Sunday, January 21, 2018

Eye of the Beholder II: Reflexes like Jelly


I probably meant to cast "Fireball," but that works, too.
     
Darkmoon has an interesting dungeon structure, and I wish more dungeon-crawlers followed its lead. Instead of n levels of a relentlessly predictable size, all marching progressively (and unrealistically) downward, it offers a bunch of individual areas of smaller size, connected via a plausible maze of stairways. You don't so much explore new levels all at once as expose new parts of existing levels, and every new key has you scrambling back through your notes and maps to find the door to which it might apply. To this extent, Darkmoon is more "realistic" than some of its predecessors, and thus more of a bridge between earlier dungeon crawlers and Ultima Underworld than I may have given it credit for in my first entry.

My basic pattern hasn't changed. Upon arriving in a new area, I map as much of it as possible, annotating places that I can't pass in yellow for future exploration. After mapping as much as I can of the "obvious" rooms and corridors, I carefully study each wall for buttons or levers, and then bash into any walls that could plausibly hold illusory doors. I trust that this system is uncovering all or most of the valid pathways.

When I left off, I was heading down a staircase behind a secret door to an unexplored section of D-2. Spiderwebs, which I had to slash apart, blocked many of the passages, and I was delighted to find that the Webdings font has a spider web ready for this very purpose. There were six total webs, and a couple of Scrolls of Neutralize Poison at the end of a corridor, so I geared up for a fight with some giant spiders.
   
Not a large area, but an intimidating one.
  
It finally came when I stepped on a pressure plate in a short hallway. It generated exactly two spiders. Both died in a couple of hits without even hitting or poisoning me. That was a lot of build up for nothing.
  
That includes Bugsy's dramatic statement.
        
The purpose of the area seemed to be to put a copper key in my hands. Copper keys are necessary for a few doors on D+1 (the level above the main entrance) that I previously couldn't access. I headed there next.

D+1 consisted of a long, ring-like corridor that looped back on itself. The hallways were filled with clerics who respawned continually during my explorations. Numerous small corridors led off to bedrooms with various treasures.
    
The upper level.
     
In a room to the southwest, I was surprised to find one of those teleporters from the first game that looks like a stone doorway. It has a series of eight symbols--ankh, pendant, gem, staff, and so forth--and you have to find stone equivalents of these items to activate the teleporter in the center. I can't remember if objects correspond to the origins or the destinations of the teleporter. Either way, finding it disabused me of any notion that I was a significant way through the game. I'd mapped parts of six levels, but this was the first doorway I'd found and I hadn't found any of the objects.
         
I guess it makes sense; both structures were supposedly built by Drow.
         
A teleportation field in the southeast took me to a room with no apparent exits. The room had four slots in the walls, three with a different-colored gem, and a "soft spot" in the middle of the room. It didn't take me long to realize that putting all three of the gems in the same slot opened a secret door, but made the wall, the slot, and the gems disappear. That meant I could only open one out of four ways. I tried it on the south wall first and found myself in a short corridor ending in a 2 x 2 room with a Wand of Magic Missiles, several potions, and a "tropelet" seed; I don't think this is a real word, but it's an anagram for "teleport." Planting the seed back in the main chamber generated a teleporter that took me back to the temple.

Just for the purposes of mapping, I reloaded and tried the other three corridors. They all had the same configuration and ended in a room of the same size. There were different treasures in each room. The "best" of these had a plate mail +3, a two-handed sword +2, a "Raise Dead" scroll, and a Ring of Adornment. However, it also had a sign that said, "So much to take, and nowhere to take it!" and sure enough, the way back to the main chamber was closed. A skeleton in the chamber held a note that identified the owner as Lord James of Natingdale, and it said that despite fighting valiantly against "Dran and his minions," Lord James had been locked in the chamber with no way out. Anyway, I'm curious if there's any legitimate way out of this room. I tried everything I could think of, but ultimately I had to reload. I finished off by doing what seemed to be the fair thing and collecting the treasures I'd found in the original path I'd taken.
         
You cannot canonically get this message and survive.
       
"Dran" was a name I'd heard before. Outside, a chamber, we overheard two clerics arguing about Dran and his use of a local "hag" to help kidnap innocents; I assume the hag is the old woman we met in the forest. He's clearly someone important in this temple, if not the head.
 
How novel it would be to have an entire militia take on the temple instead of 6 bedraggled adventurers.
         
A jail cell in the upper chambers had a body and a note identifying the body as Amber, Khelben Blackstaff's "scout." The note confirms Khelben's suspicions and says that: "The clerics here have completely deceived the surrounding populace. Everyone believes them to be kind and helpful, while secretly they gather an army of undead warriors." I should probably resurrect Amber, but I'll need an empty spot in my party to do it, and I rather like my current configuration.

I left the upper floors with two areas unexplored. One was a corridor that insisted I needed "the mark of Darkmoon" to pass. The second was a southern door for which I lacked the right key. I was also a bit perturbed by a large empty area in the middle of the level, but I couldn't find any secret doors or buttons. It's possible that the ankh room (where you resurrect characters), otherwise accessible only by teleporter, is slotted in here.
          
It's not a giant hickey, is it?
       
The only path open to me at this point was a staircase down from D-3 to D-4. This led to a large dungeon level, the most difficult in the game so far. It was full of gelatinous cubes and margoyles, and they would not stop respawning. Moreover, the door to the previous level close behind me, blocking escape, and the level wouldn't let me sleep. I'm afraid I had quite a few reloads.
     
The lowest level I've explored so far.
       
Gelatinous cubes are one of the goofier AD&D monsters, but I don't remember encountering one in a non-wireframe game, so I thought the images and associated sounds were fun. What wasn't fun is when one destroyed my fighter/thief's shield +1. Fortunately, they die in a couple of hits and instantly from "Magic Missile" or "Melf's Acid Arrow."
       
