Sunday, May 17, 2020

Game 365: Muryaden (1989)


You are not misinterpreting this screen. The troll is having his genitals stimulated by a magic stone. It's that kind of game.
          
Muryaden
France
Elrik et Deckard (developers); Bytlejuice (publisher)
Released in 1989 for Apple II
Date Started: 12 May 2020
Date Ended: 14 May 2020
Total Hours: 5
Difficulty: Moderate (3/5)
Final Rating: (to come later)
Ranking at time of posting: (to come later) 
          
At first glance, Muryaden is another Ultima clone, but I guess it was intended as a sort of anti-Ultima. It was made by developers who held at least mild contempt for not only Lord British but the entire history of American RPGs. I get this from a web page that one of the authors used to maintain; I would appreciate if anyone who speaks French fluently would scan this page and let me know if there's anything in the following account that I got wrong. I can read French, but I'm having trouble with this French, which seems to include a lot of slang and nonstandard uses of words. Do French people really use ricains as a slur for "Americans"?
     
Anyway, the chief complaint of Elrik and Deckard seems to be that the American approach to fantasy RPGs was too "clean." They were less interested in high fantasy of the Tolkien type and more interested in gritty Conan-style sword and sorcery, with attendant sex and gore. In their authors' desires to ensure that their programs wouldn't be banned by "austere Puritan traditionalists," they argued, American RPGs always take place in a "quasi-religious atmosphere" in which a noble purifier "arrives at the right time to deliver the world from a diabolical oppressor." The plots are interchangeable and the universes are "clean and hygienic," with no sex, brothels, or even any latrines.
          
The game is credited to "Elrik" and "Deckard."
        
I think the authors go a bit too far in imputing motive to American RPG developers (and not far enough in appreciating them for, you know, inventing the genre in the first place), but I'll concede that they have a point. American CRPGs in the 1980s are awfully vanilla. I don't know that the solution lies in graphic descriptions of demon ejaculate, but at least it gets points for originality.
     
The backstory for the game thus reads less like someone trailblazing a new era in realism and more like the fruits of the perverse imaginations of two sex-starved young men. I'm going to elide quite a lot, partly to prevent Google from putting an NC-17 warning on my blog, partly because I didn't always understand the language, and partly because I just found it gross. Some misunderstandings of my previous positions have led to an incorrect "The CRPG Addict has a problem with breasts!" belief, but I have no problem with the perception that I have a problem with graphic description of anal manipulations with tentacles. That belief is 100% accurate.
          
The story begins when a sorcerer named Mithgul moved into the middle of a fairly generic fantasy kingdom. He holed himself up in his fortress and got to work on various inventions and experiments, almost all of a sexual nature. He created a "stone of beauty," an artifact that endowed its holder with "unlimited charisma," such that he could drive a crowd of people to mass suicide. He mated humans with demons and beasts to produce all kinds of abominations. He collected fluid samples from dozens of species and invented a number of creative aphrodisiacs.
              
The game is at first visually indistinguishable from one of the Ultimas.
         
Mithgul's efforts came to an end when the seed of a demon mixed with some other chemicals and caused an explosion that destroyed Mithgul's tower. Unfortunately, the escaping vapors engulfed the nearby town of Bar-Calenlad and turned the entire population into nymphomaniacs, leading to massive population growth. A local order of paladins didn't have any hope of maintaining their chastity vows, and soon their fortress had expanded enough in population to form a new city, Bar-Tolainor. Trolls escaping from Mithgul's dungeon formed their own city, Echorkeliant. Generations later, each city has developed its own sado-sexual traditions. Lately, a villain named Beltrik the Skatomancer has re-inhabited the ruins of the fortress. He's kidnapped the daughter of King Valdrin and caused such strife among the trolls that they've split into two factions. Into this milieu, the character is dropped without an explicit quest yet.
                
Character creation.
        
