Saturday, August 19, 2017

MegaTraveller 2: Won!

The Duke of Rhylanor is a little excited.
Well, I said I'd do it in one more session, and I did. But man, did it take a long time. And I mostly just pursued the main quest after the last entry. I don't think I completed a single side quest.

As we discussed, side quests are only necessary for the money they offer. By the end of my last entry, my financial situation was already pretty good, and pretty soon into this session, any monetary woes disappeared forever.

First, I got sick of my scout ship's limited travel capacity (just one sector at a time), plus I was getting destroyed in every space combat--which can occur randomly every time you arrive at or leave a planet. I sold the ship for $1.5 million, which would have been enough to keep me going until the end on its own.
This happens a lot.
That amount was supplemented by the facts that a) apparently, I'd been taking photographs of every Ancients ruin I visited; and b) Trow Backett back on Rhylanor would buy them for $150,000 apiece. That was another $750,000 that I pocketed.
You really need to learn to lowball. I would have taken $5,000.
Then, not so long afterwards, I discovered that some of the Ancients artifacts I'd been collecting were capable of delaying (though not ending) the threat of the slime spreading across Rhylanor. Between a "stasis ray," a "disintegrator," and a "pocket disk," I reduced enough of the threat that the government on Rhylanor paid me $7 million! Apparently, I could have found something called a "force dome" that would have stalled the slime even further and netted me more money.
And the math actually works out.
When I sold my ship, I had intended to swear off my own space travel and just use commercial and charter travel. But now that I was nearing $10 million, I figured I'd buy a far trader and outfit it with the best weapons that I could. After all, it only took half my money, and it would let me experience a side of the game I'd been ignoring.

I haven't talked much about space travel. The game's 117 planets are dispersed across a map of about 320 hexagons, organized into four "subsectors." The dispersal is not even. Most planets are adjacent to other planets, but some are isolated with several empty hexes between them.

The "scout ship" that I started the game with is only capable of jumping from one hex to an adjacent hex. Upon arrival, I either need to land on the planet to refuel or hope the system has a gas giant, where I can refuel for free. Since the whole process of boarding the ship, assigning crew locations, taking off, jumping, landing, and buying fuel takes about a billion mouse clicks, trying to get anywhere in my scout ship was just frustrating. Fuel prices cost about as much as paying for commercial travel anyway. And if you accidentally jump to a system with no starport or gas giant, you have to pay a ton of money to have the ship towed back to a system with a port. It just wasn't worth it, so I sold the ship.
"Jumping" from one planet to another.
But a "far trader" has engines that allow jumping two hexes at a time. Every system in the game is reachable that way (though sometimes via a round-about route). I figured that might improve in speed upon commercial or charter travel. Plus, charter travel to some planets is so expensive ($300,000 or more, with my low negotiating skill), that I still had a vague worry about running out of money eventually.

I won my first combat with my new trader. There isn't much to do in combat. Your crew automatically assigns itself to various stations, including guns, based on their skills. You just hit "target" and "attack" and watch as the ships fire at each other. You can't move, even.
Watching the battle take place.
After battle, you have the option to loot the enemy ship. I got so much in one haul that I can see why some people prioritize piracy in this game.
Is it really "pirating" if the ship attacked me first?
But I only had the far trader for about an hour of game time. At one point, I visited the planet Ylaven because my notes said there would be an Ancients site there. I didn't find a site, but when I stopped at the system's gas giant to refuel, I did find an abandoned Ancients ship.
This was lucky.
In a series of text screens, the game described how my party boarded and used some fuel cores we'd discovered at another site to re-activate the ship. It became ours. The Ancients ship is capable of jumping four hexagons at a time and doesn't require fuel. It also has its own special weapons that can't be modified or supplemented. Traveling with this ship meant that I didn't even need to land between systems and thus became much faster than any other form of travel.

Despite my low skill in ship's guns, I never lost a fight with the Ancients ship. I don't even think I took any damage. With no more need for money at all, except paltry amounts to travel between cities on a single planet, the game largely became a race to the end of the plot at this point.
I'm not even sure I want t know what's happening with this ship.
As I wrote several entries ago, MegaTraveller 2 is basically one huge treasure hunt as you follow clues from one system to another. But being an open-world game, it's also non-linear and occasionally rewards random exploration. If you lose a quest thread somewhere, you may be able to pick it up by visiting a random planet. I made it a practice to explore at least the startown of each new planet I stopped at, and I took pains to route myself through unexplored systems when possible. 