Too bad there's no "Hot Water" spell.
        
The margoyles were a lot harder and more annoying, and they occasioned a few reloads. One memorable area closed a door behind me and spawned five of the creatures the moment I picked up an object. I had to go all-out to defeat them: "Prayer," "Bless," "Haste," Potions of Giant's Strength, and so on. Later, they swarmed a series of corridors in the southern part of the level and wouldn't give me a moment's peace, respawning as soon as I killed them.

Oddly, the problem I was having with unresponsive keys went away after the last session, so perhaps it was based on an animation peculiar to the skeleton warriors. The margoyles were more susceptible to the usual tricks like fighting retreats and the combat two-step. The problem is that the layout of the level itself offers few locations where the latter works, and the "fighting retreat" falls apart the moment you retreat right into another enemy, which happened quite often.
        
Backpedaling down the hallway as I fire off spells and missiles.
      
I'll never entirely be sold on Dungeon Master-style combat. I'm just not quick enough mentally or physically. At least Dungeon Master had nice big buttons, all in a row, for your attack options. In the Eye of the Beholder games, you have to right-click precisely on the weapons, spaced somewhat far apart from each other, in smaller boxes. I'm constantly clicking on the wrong thing, accidentally left-clicking and picking up an item instead of right-clicking to use it, opening the character sheet, clicking on the character's name and initiating a change of positions, and so forth. Sometimes I amuse myself by pretending this is all happening during tabletop play:

DM: A margoyle has just entered the corridor in front of you. What do you do?
Starling: Drop my sword!
Bugsy: Swap my axe for my shield, then swap them back!
Marina: Open my backpack, then swear, then close it!
Gaston: Try to swap my holy symbol for my bow! Throw my holy symbol at him!
Shorn: Swap positions with Marina! Never mind!
San-Raal: Open my spellbook and cast "Remove Curse!"
DM: [facepalm]
Marina: We have to get out of here! Strafe right!
DM: You hit a wall.
Marina: Strafe left!
DM: You hit a wall.
Marina: Turn left and then run forward!
DM: You hit . . . you know what? I'm out of here.

The game does a particularly good job with sound. Every enemy has both an attack sound and an "ambient" sound, the latter of which lets you know that he's in the area. The frequency and volume of the ambient sound creates a real tension as you explore and madly check up and down corridors for whatever's making the noise. But all the respawning on this level basically ensured that the ambient sound never stopped. It would have been nice to have a brief break now and then.

The level culminated in a puzzle by which I had to figure out the right selection of pressure plates to weigh down to open a door. There were nine of them, which is a lot of potential combinations, but I figured the solution would be symmetrical and worked from there. I got it after a few combinations: each of the corners plus the middle.

The corridors beyond delivered a lot more margoyles plus a couple keys I needed and a stone orb for the teleportation door, a second of which was on the level. As I wrap up, I can either take that door or a stairway downward, but either way, I really need to get somewhere where I can sleep.
       
This is bogus.
      
Miscellaneous notes:
       
  • It's a good thing that "Create Food" exists because I hardly ever find any food. Of course, the existence of the spell (which completely sates every character) makes the few rations I do find redundant.
  • I guess everyone has leveled up once by now. When it happens, you get a quick message at the bottom, but it's easy to miss it if you're in combat.
  • I keep finding "magic dust." I have like eight pouches now. I have no idea what it's for.
      
Is this a drug?
         
  • I also keep finding lockpicks. I have four sets now. A party doesn't need more than one set. I doubt they even really need the one. They hardly ever work.
  • On the upper level, I found that in addition to smashing windows, I could smash statues. I figure any act against the cult, even vandalism, is a net gain.
      
Not anymore!
   
As predicted, my use of an imported party means that I haven't been getting good equipment upgrades as regularly as a new party would. Most of the stuff I find is +1. But there have been some notable exceptions. I got a +5 robe, +5 bracers, and a +3 cloak called "Moonshade" that have lowered the AC for my mages. I replaced the +1 shield Bugsy lost to the gelatinous cube. Assorted wands, scrolls, and potions have all been valuable. I'm certainly not so jaded that I ignore treasure piles. And San-Raal's "Improved Identify" has been a god-send. This is what games ought to have instead of weird power orbs that you don't even find until the 8th level.
       
Finding a cursed weapon briefly sucked, but at least I could identify it.
     
I can't imagine I'm more than a quarter done at this point. I hope everyone's settled in for a long pairing of Eye of the Beholder II and Deathlord.

Time so far: 12 hours

129 comments:

  1. Huh, looks like they're recycling the spider hallway sprite from PoD (or vise versa). Any other reused graphics in this game?

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    1. it's viceversa: Pools of Darkness recycled some graphics from EoB, among those, the spiders and the stone portals.

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    2. Well, it was the same company. Later the EoB sprites were ripped by FRUA designers for use in FRUA modules, completing the circle.

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    3. The same company? EOB 1 and 2 were developed by Westwood Studios for publisher SSI; POD was developed by SSI internally, and FRUA was developed by Micromagic for publisher SSI. So I guess... they were all assets that were owned by SSI, shuffled about interchangeably between external projects. (A bit of this also happens down the line when Dark Sun Online was cobbled together out of desert assets from both previous Dark Sun games and the Al-Qadim game.)

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    4. Westwood also reused some EOB graphics for the console blobber Warriors of the Eternal Sun, particularly the character portraits.

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    5. Westwood reused some Eye of the Beholder assets (or recreated them?) for Legend of Kyrandia, items icons, for instance potions! I loved that touch in that game :)

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  2. Grats on passing the nightmare floor. Man, I love this game. The beginning especially is such a sharp contrast to the first EOB, which was so easy I sleepwalked through it. This is way more like it. Even on repeated playthroughs I have to psyche myself up to run through the margoyle section. And there's more to come.

