Saturday, June 12, 2021

Darkside of Xeen: Won!

A final score in the billions is a good example of the inflation of everything in this game.
       
My last entry must have been maddening for anyone who knows the game well. I was minutes from winning, but I kept allowing myself to get distracted.
   
To win Darkside proper, I just needed to finish going up the various levels of Castle Alamar. Level 2 had a large area full of rings of elemental power, with four "sundials" in the corners. If I tried to walk in the elemental area, I got dumped back to the first floor. Clearly, I had to set the dials, but to what?
   
For some reason, I expected the answers might be found on the elemental planes, so I went back to the skywalk and revisited the Plane of Fire. That was a waste of time, but more on that in a bit. While I was there, I remembered that I'd taken screen shots of about 15 statues with various clues last time, so I went sorting through those. One of them said: "Nine is the time." I thus set all the dials to 9 and opened a way to a stone head in the center of the level who asked me Alamar's real name. I answered SHELTEM, and the way to the next level was open.
      
This is one way to avoid having to grout.
   
The next level had a bunch of individual squares of each of the four elements. I had to figure out the safe path. Again, a statue had my back. One of the statues in the basement had a long string of letters representing air, earth, fire, and water, and together they traced the safe path through the elemental forces and to the stairs.
   
The ending was anticlimactic in terms of our own participation. A cinematic took over as we went up the last set of stairs. It shows Sheltem sitting on his throne. "Come to me," he says, as the door opens. Someone from the party tosses Corak's soul box into the room. It lands on the floor; the lid pops open; and Corak emerges. 
       
I still don't understand exactly what these guys are made of.
       
"Corak?!" Sheltem screams. 
    
"Yes, it is I. You have nowhere to run, Sheltem."

"Nor do you!" Sheltem retorts. He takes off his helmet, revealing a scarred and burned face--half-destroyed, really. "I'm ready for you this time. This fight will be your last."
    
Then I shall head to Gotham City!
     
"I cannot fail!" Corak declares as their battle begins. We get about half a minute of the two entities casting spells at each other. Finally, Corak bounces some kind of energy beam off the ceiling and then Sheltem's throne, hitting Sheltem in the back and driving him into Corak's grip. 
    
This is just a bizarre-looking throne room.
        
As they grapple, Sheltem says, "Admit your defeat, Corak."
  
"I do," Corak replies. "Initiate self-destruct, Code zero-zero-one."
       
"Do not want!"
     
"What?! No! No!" Sheltem hams, as some kind of energy dissolves both entities as well as the floor beneath Sheltem's throne room. For some reason, the hole in the floor shows open space beyond, including a nearby planet. As their remains get sucked out into space, a bolt comes out of somewhere and blasts away Sheltem's tower. That seems like an unnecessarily thorough self-destruct sequence.
       
What are we even looking at?
    
The party then gets a winning screen, but of course things aren't over yet. The next screen has a note from the Dragon Pharaoh that the World of Xeen still needs us and that we should return to the Great Pyramid.
   
If you're interested, my score at this point was 2,523,228,511.
    
The game reloads in Castleview. We cast "Town Portal" to get to Olympus and then took the skyship to the top entry of the Great Pyramid. There, the Dragon Pharaoh outlined the steps necessary to bring about the final destiny of Xeen: turn on the four machines in the corners of the other side of the world, awaken the elemental sleepers on this side of the world, rescue Prince Roland, and open the way to the cloud world above Darkstone Tower. We had already rescued Roland, of course.
    
Much of the rest of the game was perfunctory. We visited each of the elemental planes in turn. Each had elemental enemies aspected to the plane: fire idols, water terrors, earth blasters, and whirlwinds. Some of them were hard to hit even for my high-level party, but they couldn't really damage us, and when we did hit, they died in one or two. Each plane had a single treasure chest with 1,000 gold and a few items. Each had a shrine that offered us an elemental "test," the purpose of which is unclear. And each had a statue that together told us the exact same things that the Dragon Pharaoh had just told us about how to win the game.
      
That sounds like a weapon in a Buck Rogers game.
   
From there, we returned to the Clouds side, where the only difficulty was judging how many squares to "Teleport" to the floating platforms in each corner. Once there, we activated four reflectors, each aspected to one of the four elements.
       
Maybe it doesn't know the words.
       
To open the way to the clouds above Darkstone Tower, I needed the Chime of Opening from the Southern Sphinx. I was somewhat annoyed by the dungeon. At Level 150, I still had to buff strength to open the coffins (none of which had anything anyway), my ninja failed at disarming most traps, and everyone kept getting cursed. It was trivial to drop a "Lloyd's Beacon" and zip over to Vertigo for healing and uncursing, however. The monsters were easy enough--dragon mummies and ghost mummies and phase mummies. Being able to kill them in one hit somewhat justified all the leveling I'd done.
   
When multiple dragon mummies don't bother you, it's time for the game to end.
       
Still, the dungeon seemed to be designed to troll me. There's a section of pendulum and blade traps that can tear apart even a high-level party, and a couple of enchanted candles wanted me to pay 2 million gold, each, to disable them. Who has that kind of cash at this point in the game? I nearly ran out of money having the temple cast "Uncurse." Then there were these barrels that just handed out 2 million experience points, as if experience isn't utterly worthless by this point in the game.
   
Either this is just to screw with players, or the game really has no handle on its own economy.
     
The sphinx was three levels, and it had the same sort of deal as the northern sphinx I explored a lifetime ago. We had to descend into the basement to find the letters that spell the sphinx's name, then speak that name at the stairway from the main level to the upper level. It was like the developers read my last entry, because as one final needle, they made the sphinx's name PICARD. 
    
Actually, I guess that wasn't the sphinx's name, but rather the mummy that rules the sphinx from his throne on the upper floor. He said he'd give me the Chime of Opening in exchange for a widget ("a hypothetical item of which its existence has never been proven"). We had one from ages ago. I couldn't remember why, but a check online shows that we got it for bringing Halon the Inventory a hot lava rock. Picard gave us the chime, and we warped out of there. Honestly . . . a "widget"? If you're the developer of this game, how do you not make Picard demand a Tribble instead?
     
If the revival series has any guts, it will end with Picard getting mummified on a distant, flat world.
       
I steeled myself for Darkstone Tower, forgetting that I'd already cleared it, so that was a nice surprise. I just had to return to the top staircase and go up to the cloud level. There, we met the game's final challenge: a pointlessly long spiral walkway with little signs advertising New World Computing's other games. It took a good 10 minutes to follow the path all the way to its terminus. I feel like they should have thrown in some combats here. 
       
