Thursday, July 21, 2022

Eye of the Beholder III: Some Few of David's Psalmes Metaphrased

This supposed exit from the forest was misleading.
       
Having explored the mausoleum in the last entry, there was nothing left for the party to do but enter the forest via the eastern exit from the graveyard. The forest was a long, linear map that had a couple of silly but harmless gimmicks. The first were these bramble patches that look like dead ends until you hover the cursor over the holes. There can be up to three holes--left, right, and center--per patch. Clicking on one of the holes takes you into the patch, which occupies a full square, but then out via the direction you clicked. Your facing direction doesn't change. 

The primary purposes of these brambles, used only in a couple of locations, is to surprise you with whatever enemies you find on the other side and make it impossible to backpedal while attacking them. Without the brambles, the extremely long corridors of the map would ensure that you could kill all enemies at range with no danger to the party.

I can go straight or left through these brambles, but not right.
       
The second gimmick is a cousin of the graveyard trees that didn't look sturdy. You can't fell them with an axe. Instead, you find an Everburning Torch early in the map, and waving at some of the trees causes them to retreat and leave an open square. The game gives you no indication about what trees this trick will work on, so you have to wave the torch at all of them. Fortunately, unlike the axe, the torch has no cooldown period.
   
Like all the maps so far, the forest had two types of enemies. Minotaurs hit hard but have no special attacks. Much worse are feyrs. I believe I'm fighting them for the first time in an RPG. They're giant blobs with tentacles that blink in and out of view, although it seems that they just go invisible rather than "phase," since I can still hit them even if I can't see them. "True Seeing" kept them visible permanently. The manual says they are "unknowingly brought to life by the strong emotions of a large group of people" and are commonly found in "large cities that have a good number of mages, priests, and other spellcasters." So their appearance in the middle of a deserted forest makes complete sense.
              
Marina levels up against some minotaurs.
             
Other than a pack of feyrs on the other side of some brambles, for which I needed "Bless," "Prayer," and "Haste" to survive, the enemies didn't give me too much trouble. While I'm on the subject of combat, I want to mention that "All Attack" is a little more subtle than I originally gave it credit for. What I failed to mention is that you can choose who participates in "All Attack" and thus more carefully manage the rest. Bundling your fighters in an "All Attack" while leaving spellcasters untethered is a great way to use the feature and maintain some level of tactics in combat.
      
An entire pack of feyrs.
       
Not far into the forest, we met Delmair Rallythorn, hero of the novelette. He immediately contradicted the story told in the manual by saying that a) he had killed the bandits who killed his father, when the story says that his mother, the lich, killed them; and b) he was looking for his father's undead-slaying sword, which in the story he already has. He also seems a lot more confident and rakish here than in Greenwood's tale. He offered to join the party. He's a lawful good, half-elf ranger of Level 11.
      
I don't think he was a half-elf in the story, either.
       
I put him in the second rank with the halberd +5 and moved Gaston, my ranger/cleric, to the rear. I equipped Gaston with a bow but took him out of the "All Attack" group so I could switch over to spells when necessary.
       
The long forest path.
       
Marina went to Level 12 while fighting some minotaurs and got a choice of "Disintegrate," "Flesh to Stone," "Stone to Flesh," and "True Seeing." I chose the latter because I'm not using all her existing offensive spells between rests. This particularly became true after we found a treasure hoard that included a Ring of Wizardry, giving her four additional Level 4 spells ("Hold Monster," "Ice Storm"). The same treasure pile had Gauntlets of Fire Giant Strength, which I gave to Starling, the paladin.
      
Not as good as a Level 3 Ring of Wizardry, but I'll take what I can get.
         
The map culminated in an 11 x 11 area full of those bramble patches, with occasional clearings in which feyrs roamed. As we found our way to the exit from this area, we were met by a ghostly man who called us "defilers of the forest." "Why," he asked, "should I not wither you away to nothingness as you have done to so many parts of my forest." I think he was overstating things, frankly, but we protested with our mission, and he ultimately relented. In quite a few screens, he related the history of Myth Drannor and its last defenders, including Captain Fflar. He told us he'd give us a test, and if we passed, he'd show us the way to the city.
    
