Sunday, May 9, 2021

Game 412: DragonMaze (1993)

Golden, Colorado is where Lookout Mountain is--easily one of the top 10 most beautiful places I've ever visited. Man, it's been too long since I've traveled.
United States
. . . by Design (developer and publisher)
Released as shareware in 1993 for Macintosh
Date Started: 4 May 2021
Date Ended: 4 May 2021
Total Hours: 5
Difficulty: User-customizable; moderate (3/5) on average
Final Rating: 25
Ranking at Time of Posting: 192/412 (47%)
The best I can figure, the only versions of DragonMaze available online are demo versions. If you wanted the full versions, you had to send $19.95 to the oddly-punctuated company, with the checks made out to the dots and everything.
Originally, I could only find version 1.1. Because of a number of problems, I wrote this up (the part labeled "1.1" below) as a BRIEF. I then made one last scan of various sites and managed to turn up 2.2, which is also a demo, but has a fully-winnable scenario. Version 2.2 is so much different than 1.1 that some time must have elapsed between the two. There is no indication in the game files what year they were created or released, so 1993 is at best a guess.

DragonMaze 1.1 is a graphical "roguelite." It has far fewer features than the typical roguelike, and it doesn't enforce permadeath. When you start a new game, you can even set the number of levels you have to explore, the number of items on each level, the number of items you start with in your pack, and the number of monsters.
Starting a new game. There are more weapons in the game, so I don't know why these are the only three you can choose among.
During character creation, your name and weapon skill (sword, hammer, or bow) are the only options you get. A randomly-created dungeon of corridors is seeded with items and monsters. Items included the usual roguelike staples--melee and missile weapons, armor, shields, helms, wands, scrolls, books, keys, gems, gold, and potions--as well as odd items like bombs. There are only a few types of each, but the title screen promises more if you pay for the game. Some items are mysteries, like gold and gems (there's no place to use them) and keys (there are no doors).
A book offers some information on an enemy.
There are a couple of things I like about the game. It offers clear statistics for weapons and armor. You can find books that have information about the games' enemies. A "Display" menu lets you cycle through a number of zoom levels, which is helpful because it's tough to see what enemies are at small-scale zooms but tough to navigate at large-scale. Combat is automatic; when an enemy is an adjacent square, the game automatically has you trade blows with him even if you're simultaneously doing something else, like walking in a different direction.
At a 50% zoom level. This might be the ugliest random dungeon I've ever seen.
On the negative side, the interface is tough to use without a mouse, which I never like. The keyboard cluster for movement is the unintuitive I-J-L-comma. There are only a few regular commands: info/inventory, pick up, use, drop, and fire. There's no key to escape from the inventory menu; you have to click the "close" box. There appears to be no experience-based character development or leveling. You can improve your one attribute--strength/hit points--by drinking certain potions, but killing enemies doesn't seem to do anything for you except get them out of your way. 
The information-and-inventory screen. Note that it depicts what I have equipped and shows my armor stats.
The main quest requires you to find a crystal and return it to the starting square. There are a number of problems with this demo version, however:
  • The game doesn't seem to generate a crystal. I've started multiple games with only one level and have not found a crystal once.
  • Even if you specify multiple levels, the game doesn't generate any stairways down.
  • If you use a scroll of "Down Stairway," the character just gets stuck.
  • The level randomization process creates some areas detached from others. Maybe there's a secret door mechanic that I'm missing, but I don't think so because there aren't any commands to search, bash, dig, open, or what-have-you.
  • You can save a game, but the game doesn't recognize the game file if you try to "open" it.
  • There's an "about" text file in the game folder that has nothing in it. The in-game instructions are extremely scant.
  • If I play more than about 30 minutes, the game crashes with a message that says "FormatArmy Army" and then two numbers separated by a slash. This doesn't seem to be a Mac OS message, so I don't know if it's a game-specific message or a Basilisk-specific message. Either way, it crashes the OS so bad that I have to kill the emulator.  