Did you have to disable "Teleport"?
      
The walkway ended at yet another pyramid, and entering it triggered the endgame sequence for the World of Xeen expansion. You can watch it on YouTube, but I'll summarize it for the sake of completeness. The image shows a domed platform on the top of a very long pole--almost a space elevator. I have no idea where this is supposed to be. I guess maybe the final pyramid takes you there, but the in-game graphic doesn't show anything extending upward.
        
Where did this thing come from?
        
"And so the call went out to the people throughout the lands of Xeen that the prophecy was nearing completion," we learn. "They came in great numbers to witness the momentous occasion." As we're about to see, one hopes that they came in total numbers. On a dais surrounded by packed bleachers, Queen Kalindra and Prince Roland get married. Kalindra "presents" the Cube of Power and Roland "presents" the Scepter, and these artifacts are combined on something called the "Altar of Joining." 
         
The Ancients originally seeded each XEEN with three artifacts, but that got awkward.
         
A light bathes the room, shoots upward from the chamber, and reaches an apex in space above the world of Xeen, which we see now for the first time as it is: a thin rectangular wafer. (The terrain seen on the Clouds side is a pretty good match for what you find in-game.) The beam splits and arcs from its apex, with four separate beams going to the corners of the land and hitting the four reflectors. Somehow, these reflectors do less reflecting and more relaying, sending the beams around to the Darkside, where they form their own apex. 
     
My screen shots are going to be lag behind my descriptions for a while.
        
I'd love some geometry major to tell me what shape we have at this point. If the lines were straight, we'd simply have a couple of pyramids with rectangular bases (I don't believe "pyramid" presumes the base is square), joined at the bases. But instead, the graphic shows the lines arcing to each corner, forming something like a Reuleaux polyhedron but with a flat base.
   
Whatever the shape is called, the game pretends that two of them joined at the base basically form a sphere. A bunch more beams of light appear, giving shape to the sphere, which then turns solid. There's a final flash, and we're suddenly looking at a planet with continents and water and everything.
         
The original Xeen looks a bit like a Pop Tart.
      
This is not uncool, but there are a few problems. I have no problem with the idea that we just created a planet. The game already established that there are portals to the four elemental planes at the corners of the world. It's not a stretch to suggest that by opening those portals and using some combination of magic and technology, the ancients could channel and manipulate the elemental forces in such a way as to create a planet. I might have rewritten the terminology a bit. The "reflectors" might become something like "focusing beams" or something, but I'm otherwise down with the concept. 
       
See, to be "reflectors," there needs to be a beam coming out somewhere.
      
My issue is that the graphics suggests that the old two-sided Xeen forms the core of the new world. You literally see the sphere forming around it. I don't know if the sphere is hollow or solid, but either way, the people in that dome are in for a tough time. What I would have done is show the dome--which already looks like a flying saucer--popping off its spindle, heading up into space, and then firing the beam downwards. You could then imagine that it was like an ark, keeping the inhabitants safe until they could land on the new world. 
  
A better ending all around would have been to set the endgame in the core of the world rather than the clouds above it, then show the new planet sort-of "puffing" into existence out of the existing wafer. You could then pretend that the existing structures were preserved on the new world.
      
Okay, I'm with you so far, although we have to assume there's something in space causing the apexes to form where they are.
     
But sure, if I was willing to accept multiple VARNs attached to a CRON, I'll accept this. It's a cool ending to the lore of the series, and I wish the game had been more interested in that lore than making Star Trek references. Might and Magic is best when it gives you hints about its universe to ponder. Think about pyramids in general. What are we to make of them, and the clearly Egyptian themes like sphinxes and mummies and pharaohs? Is this just a clumsy borrowing of ancient Earth culture, or is there a deeper suggestion here that the Ancients visited Earth, or even came from Earth? (The answer is almost certainly the former, but it's more fun to pretend it's the latter.) Not only do we later encounter a pyramid on Enroth, but its guardians are called defenders and sentinels "of VARN." How does that jibe with previous lore?
     
See, this is where you lose me.
       
We never did find out what happened to the Might and Magic III party that supposedly "beamed down" to Xeen. If they were the original inhabitants of Newcastle, that doesn't explain how they later made it to Enroth. If the party in Clouds is supposed to be the same party, it doesn't explain why they don't have the same default names, or why they're busted back to Level 1. One possibility is that Enroth orbits the same star as Xeen--that it's that other planet you can see in many of the Xeen screenshots. The III party beamed down, got lost or had other adventures, and later hopped back into one of the two crashed ships and flew to the sister world.
     
A couple of days ago, commenter Jason Mehmel posted some excellent insights as to why the developers might have allowed such jarring transitions from serious plot to slaptstick comedy and nerdy references. In a concurring reply, P-Tux7 remarked both accurately and prophetically: "I'm pretty sure 'SUPER Goober'" was still burned red-hot into Chester's corneas when he watched the endings (the first of Darkside, and then Xeen as a whole) try to be awesome and heartwarming."
    
The simple fact is, I highly value good lore. It hasn't come up that often on my blog because so few games do it well, even through the 1990s, but I highly prize a good setting and backstory in which you learn little pieces of it as you explore. This is probably why Morrowind remains my favorite RPG, and why I feel so positively about The Elder Scrolls in general. The world-building is massive, and while a casual player will experience the major themes, names, and plot, I love that practically every dungeon I explore, every house I burgle, every NPC I speak with, is going to tell me something interesting about the world.
        
What's happening to all the people on Xeen?
       
You can count on one hand the game series that even attempt to build an interesting game world through 1993. Of them, I have to somewhat "write off" the Dungeons and Dragons games, just because you need so many external sources to really involve yourself in the game worlds. After that, you only have a few things left: Star Control, Starflight, Ultima, and Might and Magic might be a comprehensive list. In 15 years and 500 games, we have maybe four series that have any sense of world-building--one of the things that I most look for in a game--so I hope you can understand why I get so irked when developers undermine their own world-building with a bunch of nonsense. Being a fan of an ongoing setting is fun--see all the great discussions people have about the Star Wars and, yes, Star Trek universes, Babylon 5, Doctor Who, Brandon Sanderson's "Cosmere." Those fans forgive occasional lapses. The words are big and complicated, after all. Some of the most fun in fandom is trying to reconcile seeming inconsistencies or plot holes. "The author forgot" is never any fun. Let's find an in-universe reason that the Eagles didn't fly Frodo to Mount Doom or no one ever used the "Holdo maneuver" before. I want to find an in-universe reason that we never meet the Might and Magic III party on Xeen but they somehow show up on Enroth later. But that desire is weakened by every pair of flying feet and every mummy named "Picard." Why would I put effort into a setting whose author clearly didn't care? This is what gets Star Wars fans so upset about the last trilogy.
     
