Friday, September 14, 2018

Die Dunkle Dimension: Quest of the Abschreiber

A city of elves has the least elvish name ever.
Die Dunkle Dimension does a decent job evoking the core Ultima IV experience of exploration, learning about the world from NPCs, and slowly assembling a journal of clues and quests. That all the translation makes it a bit frustrating for me isn't the game's fault, though it does affect my ability to play for long periods or in inconvenient locations where I don't have multiple monitors.

But even if the game were in English, I think I'd find it a bit irksome. The primary problem is combat, which is far too frequent, takes far too long, and offers far too few rewards. You can't walk five steps without an enemy appearing and attacking you. Both you and the enemy miss most of your attacks, making every combat drag on for multiple minutes. You get paltry experience and gold rewards from each combat, so you have to fight hundreds of them to level up.
Battling a zombie and something.
But because combat is mechanically easier than town exploration (to fight, I don't need an Internet connection and a separate window for the translation screen), I spent a decent amount of time grinding near the druid's hut (where you can get free healing) as I tentatively explored outward. I rose to Level 4 during this process and amassed enough money for a decent set of equipment when I finally found a town (Trisdic, an obvious reference to Ultima's Trinsic). Then I discovered that no matter how much money I had, my stats were only enough to allow wielding the most basic weapons and armor.
Buying my first weapon.
Meanwhile, enemies scale with your level in number and difficulty. Pretty soon, I started encountering "nettle trees," which of course poison you, in just about every enemy party. Unless I'm near the druid or one of the locations with healing, poisoning is an automatic reload because I have no way to cure it. But fleeing from these trees causes you to lose hard-won experience. It's frustrating as hell.

Animals also suck. I keep getting attacked by snakes, wild horses, and unicorns. They deliver no experience or gold, but you can't flee from them without losing experience. You can't avoid combat by outrunning them because they can move on the diagonal but you can't. You have to beat them until they themselves flee.
Losing 12 experience points because I didn't feel like fighting livestock for no reason.
Leveling up is done at the castle by speaking to the king, just as in Ultima III-IV, and is accompanied by a similar sound and flashing of the screen. You get a few dozen extra hit points per level. Meanwhile, speaking to Cerfax the druid gets you a handful of spell points per level.
Leveling up.
Leveling gives you the ability to speak to trainers and increase your various attributes. The castle has a trainer (Ator) who increases attack and defense scores. Later, in other towns, I found trainers to increase strength and skill. I haven't yet found intelligence (which I really need) or charisma. At first I thought that you could only train one attribute per level, so I was conservative about using too many slots on one attribute, but after I was able to train four times in both strength and skill, now I'm thinking that maybe you can train each attribute every time you level.
"Arnold" trains me in strength. He responds to SCHWARZENEGGER but claims that isn't his last name.
Once I felt strong enough, I began to explore the island in a roughly counter-clockwise manner, using the map as a guide. There's an entire peninsula to the northeast that I can't explore because of swamp squares (which poison you), and of course outlying islands for which I need a boat. Otherwise, I've explored roughly the top half of the main island, finding the king's castle, the towns of Trisdic, Gaht, and Worthal, and the Tower of the Circle of Black Magic.

The towns have all been small enough to make mapping unnecessary, which is refreshing after some of the other Ultima clones lately (Deathlord comes to mind in particular, as well as Nippon until you find the in-town maps). There are generally fewer than 12 NPCs per town, not counting generic guards who all say the same thing. Some NPCs are shopkeepers who only respond to words relevant to what they're selling--although you have to be careful, because some seem that way, but then launch into long speeches from an obscure keyword.
Dunkle also follows the old Ultima trick of hiding key NPCs in dark or hidden areas of town.
I've noted that "translating" has been tough, but it's more than that. I not only have to translate, but then figure out what words in the original German are likely to produce more text. You also have to take care with words with umlauts and eszetts (ß). The game represents these characters but knows that many players won't be able to easily type them, and thus requires phonetic input. So when a character says something about the groß böse ("big evil"), you have to render your follow-up questions as GROSS and BOESE.

(Related language question that this made me think of: I always hear that letters with diacritics like ä and ü are considered distinct letters and not just a and u with extra accents. Does that mean that when Germans recite their alphabet, they include these letters separately? How does it work for alphabetization? Do all a words appear before ä words, or are they mixed together? Where does ß fall alphabetically?)