The first option was more politic, but the second makes a good point.
        
We had to specify who would take the test, and I chose Marina, my mage. The test was to simply choose from four books to read: The Book of Adroit Deeds, the Book of Daring Deeds, the Book of Arcane Deeds, and the Book of Exalted Deeds. I figured right away that the trick was to choose a book that would align best with the person choosing it (e.g., "Arcane" to mages, "Adroit" to thieves, "Exalted" to clerics, and "Daring" to fighters), and after getting it right with Marina (Arcane), I verified this with a reload. The person you choose gets a huge experience point boost--Marina went immediately to Level 13.
        
To be fair, I don't think we've cut any trees since our first hour. On this map, we just scared them with a torch.
      
With a final admonishment not to cut down any more trees, the ghostly sage let us go, telling us the path would be open. True to his word, there were no other trees that I needed the Everburning Torch to move. Incidentally, if I had figured out the tomb of Fflar in the right order, he would have given me a Medallion of Friendship that I could have waved at the trees instead. The encounter with the ghostly sage doesn't change at all, though.

A portal offered an eastern exit from the forest. "Through the trees you behold the ruined city of Myth Drannor," the game enticed. Having done everything we could in the forest, we stepped forward.
         
The next map does not feature a river.
           
We found ourselves in the ruins of the city. There was a lot of open space, but the wall textures evoked an "indoor" feeling. I ended up exploring two areas, situated side-by-side, both 30 x 30. I originally thought they were one large area. There's a corridor where you transition between them, but there's only a short delay, not the cut screen that usually accompanies transitions between maps. When the new area didn't line up right with the old one, I figured out what had happened. There were also different enemies in the second area, and since every level in this game has only two types of monster, that was another sign.
      
The first of the two new areas.

And the second.
          
The first area offered battles with chimeras, which is one of those Dungeons & Dragons enemies that everyone knows about but games hardly ever use. They had melee attacks and fireballs, accompanied by cool animations, but they died quickly. The second enemy were "hags," also quite weak, and they didn't even seem to have any spell attacks. I guess they can poison, but it only happened to us once. The worst part about them was their sound, which sounds more like a chortle than a cackle.
       
The lion claws while the dragon breathes. I'm not sure what the goat's purpose is.

I guess "hags" sounds better than "harmless old ladies."
        
The two enemies on the second map were wyverns and trolls. Wyverns have a poison attack but die in a single "All Attack." Trolls are hardier and hit hard. 
        
The game's conception of a "wyvern."
       
The second map had a Lathander theme going, including multiple statues to the god, and owing to my exploration pattern, I mapped most of it before finishing the first area. In front of a temple to Lathander, I met one of the god's priests, a Father Jon. After we assured him our intentions in the area were pure, he related that he was looking to clear out the temple and he offered to join us. I took him, booting Isharn. I equipped Gaston with a polearm and moved him back to the second rank. I had grown sick of picking up his arrows anyway. Father Jon turned out to be not just a cleric, but a mage/cleric of Level 10 each. (He's half-elf and neutral good.) I'm going to get a lot of use out of an extra spellcaster.
       
Our new ally.
       
I found Father Jon so useful that I was torn when I encountered another NPC back in the first set of ruins. He was a lawful good "Saurial" male cleric named Rex whose people had been brought to this plane by the evil god Moander. This was done, I understand, in revenge for the Saurial Dragonbait's part in slaying Moander's avatar. (You may recall Dragonbait from Curse of the Azure Bonds.) Rex was seeking the Codex of the Planes, which might contain the knowledge necessary to return the Saurials to their home. Rex is such a unique NPC that I wanted to take him, but I felt I should keep Delmair given his prominence in the backstory, and Father Jon just balanced the party better.
        
An interesting NPC whom I didn't take.
         
There was some decent loot in both areas, including piles of mage and cleric spell scrolls, and a blessed holy symbol. I'm frankly not sure what it does that a regular holy symbol doesn't. A couple of piles of loot were behind magic fields that I had to cast "Dispel Magic" to dispel. One item was a Helm of Water Breathing. This plus a separate Scroll of Water Breathing suggests these are going to be necessities.
         
Items protected briefly by a magic shield. The party is taking damage from touching it.
       