    Magic dust is a single-use item which pnfgf qvfcry zntvp, IIRC. I believe it exists so that parties without spellcasters can technically beat the game (though not having one would be rather torturous).

    The pressure pad puzzle ("Leave Many Things Behind") is a black mark on the game. I don't think there is any hint for it anywhere, the player just has to either brute-force it or read a walkthrough.

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    1. I remember I actually tried to try every one of the 512 combinations and it didn't work, probably indicating that I missed a combo. I wound up getting a walkthrough.

      I actually stopped playing the game and went onto something else at that point. I don't remember what it was.

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    2. My first playthrough, aged 11 when it came out, ended on this level and this puzzle. Left me a vivid memory. A year or two later I tried again, and was ready to go into hell, dreading it, and actually solved it quickly by chance. And then, having forgotten what I did, my next 2-3 playthrough attempts ended there as well. But hey, still love the game, even with this design slip.

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    3. My first playthrough, aged 11 when it came out, ended on this level and this puzzle. Left me a vivid memory. A year or two later I tried again, and was ready to go into hell, dreading it, and actually solved it quickly by chance. And then, having forgotten what I did, my next 2-3 playthrough attempts ended there as well. But hey, still love the game, even with this design "slip".

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    4. It's funny that this puzzle was such an obstacle for so many players. I got lucky, I guess. I assumed that "many things" meant that I'd have to weigh down more than half of the plates, at least. I figured that making it some random selection of plates would be spectacularly unfair, so it must have a symmetrical pattern. From there, I started with them all weighed down, then removed the one item in the middle, then different configurations of two items removed, and so forth, until I hit on it with five full squrares and four empty ones. It only took about 10 minutes.

      It's definitely not because I'm that brilliant. I failed an escape room tonight.

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    5. I think the same. When you have nine pads laid in order 3x3, the pattern X is one of the most obvious to try. In Legend of Grimrock is the same puzzle, almost at the beginning of the game. ANd if I remember well, also without any hint.

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    6. @Tygr, there definitely was a better hint in Grimrock, because as far as I remember, when weighting down every plate didn't work, it was immediately obvious that I have to weight down every other plate.

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    7. Sorry, I meaned Legend of Grimrock 2. And I am not sure I understand what you mean by "to weight down every other plate."

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    8. I mean either every odd one or every even one. In other words, having an unweighted plate between any two weighted plates.

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    9. Grimrock 2 had the (rather obvious) hint "X-Marks the Spot" near the pressure plate puzzle :3

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    10. Ok, sorry, my memory is not what it used to be :-) In any case for me X pattern is really one of the most obvious for this layout.

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    11. I think the Grimrock 2 one was a throwback to this infamous puzzle. ;)

      But of course it's not overly difficult in isolation. When I replayed it recently, with years of CRPG experience, it was perfectly ok. It's the setting (monsters respawning, cannot sleep or heal, food can be running out, locked in and cannot retreat) which creates a psychological pressure, need to go quickly and discourages calm and methodical puzzle solving. (Which is actually a good thing, but there should have been a small hint well hidden scribbled on a wall, or inside a drain, or a pattern of 5 little gargoyle statues placed in an X somehow in the dungeon, etc.)

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    12. just a supplement..
      the writing on the wall in a german version of the game has a rhyme: "viele dinge müsst ihr nun entbehren, ein kreuz wird zutritt euch gewähren"
      ( = you have to leave many things behind, a cross will give you access.)

      you can see it here:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIVuVJi5uMk&t=416

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  3. I've read that it's possible to escape that room by casting Wall of Force at the spot where you get sealed in. As for the magic dust, I know of two different things it does (not sure if this really counts as a spoiler but I'll play it safe):
    Vg unf gur rssrpgf bs Erzbir Phefr naq Fgbar gb Syrfu

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    1. I thought magic dust made you invisible, but I think that was Dust of Disappearance.

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    2. The gem room is one of those four "walking dead" situations I mentioned in the first entry's comments. The cluebook also says there's no way out of it, though I'd like to try the method suggested by the anonymous commenter above and see if players discovered a means of escape the designers didn't anticipate.

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    3. There was a way involving tricking one of the monsters into following you so the door couldn't close, I think.

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  4. Fun fact: Identify is an official D&D spell but has the unusual drawback that it takes several hours to cast. Therefore this game has the non-canonical spell Improved Identify, which does the same thing without the ridiculous casting time, and is one spell level higher.

    While food is a non-issue with the Create Food spell, I still prefer this method as somewhat more realistic than just not having any food mechanics at all. I also wouldn't mind if there were dark areas and a low-level Light spell (which Might & Magic does).

    There are multiple sets of lockpicks because they have a small chance of breaking when used. Four sets is probably overkill, though.

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    1. It occurs to me that "Identify" is a Level 1 spell in the Infinity Engine games and doesn't take any time at all to cast. Did a later edition of AD&D rules change this, or did the Infinity Engine just invent a spell that didn't exist?

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    2. Baldur's Gate presumably left out the casting delay for the same reason EOB2 invented "Improved Identify": because it would be obnoxious to force the player to rest to identify items. Pen-and-paper version of Identify also had a random chance of failure. This was another thing that got removed.

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    3. It also cost 100GP per casting.

      The likeliest reason they simplified the spell (and in some games allowed ID via skill) for the computer games was that there was no other real method to ID equipment. In tabletop, you can divine a lot of information via trial-and-error through creative use of the item, but in a PC game (where your interactions are necessarily much more limited) that option was not available.

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    4. It's traditionally an important part of the game to identify your stuff. There are so many different magic items in D&D, and cursed ones have been part of the game for so long. But not knowing right off the bat what your shiny new sword or necklace does (Sword of Ogre Decapitation or Sword of Stabbing Yourself in the Foot? Periapt of Proof vs. Poison or Necklace of Strangulation?) is FUN. I think the pen&paper game designers included high time and money requirements in the Identify spell to encourage item identification via other means, most importantly experimentation.