Then, the game occasionally gets cute with its text, as in the image below, where I'm talking to a drunk guy. The developers added extra words and syllables to simulate the slurred speech of an alcoholic. I've seen this a million times in English games, and it never occurred to me how hard it must make it for someone trying to translate.
This text is tough to interpret.
But I muddled through, and here are some of the key takeaways and "to do" items from my various visits:
  • Every town has a druid who says that the druids want to help me, but then offers no additional keywords, just "ask what you will." If I ask about anything obvious, like the KRISTALL, they just tell me to see Cerfax, who already gave me the rundown. I have no idea how they're supposed to help.
The druid claims that he just wants to helfen, but then he doesn't helfen.
  • Each town also has a sorcerer who says he or she specializes in a particular spell and then says "Seek the [Black/White] Circle" if I express interest in that spell. These people seem kind of superfluous, since the two circle towers also have sorcerers who a) specialize in those spells, and b) will actually teach them to you.
  • In Gaht, a city of elves, a man named Anatol sells unicorns. He says I'm too clumsy to ride one, but that was before I found the skill trainer. I need to re-visit.
  • Also in Gaht, an elven princess named Thyra told me of the elbenbogen ("Elven Bow"), a magic weapon created by the elven queen Mithra and kept by a weapon-seller named Elrik. Elrik, in an episode I wish more RPGs would follow, said something like, "I'm really supposed to hold on to this bow, but I guess you are on a quest to save the world." But he wants 1,000 gold pieces for it, so I'll have to pick it up later.
The elven weaponsmith cuts the B.S.
  • In Worthal (which, confusingly, is called "Thorwal" when you enter), a retired seaman named Kapt'n Hook offered to sell me his sextant for 340 gold. Another thing I'll have to save up for.
  • A bard in Gaht named Ijale told me of his magic glass flute that had something to do with causing the Crystal to vibrate. It was stolen from him when he was in Mubrak, a town I have not yet discovered.
  • In Trisdic, a sot named Zacharion is hiding in the tavern while his wife, Helena, looks around for him. She tells me to ask him of "treasure" if I want to hear the most ridiculous story ever. Zacharion tells me that after he was attacked by the Pirate of Mubrak, he hid a bunch of treasure on the island of Uyrp, but he can't remember where the island is.
  • I can buy a boat in Worthal for 1,000 gold. I was hoping to capture one instead, but the one time I found a pirate ship on the waters, it was gone after I finished combat.
The next big stage awaits.
All of these items are added to the two quests I got last time: defeat the dragon so that Princess Sheila won't have to be sacrificed, and defeat the thieving band in Mubrak. 

You really can't do anything in towns. Outdoor commands like attack, inventory, ready weapon, wear armor, and cast a spell simply don't work. You can only talk and search. Incidentally, I chose the "search" option in one town when I reached a dead-end in a long path (an obvious place to hide something), and I found a "clay tablet" with a "T" on it.
In Ultima IV, I found the Skull of Mondain the same way.
I have yet to cast a single magic spell, but I understand how it works. First, you have to get the mages in the Tower of the Black and White Circles to teach you the spells, but when I visited the Black Circle tower, they all told me that I was too dumb to learn their spells (my intelligence is only 5). You then have to have the right set of reagents in your pouch to cast the spell, and you also have to have enough spell points. I've been buying handfuls of reagents here and there (they're cheap), so that I'm ready when I finally get smart enough to learn the spells.
May the schwarze be with you.
As for the reagents, the developer again mostly copied Ultima IV. There are eight reagents, and six of them are the same as their Britannian counterparts: schwefel (sulfur), knoblauch (garlic), ginseng (ginseng), blutflechte (blood moss), gift der nacht (nightshade), and alraunewurzel (mandrake). There is no spider silk or black pearl; instead, the game introduces zirbelkraut ("pine herb"?) and totenblume ("death flower").