Scratch that theory.
      
"Your problem," you now want to tell me, "is that the Might and Magic series was never meant to be taken that seriously." First off all, sod of with the passive voice. I'll believe that it "was never meant" to be taken seriously when Jon Van Caneghem shows up in the comments and says so. Second, if an author doesn't want his work taken seriously, the least he could do is not tease the audience. Make it outright parody, like Keef the Thief. Don't make me believe in the Avatar and then send him to Mars. Imagine getting all the way to the A Dream of Spring and finding out that Jon Snow's parents are Lyanna Stark and Bozo the Clown.
    
Here, the opposite happened. By the end of my last entry, the New World Crew had gotten me to the point where I was ready to wash my hands of the entire series. Then, Xeen ends with a bunch of stuff that makes it interesting again. I don't like being yanked around this way. My memory is that it gets a little more stable with The Mandate of Heaven, but unfortunately it's going to be a long time before we get there.
   
Final Time: 44 hours

 

134 comments:

  1. PetrusOctavianusJune 12, 2021 at 1:11 PM

    Congratulations! Not so much with winning, but for having the stamina to complete the whole game and then not to be too weak and weary to ponder over the quaint lore.

    You got a better score than me, but I didn't complete the Dragon Clouds or even visit the Dungeon of Death, Southern Spinx or Darkstone Tower. So my lvl 90 characters ended with a 1,379 billion score on day 19 of year 616.
    So obviously being a completionist counts more than being effective for the scoring purpose.

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    1. I mostly only completed so many extra places because until the end, it's not easy to determine what is and isn't necessary.

      How would you have completed the game without visiting Darkstone Tower or the Southern Sphinx, though? There are necessary things there.

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    2. I wish I could remember. I copied and pasted something I wrote almost a decade ago.
      But I know that World of Xeen is one CRPG I will probably never replay, being my least favourite M&M games after MM9.

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    3. Gotta admit, by the end I'm exhausted just reading about this, and have trouble imagining playing through this much. I know I played 4 back when you did, and I think I rolled over into 5 a little but then I had to take a break. It's been a few years and I'm still not particularly tempted. There's just *so much* to all of this. I mean, I guess you get your money's worth out of it, but maybe it goes too far.

      I feel the same about the lore. I never loved the premise, and then as the series continued it feels like it just keeps shoveling more on, and it gets less sensical as it goes. At some point it seems like it would be better to start fresh than keep trying to make yet another pass over muddy waters to muddy them further.

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  2. Congratulations! You are now an ULTRA Goober!

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  3. I recall finding the Alamar/Sheltem battle pretty cool when I first saw it. Of course, I was a teen at the time; also I hadn't played the earlier games, so I didn't really know who these two are. I also recall finding the "combined" endgame pretty lame and tacked-on, and I had no particular reason to care about Roland and Kalandra. At least Mr. Dragon is from the intro movie, which I also found pretty cool.

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    1. Same here for the Sheltem battle. I found the combined endgame alright until Darkstone Tower, the Clouds and the ending sequence. So how are you going to top the Dragonlands and the Sheltem battle? With a simple puzzle, yawn-level opponents, a winding cloud path without obstacles and a lackluster ceremony with no sampled speech? Call me disappointed.

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  4. Mandate of Heaven is my fav in the entire series, played through it many, many times since its release. I wish more games went with that kind of freedom of movement + often complex dungeon designs. That's why I liked Wizardry 8 as well. Shame it's mainly just a Japanese series now.

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    1. I always say I like MM7 better, and I think I do. It has a better character development and skill system, some basic role-playing options, and even a kind of "sneak" system. But I'm sure I played MM6 a lot more times, so make of that what you will.

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    2. Mandate of Heaven seems to have benefitted from the change to something like the orderly AAA process of making games. I assume the change in mentality happened sometime between 5 and 6 when NWC was focused on other game series. There are still some hints of the old MM silliness (e.g. Temple of Baa, Q), but overall it's a more cohesive experience, taking itself more seriously and treating odd references as properly hidden Easter eggs.

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    3. I liked how MM7 could go seamlessly to turnbased combat.

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    4. I feel the size of MM7 is better, MM6 was a bit too super large and long. MM7 also had better char development, in particular the light vs dark choice forced an interesting choice in late-game magic, while in MM6 everyone just had all the best spells at the end.

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    5. Personally, I felt like the back half of 7 was really badly balanced and more or less requires the really good buffs to be able to do much, so that dragged it below 6 for me. The fact that I was trying to get everyone's final class upgrade at the same time and refusing to upgrade my cleric/priest/whatever they're called as a result is probably a big contributor to my opinion though

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  5. "Let's find an in-universe reason that the Eagles didn't fly Frodo to Mount Doom"

    The in-universe reason is that eagles are dicks. Yes, really.

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    1. I thought the eye would see them as they approach and blast them with an eye ray or something like that.

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    2. The in-universe reason is that the Eye of Sauron would see them coming a mile off, and they would be met with a horde of Fell Beasts and every Nazgul the moment they crossed into Mordor.

      For some reason Tolkien-haters just love this one though, and they won't give it up.

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    3. I brought it up as an example from another type of media. All I said was, "Let's find an in-universe reason that the Eagles didn't fly Frodo to Mount Doom." Your answer is fine. There's no Tolkien-hating going on here.

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    4. IIRC the books do a better job at explaining the eagles than the movies do, and for the movies they mostly look like a Deus Ex Machina; and that begs the question why they couldn't have Deus'ed earlier.

      Because well, Tolkien's books are not the easiest to read by 2000s standards.

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    5. I don't think Tolkien's books are any harder to read now than they were when they were released.

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    6. The main difference is they have competition NOW from thousands of more accessible Fantasy novels, and that was not the case when LOTR was first published.

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  6. Even as an adult I really enjoyed this game and its ending, and wasn't too bothered by the lore. It was a breeze to play through while I was recovering from surgery and even though I acknowledge that a lot of it doesn't make sense, it is at least imaginative.

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  7. Mandate of Heaven also has star trek references, sorry to say, but it does come across as generally more consistent at least.