This is an ominous error.
Fortunately, 2.2 fixes all of these problems.
Version 2.2 is clearly from 1.1's lineage, but it has been so upgraded as to be a fundamentally new game. At the same time, it removed enough roguelike elements that I would say it's no longer within that sub-genre. I groaned when I realized it was playable and I would have to extend this entry. But I soon found myself enjoying it.
The setup for the demo level is that a kingdom is being menaced by a red dragon. The kingdom used to have artifacts (the Golden Armor of Zoth and the Fire Sword of Abrial) to defend against dragons, but these have been stolen and hidden in the same large dungeon that contains the dragon. The hero enters on a mission to find the objects and slay the dragon.
Finding the Golden Armor--and leggings--of Zoth.
Character creation has a couple new features. You can specify an enemy against which you are particularly skilled, in addition to your preferred weapon. You can also choose your icon. Starting life force, gold, and arrows are rolled randomly, but within a fairly tight range.
The new character creation options.
The dungeon level is fixed rather than randomized, and it has new features like doors, lava, switches that open walls and bridges, and signs, all of which you activate by simply walking on or next to them. Commands are the same as the original, but the inventory and character screen remains active, and you can use it to activate items and switch between equipped items. Movement has been remapped to the numberpad. The zoom options are gone, but there's a "map" command that shows the entire level.
I check the map as I walk near some lava.
The huge dungeon level can be explored in almost any order; secret doors (found by simply bumping into the wall) and teleporters keep it from being too linear. Monsters include giant spiders, goblins, orcs, trolls, nagas, giants, slimes, and lizard men, and killing them does increase an invisible experience statistic. You periodically gain levels, which increases your maximum health, your hit accuracy, and your damage. There are also potions that increase maximum health and necklaces that increase accuracy and damage. Weapons and armor can take damage and break, so you frequently need backups.
This was a surprise when it happened.
There's no more roguelike use of random descriptors or colors on potions and scrolls; you mostly know exactly what everything is. There are a few colored potions that you have to learn through trial and error, but their colors don't change between games.
One cool feature is that you can enlist allies. There are about a dozen elves in the level who will follow you if you rescue them from their cells; they'll fight alongside you until they die. There are also a couple of scrolls that summon allies. 
A sign tells me what I already know. I have three elf allies with me.
You find the Golden Armor of Zoth with some orcs. A series of signs fleshes out the backstory: apparently, the king's evil brother was the one who stole the artifacts. He's in the dungeon--a black wizard--and he has the Fire Sword of Abrial nearby.
The overall goal is to get the two artifacts while also getting strong enough to defeat the dragon. It helps to bring a stock of healing potions to the final battle, including the full-healing purple potion (I think there is only one of these). It took me several tries to defeat the dragon, although I left about one-fifth of the dungeon unexplored and may have found more advantages. I started by emptying my crossbow at him, then blasted him with five charges of a magic wand, then used a "Summon Demon" scroll to bring an ally into combat. I then whacked at him with the Fire Sword, healing as necessary, until he died. 
Fighting the dragon. It's too bad those piles of gold have no use.
The title screen promises 10 more scenario levels if you pay for the full version of the game, and if they're all about this length and complexity, I could see it being a lot of fun to dip into DragonMaze now and then. In a GIMLET, I give the demo scenario:
  • 2 points for the game world, including a backstory with a twist.
A sign delivers a plot twist.
  • 2 points for somewhat limited character creation and development.
  • 1 point for NPCs. That's for those that will fight with you. There's otherwise no interaction.
  • 2 points for encounters and foes. They're fantasy standards, but reasonably well programmed. Snakes can poison you; dragons breathe fire; ghosts must be hit with a magical weapon.
A wall switch opens a bridge across the lava.
  • 2 points for magic and combat. There aren't many options, but I do like some of the scrolls.
  • 4 points for equipment. A decent system that could benefit from roguelike randomization. I love that you can see exactly how the items compare.
  • 0 points for the economy. You can collect gold and gems, but for no reason in the scenario level.
  • 2 points for a main quest.
It seemed like a lot more than 125.
  • 4 points for graphics, sound, and interface. The graphics are nice enough, featuring a rare (for the era) paperdoll inventory screen; there are a few sound effects; the revised key commands work well.
  • 6 points for gameplay. It has a little nonlinearity and replayability (at higher difficulty levels); the difficulty is pitched just right; and the length is perfect for its size and complexity.
That gives a final score of 25, a decent rating for a shareware game. I wouldn't mind checking out the other levels. The author, Owen Gwynne (who moved from Colorado to Wisconsin after the game was released), found a career as an artist. I don't believe that he or his company ever produced any other games. [Ed. I was very wrong about this. He published a reasonable catalogue of shareware war games through at least 2008.] I wrote to him but had not received a reply by the time I was ready to publish this entry.
DragonMaze is the second 1993 game to require only a single entry, but alas I suspect we will not be as lucky with Abandoned Places 2. Before we go there, I think I have enough breathing room now to try to finish Mission: Thunderbolt.
Speaking of Abandoned Places 2---goddamned Amiga emulation. I've tried two versions of the disk version, including one available from the developer's official site, but it crashes between "Create a Party" and "Start a New Game" with a "Guru Meditation" error every single time, no matter what configuration I use.
Years ago, someone made a custom WinUAE configuration for WHDLoad for me that has a drive mounted as the hard drive. He included a bunch of games with it, but I'm pretty sure I've added games to it in the past. My recollection was I just extracted the files and then stuck the .info file into the main directory while leaving the other files in a folder with the game's name. If I do this here, though, then load the WHDLoad configuration, it clearly isn't seeing it as the same type of game file, because all the others have "Drawer" next to the names. 
If I try to load it anyway, I get an "object not found" message. I would appreciate if:
  • Someone who's ever gotten the disk version working can go through his settings with me; or
  • Someone who knows more about WHDLoad can tell me what I've done wrong installing the file.


