Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Die Drachen von Laas: Ausgelagert! (with Summary and Rating)

The in-game image of Tatzelwurm, one of the two dragons that needs to be defeated.
      
Die Drachen von Laas
Germany
ATTIC Entertainment Software (developer and publisher)
Released in 1991 for DOS, Amiga, Atari ST
Date Started: 14 October 2017
Date Ended: 31 October 2017
Total Hours: Buck spent 23 to win it; I spent 9 playing and ihynterpreting what Buck sent me
Difficulty: Moderate (3/5); my best guess for a German-language player
Final Rating: 36
Ranking at Time of Posting: 199/267 (75%)

I had a couple of replies to my call for German assistance with Drachen von Laas, including one commenter named Buck who dove into the project, spent 23 hours on it, and sent me nearly 20 pages of text on his experience, with associated maps and images.

This isn't the first time that I'll be commenting (and, ultimately, rating) based heavily on someone else's experience (I previously did it with Time Horn); the idea leaves me a little uncomfortable, but it might have to become part of the reality of this blog if I ever want to reach the modern era. In any event, it bothers me less with this sort of game, since text adventures tend to give everyone a similar experience. That wouldn't be true if the game had more role-playing options, dialogue options, or combat tactics, but this one doesn't seem to.

Buck's experience belies what I said in my first entry about the parser. I had been hoodwinked by the manual's boasting and my own initial experiences to believe that the developers had thought of most ways that a player would approach a problem. This does not appear to be the case. For instance, once the characters accumulate 7 "gerfs" (the currency of Laas), they can purchase a sword and dagger from the blacksmith, Foroll, in Hyllok. But BUY WEAPONS or BUY SWORD doesn't do anything. You have to use GIVE FOROLL MONEY. Upon reaching a river, DRINK FROM RIVER doesn't work; you have to type DRINK WATER. To get some scales from a dragon, TAKE SCALES (NIMM SCHUPPEN) doesn't work but REMOVE SCALES (ENTFERNE SCHUPPEN) does. There were times that even Buck, a native speaker, couldn't figure out what the game wanted from him even though there was clearly something to do or find. For instance, early in the game, he found a stone cross with an inscription covered by moss. He could find no set of commands that would allow him to scrape, clean, or burn the moss so that he could read the inscription. (He offers the possibility, however, that perhaps there's nothing meant for the player to do with it.)

It's clear that I would have struggled even more finding the right words to use. What seem like minor asides in the area descriptions actually contain key clues, and in the process of translating I could easily have overlooked them. For instance, getting past a bridge troll requires running between its legs. To know that you have to do that, you have to note that in the description, the troll is standing breitbeinig (with legs spread). It never would have occurred to me to regard this as an important part of the description.

If you want to read Buck's full account of the game, I have made his document (with some light editing) available here. What follows is my summary and a mix of his and my commentary, but it's worth looking at his full account if only to see the excellent detail that he supplied me.

As we saw last time, the plot is fairly open-ended: two boys named Smirga and Aszhanti head out from their village of Hyllok, with their parents' reluctant blessings, with the general goal to "find adventure." Smirga is already an accomplished hunter, and Aszhanti has some experience with spells. The town itself has a few resources if you're careful about investigating every item and piece of furniture mentioned in the text. For instance, fiddling with a quiver in Smirga's house will reveal some coins hidden inside it;  NIMM MÜNZEN AUS LEDERKÖCHER (TAKE COINS FROM QUIVER) allows you to take them. There are also a few coins in Aszhanti's room that the game doesn't seem to cue at all, but if you type NIMM GELD, you get them.

There are various items of food and beverage to take from the houses, too. You spend some gold immediately to obtain weapons from the blacksmith and the spells LEVI (levitate small things) and FEBR (create flame that can be used in combat or for ignition) from the town mage. Then, it's off to the adventure.
    
A pretty image of a fishing village.
     