Character creation doesn't break much new ground. You assign a name and race (human, elf, dwarf, hobbit), after which the game randomly rolls for wisdom, strength, dexterity, and intelligence, modified by race. These four attributes together determine the derived statistics of vitality, charisma, skill, and perception. Your choice of class (sorcerer, priest, warrior, thief) has further effects on these statistics, and finally you can specify a "type" (charmer, skillful, attentive, resistant) that makes further modifications.
          
My early-game character sheet.
         
The game begins with the character standing on the plains outside Bar-Calenlad. The game world is a small 58 x 58, but it seems larger because of frequent random encounters. There are the three cities mentioned in the backstory plus a few dungeons and Castle Gondarnost. The interface follows Ultima's tradition of mapping commands to individual keys, such as C)hercher (search), O)uvrir (open), and P)énétrer (enter, as in a city).
          
Can someone tell me what the phrase y-a peau d'Zébi means?
          
Enemies mostly include fantasy standards like orcs, trolls, bandits, mercenaries, zombies, kobolds, and giant spiders and snakes. They're not seen in the environment until they attack. Combat is a little more complex than Ultima but not quite as complex as, say, Wizardry. You face only one enemy at a time, and you have options to fight, change weapons, cast a spell, use an object, advance, back off, surrender, or steal. "Advance" and "back off" are unusual commands, but there's a distance consideration in combat, with enemies and characters occupying four potential spaces from très proche (very close) to très loin (very far). Certain weapons work better (or don't work at all) at various distances. 
        
Fighting an ettin from "close enough."
                   
The cities are menu cities that offer various options depending on the city. Bar-Calenlad offers an inn, a Temple of Eros, a guild, an alchemist, a weapon/armor shop, and a fence. Early on, I didn't understand the options for the other places, so I just bought a dagger and robe (the only items my strength would let me wield) and headed out to fight.
            
Menu options in the troll city of Echorkeliant.
          
It took me a lot of deaths (fortunately, reloading is quick) before I realized the importance of getting physically close to the enemy when all you have is a dagger. The good news is that when you're that close, enemies spend a lot of their turns trying to back off, which you can allow or not. If you're successful in disallowing it, the enemy has wasted the turn; if he manages to back off, you can just advance your next round. These advantages helped make up for how lousy a dagger and robe are as melee weapons.
        
After I strike a decisive blow, the thief tries to back off.
         
Still, combat was pretty hard, so after I'd won a few battles, I went into the town to check out some of the other options. Fully healing takes only a single gold piece at the Temple of Eros, which is nice. But equally beneficial are temporary boosts to each attribute that the temple offers for 20 gold pieces. If you load up with a couple of these (strength, dexterity, or vitality) before heading out, they greatly improve your chances in combat. You can get similar boosts from potions at the alchemist's, only these you can carry with you and use in the field at the appropriate times. Finally, when you earn a few hundred experience points, you can spend them at the guild for permanent attribute increases. As you buy these, the game re-calculates the derived statistics. All told, it's a tight, satisfying combination of character development and economy.
         
Even better, you can pay experience points to change classes. If you decide you want some magic in your life, that's only 100 or 200 experience points away.
          
In 7 more experience points, I can increase my dexterity or change to a sorcerer or warrior class.
       
I spent a couple hours fighting, building my fortune, and buying attribute increases as I tried to count the number of tiles in the land. Once I was loaded up on buffs, I headed off on the first quest lead, which I got from the inn. When I first checked into the inn, I saw three options with escalating values, and I assumed they were different quality rooms. Later, thinking I was buying a room for the night, I chose the first option. It turns out that the three options are subjects about which you're bribing the bartender. For the subject "Ered-Morglin," I learned:
          
It is a cyclops who directs the mines of Ered-Morglin. His talents as a blacksmith allowed him to make powerful relationships. However, the wise men of Bar-Tolainor suspect him of having allied with Beltrik. They promise their eternal gratitude to whoever brings them the head of the one-eyed monster.
       
I explored around until I found the dungeon of Ered-Morglin. Dungeons are top-down in this game, not first-person. Otherwise, they're like exploring cities in the early Ultimas. Some enemies appear out of nowhere, just like in the wilderness, but others are in fixed locations. Secret doors are clued with little breaks in the walls, just as in Ultima IV.
         
