Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Status Report (ft. Angband)

Does this scroll contain the "Jihad" spell?
    
My plan had been to spend March cleaning up my backlist with a quick succession of entries and finish off Angband in the background. I failed in both goals. I thought I was making progress on the list, but towards the end of the month, I checked MobyGames and found more new RPGs listed in the 1980s than I'd managed to clear. Ultimately, I've decided there's nothing to do but ignore them. I can't keep flitting around the 1980s playing pseudo-RPGs forever. I've already written about most of what's worth writing about, and the few exceptions aren't worth the rest of them. I'm still working on exactly how I'll operationalize my new plan while occasionally reaching back to the past, but that's perhaps a discussion for later.

[Ed. I didn't explain this part well. Here's what this means operationally. For the past three years, I've been alternating between games in my "current" year (the maximum year I've played) and games from the earliest year that I haven't yet played. For instance, around three years ago, I went: Star Control II (1992), Nemesis (1981), Ultizurk II (1992), The Keys of Acheron (1981), Magic Tower I (1992), Sorcerer of Siva (1981), and so forth. The problem is that earlier games keep getting discovered, so that the backlist is never fully cleared and I can never focus fully on the "current" year. What I'm working on now is a formula that gives a lot more priority to the "current" year, but that doesn't mean I'll never check out one of those earlier-year games. The ratio might just be 3:1 instead of 1:1.]
   
As part of my jiggering, I've done a couple other things. First, I've slightly changed my criteria for what I consider an "RPG." You can find the new definition in the FAQ. The new criteria don't really change very much, but they exclude a few games whose "character development" is largely illusory.
   
Finally, I'm asking you not to send me any more suggestions for additions to the list. If you care that much about a game that doesn't appear on my list, get it listed in MobyGames or Wikipedia, and I'll pick it up the next time I search those sources, which I probably won't do more than twice a year. I'm sorry if that bothers anyone, but I'm convinced that 98% of games worth playing were listed in those sources when I first started this blog 12 years ago. The quest to play every RPG that ever existed was never destined to succeed, and if I'm going to miss some games, I'd rather they were Catacombs of the Phantoms and Forest of Long Shadows instead of Fallout and Betrayal at Krondor
      
I try to clear a room of giant fleas.
   
That brings us to Angband. I sank another roughly 20 hours into the game during the month of March and I can't say I made a lot of substantial progress. There's no new way to express my opinion that the game is too long except perhaps to add a few obscenities, so I'll refrain from that. No I won't. The game is too goddamned long. It's too long even if you factor in the fact that some people like long games. It's too long even if you factor in the fact that I'm playing "conservatively." I can't say it any better than Jason Dyer did last week: "I find it astounding that the first variant people cranked out wasn't 'same game, but shorter.'"
   
It would be sensible to ask therefore why I'm still playing it. One answer that I'm tempted to give is that the character development and inventory acquisition loop is strong enough that it encourages you to keep playing. That would be a lie, though. The game certainly has a robust character development and inventory acquisition loop, but it ruins both by being--sorry for the redundancy--too long. Getting an upgrade every 30 or 40 minutes would keep me playing. In Angband, it's been more like every three hours.
   
Nonetheless, those aspects of the game are relatively strong, and tetrapod was right that I should talk more about inventory. It took me a while to understand what the game was doing, mostly because it doesn't start doing it in earnest until about Level 25 (out of 100). Essentially, item bonuses, materials, and effects are all variables that can be randomized--if not in any potential order, at least in a lot of them. So a random helmet might turn out to be a Steel Helmet [5, +3] of Seeing, or an axe may turn out to be an Axe [+4, +9] of Giant Slaying. As commenters pointed out, this randomization of items, materials, and effects has tabletop roots and was seen in Might and Magic III, but there it was less important because better materials far outclassed magic effects. I seem to recall that Might and Magic VI does it much better, and there it's even a bit more like Angband in that some items are named artifacts with multiple effects.
   
Before anyone gets too excited about this aspect of the game, however, remember that I'm playing a very early version of Angband, and I'm not sure all the effects you know and love are here. I've rarely seen anything attached to armor, for instance. But that could also be a function of the levels on which I've been operating. I suppose that's one of the reasons I've kept playing--to see how the game changes in different phases. The upshot is that I recently found a Lucerne Hammer Holy Avenger (+10, +10) [+3], with the last statistic referring to an armor class bonus. It does reasonably well.
       
My current inventory of wearables. There's a lot of room for improvement in the armor area.
      
Aside from the length, I'm disappointed in the lack of tactics compared to, say, NetHack. Maybe that changes, too, but up through my level, with my character, the only thing that seems to work consistently is to pound on enemies with my best weapon and teleport away when my hit points get too low. I have a spell for that purpose, plus a pile of scrolls to back it up when it fails. I have yet to fight a single named enemy that did not require this strategy. Missile weapons are horribly underpowered, and wands, staves, and rods that cast things like slow monster, sleep, and confusion never work against any monster that you really need them to. I'd like to experiment more with some of my cleric spells, but I need every point for "Portal" and condition-removing spells like "Remove Fear." 
      
Unique enemies seem to "shrug off" everything.
      
Beyond that, just a lot of miscellaneous notes:
   
  • My character is Level 28. I have no idea what the maximum character level is but the gaps have been getting longer. To get from 28 to 29, I have to earn 50% of what I've already earned in the game.
    
My current character sheet.
       
  • The lowest dungeon level I've managed to reach is 31. I understand that some of you think I'm playing conservatively. I don't know what to tell you. I'm already leaving enemies I can't defeat on levels that I abandon. Also keep in mind that there are no scrolls of "Deep Diving" in this early edition.
  • I've died three times, too, so if I was playing with permadeath, my "conservative" playing style would still have me on my fourth character. The most dangerous situation for me is getting blinded just as I reach the threshold where it's time to teleport away. Blinding prevents you from casting spells or reading scrolls. It doesn't prevent using wands or rods of teleport, but those haven't been common. 
  • Is there a common term for rooms like this? I keep encountering them on multiple levels--rectangular rooms with one entrance, packed with the same kind of enemy.
      
An unfortunate random teleport puts me in a room full of trolls.
     
  • I keep saying "teleport," but there are actually several kinds of teleportation. If I have it right, "Phase Door" moves you the shortest distance, "Portal" a medium amount, and "Teleport" to the other side of the dungeon. There are also items that "Teleport Level" to take you to an entirely different level, "Recall" you back to town, and "Teleport Other" to move a monster instead of yourself. Those last ones are effective in a pinch, but I'd rather teleport myself and know where the monster is.
  • Aside from the length, the number one thing I hate about the game is having to hit ENTER to acknowledge messages in the middle of combat. Having to toggle ENTER and attack or movement keys is horribly annoying for reasons that's hard to articulate unless you've played it.
  • The game is inordinately fond of packs of things, including orcs and different types of magical hounds. When you see them, you sigh because you're in for a battle against 50 of them.
          
