Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Eye of the Beholder III: Won! (with Summary and Rating)

 
Once again, I feel compelled to point out that at least four of these characters could have been evil.
          
Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor
United States
Strategic Simulations, Inc. (developer and publisher)
Released 1993 for DOS, 1994 for PC-98
Date Started: 5 July 2022
Date Ended: 2 August 2022
Total Hours: 29
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate (2.5/5)
Final Rating: (to come later)
Ranking at Time of Posting: (to come later)
    
Summary:
 
A short, unsatisfying sequel to Eye of the Beholder (1991) and Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon (1991). Assault has the party from the previous games transported from Waterdeep to Myth Drannor to address a nebulous threat. The game uses the same Dungeon Master-inspired engine as its predecessors and offers similar mechanics but tells a shorter story. [Ed. As commenters pointed out, it would have been better to say that it uses a recreated engine that replicates the experience of the previous games.] Aside from grating, loud sound effects, it doesn't do much that's overtly wrong; it even adds a few mechanical improvements such as an "All Attack" button and the ability for fighters to attack with long weapons from the second rank. But subtle issues of timing and balance come together to make this a less satisfying game. The game mostly wastes its Myth Drannor setting and populates its areas with a seemingly random selection of monsters.
   
*****
    
Never have I been so surprised to win a game. I wouldn't have guessed I was even at the halfway point. I figured we'd be chasing the Dark God through three or four more dungeons. I was planning to use four or five more Margaret Wolfe Hungerford books as subtitles; I figured there'd be potential places for Marvel, The Witching Hour, A Conquering Heroine, A Tug of War, An Anxious Moment, and perhaps even Moonshine and Marguerites. If you didn't figure out the subtitle puzzle, it's in Hungerford's Molly Bawn (1878) that the phrase "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" first appears. [Ed. The subtitles have all been changed to reference the works of Bishop Joseph Hall, whose works contain the first true known English use of the phase. Glad we got to the bottom of that.]
     
When I wrote last time, I had explored one level of the temple of Lathander, and there were three more levels to go, all of them relatively straightforward. We did a lot of things to clean and purify the temple, for which we received near-constant rewards from Lathander. Most enemies died in single "All Attack" actions. It was fundamentally too easy.
        
Blocking a fireball trap with a "Wall of Force."
     
Level 2 was a sprawling map full of shambling mounds and bone nagas. The shamblers were the last truly difficult enemy in the game, requiring multiple hits. Puzzles were primarily of the find-a-key, hidden button, or pressure-plate type. The game is fond of having lightning bolts or fireballs shoot from holes in walls when you step on plates or pull levers, or just walk through an area. Fortunately, my Wand of Wall of Force never seemed to run out of charges, and I got in the habit of putting a wall in front of every hole that I encountered so that the trap spells couldn't reach me.
      
I use some scrolls on the shambling mounds just to clear my inventory.
       
Statues of Lathander healed us as the god had promised on the last level. There were a few places where we put incense in censers for blessings or other spell effects, although we found far more incense than we could use. 

The level culminated in the discovery of a globe called Morning's Light. As soon as we picked it up, we got a cut scene in which Lathander appeared and gave us a two-handed sword +5 called Dhauzimmer, the Bright Blade. (I believe this is the first +5 weapon we've found since the first game.) It instantly destroys undead. This is the sword that Delmair was looking for, and I made a nod to role-playing by giving it to him and putting him in the front rank. This turned out to be a mistake, as every time he was attacked, he turned into a damned tiger and dropped the sword. The one saving grace is that from this point forward, enemies hardly ever managed to damage us.
      
We carried that orb for the rest of the game but never found a use for it.
   
As we arrived on Level 3, we learned that a "putrid stench of carrion" was in the air. We couldn't rest on the level until we purified it. This involved running around and finding brass keys that opened four rooms with braziers. We had to find four rocklike objects called Embers of Hope and burn them in the braziers. This caused four goblets to appear in a central hallway. Putting the four goblets into four niches caused a room to open in the center of the level. Every time we entered the room, we enjoyed a bountiful feast that fully healed and restored our food meters.
      