Note the secret door in the wall to my left.
         
If there's any way so far in which Muryaden lives up to its backstory and intent, I suppose it's in the room descriptions that you receive while exploring the dungeon, although none of them are as bawdy as the backstory.
       
  • You see a convergent layer of manticore excrement and blood.
  • The remains of an orgy: the bowels of elves marinated in the blood of gnomes.
  • You see a statue of Grumsh impaling an elf on a lance!
        
The combats in the dungeon wore down my vitality to the point that I couldn't really take any damage or I'd have to reload, but I stubbornly kept at it until I found the cyclops and managed to kill him and take his head. I also found a key beyond him that must be important somewhere. There were only two treasure chests in the dungeon; both had a modest amount of gold.
            
I have slain the cyclops and can now take his head.

           


I triumphantly carried the cyclops head to the city of Bar-Tolainor. I visited the sage, who I don't think gave me any reward at all unless you consider a new quest a reward:

        
My premature ejaculation is a sign! You are the chosen one. Your destiny is to fight the libidinous Beltrik whose secret I will reveal to you. In fact Mithgul did not perish when his complex exploded. He and the demon he had summoned suffered the full effect of the brunettes. Thus they have fornicated for centuries until the effect of the malefice dissipates. The demon then became familiar with Mithgul. The archmage is daring and perverted by his experience. Had lost much of his knowledge. He renamed himself Beltrik and dedicated himself to the forces of chaos. Here is a letter of introduction to the king. Valdrin will no doubt offer you a substantial reward.
           
Meanwhile, from the other two auberge options back in Bar-Calenlad, I learn:
           
  • In Térégroth resides the Matriarch and her supporters. All are fanatical worshipers of Vaprak and pay bloody tributes to him. The ritual sacrifices organized in honor of the Destroyer are also cannibal orgies, where sins of flesh and money are indiscriminately consumed. This citadel has never, until now, been threatened, thanks to its high walls and its mithril door. Yet each door has its own key; that of Térégroth could also open the Matriarch's chastity belt.
  • The lair of Beltrik, the lustful wizard, remains unknown to this day. The sages, however, called it Coron Raugul and claimed it was protected by an invisibility spell. They also say that it is guarded by a nigh-invincible golem. This sentinel, however, has a weak point: its diarrhea, which it can only wipe with the sheets of a spellbook cursed three times. This book is the Pnakoticus Qhultis of Count Bren-lette, also called P. Q. The golem will gladly let pass anyone who offers him a roll of this precious paper. [The joke here is that P. Q. in French is the abbreviation for toilet paper.]
           
So few golems in ricain RPGs are cursed with diarrhea, and I just want to say I think it's what's been missing. 
         
Getting a clue on the final quest.
          
Unfortunately, I ran into a technical problem that's going to prevent me from continuing with the game without starting over. While I was exploring Ered-Morglin, testing the walls for secret doors, I found an illusory wall that let me out of the dungeon, onto a random part of the map terrain. I figured that it was a secret "back door." By walking one space back the way I'd come, I returned to the dungeon. I didn't think anything of it, and I finished the dungeon. Because it was closer to the cyclops than the main entry, I used the "back door" to get out. I was able to turn in the quest without any problem.
           
I soon realized that the "back door" wasn't that at all but a game corruption. The game still thinks I'm in the dungeon, and if I wander on the map into any coordinates that the dungeon level covers, I suddenly find myself back in the dungeon. Since there are towns and dungeons, and I think even the castle in that coverage area, that's no good. I need to be able to enter those areas on the main map without warping to the dungeon. Unfortunately, trying to exit from the dungeon the regular way just freezes the game. I thought maybe if I found a second dungeon and entered and exited, it would work, but those aren't on the accessible part of the map.
          
As far as I can get.
      