A pack of black orcs swarms me.
     
  • I've come to regard getting feelings like "lucky" and "super good about this level" as curses because I almost always have to abandon the levels before fully exploring them. On the few exceptions, I don't think I've typically found whatever made the level so good.
  • I know they're supposed to present unique challenges, but I wouldn't mind if enemies who drain experience and enemies who corrode your items were driven out of regular RPGs. In a game as long as Angband, any reversal of a player's progress seems especially cruel.
    
An invisible ghost drains some of my experience.
   
  • Perhaps the most annoying (as opposed to just difficult) enemy I've encountered so far has been magic mushroom patches. There are usually five or six of them. They attack with enormous speed, at least a couple of times in between my movements, and they cause fear, cast darkness, and blink out of existence. When you hit a patch, you get these conditions multiple times per round, sometimes requiring a dozen or more presses of the ENTER key to acknowledge all of them. Their blink ability keeps them (usually) out of melee range and their fear ability prevents you from attacking them. The only thing that's worked is to take it easy and throw items or use wands. 
  • I'm guessing rooms like the one below are the ones commenters have referred to as "vaults." I've seen them on some levels but haven't been able to loot them because of the monsters inside. This one, for instance, was full of "hummerhorns," which self-replicated faster than my ability to clear them.
     
A "vault"?
   
  • Everything at these lower levels seems to be capable of causing slow, fear, confusion, or blindness, and I haven't found anything that protects against them. Most of them also seem faster than me, and I haven't found anything that increases speed.
  • +10 seems to be the highest that you can enchant weapons to hit or to damage. Every scroll I've read has failed after hitting that limit.
  • Potions that permanently raise your attributes are rare but a joy when you find them.
  • I'm surprised at how useful "Identify" is dozens of hours into the game. A NetHack character would by now have discovered every potential item, but in Angband, the appearance of items is gated by level, so I'm still encountering scrolls, potions, wands, rods, staves, and rings that I've never seen before. I just got a Ring of Free Action for the first time as I closed this session.
  • By far, the thing I appreciate most about Angband is how if you (l)ook at a monster, you get a full description of it, including its special abilities. If it's a unique enemy, you even get a little backstory. More games ought to be doing such things like this with item and monster descriptions.
       
A description of a generic enemy.

 A description of a unique enemy includes a little backstory.
     
For the thousandth time, as I play a roguelike, I wonder why the genre had to be so light on story. Instead of useless drunks and urchins, why can't we have actual NPCs back in town, or a king who offers radiant quests like Lord British did in Akalabeth? Instead of just unique enemies on each level, why can't they be generated with little scenarios explaining their presence? Why not random encounters, perhaps with a role-playing choice, between levels? I bought Irene Gloomhaven, the board game, for her birthday this month, and she loves it. I enjoy how the city and wilderness scenarios that you draw randomly from decks give a little extra flavor in between missions. Why didn't more RPGs take that kind of approach? I like RPGs for the way that they blend mechanics and story; I rarely like one of these two elements by themselves. At least not for 40+ hours. 
   
That seems to be a decent segue to our next game.

Time so far: 32 hours

125 comments:

  1. "why can't we have actual NPCs back in town, or a king who offers radiant quests like Lord British did in Akalabeth?"

    Maybe someone could build something akin to POR's council clerk Sasha and/or its proclamations board with the different missions into a roguelike? (This might already exist, I'm no expert on them.)

    Also, another potential motivation to pick up the "Revisiting POR" / module posts... ? Though now you have other games to look forward to.

    And I can fully understand the new approach. If at this stage someone really still unearths a "new" CRPG from the 80s which fulfills your criteria and would be considered that interesting to play & write about, said person can always put it on moby/wiki and write a (true) description intriguing enough to pique your curiosity.

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  2. For what is worth, I fully support your change of focus on how you deal with new submissions.

    It must feel a bit like the stone of Sysiphus thinking to have cleared a year only to find a new bunch of superobscure titles to review.

    I believe over the years since the start of the blog there has been a huge community effort aimed at preserving and recovering old videogames, which is of course a good thing.

    But there is just too much stuff to be reasonably covered by a single person, doing this as an hobby, with the level of detail of your entries.

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  3. Dungeon of Dredmor calls these rooms "Monster Zoo", and I think it works well - though a "Zoo" in DoD would have all kind of enemies. I guess it becomes a "Troll Zoo" here.

    Also, I call the shape of the room itself "double hull" :)

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  4. The official name for those 9x23 rooms with an inner 5x19 plain rectangular room full of thematic monsters is a "pit" if it's orcs/trolls/giants/dragons/demons in a neatly ordered pattern, and a "nest" if it's jellies (incl. molds, icky things, and mushroom patches)/animals/undead laid out randomly.

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  5. I don't see why you're agonizing over it so much. While you haven't used it much, you do have a point on the sidebar that you can ignore amateur efforts without anything going for them. As far as the '80s are concerned, the only thing you haven't played is Melee (1989), which has a (in)famous developer whose story ties into Wizardry.
    Further, I don't really see any point in you continuing to play Angband. You've given it its 6 hours; I think its entirely excusable for someone who's beaten the original Rogue and Fate, among many others, to give up on a game that makes him feel like he's on a death march. I can say from my own experiences on the matter that the games that ask this much from you are rarely worth it.
    I don't know if you plan on playing later versions of it, but if you do, you can give it its fair shake there.

    On the list, I feel like you should at least allow someone who's actually played a game and says you should check it out to check it out. Clearly if someone's going out of their way to bring it up then there must be something to it. Note, I said someone who has actually played the game. As such you'd have someone to blame if it wasn't. And it obviously doesn't apply to people just copy/pasting games from Macintosh game repositories or something like that.

    Probably comes off as harsher than I meant, but making yourself miserable over something that's supposed to be a hobby (even if you are getting money for it) isn't a very good idea.

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    1. Heck he beat Mission: Thunderbolt, that one took me literal months as a kid. (Of course the computers we had at the time took multiple minutes per turn when you got deeper into the facility...) Definitely nothing to prove with Angband.

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    2. Angbands are fun enough if you like grinding. If Chet wants to check out a more modern (but still fairly traditionally designed) roguelike, I'd suggest DCSS (Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup).

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    3. I concur with these sentiments. It's really okay to move on.