There was only one "puzzle." I had to find a key in the first area to open a temple to Lathander in the second area. The temple had a niche flanked by two message boards reading "IT WANTS ICE." I had found a diamond in one of the treasure piles, and I put it in the slot. The party was teleported to a similar area in which the messages read "DO YOU FEAR FOR YOUR CHILD?" The only thing I had that had anything to do with fear was a Wand of Fear, and that turns out to be exactly what the niche wanted. It teleported us to a third area, where we could choose a reward from among Bracers of Protection, three Wands of Cone of Cold, and two Necklaces of Fireballs.
         
Even without the hint, I probably would have thought to put the diamond in here.
      
I found only one exit from the area. It led to an old Mages' Guild. I guess that's where I'm going next.
     
Miscellaneous notes:
  
  • As we entered the forest, the game threw up its first copy protection screen. It uses a boilerplate look-up-the-word-in-the-manual approach. 
  • Dungeon Master debuted in 1987. It's hard to believe that in the subsequent six years, no one came up with a better way to handle missile weapons and arrows than to force the player to pick them all up individually and put them back in the inventory.
         
Picking up individual arrows in time to shoot them again at this troll.
         
  • Lock picks don't seem to pick locks in this game. They haven't worked on a single lock. The game doesn't even pretend to try. They've only worked on some "stuck" levers.
  • You cannot fight from the inventory screen, which ought to be obvious because the buttons you would normally need to right-click in combat are not visible. But if you're used to using the SPACE bar for "All Attack," it's easy to forget that it won't work unless you close the inventory and return to party view.
  • Spells are fun. Waiting for the animations to completely finish before anything else can happen is not fun.
        
By the end of this session, it was time for my party to have an intervention about inventory. In addition to the very good items I was wielding and wearing, my party was hoarding the following:

  • An axe +3, an axe +2, a trident +3, two two-handed swords +3, two long swords +3, a short sword +2, a short sword +1, a mace +2, a black hammer +3, a green crystal hammer +2, three daggers +3, two daggers +2, three daggers +1, an axe, a mace +2, three clubs +1, a long bow, and a regular bow
  • Plate mail +2 (2), leather armor +3, elven chain mail +2, chain mail, and robes
  • Two shields +3
  • A Cloak of Protection
  • Bracers of Protection
  • Captain Fflar's nameplate
  • The Everburning Torch (this game has no lighting mechanic)
  • The Rod of Restoration
  • Potions of Giant Strength (2), Healing (4), Neutralize Poison
  • Mage scrolls of "Fireball" and "Hold Person"
  • Cleric scrolls of "Heal" (3), "Cause Critical Wounds," "Sol's Searing Orb," "Prayer" (2), "Aid," "Create Food and Water," "Slow Poison," "Neutralize Poison" (2), "Raise Dead" (5), and "Dispel Magic" 
  • Wands of Wall of Force, Acid Storm, and Cone of Cold (3)
  • Two extra cleric holy symbols
  • An extra mage spellbook
  • Two extra sets of thieves' tools
  • Iron rations and an apple
   
I found a spot that I could remember later and ditched most of the excess weaponry, armor, and spellcasting symbols, ate the food, and made a vow to prioritize magical items until I was at least low on them. I also moved things around so that the inventory was better managed, with Starling carrying quest items, Marina in charge of mage items (excess spilling over to Father Jon), Gaston handling clerical items, and Bugsy storing the utility items. I always like this process, because it gives me a chance to envision the characters interacting ("here, you take this") in a way that makes them seem more like individuals than a blob. 
      
Moving on.
        
At the end of the last session, I called the game "adequate but unremarkable." That's largely how it felt during this session, too. It's a measure of how blah it generally feels that I got excited about new navigational conundrums like the brambles even though they added very little to the experience. I think it says something that I could barely get a normal-length entry out of three maps.
   
Time so far: 15 hours

83 comments:

  1. AlphabeticalAnonymousJuly 21, 2022 at 12:30 PM

    Fun read, thanks as always. I can't help but think that if Kenny were still commenting, he'd feel obliged to point out that Delmair Rallythorn is coming on to your party.

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  2. I'm glad you conclude that spells are fun, because IIRC you didn't like the spells so much in the earlier games. But yeah, those animations get old, especially on Cone of Cold.