    Maybe the Ancients just really like Star Trek

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    1. It also has a millennialist televangelist and his wife (with the silent 'e' dropped from their surname).

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    2. "Live Long and Prosper!" delivered in a vaguely British accent in a less than vague medieval town in a game in which the most powerful weapons are laser rifles.

      Might & Magic is a weird series.

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    3. I think it makes a big difference that in MM6 these references feel like actual Easter Eggs, rather than necessary gameplay/puzzles.

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    4. I wish I could remember exactly where I read it decades ago, But I remember Jon van Caneghem writing that the Star Trek episode "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" (name checked in the first game, as I recall) was the main inspiration for the whole series.

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    5. That is actually quite interesting and would explain much as to inordinate number of Star Trek easter eggs and content throughout the series, in particular the 'tribute' given to the series in this final game, albeit a tribute that tended to overflow a bit more than it possibly should have. If Xeen was the farewell game in the series for Jon at the time, then it would make sense.

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  8. I can't stand the two Divinity: Original Sin games (the second one especially) for the same reason: they clearly don't take their world seriously. However, I'd argue Divinity does it worse than M&M because for a game with a throwaway setting it has SO MUCH text.

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    1. Yeah I'm not a fan of their writing either. I interviewed Swen for RPG Codex before the release of Original Sin 2, and he said they hired additional writers to give the game a more serious tone and better writing in general.

      I mean... he wasn't wrong, they did add some more serious writing. But they also kept the complete silliness in at the same time, which created a jarring contrast of encountering a silly comedy scene in one moment, and a gritty grimdark torture scene the next, followed by a stupid joke, followed by companion character development supposed to have an emotional impact, followed by someone telling a dumb anecdote that rhymes. It just didn't mesh well at all.

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    2. I had the same strong, negative reaction to those games' writing, which is a shame since I've heard they have good gameplay. If you're going to make me read reams of text, it should be worth reading!

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    3. I honestly didn't care much for the combat, either. It seemed very rock, paper, scissorsy, if that makes any sense.

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    4. I definitely agree. I really enjoyed other cRPG elements of the D:OS, especially its combat system, but the silliness of the gameworld and the lack of any serious lore completely destroy the immersion.

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    5. I'm with you on the Divinity games generally - the inconsistent tone constantly grates. (And also they insist on being regularly homophobic and misogynistic - every gay character is mad or a villain, almost every women is either a slut or a villain or both.)

      Despite all that, Divine Divinity remains a pretty great take on "what if Diablo was an RPG", and Divinity 2 is solidly entertaining for its (fairly short) duration...

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    6. I add my voice to being turned off by Divinty OS. I played about half the 2nd one and really got tired of it. It makes me anxious about Baldur's Gate 3, but hopefully their tone is better there... (I haven't played the early access, waiting for the full game and reviews)

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    7. @GregT oh yeah, old-school Divinity was pretty interesting. The first game's weird mash-up of Diablo & Ultima 7 was pretty compelling, even if balance was all over the place.

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    8. I agree with all these comments about the two Original Sin games. The tone is all over the place, and the pacing makes following the story really difficult. The sexism and sense of humor are also real turn offs, although I guess they appeal to the core audience. They are still such mechanically interesting games on the highest difficulty level that I think they're worth playing.

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    9. No, no, you guys just don't understand. Divinity was Never Meant to Be Taken Seriously. Your failure to enjoy it despite its constant shifts in tone is a character flaw that suggests a lack of joie de vivre on your part. I much prefer Divinity to games that Take Themselves Too Seriously, because that's definitely a thing. Like, once I failed to finish a game and two guys from the studio showed up at my house and kidnapped my family.

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    10. I thought the original Divine Divinity was fine in its tone and amount of text. But Original Sin had lots and lots of text, especially loredumps, which you never really cared about because it didn't take itself seriously. Why would I read paragraphs of history when the game treats it all like a joke anyway? I mostly just skimmed through the walls of text and concentrated on the gameplay, which was pretty enjoyable.

      In Original Sin 2 they tried to address the issue of the writing by adding some more serious quests, companions with character development, a couple of emotional scenes... but there was still the same amount of uninteresting loredumps, silly humor, and deliberate parody of high fantasy cliches as before.

      I like the silliness of Might and Magic, but the constant shift in tone that Divinity Original Sin 2 has is very hard to get into. At one moment you're chuckling at a stupid joke about fantasy cliches, and the next you're supposed to feel emotional about your companion's troubles.

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    11. Chester have you played the Original Sin games, curious on your take on them even though it would take years to get there.

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    12. No, I'm completely ignorant on that series.

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    13. Didn't get the joke about the two guys at the studio. Is that somewhere in the game or a reference to a TV sitcom or something?

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    14. I was just trying to come up with what it could possibly mean for a game to "take itself too seriously," which is a phrase that has come up multiple times in retort to my annoyance at this game's frivolity. I feel like it's a nonsense phrase.

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    15. The most infamous example of a game taking itself TOO seriously is probably Daikatana. In terms of CRPGs, I'd say a good example is Wizardry 6, which insists on being not a game but a "fantasy role playing simulation" and has a lot of bombastic text exalting its designer. Wasn't there a game that was marketed as an "Ultima Underworld killer" despite falling far short of that lofty goal? That would also be an example, imho.

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    16. I think you're mixing up different kinds of taking something seriously. Marketing is one thing, actual game tone another. Wizardry VI had a naked BDSM vampire and a character that screamed, "I yare the toll troll!" No game that involved David Bradley was ever "too serious."

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    17. I would say Daikatana itself didn’t fall foul of taking itself too seriously, but rather a mixture of its marketing being really dumb (which Romero totally agrees with) and the game being buggy due to relatively poor project management. The game itself was fine, nothing too special but nothing awful either.

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    18. I mean yeah, its marketing was also bad; but the game itself was considered (by Romero, at least) to be the be-all-end-all of FPS'es. It's fun to read about his rockstar approach, but marketing really isn't the only thing that took itself WAY too seriously.

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  9. The high point of M&M lore comes not in the mainline RPGs, but in the Heroes spin-off. Kinda ironic because you can just skip all the lore in HoMM, as it's not required for the gameplay, unlike an RPG where knowing what your quest is is kinda important. I wonder if you're going to give the HoMM series a shot. They're strategy games but they have some RPG elements to them.

    HoMM 4 has the most prominent RPG elements, with you being able to use heroes as units on the battlefield, and it also has some of the best writing in the series. Too bad it suffers from a terrible AI and some questionable design decisions.