  1. I wonder how many shareware games are lost because not enough people paid for the full version for it to have been preserved?

    1. Many, I wager. There is one old German RPG from 95 that a guy over on RPG Codex found a couple of years ago. He discovered it on an old German demo CD that contained many shareware games. The name of the game is Faustus, and nobody had ever heard of it before, it wasn't on Mobygames or anywhere else. The full version probably doesn't exist anymore...

    2. A Russian site I read sometimes, even though it seems like they heavily curate their list, still manages to have around 20 games that they haven't found. One of the most interesting games that's never been found is Plague of the Moon, an Elvira-like where you play an evil witch.
      Regardless, and the archivist in me hates to say it, but I think the reason why some of these games are lost is because they're just not worth it. At least in the Anglo-sphere, I have little experience with the rest of Europe. I was playing an adventure game that wasn't anywhere online not too long ago and I didn't see any reason to change that. It was just that bad. This wasn't a commercial game or anything, just the shareware version.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Plague of the Moon shareware version seems to be a complete game. But it has censorship, no sound, 30-day trial period and nagware messages. I wonder if the full version ever existed in the first place.

    5. Speaking of which, one I haven't been able to find is the full version of "Zanzi: Quest for the Mastercrown", a 1998 Zelda clone. Though it may be just desserts, as the game uses a lot of graphics from Ari Feldman's SpriteLib and I couldn't find any credits to him on the game's (archived) website or readme.txt.

  2. You got at your disposal a lot of preconfigured Amiga games at this polish website:
    I have already tested Abandoned Places 2 and it works fine. I hope this could be useful for you.

    1. One problem with Amiga versions versus DOS versions may be that getting correct aspect ratio is harder (unless I've missed something obvious).
      I replayed Dungeon Master recently, and was initially going to play the Amiga version, but couldn't stomach the stretched image. So I ended up playing the DOS version instead, even though that one suffers a bit from not having directional sound.

    2. The 'Filter' tab in WinUAE has the aspect ratio settings (Automatic, disabled, 10 manually selectable ratios).

    3. I went to that web site and hit "Download." I get this message: "Sorry, this file is infected with a virus. Only the owner is allowed to download infected files."

    4. OP, thanks for info. I'll keep in mind if I need to dabble with Amiga emulation again.

  3. "Finding the Golden Armor--and leggings--of Zoth." At least it seems you didn't had to kneel before him to obtain it.

  4. “Version 2.2 is clearly from 1.1's lineage, but it has been so upgraded as to be a fundamentally new game.”

    Given the software versioning (1.1 and 2.2), it’s possible that you played the second release of the game “Dragon Maze”, and the third release of the game “Dragon Maze 2”.

  5. Hoborg has Abandoned Places 2 among his easy to run packages:

    I tried it some time ago and I think it run well. I surely got past the creating a party and played it for a few minutes.


    1. "HWA Configuration." Christ alive. Is there no end to the different technologies I have to learn for this platform?

  6. WHDLoad is sort of an OS emulator, one that allowed Amiga owners to run games from earlier Amiga models without problems. For games that didn't support installation to a hard drive (which was true of most of the early titles), it would also allow you to copy floppies to hard drive images, and run them from there.