Like most text adventures, Laas offers a relatively open world, though it's somewhat illusory in that the characters must find items or spells, or simply develop in skill, before they can progress in some areas. You feel this out in typical text adventure fashion, mapping until you hit a dead end or an unbeatable enemy, and then head off in a different direction. Success in puzzle-solving occasionally depends on having the right character active. Only Aszhanti can cast spells, for instance, and only Smirga can catch fish.

Some of the episodes Buck related include:

  • The youths come upon some farmers bringing in the harvest ahead of a storm. HELP FARMERS results in some food and a safe place to rest for up to three nights.
      
The farmhouse.
      
  • A bridge troll prevents passage and demands a goat. When asked for a goat, the farmers above complain that they've given all their goats to the troll. The youths must pass by scurrying between his legs.
  • In a swamp lives a witch named Sabrina. She turns the youths into frogs the moment they enter, ending the game. Later, they run into a magician named Skeeve who gives them a quest to retrieve a stolen spell from Sabrina--and supplies them with a magic cape to help. Buck had to experiment a lot to solve the quest. The solution involved sneaking into the house when Sabrina was away, putting on the cloak to hide, and doing nothing at all while Sabrina returned, cast a spell, and left again. He was then able to pick up the spell scroll and return it to Skeeve for a reward.
     
This witch is definitely not teenaged.
     
  • The boys come to an abandoned fishing village. The residents are gathered in a pub, discussing the troubles posed by a sea monster named Tuatara who prevents them from fishing. They offer 150 gerfs to the boys if they defeat the creature, and they equip them with a boat and harpoon. Tuatara can be killed, but the better way is to talk to him (he expresses surprise, as no one has ever talked to him before) and ask him to help the fishermen, at which point he rounds up a bunch of fish for them. The latter option confers an increase in reputation along with the gold, but it depends on saying exactly the right words to Tuatara, and Buck couldn't figure it out in his first pass.
      
Tuatara expresses surprise that someone is talking to him.
    
  • The city of Scarbloom, largest city in Laas, offers several opportunities for the boys to increase their attributes by giving to a beggar and paying for training and spells. The king lives in a palace and is seeking dragon hunters.
     
An image from Scarbloom.
     
  • Scarbloom also presents an interesting role-playing encounter, when a shopkeeper named Gultiba asks the boys to murder his wife's lover. He offers 700 gerfs for the act, which is enough to tempt even a player trying to play "good." Buck caught the lovers in flagrante but was unable to bring himself to kill the man, instead telling him to run away. The man flees, promising "never again with a married woman." This increased the boys' reputation. Later, Buck told Gultiba that the man was dead and got the reward anyway.
       
Accepting an assassination contract.
     
Some combats appear fixed, such as a troll that guards a cave entrance, some random, such as a goblin who wanders the roads. Enemies include the "robber fly" I described last time, goblins, trolls, boars, orcs, ogres, werewolves, slimes, and demons. Some do respawn, and it is possible to grind for both experience and gold. Zombies and werewolves are particularly dangerous since they can cause a wounded character to turn into them.

In combat, Smirga generally engages in physical attacks while Aszhanti supports with spells. The LEVI spell sometimes confounds enemies and gives Smirga an extra attack. Later, in Scarbloom, the player can purchase KUBL (ball lightning) and TOPA (confusion) to increase combat options. There are only five spells total. I didn't get the impression from Buck's account that any of the normal combats (i.e., the ones that don't require some kind of puzzle-solving) were particularly hard, as long as you take care to rest, eat, drink, and heal when hit points get too low.
       
Exchanging blows in combat, with the player specifying an action for both characters each round.
      
The characters are rewarded with gold and weapon and armor upgrades in some combats. Gold plays a significant role in the game, as many key puzzle items have to be purchased. Some of them can be sold to random NPC peddlers after the player is done with them.