    The first game has several pickable locks, but adds extra keys if you don't have a thief. The second game only has one spot with pickable locks (I usually recruit the NPC thief, rush up to the only pickable doors, then dismiss him). Thieves aren't great in this series, but that's largely just how D&D second edition rules work.

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  3. "An entire pack of feyrs."

    Nowadays they hang out on Twitter.

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  4. This game was weak back in the day, too. I absolutely loved Eye of the Beholder 1 and 2 growing up, playing through them multiple times. Alas, when the third came out I was excited only to find my enthusiasm dashed the further I ventured in. Unlike the bigger brothers, this one I did not finish.

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    1. Same here. I loved EotB 1 & 2, but I almost didn't play 3. The first one is the best, but I liked 2 a lot too, specially Calandra and I liked even more that it was possible to transfer my characters and items from 1 to 2, I loved the character Ileria (apparently there is a text error since in the Cluebook it says Half-Elf Female, but in the game it says Half-Elf Male if I'm not mistaken) revived from 1 and I couldn't get rid of her nor my f-dwarf-fighter nor my m-human-paladin that I created in 1. Some things changed from 1 to 2 and made it more "human" and less flashy and dark than 1 (I think it is because in 1 there is almost no interaction with other humans), but overall I just didn't like Amber (a lot of suffering and effort to revive a lame and weak character). In 3 many things have changed and this is clear just by watching the introduction where previously unknown and focused warriors and adventurers are gloating in a tavern. When looking at 3 it is possible to see a radical change from the previous titles. I would love to see a sequel even though I haven't finished 3, unfortunately and fortunately I believe it will never occur and even if it does it probably won't be as deep, dark, flashy and mystical or have unique characters and no "modernity" compared to the previous titles.

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  5. That inventory list reads pretty insane...

    Just to imagine the scene where Starling puts all this super-valuable equipment under some bush saying, 'Eh, we'll come back for this later.'

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    1. I think part of me was saving it all assuming I'd find some place to sell it.

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    2. There's something about discarding good equipment that feels fundamentally wrong to me.

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  6. If you had gotten the Medallion of Friendship from the Mausoleum then you could have used it for the trees instead of the Everburning Torch. This is the only use of the Medallion of Friendship by the way so it's pretty much pointless.

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    1. That makes me wonder if the mausoleum was always supposed to be optional with the medallion being an alternate solution to the trees, or if the mausoleum was supposed to be required and the torch was added to get around the fact you can screw yourself out of the medallion.

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  7. 'commonly found in "large cities that have a good number of mages, priests, and other spellcasters." So their appearance in the middle of a deserted forest makes complete sense.'

    For what it's worth, that sounds like a fair description of historic Myth Drannor, it just hasn't been that way for a long time. Maybe they're just very old feyrs.

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    1. I'm frankly more surprised that Mr. High-And-Mighty Druid doesn't do anything about them!

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    2. "Halt, foul aberration! I shall reduce you to... oh. Hrm. You've selected the Book of Psychotic Deeds? Well, that's all right then. Carry on!"

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    3. You think that would be an option for the occasional chaotic evil character.

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    4. They are in Dark Sun 2, iirc

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    5. I'm very glad someone pointed this out: In it's heyday Myth Drannor was the centre of the intensely magical Elven Empire. It's where Elminster trained in magic as I recall.

      I forgot what happened to it and why it is a demon haunted ruin now though.

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    6. It has quite a long history, but essentially what happened is that the rival empire of Netheril attacked it by moving one of their flying cities directly overhead, and then that crashed down, destroying both cities.

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    7. Being killed by a particularly extravagant Yu-gi-oh gambit is a very insulting way to die.

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    8. I wouldn't go quite that far, but I've always found any of the thing involving the ancient empires to be kind of overpowered and badly written, even by forgotten realms novel standards...

      But I was also reading these things as a teenager, so I could possibly be not the best judge of these things. It could be I just read those once I started to notice how bad forgotten realms novels were in general...

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  8. I like to think of the goat as the thinker of the group.

    I suspect the feyrs is what happen when the artists run out of idea, and the whole EOB3 bestiary what happens when designers want to showcase rarely used monster. What's next ? Killmoulis and catoblepas ?