The copying from Ultima IV unfortunately goes beyond the list of reagents. Here's how the manual describes ginseng, for instance (my translation):
Ginseng has long been praised for its invigorating and medicinal properties. The root of the ginseng plant is particularly notable for its bifurcated shape and its pink color. For a long time, the tea has been prepared to give strength to the sick. For magical purposes, only the particularly strong, black ginseng is used, which is found only in the mountains, but is almost everywhere to buy.
And here's how it's described in Ultima IV's documentation:
Long praised for its strength-giving and medicinal properties, the root of the ginseng plant is immediately recognizable for its forked shape, and to those initiated in the mystic ways, by its overpowering rose-coloured aura. It has been used for centuries by peasants who chew it or brew tea from a powdered preparation of the root in order to gain strength and stamina as they toil in the fields. While commonly found throughout Britannia, the Ginseng used as a component in the casting of spells is generally black in colour and found only on the slopes of the northern mountains.
The Dunkle Dimension one is shorter, but otherwise a near-direct translation. The descriptions of the other herbs are quite similar.

We see lots of other Ultima analogs in my descriptions above, including the need to find a ship and a sextant, and perhaps those clay tablets will turn out to be similar to Ultima IV's runes, of which you find one per town and they spell something. However, the game is starting to feel more notable for the things that it didn't adapt, such as secret doors, multiple indoor levels, lockpicking, torches, gems, and joinable party members. I'm not even sure if it has dungeons. As I said at the beginning, Dunkle evokes some of the best of Ultima, but it lacks a lot of the features that gave its predecessor real character.

Still, I'm happy to see it to the end, and there's lots left to do. When I was looking through my notes to compile this entry, I see that I missed acting on a clue. A bard in the king's castle told me to ask the magicians of the two circles about EVIL to learn more about the name of the Evil One. I guess I'll have to head back to the Black Circle, but maybe I'll wait until I find an intelligence trainer first. Or perhaps I'll grind for enough money for a ship next. Ultima clones always seems to kick to the next level once you have a ship.



  1. Regarding the German special letters: we don't recite them in the alphabet, we consider them to be special variations of the standard alphabet letters. In the dictionaries, the umlauts appear in the same section as the standard letter, so a word like Äther or ändern would appear in the A section. And since the ß never appears at the beginning of a word, it doesn't need its own section in the dictionary :P

    (Also, since the ß never appears at the beginning of a word, there is no capital ß.)

    In the last spelling reform, many words have had the ß replaced by ss (Faß -> Fass, schießen -> schiessen, etc), btw. Die Dunkle Dimension was made before that reform though, so you'll find some minor spelling differences between the game and what a modern dictionary would give you.

    As for ordering the umlauts and the ß within the dictionary, there are two variants on how to deal with our special letters for the sake of alphabetical listing:

    Variant 1:
    ä is a
    ü is u
    ö is o
    ß is ss

    Variant 2:
    ä is ae
    ü is ue
    ö is oe
    ß is ss

    So if variant one is used, a word like Schädel would appear at the alphabetical position of "Schadel". If variant two is used, it would appear at the alphabetical position of "Schaedel". So depending on which variant is used, the position of a word containing an umlaut is different.

    And as if that isn't confusing enough, the Austrians have their own way of dealing with this :P

    In Austrian dictionaries, they usually list the special character after the standard character it's based on.
    So, Austrian system:
    ä comes after a
    ü comes after u
    ö comes after o
    ß comes after ss


    1. "schiessen" ist not correct spelling!
      ß got replaced by ss if the previous vowel is pronounced short, while ß remains after a long vowel. "Fass" sound like "fuzz", while "schießen" sound a bit like "cheese an".

    2. A small correction:

      Since 2008 there is a capital ß in unicode, the ẞ. As you can see, it is nearly identical, the main difference being the upper loop not being noticably shorter than the lower.

      Fun fact:

      Although the capital ß was only introduced officially in the german language at the end of 2017 (i.e., about ten years after officially introducing the letter into the international standard), there are a lot of prominent examples of custom made capital ß in signs, inscriptions and publications since the begining of the last century.


      German language is able to troll foreigners without even needing any words. Nonsensical letters suffice.

    3. Actually they recently introduced a capital ß, it looks kind of like a mix between ß and B.ßes_ß

      I doubt we'll ever see it in the wild though.

    4. Just to reiterate what has basically been said before, the "Umlaute" do represent their own sounds and are considered separate letters.

      Ä is similar to the English a/ai/ea in words like care/hair/bear, and also similar enough to German E that in casual speech, they're often pronounced more or less the same way.