Through combat, puzzle-solving, and practice with spells and weapons, the characters develop consistently through the game. The "strength" attribute, which acts more like a level title, progresses from "Mama's Boy" to titles like "Swashbuckler," "Muscle Man," and "Gladiator." Azhanti's "astral" skill goes through titles like "Illusionist" and "Mage." Fame goes from "Nobody" to "Barely Noticeable," "Notable," and "Well-Known."
      
You know you've trained as much as you possibly can when the cost of training keeps getting higher than your gold inventory.
     
As the characters wander, they must deal with hunger and thirst. The hunger level is shared by the characters and sated with various items of food found throughout the game. Thirst levels are individual. A river and a lake offer a regular supply of both water and fish. Eating and drinking also restore hit points.

Miscellaneous notes:
   
  • At one point, when trying to go further west, guards stop the characters and note that they cannot proceed because of "orders from ATTIC" (the game's developer): the area isn't finished. The idea was further adventures could be found down that road; these, of course, were never developed.
       
Smart-ass guards prevent further travel west.
     
  • The game re-uses much of its imagery. Images for the swamp and hill country are the same as the village center in Hyllok, for instance.
  • There's a day/night cycle in the game. Stores are closed at night, and different enemies appear. At nighttime, the text descriptions stop telling you where the available exits are. You can SLEEP UNTIL MORNING, which restores hit points, but if you sleep in a dangerous location you'll get automatically killed. Scarbloom has a hotel.
  • Buck never found a use for the UNSI spell, which turns items temporarily invisible. 
  • You can't leave items on the ground because NPCs wander by and pick them up.
     
Winning the game involves getting strong enough to kill Laas's two dragons, Lindwurm to the north and Tatzelwurm to the south. Tatzelwurm breathes poison but is immune to fire; Lindwurm breathes fire. To defeat them, the player first has to solve Skeeve's quest and get as a reward a scarab that makes the wearer immune to poison. He then has to reach Tatzelwurm by using a rope (purchased in Scarbloom) to climb down a cliff. It took Buck a while to figure out how to do this because he missed the existence of a tree, to which the rope must be tied, in the area description.

Fanatics who worship Tatzelwurm attack the characters and smash the scarab, so you have to purchase a jug in Scarbloom to hide it. You also have to get it re-charged by the mage in Hyllok, which Buck only figured out by showing the scarab to a dozen NPCs.

Thus prepared, the scarab protects against Tatzelwurm's breath when the boys enter his cave. Buck defeated the dragon in a 10-round battle, but he'd engaged in enough grinding with the characters that they had plenty of hit points. After the battle, the player must remove the dragon's scales and pay the Scarbloom blacksmith 500 gerfs to create a fireproof shield to use against Lindwurm.
      
Lindwurm circles his abandoned fortress.
      
Lindwurm is a three-headed dragon, and killing him takes a bit longer because you have to cut off each of his heads. But the shield protects from his breath, and again all of Buck's grinding paid off when he was able to defeat the dragon on the first try. Killing Lindwurm causes the endgame text to appear, which Buck offered in translation.
      
We both grab a dragon's head and begin the descent to Scarbloom. Our fight did not stay unnoticed. At the base of the cliff we meet a small group of people who at first stare at us in disbelief, but then, as we show them the dragon's heads, cheer us in unison and carry us to Scarbloom on their shoulders, while a few of them running ahead to spread the happy news in the city. No surprise then that the whole city is afoot as we arrive with our victory parade. The streets are full of people who cheer us, amongst others we recognize Yarom and later Gultiba and Nichidor, too. As we reach the marketplace, busy hands have already erected a pedestal, on which King Dolmus is waiting for us. We climb, among cheers of the crowd and flowers thrown by young women, up to the king who raises his arms and asks the people to be quiet.
"People of Laas! Finally the plague of the two ghastliest monsters which have ever haunted Laas is behind us."

(Thundering applause)

"Smirga and Aszhanti, our two young friends here, from the far away village of Hyllok in the western hill country, were the ones to put an end to the dragons."

"Aszhanti and Smirga live long, long, long!"