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  9. >and since every level in this game has only two types of monster, that was another sign

    That's interesting because Dungeon Hack which I played recently works the same way. They're both from the same SSI era and I wonder if they reused the engine from one to the other.

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    1. Yes, they did. The reason is memory constraints. Note that (e.g.) Might & Magic III is also limited to two monster visualizations in memory.

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    2. Dungeon Master is the same. I assume that if you need to limit the number of different monsters per map, two is a nice number and may even have seemed an elegant design. No doubt they could have put in three but then different wall graphics would have been fighting for space.

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    3. Dungeon Master has no hard limit for monsters, and often enough uses 3 types per level. There was a palette limit, but that was handled simply by monsters changing their colour. There are red and orange worms in CSB for example, while they are magenta in DM. Think you can also make them blue by combining them with Trolls. Either way, the engine didn't limit monster types per level.

      The Atari hat 32 colours and 16 could be used at the same time. 14 were reserved for the dungeon and the 2 others were dependand on the monsters. There even were fixed orders, so red was dominant and blue quite low if I remember right.

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    4. Looking through walkthroughs, Dungeon Master appears to have a limit of four creature types per level. Of course, EOTB and M&M use 256 colors, so their sprites cost twice as much memory (including items and wall texture). So that looks like a pretty similar memory limit.

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  10. You'll be seeing those feyrs again when you get to the Dark Sun sequel

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  11. [b]Picking up rocks and arrows:[/b] Pretty sure the first DM clone that does that differently comes as late as 2012. Legend of Grimrock lets you automatically collect thrown weapons by walking over them. It's the kind of thing that could have been coded in the 80's just fine, nobody just thought of it.

    [b]Pick one of three rewards:[/b] You can actually pick all three because the forcefields that come down on the prizes you didn't pick obey Dispel Magic just like the previous ones.

    [b]Lockpicks:[/b] One of the many reasons I have a low opinion of EOB3 is that thieves get shafted so hard. EOB1 had many pickable locks, EOB2 had two, EOB3 has zero in the entire game (not rotting that because I don't think it's a spoiler at this point - like you said, the game doesn't even pretend to try).

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    1. There used to be an option to preview our comments, but I guess that's gone, sadly.

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    2. Re use and recovering of missile weapons: 'Fate: Gates of Dawn' (1991) had several mechanics in this respect which you found good:

      "The way that the game handles throwing is unique and fun. Almost every weapon or shield can be thrown a short distance--maybe 6 to 10 yards. It's a great option when enemies start outside of melee range. The best part about it is that characters automatically pick up and re-equip the items post-combat. I would have given real money to see that happen in Dungeon Master or Eye of the Beholder. Oh, and if I want to reclaim those weapons during combat, my warlock has a spell called "Getback" that does it." (http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2016/06/fate-combat-in-wilderness.html)

      If I recall correctly, each such item even had a different throwing distance which was useful in 'Fate' since enemy groups could start at different distances as well.

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    3. Meant to add: Maybe that was not widely known in the U.S. since (the developer & publisher) reLINE just floundered when the English version of 'Fate' was released and reportedly only a dozen or so boxes of it actually made it to shops.

      But even so I agree with Chet: through playtesting, reactions from reviewers and other players (though much more limited in the pre-WWW era), you would think someone could have come up with a better solution by this stage than what was implemented / kept here in EoB III.

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    4. For instance, roguelikes have had an auto-pickup command since like forever.

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    5. Thanks for reminding me about Fate. I swear there's at least one DM clone that does it, too, but I can't remember which. I'll have to go through my entries when I get a chance.

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    6. RE: The thief getting shafted. This is where an economy would come in handy (disarming chests), or some kind of trap dynamic.

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  12. Your subtitle comes back to a book I've never heard of from an eighteenth century English author I've never heard of. What's the connection?

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    1. Damn you Chet. I took the bait to see if I could figure it out. I won't directly spoil it for those who want to discover it for themselves.
      (ROT13) “Ornhgl vf va gur rlr bs gur orubyqre.” Ohg lbh znl abg xabj gung gurfr jbeqf bs jvfqbz pnzr sebz gur cra bs 19gu-praghel Vevfu abiryvfg Znetnerg Jbysr Uhatresbeq.