      In a PC game, many mechanics have to be adapted to the CRPG experience, spells being one of the biggies. It's strange to me that so many CRPG D&D adaptations tried to remain 'faithful' to the pen&paper rules when it comes to the Identify spell... even BG has you pay the traditional 100gp for identifying items in a shop (although using the spell from your spellbook apparently comes free of charge).

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    5. Identify in AD&D was a 1st level spell but was pretty obnoxious. If I recall the original write up, it took an hour to cast and required an owl feather and a pearl of at least 100gp value. And all it did was tell you the school of magic on a single item.

      A later level spell "Analyze Dweomer" actually would give you a complete run down of the items magical powers and abilities, but required a 500gp material component if memory serves.

      You can tell that a lot of the magical items in old tabletop AD&D were born out of the original designers and players messing with each other. The fact that there was almost always a beneficial and cursed item of a given type (bag of holding, bag of devouring) illustrated it well.

      Generally as a DM, you got really tired of players asking questions about items so you'd finally just say "It's a +1 sword okay?! Let's move on!"

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    6. I've always wondered about cursed weapons, and the idea that you can't unequip them or throw them away. I mean, how did they get into your inventory in the first place if you didn't handle them?

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    7. Cursed items have never really worked in AD&D. Originally, it was assumed the DM was doing ALL the rolling and determining of hit/misses; the tables to determine result are only in the DMG. So it was assumed a player wouldn't know he actually had a weapon that hit less often except through the test of time, and would refuse to believe his weapon sucked.

      Ideally, cursed items should be useful but have some nasty detrimental side effect that leaves the player wondering if he could live with the effect for the benefit. But for unclear reasons the early designers avoided this and said "All cursed items are 100% bad all the time, and you HAVE to keep it, pretend you don't believe it's bad."

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    8. I agree that the curses could use a bit more nuance.

      The berserker sword might be an exception.

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    9. And when it fails, DMs have the choice of:
      A) telling you that your Spell failed or
      B) giving the total opposite of item's actual description.

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    10. I had fun making a platemail of delusion on a MUD (though it wasn't called that) where if a person checks their stats while wearing it, it tells them all their stats are increased by one, but secretly it actually decreases all their stats by one. Most players still don't know and still seek it out :) They can remove it whenever they want, because otherwise it would just give the game away..

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    11. My favourite AD&D cursed item was the xiphoid zweback, a sword that you stick in water and it turns into a boat. The cursed version was guaranteed to sink after setting sail.

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    12. There's quite a few cursed items that are absurdly useful. It's not as if YOU have to wear that Amulet of Strangulation yourself. Gift it to somebody you'd like to see dead. Dust of Sneezing and Choking is (at least in 3rd Ed D&D) a completely imba item that allowed stunning any enemy for multiple rounds, without a saving throw. Some weapons (like the aforementioned Berserker Sword) are actually very good in combat, but had some drawbacks, which, if you know what you're doing, can be mitigated. There's even magic armors and shields that still work as good armor but just happen to attract arrows or stuff like that – so usually, you're good, but under the wrong circumstances, the curse would kick in. As it so happens, it's easy to protect against some of these circumstances (ranged weapon immunity is just an Obscuring Mist away), while still getting the benefits of the 'cursed' item.

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    13. Identify in AD&D was a 1st level spell but was pretty obnoxious... And all it did was tell you the school of magic on a single item.

      A later level spell "Analyze Dweomer" actually would give you a complete run down of the items magical powers and abilities, but required a 500gp material component if memory serves.


      It wasn't as bad as you're making it out to be. Identify in AD&D could let you know the powers of one item per level—and yes, it did let you know the powers, not just the school of magic (though if an item had multiple different powers each one had to be learned separately). As for Analyze Dweomer, I don't think that was in the game before third edition—it certainly wasn't in the second-edition Player's Handbook; I just checked.

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  5. Kind of get the sense you're eager to move ahead into the new year(s), but at least Darkmoon is gracious enough to toss you a few curveballs. I see you're going for a "two from 1988, one from 1992" system for the games ahead - that's probably a good compromise given how much you've been wanting the two periods to catch up and how excited some of us are for what 1992 has in store.

    I'm curious what your final opinions on Darkmoon will be once it's complete, and for less traditional CRPG examples coming up like Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos and Stonekeep. I just finished playing a modern example of the genre that recently left Early Access called StarCrawlers; a rare sci-fi variant. Sort of odd that this genre's coming back in style, but I'm not complaining (Vaporum's another one from last year I'm eager to try out soon).

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    1. Talking about recent Early Access releases, there is one infamous dungeon crawler that took... TWENTY friggin' years to make. Yes, a whopping 2 decades. For a retro RPG. Google for it. It's called "Grimoire" and subtitled Heralds of... something.

      It's supposed to beat every 1st-person CRPG back in 1997 if it was released then. Now, it's just an overpriced digital curio. XD

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    2. Is that the one developed by that homophobic lunatic who claimed he once worked for Sir-Tech (or actually did)?

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    3. Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar

      What is the source on the homophobia? That would definitely be a consideration on my decision to spend any time on it.

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    4. Selected quotes from recent posts on his game's Steam page from the very same Cleve:

      "I found my own product to be more satisfying than any of the Wizardry games and even better than the original Eye of the Beholder series."

      "I want to assure anyone waiting for the game that Grimoire will never, ever sell at a discount at any time it is on the Steam store ever again. I won't permit it to be sold below it's retail value for any reason. I am too proud of my finished product to permit it to be turned into simply another commodity in a Steam sale. "

      "[My design document] was an aristocrat's manifesto when it was written and the language was specifically that of an aristocrat declaring the game was not going to be designed to appeal to the masses. Only fans of the genre."