    Oh yeah, and HoMM4 has one of the best video game soundtracks of all time. It's absolutely magical. Turning it off during gameplay should count as a crime ;)

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    1. Sadly, HOMM4 was a crime against HOMM. I suspect most people went back to the infinite content of HOMM3 without playing much of it.

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    2. Personally, I've wanted to get into HoMM, but then I run into the problem of being godawful at any strategy game that isn't an SRPG like Fire Emblem or something similar

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    3. I definitely would say that Heroes IV has the best writing in the series. (at least, the main game does; the add-ons have goofy excuse plots)

      In terms of gameplay, Heroes I was the worst in the series, a downgrade even from the original King's Bounty. Heroes IV is heavily flawed, but so are Heroes II & V, and while none of them is up to the level of III that game has a bit of an unreasonable halo affect around it in the fanbase.

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    4. Funnily enough, the first one's the only one I've beaten. I got a good way into 2's campaign before getting stuck, and for 3 I didn't realize beating a campaign only affects the save file and not the whole game until after I had beat all the starting ones and realized I'd have to replay some of them. I never got around to doing that because replaying fixed content is one of the few things that will actually get me to quit a game... even if it's entirely my own fault.

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    5. Ah, I didn't mind HOMM 4 that much. Not as good as 3, but still fun. It was 5 that ruined the series for me. The shift to 3D graphics was terrible, and it's got to be the single worst voice acting job I've heard anywhere. I started and stopped in disgust multiple times before finally getting through it.

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    6. To be honest, Heroes I was bad, even compared to contemporary games and I get the feeling every time I hear hate on Heroes 4 that the person isn't quite aware of what a slog Heroes I could be. I mean now we have Heroes VI and VII and the metaphor one person used for them as someone's Deviantart work feels appropriate from what I've seen.
      Heroes IV did a really good job in adding heroes directly to the combat, its a shame the sequels didn't try improving on that formula instead of trying to make a new and improved version of Heroes 3.

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    7. I really liked Hereos 1 back than. But I also sem to be one of the few to really like the 4th entry.

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    8. I enjoyed Heroes 4, it had some major issues but it was still fun. And its amazingly pretty visuals and soundtrack more than made up for the bad gameplay elements!

      I liked the heroes being part of combat, the only thing I didn't like about the game was the lack of unit upgrades and the fact that you had a limited amount of building slots, so you couldn't recruit each unit type in each city. Combining inferno and necropolis into one city was also questionable.

      I agree with Quirkz, I had a much harder time getting through Heroes 5 due to its presentation. It had those cartoony and overly bright 3D graphics that made it hard to look at for me. The massive brightness tired my eyes.

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    9. I really liked Heroes I both as a single player and multiplayer experience, though it did not age well and suffered from God-awful balancing.
      Heroes II is better than Heroes I in pretty much everything though while offering almost exactly the same type of experience/ruleset. Heroes III is probably better than Heroes II, but it plays a bit differently than Heroes II so both still have their place today.
      And yes, I loved Heroes IV, though it is also an unbalanced mess.

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    10. The continuity between HOMM3 and the Enroth M&M games was great, riiight up until they destroyed the world.

      Just, why? Why spend all that time trying to build continuity only to throw it in the garbage? Not to mention getting cold feet on the Forge faction. What a waste.

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    11. I also liked HoMM 4. It was like someone read my mind when making it. It has everything I wanted from the game ever since I played HoMM 2: heroes on the battlefield and units moving without heroes and ability to send units to another town (via caravans). Well... Frankly, those changes weren't all for good - but at least I liked how EASY the game was - I could never complete HoMM 3 campaign, but HoMM 4 was easy enough (and sometimes too easy). And at least it wasn't HoMM 5 or (shudder) 6...

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    12. Thanks, GB. Let's hope I can forget that by the time I play the games.

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    13. GB, I couldn't find confirmation online, but I think that after HOMM4 the franchise was taken over by a different publisher, that got the rights for the HOMM name and its look and feel, but not for the world that HOMM and MM shared (Enroth). So they had to invent a new world for HOMM5.

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    14. The Might and Magic IP was bought by Ubisoft after the demise of New World Computing. Ubisoft then created their own new setting (which is even more generic fantasy than the original M&M, no sci-fi elements at all, and with a less interesting lore than the Enroth universe).

      HoMM 5 to 7, Might and Magic X, and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic are set in the new Ubisoft universe.

      HoMM4 and Might and Magic IX are not set in Enroth either, but in a different world which the population of Enroth (including some of the major characters from HoMM3 and M&M 6-8) entered through a portal when their world was destroyed. So it's technically a different setting but also not.

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    15. GB's claim that the continuity was "thrown into the garbage" isn't quite right in that regard. It's still the same overarching story. Just that the planet changes.

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    16. > Dark Messiah of Might and Magic

      I'm glad someone mentioned the best game in the franchise. If Chet ever starts seriously considering the "play some later games" idea, tracing the progression of Arkane's aspirations to be Looking Glass 2.0 would be pretty interesting.

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    17. That's not really an RPG though, more of an FPK: a First-Person Kicker. There are some leveling mechanics, and you can technically use magic if you really want, but mostly it's about kicking things into other things with your mighty foot.

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    18. If you like the Heroes soundtrack, then look on YouTube for the Heroes Orchestra and the Heroes Piano Sonatas. Paul Anthony Romero was a child prodigy, and his music is a treat to hear on nothing but real instruments.

      Personally, I felt Heroes III was overrated because it just added quantity improvements over the previous games. (Okay, there was a wait button in combat.) It ended up so bloated that you would have multiple support heroes running circuits collecting weekly resources, and giving every unit an upgrade was tiring. Hero chaining to bring your fresh troops to the front was an embarrassing exploit. Heroes IV solved some of these but came with its own.

      The series has a fond place in my heart but too often it rewarded winning combats bloodlessly to steamroll the maps. Partly the problem is it's a strategy game, so conquering the map will eventually enable you to overcome the opposition, making victories anticlimactic. It's why I prefer Mage Knight, which resembles Kings Bounty and Heroes on the tabletop.

      Sorry to hear about your cat, Chet.

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    19. With my brother we spent a lot time playing HOMaM I when it came out. In that time it was a great game for us. After HoMaM II were of course much better, nice graphic and absolutely great soundtrack (orchestra melodies in towns). I enjyoed also HoMaM III, although in that time maybe I liked litte more fairy-tale graphic of HoMaM II than more "realistic" graphic of HoMaM III. HoMaM IV were completely different in many things, but I liked them too, there were interesting branch for me. HoMaM V were little hard for me to get used with them, with that 3D view and all. I needed more time before I was able to play them somehow more. And VI and VII I just tried, I have them on my playlist, but they seem to me somehow quite similar with V.