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    4. Full, winning game of DCSS only takes a few hours, which is nice.

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  6. Congrats on your acquisition of 'Gloomhaven', that's a wonderful gift. Heard only good things about it, but haven't played it myself. Anyway, enjoy the quality time away from keyboard. Cheers!

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  7. Ugh, sorry it's been so much of a slog -- I know I've been one of the commenters urging you on, but 30 hours to only get to dungeon level 30 doesn't sound that fun. I've only played version 3.5 and later, and in those versions it took me maybe 3-4 weeks of playing (also conservatively, with no diving) to get my first win, which is probably like 50 or 60 hours -- a commitment but way less than it takes to play Baldur's Gate 2 or a later Assassin's Creed game. As you say, those have plot and more change-ups in gameplay to keep them fresh, but mid and late game Angband, at least in the more recent versions, is pretty engaging! I can definitely see the desire to just call this one and maybe revisit a later version when you get to that point, but FWIW on inventory and vaults:

    Inventory - Lbh'ir whfg fgnegrq gb trg lbhe nezf jenccrq nebhaq gur vairagbel flfgrz, ohg zhpu bs gur sha bs gur zvqtnzr vaibyirf znxvat genqrbssf orgjrra vgrzf gung cebivqr fgenvtug pbzong nqinagntrf -- vapernfrq qnzntr, NP, orggre fcryypnfgvat, rgp. -- naq gubfr gung tvir lbh erfvfgnaprf gb fbzr bs gur ynetr ahzore bs qvssrerag ryrzragf (fvapr n fvatyr haerfvfgrq oerngu nggnpx pna bsgra xvyy rira n orrsl punenpgre, guvf cerggl zhpu qrgrezvarf juvpu xvaqf bs zbafgref lbh arrq gb eha sebz), gubfr gung cebivqr n xrl hgvyvgl orarsvg be bgure erfvfgnapr (RFC, erfvfgnapr gb pbashfvba) juvpu pna or fvghngvbany ohg ner ernyyl avpr jura gurl xvpx va, naq gubfr gung vapernfr lbhe fcrrq, juvpu nf lbh'er fgnegvat gb ernyvmr, vf onfvpnyyl gur tbq fgng. Gur frg bs hfrshy jnaqf, ebqf, naq fgnirf nyfb fgnegf gb ernyyl enzc hc naq tvir zber va-pbzong bcgvbaf, ohg bs pbhefr lbh pna'g pneel rirelguvat...

    Vaults - Gung'f abg n inhyg -- gur trarevp grez sbe jung lbh'ir tbg gurer vf V guvax "grzcyngrq ebbz", juvpu unir n qvfgvapg ynlbhg naq fbzrgvzrf fyvtugyl-orggre vgrzf (cvgf naq arfgf ner rknzcyrf gbb, ohg gurer ner nyfb zber cbfvgvir guvatf yvxr nzzb qhzcf naq cbgvba gebirf gubhtu gubfr znl be znl abg or va gur irefvba lbh'er cynlvat). Inhygf nyfb unir n svkrq ynlbhg, ohg gurl'er trarenyyl ovttre, hfhnyyl fheebhaqrq ol jnyyf lbh pna'g qvt/zryg lbhe jnl guebhtu, naq ner cnpxrq gb gur tvyyf jvgu bhg-qrcgu-zbafgref naq vgrzf. Gurl'er onfvpnyyl gurer gb yrg lbh gel gb chfu lbhe yhpx, fvapr lbh pna bsgra svaq ernyyl terng fghss whfg ylvat nebhaq ba gur tebhaq, ohg bcravat gur jebat qbbe be univat gur jebat zbafgre jnxr hc pna raq lbhe eha va n uheel. Gurl jbex ernyyl jryy jvgu gur vairagbel flfgrz, fvapr gur evtug xvg naq tbbq rarzl naq vgrz-qrgrpgvba nyybj lbh gb fgengrtvpnyyl qvt, farnx, gryrcbeg-njnl, naq svtug lbhe jnl gb gur uvturfg-cevbevgl ybbg. Gur inhygf ner gur znwbe frg cvrprf, va bgure jbeqf, gubhtu V qba'g guvax gurl glcvpnyyl fgneg fubjvat hc hagvy QYiy 40 be fb, ng yrnfg va 3.5 naq yngre.

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    1. Re: your "Vaults" note: Gur grez V'ir nyjnlf hfrq (naq urneq hfrq) sbe ebbzf yvxr gur bar cvpgherq vf "Yrffre Inhygf"; juvyr "grzcyngrq ebbz" znl or zber grpuavpnyyl pbeerpg, V guvax vg'f fgvyy cresrpgyl ernfbanoyr gb pnyy gubfr inhygf, rira vs gurl'er abg bs gur nznmvat naq greevslvat Terngre glcr.

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  8. Oh, and as for roguelikes with a story and/or quests -- ADOM I think is one of the first to really do this, and its initial 1994 release isn't too far off. There are also a bunch of Angband variants that add this sort of thing, too. While I've often felt the same desire for them in the abstract, I have to say that when I've played roguelikes that feature them, they haven't made as much of a difference to my personal experience as I thought they would going in. But curious what you wind up thinking!

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    1. True enough, except that ADOM's bits of plot and NPC quests are fixed rather than random-generated. I'd say its major innovation (for a roguelike) is its overland map.

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    2. There are some more recent roguelikishes that are even storier; Legerdemain, which calls itself "roguelike fiction," and Caves of Qud.

      Though the tradeoff is that since roguelikes are replayable eventually you see the story and you're still playing. Legerdemain even has fixed maps and checkpoints, so I wouldn't argue with anyone who said it wasn't a roguelike at all; though it somehow does have a roguelike feel to me. But, the idea seems to be that you don't have to get the same beginning of the story every time you roll a new character. But to a more experienced RPG player, maybe it's just an Ultimalike?

      (Also I only made it through a couple of dungeons of Legerdemain; there were a few things that mystified me, but I think ultimately my copy may have freaked out and kept me from entering a dungeon I needed to progress. And I've never survived two combats in Caves of Qud so I don't know what's going on there.)

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    3. That's interesting. I haven't found Caves hard with the early combats. Occasionally I have been overwhelmed with more "tactical" guys who have movement related powers rather than combat, but my games so far have generally fallen to either surprise jumps in difficulty so I die in one hit or, once, i got sucked down a conveyor belt into a dungeon and could not escape.

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    4. Does Legerdemain have permadeath? Or any documentation online of the plot such as a Let's Play or walkthrough, come to think of it.

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    5. AdventureMaterials: I may just need a guide to the early game or something. I just go somewhere and wind up in a fight and get murked. I think I may not be using my full powers.

