer. Probably needs at least a 286, though the system requirements do specify that the Tandy 1000 is supported.

    It is enough for Elite though, so not a total disappointment.

  43. I followed, in a loose kind of way, the AGI squad as they did their VGA remakes of QFG2 and KQ1-3. I even attempted the remake of KQ1, which I never much liked as a kid, and felt the game was exposed a little for what it truly was when the graphics were upgraded. Maybe someday I will have the time to actually go through all four remakes and compare them to the originals.

    KQ3 was the first adventure game I ever played, I got it for $5 at a yard sale, and remember the woman sternly telling me "good luck. You'll need it," or some line to that effect as I walked away with the box. And dammit, was that game hard... but back then, you just pushed through - not like today, were you get stuck and immediately look up the walkthrough on GameFAQS, etc.

    I don't remember Shema's dance being that scandalous! I had to YouTube it just now to refresh myself. You and your friend must have had horrible timing - the entire dance was about one minute long, lol. While my parents wouldn't have worried about a dancing cat, I'm pretty sure the Rusalka in QFG4 would have resulted in possible confiscation had I been just a little younger.

    Another thought: Are there any QFG parody games, like the Ultima 4.5 that CRPGaddict just played through?

  44. I'm aware of two QFG parody games, but both are in rather poor taste. One of the games I've played and while I don't remember the name, it apparently takes place between 1 and 2. The only thing I remember is that you wound up going on the date with the centaur's daughter and the game graphically depicts you and her having sex afterwards. I stopped playing at that point, as the parody was simply immature and not well done. I'm pretty sure that game wasn't Quest for Orgy, which is the other game I know of, but I could be wrong, there might be just that one parody.

    The game really deserves better than that.

    And I don't know how I could have forgotten about the Rusalka and the Paladin ending with her. "Pucker up lover boy..." yeeech!

  45. Wish there was an Edit button. A quick Google got me Quest for Glory 4.5: So You Thought You Were a Hero. This was the game I played. You can find it at the newer Home of the Underdogs site,

  46. I dimly remember that game. I don't think I ever played it, but I also remember the scene with the centaur's daughter mentioned above, so maybe I quit at the same point. I definitely never finished it.

    After those posts, I discovered there are a SLEW of tributes and parodies out there:

    Some look legitimately interesting.

  47. Doing a QfG parody just seems odd since the games are already rather satirical. Parodying a parody generally doesn't work well...

  48. I think CRPG Addict's 'rules' will dictate that he play the 1992 VGA Quest for Glory in the original version's 1989 time slot, but I think that due to significant differences between the two versions (text parser vs. point and click) he should play the EGA version instead. He could revisit the VGA version in 1992, much as he plans to do for later versions of Rogue.

    I really don't see the early QFGs as weak RPGs. I remember having great difficulties with the monsters, getting XP, sweet new spells, higher skills, and then kicking monster ass. Later installments seemed to have less of this, but that is only natural. After one saves a few kingdoms from doom one should not have much trouble walking around in the woods after dark.

    I must say I am looking forward to CRPG Addict's treatment of the QFG series more than any other. The Infinity Engine games are a close second.

    It will be at least a year before he gets to QFGII, but god I love that game.

  49. I also agree that he should play both versions of QFG1, as they're quite different.

  50. I'd certainly suggest sticking with the original QfG1. I've never quite liked the remake for some reason.

    I do love the series though, and I have the anthology and narrative clue book sitting nearby as I type this!

    Well, when I say series, I mean 1-4, since the fifth one just seems rather odd in my eyes and I could never bring myself to complete it. It's a mixture of the 3D graphics (terrible compared to the lovely 2D artwork of QfG4) and that they threw all the old characters back in from previous games. It felt like a funeral, everyone coming to pay their respects.

    Back on topic, I hope we hear more from the cRPG addict! I'd love to hear more about Wasteland, since I never played it (but learnt about it later when I'd played Fallout).

    Also in retro-CRPG news, I see have got Darklands, which is another of those often-mentioned CRPGs that I've never played. Might have to give it a go.

  51. If you're looking for a game you can sink hundreds of hours into, Darklands is second-to-none. One of the few games that could truthfully describe themselves as epic. Creating a party from scratch makes for a difficult game though. I remember creating parties until I got a group of characters capable of making more money working odd jobs while staying at the Inn than it was costing them. A somewhat cheap tactic, but I remember the early stages of the game being very difficult.

  52. If you're into old-school post-apoc RPGs, I've been running a Play-by-Skype game called "Tempora Mutantur":

    It's more "Scavengers of the Mutant World" than "Wasteland", but is inspired by both CRPGs

  53. The problem I had with Darklands is that every part of the gameworld was exactly alike. There seemed to be no reason to go anywhere, because everywhere else was just like where you started.

    In many ways, it was an amazing game for its time, but it had that one big flaw that kept me from playing it for long.

  54. I appreciate all of your Wasteland tips. By the time I get back into playing, I'm sure I'll have to start over again a third time.