"We are all indebted to them, and they shall receive a fitting reward!"

"Smirga shall become, in spite of his young age, trainer of our troops, because he has proven to be a better fighter than any other man in this country. And Aszhanti shall be mage of the court, that he may perfect his art further and noone will ever dare to challenge him to a magic fight"

We thank Domus for the recognition of our deeds, as at the moment a more peaceful task is quite welcome.
The festivities, drinking and dancing went on for a long time in this great night for Laas. We also don't want to keep it a secret that there will be some further incidents in the life of Smirga and Aszhanti, but this is another story. For now we close the annals of Laas. Who knows, maybe we'll see the two of them one day and accompany them through wild adventures and dangerous fights.

Buck's comment here--"Wait, I get rewarded with work?! I have plenty of that already."--seems apt.

Checking a walkthrough after winning, Buck found that he missed a few things. Apparently, it was possible to cut off Tatzelwurm's tail and bathe in his blood for some benefit. He thinks that if he hadn't killed Tuatara, his reputation would have been higher (it apparently goes to "Heroic"). Somewhere, he could have gotten a spear called "Zeron" that would have made the dragon fights even easier.
       
Buck's map of the overall game world.
     
Overall, the game feels a lot like an all-text Quest for Glory. Its footprint is about the same size, and it balances deterministic puzzle-solving with random combats and a few authentic role-playing options. I wish there were more text-RPG hybrids like this, and I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to play it directly.

Based mostly on Buck's narrative, and in consultation with him, I offer the following GIMLET:

  • 5 points for the game world, a small but well-realized medieval setting with a realistic geography and evocative in-game descriptions. I also like that the plot is low-key.
  • 2 points for character creation and development. There's no creation. The small set of attributes increases steadily throughout the game and has palpable results in combat, but it's a pretty limited system overall.
     
A mid-game character sheet for the two boys.
    
  • 5 points for NPC interaction. This seems like a strong element of the game. Buck reports that the NPCs have character and some unique reactions to items and questions. The parser supports a relatively flexible dialogue with NPCs, and you learn a lot about the game world and its quests from them. Some of them wander the world and keep to a day/night cycle.
      
The shopkeeper Gultiba, a key NPC.
     
  • 4 points for encounters and foes. The enemies don't seem special--D&D standards without many special attacks--but at least some respawn (unlike a lot of text adventures). Too many of the puzzles required fighting with the parser to get the right outcome, and most were simple inventory puzzles, but the few solid role-playing puzzles help boost this score.
  • 2 points for magic and combat. The combat system is, alas, pretty simplistic. The handful of spells don't often do anything even in places where it seems they should solve a puzzle.
  • 2 points for equipment. Smirga gets a couple of upgrades, from nothing to chainmail, and from a sword to an axe. Most of the items are utility or puzzle items.
  • 5 points for economy. Gold (or "gerfs") remains relevant throughout the game for purchasing key inventory items (including the final shield) and buying spells and training. If you miss opportunities to make gold from side-quests, you can always grind for it. Most or all inventory items can be sold.
  • 4 points for quests, including the main quest to kill the two dragons and several side quests that support character development and wealth and offer role-playing options.
  • 2 points for graphics, sound, and interface. No text adventure is going to do great here. The images are mostly just window-dressing and do not offer clues for solving puzzles. There is no sound, and the text parser offers a few problems. Buck reports, however, that the descriptions are well-written.
  • 5 points for gameplay. It earns them for being nonlinear and offering the right length of gameplay for the right challenge. 
            
A nice image of a hotel in the capital city.
      
That gives us a final score of 36, which seems about right. I would definitely recommend it for German-language speakers. It seems to offer enough RPG elements to be a true hybrid and not just a text adventure with a couple RPG nods.