    There are two components to the program. You're probably familiar with the runtime, which sets everything up for a given game to run. On a 68010 or later chip, it gives you an escape key you can hit to leave the game and return to the normal OS. (On a regular 68000, that's won't work; the 010 and later chips added some new instructions to make virtualization possible.)

    The other part is the utility that creates the images in the first place. This utility requires a lot more resources, because it reads the original floppies, patches their code, bundles in a ROM image, and creates a double-clickable icon on your hard drive. I believe it requires at least Workbench 2.0, and it might need 3.0 for the most recent versions. Further, it needs a lot of RAM, so I typically work with this part of the program on a simulated Amiga 4000 with 32 megs or more.

    WHDLoad is not smart enough, on its own, to just read a floppy and make a hard drive image. It needs a recipe describing how to virtualize any specific game. Hundreds of talented Amigans have exhaustively analyzed programs and created recipes to virtualize them. You can find the most recent version of the program, and recipes for most of the games that were ever released, at

    For any given recipe to work, you need the *exact* floppy image that the recipe used. Many games had multiple releases, so you have to track down the right one. You will also typically need an exact ROM image. If you buy the Amiga Forever package from Cloanto, you will get a legit copy of every ROM that was ever released, so that will solve that part of the problem.

    The best archive of original, untouched Amiga floppies is the one maintained by the Software Preservation Society, They don't allow downloads of any of their images, and won't help you find copies directly. Mysteriously, however, huge archives of their library have made it onto torrent sites.

    The actual process of creating a hard drive image is typically to run the WHDLoad main program, and open a recipe file; the site should tell you what disk image(s) and ROM are required. It should then prompt you through loading the floppy images, and then the ROM image, and should ultimately end up creating an icon somewhere on your hard drive.

    When I was checking to be sure that the SPS images are still available (there's at least one torrent that looks good on the #7 most popular torrent site in the "most popular sites" list on, I noticed comments that WHDLoad images are also available that way. If you're not a preservationist, that would definitely be easier. Searching for WHDLoad on that same site shows at least one available collection.

    Making your own images is definitely possible, I've done it several times. But it's involved, and like a lot of Amiga programs, WHDLoad has a weird interface and is kind of buggy. Getting premade images will be a lot easier.

    BTW, the reason it's all so complex is because the Amiga was so complex. It offered a substantial chunk of the capabilities of modern OSes. The problem is that it does everything differently than Windows, and learning how it really works is very much a non-trivial effort. Emulating an Amiga is complex, because they did so much, and changed so much over the decade that they were manufactured. Emulators don't make it hard on purpose, there's just a very great deal going on.

    1. Emulators (the software) may not make it hard on purpose, but I have this sneaking suspicion that emulators (people who emulate) make it hard on purpose because I can never seem to find any clear, step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish anything. The Amiga is the worst in this regard. Everything seems to assume you have an existing knowledge base and/or some existing technology.

      I don't mean to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I need you or someone to break this down more simply. It sounds like you're saying that the "WHD Load" install of a game doesn't necessarily come with all the files necessary to run the game; that in fact you still have to track down the "exact floppy image that the recipe used." This seems insane to me. Why not just package it with the install?

      If I go to this site:

      And download the linked .lha file, what EXACTLY do I need to do to get this running with WinUAE? If it helps answer this, I have a "WHDLoad" configuration that has a mounted hard drive called "DH0." When I load the configuration and "Start," it brings me to a workbench in which I can access that hard drive. There are a couple of dozen games in there already. If I look at those games in Windows, it SEEMS like they all have the same file types as in that .lha file I linked. I swear I remember that in the past, all I had to do to get the "WHD Load" install of a game to work was to put it in the same directory. But maybe I'm misremembering.

    2. (To forestall any confusion, I realize that on that specific page, it provides a link to the ADF files used; they're the same ones I tried to use in a non-WHDLoad setup. I was just responding to Malor's general comment about having to hunt down the original disks used by the creator of the installer. I'm not even sure I'm using words correctly. This is hurting my head.)

    3. The Amiga fanbase is on the cultish side. The feeling of everything assuming you already know most things is accurate - because most of the people making and using Amiga emulators are the sort who would very much know all the insider concepts.

