Friday, September 1, 2017

Might and Magic III: Mouths and Moose Rats

The opening town is appropriately named.
      
I was worried that the change to a new format would diminish the legendary early-game difficulty of Might and Magic. I'm glad to say that, other than the ability to save anywhere (which is, admittedly, a bit game-breaking), that isn't the case. My characters got slaughtered repeatedly during their first few levels in the starting town. It was a couple of hours into the game before, unable to defeat masses of "bubble men" and "moose rats" that prowled the alleyways of the town, I thought to poke my head outside--and found the battles with goblins and orcs in the wilderness much easier. That's the kind of thing this series will do to you.

But let me back up to character creation. The game uses the same set of attributes that appeared in the first title and would remain the same all the way through IX: might, intelligence, personality, endurance, speed, accuracy, and luck. Races vary a bit more from game to game; here, they are human, elf, gnome, dwarf, and half-orc. For classes, we get two new ones--druid and ranger--joining the eight from II: knight, paladin, archer, cleric, sorcerer, robber, ninja, and barbarian. (The first six of II's list appeared in the first game.) The player creates six party members and then can hire two NPCs to make a full party of eight. Note that this means that even with NPCs, the party cannot have every class.

Characters can be male or female, and there are two portraits for each potential race/class combination. Random rolls between 3 and 18-20 (depending on race) determine which classes you can join. You can re-roll as long as you want. Alignments are good, neutral, and evil. I made a mix of good and neutral characters, though some early game messages make me suspect that, just like in the early games, this one offers better rewards to parties of a consistent alignment.
       
Rolling a new character.
       
This is my party, and I apologize for the obviousness of the theme:
      
  • Enebrine, a good female half-orc knight
  • Yintor, a good male dwarf paladin
  • Drobann, a neutral male human sorcerer
  • Nassa, a good female elf cleric
  • Yara, a neutral female gnome ninja
  • Tom Morn, a good male human ranger
       
I partly randomized the selection of race and class. Although I didn't deliberately make this happen, the two NPCs available in Fountain Head--Allan Bow and Fineous--are two of the four classes I didn't use, archer and druid. They wanted around 160 gold pieces per day, so I left them alone at the beginning.
      
Adding characters to the party
     
The manual doesn't describe the ranger very well, saying only that he has "empathy with the forest."  You have to get him into the party before you realize that he can cast priest spells, just like the paladin. I should probably swap him out for an archer or druid to better balance my spellcasting.

The game starts in the city of Fountain Head, which appropriately has numerous fountains lining the streets, though as I started, most were filled with sludge. The game continues its predecessors' dedication to 16 x 16 tiles per map, except it has exchanged the earlier "razor wall" approach (in which walls had no width) for the "worm tunnel" approach in which there's always one square of space between parallel corridors. This significantly reduces the amount of explorable space in the typical city or dungeon.
     
The final map of the city, with the empty space between adjacent walls.
     
Because I dumped the starting party without looting their stuff (which I consider the epitome of lameness), my first priority was to get some equipment. Here, some major changes from the game's predecessors became clear. First, stores don't have inexhaustible supplies. What they show you is what they have, and if you buy something, it disappears from the store's inventory. The inventory does reset every day or two.
      
Icons helpfully show which items this character can wield.
     
Second, there are more things to wear. II only had helms and armor as standard items, although you could occasionally find a special magic pendant, choker, pin, and so forth. III introduces a greater variety of these wearables, including tiaras, crowns, helms, rings, belts, cloaks, gauntlets, pendants, scarabs, charms, and boots. In addition to its native armor class properties, each item might have a chance of an additional enchantment that increases resistance or boosts an attribute.

Items are distinguished by their material. You might find a bronze crossbow, leather gauntlets, or a coral plate mail. The best materials I've found so far are lapis and coral. Neither really makes sense as a material for weapons and armor. I suspect that a "coral naginata" would shatter on its first use. Whatever the case, with so many characters and so many potential upgrades, rarely do I find a treasure cache that doesn't provide an upgrade.
      
My ninja's equipment early in the game.
     
The interface for Might and Magic III is probably the best I've seen in my chronology so far. It does everything right and almost nothing wrong. You can control the entire thing with the mouse if you want, but every mouse action has an obvious keyboard analog, including the nine buttons available on the main interface: (A)ttack, (C)ast, (S)leep, (K)ick door or wall, (D)ismiss character, (J)ournal, (M)ap, (I)nformation about time and day, and (Q)uick reference chart. Character sheets come up by clicking on their portraits or hitting the appropriate function keys.

That's all standard for even an adequate interface, but things get even better as you get into the sub-menus. Every time the game shows a sub-menu command, you can activate it with the first letter. If you're deep into one of the character menus, like inventory, hitting any of the function keys switches you to the same screen for the other characters--you don't have to back all the way out. If you click on an item in the inventory screen and then click on another character (or hit that character's function key), the item transfers to that character. If you're shopping, you can move between characters and remain on the same inventory screen in the shop. There are a dozen other such useful shortcuts. This is one of the earliest games in which it seems the developer studied what would come intuitively to a real player and made sure to implement it. 

One of the commands brings up a "journal" that's half-lore, half-quest log. The "lore" part is presented as "Corak's notes," drawn from the journal that the players found and presumably launched their quest. Every map has a paragraph or two that establishes the character and theme of the area.
      
Corak's notes on the opening map.
      
The second page consists of a log of current quests, again appearing in the series for the first time. As the game begins, the party has learned that Morphose, the "Protector of Fountain Head," has been imprisoned, and the key quest for the map is to release him.

Fountain Head has an equipment shop, an inn, a training hall, a bank, a tavern, and a temple. The screen of each shop is well-composed and lightly animated. A small donation in the temple gets "Bless," "Power Shield," "Holy Bonus," and "Heroism" cast on the characters. This buffing was extremely helpful in some of the early-game combats.
      
Note the glint on the coins, the flicker of the candle, and the gnome's hand and jaw.
      
In addition to the closed-door shops, there are also several desks or counters in the city. These offer special items and services. One sold memberships to the Raven's Guild, the only place in town to buy spells. Another allows you to perform menial work for a week for 50 gold pieces (it doesn't seem worth it). A third sells the "Cartographer" skill, which makes the automap work. The skills so far seem to be the same as in Might and Magic II, although a character can earn more than two of them. I'm not sure what the limit is, or if there is one. My characters ended this session with some combination of "Armsmaster," "Danger Sense," "Swimmer," "Crusader," "Cartographer," "Spot Secret Doors," "Direction Sense, "Path Finder," and "Thievery." "Thievery" is the only one that has a number or level attached to it. Everything else is binary: you have it or you don't. This will change later in the series' development.
      
My ninja's profile and starting skills.
      