German magazines tended to rate the game low from 60% (PC-Spiele '92) to 78% (Aktueller Software Markt), yet the text of the reviews are mostly positive, praising the language, the challenge of the puzzles, and even the parser. I think the scores ended up being so low because they were computed by a formula that included graphics as a key element. Many of the reviews mention that while this is a solid text adventure, text adventures in general are out-of-date.

As I mentioned in the first entry, Laas appears to have been written in the 1980s and only published in 1991 when the authors, Hans-Jürgen Brändle and Guido Henkel, created ATTIC Entertainment Software. They would soon be known for more enduring RPGs, including Spirit of Adventure (1991) and the Realms of Arkania trilogy (1992-1996). The company dissolved in 2001 when the founder were unable to agree on a future direction. Brändle died in 2005 in Las Vegas. Henkel moved to California, focused for a time on his music career, and later founded a mobile game company called G3 Studios.

I want to thank all the commenters who assisted, particularly Buck and Zardas, in making this review possible. I look forward to continuing the adventure soon with Spirit of Adventure.

52 comments:

  1. Well, you've already got another text adventure/RPG hybrid on your "upcoming" list, and it's one of the ones I'm looking forward to greatly—I've always loved Quarterstaff, and will be very interested to see what you think of it when you get there.

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  2. GAAAAH I HATE TEXT ADVENTURES. So, so much hate. On my VIC-20 I had Scott Adams' Pirate Adventure. At one point, you get a claw hammer, and there is clearly a rug nailed to the ground. I could. not. figure. out. what the hell to do. I put the game away, and every 6-12 months or so, took it back out and tried to win. Nope, came to a halt at the same place every time.

    I read a magazine at the grocery store, I think it had a walkthrough or something. You were supposed to GET NAILS and that was the magic phrase. Under the rug was some item you needed. I tried it and was able to finish the game without too much trouble. And yet *I* was the dumb one for not figuring it out! Gaaah! Seriously, get nails? They're not even an object, it just described the rug as nailed to the floor.

    I tried Zork a few times and got nowhere. Meanwhile everyone is glowing over how mind-blowingly great these text adventures are. I thought it was *me* that was the problem, and text adventure fans weren't going to disabuse me of my conviction. It wasn't until that Sethbaby started flaming them in 2000 or so that I found out a lot of other people were like me, and text adventures actually had few fans.

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    1. I like them conceptually, but you're right that a lot of them would have benefited from more playtesting in which average players attempted to solve the puzzles with obvious phrases.

      The first two QfGs did an admirable job with verb/noun synonyms in the parser. Most didn't. Instead, they crow about how they allow complex sentence structures like OPEN THE DOOR AND ENTER THE TAVERN AND ASK THE BARTENDER FOR A DRINK. I'd rather they'd focused on simpler sentences but more synonyms.

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    2. Scott Adams games had extremely poor parsers (all commands were two word VERB NOUN commands, and the list of VERBS was pretty small) due to the extremely limited hardware they were running on. Meanwhile Zork was not simply the first game Infocom published, but was a single hobby game that was split into a trilogy (the original ran on mainframes, and home PCs of the era simply couldn't handle the entire thing) for commercial publication. Later Infocom games offered a superb parser, as do virtually all modern hobby games (due to mostly being built with the Inform system, which essentially a reverse-engineered version of Infocom's later Z-machine system).

      Most games crowed about the complex sentences that they allowed both because the intention was to be more intuitive (as it was closer to natural speech), and because adding synonyms was a trivial task in the better languages. Focusing on complexity had occasional misfires (the graphical adventure Leisure Suit Larry II is a notorious case where a crippling end-game bug was missed because simpler sentences were not tested), but overall there was a good reason why development and marketing went that way.

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    3. Yep... in 1978 he was writing for the holy trinity of the Apple II, TRS-80 Model I, and the Commodore PET. These were extremely limited systems. The minicomputers were much more powerful with much more RAM (these systems started out with a base or 4k or so depending on the system!). The Digital Antiquarian blogs about Scott Adams in several posts if you are interested. I remember playing Adventureland on the Franklin Ace 1000s back in elementary school.