      P-Tux7: In Legerdemain you can save once you reach a town (this happens shortly after you escape the first dungeon) and then, whenever you die, the innkeeper wakes you up and tells you you were having a bad dream. So no permadeath I guess, except for all my characters who didn't get out of the first dungeon.

      When it was first out the author sold a cluebook/walkthrough which was in the form of a novel, IIRC. According to the itch.io page for the game he still (as of 3 years ago) had some that he would sell if you worked out payment. I kind of think that maybe there aren't walkthroughs on line so as not to step on his revenue stream in this way! (Also it's pretty obscure.)

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  9. My experience with Angband is largely with later versions and subvariants, and those tend to be quite a bit faster in the early levels.

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  10. The "modern" theory of playing Angband is that you aren't supposed to kill everything on every level. You're supposed to go deeper than you can handle and gamble. The idea is to carry escape items like scroll/staves of teleport and teleport level or DESTRUCTION, along with resist confusion or resist blindness so you can actually use them. The second you feel any threat, teleport the hell out of there.

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  11. Ahh magic mushroom patches *shudder* I edited the Zangband monster file to make them appear ten levels later because they were so annoying >_>
    I've never beaten Zangband but have beaten Steamband once (in wonderland mode even). Despite that I would rather find a couple of specific artifacts that I've never seen in game than actually score a 'win' of the main quest.
    For you to play until you reach a victory seems a little excessive for this game (and maybe a few others) for the blog.

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  12. Going with the spirit of roguelikes, it would be interesting to have the story procedurally generated too. Or at least, procedurally modified from a base template.

    The realtime roguelike game Unexplored from 2017 generates side quests, puzzles and lore bits and scatters the "parts" around the levels. For example, in one level, you find a note with a hint for a puzzle. In three other levels, you find several statuettes. Then you find a room where you realize that the statuettes belong here and that the hint tells you how to set up the statuettes on pedestals. Do it right, and a hidden chest with a magic item appears. Do it wrong, and the puzzle "breaks" and can't be retried.

    Some clues nudge you to look for secrets in specific areas. Other hints foreshadow boss monsters and their weaknesses. The game tries to place the individual elements so the player doesn't run into a walking dead situation, for example with a locked door and the key on the other side.

    However, the overall story is not generated. It's just the classic roguelike quest to retrieve the Amulet of Yendor. But the generated quests and lore bits definitely make each run much more varied.

    In Unexplored 2, there will be more generative story elements. I'm curious how well this works. (It's in Early Access on the Epic store; I'm waiting for it to be available elsewhere.)

    ---

    Dwarf Fortress has a "world history" algorithm which generates the world and then simulates the passing of hundreds of years for the inhabitants. The historic events that happened in this simulation supposedly play a role during the actual game.

    https://www.dwarffortresswiki.org/index.php/DF2014:World_generation#History_2

    https://www.polygon.com/2014/7/23/5926447/dwarf-fortress-will-crush-your-cpu-because-creating-history-is-hard

    This could be used for other games, too. For example, System Shock, Bioshock and Prey have these audio logs about interrelated past events which unravel what was going on. Ultima Underworld has a backstory about how the current situation with the factions and NPCs in the Stygian Abyss came about. If the past events were procedurally generated, the variations would probably be similar (for example, it's always a dungeon where several factions were locked up), but the details would be different.

    This is still a rather manageable approach, I think. Another completely different approach would be to use a text generation AI like GPT-3 for the creation of the story, but I don't know whether this is suitable for reliable and completable quests and whether the story would stay sane.

    (What was the name of this little game/toy where tiny pixel characters - a princess, a hero, etc. - played out a tiny three-act story?)

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    1. I wouldn't say that Unexplored generates much of a story though - it's about as story-heavy as an average Dungeon Master clone. What it does brilliantly is generate levels and dungeons that have a logic to them rather than being a collection of random rooms connected by random corridors. But, again, that logic is more of mechanical nature since it has more to do with puzzles and exploration than with narratives.

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    2. For the pixel character three-act story game/toy, are you thinking of the demo of Storyteller by Daniel Benmergui, which is one of the epic indie game development stories of all time?

      The Wikipedia article has a screenshot of the 2012 prototype that sounds like what you're talking about: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storyteller_(video_game)

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    3. Thank you Matt, that's exactly what I was trying to remember.

      What's amusing about Storyteller is that the player sets up sequential scenes and the game then assigns fitting motivations to the characters. I wondered if this feature could be an inspiration for procedural story generation, but I'm not sure how it could work.

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  13. "For the thousandth time, as I play a roguelike, I wonder why the genre had to be so light on story" - when you get to play Daggerfall, you'll see why. I love the game, but its randomly generated quests are not it.
    Basically, the biggest problem is that roguelikes are meant to be played repeatedly, going through a few dozen characters before winning. Any sort of pre-made story - no matter whether fully fixed or procedurally built from a deck of pre-written event - will get stale and repetitive FAST. And the technology for procedurally generating narratives from scratch seems to have only arrived very recently. The only examples of games with procedural narratives proper that I can think of are Wildermyth (released 2019) and Weird West (releases tomorrow).

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    1. Well, this is why roguelites (roguelikes with meta-progression) were developed. Games like Binding of Isaac, Slay the Spire, and Hades.

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    2. Perhaps procedural narrative is something Roguelites allow, but are there examples of doing that? Just speaking for the one I'm personally involved with, Slay the Spire certainly doesn't have a procedural story. Rather it has bits of (mostly implied) story that you may pick up on while you're completing the multiple runs necessary to beat the game.

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    3. That's why I never became a big fan of roguelikes. When it comes to quests and encounters, they just can't compare to games with hand-made content. It's always just some random crap that starts to feel repetitive very quickly. After you've seen 5 procedural quests, you've seen them all. And encounters and level layouts start feeling samey too.

      I've played several roguelikes and at this point they feel almost indistinguishable to me. They all generate similar level layouts, they all have the same random placement of monsters, and if they have quests at all they're extremely generic fetch or kill quests.

      By now I have amassed over 2500 games in my Steam account, a lot of which feature proper hand-made content designed by an actual human, with purpose behind the layout of rooms and the placement of enemies.

      Roguelikes never manage to capture my attention for long, because their content is always very generic, mediocre, repetitive by its very nature. I might as well spend my time playing something more satisfying, like trying to beat the ridiculously hard encounters of Knights of the Chalice 2. Each and every single one of them was tailored by Pierre Begue to be as difficult for the player as possible.