      "Sapiens thinks if you have a clinically tested IQ of 183 it means you're better at solving the jumble in the newspaper. This is what Sapiens actually believes.

      There are other things you can do with a super powered atomic brain nearly 6 full derivatives greater than the intellectual distance between the ordinary man and Koko the Sign Language Gorilla.

      An ordinary man might be delirious and babbling after 72 hours without sleep, these bug reports forced me to bring on another 0.002% of my brain capacity to solve them with a few keystrokes and upload a new binary to Steam."

      "A lack of understanding of the user interface and game mechanics has not prevented the majority of players from concluding they may be looking at one of the best computer roleplaying games ever written. The smartest ones intuit it, they don't need a press rep to give them a bag of promotional goodies for them to guess it."

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    5. And this freaking "genius" took 20 years to make this game when a high schooler created a game that spawned worlds and universes.

      In any context, this guy just sounds like a massive tool. Not gonna touch the game even if it's on sale at a discount of 90%.

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    6. I think Cleve's hilarious. I don't have the game - though I might buy it if its ever generously discounted - but I occasionally check the page just to see what's going on, and I always get a good couple of chuckles.

      Is he really harming anyone with his delusions of grandeur? I seriously don't understand why people who haven't backed the game, or even care about it, hate the guy so much.

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    7. He makes shitty comments and seems like he'd be a nightmare to work with, but I certainly don't -hate- him. As Jaheira would put it: He is amusing....in a what the hell is wrong with him kind of way.

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    8. "What is the source on the homophobia?" Apparently, Sir-Tech had several gay game designers back when "Cleve" worked there. In a thread where Mr. Blakemore was arguing with Robert Sirotek, he threw around more than a couple of epithets.

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    10. just read his Codex threads if you can take five hundred uses of the word "blobber" a page. The man is clearly a lunatic with tons of problems, being weird about homosexuals is on that list for sure.

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    11. I'm not an expert on the subject, but from what I can recall without checking:
      Cleve was ridiculed for many years on the RPG Codex when he told about his involvement with Sir-Tech and "The Stones of Arnhem", of which the lead designer was a homosexual with a fondness for young boys and very little knowledge of game design (IIRC he also played in Mad Max 2). But eventually it turned out Cleve was right after all, when certain design documents surfaced.
      He is a special case, but I don't think he's a lunatic.
      The whole story should be in the "Why did Sir-tech go bankrupt?" thread at http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/index.php?threads/why-did-sir-tech-go-bankrupt.53695/.
      Unfortunately you have to be registered to read it, though, and it doesn't seem Google has cached it.

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    12. There's a copy of the opening post here, though I'm not sure if it's a complete quote: http://www.postcount.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-56617.html

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    13. Interesting... how young were the boys, exactly?

      Perhaps I shouldn't be asking such dangerous questions, but I do wonder if the people who were properly outraged on behalf of the victim would respond equally if said victim was a straight man? Would they even care?

      Having been a proponent of equality all my life, it's disheartening to see it all turn into yet another variation of "some are more equal than others".

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    14. If it's the thread I think it is, I read it a few years ago, and if I recall correctly (not going to register on RPG Codex to re-read it now), the documents didn't actually prove "Cleve was right after all". All they proved was that the game had been in development, and that he had been involved; there was nothing in the documents to substantiate any of his wilder allegations. People posting in the thread said the documents proved Cleve was right about everything, but if you actually read the documents they proved nothing of the sort.

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  6. Sometimes I amuse myself by pretending this is all happening during tabletop play

    Congratulations, you made me laugh out loud!

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    1. That exchange was by far the funniest thing I've read on this blog. Mishandling the user interface in an active timed game is a pain I know too well. I never thought about it from the characters' perspective.

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    2. Yup, that bit was absolutely brilliant.

      Kind of reminds me of *some* of the D&D sessions my friends & I played a few years ago, though slightly less exaggerated.

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  7. "I trust that this system is uncovering all or most of the valid pathways."

    Yeah, it should. The game finally implements True Seeing though, so illusions won't be an issue for much longer.

    "I'm just not quick enough mentally or physically."

    Then you'll probably welcome the third game's nice big All Attack button. :)

    Magic dust is used on your own characters, and it reverses a certain condition you likely don't have the spell for yet.

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    1. I recall one of the games in this or similar series would also put your arrows and daggers back in throw able slots as you picked them up?

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    2. I remember it only for recent Legend of Grimrock, where it was a godsent when playing four throwing characters (which was pretty crazy, as throwing is faster, deals a lot of damage and there was pretty good build for throwing characters). But to be honest I barely remember Eye of the Beholder series.

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    3. Not sure, using throwing weapons was always too much micromanagement for me. Picking them up, moving them into inventory, repeat for every combat... way too much hassle compared to the single-click simplicity of melee weapons.

      The only Dungeon Master-style game I remember using them in is Dungeon Hack where the cleric could summon and wield two magic, auto-thrown, auto-returning, level scaling Spiritual Hammers.

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  8. The tabletop dialogue was really amusing.
    I love your blog and I can't wait for the next entries.
    I never had the chance to finish the game myself, but I still have my saves and my hand-drawn maps, and I may fire it up to do so when you reach the same point as me.
    I agree that the dungeon design in EOB2 is better than the other dungeon crawlers of the time, but I still prefer Dungeon Master as regards to its overall mechanics, feeling and tension (I think Westwood finally equaled Dungeon Master with Lands of Lore).
    Incidentally, since you like mapping so much, I think you should try making the maps on grid paper by pen for only a game, just to get the feeling of how it was back then.

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    1. I'm glad you like the blog.

      I made plenty of maps on graph paper "back then," so I don't feel like I need to relive the experience.

      Delete
  9. "Tropelet" isn't just an anagram of "teleport" - it's the word in reverse. I.e., literally "teleport backwards" - which is what it does.