The developers tried hard to make each planet seem unique. The map in the manual has codes for a bunch of systems, and these codes tell you the type of starport you can expect to find there, its size, its atmosphere, its hydrographics, its government type, its law level, its technology level, and its population. Computers that you can access in the naval and scout bases and the Traveler's Aid Society (I eventually bought a membership) tell you even more about the political and social situations there. I found that some of the computer entries even gave hints about quests or the likelihood that the system has Ancients ruins.
TAS computers offer back stories and hints about plot points.
I appreciate the effort, but it doesn't quite work. If money was harder to come by, you might study the computer entries for hours looking for planets with solid opportunities. You might use the data to plot trade routes. If combat was harder, you might be wary about visiting a high-law level planet with no naval or scout base, as you're almost certain to have your weapons confiscated. But from the outset of the game, there's almost no reason not to move freely from world to world, meaning that all this intelligence is mostly wasted. Plus, the uniformity of each city map ruins any sense of uniqueness.
A better game would have made more use of these variables.
You'll recall that there are two branches of the main quest: trying to stop the slime released from the Ancients site from taking over Rhylanor, and figuring out which megacorporation was behind the sabotage in the first place.

The Ancients part of the quest involved tracking down each member of the Ancients Collectors Society to get their wisdom and visiting each Ancients site to find artifacts and "coyns." The ACS members helped identify which planets had Ancients ruins, but random use of the "Locater" device on every planet helped identify a few more. Early in the game, I thought that I had to visit every site and collect every device, but I guess that's not the case. All of the artifacts but one are optional, I think--although the others are responsible for that $7 million. You only need 36 "coyns" to win the game, and there are more than that in the galaxy. I ended the game with 41.
We explored a huge set of caverns for 20 minutes to find this one coyn.
The Ancients sites are interesting. Each one has a slightly different look and feel, and as you explore each one, the game offers verbose cut scene text to describe them. Here's what I found on Gerome, for instance:
In the dark, murky cavern, you struggle to negotiate the craggy corridors. One of the passages seems to have a pale light source at its end. You venture down the tunnel, taking tiny steps, and struggle to maintain your balance on the damp rocks beneath you.

At the end of the tunnel, you stumble upon an incredible discovery: a deserted space vessel. Lying half-buried in a dry, crusty bed of mud is the wreckage of a fantastic ship like no other you've ever seen. A transparent, illuminating glow bathes the craft in a soothing array of soft colors. Only one race could have constructed a ship this magnificent: the Ancients. After photographing the Ancient vessel, you gaze at the remains of the shipwreck in wonder and feel a twinge of nervous excitement as you prepare to board the vessel.
Another nicely-written and illustrated introduction to an Ancients site that had, I think, a single coyn.
These passages are all very well-written but again, mostly wasted. The actual "exploration" of the ruins involves wandering around cavernous areas with no combats and no encounters, only to find a single item or two on the floor.