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    4. Scott Adams did eventually create a more powerful parser but relatively late in Adventure International's history. It was used for the final two Marvel games (Spider-Man and Human Torch/Thing) and I believe one or two others. It was never used by the Adventure International UK team which eventually became HorrorSoft/AdventureSoft/Fighting Fantasy Software/probably other names who gave us Elvira and Waxworks. (Seas of Blood, which the Addict covered a bit back, was also an AdventureSoft cRPG.)

      The Infocom parser was a cut above even in the beginning. The LISP-based parser from the mainframe game was outstanding, fairly similar to what they would later bring to their interactive fiction titles... and they did so in 1979. None of their games shipped with a Colossal Cave-style two-word parser. Of course, there are still a ton of parser issues but overall their games are a bit better debugged than some others of the era because they had in-house QA.

      I had the great pleasure of interviewing Scott Adams a year or so back. He is an amazing guy and even allowed me to play his partly-completed unreleased final game. (A Marvel game based on the X-Men characters.)

      With apologies to Mr. Addict, but if anyone wants to read the interview (I'm very proud of it, it was one of my first), it's here: https://advgamer.blogspot.com/2015/10/interview-with-scott-adams-and-kem.html

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    5. I played Pirate's Cove on the VIC-20, which is about as limited as you can get. I do remember finishing the game and being quite proud of myself.

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    6. Thanks Joe! Between your blog, the Addict, and the Antiquarian I am stuffed full of great classic computer gaming and stories!

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    7. Most of the Scott Adams adventures are available on the TI, using a rather well-implemented engine in cartridge form that could read in the game data from cassette or disk. Later a fellow named Weiland reversed engineered it and created an Adventure Editor that let you make two-word text adventures in the same style. It's only real problem was it was still limited to the 12-14k of space the console had available.

      The scripting language created for it was actually a big influence with my own CRPG design. I'm not sure if it was Scott Adams work or unique to the TI implementation.

      While text adventures are not CRPG's, there are some CRPG's that are text adventures... if you have hit points and an inventory and a random chance at things, it works. There was one D&D inspired text adventure on the TI called "Wizard's End", yet another product of Asgard Software that purported to be a D&D simulation... it was strange though, rotating between your three characters turn by turn and rather sparse on details on what to do. (I'm NOT adding it to the CRPG list either.)

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    8. One approach to solving these parser issues is to make the structure and words that are usable by the player explicit - so called "limited parser" games.

      For quite a while, the interactive fiction community seemed to pooh-pooh the notion, claiming that games made in this way are shallower, etc. There have been some great games put out in this model though, and they tend to be more completely implemented, easier to follow, and with fewer bugs for the same amount of dev effort while still being able to be "clever" at times.

      Curious readers of this blog (I think it would qualify as a CRPG to most) might enjoy "Treasures of a Slaver's Kingdom" by S. John Ross, which is free, and fun - if a bit tongue-in-cheek.

      A more recent (not CRPG) awesome game in this vein is "Eat Me" by Chandler Grover. It's a little grotesque, and also free!

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    9. I don't see the problem with 2 word-sentences and a limited parser of maybe 20 verbs. After you used words the parser doesn't understand, you keep your sentences shorter anyways. And printing the verbs in the manual should have been standard. That is, as long as the player is supposed to fight with the riddles and not with the game engine.

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    10. 2 word sentences are a quite limiting, since you can't say "put apple into basket" or some such. I wonder if there is any game that let's you cycle through verbs, and then cycle through objects (basically nouns) to which it can be applied, and then potentially continue with additional words. So it would work a little like command completion in *nix systems, you write "p", hit tab, it gets completed to "put", then "a", hit tab and cycle through "apple", "appendage", "alembic" and so on, you select one of those and then hit tab again and can put it into one of "basket", "chest", "cap" and so on. But this would quite probably remove combat with parser which from what I read must be responsible for at least half of playing time.