      Roguelikes don't have this sense of purpose. You might encounter some easy monsters and some hard monsters, but which ones you meet is decided entirely by an unfeeling, unthinking algorithm that works within rigid level creation parameters. It can't think outside the box, and it can't generate anything truly complex that requires custom scripts and other fancier stuff.

      Handcrafted >>>>> procedural. Always. No exceptions.

      At this point in video game history, enough high quality hand-crafted content has been made that the very concept of procedural generation should be obsolete.

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    4. They are tactical / strategic challenges in an arena that you have learned. Procedural generation is the very point.

      Delete
    5. The high-sigma events that occur in procedurally generated games are fun and often make for good stories.

      THere aren't bad beats stories in chess!

      Delete
    6. It's not an RPG, but I recently played Prey: Moon rash and I think it did an outstanding job of combining story elements with roguelite elements. You repeatedly play through the same world with new story developments. But they also randomize a lot of the monster placement and add randomized blockages/obstacles. If a character dies, then the entire run is "failed" and you have to restart the sequence from scratch.

      Somehow, they managed to thread the needle on this one.

      Delete
    7. Din's Curse (and fairly well all other Soldak games) does a good job of staying action roguelike while building up a bit of a story. Villagers will give you randomised missions to kill named bad guys in level X of the dungeon. Sometimes these bad guys will get tired of waiting and defeat other named bad guys (becoming stronger) or will attack the village.

      When a character dies the monster that killed them will become a named bad guy too, that your next character can set out to try and defeat.

      Delete
    8. The future may be AI generated levels. The AI or learning algorithm custom builds the levels or encounters to the level of your party. Maybe even craft the story to go with it ;)

      Delete
    9. for me, it's the combination of procedural generation and difficulty/unforgivingness that keeps it out of the sweet spot; a crafted but hard or unforgiving experience is something I can grind at and "Git Gud", and a more casual procedural generated experience is something I can meander through and appreciate the uniqueness of the experience and marvel in the emergent complexity that derives from the generative system. But in a roguelike, I generally fixate on how each step might be my last, and don't have a chance to appreciate what's there - especially since if I get clobbered, it's not just my character but this whole WORLD that is gone, never to be seen again.

      Delete
    10. "At this point in video game history, enough high quality hand-crafted content has been made that the very concept of procedural generation should be obsolete."

      The implication here is that people resort to procedural generation due to a shortage of hand-crafted content, but that's obviously not the case. Look at the game randomizer scene: people are taking existing "hand-crafted", statically structured games and adding procedural elements. That indicates that people find value in the randomness itself, not just as a shortcut for producing new content.

      Delete
    11. I guess it's a quantity over quality thing. Randomizers give you more content for a game you like, but it's not gonna be on par with solid hand-made levels.

      I still play games with procedural generation, but not one of them has ever delivered the same quality of level design, encounter design, or quest design as a properly hand-made game. The only benefit is that you never know what's coming so it retains the surprise factor, but that is only partially true as procedurally generated content will soon feel samey because an algorithm can't think outside the box. And playing a hand-crafted game for the first time holds just as much surprise as a randomized game because you have no idea what's coming.

      When I look at the raw excellence of level design put out by Doom, Quake, Thief, Tomb Raider modders, I can't recall a single procedurally generated game that could even remotely compare in quality. Just take a look at the maps in Arcane Dimensions for Quake, the enormous Thief fan mission The Sound of a Burrick in a Wall, or the Tomb Raider map pack Himalayan Mysteries. Top quality level design that surpasses even most commercial releases.

      In the RPG space, look at something like Dark Souls with its semi-open interconnected world that allows you to sequence break and has many unique encounters that use the environment to challenge you, like the dragon on the bridge. Or look at the brutally masochistic encounter design of Knights of the Chalice 2, where each fight is designed to test your tactical skills, with enemy composition and environmental elements coming together to offer a unique challenge. There's one encounter with lizardmen who ambush you when you swim into a pool to retrieve a sword. You have to either fight with a penalty in the water or swim out while dealing with the lizards who don't suffer any penalties while swimming. A couple of turns into the fight, their priest summons a giant hydra.

      Procedural generation cannot reproduce that. And I haven't even touched upon quests yet.

      Delete
    12. The point of procedual generation is generally not to replicate the experience of hand crafted content. It's about creating a different sort of content for a different sort of play loop.

      The reason a lot of people dont like the radiant mechanics of bethesda games, is due to how the procedural content is implemented, not because procedural content its inherently worse.

      Delete
    13. Yes, exactly. Hand-crafted content may be generally better than procedurally generated content, but for some game experiences those advantages are marginal and the amount of content required makes a hand-crafted approach not practical.

      Think of the best roguelike games. Would they be better with 1,000 hand-crafted levels instead? I guess it's hard to argue 'no', but that would be an insane amount of work and I'm not sure it would be significantly better. Eventually the inspiration would wear off and I'm not sure you'd be able to tell the difference.

      Some game play experiences just aren't very content driven, and it's more important to create high stakes with large setbacks on failure while eliminating the roll of memorization and subsequent attempts. It's fine if you don't like those types of games, but you're missing the point if you just dismiss it with a narrow content-centric perspective.

      I think it's also worth mentioning that most games aren't hand-crafted only and none are purely procedural. These techniques work together, and most games have some sort of mix of both.

      Delete
    14. "I guess it's a quantity over quality thing. Randomizers give you more content for a game you like..."

      It's really not, though. It's still the same game and the same content (aside from the small subset of randomizers that are actually able to generate completely new levels in some games). Randomization presents unique challenges and experiences to the player that are not possible without randomization.

      None of the games you mention can deliver the experience of repeated playthroughs of a good roguelike, and vice versa, certainly. That's a good thing. There are different types of games that deliver different experiences.

      Delete
    15. I played Dark Souls 3 a bit with a randomizer. It was fairly entertaining in a way; it encouraged using weapons that you probably never would have since you may never find your preferred one.

      Delete
  14. Good change of procedure. The recent round-up seemed like a list of coding exercises to me, not really like full games. It is very, very unlikely you still miss a game that had any impact whatsoever on the RPGs - although I do remember that your goal was to play every CRPG in existence. But with the years, the historical interest became a heavier factor than the fixation on completion, which I think was for the better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. About playing absolutely *every single* 80's game that has been tagged as RPG on mobygames: the value of this blog would not have been diminished if some of the March blitz games (Catacombs of the Phantoms, for example) had been skipped. I'm sure this is true for many if not most of the new mobygames additions. Like Chet said, pretty much all the important 80's CRPG's were undoubtedly added to mobygames years ago, the new ones are really the bottom of the barrel stuff. But who knows, maybe there really are some hidden semiprecious stones, if not actual gems, among the new additions?