The plot occasionally got silly, too. On the wreck of the ship described above, I activated a computer and read some logs from the long-dead Ancients captain. The logs mentioned a few planets with ruins that I didn't know about, and they described the war beginning between Grandfather and his children. At first, they're confident: "It is one against 420." Later, they become panicky as they realize "Grandfather has pinched off his own pocket universe" and thus "we can't fight him." I'm not saying it's horrible, but I didn't expect the ancient legend of "Grandfather" and his children to be literally true. Plus, I had to track down an Ancients expert to translate some writing on a shield, but somehow my characters are able to interpret the writing on the computer? To use the computer in the first place? It took me 9 hours to emulate Gates of Delirium in MAME, and that system is only 30 years old, not 300,000. Why are the planets named the same thing now as they were 300 millennia ago?
You're the only sentient beings in the galaxy. Who are you sending that "mayday" to?
On the corporate side of things, I started to run into a wall. Representatives refused to speak to me, or refused to tell the truth, and my "interrogate" skill wasn't good enough to crack them. Very late in the game, I found some "truth serum" at an abandoned university. It apparently was placed in the game to compensate for weak "interrogation," but I found it too late to do much good. I basically only used it on the secretary of Lie Ioccocco, the president of Tukera Lines, to get her to tell me where I could find him. 
Ms. Chan illustrates the value of the initialism "TMI."
But when I visited him, he simply said that he couldn't believe anyone in his company would be responsible for internal sabotage, and he offered me $250,000 to prove otherwise.
For the record, the real Lee Iacocca was the son of an Italian hot dog vendor who started at Ford as an engineer and worked his way up to president via good ideas and hard work. Sometimes, I don't know what this game thinks it's satirizing.
I had expected the Imperiallines thread to lead somewhere. Two representatives had told me that the company was up to no good, and they recommended that I search the offices of a representative named Gryfythh on Junidy. I did that, and I found a disk that outlined Gryfythhs's plan to attack a Naasirka facility on Aramax. I traveled there but couldn't find the facility in question, and otherwise couldn't find anyone to give the disk to. In any event, this sub-plot didn't seem to be related to the "real" conspiracy.

It was blind luck that let me pick up the path again. I had a layover on Pscias between stops and decided to explore the starport. I entered a building and suddenly found myself in combat with 5 guys. In the middle of combat, incidentally, this appears on my screen:
Where has this been all game?
For the first and only time in the game, one of my characters spontaneously acquired a skill through continual use of an item. It didn't happen with any of the other items that I'd asked the characters to use, and I never got any more training opportunities at the training facilities. Honestly, the game's approach to character development just makes no sense. It's either bugged or horribly broken from the outset. In nearly 40 hours of constantly using various types of weapon, armor, vehicles, and interpersonal skills, I was able to train once in "ATVs" and spontaneously generated a level on "Swords." Unbelievable.

After I killed them, I interrogated their leader, a guy named Grazer, in an adjacent room. He admitted that he was one of the two suspicious characters fleeing the Ancients site on Rhylanor, having activated the slime. He said he had been hired by a Tukera representative named Jayef Nonnel, who my notes said should be on Treece but I was unable to find him in the first visit.
I filmed two people fleeing. I don't think we ever found out who the second guy was.
Here, things got interesting. Grazer offered to let me join the conspiracy. Just for fun, I said yes, and he gave me a quest to go kill Trow Backett. I made an alternate save at this point, reloaded, and said no. He battled me and I killed him.
An intriguing alternate path opens.
Grazer had started his speech with "So, Cruxlic spilled his guts?" I didn't know who that was. Later, looking at a walkthrough, I see that I was supposed to have interrogated one of the random thugs attacking me and discovered he was recently released from the Huderu prison world. I would have then gone to Huderu, interrogated the warden, and learned about Grazer.

On to Treece. I found Jayeff Nonnel in the Tukera offices. I didn't even have to use interrogation or the truth serum: he admitted to everything. He had somehow learned how to activate the Ancients site on Rhylanor, and he hired Grazer to do it. He broke into Ashkashur's office and issued the order for the Vemene agents to kill me. And he partnered with Cruxlic to recruit prisoners as hit men.
You're destroying a whole planet over inter-office politics?
He did all of this because of a rivalry with fellow Tukera representative Roald Bulolo, based on Rhylanor. He wanted to "teach him a lesson about power and control . . . to destroy everything and then reroute all trade to the Lanth subsector."

Okay. I mean, I'm glad I solved the conspiracy, but wow was it anticlimactic. And talk about overkill! That would be like some Microsoft executive from Cambridge collaborating with ISIS to nuke Seattle so that the headquarters would be moved to the east coast and he'd have better promotional opportunities.
Looting the body from what turned out to be the game's final battle.
In any event, he attacked me and I killed him. On his body were a couple of disks outlining his nefarious plans, plus an Ancient "string of pearls" and a journal that mentioned an "Ancient site where challenges await adventurers." I already knew from the shield translation that such a site existed in the Regina subsector, and I knew from visiting Regina itself that there was a site I couldn't access before.