      Ö is somewhat similar to the U in English "turn" or French EU in "Chartreuse".

      Ü doesn't have an English equivalent, but you're probably familiar with the French pronunciation of U, which it's basically identical with.

      ß is a bit useless, as it represents a voiceless S sound, otherwise spelled as SS or simply S. After the spelling reform it's used for "sharp" S after long vowels, whereas after short vowels, SS is used. I guess they didn't want to get rid of it completely out of nostalgia, but at least they made its usage completely regular. Examples are "schießen" (to shoot) VS "wissen" (to know) or "Maß" (measure) VS "nass" (wet). It's at least somewhat useful as it tells you wether the preceding vowel is long or short if you're unfamiliar with a word.

      While not usually included when reciting the alphabet, I've heard/seen them added after Z as ÄÖÜß.

    5. The distinction is not only useful on unfamiliar words. Think "in Massen" vs. "in Maßen" ;) (for non-german speakers: i'd translate these as massive vs. moderate amounts, the dictionary gives literal translations en masse vs. in moderation).

    6. True, there are a few cases where the distinction actually changes meaning (although the real difference is in vowel length, not ß vs. ss), but they are few and far between.

    7. This has been a very interesting discussion. Thank you all for clearing it all up!

    8. Having such an Umlaut in your name can be a curse if you travel regularly since other countries are often not used to them. I used to be responsible for sending visa invitation letters for collegues coming to India - endless fun at the embassy, immigration, ... Germans are used to spelling their name with the AE OE UE equivalent but then it is spelled differently from the passport. But try finding the keys on international keyboards for immigration officials to type them in. Endless fun...

    9. Andreas Mattern: that is why the names on passports actually are written without the Umlaute. Ä becomes ae and so on.

  2. In swedish (I imagine the same holds through for the other nordic languages), åäö are separate letters at the end of the alphabet, eg [...]xyzåäö.

    1. Yes, in scandinavian languages they consider the umlaut vocals as separate letters in the alphabet, in german this they are only considered as variations and does not count as a new letter.

    2. This holds in Finnish as well, we even keep the Swedish å in the alphabet even though we don't use it ourselves. Of course, Swedish is the second official language and we have sizable Swedish speaking minority here so have to be able to collate Swedish names, and such.

    3. @Stmp

      "Yes, in scandinavian languages they consider the umlaut vocals as separate letters in the alphabet, in german this they are only considered as variations and does not count as a new letter."

      Not only considered as separate because they are spelled differently (as in formed in different part of mouth) and no native finn for instance could ever consider Ö or Ä being anywhere near A and O. Neither ia AE and OE anywhere near Ä and Ö unlike in german.

    4. Yeah, A, O, U are back vowels (formed with the back of your mouth) and Ä, Ö, Y are front vowels. Finnish has a feature called vowel harmony where a word can only have either front or back vowels in it, but not mixture. (E and I are neutral, they can be in both kinds of words) In compound words the rule only applies to each subword separately.

  3. I wish more developers attempted to clone Ultima V instead of IV (at least graphically and perhaps dialogue.). Maybe by 1987 the 8-bit era was running out of steam to have made such clone attempts worthwhile.

    1. It is pretty amazing how much the old 8 bit platforms had been milked for by 1990 when they finally started disappearing from the home market. I do wish they had made a "Worlds of Ultima" with the Ultima V engine though... it had its charms when it came out. The engine for VI was a big jump.

    2. I mean, most clones even of U4 didn't manage to clone all of the features, as we see here. U5 was probably too much of a stretch for the typical indie programmer.

    3. I'd have loved for Origin to made one, although reading about their history it sounds like they were absolutely lucky to get programs out until they finally broke down and brought in full time directing personnel around Ultima 6. If I remember, they had started programming 6 for the 8 bit platforms before realizing the technology was just obsolete and move on to DOS based platforms. Oh the glory days of the early 90s and struggling to get Voodoo memory and your sound card to work!