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    1. I actually like the word "tropelet". It sounds like it describes a mini-trope - maybe a trope that only crops up in a very esoteric sub-sub-genre or sth. like that.

      The fact that in games like EotB, when there's a revival site for dead characters, you can also revive some sets of bones you find in the dungeon? That's the "Bones Are People, Too!" tropelet!

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  10. is it possible to use the function keys to attack? F1 for the first char, F2 second etc. would make normal attacking quicker.

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    1. You know, the manual SAYS you can use the function keys F1-F6 in to activate the "in-hand" objects of the characters, but in practice it doesn't work. A lot of the keyboard shortcuts don't work. There's supposed to be a "highlight box" that you can move around with the WASD cluster and then (T)hrow, (D)rop, and such, but that doesn't work, either.

      It doesn't really matter anyway. I wouldn't find it all that easier to hit the small F-keys reliably while moving, and it wouldn't let me use the secondary weapons.

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    2. It's possible that the "highlight box" only exists if you're playing without the game configured to use the mouse. That's just a guess, though, from similar practices in other games from the time.

      Conceivably that could apply to the F-key shortcuts, too, though it seems slightly less likely.

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    3. As I recall, most keyboard shortcuts only work if the mouse isn't enabled.

      The ones that DO work, and which I use all the time, are those for the spellbook. In particular, space bar casts the selected spell.

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    4. I wouldn't mind if I could play the game keyboard-only, but I don't see how that's possible.

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    5. I'm playing the game in a recent dosbox ECE (enanched community edition), that has the ability to bind keys, which I've bound to WASD.

      Or at least I think so: the configuration is from the last time I've played the game, so I'm not sure if that WASD setting is mine or is the game's: numpad still works normally too).

      Still, I've found that shift+Fkeys swaps the characters.

      It's possible that some shortcuts was cut though: I can't manage to activate the hands, for instance, but as suggested maybe that's not available when the mouse is active.

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    6. In "Eye of the Beholder I" There is an option under the options menu to enable/disable the mouse. I dont know if it is in EOBII because I am not to that game yet.

      I am both in the past and the future...

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  11. All the clumsiness of combat could be eliminated if this game supported game pads. Warriors of the Eternal Sun was a pretty good crpg (console RPG) on the Sega Genesis. With that simple D-pad and 4 buttons movement and combat in the 3D parts of the game was simple and blindingly fast.
    Even the combat waltz was easy to pull off. Once muscle memory set in it was possible to handle combat with little effort. Arm the front row with bows and they could twang off arrows like machine-guns.
    Talk about abusing the system.

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    1. That wouldn't help at all. The clumsiness in a game like this is not a factor of control complexity, but a "one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest" problem. You have to do so many things in a very short time that you tend to screw things up.

      Warriors of the Eternal Sun was a completely different sort of game, and not remotely comparable.

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    2. It's only on the overworld that Warriors of the Eternal Sun plays differently than Eye of the Beholder. When the party is in dungeons, the game shifts to Dungeon Master-style real-time combat.

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    3. Ranged attacks in Warriors of the Eternal Sun was broken for two reasons, the ability to machine gun down monsters and the inherent unlimited ammo of ranged weapons.

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    4. Try hex editing in the few items unattainable by playing the game honestly. There exist a few items of amazing power and it's assumed they were coded in to make their appearance in later games.

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    5. Well yes, assuming of course there was a game pad which you could use with a DoS-based game on a 1991 pc. A joystick would be about the best you could hope for :)

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    6. I thought a Steam controller can be programmed to do that?

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    7. Easy way to check this theory: try Eye of the Beholder for Sega CD.

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    8. Eye of the Beholder is also on SNES.

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  12. Your narrative of a table-top game is right on point. It is the reason I cannot play this game. Even in a gold box game, I can sometimes scroll too fast through a spell list and cast the wrong spell. I appreciate the dungeon design and the atmosphère, but how you can control 6 characters in réal time combat beggars my imagination. Thus, I really enjoyed your table top analogie.

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  13. "It finally game when I stepped on a pressure plate..."

    This is a good typo, I like it!

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    1. Argh. That has to be my most frequent typo behind "int he" and "tot he."

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  14. You've passed by two more serious RPG design flaws:

    1) The dead end room that finishes the game and forces you to reload for no reason (these are bad in adventures, but in RPGs they are simply unforgivable)
    2) The gelatinous cubes that can remove from game your best equipment

    I was expecting more than just a passing mention on either :)

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    1. What was he thinking, failing to point out all the warts and flaws of the game from the eyes of a modern game designer? Some of us just play them, you know.

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    2. Rust Monster on Level 6 in EoB anyone? You walk down the stairs, monster waits there and until you have woken up again, your magic eq is gone.

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    3. Do you live in a world where saving and loading doesn't exist or something?

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    4. I remember reading that gelatinous cubes were invented to explain why dungeons were mostly devoid of bodies. They're only supposed to devour organic material though.

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    5. You'll find many monster's from D&D's early history that serve some ecological purpose. Gygax was big into having dungeons that went beyond being the simple "kick down door, kill monsters, take loot" formula. He wanted an actual living system below ground and so he urged players to create monsters that served a purpose beyond a guard for treasure. The rust monster came in to being as a way to take powerful items from characters who had become unstoppable murder machines. They we're possibly more frightening to players than any dragon.

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    6. I suppose I should have been more bothered by the dead-end room. When I found it, I was already playing "just for the sake of mapping," knowing that I'd have to reload eventually to get back to my original position, so there was no danger that I was going to save over that position and get trapped. A player would have to be very unlucky to get permanently trapped here, but it could happen, and since he hasn't done anything "wrong," it is a bit unforgivable.

      There's another dead-end place later, and I'll try to muster the appropriate ire then.