Fountain Head also had a lot of titular fountains, in which you can toss a coin. Until I solved the main quest of the town, most of them just had my coins sink into the sludge. One spawned three "bubble men" every time I approached it.
      
I guess this could be a reliable source of early-game grinding.
      
In a major change from the first two titles, there are generally no random encounters. Every map has a fixed number of enemies and you can "clear" it. From memory, I don't think they ever respawn. One mild exception is that some maps have "spawn points" that will eventually regenerate monsters, but you destroy these. Thus, character development and the economy are fixed in a way that they aren't in the previous games. (Although there might be an exception to this--see below.) This may have consequences down the road. One certain one is that you probably don't want to create a new party member halfway through the game.

The enemies in Fountain Head were behind locked and secret doors that you have to kick (doing damage to your two lead characters) to open. I kept forgetting to check whether you could shoot them open, instead, from a couple squares away. In the coolest interface option ever, the little gargoyle on the right hand side of the screen waves frantically when you sense a secret door in front of you.
    
This is so much neater than just a message.
     
Combat lies halfway between the system used in the first two games and action RPGs like Dungeon Master. For the first time in the series, you see enemies in the distance even when not directly engaged with them. You can cast spells and (S)hoot at range, and in the case of the latter command, everyone fires. They can shoot at you, too, if they have missile weapons.
      
Orcs comin' thro' the rye. I shoot arrows at them.
       
Once you get into adjacent squares, however, you enter a special combat screen in which everyone acts in turn. Here, you can attack, cast, use an item, block, or flee. There's also an option to set a default option for every character and then run through all of your characters' options immediately with the "quick combat" button.

You don't get to see exactly how many hit points your enemies have, but their names do change from green (no damage) to yellow (damaged) to red (almost dead) as combat proceeds. I verified these colors with Irene. 
     
Close-up combat with some deadly enemies.
    
You don't get any gold or items from combat until you clear out every enemy in the area who senses you, which in a town might include the entire town's stock of monsters. There are also occasional treasure chests, of course, which usually offer better items.
    
What kind of adventurer says "no" to this question?
      
Your own hit points and spell points do not regenerate from wandering around. You have to sleep, pay for healing at a temple, or find a fountain. Sleeping requires a day's worth of rations, easily purchased at taverns. 
     
Taverns also offer tips and rumors. The animated bartender wipes down the counter.
       
A man named Kronion, "Priest of the Five Forces," offered me my second quest from his house in Fountain Head: retrieve five "silver skulls" scattered about the island.  
     
The second quest of the game.
      
Shortly after this, I got frustrated with the difficulty of the monsters in the city and decided to explore the environs. As I mentioned above, I found the orcs and goblins outside much easier. My party only had one character with a missile weapon at this point, but even that one arrow wiped out several groups before they reached the party in melee. They occasionally shot their own arrows and knocked out one or more of my characters, but the "First Aid" spell revived them.
     
This game's take on the old reliable orc.
      
A well on the other side of the mountains from Fountain Head raised our armor class by 20, which helped a lot in clearing the area. In two places, I found the dens--the "spawn points"--of the monsters, destroyed them, and got significant experience, gold, and equipment awards.
     
I'm not sure I fully agree with the logic here, but whatever works.
      
I didn't exhaustively explore the area, but even 20 minutes of exploring was enough to get my party to Level 5 when I returned to Fountain Head. That, in turn, made the rest of the monsters in the city easier to slay.
      
Why training involves horseback riding is anyone's guess.
      
I exposed a hole that led to the Fountain Head dungeons, full of rats and bats. They were also full of swinging pendulum traps. If there's any way to disarm these traps, I don't know what it is. I just had to suck up their damage every time I walked through. If one was situated at a corner, the ability to strafe was important to minimize damage.
      
It took me a long time to build up the courage to walk here because I thought it was a pit and I'd fall.
      
The dungeon held colored barrels, appearing here for the first time. This will be a feature at least through VIII, and the colors never change: red for might, green for endurance, blue for personality, purple for speed, white for luck, orange for intelligence. Here, not every barrel increased an attribute. Some were poisoned and others held items. But if the barrel did increase an attribute, it was always consistent with its color.

Among the barrels, I found the five silver skulls that Kronion wanted, so I went back up to return them (every trip up and down requires a rope and hooks, which disappears from your inventory, so I had to keep buying more). He gave me 1,000 experience and a password (RATS) to a magic mouth in the dungeon.
     
I don't quite know how "RATS" is the answer to his riddle, but it works.
     
Using that, I bypassed the magic mouth, found my way to a set of stairs, and emerged in a small area of Fountain Head cut off from the rest of the city. There, I did battle with the "Rat Overlord," a tough opponent but not overly so.
     
        
After killing him, I made my way to the corner behind him, opened a chest, and freed the spirit of Morphose, solving the town's main quest.
      
     
Part of the consequence of solving the quest was that the town's fountains flowed freely again. Each offered a different rhyming hint to the quests to come:
            
  • Two wizards locked in mortal strife, destroyed each others' keep. Now bound in life that isn't life, they seek the peaceful sleep.
  • Ancient items of evil and good and neutrality, too, were concealed. Search the sands, mountains, and woods, for their value will soon be revealed.
  • Six brothers settled in the land, with names arranged in certain course. One then vanished from the band, and left the others in remorse.
  • Take the twisting horn of gold to the central meadow. Find the unique steed of old and relieve its dying sorrow.
  • Seek the sister of the waters blue, near the southwest corner true. Bring her shells from the Great Sea's depths, and greatly shall she aid your quests.
  • Entombed in curse the Princess sits; raw sorrow fills her halls. Gifts of heart to her submit to breach her loveless halls. 
     
Did you just rhyme "halls" with "halls"?
            
  • The mistress of mauraders at the northeast tip of flames. Seek the pearls her greed requires for her spirit to be tamed.
  • Below the canopy of the vaulting sea lies the mystery of the Ancient's dream. An Ultimate Adventurer must ye be to unravel their tangled scheme.
  • Powerful orbs hold the key for ultimate rule of the land. Deliver them to the kings of three to strengthen their command.
  • With the presentation of one past ten, two shall be forever vanquished. Their strongholds felled and kingdoms barren, your title of Champion is established.
      
The final fountain--the one that spawned bubble men before--now accepts gold for an equal number of experience points. It's always nice to have such a literal "money sink," though it will be a long time before I feel comfortable using it. I still have a ton of spells and skills to buy first. 
     
Buying a spell at the guild.
      
As I close this session, I'm preparing to full explore the outdoor areas of A1 and probably B1, although I can't explore them completely until I get the "Mountaineering" skill and whatever skill allows me to walk in dense forest. I'll hit as much as I can and then follow the road south to whatever adventures await me.
     