Fortunately, I don't need to win it myself because "Deckard's" web page describes what happens: The player takes the letter of introduction from the sage to King Valdrin of Gondarnost, who steps out of his harem long enough to give the player a new quest. Valdrin's daughter was kidnapped by Beltrik, used as a "toy" for a while, then given to the Matriarch of Térégroth. Valdrin wants her back so he can marry her to the troll king, Bortrog, to seal an alliance between the cities. Valdrin also suggests that Bortrog would reward the character for killing the Matriarch.
           
Defeating the Matriarch. Don't ask me why the screen shots are in this color.
             
The key found in Ered-Morglin turns out to be the key to Térégroth and the Matriarch's chastity belt. The player goes to Térégroth, kills the Matriarch, recovers the chastity belt as proof, and frees the princess. The game makes a point of noting that the princess's cell smells of urine, because that was important. The princess appears in your inventory, and from then on you can "use" her like any object for things I'll leave to your imagination.
                
You return the princess to Valdrin, who does marry her to Bortrog. Bortrog rewards you for the Matriarch's belt. But he doesn't think his new bride is sexy enough, so he wants Beltrik's beauty stone. The scroll found in Térégroth turns out to be the key to finding the invisible city of Coron Raugul. It's also the item necessary to give to the golem to let you pass. 
          
The player confronts Beltrik.
       
In Coron Raugul, the player defeats Beltrik and his pet demon and finds the stone, which turns out to be called "Muryaden" for whatever reason. Bringing it back to the troll king results in a congratulatory screen in which the troll king gives you the stone (after he's done using it). His mage attunes the stone so that it will serve like a permanent Potion of Healing. The player can continue killing monsters and building his statistics if he wants.
          
The winning screen.
          
It will surprise no one that the plot elements of Muryaden aren't my favorite parts of the game. The authors' complaints about a certain lack of grit in the typical RPG of the period are not wrong, but the solution would lie in the future, with more complex characters, more nuanced plots, an in general better writing, not in the toilet humor of a couple of teenagers. At the same time, though, there are plenty of elements of the game that I don't mind. I like the low-key nature of the quests. I like that the main character is more of a mercenary than a hero, and that none of his employers are sparkling clean. I like that the developers kept it small and short, understanding that they didn't have the mechanics for an epic game. And as I said above, character development and combat are pretty tight. It earns a 24 on my GIMLET, doing best in character development, combat, economy, and gameplay (3s). That's not a horrible score for an independent Ultima clone.

Elrik and Deckard continued their partnership with Muryaden Livre 2 in 1991. I can only hope that the extra two years matured their storytelling while preserving their inventiveness. I'm not sure what happened to them after that. "Elrik" was a pseudonym for Eric Bertrand, and there is a programmer of that name with numerous credits on Ubisoft titles, but his ludography doesn't pick up until 2006, or 17 years after Muryaden, and I'm not sure if it's the same developer. "Deckard" seems to be a Jean-Marc Boutillon; from an interview he gave, I don't get the impression that he worked on anything more than these two titles.

We are going to move on to Abandoned Places: A Time for Heroes after another Britannian episode.


67 comments:

  1. Yes, "ricain" is a sort of slang for "américain" (american).
    I know french but never knew that PQ means "toilet paper". So, thanks for this invaluable bit of knowledge!
    And also thanks for reviewing this (odd/strange/awkward) old french game. I always like when you change from "CRPGAddict" to "CRPGArchaelogist" and dig interesting bits of computer video games history.

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    1. There's been a "jingoist American" self-slur, based on the Team America movie, and its "America (F*** Yeah)" song.

      "'Merica!" (or "'Murica!" if you really lean into the accent) is portrayed as something that a really nationalist American might say when expressing pride in their country.

      "Yankee," on the other hand, is a great example of the oppressed "taking back" a slur used by their oppressors. Originally a insult song sung by the British, we've made "Yankee Doodle" a national song taught to every schoolchild two centuries later!

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    2. In colloquial Australian English, you lot are Yanks, Poms, and Frogs.

      I don't think those terms have as much currency with people much younger than me though.