      The problem(?) is how to weed out the type-in games, the barely RPG's, the extremely low production value games, and spot the possible candidates for this blog. It would be cool (IMO) if someone would take the time consuming task of going through new mobygames additions, checking them out and sorting them into different categories ("not an RPG", "type-in game", "low quality", "possibly worth playing", or something like that). The ultimate decision which ones, if any, to play for this blog would obviously be Chet's. But at least all games would be looked at, instead of ignored.

      Either way, leaving the 80's behind, for now, is probably for the best. I'm especially looking forward to the Ultima Underworld 2 coverage. I started playing it myself when it appeared on the upcoming list.

      Delete
  15. I've had Gloomhaven sitting in the closet since I bought it... need to pull it out and play!

    Maybe for the scrum of 1980s that is so marginal you could do an occasional generalized round up post called a BRIEFest of BRIEFs where you just touch on the basics of 5-10 games and don't worry about playing them substantially.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Glad to see the change of procedure! Hopefully it leads to a less frustrating progress through the better part of CRPGs, charting their influence and evolution, rather than getting endlessly stuck with the dregs that barely (if that) qualify.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I was worried when you said you were changing your definitions. I was afraid they would be too narrow. But, I am happy with the change. No sense in playing a bunch of games that you will not enjoy because they have some small resemblance to RPGs. I am fine with abandoning many of the 80s games as well. I like the exhaustive nature of this blog, and hope you continue it (with your new definition), but you have drunk the 80s game library to its dregs.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I guess the 90s is still over 20 years ago, so that's something...

    ReplyDelete
  19. Roguelikes as a genre have done a lot of what you suggest, they just haven't done it this far back in the genre's history.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With the exception of Omega perhaps.

      Delete
    2. Also that viking one! That at least had a story.

      Delete
    3. Fair enough. I look forward to them. And yes, Ragnarok was fantastic.

      Delete
  20. I personally would rather like to read about Catacombs of the Phantoms and Forest of Long Shadows (games I did not know) instead of Fallout and Betrayal at Krondor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know that anyone cares what I want, or should, but I kinda want both.

      I have been happy to read about these type-in games because I used to type in games from magazines (C64), and they were generally terrible compared to what we've been seeing. And, they are deliciously obscure. Is there other, better coverage of this topic?

      But when Chet sinks his teeth into a classic, it's usually a good time. I'm sure there's other coverage out there, but I don't necessarily just want to go read about Fallout — I want to hear Chet's perspective after having consumed so many historical expressions of the genre. And also with his unique, curmudgeonly voice.

      So, I think the goal should be to find balance, both from a content standpoint and a tolerance/sanity of the reviewer standpoint.

      Delete
    2. I am with Iffy there. I like a nice combination of old forgotten type-in game, even if in BRIEF format, and top-of-the-line recentish (90+) games.

      Funnily enough, the one thing I don't like is rogue-like. They don't look and feel the same as a "reader" (beyond differences that only need one article to explain), though I have no doubt they are different to play.

      Delete
    3. I agree with Adam. There is already a ton of high quality info on famous titles, but very few people reach out for obscurities. This blog has been an eye opener for some of them.

      Delete
    4. Purely as an expression of personal preference, I also agree with Adam. When the Addict is really enjoying something, that often does come through and is appreciated, but the "shining a light on the obscure" portion of the Addict's work is closer to my heart than the "talking about well-known games" portion.

      (That goes for everything -- YouTube videos about games, let alone film reviews, etc. -- for the most part, I lose interest when the canon is discussed, in part because I often find canonical works are less rewarding to me than offbeat ones.)

      Delete
  21. Chet do you realize you´ve whittled away your reasoning for opening your blog? You slide into non-rpg´s, you do some poorly rated games (occasionally), you vanish for weeks then other times slam us with multiple fast reviews, you admit you´ve almost quit blogging once or twice and now you state that you will ignore some games that industry says are RPG, then finally change your own definition? It´s all madness. I think you´ve lost your joie de vivre. Not meaning to criticise but clearly you´re bogged down in work, lost your way with gaming and blogging, and let´s not forget some rip roaring arguments in the comments section and deleting people. What on earth is going on?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh look, Chet, this is where that one 'T' ended up that you tested the Wand of Teleport Other on.

      Delete
    2. It's a shame the court order forces you to read this blog when it is such a horrible experience for you.

      Delete
    3. Speaking of what on earth is going on, what kind of character set are you using to produce those apostrophes?

      Delete
    4. I think I remember those apostrophes on Irish keyboards, but it's been many years ago.

      Delete
    5. You slide into non-rpg´s - Everybody (Chet included) was indeed surprised to see the Legend of Zelda on this blog, and even more surprised by the fact he spent a big chunk of the entry about the graphics, that are just 3% of a GIMLET. Your comment, R typer, would have been at home there.

      Delete
    6. That's an 'accent aigu' as far as I'm concerned - are they restricted to European keyboards, or what?

      Delete
    7. Or a ´tick´. The US layout seemingly just has the `backtick`.

      Delete
  22. Did you know that shift + direction key makes you directly to the end of a corridor? It makes exploring levels much faster.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think it's good idea to adjust your definition to let some games fall off the list. I mean.. you really do have your work cut out for you already, and I don't think anyone will really judge you for not playing every single "RPG" tagged video game via MobyGames.

    Awesome that Irene really likes Gloomhaven. It's truly a masterpiece of a boardgame designed by a single designer. Be sure to check out Frosthaven when it hits the stores.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She's practically obsessed with it. We played Jaws of the Lion first, and when we were done, she was practically inconsolable about never playing her Quatryl character again. I had flashbacks to the 1980s with kids committing suicide over their lost D&D characters.

      The weird thing is, when we play console RPGs, she likes the games that are dialogue-heavy and choice-heavy and could care less about combat tactics. Go figure.

      Delete
    2. That is ironic indeed with her enjoying the card combat tactics of Gloomhaven but also preferring dialog heavy console RPGs!

      Delete
    3. Isn't that quite a heavyweight boardgame? Always been interested, but I haven't even gotten around to playing Andor yet.

      Delete
    4. If by heavy you mean weight, than yes, my son doesn't even try to pick up the box. If by heavy you mean rules heavy, also yes. I backed Frosthaven when they announced it, and Isaac said it's going to be about 22 lbs. in the box

      Delete
    5. I'd recommend you start with "Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion" as a gentler introduction to the game and more streamlined and smaller package.

      Delete
    6. I can totally understand Irene! When I play tabletop RPGs I hate fights and love talking to NPC and tough choices. But still I love Shadows of Brimstone - an awesome Dungeon Crawl boardgame that is all about the tactical fights with miniatures. It is just a different itch that can be scratched with different games...