Messages-written-on-walls remains a key trope of the series.
     
There's a natural order to the maps in general. Since I can't swim across the sea, I have to progress south on the first island, alternating between columns A and B. At some point, I must get some ability to travel on water (or teleport) and thus reach the other islands. I really hope that whatever it is, it means that the game becomes nonlinear at some point. If instead it leads me from island to island in a fixed order, I'm going to be disappointed.

I have a bead on a few things:
      
  • A message in Fountain Head said that good characters should deliver Ultimate Power Orbs to King Righteous in Castle Whiteshield. A Sir Praythos in the same castle wants "artifacts of good." I found the castle, but I can't get in until all my characters have the "Crusader" skill. 
     
Guess you don't want these orbs or artifacts that bad.
     
  • There's a magic mirror in Fountain Head that allows fast travel between locations--but you have to have those locations' code words. HOME returns you to Fountain Head. The only other one I have is ARENA. If I recall correctly that this takes you to an arena with new combats every time, that might be an exception to the "closed system" of experience and gold that I discussed above.
       
Could a player with spoilers jump right to the endgame?
       
  • Two messages on walls in Fountain Head told me to "Seek the Slithercult Stronghold" in Druid Haven and that the "Yellow Key grants access to the Fortress of Fear."
     
There is a briskness in Might and Magic III that wasn't present in its predecessors. This is felt in several ways: the semi-action combat, the way you so swiftly clear the areas, the sub-quests in each area, and the rapid leveling. I think it probably took my II characters three times as long to hit Level 5, with nine times as many reloads. That isn't to say that III is too easy, but the ability to save anywhere does mean that you lose far less progress per death than the earlier games. I might eventually grow to miss that extra challenge, but for now the fast-paced nature of III means that it's really difficult to force myself to stop playing and start blogging. I haven't had a game like that for a long time.
   
Time so far: 3 hours
Reload count: 5

125 comments:

  1. Really glad you're enjoying this one; as I wouldn't have tried it if not for your write-ups on 2.

    It is honestly one of the most fun games of that era. It makes me lament the bias I had against this series when this, and WoX, were new.

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  2. I remember thinking how ridiculous M&M was for having all these monsters (and freaking traps!) abound in the towns and how the populace could carry out their daily chores to support the infrastructure.

    Yeah, I probably gave it too much thought then but it was one of the big reasons why I was more partial to Ultima's world designs.

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  3. To clarify, a Ranger uses the Druid spellbook. That's very much like the Cleric spellbook, except it's missing many of the better high-end Cleric spells, but it does have Water Walk. Ranger as warrior-Druid parallels the Archer as warrior-Sorcerer and Paladin as warrior-Cleric.

    Also, you apologized for the obviousness of the naming scheme, but I have no idea what it is. Now I'm going to be up late trying to solve that riddle.

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    Replies
    1. If you can nag a ram, they're pretty obvious if you're familiar with a certain popular show.

      At least, I'm pretty sure that's what he was going for.

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    2. Oh. Heh. Rams can be hard to nag at times. They don't jump out quite the same way our old standby, the sdrawkcab name, does.

      It doesn't help that I'm waiting for the show to end before I try to watch it, because after picking up the first book of the series in 1997, I decided by 2007 that I was done waiting around for that guy until he finished anything.

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    3. Doesn't Enebrine have an "e" too many?

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  4. There's something important to be aware of in regards to items, that is very difficult to spot. You may consider it a minor spoiler, so ROT13-ed.

    Ybjre-gvre zngrevnyf ner purncre guna gur onfr vgrz ng n cranygl gb uvg naq qnzntr (sbe jrncbaf) be nezbe pynff (sbe nezbe naq rirelguvat ryfr). Gurer vf ab sybbe gb guvf erqhpgvba, fb fbzr vgrzf jvyy znxr lbhe qrsrafr jbefr vs lbh rdhvc gurz, naq gurer ner fbzr jrncbaf gung jvyy URNY gur rarzl.

    On rangers (again, may be considered a minor spoiler, but documentation would normally cover this:

    Gurer ner abg gjb pngrtbevrf bs fcryyf va guvf tnzr - gurer ner guerr. Pyrevp, Fbeprebe, naq Qehvq. Gur Qehvq pngrtbel pbagnvaf n zvk bs fcryyf sebz gur bgure gjb yvfgf, nybat jvgu fbzr fcryyf bs gurve bja. Enatre vf n Qehvq/Xavtug uloevq, whfg nf Cnynqva vf Pyrevp/Xavtug naq Nepure vf Fbeprere/Xavtug.

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  5. One of the most rewarding elements of an RPG is the anticipation you you have when playing for the first time, and it's a great approach to stretch out this feeling for as long as possible. This game does so much right in that regard:
    - The "wow" factor of new graphics, sounds, interface
    - A high initial difficulty combined with palpable rewards: early battles are hard but you keep attempting them because each one either improves your party somehow or opens up new territory. I remember loving the early stages of Bard's Tale for similar reasons.
    - A wide variety of encounters and rewards to "collect" and explore: Fountains, mirrors, wall messages, NPCs, barrels etc
    - Once you've "conquered" that first town the mirror messages tease the world beyond so you still feel like you're only on the edge of what the game has to offer.

    I remember also getting that feeling of "fake nonlinear" play at points in this and other M&M titles - there's plenty of places to go but maybe only one area you can realistically survive. This should maybe bother me but in fact it seems to work anyway, perhaps since I still get the feel of exploring in some sense. I have more thoughts on that but it's super spoilery so here goes ROT13 and don't read unless you've finished the game recently.

    V erpnyy n ovt qenjonpx gb gur tnzr gung Purg znl abgvpr, juvpu vf gung gur "snxr abayvarne" vqrn rkgraqf gb gur dhrfgf. V jnf qvfnccbvagrq gung jung ybbxrq yvxr n jubyr ensg bs fhodhrfgf naq fvqr-zvffvbaf nyy ghearq bhg gb or va freivpr gb gur fnzr fgbel, naq va cnegvphyne fbzr ovt tnzr-ybat dhrfgf raq hc trggvat erfbyirq bar nsgre gur bgure, rnpu bar fbyivat gur arkg onz onz onz naq gur tnzr vf bire. Bar bs gur znva ernfbaf V'ir orra ybbxvat sbejneq gb guvf cynlguebhtu vf gb frr jurgure V'z erzrzorevat gung jebat.

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    1. I'd actually argue the opposite. The better you know this game, the more nonlinear it gets, if you can make judicious use of the right boosts and benefits. Early on, when you're fumbling just to get started, your options are pretty limited, but by midgame, particularly if you know what you need to survive and how to efficiently get there and back, there may be a dozen or more different zones, dungeons, or quests that you could pick from.