      There are a lot of similarities to Apple fans, except that the Macintosh was designed around a "computers for complete idiots" mindset and the Amiga very much wasn't. So Mac emulation is nowhere near as complex.

    4. Update: I have enough options for playing the game at this point, so no one else should waste their time on this.

    5. >I have this sneaking suspicion that emulators (people who emulate) make it hard on purpose because I can never seem to find any clear, step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish anything.

      Well, my instructions were kind of vague because I was telling you how I would go about solving the problem. I don't have a direct answer for you, because I've never played that game. I'm pretty confident I could solve it, but you've said repeatedly that you don't want people investing a lot of time in this stuff, and I think it would probably take me multiple hours to generate a working WHDLoad image of this game.

      I was also trying to differentiate between the runtime WHDLoad, which is a small virtualization engine, versus WHDload-the-application, which creates virtual machines for the runtime. WHDLoad is rather like WinUAE in a sense; it lets an Amiga run programs for an alien Amiga, and provides the necessary OS shims to make it work. More modern emulators tend to come in one piece, but WHDLoad was architected as two... one to create the images, and one to actually run them. The application embeds the runtime into the image. That's why you keep seeing the WHDLoad splash screens all the time, showing you an exit key. That's the runtime in action. But that's not the whole story, it's only a piece.

      Running an image is supposed to be dirt-simple. Find an image, copy it onto your hard drive, double-click it. Done.

      Creating an image is much harder, and I was trying to give you the basic process of making your own from the original floppy images, with the additional advice that finding a premade image (that was done properly) would be better.

      I think the general reason you don't find step-by-step howtos is because the talent pool is relatively shallow. The online knowledge base is drawing from probably less than 15 million physical users, ever, and many of those will, sadly, have died by now. The Windows knowledge base draws from billions. It's a lot easier to find someone who's figured out how to run the specific game you want with a talent pool that deep.

      The Amiga in real life took a great deal of figuring out on your own, and it's only gotten harder with emulation. With the Internet, there's a lot more resources to make that learning easier, so that part is probably an overall wash, but finding the specific exact thing you need is much less likely than with a Windows problem. General guidelines, like my post above, are often the best you'll get.

      On the Amiga, it's quite possible that nobody living has succeeded at doing the thing you want. Or, if they are still alive, they may have forgotten how they did it.

  7. I have a pack of Amiga RPGs that are all preconfigured to run with their own executable, including Abandoned places 2. Even includes box art and manual scans. Probably from that archive the other commenter mentioned. I can send you a dropbox link.

    1. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of allowing some .exe I downloaded from a Czech web site admin privileges on my computer, but I suppose if enough people vouch for it, I'll do it. I was just holding out hope someone would say, "I have it working in WinUAE," and we're share configurations, and it would just turn out I had the wrong FPU setting or something.

    2. The .exes are just WinUAE shortcuts as far as I can tell. If it helps, here is the config file:


  8. RPGs are confusing and it is sort of comfortingl that my you play through them for us... So just a great big thanks.

  9. I managed to run the disk version of the Abandonded Places 2 in WinUAE. I downloaded the version from the official site (Christmas 2001 release).

    In WinUAE I used the default config (under quickstart the one labeled with most common), inserted the disks and it worked. I created a party, started the game, fought a skeleton, was drown in a river and then adored the game over screen with nice synthy guitar sounds.

    Step by step instructions:

    - Settings->Quickstart
    Emulated Hardware: A500
    Configuration: 1.3 ROM, OCS, 512 KB Chip + 512 KB Slow RAM (most common)

    - Settings->Hardware->Floppy Drives
    Select the Disk Images from the folder "game" (use the ... button), AP21.ADF goes into DF0:.
    You can tick on all 4 floppy drives and insert the first 3 disks.
    Then use the button "Create Standard Disk" to make a save game disk. Now insert this disk in DF3:.
    You may also set the "Floppy Drive Emulation Speed" to the max (800%).

    Now you can press Start and play the game. When it is working you may want to save this settings in a config file under Settings->Configuration, once saved you can start the game with a double click on the configuration.

    btw, when the games asks you to insert disk 4, press F12, eject one of the inserted disks first, then select the image and press OK to return to the game.

    1. Thanks for checking it out. Something else must be amiss, then, because that just crashes the game for me. I'll try a fresh install of the emulator.