"'Final battle?' Already?" I said at this point.
             
The level's enemies were spirit nagas and banshees. Spirit nagas supposedly have a poison attack, but they never poisoned us, probably because it took significantly fewer than all of my characters to kill them. Banshees frankly ought to have been more dangerous than they were. They had a howl we could hear from across the dungeon, which I thought was supposed to kill us or something. Instead, they just died at the merest touch of Dhauzimmer. Frankly, I don't think it would have been hard to kill them without it. 
      
I don't know what's "spiritual" about the "spirit naga."
     
Something we did caused a Key of Faith to appear on an altar. Later, we found a teleporter that kept returning us to the same room. But a nearby plaque read "Faith must go before all good souls." It took me a few minutes of bumbling around to realize that the game wanted us to toss the key into the teleporter before entering ourselves. This brought us to Level 4.
        
Unfortunately, Faith quit last week.
      
Level 4 began with a difficult puzzle. There were three locked doors in the room and a plaque that read, "Against these gates neither stealth nor sword nor prayer shall prevail." I searched in vain for hidden buttons or other devices. Re-reading the plaque, I realized that it covered the strengths of fighters, thieves, and clerics, but conspicuously avoided saying anything about mages. I tried a number of offensive spells against the doors before I sheepishly got them to open with "Dispel Magic." One review complained that you had to have a mage at some point, and I guess this was it.
   
In rushed the level's two enemies: shadow hounds and death knights. Both are purely physical attackers that cause no adverse conditions, hardly what you'd expect for last-level enemies.
     
Fireballing some death knights.
    
The goal of the level was to find a Staff of Life and use it to banish an image of death or shadow or something. (I confess I touched the shadow when I first found it, and he killed half of my party members, requiring a reload.) This caused a doorway to appear. We had to find a "Sun Mask" to fit into the door. Honestly, the hardest part of the level was figuring out that the Sun Mask was something that we could pick up and not just a decoration on the wall. Besides a couple of illusory pits, hardly anything on the level gave me pause.
         
Banishing some weird shadow hanging out in the wall.
      
A teleporter activated on the other side of the Sun Door, and I was smart enough to realize that something big was coming, but I still didn't expect it to be the endgame battle. I buffed with all the buffing spells I had, though I don't think we ever needed much more than "Haste."
      
Getting ready for something.
    
A cut scene began on the other side of the teleporter. The Dark God, sitting on a throne and flanked by death knights and shadow hounds, gave a villain's exposition:
    
"Welcome, fabled heroes of Waterdeep. Is my allowing you to live to see the conquest of this city not reward enough for you? I hired you fools to distract Acwellan. I didn't actually think you would defeat him. Perhaps age has finally taken its toll on that old fool."
           
I think it was more us taking the toll.
      
As we watched, his visage changed from a human one to a gaunt skull. "Now that Myth Drannor's last protector and guardian is dead, I may take what I have coveted for so long. You do not know the power you intend to challenge. Did you actually think that you can take on a god! Take them!"
         
A figure with a deformed face and black robes, sitting on a throne, telling me that I don't understand the power of the dark side. I feel I've seen this before.
      
A final battle began in a relatively cramped room. Delmair was almost immediately hit, changed into a tiger, and dropped his sword. I picked it up and gave it to Starling, figuring it might be required to defeat the creature.
      
Delmair needs to exert better control over this condition of his.
       
I pulled out a "Time Stop" scroll I'd been saving for a big battle and cast it, then swiftly took down the death knights and shadow hounds. The Dark God unfroze just as I started to focus on him exclusively. He only lasted three or four "All Attacks" before he died. If he had any special attacks or effects, I didn't experience any. 
   
When he was dead, the final scene commenced. A foul spirit left his crumpled body as Lathander appeared in the room.
      
"My friends, you have done it. You have saved Myth Drannor and thus the world from the wrath of this dark power. As we speak, other powers are at work to ensure that this vile entity shall never wreak his havoc again in this plane of existance [sic]. If the Dark God had any more time, there is no telling how many of his shadow creatures would have come through the gate.
        