  4. The Hungarian alphabet is a bit more complex than either the German or the Swedish one. The complete alphabet consists of the following 44 letters in this order:

    a á b c cs d dz dzs e é f g gy h i í j k l ly m n ny o ó ö ő p q r s sz t ty u ú ü ű v w x y z zs

    Regarding collation rules:

    - diacritical marks are considered separate letters, e.g. "csak" (only) comes after "cukor" (sugar) (because cs comes after c in the alphabet)
    - vowels that differ only in length (e.g. a and á, e and é) are treated the same
    - however o/ó and ö/ő are not considered as the same, similarly u/ú and ü/ű take different places while ordering

    This is a correct ordering:

    - folyik (flows)
    - folyó (river)
    - folyosó (corridor)
    - fő (primal)
    - födém (slab)

    There are some more complications with simplified geminates of multigraphs e.g. two "gy" letters after each other are written as "ggy" but considered as to separate "gy" letters while ordering.

    (Another fun note: two "gy" letters after each other are not always simplified - in the compound words like "jegygyűrű" (engagement ring) they are written separately...)

    All these rules makes Hungarian alphabetic ordering extremely difficult - most of the adults fail to remember these edge cases. Luckily there is really no point to remember them anyways after secondary school... :-)

    Now, order these words:

    - ház (house)
    - házszám (house number in addresses)
    - házszabály (standing orders)
    - házsártos (vixenish)
    - házsor (row of houses)

    Have fun! :-)

    1. This might actually become useful to the addict once the first Hungarian RPGs come around and he'll have to use Hungarian dictionaries :D

      I think I've spotted at least one in the master list...

  5. Concerning dungeons, Lrf, gurer ner gjb qhatrbaf.

    Gur pnfgyr bs gur inzcver ybeq, Xebybp VVEP, naq gur qhatrba jurer lbh svaq gur fcyvagre.

    Concerning the island of Uyrp you have already met someone who can tell you the where to find that island.

    Gur pnegbtencure va gur pnfgyr.

    Concerning reagents, you cannot buy all reagents, and not all reagents are available everywhere.

    Lbh pna ohl Avtugfunqr va Zhoenx. Znaqenxr vf sbhaq va n fjnzc va gur fbhgu, qverpgyl ba gur pbfg. Na ACP pna gryy lbh gur pbbeqvangrf sbe n cevpr. Mveoryxenhg vf bayl ninvynoyr va gur gbja ba gur erfbeg vfynaq jrfg bs gur pnfgyr. Qrngu sybjre lbh pna ohl va Tngu, va gur erntrag fubc.

    Concerning the druids and the adepts, lbh ner jryy ba lbhe jnl gb svther bhg jung lbh arrq gurz sbe. Gurl uryc lbh svther bhg n jbeq lbh arrq gb ona gur terng rivy. Gur yrnqref bs gur oynpx naq juvgr zntvp pvepyrf gryy lbh nyy nobhg gung.

    Concerning riding animals, as this is in the manual, no rot13: Next to unicorns, which are only hinted at in the manual, there are also horses.

    Ubefrf pebff gjb svryqf cre fgrc, Havpbeaf guerr. Greenva pna uvaqre zbirzrag.

    Concerning trainers, VVEP gur genvare sbe punevfzn vf va gur qrfreg gbja va gur fbhgu jrfg. Gur vagryyvtrapr genvare vf va Zhfcry va gur abegu rnfg, ernpunoyr sebz gur znva pbagvarag, ohg lbh unir gb pebff n fjnzc, vs zrzbel freirf. Fgeratgu vf Neabyq va Gubejny/Jubegny. V qba'g erzrzore qrkgrevgl, ohg gur genvare zvtug or va Tnug.

  6. Thorwal is a town from The Dark Eye, home to the DSA version of the Vikings. You'll see it again, the Realms of Arkania series starts there. I guess Worthal was a late change after legal trouble?

    1. There are other "DSAisms" in this game. I.E. the name Elric. The former managing editor of that franchise Ulrich Kiesow named his NPCs "Elric" because that was how his name was pronounced by English speaking people.
      To this day Elric is the kind of an standard name for male NPCs.

  7. When I first played the game I never figured out that you could get free healing from Cerfak. This stumped me for quite some time. I tried very hard to scrape enough money from killing monsters to pay the town healers, but I don't think I ever succeeded.

    However I found the game so interesting, that I fired it up from time to time. At one point I figured that I missed something critical and tried some more words when talking to Cerfak. I hit other roadblocks later on. This was my first RPG and I had quite a few things to learn.