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    3. Why Pom and Frog?

      I think we use Frog to mean French.

      Pom for Pomade? I'm a Dapper Dan man!

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    4. PoM as in Prisoner of his/her Majesty. It dates to the penal colony days, when PoM would have been tattooed or branded on the backs of the convicts. And as many of those would be coming from the "home isles", pom (or pommies) would be a term used for brits in general.

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    5. 'Yankee' is kind of a funny semi-slur...it means 'American' outside the USA, 'Northerner' (from a state that fought for the Union in the American Civil War) in the USA and in particular the South (the former Confederacy, more or less), and 'rural Northeasterner' in New England (the northeastern six states, NOT including New York City). Only the last is considered positive--'Yankee ingenuity', etc.

      Amusingly, the name of the New York City baseball team, despised by all New Englanders, is the 'Yankees'. So you will hear Bostonians chanting 'Yankees suck' on New Year's Eve as the ball drops in New York City.

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    6. The "prisoner of his majesty" thing is an urban myth. I was taught that "pom" derived from the apples served on prison ships to stave of scurvy, but that too is false, and is a corruption of the origin of the word "limey".

      According to the OED, it supposedly derives from rhyming slang for "immigrant". You go from "immigrant" to "pomegranate" to "pom".

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    7. Yankee probably originally referred to the dutch settlers around the New York area. It seems to be derived from Jan-Kees, a combination of very typical Dutch names

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    8. I don't know why I'm continuing this thread, which got silly very fast, but it's always amused me that almost nobody self-identifies as a "Yankee." I think it was E.B. White who said that to foreigners, Americans are Yankees. To southerners, it's northerners. To northerners, it's easterners. To easterners, it's New Englanders. This is where White's goes off the rails because he says New Englanders say only Vermonters are Yankees, but I would say that every other state in New England would point to Maine as the Yankee state. If you visited Maine, southern Mainers would say the only Yankees to be found are in "downeast" Maine. When you got along the coast north of Portland, you'd finally find people willing to self-affix the "yankee" label.

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    9. Yeah, it seems you are right Kelvin. I guess it goes to show that you can't trust what you learn in school, as I remember that tidbit from an English text book from high school ;) (Although Wikipedia does suggest one more possible origin for the term as the color the newcomers turn, due to sun burns, resembling pomegranates.)

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    10. As for the term "Yankee" being used in Maine, while it was before Chet's time in the state, that was the title of a long-running magazine about Maine culture/history/folklore. My Grandparents used to subscribe.

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    11. Yankee is still being published. You scared me for a minute. And it wouldn't have been before my time. I grew up here.

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    12. I've never heard anybody use the word "yankee" in earnest, besides sports fans or communists in 80's cinema. But then I've always been on the West Coast, where both colonial history and the Civil War era aren't thought about a great deal.

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    13. I stand corrected -- I have not seen an issue of Yankee magazine since probably the 1970s. I just assumed that it has ceased publication.

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    14. Apheresis of "américains"
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apheresis_(linguistics)

      from the "treasure of the french language" (online dictionary):
      http://boutillon.free.fr/Underground/Jeux/Muryaden/m1/Doc/Decors/Ricain.png

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  2. Y a peau d'zeub is slang. Peau means skin and a zeub is, well, a penis. It's a silly, vulgar way of saying there is nothing there. I grew up in a rough neighborhood and peau d'zeub and va niquer ta mere (I'll let you Google that) were our favourite expressions.

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    1. So the literal translation would be "Here is dick skin"?

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    2. Yeah, although it'd translate more closely to something along the lines of 'there's f*** all there'.

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    3. About "peau d'zébi" or "peau de zébi" or "peau de zob":
      French slang that means "nothing".
      Derived from "zob" or "zeb" (algerian arab) = "c0ck" / "d!ck"
      Used by the zouaves: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zouave

      Full explanation, from the "treasure of the french language" (online dictionary):
      http://boutillon.free.fr/Underground/Jeux/Muryaden/m1/Doc/Decors/Peau_De_Zebi.png

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  3. Oh boy, a lot to unpack here. I am French and I never heard of this game, so we are not into "French classic" territory like with the Maître des Âmes or TERA.