      I played through three times earlier this year. The first time it was all I could do to survive the obvious next step. By the second time I bounced around a lot more, as whims took me. On the third run I optimized a few things, powered into some end-game content really quickly, and then almost immediately had the whole game world at my disposal.

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    2. Certainly I stumbled across the cyclops cave clearly much earlier than I should have been there in my recent play through and had to pull out all the tricks to get through it, but the fact I was able to do that is one of the great strengths of the game, and open world games in general.

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    3. I think a lot of the non-linearity here comes from the optional content. This quote:

      "With the presentation of one past ten, two shall be forever vanquished."

      Well, there are a lot more than "one past ten" of what the item in question is in the game. So you could stop exploring and head to the endgame once you reach that number, no matter where you got them from. So you could consider all of that "main quest" stuff, but you still have a lot of choice. It's as if your main quest was "Do 10 out of 20 of the following quests...".

      There's also some Isles that are completely optional, just loot and XP and cool puzzles.

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  6. you have the cartographer skill, can't you click where it says might and magic to show the map of your current area?

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    1. The button in the low left corner acivates a separate map screen and you need the cartography skill for that I think. You can activate mini-map which replaces game logo by other in-game means.

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    2. That needs the Wizard Eye spell, which comes a bit later. Not sure if it was this game or IV, but I think there was a wagon in one of the early wilderness areas that activates it for some gold.

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    3. Zardas: It was in this game. Wagon was very near from Fountain Head entrance and Wizard Eye for one day cost 10 coins :-)
      I remember it like it was yesterday.

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    4. If it's anything like Xeen, both wizard eye and the automap can be displayed on the upper right.

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  7. Hallo Chet. It is nice to see you finally covering some of the games I loved as a child. I am curious about your assesment of game difficulty - for example although Fountain Head is brutal for new adventurers, countryside areas seemed almost too easy with all the boosting wells and fountains.

    As for the swinging pendulums - they can be bypassed. I recommend getting a few "logistics" spells early on, as they make travel much easier. On the other hand, some of the spells can be found during exploring, so if you want to conserve money...

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  8. I feel ineasy looking at this bank gif. It is probably frequency with which "mighty Myron" winks.

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    1. A thief with high enough thievery skill can steal some gold when clicking on a money pile while Myron's eyes are closed.

      Just kidding.

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  9. While this game seems great, like WoX, rhyming in all M&M series is pretty awful. But I admit that it takes balls to rhyme halls with halls.

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  10. Rangers use the same spellbook as Druids, which in Might and Magic 3 is mostly a mix of weaker Cleric and Sorcerer spells, with a few unique ones thrown in. Walk on Water is the only one you truly need, and usually my playthroughs I pick up a hireling for it.

    Druids and Rangers need Intelligence and Personality both for their spell points. This makes them harder to develop, especially with others needing the same stats.

    Beyond that, Rangers can use armor up to splint mail, and most weapons, and so are decent fighters. Not as good as Knights or Barbarians of course, or even Paladins. Druids can use leather armor, but otherwise are similar to Sorcerers in weapon choice.

    In terms of equipment, some material types like Brass or bronze are actually worse than the same item type with no material. A Bronze is worse than just the . You can also get amusing items like Iron Leather Armor, and theoretically at least, Leather Leather Armor :P. I've also seen Leather Long Swords and other weapons.

    The first time I played, I missed the turn to kill the Rat Overlord, instead getting the other passages. I think I went back and killed him when I was level 60 something; he died really quickly.

    As a warning, there is a spot in I think F3 or E3 that used to lock the game up. I don't know if this was fixed on newer versions of the game such as from GOG.com or the Might and Magic Archives, but in the original DOS version, which is what I've kept a backup of since 1992 when I got my first 386, it will lock up every single time.

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    1. I had the original dos version too, but I never experienced this. Or perhaps I forgot...

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    2. Yes, I see I misspoke about the ranger. I probably don't need both him AND the druid, so I'll probably swap for a barbarian NPC when he becomes available.

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    3. Did anyone else experience this? Could be fault on one of the floppies that you got.

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  11. How Petr Dvořák said, the traps could be avoided by using certain spells.
    About party creating - in this I am completely opposite from Chet. If it is possible to take some default party, I usually take it. Why? First I don´t like much to push some button for generating 100 times :-)
    Second and more important reason it is that I believe that pre-generated party is somehow balanced. I can be sure, that let´s say if game cannot be completed without thief (which would be of course bad game design), in pre-generated party will be the thief. Or pre-generated characters will have some mix of useful skills.
    I think it is also some habit from my young years, because in that time I wanted to play a game and not to lose time by reading manual and also 99% games I had without manuals.
    Unfortunately piracy was in that time almost only way, how you could play some games in our country. But I take it like I was redeemed, because I bought most of that games again now on GoG, so in the end I paid for them.

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    1. And also I like the possibility to save anywhere. I don´t like when I must go again (and sometimes and again and again...) through something, what I already finished, just because I didn´t go to save my game in the right time.

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    2. I never played MM3, but did complete all of WoX (including the unofficial Swords scenario), and I vividly remember using the default party in one of them (probably Swords) for one specific reason: the Ninja started a shield, which the game considered to be equipped, despite the fact Ninjas can't equipped shields. So long as I never dropped, transferred, or sold that specific shield, that Ninja had a permanent AC boost that no other Ninja could ever get.

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    3. With most CRPGs the pre-generated party is fine but usually a little more generalist than optimum. I think most M&Ms allow a very wide variety, though. You often hear of people playing MM6 or 7 with four sorcerers or the like.

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    4. Ultima III is very easily won with a party of three fuzzy wizards and a bobbit cleric! Always interesting to see how the structure of the party affects the play of the game.

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  12. It's probably worth doing a few arena levels now, from memory they start off quite easy and are good for gaining a few levels. Also I found the key to easing the early level difficulty was to purchase bows for as many party members as possible. The difficulty curve is a bit off in the game, starting hard and getting quite easy in the middle before ramping up towards the end again unless you abuse a certain spell.

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    1. I can have not 100% correct memories in this, but I don´t have feeling that difficulty ramped up towards the end of the game. Quite opposite. I have feeling that with the diamond weapons and many attacks per round I almost didn´t need any spells.

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    2. Hmm, I found the enemies in and around the central area pretty hard and basically impossible once I ran out of spell points. I'll be interested to see how Chet goes.

      Delete
  13. My only annoyance with MM3 (and 4 and 5, not sure about 6) is that once you identify what the properties of an item are, it doesn't stay identified. I seem to recall having to make a big list of all the different properties (e.g. bronze, coral etc).

    Apart from that, great :)

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  14. "I might eventually grow to miss that extra challenge, but for now the fast-paced nature of III means that it's really difficult to force myself to stop playing and start blogging."