    I did play the entire Quest for Glory series once, with Irene. I don't remember it all that well except that I thought the first game was rather campy (wasn't there a dumb Three Stooges sequence?) and I seem to remember liking the third best, but I don't know why. I don't remember V being particularly bad, but it was a long time ago. I look forward to giving them a try again.

  55. That's really interesting, re: QFG. I am a Three Stooges addict since an early age, so that sequence (which was actually a bit tricky!) was endearing to me, but I can see your point. There is a Marx Bros reference in the second game which most fans love but you might also find objectionable. Those games have a LOT of cultural references, if you find them campy you will likely be annoyed a lot - assuming you catch them.

    Also interesting that you liked the 3rd the best, which many/most fans think is the weakest. I would list a few criticisms, but am trying to avoid any possible spoilers.

    Finally, maybe I should give the fifth game a replay. I hated it so much the first time, and swore I would never touch it again... and am not even sure I still have the disc... but hey, in the spirit of this blog, maybe a second chance is in order.

    See you at the end of the month!

  56. I would like to second (third? fourth? eighteenth?) Quest for Glory. Good stuff!

  57. Joseph, I don't actually know for sure that it was III I liked. It's been so long, I may have them out of order. What was the one where there's this really hot girl in the water and you do something to solve her problem, and she turns into this hideous undead thing? I think that was the one I liked best. Not for that reason, but it's one of the few things I remember about it.

  58. Addict: That would be QfG IV, arguably the most popular title in the series. III was the one in the African/Egyptian themed area with all the liontaurs, panther people and tribal people.

  59. I seem to remember reading that the QfG series was originally envisioned as a 4-parter, where each game would take place in a different cardinal compass direction (North, South, East, West) and be associated with a different element (earth, fire, air, water). Supposedly, however, the creators felt after QfG2 that a filler game was then needed, which became QfG3.

  60. I don't even remember that one. Maybe I didn't play it. Again, a long time ago.

  61. If you really enjoyed Wasteland, consider helping the original team make Wasteland 2:

  62. As a note, Wasteland will be included as a pack-in with Wasteland 2.

  63. I guess I'm the odd man out, I didn't much like Hero's Quest (never even knew they changed the name), it was far too King's Quest for me. Those games drove me nuts...
    'get paper'
    'there is no paper here'
    'get letter'
    'there is no letter here'
    'get note'
    'you get the note'
    'look note'
    'its a note'
    'examine note'
    'its a note'
    'read note'
    'note says 'Welcome to Kings Quest 1!''

    Oh that annoying free text, that and the impossibility of not falling off narrow things when walking, ugh.

    Loved Wasteland though, even if I never could beat it as a kid.

    1. But that isn't remotely what Hero's Quest is like. As I pointed out in my last entry, the developers accounted for almost every variance in what you'd call something and gave appropriate messages. I've been frustrated like that with many adventure games, but I never experienced it for a second with HQ.

  64. For those who wanted to try wasteland but were unwilling to go to the effort of pirating it and making it work, or if you just dislike having to alt-tab to read journal entries or found the game graphically repugnant, it's getting a re-release and facelift in celebration of the upcoming sequel.

    It'll still look and feel like an old game, but a few of the rough edges that might have discouraged you from playing it have been smoothed over. I know I'll be giving it a second chance when it gets released later this week.

    1. I got a message from inXile saying that I could get a code now to redeem it on Steam *or* GOG. Unfortunately they also said that they are holding back the Linux release until they figure out how to do it, so I'm going to wait.

      I'd rather redeem on GOG, but GOG doesn't generally offer Linux versions of games and I don't want to lock myself out of the Linux option.

  65. I know plenty of people have covered all of your Wasteland postings with "HEY WASTELAND 2 IS GOING TO BE A THING!" comments, so I will refrain from talking about how it is out and awesome (:D) and just mention how appropriate it is that your first instinct, to give everyone high IQs, was the proper one. It is not often that anyone guesses what to do correctly in this era of CRPGs.

    Oh, and more importantly, the new InXile release of Wasteland on Steam includes the paragraphs "baked in" to the game rather than separate as classically, and a soundtrack(!), and either options to play at a higher resolution or just higher-resolution portraits, I forgot.

    1. It's just the portraits, although I think you can choose whether to also use DOSBox scaler effects.

      The biggest disappointment is that the new portraits are not animated like the old ones, so it's a tough choice.

      The soundtrack was also added later, as the new release originally had only one track from WL2 that looped continuously.

      Also, I don't think they really altered the actual game files. Instead, they made a special version of DOSBox that is able to see what the original game is doing as it runs and layer the enhancements over the top of it.

  66. Zardoz speaks to you: the gun is good!

  67. It is difficult to know how to create your characters at the beginning, so I thought I'd make some suggestions for future readers/players.

    Nationality doesn't matter, but create characters of both genders.

    You'll be able to increase your attributes by 2 points each time you level up so don't be obsessed with rolling for a high score in any single attribute. Instead look for decent set of scores across all of your attributes as a solid foundation to build on. Try to have at least 15 IQ so you can start with good skills. Charisma isn't too important, but it's nice to have one character with a high value. Strength isn't important if you never plan to melee, though I wouldn't recommend that.