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    20. Even if Chet ever plays Dark Messiah of M&M, I doubt he could come up with a better genre title than First Person Kicker - that is perfection, Anonymous.

      1UP's alternate title for DoMM "The Adventures of Sir Kicksalot Deathboot in the Land of the Conspicuously Placed Spike Racks" is left in a distant second place.

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  10. Fell Beasts. That's why the eagles do not fly directly to Mt Mordor, because they would be seen by the Eye of Sauron who would send the Fell Beasts after the eagles. Complete with Nazgul riders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tolkien-haters gonna hate, even when it's in a totally unrelated thread about a video game and not about the book. They just have to bring it up.

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    2. Nobody is "hating" on Tolkien in this thread or in my original comment, Harland. You're creating unnecessary controversy.

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  11. I think the explanation I've seen that works best is that *two* parties left Terra. One, the party of custom characters created by the player, crashed on XEEN, while the other, the party of default characters that the player stripped of inventory and forgot about, missed the target and ended up going to Enroth instead.

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    Replies
    1. The idea is kind of funny that a level-1 party sneaks after the Mighty Heroes (e.g. to touch that statue that is required in the Maze From Hell) and never levels up because there's nothing left to kill. I'm not sure how they got into the control rooms without a keycard, though.

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  12. >If you're the developer of this game, how do you not make Picard demand a Tribble instead?

    Did Picard ever see Tribbles? I thought that was in the original series, but not TNG.

    If he didn't, maybe a more thematic thing to bring him would have been four lights.

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    Replies
    1. A cup of Earl grey tea?

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    2. Or a Ressikan flute (from the TNG episode "The Inner Light").

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    3. Right. Picard had never seen a Tribble. Which is why it would fit in with his request for something that he's never seen.

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    4. I don't think it would exactly fit Picard's personality to be all, "There's this thing I've never seen, but I hear it was a charming but massive menace that threatened to eat all the grain in the universe before the Klingons wiped it out. Bring it here!"

      Maybe not after being mummified for thousands of years.

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  13. I'm completely with you on how silliness undermines the quality of the core Might and Magic series - although not so much with you on the quality of the Elder Scrolls' lore, which, although it certainly takes itself a little more seriously, is a world that I've always found highly tedious and generic and completely devoid of memorable characters worth caring about. (Lucky the gameplay's outstanding, then.)

    In terms of the D&D games, I *think* we start to see games from this franchise going forward that successfully do the necessary worldbuilding within the game itself, rather than relying on existing familiarity with worlds and characters. My memory of the Dark Sun games is that they're a better introduction to that world than the novels or the tabletop game, in many ways, and I *think* Menzoberranzan stands on its own feet. Baldur's Gate and the Infinity games are certainly wordy enough that no prior knowledge is required.

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    1. While some of the Elder Scrolls lore is tediously related (appropriately so, maybe, considering the type of history book they're making pastiche of), there are a few stories that were moving, I thought. I remember one in Daggerfall, 'The Asylum Ball' being quite sad. Even for a mad emperor, it's a terrible shame for no one to show up to your party.

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    2. I could never get Daggerfall to run long enough without running into some game-eating bug to actually enjoy it much!

      But also I recognise that some people just love Elder Scrolls lore to death (for some reason), and it's not a trivial number of people, and they're allowed to like what they like.

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    3. The DarkSun novels (there are quite a few) are also very good, and the games were way ahead of their time.

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    4. I love "Elder Scrolls Lore", put in quotation marks because I only like Morrowind-era TES lore, which includes parts of Daggerfall, Battlespire and Redguard. The retcons they introduced in Oblivion complete killed the series for me lore-wise and I personally don't consider them canon. (Not to mention that Oblivion also cut out most of my favorite features from Morrowind; that game never received a proper sequel)

      I'm more interested in the output of the Tamriel Rebuilt and Project Tamriel modding teams than anything from Bethesda. TES has strayed so far from Morrowind, it may as well be a different series now.

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  14. If you're this bothered by the silliness of the Xeen games, then Betrayal at Krondor might get an overwhelmingly positive reaction from you. The contrast is striking.

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    Replies
    1. I mean just so you don't think I've lost all sense of priority, here's how I rate my "botheredness" over the Xeen games against some other recen things:

      MORE BOTHERED
      -One of my cats is in kidney failure
      -I discovered one of my students plagiarized on his final paper
      -The silliness of the Xeen games
      -Dunkin' Donuts gave me jelly-filled munchkins in my assortment even though I explicitly said "nothing frosted and nothing filled"
      -My alarm failed to wake me up and I woke up 15 minutes late

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    2. I just don't blog about those other things.

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    3. Ouch, plagiarism always sucks. Especially when it comes from a student you worked with for a whole semester, and expected to deliver at least a passable paper.

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    4. I just don't blog about those other things.

      I want the jelly-filled munchkin story to somehow relate to the difficulty level of Wizardry IV.

      :( about cat. Take a blog break if you need to! We'll be ok!

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    5. Totally by coincidence, my Ye Olde Village Cart is having a sale on torches and pitchforks if anyone is up for mobbing that Dunkin. Munchkins should NEVER be frosted nor filled!!

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    6. Thanks, Jason. She's 18 years old, so she's had a good long life.

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    7. All the best to your cat, mr. Addict!

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    8. That's ultimately what did my little black kitty in. My condolences.

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  15. If Xeen is so thin, I wonder if people on the Darkside get noise complaints from the Cloudside, and vice versa.

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  16. My favorite theory: Enroth IS Xeen. After "X.E.E.N. project" became the planet it was renamed so. The party from M&M3 was in stasis, just like Corak, in the spacecraft you can visit in M&M7. The spacecraft (or escape pod) itself has sunk somewhere on Clouds and ended up in the ocean of Enroth.

    Also, for me it was sad to watch the Xeen becoming a planet. Xeen was one-of-a-kind world. I especially liked the amber skies of the Darkside. If you can create such a world, make it functioning and habitable, then why make a planet from it afterwards? To watch how the whole world population struggles to adapt to the new place? And the people of Xeen will be SO happy to learn, what now they have to live with earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, etc. Something they never had to deal with on the artificial world.