    Yeah I know that feeling, and considering the length of the game it easyly happens that I´m like "Ok one more Dungeooooooh fudge it´s morning already" xD

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  15. Chet are you going to do excel's maps in this game?

    Because mapping can be one way to prolong the time spent with the game?
    I know it may sound a little silly, but since such games are quite rare on your blog and less and less opportunity to map ... on the other hand there are so many titles in front of you so maybe it is not worth artificially lengthen the gameplay.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well the game has an auto-map so he probably doesn't have much motivation to create maps.

      Delete
    2. I'm very bi-polar on the issue. I'm always saying that I like the process of creating maps, but then I find any excuse not to do it.

      In this game, I think slowing down to create maps would ruin its fast-paced, exciting nature, so I'm relying on the automaps. I am using a notepad to annotate coordinates of key items.

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    3. I've found the automap to be barely functional (I have an extremely hard time making out the grid, and can't always tell if an E-W passage came to a dead end or I just didn't explore that way), and have thus been manually mapping with Grid Cartographer.

      Delete
    4. It would be really cool for you to post your finished maps on Google documents or something like that for people to see.

      Delete
    5. Unfortunately, my mapping tends to be a bit shoddy - I rarely bother noting down treasure chests and such (since I don't have to worry about finding them again), and ignore flavor features. They probably wouldn't be of interest to anybody but me.

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  16. MM 3 just beautiful. Thanks for covering it, I tackled it when I was too young and unfocused. I know I´m going to get back into it again. Are you sure you aren´t an award winning journalist with all this dedication to game analysis?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If someone wants to offer me an award, I won't say no.

      Delete
  17. "Your own hit points and spell points do not regenerate from wandering around. You have to sleep, pay for healing at a temple, or find a fountain. Sleeping requires a day's worth of rations, easily purchased at taverns."

    Last time I played MM3 I don't think my party spend a single night in a tavern. Instead they got the same effect from training at the training halls.
    Since your final score is based on in-game days spent, there's a double incentive for this tactic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is an interesting tactic; I may try a portion of that on my playthrough (though I am partway in already at Baywatch), thanks for sharing!

      In general, entering buildings adds quite a bit of time. Of course you can't always avoid it, but accumulating a ton of gear before selling, or using other ways to heal & rejuvenate spell points (avoiding spoilers here), seem to be the way to go to minimize in-game time.

      I am curious what the differences between Adventurer and Warrior mode are, other than tougher battles? Are you rewarded with a higher score or any other compensation?

      Delete
    2. Does a higher score get you any bonus content or just a higher score? I have never cared about my score in any game, maybe I am missing something?

      Delete
    3. banshee, I may be confusing 3 with 4/5 and/or previous entries, but it used to be that you could send in your results when you completed the game (including score) and get a certificate from the devs...a nice little touch. I have beaten MM3 once but I don't recall if they give you their mailing address and ask you to mail something in with your score for MM3...replaying it now though.

      That said, to my knowledge the only differences between Adventurer and Warrior mode is that fights take longer. I don't think XP scales with mode. Actually now that I think about it, I am even questioning whether "mode" exists in 3 or only in 4/5...if it is only 4/5 then I am not batting high today! Time for another cup of coffee.... (I recently started up MM3 again, and briefly MM4/5 just to compare...)

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    4. I still have my certificate from MM2, somewhere in my parents' garage...

      Delete
    5. The choice between Warrior and Adventurer mode only exists in Xeen, and all it does is add additional random monsters to fight. I have no idea how it affects the endgame score, though...

      Delete
  18. I wonder when gamers started using the word "map" instead of e.g. "area", or "wilderness", or "territory". I think this abuse of the "map" word breaks the immersion in the game world.

    A question for all the readers. If (in real world) you are driving between two towns and a friend calls and asks: "Where are you?", do you answer: "I am on the map!", or rather: "I am in the countryside!" ?

    ReplyDelete
  19. To be clear: I think that "area" and "map of the area" are different things. What other gamers call "map", I always called it "area" (or a synonim); what other gamers call "automap", I always called it "map".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get what you're saying, although I've gotten so used to the use of the term in a game context that I don't think twice about it. I remember that use first from the early-ish FPS era (Counter-Strike, Quake, etc., although I never really played those, so it might be older than that). "Map" is also used to refer to the individual files the games area data is usually stored in, which I've always taken as the source of the use of "map" to refer to any in-game area (be it a town, wilderness, dungeon level or even just the interior of a building). Basically a kind of meta term that's become generally used by now. Of course, I woudn't expect the game itself ever referring to one of its maps as a map, for immersion reasons.

      Delete
    2. I think this has always been a thing players did, they just didn't always use the word "map". I know a few guys from the arcade generation who would call towns in Ultima "boards" for instance.

      Delete
  20. Minor correction of an otherwise very excellent first post. It is possible to get regenerating monsters (not random encounters because you can see the monsters coming) in outdoor areas.

    ROT13 (you will want to have explored all of at least one outdoor area before decoding): Gurer vf n trarengvat nern sbe rnpu glcr bs zbafgre va rnpu bhgqbbe ybpngvba (r.t., N1, O3, rgp). Jura lbh qrfgebl gung trarengvat fdhner, lbh fgbc ertrarengvba bs gung glcr bs zbafgre.

    I believe you are correct for towns and dungeons, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm pretty sure what you're referring to are the "spawn points" mentioned in the post.

      Delete
    2. Oops, I missed that! Thank you. I saw multiple times where it said they never come back, but somehow did not see that mention. Thanks for pointing that out!

      Delete
    3. There is one very small error. Screenshot #11 shows goblins, not orcs.

      Delete
    4. I need to experiment more, but I didn't find that the monsters really regenerated that much even before destroying their spawn points. In any event, even if they did, the handful of experience and gold that they offer wouldn't be enough to tip the balance of the game.

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    5. They spawn a new monster every time you step on a certain square until you destroy their lair.

      Delete
  21. This was the first game I played where the graphics truly blew me away. The game's artists--Louis Johnson, Bonita Long-Hemsath, and Julia Ulano--really outdid themselves and created a world that looked so real (at the time) it felt alive!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I always use an Archer instead of a sorcerer. Same spell list, much better fighter, doesn't die so easily. That and offensive magic just isn't that useful in MM3-5

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do so with my elf character, an elf sorcerer just has an awfully low health which doesn't make the extra spell affinity of elves worthwhile. A sorcerer is normally human for me

      And yes, most direct damage spells feel quite a bit underwhelming

      Delete
  23. W.r.t character evolution, there is no limit to the number of times you go to the arena. So there is no cap on the exp you can gain. IIRC, bringing all characters plus two mercenaries to level 200 (the maximum) required clearing everything plus 150 trips to the arena. Also, the arena fights scale with visit count (not your level) up to 75 or so, then stay identical.