    You can increase most of your skills just by using them, so you rarely want to spend skill points to get more than just the first level. This will also allow you to get a wide variety of skills.

    Everyone should have one level in Swim to cross water. It's also nice if everyone has one level in Medic because you never know who will be the last standing when combat ends. If you have spare skill points, may also want to purchase level two in Medic for at least one character to better handle extreme injuries in the early game. The other most important skills are Perception and Silent Move (which your character in the front spot should have) and Climb, Picklock, and Bomb Disarm.

    Skills like Gamble, Confidence, Sleight of Hand, Forgery, Alarm Disarm, Bureaucracy, Safecrack, Cryptology, and Metallurgy have occasional uses, but they are also not essential. Without a guide it's easy to completely miss where they are useful. But you should probably have enough skill points to get one level in each among your four characters and not miss out on anything. (Confidence and Bureaucracy, if you get them, should go to a character with high Charisma.)

    (Increasing your skills through use gives you experience, which means it can be worthwhile to give all your characters skills like Perception, Climb, Swim, and Acrobat which will get used while simply moving around in some areas. But be careful, as this can be exploited and imbalance the game.)

    As for combat skills, melee is especially effective early in the game and it gives you double experience for killing enemies, so unless you want to completely stick to guns you should invest two levels in Brawling in order to start with two melee attacks per round.

    The gun skills are Clip Pistol, Rifle, SMG, and Assault Rifle, and you'll gradually find guns of that type in the same order. Clip pistols and rifles let you attack from range but they aren't nearly as strong as melee, so they are optional. SMG is a little more useful, and Assault Rifle will be essential.

    Demolitions (grenades, tnt, and plastic explosive) and AT Weapon (mangler, sabot rocket, law rocket, and rpgs) are also optional, but you should probably give it to at least one or two of your characters so that you can use those items when you find them.

    If you take the time to build Pugilism to a high level (along with Brawling) you could have a strong unarmed melee fighter, but I've never bothered to do it. Knife Fighting and especially Knife Throwing don't remain very useful as better weapons become available. Combat Shooting appears to not do anything.

    You can save extra skill points to use later when better skills are available (you'll want to raise your IQ to at least 24 to access everything). Or you can consider purchasing level 2 for skills like Perception, Pick Lock, and Bomb Disarm because they'll be used so frequently. If you don't have enough skill points for some reason, you can delay getting Forgery, Cryptology, SMG and Assault Rifle until later in the game.

    1. Asimpkins, thanks for the build suggestions. This one's been on my to-play list for a while, and it's always sounded complicated to start. I'm saving this for future reference.

  68. No problem, here are some character development tips for the rest of the game.

    As I mentioned, you'll get two points to spend on your attributes every level. You'll get an extra skill point along with every point into IQ, and ideally you'll raise everyone to at least 23 to qualify for Energy Weapons and one character to 24 for Cyborg Tech. Of course, if you still find yourself short on skill points you can raise IQ a little more to get the points you need. Strength (melee damage) and Speed (initiative) are valuable for melee combat, but drop off in importance when/if you transition to guns and everyone fires at the same time. Hopefully you'll start with one character with decent Charisma and won't have to spend many more points here at all. After that you'll want to focus on Dexterity (ranged accuracy), Luck (helps everything), and Agility (defense). MAXCON (HP) automatically raises by two every level, but it's also useful to put your two points there as well to get a four point boost.

    (My understanding of what the stats do comes from reading on the internet, so besides IQ's relationship with skills/points and MAXCON's role as hit points I'm not completely certain everything above is accurate. But I also know that your attribute distribution doesn't matter too much, and you'll be able to complete the game however you handle it.)

    Except for characters fully dedicated to melee, everyone will eventually want to get one level in Energy Weapons. One level in Doctor is more valuable than multiple levels in Medic, so that's also valuable to get for most or all of your characters even though it's a bit redundant. All of the advanced skills cost 3 skill points for the first level, so that's 6 points so far, and you'll probably want 3 points for one more.

    Of the other advanced skills, getting one level of Electronics for one character is probably the most essential. Toaster Repair, Clone Tech, Cyborg Tech, and Helicopter Pilot are not required to finish the game, but are required to access parts of it, so you might as well plan to get one level in each distributed amont your party. If you are short on skill points, you can have a high-IQ NPC pick up one of these less essential skills or find one that already has some of them (like Metal Maniac in Darwin). That applies for some of the starting skills as well.

    Every two levels of Brawling will give you another melee attack. You should buy the first two and then try get more through combat. Brawling and your other combat skills are more likely to raise when fighting a very hard to hit opponent. When you find this kind of opponent (assuming they won't easily kill you) you can equip something like your canteen or unloaded guns to attack repeatedly without killing them in order to get more chances to raise your combat skills.

    Melee attacks will always be very effective at dealing out damage, the downside is when ranged opponents appear far away and you have to run across the map, while taking fire, until you can attack them. It's still a viable strategy though if that's how you want to play, but it is a little more work. Of course, your characters can carry both types of weapons and switch back and forth as needed.


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