    "ricain" (masculine) or "ricaine" (feminine) is a low-level slur for Americans. It is not really strong, I would compare it to the strength of calling an American (or a northerner) a "yankee".

    I appreciate the description for the death of the enemies.

    "Cette charogne finit par crever" => This piece of s... finally croaked ! (though the word "charogne" in itself is not rude, it means "carcass", but if you call someone a charogne it is the equivalent of calling him a PoS)
    "Sa dernière heure est venue" : "His last hour came"
    "Il va rejoindre ses ancêtres" : "He go meet up his ancestors"

    "Peau de zebi" would more often be said "peau de zob", though even "peau de zob" is dated. It means "Nothing". "Zob" is obviously the male part. Not sure why "skin of male parts" means nothing.

    A few other amusing notes
    - The name of the lustful wizard Beltric means "belle trique" "beautiful woody" (or "beautiful stiffy"; anyway you get what I mean)
    - The count Bren-Lette has the name suspiciously close to "Branlette", which I would let the curious non-French speakers Google translate as I am not sure what words would trigger automatic Google mods :).

    I tried to find other puns with the names, but they resisted me.

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    1. Regarding the "Nothing" bit: "Nothing" is an anachronistic English euphemism for a woman's privates. This is used as a pun in the title of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" (the subject of the play being whether a woman did or did not have a late night dalliance).

      It wouldn't surprise me if, considering how culturally interconnected England and France were, this bit of slang ended up adopted by the French and changed slightly.

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    2. Nah, it's pretty archetypal I'd say. In Russian, both the swearword for penis, and the expression "not a [penis]" can be used to mean "nothing"/"not a thing". And in English you have a "f*ck all" idiom.

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    3. I mean, in America, we sometimes use "dick" to mean "nothing" or "very little." As in, "you know dick about programming." It's really stupid, but there's a precedent. I can see the French term meaning, "the only thing you find are useless, unwanted things."

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    4. If I had to speculate (must I?) I might guess that if the penis in question might be assumed to be circumcised, the skin there could best be characterised by its absence.

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    5. stepped pyramidsMay 17, 2020 at 6:16 PM

      @Rowan: Since zob/zébi came to French from Arabic by way of Algeria, and Muslims are typically circumcised, I think you're probably right.

      English also has "dick-all", which appears to mean exactly the same thing as peau de zob. "You find dick-all" would seem to be an appropriate idiomatic translation here.

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    6. Vulgar/slang Italian has a similar construction where you can pretty much substitute the word "cazzo"(penis) for "nothing".

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    7. So does Hungarian! Along several other uses, lófasz (horse dick) is frequently used to mean "nothing".

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    8. Seems to be quite common. In Hungarian, a similar term is "lófaszt se" (not even horse dick).

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    9. The funniest part about this is that Hungarian has a proper word for horse dick instead of just calling it... you know... horse dick.

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    10. Well, despite my somewhat negative review, I can't help but think the developers would be delighted in the discussion threads that their game prompted.

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  4. Also, you got the general gist of the page you linked too, though the author certainly said that :

    "Evidemment, aujourd'hui, j'ai mis de l'eau dans mon vin et suis bien moins catégorique, notamment pour les critiques sur les américains. Avec l'age, on apprend déjà à critiquer ce qui ne va pas chez soi et à reconnaitre ce que nous apporte les autres, et l'héritage issu de l'autre côté de l'Atlantique est fabuleux pour l'Apple II, l'informatique en général, et une multitude d'autres choses…"

    Obviously nowadays, I have put water in my wine and I am less categorical, including on my critics of the Americans. With age, you learn to first criticize what does not go well at home and to recognize what the others are bringing, and what we received from the other side of the Atlantic is fabulous for the Apple II, Computer Sciences in general, and a lot of other things."

    The authors also say they started developing the game before even turning 20.