    But, OTOH, there isn't enough money in the game for all that levelling. Briging everybody to 200 requires around 4-6 billion gold (yes, 6e9) more than is present in the whole game. So you can't reach that point without cheating. Or, in other words, that part of the economy makes sense.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. IIRC, unless you abuse the Arena, in MM3 the economy is well balanced so that there is plenty enough gold for leveling up your characters based on the XP you get from the "normal" game.

      In World of Xeen however it's a big big flaw of the design IMO. That's why, without actually cheating, the game provides you with solutions.

      For Chet, i would simply say that he should not ignore the Bank as it's something the game designers obviously put there for a reason.

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    2. Couldn't you use the weekly job options or bank interest to fund all the training you'd need? It'd take forever sure, but is there some limit that keeps it from being an option?

      Delete
    3. Vaqrrq, lbh pna npghnyyl pbzovar obgu: chg 1 zvyyvba va gur onax, gura hfr gur "qnl wbo" gb cnff jrrxf. Va nobhg 10-15 zvahgrf bs pyvpxvat znk, lbh jvyy unir cnffrq 10 lrnef naq jvyy unir nebhaq 176 zvyyvba va onax. Gur yvzvg ubjrire vf gung punenpgref ntr, naq gura gurve pnenpgrevfgvpf fgneg qrpyvavat. Ohg lbh pna hfr 10 lrnef gb trg evpu, gura tb ba nqiraghevat jvgubhg zhpu pbafrdhraprf.

      Delete
    4. @BelatedGamer: Surely, you could make a party, do weekly jobs until the characters die of old age, make a new party, rinse and repeat to get endless amounts of money before you start the game properly...but...its obscenely tedious and not worth it since, as others mentioned, the game gives you enough resources to finish it comfortably.

      Delete
  24. The mention of the Arena above reminds me...I seem to recall there being an overflow bug with the arena.
    There is an unofficial patch made by a guy named Jeff Ludwig that fixes this bug and a few other bugs IIRC. Not to be confused with his MM3 _mod_ that changes monsters spawns and other things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, arena was pretty buggy. It was prone to crashes, and there's an experience reward bug after round 32. I'm guessing this is the overflow, as the reward is 1,000 experience times rounds won, which makes it overflow in a signed 16-bit integer (above 32,767).

      According to a story I've read in a magazine, there's a tavern rumor saying that nobody has ever won more than 76 rounds of combat. They tried it out, and their game crashed on the 77th. I wonder if it was intended :)

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    2. The same tavern rumor is on console. I wonder if has the same issue.

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    3. There is one specific monster that appears on level 76 and following. I went up to level 150 on a mac.

      Delete
  25. Comments on the SNES version (TG-CD is more accurate to the PC, but I didn't have that to play):

    - The party size is capped at 6, hirelings exist, but take up one of those slots.
    - Barrels aren't colored any differently, so require save-scumming to optimize.
    - There are no messages on walls in dungeons. Most of these have become tips or rumors in taverns, or completely absent (in some cases making puzzles require leaps in logic). The messages on walls in towns are still in though.
    - There's mouse support, which is the best way to play. Even so, there's an inherent lag between screens and all actions that stretch the amount of time it takes to play.


    I agree that it's hard to pull away from the quick progress this game offers. I often found myself playing for double my usual play time per night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All console versions share that one thing though: they are very laggy and have a worse interface compared to the PC version. Seeing how obscenely different M&M2 for the Super Famicom was, its too bad the Super Famicom version of the third game was never completed, would have been interesting to see how that one would have turned out...

      At least every version offers a completely distinct soundtrack (with the totally out-of-place prog-rock of the PC-Engine/TG16 game being the most notable mention I guess :D )

      Delete
  26. You mention colored barrels, but my copy either has very subtle color differences, or is broken because all the barrels look exactly the same to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The graphic is the same as far as I know - you only get to know what's actually in them when you try to drink them, where a message will tell you which color it has. Only starting from VI will you actually see which liquid it has in the barrel before checking

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    2. Steve is correct. If I had to rely on the ACTUAL color of barrels, I'd always be confusing orange and yellow, purple and blue, and red and green. Fortunately the game is explicit.

      Delete
  27. I agree that the interface for M&M3 is one of the nicest of this era. It's so modern with VGA graphics, soundblaster music and a completely mouse driven interface. The only thing it's lacking is tooltips or the ability to right click on things for more info.

    I never thought that the difficulty of the town was super difficult. If you create a good enough party you can beat all the in-town encounters even if 1 or 2 people die each combat. I wonder if it was bad playtesting, an oversight or intentional to have the outdoors area be so much easier?

    The riddles in Fountain Head are also reminiscent of the statues in Sorpigal in M&M1.

    I also advise putting a ranger or druid in your party so you can access the druid spells. NO SPOILERS but they have some useful spells.

    And yes, I agree that this isn't a very difficult game, but it's all about exploration and discovery. Getting bogged down by difficult combats would put a crimp in the gameplay. Not so say that everything is a cakewalk though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, I still don't like the interface very much. It hides too much information from the front view (granted, this is only a negative change from the Mac versions of MM1 and MM2, since you didn't get the information front-and-center on the other versions of those games), it is far too hard to know how much damage you're doing, and the spell interface is one of the clunkiest control systems I've ever seen.

      The game itself is very good. The interface? Not so much.

      Delete
    2. I am with Gnoman. At first it seemed nifty to be able to do mouse or keyboard for everything, but the implementation wasn't too great. Casting spells with "C" and two numbers was so much easier, particularly in the not-too-distant future when spell lists grow quite a bit...so for about 3/4 of the game it is not easy. The hidden information bothered me as well and I grew up on the DOS version of MM2.

      The game itself I always enjoyed, even in my younger days, and the graphics of the game itself as well, but the *interface*? I did not enjoy the interface, which kept me from enjoying the game for quite awhile. I am used to it now, but to me it was far less usable.

      Delete
    3. I agree that the spell part could be better, but I like everything else about the inputs. I like a game that I play as unconsciously as I type.

      Delete
    4. I agree with keyboard shortcuts. I guess really spellcasting is the one big bugaboo...but since I usually try to use multiple spells with about half the party as spellcasters (for MM3 I have Druid, Cleric, Sorcerer), that becomes a big inconvenience about 1/3 of the way into the game.

      The other issue--lack of info--is more realistic and thus more forgivable. Only in Hollywood would the bad guy divulge his resistance to the effect you chose to use, and even in Hollywood you would not know how many HP of damage you dealt!

      Delete
    5. Let me illustrate my biggest issue with the interface change, with an example that happened to me in both MM2 and MM3 (along with many other RPGs - I have a bit of a bad habit here).