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    11. The Labyrinth game on C64 had this - you select from a list to build your commands.

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  3. If you want to read Buck's full account of the game, I have made his document (with some light editing) available here.

    Missing the link. As long as we're nitpicking:

    There were times that eve Buck

    This comment may be deleted after reading.

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    1. I forgot the document link. It's fixed.

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  4. One other interesting bit of RPG history is that Guido Henkel was also the producer for Planescape Torment, and it's actually his photo on the cover of the game too. So there's a pretty clear connection between this obscure German text adventure/CRPG hybrid and mainstream Western RPG history, which is pretty neat!

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    1. Thanks for filling that in. I saw the PST "producer" credit in his list, but I was confused because he doesn't appear on any other Black Isle titles. I thought maybe he was just the "producer" of a German conversion or something. I should have investigated further.

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    2. He actually came in very early and had a lot of influence on the final product. Here's an interview with Henkel (actually, it's part of a 4-episode interview) where he goes into PS:T and his involvement with it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDTbSaYLsn0

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  5. It seems that text adventures could use a tutorial of sorts, where the parser gives you a helping hand in finding out the kind of sentence structures it likes. Though that requires the developers to keep the same system throughout the game.

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  6. Hmm, I think Guido Henkel's name should have popped up earlier in the coverage, given his quite the name in the genre, maybe not household, but he's certainly (in)famous enough. Also, not a word on him being the cover model (and producer) on a certain 1999 cult classic?

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  7. With so many of these homebrew text parser games it's a shame that the criticism can't get beyond "the game doesn't understand what I want to do because the parser is stupid!" and pinpoint in on other issues the game may have or design decisions they may have gotten right. It would be nice to see primitive games re-implemented in the sophisticated Inform 7 language with its world modeling, which has been stress-tested for a decade or so and is about as smart as a text parser is ever going to get. Then grammatical peculiarities and insisting on one true way of phrasing an action would no longer be the main elephant in the room.

    (But that would be quite a bit of work for not much reward 8)

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  8. For anyone with an interest in text-based games and interactive stories, I recommend the book Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction by Nick Montfort as a fun history of the genre and an analysis of the storytelling and technical considerations and developments of the genre(s).

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  9. NIMM SCHWANZ... I'm afraid that doesn't mean "take scales"...

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    1. I was wondering about that too. A risqué little joke from the Addict?

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    2. "Apparently, it was possible to cut off Tatzelwurm's tail and bathe in his blood" so I think it is not a joke

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    3. I tried both "TAKE TAIL" (because the tail is clearly described as sticking out) and "TAKE SCALES", the translation just got mixed up. :)

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    4. Yeah, I mixed up two phrases that were close to each other in Buck's review. The point is that the German equivalent of TAKE didn't work but the equivalent of REMOVE did.

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    5. LOL, "NIMM SCHUPPEN" is correct, "NIMM SCHWANZ" however, basically translates to "SUCK MY DICK!" and would make sense in a porno RPG...

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    6. As morbid and creepy as bathing in dragon blood sounds, it's probably a reference to Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung, where Siegfried is made invulnerable when he does the same thing (except for where a leaf fell on him, and the blood didn't touch his skin.) I've never seen an opera, but there's a pretty nifty silent film version by Fritz Lang that was on Netflix for a little while.

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  10. A rating of 78% was actually a good rating in the German magazines back then. Only the best games got over 80% and very few over 90%.

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  11. Any games like this in English? :D

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    1. Beyond Zork is really the closest contender. It's too bad that it's so goofy.

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    2. Someone mentioned Treasures of a Slaver's Kingdom (2007) by S. John Ross in another comment. There's also The Reliques of Tolti-Aph (2006) by Graham Nelson, created as a demonstration of the capabilities of Inform 7. Also from recent IF Competitions, we have Onaar (2015) by Robert DeFord (I found this very fun) and Nightbound (2017) by ProP (not as good but does some interesting things).