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    1. I missed that paragraph. I'm glad to hear he mellowed out.

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  5. Finding this kind of toilet humor in a game from the 1990's is like the glorious moment, after a decade or so of prim and proper schoolwork, when a well-liked teacher finally lets their guard down and says a swear word.

    If crass, disgusting, base behavior has any place in the world, it's in comedy--I don't speak a word of French, but look at that troll's face on the title screen and tell me this game isn't some kind of farce. I can understand not finding it funny to begin with, but pleading with the developers to have patience for more nuanced characters is like getting mad at a child for liking fart jokes or the Minions films.

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    1. I had meant to say before the 1990's above. Things were starting to get edgier in pop culture towards the mid-90's.

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    2. It was the original developers, not me, who claimed that regular RPGs of the time weren't "adult" enough--and they gave examples from comics and Conan to describe what they meant--not that they weren't FUNNY enough. It would be like if we heard that the next Batman movie was going to be rated R and everyone got excited, and then it turned out it was because Batman faces an adversary called "Dildoman."

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    3. I wouldn't put that past DC Comics.

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  6. I kind of feel bad about adding this one to Mobygames...

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    1. There's no question that it's an RPG, and it's certainly an interesting historical footnote. Aside from some of the themes, I enjoyed the game well enough. I hope that came across in the entry.

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    2. I appreciate your sparing me the necessity of doing so!

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    3. https://www.mobygames.com/game-group/muryaden-series

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  7. I like how most of their pixel art appears to be stolen straight from Ultima IV. I guess it's defensible as parody.

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  8. Reminds me of several NWN1 modules, one of which I remember used a custom skeleton file to enable "jiggle physics". I forget the name of the title, though the game wasn't as juvenile as you'd expect.

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  9. Sounds like a nice game mechanically. I like point buy systems in RPGs, and continuous improvement instead of fixed leveling, but I think both are pretty rare especially in early RPGs.

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  10. This is why I love your lawnmower approach to playing games - weird, wild stuff like this that I would never have heard about in a million years.
    Also, hur, hur, you said "explicit quest" and "the importance of getting physically close to the enemy..."

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  11. Morabis is 1990 on master list not 1991. also been wondering ur mainpage stats for a while I counted from game ranking sheet 34 games as not winnable not 35 and 46 games as not won instead of 45

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  12. The combat seems pretty interesting. It reminds me of Neo Scavenger's combat system, although there is 0% chance that the developer even knew about Muryaden's existence.

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  13. I can't help but be reminded of the infamous FATAL (although this lacks the racism, misogyny, and mechanical WTF that characterizes that "game"), deadEarth, and similar "for grownups" TTRPG products. Most of which were developed by late teens who have very little understanding of the adult world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a morbid fascination with FATAL. I always think it would be fun to play a session of it just for laughs, but then I look at the rules and am reminded that they're so convoluted, they're pretty much unplayable.

      Delete
    2. Not only are they unplayable, they completely fail to achieve the verisimilitude the author likes to pretend is a goal of the game.

      Some people on a web forum I frequent actually ran a game of (heavily censored) FATAL.

      The phrase "dwarven hydrocutter" was uttered as a result of the party's trip to the local tavern.

      It did not refer to a piece of technology.

      Delete
    3. I've always felt a true "adult" rpg should involve doing taxes, dealing with crappy beligerent kids, and working 40+ hours per week. Congratulations! You have leveled up your skill in "responsibility"

      Delete
    4. Besides the pessimistic tone, that describes the Sims (at least the first one, before you start messing with supernatural and sci-fi expansions.)

      I didn't play for very long, but it was very memorable to see my Sim miss the carpool to work because they had stayed up all night playing video games, ignoring food and hygiene from about 2pm until the sun was almost up.

      Delete
  14. Hm, never heard about this one. Must have been one of those France-only-games.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The Conan-vs-Tolkien divide is sometimes described as 'low fantasy' vs 'high fantasy', BTW.