      Delete
  24. Speaking as a big Angband fan (I've played more Angband than any other game, by orders of magnitude): the length of the game is a problem, and a big part of playing the game well is knowing what parts of the game you can skip through very quickly, and what parts you should stop at for a while. My understanding is that recent versions have improved the situation a bit, but I haven't played the game regularly in 15 years or so so I don't know for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Why are you replayng wizardry 4? The original run had 4 entries?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't win and I always felt bad about quitting on it. Back then, I was playing one game at a time and thus always eager to move on to the next one. Now that I alternate two games, I can give more time to it.

      Plus, it's a famously difficult game, and winning would be something of a badge of honor.

      Delete
    2. You also gained a lot of RPG experience in the time since, so it's gonna be a less impossible endeavor now.

      Delete
    3. I must admit that I perked up after seeing Wizardry IV show up on the list. I'm curious: are you planning on using your old notes and maps from the first attempt, and are you planning on going as spoiler-free as possible? (I know you glanced at a walkthrough at the end of your aborted run, but I don't know how much of the specifics you remember from however many years ago.) The process of mapping out the later floors was somehow both frustrating and fascinating for me - the sort of thing that makes you say, "Wow, that was neat. I hope I never have to do something like that again."

      Whatever the case, I'll be cheering you on from the sidelines once you get there. If you hit a snag and would like some subtle ROT13'd hints to get you unstuck, let us know.

      Delete
    4. I only know one person who has beaten Wizardry 4. (He did it legit, no hints, at the time the game first came out.) Chet would be the second.

      Delete
    5. Yeah, I'll probably use my maps from the first few levels. But otherwise I plan to approach it the way I usually do: with no spoilers unless I absolutely cannot proceed without them.

      Delete
  26. "I have yet to fight a single named enemy that did not require this strategy"

    Wait until you see the Q guys.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Chet, have you considered getting an intern or something for this blog? Some college-aged kid with nothing to do for 10-20 hours a week could help you dig through the obscure stuff to see if there's a reason for you to cover it or not.

    Or set up a panel of trusted commenters, or the comment section as a whole.

    That way, you can still be THE word on RPG history, but you don't get burnt out on playing Shit Ultima Clone #24601.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate the suggestion, but I'd rather let randomness rule the day than to try to "curate" the list. Anyway, I don't do well with supervision. In 30 years, I've never once had an intern, assistant, or other underling who didn't create more work for me than if I'd just done the work myself.

      Delete
    2. Can we at least get some kind of system going for Japanese games? Anything to prevent you from spending any more frustrating afternoons on irrelevant dreck like Rance or Deadly Towers.

      Delete
    3. Deadly Towers was a one-off choice by Chet to do a console game, so it already exists outside the standard order of the blog as such.

      Rance, on the other hand, *is* a computer RPG; neither the fact that it is pornographic nor the fact that it is a terrible game make it intrinsically less (or more) relevant than any other game on the blog so long as it meets Chet's genre criteria.

      Just because a CRPG is of Japanese origin does not magically make it less relevant.

      Delete
    4. What is the translation of Rance like? Quite a few of the earlier Japanese translations, especially in obscure games like porn games, had poor translations. Often with added "humor" in places without it originally.

      Some officially translated games did poorly because the translation mangled the game so much.

      Delete
  28. I think there is a small problem with your new definition of RPG in the FAQ:
    "Throughout the game, the player must become stronger, more resilient, and more capable of overcoming the game's challenges, including combat"
    In the above sentence it is written "player" instead of "character" and from what I see, that is the opposite of what you mean because the player is.. well.. you.. and generally in the arcade games the player have to get better to reach the later levels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hah. I should leave it as written. It would cut down my list in a hurry. "Ultima Underworld: I played for three hours but am unable to complete any more pushups than when I started. Not an RPG."

      Seriously, thanks for letting me know.

      Delete
    2. Audible laughter was produced.

      Delete
    3. Now that a good question. Which RPG actually makes you better at anything ?

      I suppose only historical or "survival" RPGs. Darklands done ! Robinson Requiem confirmed next !



      (also did I mention Sapiens ?)

      Delete
    4. Hmm, that definition would indeed probably only work if the blog was exclusively about Wii / PS Move / Kinect games... .

      @TWS: https://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2010/08/what-have-you-learned.html.

      Delete
    5. Ring Fit Adventure is fantastic for being a lighthearted fitness RPG.

      Delete
  29. So I had a pretty good blog goal here in Columbus Ohio after getting an old timey huge unfolding map from my library. It lists the parks in A-Z order from the itty bitty ones to the huge ones. I decided I was going to photograph every single one in alphabetical order, and not look up anything about them before I went. It's stalled now, but I got thru all of the "A" parks, and balked right before the huge Battelle-Darby, which has a herd of Bison. I always want to get back to it, I dunno. I hope you don't think this is spam, Chet, I love your blog, I'm more of a reader than a commenter. I'm a Commodore 64 dude from the '80s.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds fun! Just visiting all the parks and crossing them off a list would probably be enjoyable.

      Delete
    2. Not at all. It sounds exactly like something I would do. Irene and I once had a quest to eat at every restaurant on Route 1 in New Hampshire. Now we're working our way through a list of every animal found in Maine.

      Delete
  30. I'm glad that you are taking a more practical approach to this blog. It gives me hope that one day I will get to read posts about the Baldur's Gate games or Morrowind before I am too old to see the screen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dang... I got glasses a few years ago... there's probably no hope for me :)

      Delete
    2. We will all need life extension gene therapy to see this caught up to 2000... but it has been an interesting journey for the past 12 years!

      Delete
  31. "What I'm working on now is a formula that gives a lot more priority to the "current" year, but that doesn't mean I'll never check out one of those earlier-year games. The ratio might just be 3:1 instead of 1:1."

    That works well for deprioritizing the ultra-obscure and minor games being found in the past, but what about the same types of games that are presumably building up in current ('93) and future years?

    If the data is available it might make sense to also group current and future games based on when they were added to your list or moby games or whatever. The games that have been there early are prioritized and when you finish all of them you can move to the next year, the late additions go on the same low priority list to be sampled from occasionally.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I really wonder how you even managed to get to level 31 without free action status effect and finding potions of speed. Your character should be long dead.

    ReplyDelete
  33. If you need to break the rules to keep things fun, by all means break the rules.