    Such sci-fi stories always put me off. One of the ultimate goals of scientific and technical progress is ability to construct things like Dyson spheres, to utilize vast amount of energy and make humanity independent from living on a planets.
    Those Ancients behave exactly as the usual god-like aliens from the Star Trek, ones who like to toy with humanoids purely for their own amusement. Maybe it is their intentional portrayal, if you get past the more goofy shout-outs.

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    1. Unfortunately, the opening cinematic from MM7 shows the MM3 party arriving on Enroth in the space ship, so it couldn't have just "been there all along."

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    2. When XEEN inflated into Enroth, the MM3 party's spaceship was lofted into a suborbital trajectory like when a fat guy jumps on an airbag with a little kid on it. This explanation perfectly blends the science-fiction themes of MM with its utter disdain for achieving a tone above slapstick.

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    3. X marks the spot. This is my canon now.

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  17. Assuming the people on Xeen somehow end up on the new planet's surface, what's to keep them from being under the ocean or inside a volcano once the planet is finished? Even if that's accounted for, civilization as the Xeenites knew it is probably destroyed due to the population being suddenly redistributed over a much, much larger area.

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  18. "Initiate self-destruct, Code zero-zero-one."

    This very close to the destruct sequence for the Enterprise from "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" in TOS, and the destruct sequence in Star Trek III.

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    Replies
    1. That's amazing! I've got the same combination on my luggage!

      Delete
    2. I did spend some time wondering what that meant. Is "Code zero-zero-one" the TYPE of self-destruct that Corak is engaging? Like maybe there's a "zero-zero-two" that's a bit less ostentatious? Or is "zero-zero-one" the password to confirm the self-destruct sequence? If the latter, that would be like James Bond setting his password to "password."

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    3. Zero-zero-zero destruct zero blows charges throughout the ship giving the limited destruction you saw in the film. Zero-zero-zero destruct one overloads the warp core and has a much larger blast. Its used to try to take your enemy with you, and is never used near an inhabited world. I remember way too much of Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise.

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    4. Palpatine:"Execute order 66!"

      Couldn't help wondering what the other 65 orders were about.

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    5. Order 61: Get Vader to fetch me a creamy latté with a scone

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    6. The other general orders were explained somewhere. Order 66 was sandwiched among "arrest the Senate", "Arrest the chancellor" type orders that were supposed to be fail-safes against treason. Which is something that could so easily (and with a better filmmaker probably would) be mentioned on-screen.

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  19. That was a really weird trip indeed. I still think that the whole Xeen is a cool gameplay loop in search of a game. And it is very cool, but it is also very modern in the way it makes you repeat it one thousand times.

    I guess that with a bit more cohesive worldbuilding it would have been considered a classic.

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  20. Congrats & thanks! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your adventures in Xeen.

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  21. It just struck me... why does the Pharaoh say that HE saved your game and asking you to reload in Castleview? Is that fourth-wall-breakage really necessary? Why does the Darkside extro require that you return to the main menu and reload in the first place?

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    1. IIRC you don't get that same blurb if you beat an unlinked Darkside

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  22. "My last entry must have been maddening for anyone who knows the game well. I was minutes from winning, but I kept allowing myself to get distracted."

    Zeus: "Since the top is guarded by an undefeatable mega dragon, you should go in through the front gates."

    Chet: "Suck Xeen Slayer Sword, Mega Dragon!"

    Anyway, I disagree when you write, "I'll believe that [the Might and Magic series] 'was never meant' to be taken seriously when Jon Van Caneghem shows up in the comments and says so." We don't need the author's voice to infer its silliness. For example, Might and Magic II allows you to travel through time via a reference to Rocky and Bullwinkle, posts Jean-Luc at a teleporter to "energize" you to a different city, and has characters named "Sir Kill," "Jed I," and, "The Spaz Twit." The games' silliness is too internally consistent and frequent to be coincidental. I'd feel differently if the Red Dwarf Mines were all they gave us.

    I find your second counterargument more persuasive: Darkside's story sets high stakes but then undercuts them. Maybe you can ignore Harry Kari the ninja, but if you're killing flying feet and solving puzzles with Star Trek references (Tomb of Varn *cough *cough*), then that cheapens the narrative's force.

    I wonder if the problem isn't so much filling up content so much as the series' tendency to save the sci-fi stuff as an endgame reveal, much like a bait and switch. If it wants to go that route, it can't really have the players working toward that goal throughout the game doing RPGey things. That's why you're collecting energy discs and not rallying the monsters of Xeen to lay siege to Castle Alamar.

    (Funnily enough, the "lore" of Might and Magic's sci-fi universe obliquely appears at the beginning of Heroes of Might Magic I (in the story in the manual) but then plays no role whatsoever in the outcome.)

    I'm curious what those who like the silliness as a contrast to other CRPGs' alleged "self-seriousness" think.

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  23. Kind of surprised on comments about the silliness of Might & Magic since it was most definitely a feature since the first game with the whole Fantasy/SciFi mishmash... honestly I always find it refreshing for a game to be presented as a game. For more mature and tactical experiences there is always Wizardry.
    Verrrry interested what you think of Grimoire; it’s mechanics and combat is definitely based on Wizardry 7 but it’s lore and writing is more Might and Magic

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    1. The fantasy/scifi mishmash is not what makes M&M silly.

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    2. I really, really love scifi-fantasy mashups that take themselves seriously. Like a pen and paper RPG currently on Kickstarter named Atlas: Rise or Die. Check out the artwork on that one. It takes itself entirely seriously in that cool 80s fantasy way. It has the ruins of ancient spacefarers, combined with savage sword and sorcery fantasy of dinosaur-riding Amazon women and sabertooth-wrestling barbarians.

      That stuff is great. I love mashups of classic fantasy with classic sci-fi, in a setting that plays it completely straight rather than as a parody.

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    3. I would say that you can keep the silly but make it consistent. Actually I don't like calling games serious or silly, I mean, they are GAMES, they are done for entertainment and fun. And there is a long tradition of twists like the one a the end of m&m in the scifi classics or even fantasy worlds that turn out to be a science fiction package. I mean, that is the cool side of fantasy and science fiction, letting the imagination go wild. Problem in this one is that there is barely any consistence in the world building and it would not have been that difficult to create a leading arch between the different castles or make the lore go in a particular direction. Or maybe it was difficult, who knows, maybe Xeen was actually many people creating levels and lore at full speed and without time to frankenstein it all.

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    4. Fantasy and Sci-Fi combined can make a compelling story that's not goofy or childish. The problem is that American game designers in the 80s hadn't read Moebius, so they were trying to smash together 60s TV shows with Dungeons & Dragons and none of it went together at all.