    ReplyDelete
  16. As a french.. "ricain" is barely a slur. It's just a shortening of 'americain" and as any shortening it could be used to ridicule (as in the website), or sometime used even as an affectionate term. Context matter.

    Otherwise you get the meaning right. They planned the game to be the opposite of the "puritan" games they saw coming from the US. But it sound more like a rebel youth posture, than an ingrained declaration of faith.

    You're right in 12/2018 Deckart posted an old interview as Jean-Marc Boutillon. According to the interview he then became an obsessive apple II collector, and active in the hacker community in France. But he dont talk about working on any games after Muryaden II

    ReplyDelete
  17. Another immature joke from this game nobody picked up on that makes me realize you all need to brush up on your Greek: Beltrik is a "Skatomancer."

    Think about that for a second, and then you will realize the kind of magic Mr. Beltrik apparently specializes in . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just felt that one was too obvious to bother with.

      Delete
  18. PQ and the Cthulhu Mythos:

    Count Bren-lette => Comte d'Erlette (August Derleth)
    https://lovecraft.fandom.com/wiki/Comte_d%27Erlette
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Derleth

    Pnakoticus Qhultis => "Cults of Ghouls" + "Pnakotic Manuscripts"
    https://lovecraft.fandom.com/wiki/Cultes_des_Goules
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pnakotic_Manuscripts

    ReplyDelete
  19. Bren-lette => branlette = handj0b in english

    No publisher for that game.
    Bytlejuice (Richard Fiore) was the guy who wrote the animated graphical introduction.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Don't ask me why the screen shots are in this color => because the computer setups of the programmers were apple IIe + green monochrome monitors. Color monitors were very expensive. Modern apple IIe emulators have a display option to switch color ou monochrome mode.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Eric Bertrand ... with numerous credits on Ubisoft titles, ... and I'm not sure if it's the same developer => not the same guy. Muryaden was a small holiday project when we were students. After getting his Polytechnique graduate degree, Eric worked for big pharma before being disgusted, and now is a math teacher.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I assume this is M. Boutillon commenting. I appreciate you stopping in to fill in some of the open questions and bits of trivia. Have you ever seen a bug like the one I described?

      Delete
    2. The bug you described: no I don't.

      As far as I remember, we produced the first Muryaden in less than 2 months, from scratch.
      we used a very simple BASIC program to input datas (maps).
      And we had not time to check that every wall had correct values (one for the sprite and one for "solid" wall).
      We only checked that the sprites were displaying properly.
      Maybe you've found a bug in Ered-Morglin when you were testing the walls for secret doors.

      I have to check that.

      Delete
    3. Congrats!

      I confirm: there's a bug in the Ered-Morglin map file.

      In this part of the dungeon, a wall should be solid but is coded as a secret door:
      Near that point:
      http://boutillon.free.fr/Underground/Jeux/Muryaden/m1/Graphisme_Cartographie/Ecrans/M1_p220.png

      Bad value 155 instead of 255:
      http://boutillon.free.fr/Underground/Jeux/Muryaden/m1/Graphisme_Cartographie/Ecrans/Muryaden1_Wall_Bug_Ered_Morglin.png

      So you went out of the dungeon in another dimension...

      Delete
    4. Thanks for confirming what happened!

      Delete
  22. Your last four screen shots were all stolen from this web page: http://boutillon.free.fr/Underground/Jeux/Muryaden/m1/Scenario/Scenario.html.

    You clearly didn't finish the game. I can't believe you still have readers who think you play these games all the way through when you don't even take the time to Photoshop your stolen shots. Stop lying, Addict.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fortunately, I don't need to win it myself because "Deckard's" web page describes what happens:

      Do you even read?

      Delete
    2. ..."stolen"...

      As the author of this web page, I don't care.

      I think it's funny to see the little game I wrote with my friend Eric in a list of famous rpg games!

      Mainly because Muryaden is an old & obscur game / in french language / with s.xual content / released in 1989 in the french apple II underground scene.

      My point of view is: it's courageous to play 5 hours with it, especially when your native tongue is english.

      Delete

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