With a god and mysterious "other powers" all opposing the Dark God, you have to wonder what we were doing here.
     
"Do not fret over the death of Acwellen. His task is done here. It is time for the living to protect what is right and just."
     
The scene shifted to show us outside, limping away from the ruins, greeted by the Knights of Myth Drannor. "Well met, heroes! Let us be the first to congratulate and thank you for what you have done here today for all life." They then offered us membership in their fellowship, which I guess given the endgame screen at the top of this entry, we accepted. No one was apparently in any hurry to return to Waterdeep.
         
I don't know who's speaking here, but he's the epitome of unfounded optimism.
     
I'm afraid the game satisfied me neither mechanically nor thematically. I shall outline why in the GIMLET:
   
  • 3 points for the game world. I liked the Myth Drannor setting, but the plot could have used a bit more flesh. The "Dark God" needed a bit more of a backstory; it seems unlikely that he was actually a god if we were able to kill him at Level 11. The novelette that came with the game had little to do with gameplay, and even contradicted it. If I had been in charge of production, I would have insisted that the novelette weave a story that included all of the NPCs and not just Delmair.
  • 3 points for character creation and development. Creation is fine, but my characters gained only two or three levels in the entire game and fell far short of the game's maximum level, which I don't even know how you'd reach. I don't think that a different party composition would offer a substantially different experience. I never experienced two whole mage spell levels and one cleric spell level. Has anyone? How?
  • 3 points for NPC interaction. It's nice that a few NPCs can join the party, and at least nominally have their own quests. What's less fun is that once they join the party, they cease to have any personalities of their own, and they never even acknowledge when you've solved their individual missions.
  • 4 points for encounters and foes. The D&D bestiary usually has a satisfying variety of strengths and weaknesses, but I wasn't satisfied with the selection of foes in this game. They seem to have been chosen (or invented) more for how they allowed re-use of existing graphic assets rather than for any thematic value. For one of the first times in a D&D game, I didn't find myself substantially changing my tactics to different foes, with the exception of the living mucks on Level 1 of the temple. There were a couple of noncombat encounters, but often with unsatisfying dialogue options. I found the puzzles too easy, but many of them at least had a theme, and they're worth a point.
       
Most puzzles in this game were fundamentally too easy.
     
  • 4 points for magic and combat. D&D rules and Dungeon Master gameplay were always a poor fit, but never more so than here. Combat is so easy that most of the spells are wasted. Even worse, I found that I took more damage trying to fiddle with spells than if I just danced around and kept hitting "All Attack." Despite this, spell effects are decently implemented, and I liked some of the additions to combat mechanics, such as the ability to attack with polearms.
        
When Father Jon started casting "Ice Storm," the shadow hounds were at least two squares away.
      
  • 4 points for equipment. I suppose this is one of the stronger parts of the game, with a lot of slots and six characters to spread items around. I wouldn't have minded if the game had included some boots. And I never understand why items always have to be found in fixed locations and always have to be the same for every game and every player.
  • 0 points for no economy. All I'm asking is for a merchant wagon on the outskirts of Myth Drannor with a few items worth saving for (and harder overall gameplay so you value those items).
  • 3 points for a main quest and one optional area.
  • 3 points for graphics, sound, and interface. The graphics are fine, particularly the cut scenes, but the sound is a cacophonous horror show. The keyboard and mouse work well together in the interface, but the game loses points for timing issues that must be experienced to truly understand.
  • 2 points for gameplay. It's far too linear and easy, and I wouldn't call it replayable. Given that it was a bit boring and easy, I'm happy that it wrapped up quickly.
   
That's a final score of 29, a poor showing for a sequel to games that earned 41 and 40. I tried to find things to like about it, tried to keep the experience positive, but the game just felt perfunctory. It didn't feel like anyone had created it with love, or tried very hard to innovate above what the genre had already offered.
     
"Petite finale" probably wouldn't have sold as many copies.
        