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    2. It’s originally from a Swinburne poem, it appears:

      http://www.potw.org/archive/potw327.html

      The poem’s about love, though I read the post title as reflecting that the forest areas had some novelty value and were a little more fun than the boring grey city bits (though maybe projecting slightly - when replayed the eob trilogy a couple years back I enjoyed the change of pace of the outdoor areas and found the dungeon bits largely dull after mainlining the first two games)

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    3. Reading this blog is always an adventure!

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    4. Huh. I didn't know about the Swinburne poem. The connection of the phrase to my entry is admittedly think (I couldn't find a better one), but Tetrapod got why I picked it.

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    5. Admittedly THIN, I meant to say.

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  13. Something about this game's pacing feels... off. "We got to the city the game's supposed to take place in" feels like something that should happen considerably sooner, not 10-15 hours in.

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  14. I never finished the game as a child when it came out. I vaguely remember getting stuck on the infamous last level of the mage's guild and quitting. I tried it again a few years ago despite the bad reviews, and it was honestly ok, although unremarkable, right along your current opinion/coverage of the game. It does feel empty, big levels with not that much inside.

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    1. Also, if you're going to do lots of wide open spaces in a first-person engine usually used for small corridors, then it should really have more terrain variety, landmarks, and maybe an automap.

      Compare the vibrant outdoor maps of Might & Magic 3 or 4 or 5 with the repetitive mostly-black screens of EOB3's temple district, and you'll see what I mean.

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    2. I'll be curious next time what makes it "infamous." I found one puzzle hard, but otherwise I didn't have a huge problem.

      I agree, Anonymous.

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    3. He probably refers to (don't read if you haven't finished the Mage's Guild):

      Gung frpgvba bs gur haqrejngre yriry jura lbh pnaabg pnfg Jngre Oernguvat nf gurer vf na nagv-zntvp svryq, fb gung punenpgref jvgu ab Jngre Oernguvat uryzrgf jvyy gnxr pbafgnag qnzntr (naq yvxryl qvr) hagvy lbh svaq lbhe jnl bhg.

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    4. Oh, I thought he was instead referring to gung cynpr jurer lbh raq hc va n pbzcyrgryl oynax znc gung lbh pnaabg trg bhg bs, nygubhtu vg'f grpuavpnyyl evtug nsgre gur zntr thvyq vafgrnq bs cneg bs vg. Guvf bar vf vasnzbhf orpnhfr vg ybbxf yvxr n tnzroernxvat oht, naq gur tnzr birenyy vf ohttl rabhtu gung vg'f oryvrinoyr gung lbh unir gb erfgneg gur tnzr naq ubcr vg qbrfa'g erbpphe.

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    5. Yes, I was referring to what Vince said. Although retroactively with much more gaming experience it wasn't so bad at all.

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  15. Regarding Gaston, unless I'm mistaken, I'm surprised you haven't mentioned that: ur'f n fbeg bs jrerpng naq nf fbba nf ur trgf qnzntrq ur genafsbezf vagb bar. Creuncf vg unf gb or zryrr qnzntr?

    I vaguely remember, first time it happens, there was even a small animation with some text on the Amiga version but not on the PC version iirc

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    1. I talk about it next time. He has to get hit for it to happen, and the enemies in this area couldn't hit him in the second rank. I love how it just happens with no dialogue or explanation, either before or afterwards.

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    2. That's what I remember from the PC version, it just happens right?
      In the Amiga version there's an animation/panel similar to Rex above, where it mentions something like Gaston transforming and joining the battle again.

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    3. Just to be clear, you're talking about Delmair, not Gaston (who is my own creation). Also to be clear: There was no Amiga version of EotB3, so you're thinking about a different game.

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  16. There was no Amiga version of EOB III - I think publishers were starting to abandon the Amiga by 1993.

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  17. The feyrs in the trees are the only thing I remember about this game despite (I think) finishing it in probably 1995. The game left almost no impression on me at all.

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  18. It feels like this game has pacing issues more than anything else ? Your maps of the levels so far seem to be huge, but not much has happened yet, after 15 hours of playtime. In other games you'd be past the half-way point, but here it seems the end of the introduction ? How long is the game ?