    2. Have you tried to switch the settings under quickstart to a different value and back to it's default value? Because when WinUAE is loaded with a configuration the quickstart options will stay on their default value, but are not reflecting the current config.

  10. I picked this one out of the list thinking it was one I hadn't read before, when it came out less than a week ago. There's too many games called Dragon ______.

  11. It’s a shame I didn’t notice that you were covering this until after your post! This is a series I have quite a lot of experience with, and I probably could have clued you into a few game issues that would have made writing this article much easier!

    Not least, I have DragonMaze 2.7, which is much superior to version 2.2. It improves pretty much every aspect of the gameplay, adds a few new mechanics (including a nice implementation of swimming), and comes with another free scenario that’s quite a lot longer than the Red Dragon, and better designed to boot: the Grey Wizard.

    For what it’s worth, version 2.7 describes itself as “DragonMaze II”, so could probably be considered a sequel. DragonMaze II seems to have initially been released in 1995, according to the docs and help, placing it a couple of years after the original DragonMaze. Shareware 2.7 isn't really worth a BRIEF just on its own, given you’ve covered 2.2 already, but it might potentially be worth revisiting in 1995 in its full version. If I ever come across a full copy, I’ll send it your way. In a strange coincidence, I’ve been chasing up a few leads myself, which are in slightly different places to the link that you give here. Actually, since you seem interested in the later release, would you like a copy of shareware 2.7 anyway?

    I also have version 1.0 which, bizarrely, is a little better balanced than 1.1, and has some additional features that are missing in the slightly later version (such as enemies dropping items, which makes the opening poison gauntlet far, far easier to deal with). I’m not really sure why version 1.1 was dummied down.

    In any case, you make a couple of mistakes about DragonMaze 1.1 in this article – quite understandably, given some of the odd quirks in the engine! Still, I thought I should just point them out, since this will probably be one of the few places search engines will point to for this game.

    1. The game actually *does* generate the crystal the lets you win the game: the red gem. The shareware version doesn’t actually let you do anything with it, since you can’t return to the starting floor in order to place it in the receptacle there and win the game, but it does appear. The reason you didn’t come across it is because of a separate bug. When you modify the dungeon statistics at the start of the game, those changes only take hold *after you leave the starting floor*. The starting floor is unaffected. If you specify a one-floor dungeon, the game gets unhappy – and won’t spawn a gem. Play with any other dungeon size, and you’ll get a gem on the final floor!

    2. The game definitely does spawn stairways. I’m not sure why you weren’t seeing them. If you didn’t quit and restart, maybe your game didn’t recover from you trying one-floor dungeons? In any case, there’s one set of stairs per floor, except for the floor on which the gem spawns. Actually – and I’m not sure if this is a bug or a feature – the stairway spawns in almost exactly the same place in every map, regardless of randomisation.

    3. Likewise, the Down Stairs Scroll works just fine for me, although I think the name is a bit misleading. It moves the field of view to be centred on that level’s stairs (which is usually unexplored, and so a blank screen). You can return to play just by scrolling the view back to the player character. Again, maybe this broke in 1-floor dungeons, since they might not have any stairs?

    4. So far as I know, the detached areas on the map are just there for show, to avoid fitting the dungeon into an artificial-looking square. Nothing of importance ever spawns in them.

    5. Ah, the Formatting Army error! That’s not actually time related, but comes from a field-of-view problem, possibly related to monster pathing. In my experience, it usually only happens when you use scrolls that reveal part of the map. The See All Scroll will trigger it without fail. It can happen in other circumstances too, but in my experience it’s extremely rare. If you just don’t use scrolls that show the map, there’s a good chance you’ll never see it!

    1. Thanks for the great info, Ess!

      Every game is someone’s favourite.

    2. Hey, that’s alright. After all, it’s probably better that this information is posted somewhere useful, rather than just sitting around in my head!

      I wouldn’t say DragonMaze is my favourite game, more that I just happened to play it a fair amount over the years. In my opinion, once you’ve worked your way around the quirks, version 1.0/1.1 is a fun way to spend 20 minutes at the end of a busy day. I think it’s a good thing to have a few solid little games like that to hand, in amongst more chunky works!

      And yes, it’s always good to remember that every game has its fans, no matter how those games look at first glance! :)

    3. I really appreciate all the supplemental info. There's no information about DragonMaze 2 or II or any of the versions after 2.1 anywhere online (until now), so if people didn't take the time to leave comments like this, this type of information would be lost forever.