      As for the cube, though, I didn't think that was unfair. That's what cubes do, a the manual gives you plenty of warning. They move slowly enough that you SHOULD be able to kill them at range. Or quickly disarm and fight with spells and hands. Otherwise, you just suck it up and take the loss. There are enough weapons and shields in the game that no one should be devastated by the occasional loss of one.

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    7. I never understood why this ooze-kin would be a geometrically shaped polyhedron.

      I mean, why a cube FFS? Did the Gelatinous Spawn Factory pour them into ice-trays to mold them or something?

      Don’t they have arches and support brackets in dungeons that would obstruct their movements or do they simply ooze their way through?

      Okay. Overthinking this again. As ridiculous as they are, I still think they are adorable AF though.

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    8. Speaking of Gelatinous Cubes and ridicilous:
      https://i.imgur.com/3aR3GeR.jpg

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    9. I don't like to waste potions in a RPG, how could I live with losing a sword +4 ? :D

      There shouldn't be a permanent loss of eq unless it's agreed with the player.

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    10. Kenny, the answer is hilarious: they're cube-shaped because the dungeon has corridors to accommodate them. They're a monster 'evolved' (by Gygax in any case) to do dungeon cleanup. It just rolls through dungeon rooms like pac man and eats anything that it finds in its way. They're adorable.

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    11. "There shouldn't be a permanent loss of eq unless it's agreed with the player."

      I'm starting to think it's not Eye of the Beholder with the grievous game design faults but rather something about your particular desires and expectations from a game.

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    12. Maybe Pedro should just give us a link to his blog entry enumerating his issues with EoB2?

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    13. Oh, no, I'm totally with Pedro that these are poor game design. On the other hand, I think he's approaching the game from the wrong direction.

      There were plenty of RPGs in 1991/1992. EOB2 sold well at least partly because of the Dungeons & Dragons licence. For better or for worse, consumers *wanted* an authentic D&D experience, and in 1991 that means bullshit weapon-eating monsters, "gotcha" traps, and other insanely awful punishments for failure to anticipate the dungeon designer's mad whims.

      It's stupid, but to some extent it's still part of the charm. But yeah, I wouldn't recommend a designer creating an original IP to include this stuff. Even the new wave of I-love-the-pain Dark Souls clones are careful to make the risk/reward fair, so that when you get owned you always understand why it happened and what you're going to do next time.

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    14. I think I mentioned this before: I liked EoB2, had fun with it, finished it... but there were just too many design flaws to be able to consider it a "good" game.

      I think it sold well not only for, as GregT said, the D&D license but also for about 30m of play outside a dungeon, which was a novelty at the time.

      I rate this game as the worst in the EoB series, and, in a decade that had so many quality grid-based-1st-person-RPGs (Ishar series, Arkania series, etc), a game that doesn't quite deserve the retrospective praise it gets.

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    15. Hold on, you're saying that the Ishar series is better balanced and designed than EotB2?

      Delete
    16. Hold on, you're saying that EOB2 is *worse* than EOB3? And you're a person who played EOB3 from beginning to end while sober?

      But EOB3 had all the problems you complain of, far *more* dungeon features where you could only work out what to do by channeling the psychosis of the level designer, far *more* one-hit-kill monsters, and on top of all that it was unplayable on release, and even with the patch both the graphics and sound approach the limits of what a person can tolerate without deeming it strictly as torture.

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    17. "There shouldn't be a permanent loss of eq unless it's agreed with the player." I really only agree with you in the cases of that tired trope where a scripted event causes the player to get knocked unconscious and he wakes up nude. If the manual clearly says "gelatinous cubes eats stuff" or "rust monsters destroy armor" or "items occasionally break in combat," then I have no complaint if I occasionally lose something. It just makes it fun to find the next thing.

      I look forward to seeing what EotB3 is like. I feel like there are some systematic problems with EotB's (both 1 and 2) basic approach to gameplay and the integration of D&D rules, but beyond that I don't have any specific complaints about how EotB2 was designed. At least, not yet.

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    18. I think EoB3 is worse than EoB1 but brings a few extras that makes me like it over EoB2, like optional areas and allowing the player to explore certain areas in whichever order they prefer.

      I think the Ishar series is better designed than EoB, yes. Do remember that it's a regular RPG vs a dungeon crawler. While they're similar in many things, Ishar wins in terms of graphics, economy, and an unique NPC/party management system. The exploration is great too.

      (I haven't finished Ishar 3 btw, so basing my opinion on 1 and 2).

      Delete
    19. Note that I'm not forgiving bad design decisions... Ishar 2 also has walking dead scenarios (at least one I can think of), which is a huge flaw in my book.

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    20. @Pedro: You think outside play was novel in this? What makes it stand apart from games released years before e.g. in the Bard's Tale and Might&Magic series?

      Delete
  15. Quote:
    "Instead of n levels of a relentlessly predictable size, all marching progressively (and unrealistically) downward, it offers a bunch of individual areas of smaller size, connected via a plausible maze of stairways."

    Legend of Grimrock 2 very much went this way. I know Dungeonmaster style games are far from your favorite cRPGs, but it does this particular style very well.

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  16. "I hope everyone's settled in for a long pairing of Eye of the Beholder II and Deathlord."

    YOU KNOW IT!!

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  17. "I am going in chronological order on two sections of the list: a) all RPGs in the 1990s, and b) non-PC RPGs that I missed during my first four years of blogging when I played only games released for DOS."

    Does that mean you are going to stop at Y2K???

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    1. This blog has taken 8 years to go from Blog Year 1981 to BY 1991, and the early years were pretty light. BY 1991's taken nearly three years to complete. At the current rate, BY 2000 will probably not happen until at least 2035, assuming the Addict keeps up the project that long.

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    2. And by then, I'll probably find time to update that section of the FAQ.

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    3. My great grandson will enjoy your postings on Witcher 3.