    Maybe too early to judge but so far it seems it isn't as densely packed of interesting stuff as other games of the genre, even in comparison to Lands of Lore which you recently played..

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  19. On picking up arrows, although it remains a little annoying, I remember EOB3 having improved over EOB2 by letting you drop arrows onto the bow without needing to open the character's inventory. If you did this in EOB2, the arrow would replace the bow in the character's hand.

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    1. Was that added in this game? I could swear I did it in the other two

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    2. I had no idea. That definitely does make picking up arrows easier.

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  20. I think when you say it's boring you might be falling into the trap of judging it by today and so many other games passed. Back in the old days before torrent and plentiful downloads, it was a treasure to be able to buy any rpg off the market shelf. They were so few, especially in Australia.

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    1. Why should it matter how it was seen then? It's been 30 years, judging games by if they were good for the time says nothing about if the game's actually good, it just says how it compares to what was out at the time which is only really useful for historical context. I also feel like it carries an implication that old games can't be enjoyed today, when half the point of the blog is disproving that idea

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    2. Back in the old days, every game in general may have been a treasure, but this game in particular suffered from poor reviews and mediocre sales. It's almost as if, by 1993 standards and compared to to 1993 games like Lands of Lore or UU2 or Dark Sun, EOB3 is just rather boring.

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    3. @Anonymous: It's not a "trap", it's the modus operandi of this blog / its owner. As he states about his rating system (called GIMLET) in the FAQ (see drop-down menu at the top on mobile view or link on the upper right in desktop view): "It's also important to understand that the GIMLET ranks games as they are now, not as they were at the time. It's intended to compare games from wildly different eras."

      That's not to say he doesn't look at contemporaneous context and its place in CRPG history (usually in the final entry on a game), but the idea is to play a game and see how well it holds up and how much you/he (still) enjoy(s) it today, as Twibat mentions.

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    4. I acknowledge Anonymous's point. Writing from today's perspective cannot replicate the reactions to these games in their release years and locations. I do occasionally try to put myself in those positions mentally, but I also try to compare my own experiences with the reactions of the time through contemporary reviews.

      More than any of this, it just amuses me to think that Anonymous thought this issue hadn't come up before in 12 years and 460 games.

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    5. @Chet: My assumption was/is Anonymous hasn't been reading much else on the blog since he then would have noticed before how you write about these games, but rather happened to land on this page (maybe looking for nostalgic recollections of EotB III) - without noticing how many years and games this blog already has under its belt.

      It wouldn't be the first time (others have even commented on first entries of games as if those were your final words without noticing there are several more posts on it) and it won't be the last.

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    6. Doing this in defense of EoB3 is one thing (although, as mentioned, the game was poorly received at the time). My favorite version of this genre of comment is when Chet digs up some game called "Dragon Dungeon" that was the only known RPG available on an obscure Hungarian Amstrad knockoff, and the one person in the world who had it as a kid shows up to complain about everybody making fun of the masterpiece they spent years of their childhood playing.

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    7. I think Chet is pretty consistent about his stance on this.

      To me, the far bigger danger -- and only Chet can speak to how much this observation hits home -- is one inherent in all projects like this, where every game (or movie, book, etc.) that comes between you, and the highlights you/your audience yearn for, starts to look like an obstacle whose very existence you resent.

      A title that can offer a great deal of pleasure to someone who approaches it with goodwill can start to look like a meaningless waste of time to someone who just wants it to be over and out of the way so they can get to the "good stuff".

      It takes a combination of willpower and a certain type of personality not to get affected by that sort of thing; a lot of YouTube game library reviewers start out giving each title a full treatment, but sooner or later they start blowing through anything of marginal importance so they can get to the Greatest Hits that bring in the clicks, are easy to write about, and/or offer reliable, straightforward rewards.

      I think Chet's done an uncommonly fine job of resisting that impulse but, again, only he can speak to how much it costs him to do so.

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    8. (To be more concrete, what that "danger" often translates to, in my experience, is doing a shoddy job of reviewing the marginal stuff: relying on received wisdom, dismissing anything that isn't easily grasped, and just doing a half-assed job in general on anything that doesn't have a significant number of defenders/fans who might be angered.