      At some point I acquired a significant weapon upgrade for one of my front-line fighters, sold off the old weapon, and soon found myself in battle. There was one minor problem - I didn't actually EQUIP the weapon, and was thus attacking with my fists.

      In MM2, I figured out the very first time I attacked an enemy, because the message was "PALADIN hit Troll 3 times for 4 damage" instead of "PALADIN hit Troll 3 times for 78 damage, and it goes down!".

      In MM3 it took me four hours to figure it out, and I only managed to do so when I collected enough loot that it spilled over into that character's inventory.

      Delete
    6. I mention that issue in my next posting. I, too, have occasionally discovered that I left a character with an unequipped weapon. The game does give you some feedback, however, in the size of the blood spatter when you strike an enemy. If a character who used to leave a large splatter suddenly leaves a tiny one, or always seems to miss, that's a good sign. I agree that it's not as good as knowing the precise damage value, but I wouldn't impugn the entire interface over it.

      Part of the issue is that your basis of comparison is with a couple of games--MM1 and MM2--that also had very good keyboard interfaces. Compared to them, I'll allow that MM3 might have some issues that the availability of the mouse doesn't solve. Compared to most other titles of 1991, though, which seem to have forgotten the keyboard entirely, this interface is heaven.

      Delete
  28. This game is pure crack. They don't make 'em like this anymore, though, Might and Magic X Legacy is pretty good.

    ReplyDelete
  29. The CPU cycle setting on DOSBox effects the animations and play speed. From your GIF, it looks to me like you have yours set a little higher than it would have been at release.

    Slowing it down makes the game run slower in every way, an you may have already found your sweet spot, but I thought I'd mention it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Slowing the CPU to the point that the animations cycle properly also slows down the mouse movement to the point that it becomes unplayable. At least, that's my experience.

      Delete
    2. No, that's just the GIF speeded up. I use a conversion program to make a GIF out of video, and I never seem to achieve the right balance between frames-per-second and, delays, size, and speed.

      Delete
  30. Interesting thing about the Might and Magic series: it was almost unknown in Europe. Was it never really marketed in Europe or didn't it just catch on for some reason?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here in Hungary it wasn't marketed at all, but frankly nothing was at the time. Thanks to the country's small market size and rampant piracy, game advertisements only really started appearing in the late 90s, early 2000s, when the series was pretty much over.

      But each installment, starting from III, had reviews and extensive walkthroughs by multiple magazines, so it was definitely not unknown among the gaming population.

      Delete
    2. I am curious now at where Darklands got its inspiration (I think it was developed in Europe)...gear quality is like a quantitative version of material quality. That said, I do not see a lot of other similarities because Darklands is so unique for its time.

      Was it possibly marketed to only Western Europe? Geopolitically, this came out right as the Berlin Wall fell (well, close enough to still feel remnants of the cultural divide). I would be surprised if the UK in particular did not know of Might & Magic...and other Western European countries somewhat shocking though perhaps slightly less so due to language on top of the still niche PC industry a few years from the big breakout (at least in the US).

      Delete
    3. Well, in Germany the franchise was pretty popular - enough so that German translations were made and MM 10 was actually developed by a German company (Limbic from Hannover).

      Delete
    4. I'm British, and the first I heard of the series was in about 1999 or 2000, and that was via the spin off wargame Heroes of Might and Magic.

      The UK had its own little bubble of computer gaming, with the C64, Spectrum, and Amiga dominating; if a game wasn't available on one of those platforms, it wouldn't get much of an audience. There wasn't a huge amount of interest in Mac or PC at the time.

      All that said, M&M3 did get an Amiga release, and it got good scores, all in the 80% range, so I just wasn't paying attention!

      Delete
    5. I will say this--even living near the Silicon Valley in California (not in the heart but in a smaller town nearby with my dad in the computer industry) during the time these games came out, I first heard of Darklands via a friend who got the game, and only really stayed up on Sierra's offerings regularly since they marketed very well. So, even in the heart of computers at the time, there was nowhere near the market there is today by a long shot.

      Delete
  31. Somehow I never played this one. I played the first two M&M games on my Apple IIc, and then the Xeen games (4&5) on my DOS machine later, but never got a copy of III. It really seems to be the same interface as the later ones.

    I remember being really frustrated in the Xeen games about the limitations on leveling. Supposedly infinite levels but definitely limits on gold. I was able to beat the games but never the bonus very difficult areas and I was always convinced it was because I just needed a few more levels.

    I really enjoyed 6 but never got very far in 7, and didn't play 8-10 at all. Have heard 10 is pretty good but my backlog is too big to ever get to it, I fear.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I read some contemporary reviews from -91 and they mentioned that inventory is a chore to use because it loads from a hard drive each time you access it which was apparently irritatingly slow.

    I'm guessing that emulators don't have those kinds of problems.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm using PCem for it, set up to replicate an era-appropriate PC as closely as possible (which includes disk access times). It isn't all that noticeable unless you drop the CPU down to a 386/25 or somesuch.

      Delete
    2. Indeed, hard drives didn't have all these fancy caching and prioritization tricks they have now, and thus were painfully slow. A workaround existed in the form of the SMARTDRV software cache program (or third-party alternatives), but that required a significant chunk of memory, which was in very short supply back then. It was the main reason I upgraded from 4 to 5 megabytes of RAM shortly after buying my first PC in '94. It was amazing how much of a difference 1 MB of cache could make. But in '91 that was probably not feasible yet.

      Today the average hard drive can load the whole game in about 0.2 seconds, and the system has enough resources to keep it in cache memory for instant access.

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    3. Heck, the entire game can fit into the L2 and L3 caches of modern CPUs, so depending on how Dosbox works it might not even get into the slower-by-comparison memory.

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    4. @Gnoman: At the time that was an usual gaming PC. A 486 was still too expensive and the 286 slowly on it's way out. The Am386 only came out in 91 and Intels counterparts where very pricey, hence why gaming PCs usually used AMD or Cyrix Chips.

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    5. From my memory, an AT allows High Density floppy discs, phasing out Double Density discs used on XTs.

      The first CRPG, again to my own knowledge, was Sorcerian. If your PC is still the old XT by the early 90s, your choice of games will be severely limited.

      Delete
  33. This is my party, and I apologize for the obviousness of the theme

    Alas, no amount of googling is enough to reveal to me what this allegedly obvious theme is supposed to be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Answer in ROT13


      Gurl'er nantenzzrq Tnzr bs Guebarf punenpgref.

      Oevraar
      Glevba
      Oenaqba
      Fnafn
      Neln
      Zbezbag

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    2. You didn't have to ROT13 that, but kudos for the caution.