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  12. All those interesting quests make me want to play an adventure game like King's Quest.

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    1. I you want o see the story play those new cklickety cklikety remakes, originasl kick you in the balls and dance over your suffering form.

      Some earliest sierra game versions (such as SQ 1 from 80 something cga that I have on 8" floppy disk of all things) have parser and normal bugs that simply make the game unwinnable.

      also sudden death for no apparent and apparent reason as is walking dead scenarios are hallmarks of all early Sierra games andsome also contain incredibly annoying pixel & timing puzzles (like KQ 1 and the god dammed eagle wish that mofo would die and the bastard do designed that "puzzle" with him, preferably in fire btw.)

      This is of c. just my opinion on how siera games in general are laid out until engine for KQ5&6 came along.

      oh and don't get me started on police quest.

      Delete
    2. So, so much hate. And I always thought it was me that was the problem in those games.

      Delete
  13. I didn't like this. I don't think you should be writing about games or rating them if you didn't play them yourself.

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    Replies
    1. Well, he DID play the game. He just didn't finish it and only because of the language barrier.

      Delete
    2. It certainly wasn't as amusing as posts from games that he plays himself, but I don't think theres was much he could do short of not including it at all, which in turn would make us miss a game from a developer that was quite influential I think.

      Delete
    3. I'm disappointed to hear that, but it's a valid point of view. I'll be hesitant about doing it again except in weird cases like this one, where I feel I can't properly document the game without help.

      Delete
    4. I agree. If the choice is having someone assist (or even write a guest post) rather than no coverage of the game at all, then please take advantage of the assistance offered.

      The strength of this blog is how comprehensive it is; nobody else is writing detailed commentary about obscure (or even famous) French and German language games in English.

      Delete
    5. Nothing beats playing a game yourself, but for this I think it was the best solution, except maybe for a remote screensharing session (which would be a nightmare to coordinate - two busy people in different timezones).

      Playing it with Google translate would have stalled the blog and wouldn't do the game justice. This way, the game got documented pretty well and the rating is spot on in my opinion.

      I'm really glad Spirit of Adventure has an English version, though!

      Delete
    6. Thanks Buck! I'm glad you were able to offer us meaningful documentation of the game.

      Delete
    7. I enjoyed this post no matter what, my only problem with it is that it is in the end a reported speech si to say. But in the end I absolutely agree that review by someone else (for obscure game) is better lack of it.

      Delete
    8. Yeah, there was no problem with this review. Playing foreign games that don't have translations is already above and beyond, a compromise is perfectly reasonable. No reason to feel disappointed that an anonymous poster's only comment is "I didn't like this."

      This game sounds cool though, too bad it's never been translated.

      Delete
  14. While a point could be made that Chet would have been better served offering the Gimlet to Buck for this one game, or forgoing it altogether (my personal preference but then I find the Gimlet to be tedious, so I cannot claim objectivity there), I see nothing wrong with streamlining his playthrough an opinions into a digestible form. This was a worthy game to talk about, created by folks who would move on to bigger and better. Not writing about it because of a language barrier, when there are plenty of multilingual posters here already, without even requesting an assist is silly. Guest posts aren't unheard of here, such as old wow bastard's series on SSI's economy in the gold box games. And besides, Chet's first post on this game _was_ his personal account, so he did play it, just like he played Time Horn. If that's still not enough, you can always read Buck's unfiltered account, which has been linked.

    In short, I have no issue with how this was handled, and I actually think this should be the way to go about future RPGs that create similar language barriers.

    Also, Buck, great job overall! You started out hesitant that you could even play the game - I think you said text adventures weren't your forte or somesuch? - and in the end you not only beat it, but provided excellent documentation to boot. Seriously, take a bow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate your take on it, Erik. And you're right: Buck did a great job.

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    2. Thanks, to both of you. The bridge troll might have been too much for me if I hadn't known the solution beforehand, but apart from that it was easier than expected. And fun.

      Delete

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