      And again, Chet resists that about as well as anyone I've seen. A reviewer doing this kind of completist project should look to up their game for the obscure stuff, not phone it in, because the obscure stuff needs the love more and one serves humanity better by shedding new light upon the hidden, not by endlessly iterating on the same greatest hits. Historically speaking, Chet has generally lived up to that.)

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    9. I had the same assumption, Busca, but I was making a joke about it. I still don't really understand how it happens--or, rather, I don't understand the mentality of commenting on a blog post after landing on a single page without checking out what the blog is about.

      PK, your comment about some games looking obstacles "whose very existence you resent" hits close to home. I appreciate that you think I haven't crossed the line much, but I'm sure others feel differently. At times, my resentment has affected how I feel not just about the games but about the sites that list them and the contributors who put them there. If my March series had continued, before long my entries would have just been strings of obscenities.

      Still, I try.

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    10. can start to look like a meaningless waste of time to someone who just wants it to be over and out of the way so they can get to the "good stuff".

      Ah, you mean the stuff they've seen a million times and want to see again.

      I used to wonder why sitcoms were popular, and why Hollywood makes sequel after sequel after remake. I don't wonder any more - there are people out there that just want the same thing over and over.

      Never stop the completism. Frustrate the haters. They only have about a billion other sources of content that repeats again and again.

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    11. This reminds me of an interview I heard with someone that ran a metal zine, and discovered that a lot of small bands would send him CDs hoping for any little bit of press.

      He got really sick of hearing similar sounding bands to the point that of you were at all different he'd rate you much more highly then a band that was probably better to most people but was to similar to the last 500 albums he had listened to.

      Which is a hard problem, and I see it in game reviews today: if you are a publications X reviewer and have to play every game in that genre published you are likely going to weight novelty much higher then someone who buys one of those games a year, or even someone who is new to the genre.

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  21. Are you still playing angband?

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    1. It's still on the "current" list. And see Chet's reply to the same question by someone else three days ago: http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2022/03/status-report-ft-angband.html?showComment=1658371415488&m=1#c7107664230006126306.

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  22. Perhaps a trivial observation, but I couldn't help noticing the sprite for the statues flanking the niche seems to be derived from Insal the thief in EOB2, even sharing the "blackened" eye.

    https://gigi.nullneuron.net/comp/images/eob2/eob2-catacombs-08.png
    (picture the sprite mirrored)

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    1. Yup. Also, that druid with his books looks rather a lot like Bugsy the player character.

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    2. Thanks for pointing that out.There's a lot of re-use of assets in this series. I think it was in EotB2 that someone pointed out that most of the character portraits are just variants on each other. Here, a lot of the monsters use the same silhouette and animations, even if the "fill" is a bit different.

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  23. Wha... What happened to the 'Gang Wars' entry I read earlier this morning? Wrong schedule?

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    1. It got deleted because you weren't font of it.

      (Is that Buddy Holly playing in the background?)

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    2. I'm away from keyboard a lot, owning a large breed of dog, but Chet certainly wouldn't delete a post because of a minor formal quibble of mine, hmm.

      (Buddy Holly as in 'It Doesn't Matter Anymore'? I'm reaching, guys ;)

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    3. Hey, there's a times and a place for everything. We shouldn't be like some sort of new Roman senate, ordering Caesar to step down and submit to mere serifdom.

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    4. Buddy Holly as in crickets, which I'm sure you could hear after my lousy pun.

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  24. Missile Weapons: EOB3's solution to this is magical throwing weapons that return to your hand automatically. Give the Black Hammer you already found a try, there will be many more. Bows and slings are pointless in this game.
    Blessed Holy Symbol: It gives your cleric +1 spell per level.
    Thieves' Tools: Now that you picked up the gauntlets of giant strength, you can force any stuck lever they could be used for. Dump them to save inventory space.

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    1. If it works like it does in Dungeon Hack, Spiritual Hammer is also worth experimenting with.

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    2. ROT13: Pyrevp qhny-jvryqvat Fcvevghny Unzzre vf gur zbfg cbjreshy punenpgre va Qhatrba Unpx ol sne!

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