The site was interesting. It consisted of a series of pearly domes with teleporters at each end of the room. The only "challenge" was a simple number puzzle in which I had to finish a sequence beginning 1-9-2-8. Don't overthink it. It's a count-up followed by a count-down. "3-7-4-6" was the answer.
The visuals here were pretty cool.
The site offered a "Locater Plug" which fit into my Locater, but I never really figured out what it was for. More importantly, it delivered enough coyns (7) to give me the full set I needed. When I tried to use the "coyns," I was explicitly told that I should use them on Shionthy, so that's where I went. I used them again right out of starport, and they opened a "rip through the fabric of time and space" which led my party to "a magnificent city."
I hope the writer had a per-world contract.
I'm tempted to transcribe everything that followed, but it would take forever. (The game got very verbose in its final hours.) To summarize, the party entered the portal. We started to marvel at the domed city when we were suddenly paralyzed by some Droyne (Ancients) warrior robots and taken to Grandfather, who was dressed in "an awesome suit of armor," carried a majestic staff, and had "black eyes like an endless abyss, filled with the answers to every question and the solution to every problem that ever existed."
"Grandfather, what do women want?"
Grandfather was cool. After hearing our story, he explained that he sealed himself in the pocket universe after the destructive war with his offspring. He was amused when he heard about Rhylanor. The slime isn't supposed to destroy the planet, he said; rather, it was a terraforming substance that would restore life and water to the barren landscape. He agreed, of course, that it needed to be stopped before it covered existing cities. He gave us a terraforming activation device and sent us back through the portal, promising that he wouldn't be interfering with the universe again.

We returned to Rhylanor. Before activating the device, we visited Lord Hollis and gave him the disk outlining the Tukera conspiracy. He gave me a pass to see the Duke of Rhylanor, who in turn rewarded me with $1 million credits--not that money was any good at this point.
Yes, it was an inside job. Again.
And so we rented a gravity vehicle, left the city, and flew to the edge of the slime's spread.
Just note that the planet appears to have water and trees already . . .
We walked up to it and activated the terraforming gun. The slime "vaporized, leaving fresh soil and lush, green grass and vegetation beneath it." A continued "domino effect" finished transforming the planet into a "lush paradise." I have to admit with some embarrassment that I don't remember Rhylanor being described as dry and barren before. Maybe it was during the opening sequence.
If the whole planet gets terraformed anyway, why did the slime ever need to cover the planet?
The endgame video commenced. The party met with the Duke again, who had a really long speech, presented for some reason as scrolling text on the bottom of the screen:
On behalf of the Royal Family and the citizens of Rhylanor, and on behalf of the Imperium and all of the megacorporations that conduct business on this great world, I, Duke Leonard, grant you Knighthood in the Honorable Order of the Arrow.

Though their reward is monumental, no amount of money can repay the debt we owe them. Our homes, our lives, and our futures are secure thanks to the efforts of these worthy individuals. These courageous and cunning knights have not only saved Rhylanor, they have transformed it into a lush, thriving world. There is now fresh soil where before there were scorching deserts. Rocky, barren wasteland is now dense, deciduous forests and vibrant green grasses. Dry river and lake beds are now filled with clear, life-sustaining water. In the amazing rebirth of our planet, new industries will emerge, agricultural enterprises will flourish, exotic species of animals will appear, and we will all take part in a cultural renaissance that will change our lives forever.

Thanks to these adventurous knights, the secret of the Ancients has been solved. The Ancients never meant to destroy Rhylanor. Instead, they sought to transform our world and make it a better place for all. Sadly, the Ancients never saw the results of their work, but hopefully there's a spark of their brilliance still left in the galaxy, somewhere. Maybe, the Ancients still exist in another time and space, and maybe they're looking upon our newfound abundance with pride.