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    4. Speaking of which, has the Addict played Witcher 3? I know he plays modern console RPGs like Skyrim or Fallout, so I wonder if he has given it a whirl. If not, I highly recommend it - probably one of the best-written RPGs I've ever played.

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    5. I have not played Witcher 3. I hear how great it is, but I never played the first two games, and I hate jumping in at the midpoint.

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    6. Besides, The Witcher games fully implement exporting character, along with the choices made, just like the Mass Effect 1-3. So playing them in order is recommended for a full immersion.

      Also recommended is to read at least the first two books. The rest are highly relevant too, but that is a lot to read, unless you'll like the first two.

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    7. I tried getting into the first Witcher but it just didn't grab me and I only got up to I think the first city, and I never played Witcher 2 at all. Witcher 3 was a fabulous game, but it often felt a bit like if you start watching a TV series at season 3, all of a sudden a character shows up and everyone acts like I should know who they are and why they are a big deal.

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    8. Witcher 1 was pretty meh with one of the most strongly themed preset character in CRPGs. There were several new systems in it but... well... weren't really great.

      Felt more like playing a hack-&-slash action game really, with the character building feeling rather flimsy. I was collecting women like they were Pokemons more than actively finding ways to slay monsters.

      Witcher 2 was a huge step up but felt like a railroad. The last instalment was the Magnum Opus with an open world and, if you have a monster PC, really dwarfs any other fantasy RPGs in every aesthetic aspect.

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    9. I barely played Witcher 1 but I thought the interface in Witcher 2 was terrible. Most of the times I had to "aim" properly to activate switches etc. Probably OK on consoles but on PC it felt like a waste of time.

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    10. I played the 1st, it was ok, got a bit bored towards the end, so I skipped the 2nd, since I've read it was a lot of machinal fighting and grinding. The 3rd is indeed a great game, not perfect, but very good. For me the main plus/minus is the realism: it's the most realistic and immersive RPG I've ever seen, which is impressive and cool, but sometimes I miss the gaming/meta-gaming elements of more formalized games like we are reading about here.

      It does indeed feel like you're jumping mid-way in the story, and like Mikrakov said, characters acknowledge each other like if the player knew very well who it was, which I think could have been handled better. But it's a relatively minor issue, you have in-game character bios for everyone to read to catch-up, if not a quick google search solves the problem, I don't know if it's worth going through 1 & 2 just to have that little bit of extra character background.

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    11. I bounced off Witcher 1 twice - the story and setting were interesting, but the combat was clunky and unfun. At that point I installed the "Full Combat Rebalance" mod - and what a difference that made. It completely revamps combat and leveling, balancing things so now you actually NEED all those wonderful toys - potions, ointments and whatnot. I rarely use mods, certainly not before finishing a game vanilla, but this is a rare case of transforming a flawed-but-interesting game into an almost-masterpiece.

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    12. Gotta chime in too! I was really unimpressed by Witcher 1, but gave it a second chance and ended up enjoying it. The first half is pretty rough, because you're stuck in the most boring, drab swamp/medieval town ever conceived, but once the story moves beyond that it gets better. I also didn't realize how much the bad voice acting ruins the game until I switched to Polish with English subtitles, much more bearable. Combat is clunky but playing through on an easy difficulty might be worth it just to set you up for 2 & 3. The juvenile sexuality mostly clears up by 2. 2 has issues but has great characters and is totally worth it for some truly epic moments. I never read the stories, and enjoyed learning about the world and the relationships within the game. An interesting difference with Witcher is that you don't just learn lore, but have to pick up on Geralt's personal history and dynamic with each character, while in most games every new character is unknown to both you and your PC.

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    13. Funny thing about voice acting and switching to original voices and subtitles. In Poland we had few games where voice acting was so bad, that me & my friends started to say that native voice acting is a punishment for buying legal copies. In my case worst voice acting I've ever heard was Baldur's Gate. It was advertised as full localization performed by professional actors and yet it was horrible and unbearable. Characters' chatter and especially combat screams and sentences spoken when selected were horrible to the point where I played with all sound turned off.

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    14. Btw, in case you were wondering, when I wrote that post, it did have the tone of whiny concern that it seems to have...

      Bottom line is if we are gonna have all this fiber backbone and internet infrastructure, we damn well better have crpgaddict entries...

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  18. I thought the exact same thing. I didn't play Witcher 1 or 2 and I wanted to play through those before I played the third installment. I'm glad I didn't wait. It's fairly easy to pick up on plot points and who is who. I understand that you played Fallout 3 and 4 without playing the first two games - it's a similar situation here. I recommend you just do it and play it. You won't regret it.

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  19. Too bad there's no "Hot Water" spell.

    Some pineapple or kiwi chunks might do the trick too.

    ReplyDelete
  20. One fun thing to try ...

    (I hope I remember this correctly)

    Throw a dagger and run into it before it reaches its target/wall and watch one of your characters receive damage.

    I love the EOB series, but the physics of missile weapons/spells are not impressive at all, compared to the likes of Black Crypt.

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    Replies
    1. I remember that. On P&P, 1 round is equivalent to 1 minute in game time. The book rationalize that the combatants would be feinting and sizing each other up before making an actual attack.

      I don't know if Gary, Ed and the other co-creators of D&D had ever been in a fight but any fight that goes beyond 5 minutes without rest is pretty insane.

      But in this kind of time-space measurement, it is totally possible to run into your own thrown projectile like you're lamer version of Flash or something.

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    2. Fighting in heavy armour after half a day of physical activity? Two sword swings and you are Gassed.

      Delete
  21. About monsters respawning all the time. In some DOS era games, respawn rate was calculated with some fixed loop, without tying it to real time clock. This caused really rapid respawns in faster computers.

    In those games, it helps to drop Dosbox cycles setting to lower.

    I have played through EOB2 twice (first time on real hardware, second time on Dosbox) and I do not remember having problems with too rapid respawns

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