      Delete
  24. Watching the last two Star Wars movies is like watching your parents fight.

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    Replies
    1. It was definitely a strange choice for Disney to let two guys who hate each other alternately direct each movie in their big trillion-dollar tentpole trilogy. Both of them going "Nuh-uh, the last movie was dumb and stupid and dumb! This is what REALLY happened!" and spending the whole film undoing each others' work. Someday a riveting tell-all book will be written about that whole debacle.

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    2. In fact I'd rather compare those movies to two spoiled children fighting over a toy until they break it in half.

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    3. Being a long time unapologetic Star Wars fanboy, it was hard for me to come out of TLJ and ROS thinking "Wait... did I not enjoy that?"

      It's too late for me to decide that I don't like Star Wars anymore, so it's good for me that The Mandalorian makes up for every bad Star Wars movie and then some.

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    4. Wikipedia reveals TLJ, directed by Rian Johnson has won 9 awards in various award ceremonies. Conversely ROS, directed by JJ Abrams has won only 2. So there's that nugget to chew on.

      However neither move was good enough to win an Academy award at all, something I already expect from any movie directed by Abrams.

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    5. I went into the cinema (for IX) wondering: 'Am I still a Star Wars fan?' and over the course of the next couple hours determined that I wasn't.

      I found The Mandalorian pretty ordinary. The plots aren't great and the main character is much more a Disney hero than he is a bounty hunter.

      Didn't help Mando that I was watching The Expanse at the same time.

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  25. I think that process of 3derising a plane gives you an octahedron with bulging faces.

    Gravity would pull it into a spheroid shape over some time period - I think it'd start out pretty tectonically unstable.

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  26. All that Egyptian and "ancients" stuff just screams of good old Erich von Däniken and the ancient astronaut hypothesis. UFOlogists tend to love that shit, too. I'm guessing devs inspired by SF and with the general level of silliness in MM-lore, would not be above going to that well, too.

    Hell, ancient South American culture gets dragged into stuff in MM6-8, too. Together with Space Egypt, the MM-series could easily be interpreted as a parody of what a lot of UFO-people believe in...

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  27. > "Your problem," you now want to tell me, "is that the Might and Magic series was never meant to be taken that seriously." First off all, sod of with the passive voice. I'll believe that it "was never meant" to be taken seriously when Jon Van Caneghem shows up in the comments and says so.

    The butthurt is strong, I see. You wouldn't spend this amount of paragraphs if you weren't peeved so stop pretending it's no biggie in the comments. I recommend trying the most recent Von Caneghem's game I know, called Creature Quest (2017). Available exclusively on mobile platforms, this bears almost all of the hallmarks of classic JvC production, including: a) gorgeous creature art (might even be the same artist) b) silly, slapstick humor that you so much despise in your RPGs c) pop culture references galore. The only two things missing are the plot (who needs one in a mobile game?) and intricate RPG system, arguably replaced with a gacha "let's upgrade every number we can see and then some".

    I've found about the game on Matt Chat 366 which I also recommend viewing where you will see the man and his outlook on game design. And I quote the man himself (23:06): "In the first few games I really enjoyed putting in pop culture items, Star Trek and puns and puzzles that only someone who spoke fluent English would understand..." He proceeds to explain about a different thing, localization, but you get the point. That's obviously just his style and if you don't like it, fine, just stop being so combative about it. Moreover, 80s and early 90s was an era where games were made by amateurs, hence the sometimes amateur art, amateur college jokes and quite often amateur music and coding. Anything different will only happen in the later corporate years.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I've given your comment a lot of thought, and I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to continue to be "combative about it." Fortunately for you, there are other gaming blogs on the Internet.

      Delete
    2. On the contrary, how many of those blogs play old RPGs, do it consistently and write well about it? You've taken a niche and there ain't much competition as far as I know. So I'm staying *smug*. I was just stating the obvious, no hard feelings on my side. But it would be nice of you to admit that you were wrong about JvC's intent, though he did not yet grace us with his comments here.

      Another thought that I've formed while thinking about it is how both you and Digital Antiquarian very seriously try to review these games as works of art. I think that their amateur nature should be obvious to anyone so I find it weird how you don't cut them at least some slack. Like the writing, for example. There's only one game with big amounts of good writing from before the late 90s corporate era that I can think of (Betrayal at Krondor). The rest are just that, programmers doing their D&D campaigns. Sure, some Infocom games come to mind as something good in the writing aspect but they're not RPGs.

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    3. In the context of this blog, what does 'cutting some slack' even accomplish? Somehow I doubt it's Van Caneghem's feelings getting hurt here, so I encourage the Addict to be as frank in his appraisals as he would like to be. A relatively amateur or amateurish development effort shouldn't be any reason to go soft on what is overall fairly constructive criticism meant to establish a sort of baseline measure that encompasses the history of CRPGs. Both what our reviewer enjoyed and what he didn't enjoy are discussed in good measure and dissected. We can certainly disagree with his take (it doesn't invalidate our enjoyment of the games), but we shouldn't expect to hear anything less than his full thoughts on these games, either.

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    4. I prefer Addict's honesty. A lesser reviewer would have just given it a bunch of praise for being retro and moved on without elaborating. It's refreshing to see somebody that will admit that they dislike something about a "classic."

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    5. > In the context of this blog, what does 'cutting some slack' even accomplish?

      Plainly acknowledging we're dealing with amateur productions here won't undermine any criticism that follows. And that's what I mean by "cutting some slack" in this context. Same thing, IMO, praising retro for being retro is as bad as not noting that it's not exactly Shakespeare material we're dealing with here in any aspect.

      Delete
  28. "On the contrary, how many of those blogs play old RPGs, do it consistently and write well about it? You've taken a niche and there ain't much competition as far as I know. So I'm staying *smug*."

    So Chet is the only person writing about the games you like, therefore he has an obligation to agree with your opinions? Not sure I'm following.

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    1. You're reading too much into my words. I've stated what I've stated - I don't know any other blogs that do the same thing this one does, so I will continue to read it. That was in response to "Fortunately for you, there are other gaming blogs on the Internet."

      Delete
  29. "On the contrary, how many of those blogs play old RPGs, do it consistently and write well about it? You've taken a niche and there ain't much competition as far as I know. So I'm staying *smug*."

    So Chet is the only person writing about the games you like, therefore he has an obligation to agree with your opinions? Not sure I'm following.

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