Here's to Rhylanor! Here's to the Ancients! And here's to the greatest adventurers of all!
The party seems to be one member shy as we approach the Duke.
You may recall that the supposed reward for solving the crisis was half a billion credits. Well, after the speech, we got a scroll proclaiming that we were awarded $5 million credits, with the remaining $495 million to be paid "as Rhylanor begins to rebuild from the destruction." That's reasonably funny. I wouldn't bet on my party ever seeing the balance of that reward.
It's good to know there's still parchment in the future.
The sequence ends with Kevin, the tour guide from the opening sequence, starting a new tour at the Rhylanor Ancients site, noting that since the last tour, "an amazing thing happened."
The face that bookends the adventure.
The game then dumped us back in Rhylanor Startown and let us keep playing. In a slightly better game, I'd be tempted. Of the 117 planets, I only visited 82. What's the story with Bevy on the fringes of the Rhylanor sector? How did I miss Paya right there in the middle? Is there anything else to discover on the prison planet of Huderu? What's happening on Celepina, where the an NPC captain told me that a visit from a Zhodani representative is under protest? What does the TAS computer mean when it says that Vanejen has an "unusual Vilani culture?"
You occasionally get hints from NPCs in space.
Unfortunately, with no character development, boring combat, and a tendency for side quests to play out either banal or goofy, the game doesn't quite justify further exploration. But it almost does. From this year, from this developer, that's a reasonably important accomplishment.

I may keep playing to see how the "evil" plot resolves, working with Grazer. If they actually programmed an alternate ending in which Rhylanor is destroyed, that would be pretty amazing. I also want to see what happens if we just wait out the clock. Thus, we'll save the summary and rating for a separate posting.

Time so far: 39 hours


  1. I wonder what is going on with those cut-off shoulders and arms in the shop(?) scenes. Did they plan this differently originally? There is no excuse for that otherwise. It's not like they were restricted to a certain rectangle like they were with sprites back in the 8bit days. Puzzling.

  2. The planetary codes and their meaning come from the Traveller rpg, btw. The numbers in the game seem to match those from the tabletop game.

    1. The planetary descriptions remind me of Mass Effect in that they are evocative and descriptive, but ultimately meaningless to the gamr.

  3. Ah wasn't sure if you would find the truth drugs or alien ship. The house with Jayeff Nonnel is the only building I know of in the game that is hidden until you have done something. I wonder if the other culprit at the scene was that expert that turns hostile, sauert weston or such.

  4. Yeah, you always got to say yes to the bad guys and see what happens. They usually just kill you or something dumb, but sometimes there's an extra plot there. Always worth checking out.

    1. In Eschalon I, there was an alternate ending if you give up the MacGuffin to a goblin war chief. Surprisingly, the goblin let your character walk away and sail to another continent, where you live the rest of your life peacefully, only a bit worried about all the smoke that's rising from your old homeland (I guess the continents are close enough in some place). I think that's the only time I remember where the antagonist keeps his word and leaves you alone and you get relatively good (for you personally) ending.

  5. Hey, well done. Sounds like it was a bit of a slog, but I can't begrudge an RPG for offering a more pacifistic and sagacious means of getting past obstacles. Seems a bit odd that it was intended for veteran characters that barely evolve at all during the game's run; I wonder if the point was to export your table-top campaign's characters and see how they'd solve this neon pink goop conundrum? I'd guess not, given the randomization involved in the character creation process.

    I'm also wondering if every sci-fi RPG has to, by law, feature an overpowered starship devised by a long-lost ancient space-faring civilization that the player party either has to destroy or just kind of lucks into acquiring. I'd rattle off a dozen examples, but I'm wary about spoiling anything.

    1. Classic trope. More ancient = more powerful, instead of junk due lack of maintenance. But I wouldn't pair it solely with scifi as it is basically same as with ancient magical swords of power.

  6. I actually really liked that the plot was caused by an imoral corporate drone.

    It was unexpected,a nd yet I do believe there are popel who care nothing for others, have nog reat design, are not working for what they believe is the commom good. And would spend any amount of lives necesary to get aslight advantage, because they simply don´t care.

    Nixon in order to gain the election sabotaged PEACE TALKS. Lot sof people died and passed trough horrible experiences so he could get ahead as a politician. Read "War is a racket". People have died for the will of corporaiton for years.

    I would find the oportunity to catch and destroy someone like that realy cool.

    1. It's not that I doubt that a corporation would manipulate events to create favorable market conditions, and I agree that unscrupulous corporate executives make fine RPG villains. It's just that the devastation from his plan is so enormous compared to the likely reward.

    2. " It's just that the devastation from his plan is so enormous compared to the likely reward."

      Exactly ths is what I liked about it. There are villains who did for revenge, or did it for the greater good, or because the possible benefits were too much for them to resist.