    Take the link in this post to the Wayback Machine and you can set up Angband Borg to play the game for you, leaving you free to write about the interesting bits.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/roguelikes/comments/dtms7t/my_almost_4_year_old_angband_borg_just_died/

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hopefully the Addict is doing okay... it's been a minute.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Was thinking the same, but just saw some anonymous comments on old entries pop up in the "Recent Comments" section. My understanding is, these have to be "approved" by Chet before being published. Maybe he's just busy in RL or very deservedly enjoying another of his interests and *gasp* taking a short break on the blog.

      Delete
    2. My 18-year-old cat died and I lost interest in doing anything for a few days. I'm getting an entry together on UU2 now.

      Delete
    3. @CRPG Addict: So sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is like losing a loved (if not occasionally annoying!) family member. Our thoughts are with you.

      Delete
    4. Very sorry to hear! Kitties are the best

      Delete
    5. Sorry to hear that and quite understandable. It was sad for us, too, when our cat was no longer there after having been part of the family life for many years.

      Delete
    6. Sorry for your loss, I wouldn't feel like doing much in that circumstance either. I've had quite a few cats that were family over the years.

      Delete
    7. Sorry to hear it, Chet. I just lost my cat Princess about two weeks ago, just after she turned 14. She lived longer than any other pet I've had, and I had her the longest at 10 and a half years. Don't really know what to say but cherish the memories.

      Delete
    8. Oh no, I know how you must be feeling :(

      Take all the time you need, Chet.

      Delete
  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  36. The game "Dragons Battle" is missing from your master list, I think this is because it's a non-commercialized game, but I suggest to you to playing it because it's really not bad, also there is the relative page on Mobygames: https://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/dragons-battle

    ReplyDelete
  37. A small Angband hint: healing potions cure status effects, with better potions curing more types. A stack of Cure Critical potions from the shop means that the only harm in most status effects is losing a turn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, that seems like something that I should have figured out, but I guess I haven't been using potions very much. Thank you.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, using potions that way is a crucial strategy. I guess I was wrong when I said that Angband didn't require spoilers.

      Seeing your lack of artifacts, here's another hint. Unlike the phial, most artifacts don't show up as anything special. They appear to be regular arms and armor. You have to carry them around until an item descriptor like {good} or {bad} shows up; I believe it's {excellent} for artifacts. You should do this for all items dropped by unique monsters, and all items on "special feeling" levels. This is another way that Angband has improved over the years: first the "artifacts only drop once" rule was made an optional flag, then the ID system was revamped entirely, with artifacts identified immediately but their effects unknown until you spend a pile of identify scrolls on them.

      Don't fret over your lack of artifacts though. None of the pre-LV30 artifacts are endgame quality, and lategame non-artifact items are good enough to beat the game with.

      Delete
    3. Are those effects not listed in the potion item descriptions in this version? If not, yeah that makes life much harder!

      Delete
    4. I've been doing what you recommend, Lhexa. I just haven't found that many artifacts. Some commenters seem to think I'm not pressing forward fast enough while some think I need to have found certain items by now. I'm not sure what to believe.

      Delete
    5. When I play (I've beaten the game twice), I go to a level where I feel unsafe but not overwhelmed. If I start feeling safe, I go down 5-10 levels, and vice versa if I start having too many close calls.

      The hard requirements are for when you're not save-scumming, since there are potential one-turn deaths. Now that you have Free Action, you're protected against the worst of them. Since you can save, if you get blasted by poison breath (the next most notorious killer after paralysis), you can just shrug and reload.

      Sometime last year the current Angband maintainer was confronted with a player vehemently demanding some kind of forced descent in the main game. The maintainer's response was that Angband's overarching philosophy is player freedom -- if the player wants to play Ironman (which means you can only descend levels, never ascend) they can, and if they want to grind perpetually in safe locations, they can. Similarly, the different classes are intended to accommodate different playstyles, with Warrior and Paladin being the "safe, slow" ones, Mage and Rogue being the "risky, fast" ones, and the others somewhere between. There isn't a correct way to play, just a bunch of different strategies that may or not be helpful to a given person.

      Delete
  38. Hey, it's me, the devil on your shoulder.

    Were you still playing this?

    (Cue: Whisper tempting things about being able to get to Fallout and Baldur's Gate faster.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been playing for a couple of hours a week. Aside from the equipment getting more pluses and the enemies getting harder, there isn't anything to report. I'll post a new entry when there is.

      Delete
    2. I look forward to that new entry, though with sympathy for the tedium involved in getting there.

      Say, can Satan whisper anything about getting that win over Faery Tale Adventure, or will additional sacrifices be required first to invoke His infernal advocacy?

      (Actually I'm noticing that the formatting on the "Necromancer Wins" entry is a little messed-up, so this post isn't entirely a good-natured provocation. Just mostly.)

      Delete
    3. Ugh. Yeah. Blogger screwed up the formatting of a lot of those first-couple-years posts. It has something to do with how it interprets carriage returns. I've been fighting with it for years. Somewhere along the line, I learned if I absolutely wanted to be sure there would be spaces between paragraphs, I needed to hold down the space bar a few times after the paragraph mark.

      But usually, when I forget to do that, the consequence is that it just deletes the blank line between paragraphs. Somehow, in these early entries, it deleted the paragraphs entirely. They must have changed how the composition screen translates to HTML. Anyway, it's on my long list of things to try to clean up when I have time.

      And no on FTA. Come on, man.

      Delete
    4. Re: formatting, makes sense. It had all the hallmarks of a classic "make a change in the CMS, screw up tons of older content". In fairness, WYSIWYG editors that parse HTML do have to make tricky choices between "OK, the user actually means this carriage return, but not this one." Sometimes I'm not even sure what I meant, after the fact.

      And no on FTA. Come on, man.

      Heh. I mean, I beat it (the console version admittedly, but it's a pretty faithful port) -- beat it twice, even, and enjoyed both times -- so it can't be that bad, right?

      Like I said, a good-natured provocation, not an unkind one (by intent anyway). Mainly it just surprises me that, out of all the reasonably famous games to elude you, it'd be one that's relatively straightforward to complete (compared to some others you've taken down), rather than something like Drakkhen.

      But it's not like there's any urgent need for you to document the rest of the game, so all that's left is how invested you are in your win percentage. (Answer: not enough to play FTA again!) And at least we have FTA 2 to look forward to, eventually...

      (cue evil laughter, odor of brimstone, etc.)

      Delete
    5. Faery Tale Adventure isn't bad...it's a nice tour through a fantasy world. There are just about 5 NPCs with one line of dialogue each, though. I would play with a guide of where to go first, second, etc. Otherwise there's just too much wandering around. That world is big until you get the fast transportation.

      Delete

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

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

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

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

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

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

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

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

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

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