      I forgot that "Yara" is actually another character in the series. Wasn't much else I could do for "Arya," though. "Aray?" "Raya?"

      Delete
    3. Well, now I have to go and suggest Ryaa, Aary, and Raay, just to round it out.

      Delete
  34. It will be years before the Addict plays MM4 and MM5 and this comment will be long forgotten, but I have been playing these games a bit now and think his decision is more difficult than it seems.

    MM4 will be played by itself, of course. It came out a year before its sequel and that's how it was first experienced by its players.

    But MM5 vs "World" is trickier. Fewer players played MM5 by itself, but "World" is a significantly different experience with the two games combined than playing MM5 by itself. This is not only because of the additional combat, but the flow of the game changes completely when integrated. Because you can cross freely (after a short while) between the worlds, the order of skills and training and everything is different than in either of the games individually. Accessing MM5 gets you Lloyd's Beacon and "Swimming" much earlier than you would in MM4 alone, for example, while accessing MM4 gets you "Crusader" and early quests that provide attribute bonuses and cash faster than MM5 alone.

    I suspect that MM5 by itself feels like a different game than MM4+5 does. That may or may not be worth the Addict playing through all the content again, but it will make the decision (I suspect) more difficult.

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    Replies
    1. I think it depends on how important Chet feels time timeline is. Games are being played roughly in order, but if the 9-month gap between 4 and 5 were January to October of the same year, he would probably play them together. (A commenter on another post claimed they were 9 months apart, or at least said something to the effect of it being a long 9 months, so I am making an assumption here that I cannot verify but that statement suggested they were 9 months apart in release.)

      I think the opposite end of the spectrum will be encountered frequently when DLCs become prevalent, but even before then there will be a similar issue with Ultima 7 coming up shortly (but the opposite extreme since the two games released in different years were both named Ultima 7). The Black Gate was released in April 1992, but Serpent Isle wasn't released until 11 months later in March 1993. Will they both be played together?

      For consistency's sake, I would think either MM4-5 is played together, or Ultima 7a and 7b are also played separately. My preference would be toward the former (play both MM4-5 and Ultima 7a-7b together), but it depends on how much of a feel for the games at the time Chet wants as a history lesson if you will (when there was such a small gap of a year or less, not a huge gap in time), versus how much is Chet's intent to portray the games for people to understand how they would play by today's gamers.

      Delete
    2. These aren't great comparisons. Ultima 7 and 7-Part 2 were separate games entirely. They form a continuous story and use the same engine, but they are fundamentally different games. Your party resets when you move from one to the next. It's just like Baldur's Gate I and II: you could imagine them as a continuous narrative, but they are not really.

      MM3 and MM4 are different because you can play them in either order or together. You can freely move between worlds in a way that you can't in Ultima 7 and 7-P2.

      Delete
    3. I agree with you Joe, but glossed over it somewhat by saying it was a similar dilemma but in the opposite extreme.

      My point is, it would be very odd to have Chet play Ultima 7a and 7b in one sitting, but split up MM4 and MM5. Ultima 7a and 7b were separated by about the same length of time, and MM4/5 go together even more than Ultima 7a and 7b.

      That is why I concluded by saying there is a decision to make not just on MM4/5 but also on Ultima 7a and 7b to be consistent. The thing is, Ultima 7 went to the extreme of being 2 related stories packed under the same titular name, while MM4/5 opted for one story that has 3 different main quests under 2 different titular names.

      Delete
    4. In the case of Ultima VII, the "Part 1" and "Part 2" part are just a silly result of Origin's unwillingness to give a game a new number unless they've revamped the entire engine. The games are utterly separate--they even have another game (Ultima Underworld Part II) in between them!--so I'll be treating them as completely separate games.

      Playing MM4 and MM5 together to bridge 1992/1993 seems like the best solution. While it would be somewhat interesting to replicate the original players' experiences by playing MM4 as a standalone 1992 game, I can probably extrapolate that during my combined IV/V experience.

      Delete
    5. That makes a lot of sense, Chet...even if it means MM4/5 is further away! ;) If you play MM4/5 on Cloudside only without teleporting to Darkside at all, you should have a good idea of what players are talking about and yet still be able to teleport to the MM5 (and overlapping) content after you have done much of MM4.

      Delete
  35. Maybe somebody mentioned it already: there is something vague about the skills. Some skills have to be "bought" only for one character, some for two characters to work. Some skills are needed for everyone. I asume that beginners might spend a lot of money on useless additonal skill training.

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    Replies
    1. I dunno. It felt rather intuitive to me. Climbing and Swimming obviously requires EVERYONE to be skilled in it while spotting traps and monsters can be delegated to a single character.

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    2. But NOT everyone needs Mountain Climbing, it is enough for two characters to have it.

      Delete
    3. Yes K, that's what I meant; it's confusing.

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    4. IMHO, just get everyone what they can learn, if gold allowed. Just in case your mountain climbing pals get conked out and you are stuck in mountainous terrain.

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    5. I don't actually think consciousness (or even being living) affects the ability to mountaineer. It would have made sense, but I think the game checks for the skill, and not health status.

      Delete
    6. Va zl bcvavba, whfg svaq gur cbvag jurer lbh pna trg nyy fxvyyf sbe rirelbar, naq or qbar jvgu gur jubyr znggre. V zrna gung vf gur rnfvrfg fbyhgvba. ;C

      Delete
    7. V fnl trg fxvyy sbe bayl gjb crbcyr, eraqre gurz hapbafpvbhf naq frr vs fxvyyf fgvyy jbex :Q

      Delete
  36. I've just started my first ever playthrough of this on an Android phone, using DosBox turbo. After some initial tweaking and vitual button mapping, it works extremely well, if you were someone that preferred to use mouse input for MM3-5. The 'semi-action' combat that you mention (with the Quick action button), the generous auto-mapping and quest notes, and shift away from the 'nano-thin' dungeon walls all lend it a surprisingly apt interface for mobile gaming.

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  37. Your post has motivated me to play the game for the first time. I've played 4+5 during my youth, but 3 was slightly before my start with rpgs. I'm as far along now as you were in this post and really excited to be playing along with you for the first time after reading your blog for so many years!

    So far, a very similar experience for me. I totally agree with you on the interface, it's incredibly well done for a 1991 game. The combination of mouse and keyboard shortcuts makes for very modern gaming.

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  38. This was my first Might and Magic game and by far my favorite; the graphics beign so cartoony still hold up surprisingly well as does the interphase. The puzzles and open ended nature of the game makes it so much fun to replay even after all these years. Sure World of Xeen refined most of the innovations from III but somehow this one felt fresher and more balanced. Along with Darklands, Wizardry 7, Quest for Glory series and a relatively unknown gem known as The Summoning these game were the most important and beloved games in my childhood

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