      This guy didn´t any benefit is worthy any cost as long as HE does not bear that cost. He is completely ruthless, and yet if you look at it trough that lens, his plan is perfectly logical.

      completely impersonal to the people he harms. He has no hate for them, he doe snot want to make them kneel, or enslave them or make them swear fealty, he doe snot crave their submisison or adoratin. All those people are simply meaningless.

      If the possible ganis were "To rule the known universe" it would be generic. lust for power, tyrants willing to sacrify others in order to rule are a dime a dozen. villains who have one objective that consumes them emotionally, and to which they dedicate all their resources without care to collateral damge are also commom, and soemwhat undertandable, htey want soemthing and work hard for it.

      but this one is original because he is PETTY. He is nto hardworking toward his goal, he is not driven.

      He saw an opportunity to easily get ahead trough little risk to himself(hired others do do the dirty job) and took it.

      He is actually an scary villain, because I know that there ar epopellike that who would d the same thing,and are held in check just because real life doesn´t allow them to exchange strager´s lives for their own benefit.

      A lot of the aspects of the game seem genric to me, (many of the quests, the central "look for ancient bjects" theme), but the villain is something diferent. He is a petty burocrat who no oen will miss, who inspire sloyalty to no one, who inpires sympathi to no one.

      Hes perfectly loathsome without kicking puppies for fun. He is not really sadistic, but he 100% RUTHLESS.

    3. May I compliment you on the typo-per-line density that you have achieved? Really, it was quite awesome to behold. Bravo. Or should I say, "Barvo"?

    4. Don't be rude, Posidonius. I have lots of readers who are writing in English as a second language, and probably lots of people on mobile, too. Comments have plummeted so much lately that I don't want to discourage anyone!

    5. Are comments really down that much? I think mediocre games just attract fewer comments as compared to well-known games, really bad games, or unusual ones. But it's still good that you powered through this one rather than quitting. I wanted to know how it turned out.

    6. I try not to post a comment unless I have something constructive to add, but the recent batch of games have been unfamiliar to me so I've not had much to say.

    7. @Posidonius

      I would try to correct the mistakes, but there was no edit option.

      And yes writing correctly is very hard and time consuming for me, but I do think what I had to share was worth sharing, since it shows a diferent perspectve.

    8. I was just busting your balls. We're all friends here.

    9. @Charles, while I do think your interpretation or rather your reception makes for pretty cool villain, it seems from summary and details provides by Chet that it may be completely unintentional.

    10. Anyway, it seems that there few reasons for villains: power, glory, gold, see the world burn and for the lulz.

    11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    13. I'm always vacillating over leaving a comment, because it's so rare that I've played the game in question (especially recently) and I'm left wondering what I possibly have to add. There are times when I'd like to leave a succinct kudos for some of the more challenging games you've completed, but it doesn't feel like much of a contribution.

      I suspect others might feel the same from what I've read here, and when you start writing about Might and Magic III - which I dare say a lot of us have some experience with, and if not 3 specifically then with the series overall - there'll be a lot more responses.

    14. My parents couldn't afford a "real" computer when I was young enough to live at home, and most of my friends/family who could afford one had Macs (I lived in an area with what one might call high income inequality). I literally don't remember ever seeing a DOS machine as a kid (I probably did), though I saw plenty of Apples (in schools), TI-99/4As, and a couple each of C64s, Ataris and TRS-80s (that last being our family's only computer, i.e. the CoCo 2 and later 3).

      Then, my college was a Mac campus, and all my friends Mac users, until I eventually acquired a used one myself. (Still a Mac user, though I've never bought one new.) While my parents eventually got an outdated Windows 95 machine, I barely used it before moving out.

      So the world of DOS gaming is almost totally alien to me, and despite being a heavy pen-and-paper RPG player in my teenage years, most of my RPG experience is on consoles. True, there were TRS-80/Tandy machines in my life, i.e. Model I/III or CoCo, whose games (like Dungeons of Daggorath) we're mostly past, though Gates of Delirium is next (not that I've played it) and there's at least one more Tandy CoCo RPG coming. Plus there's Taskmaker on the Mac, which I think is the only RPG I played much on that platform (mainly around 1996), though maybe other future entries will jog my memory.