    4. No worries at all. It’s nice to know this sort of niche comment is appreciated!

      Thanks also for taking the time to dig out and cover these old Mac games, along with the rest of your project. These articles of yours are a great way to showcase older games, and briefly bring them to the attention of modern audiences. And they provide an great space for collecting information from fans too!

      Without modern attention, and an incentive to talk about them, games like DragonMaze could easily drift completely into oblivion. So thanks for your dedication, and the time you take looking into these games. Keep up the good work!

      To round off my previous post, here’s a little more DragonMaze trivia. I don’t have huge amounts of it, but there are a few more bits and pieces that might be worth putting here in the comments for posterity.

      1. DragonMaze 2.7 actually had several different shareware releases, each with a different free scenario. I only mentioned one scenario in my last post, since I forget there was a second. The two free scenarios I have are ‘Grey Wizard’ – a large, complex dungeon crawl – and ‘Heart of Doom’ – a non-linear scenario set above ground, featuring towns, forests, swamps, ruins, and so on. It’s possible there may be more free scenarios that I never got hold of. I’ll be sure to upload these somewhere, even if I don’t track down the full versions. That way, at least the shareware material will be archived somewhere!

      2. The full version of DragonMaze 2.7 has two modes. There’s the 10 floor, fixed-design dungeon ‘The Wizard’s Challenge’, as mentioned in the article. But there’s a separate roguelike module too, which I assume plays much like DragonMaze 1.0/1.1. So the roguelike elements of the earlier releases aren’t completely done away with!

      3. Versions 1.0/1.1 of DragonMaze are actually really easy to customise. All the information about monsters, items and so on – even their descriptions and art – is listed unencoded in the game’s resources. The resource values are even helpfully documented! So, armed with a copy of ResEdit, modding DragonMaze 1.0/1.1 is quite straightforward. This actually provides a nice customisable roguelike engine – although there are probably more convenient ones out there!

      4. For what it’s worth, this isn’t the only game released by ... by Design. They also released a whole bunch of strategic wargames, including ‘Musket Fire’, ‘Gettysburg’, ‘Ancient Warfare’, ‘American Civil War’, and so on. I’m not really familiar with these sorts of games, but I think they’re about as obscure as DragonMaze, if not more so. For fun, here’s an Archive link to their old website (although, sadly, there aren’t any DragonMaze downloads on there):

  12. When I was 8, we had a German exchange student who spent a lot of time playing the shareware games on our Mac. I know in particular she liked this one (version 1.1) and Oxyd, probably because the latter was a German game to begin with. Both of them came on CD-ROM Today if I remember correctly. She had a notebook full of tips and tricks that she either lost or took back to Germany with her. I wonder what she's doing now?

    I was surprised that she managed to do so much in Dragon Maze since I always seemed to die in one turn no matter what I did.

  13. I found the original DragonMaze on a CD-ROM Today disc when I was a kid. I always managed to die about ten seconds in, but we had a German exchange student who managed to progress quite far. She had a whole notebook full of tips and tricks for all the little shareware Mac games we had, although the only other one offhand I remember her playing was Oxyd.

  14. Thank you for this post. I love this game and didn't know there was such a wealth of information on such an obscure game. It's especially intriguing that there are so many versions of it out there, when I was only aware of the 1.1 version. Please, if anybody has the updated versions, upload them to the Mac Repository, which has a page to the game, here:

    1. Sure! I meant to upload some of the missing shareware versions a while ago, but it slipped my mind. This post turned out to be a helpful reminder for me. Thank you!

      I don’t have an account on the Repository, I’m afraid, but I do over at the Macintosh Garden. I’ve uploaded the missing versions on there, and included some information about the differences:

      I suggest you start with the ‘Grey Wizard’ campaign, since I think it’s the most interesting. It’s also a really good demonstration of the new features in v2.x. It’s pretty large, too. I couldn’t finish it in a single session!

      The other campaigns are also worth playing. In addition to what Chet’s written about in his blog post, there’s also the ‘Heart of Doom’, a non-linear campaign in an open-world setting. (Just be aware that it’s possible to stumble onto the final battle of this one by accident if you’re playing on easier difficulty settings!)

      I also suggest at least trying out v1.0. Monsters drop items in that version, which makes dealing with the opening snake gauntlet much, much easier!


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