    1. That's pretty funny. It's kind of like trying to play Ultima II by purchasing food instead of stealing it from that African place. At best, you're constantly on the edge of death.

  8. For those who are interested. I extracted the source code of the game. Take a look here:

    Strings are in blue and the possible replies to the characters are in red. Of course, this link contains some of the biggest spoilers of the game you can imagine.

  9. On some level I love your confusion over drunken-speech german, because inadvertently it adds to the experience of being a stranger in a fantasy land, not knowing the language but slowly learning bits of it with your trusted book of lore (=dictionary). But then, speaking to someone in this magic kingdom blitzed out of their mind on fairy ale or whatever would still prove a real challenge. Ah, the things the Avatar will have to learn to save yet another world!

    1. I suppose in a macro sense, playing a game in a foreign language simulates the confusion you'd experience if you were whisked to another dimension where the natives presumably don't speak English--albeit with an instant translator.

    2. It's a magical dimension, so having an instant translator isn't too much of a stretch. It's probably some kind of crystal ball. The enchantment is cheap, though, and doesn't work 100% reliably all the time and requires some interpretation by the user. Also, it explains why you only talk to the native in single words! :P

    3. Didn't the player not understand the language of Brittania after stepping through the Moongate in one of the Ultima games? I remember something about the hero coming across an injured Shimano who speaks some old Anglo dialect before casting a healing spell. I think Shimano casts another spell that allows the hero to understand the language.

      Seems like the Addict needs to find Shimano.

    4. You're killing me with that "Shimano"

    5. Ha! Shamino was Richard Garriot's SCA name and it did come from his Shimano bike. Funny piece of history if you hadn't heard it before... We mountain bike and every time I see Shimano I think of Ultima.

    6. Oh yeah, Shamino. Shoulda caught that.

    7. To be honest, those observations can only come from someone who never learned a second language. The addict imagines how confusing a bit of slur/funnily written text must be.
      In truth it is not. Once you are a bit accustomed to a second (or third) language it is not hard to decipher at all.

  10. In Iceland we have both kinds, letters with accents after the normal ones (á after a) and special letters at the back xyzþæö - aábcdðeéfghiíjklmnoópqrstuúvxyzþæö - sometimes we don't include the letter C and we never include W.

    1. Accidentally posted anonymously just now.

  11. Calling the Game just "Dunkle" Sounds very odd to the native speaker.

    1. Indeed. If you absolutely want to use only one word, better use the noun, Dimension.

    2. Yep. It sounds exactly as if someone were to call Ultima VII just "Black" or Ultima Underworld "Stygian". Or if someone abbreviated the Elder Scrolls series as just "Elder".

    3. What about using 3D as an abbreviation?

    4. The tradition seems to be D3 for these cases.

  12. I don't want to sound like a smartass, but why do you refer to this game as "Dunkle"? It's obvious that word is an adjective. It is the same as shortening "Dark Dimension" to simply "Dark".

  13. This sounds like it will probably get a satisfactory score for 'economy', if nothing else!

    1. It'll be satisfactory, not great. It's not just challenge I like in the economy, but complexity too.

  14. Sorry for the off topic comment,but, are you ready for The Bard's Tale 4?

    1. I don't really have any plans to play it soon. I'm having enough trouble finding time to play the games on my list.

  15. On your master list, I seriously doubt that "Rome: Pathway to Power" is a CRPG, but an adventure game with some strategy.
    I haven't played it for long, but there aren't seem to be any of the 3 criteria on it

  16. "The castle has a trainer (Ator) who increases attack and defense scores"

    Is this a reference to the cheesy Italian sword&sorcery Ator trilogy ?

  17. And now for something completely different:

    Bard's Tale 4 is out. Anyone play it yet?

    Early reviews are brutal... What do the crpgaddict readers think?

    1. Not completely... look three comments up.

    2. The only problem I had was not being able to get a steady 60 FPS. Even though I was disappointed by the fact the movement is not grid based, I was delighted with the combat system and the game's atmosphere of always being in danger akin to the original

  18. This is one of the reasons why puns are considered the lowest form of humor. It doesn't translate well across languages.

    Other things that are terrible to translate would be idioms and insults. Almost all will require a certain amount of cultural knowledge.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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