      All this to say that, without expertise in or experience of most of these games, it can be hard to comment without feeling like yet another console gamer whose voice is, inevitably, a distraction from what the Addict is all about.

    15. @Posidonius

      "I was just busting your balls. We're all friends here."

      Ok,no problem, Guess I am a bit insecure about this.

      I do love the community chester has here

    16. I don't think comments are really down that much. You seem to be averaging about 40 per post, and I had a look at this time 3 years ago and you seemed to be averaging about the same, despite playing the popular Quest for Glory 2. The best way for you to get your comments up seems to be either playing a really popular game, or saying something a bit controversial.

    17. In fact, there is a decent comparison of comments to be had on the megatraveler games. On this one you are averaging 40 comments. On the first you averaged 61, but this is somewhat propped up by you asking a loaded question about D&D in the first post.

  7. "Plus, I had to track down an Ancients expert to translate some writing on a shield, but somehow my characters are able to interpret the writing on the computer? To use the computer in the first place? It took me 9 hours to emulate Gates of Delirium in MAME, and that system is only 30 years old, not 300,000. Why are the planets named the same thing now as they were 300 millennia ago?"

    The game thought of that, based on the screenshot you posted, which marvels at what kind of technology it takes to "read minds and make translations like that," as well as what power source could continue to operate. So the PCs are using an existing piece of Ancient equipment and it automatically translates telepathically, presumably also translating planet names based on what it finds in the characters' brains.

    Also, a brief search of an online wiki indicates that the Grandfather stuff related to the Ancients is part of the P&P game ported over to the CRPG, so while it may not make much sense, it is true to the original setting. That said, holding the designer Marc Miller responsible is fair given that he wrote the adventure in the P&P game that established all that in the first place.

    1. That scenario being original Traveller' "A-12 - Secret of the Ancients". Truth to be told, aside framework and some characters, plots of the original scenario and Megatraveller does not hold that much in common.

      For interesting sidenote, Mongoose Publishing made "loosely based" revised version of the Secret of the Ancients scenario, turning it to whole campaign. (And it seems to free on their site).

  8. This game could have been a lot better with some minor changes, particularly more skill increases through use and better control in combat. It reads that way anyway. I gave up in the first Traveller back in the day and never tried the second.

  9. Query about a future game: Isn't Heimdall an action-adventure game and not an RPG? Or is my Google-fu failing me?

    1. I think you are right, but maybe it is my memory-fu failing me :)

    2. It's a semi-rpg. Aka a British RPG which tends to be odd as we had very few RPGs available here

    3. I thought I had looked it up and it did have some mechanism of character development. But if I'm wrong, I'll be happy to cler a bit from my list.

  10. I'm not sure what good a scout ship is if it can't go further than that.

    1. That surprised me, too. In the tabletop game, the scout ship has a Jump 2 drive.

    2. It gets you around 2/3 of the systems, and if you had heavily invested in space combat skills, you might be able to pirate your way to a better ship.

    3. Sure, from the player's point of view, it's a reasonable first ship. But how is it a 'scout' ship, if it can't even return from a system it just jumped to? What could you scout that way? Not unknown system, since those will often have no way to refuel, and sure as heck not hostile systems, since those won't let you refuel. It's just very un-scouty. :)

  11. I don't comment much because the site eats my comment half the time and I get frustrated trying to get the post to work. I've read your blog for years and enjoy each new post.

    I played this as a teen when it was released and loved the concept of the game. The manual seems to promise a deep RPG experience. Unfortunately as you found out the game as rather shallow and the 100+ worlds are like the skill system- mostly empty and pointless.

    1. Also the inability to edit a post drives me nuts. I'm usually reading the blog on an iPhone and it's easy to miss a typo.

    2. The manual seems to promise a deep RPG experience. Unfortunately as you found out the game as rather shallow and the 100+ worlds are like the skill system- mostly empty and pointless.

      So often I've found that the deeper a game appears to be, the shallower it (seemingly) inevitably is.

    3. To be honest often this is just because we tend to mistake width with depth. This game seems the perfect example. It is incredibly wide (lots of everything) but comparably shallow (not much to actually do with those things). Got worth as games got better visually and moved more to consoles. The cost for rare interactions went up and on the other hand there is a limit to intuitive interaction possibilities that don't end up as a quick time event. Context sensitive buttons tend to take the decision part out making things far more shallow.

      Personally my favorites are small but deep games, so rather Gothic 1 that Mass effect.

    4. @Develin: Elite: Dangerous just shed another tear as you posted that. What a disappointing game.

  12. The guy carries discs and a JOURNAL with him. Seriously... is the journal cover filled with shiny unicorn stickers?

    1. Journals and log books are quite common in some professions where you have to document everything. For example in a lot of legal professions you would take copious notes on everything just in case it ever came up. In chemistry we use lab books for the same thing both so we can document our results for later so that we can figure out what we actually did to make a reaction work and in certain fields so that you have proof in case a fight over who discovered something first and that's who gets at the patent ever comes up.

    2. Sure but I doubt THIS guy should ever need one other than to fill it with enough incriminating evidence to put himself in jail for 8 trillion years, publicly executed 6 thousand times and fined for an amount equivalent to the GDP of 27 planets.

    3. THIS guy leaving leaving his "I'm totally doing this, and no, I'm not joking" policy with his illicit records was perfect. They knew no one later in life would believe it on TV, so they had to come up with The Monorail Salesman and later Dwight Schrute to fill in the corporate gaps they missed.

      "I've sold Low Passage Groupons to Beck's World, Huderu, and 457-973, and by gum, it put them on the map!"

  13. Did Grandfather say anything about coming back now that the war is a quarter-million years over? Or is he just going to chill in that pocket universe for the rest of eternity?

    1. His comments were along the line that he's too powerful and disruptive, and it would be better for everyone if he just remained in his separate universe. He specifically promises never to enter the real universe again.

    2. To be fair if you created your own pocket Dimension which is Utopia design to your exact specifications would you ever return to reality?

    3. Grandpa's FB comments were so epic he literally destroyed planets in a galactic war?!

      The other Ancients: Grandpa, you just can't go around saying that online anymore. Times have changed and you just can't do that.

      Grandfather: Go to the woods and pick out a switch. Or I'll pick one out for you.

  14. I'm not going to lie in not having fond memories on Megatraveller 2, although after reading these posts through didn't raise itch to play again. Well... guess one couldn't be picky with scifi crpgs during 90s.

    Speaking of them, did you ever try out SundDog: Frozen Legacy. It is mentioned couple times on blog and Wikipedia categorizes it as crpg, but doesn't show up master list.

    Also, considering Starflight being one on the must-play list and this probably scoring nowhere that high, I'd like to hear what are the factors that make difference, considering both seem to have more or less similar elements.

    1. I don't think I was convinced that SunDog is an RPG. MobyGames doesn't classify it as such. Does it meet my three rules? (Sidebar)

      Starflight definitely suffers from many of the same problems with its RPG mechanics, but there were a lot of little things that made it score about 12 points higher. First, while it didn't excel at character development, it did HAVE it, and there were times that your party's racial composition made a difference in gameplay. The story was much better--with an amazing plot twist--and NPC interaction offered opportunities for role-playing and the NPCs themselves were better characterized. The economy was tighter and more relevant later in the game. Finally, the pace was just better. Once you had the coordinates for a planet, you just went there, landed, and got the next clue. No wandering around multiple large cities and cavernous hallways looking for elusive green dots.

      But in broad strokes, the similarities are there: a huge game world and nonlinear gameplay but poor classic "RPG" mechanics in the area of character development, combat, and inventory. I guess Starflight makes the "must play" list because it did it first and better.

  15. Reading through this I think we learn a lot more about what makes a good game from games that have great ideas like this one then games that do everything perfectly or games that just completely flub everything. In this case we can identify ideas that should have been fun but through implementation work and probably why they failed, where is if everything just works perfectly it's really hard to pick up what ingredients actually made it a success.


I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters. I will delete comments containing profanity on a case-by-case basis.

3. NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. If you don't want to log in to Google to comment, either a) choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank, or b) sign your anonymous comment with a preferred user name in the text of the comment itself.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

5. Comments on my blog are not a place for slurs against any race, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or mental or physical disability. I will delete these on a case-by-case basis depending on my interpretation of what constitutes a "slur."

Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

I will delete any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.