My reactions are not unique. Scorpia, writing in her tenth anniversary issue of Computer Gaming World (August 1993), mostly criticized the game. She thought its graphics were worse than Darkmoon. I'm not saying I disagree, just that if they were, I didn't notice it. But she agrees with me on sound ("aurally, the game is a nightmare"). She hated the anti-magic area even though she adopted the same simple solution that I did: "I used [the Helm of Water Breathing] to keep a fighter/magic-user alive to map out the section and cast spells to find the limits of the anti-magic zones. Then, I restored the game and raced the party through to the spot where magic worked again."
   
She agreed that "the big fight at the end is a letdown," even mentioning using a "Time Stop" scroll as I did. "Supposedly a god in mortal form, he gave us far less trouble than Dran Draggore in The Legend of Darkmoon." Amen. "Overall," she concluded, "Assault on Myth Drannor is a disappointment . . . What started as a series with great promise has, alas, ended on a mediocre note." MobyGames's review summary has a median score in the 60s, compared to around 90 for Darkmoon and about 82 for the first game.
     
I suppose if it were 1993, and I were itching for a sequel to Darkmoon, this would have at least kept me occupied. It would have been easy to ease into. But it doesn't seem to advance a sub-genre that's begging to be advanced. It doesn't even respond to the challenge of Dungeon Master clones with more open worlds, like Ishar, let alone grittier, less abstract titles like Ultima Underworld. In some ways, Assault feels less "bad" than tone deaf. Only hours after playing it, I'm thinking of it less as an unpleasant experience and more as an unnecessary one. 
       
Endgame credits are becoming more common as the years pass.
       
I'll be curious to see how it stands up against Dungeon Hack, SSI's last release of the year. I had been hoping to hear from lead programmer John Miles, whose email address I had from our correspondence on Mindtrap, but he never wrote back. His next RPG will be Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager. His strengths seem to lie more in third-person games (e.g., Ultima V, Dark Sun: Shattered Lands), though I'm guessing that his Assault came with the dual shackles of an existing engine and a very tight deadline.
 
 

144 comments:

  1. When I first played this, I enjoyed it....but became disappointed a week or so later when I realized that it was that short. Looking back at it now, and through your gameplay, it feels like a DLC and not a true sequel. Adding additional gameplay to Darkmoon, without really being a new environment. It would have been easy to word the game as that kind of add-on if they had them back then.

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    1. Well, contra what Chet has here I’m pretty sure part of the problem is this wasn’t actually churned out using the EOB1/2 engine; SSI appears not to have had the rights to Westwood’s code, so they reverse-engineered a new engine that mimicked the one used in previous games. This was presumably fairly time consuming, and given how many bugs were in the initial release (I could never get to level two of the mausoleum without fatal crashes) they didn’t do a great job.

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    2. Indeed. I feel that if Chet had played the first released version (instead of the patch) he would likely have subtracted points for crashes and overall bugginess.

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    3. Hell hath no fury like a Chet corrected.

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    4. Whether or not a reimplementation of (almost) the same spec with a different code base counts as the same engine is definitely above my pay grade! Just wanted to point out that SSI decided to go with the worst of both worlds -- reimplementing the EOB1/2 engine locked them into a stale design that was showing its age, while having to redo it from scratch robbed the developers of time to generate more content, and deprived them of the advantages of a stable, less-buggy code base.

      Given the fast-expiring D&D license, and SSI's generally dire fiscal straits, I can see why they decided to go this route, but it definitely set the game up for failure.

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    5. I'd argue that the common usage is for a "game engine" to include the code. As evidenced here, a reproduction may get very subtle things incorrect that would be almost impossible if reusing the same code.

      There are several aspects of the game here that are intertwined, but in practice may vary somewhat independently. The abstract rules of the game, like "D&D 2nd ed.," the mechanics of the game as coded, the code for rendering the game interface and processing input, the game interface design, the authoring tools and pipeline... An engine like Doom 2 might only include rendering code and authoring tools (I don't know). The EOB engine used in 1 and 2, or the Infinity Engine, probably include a lot more of these.

      But I'd expect any clean room implementation to be considered a different engine, even if it wasn't any more ambitious than its predecessor.

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    6. An engine refers to the internal workings of a game, not to how it looks on the outside. To stick with the car metaphor: the EOB3 car has the same body (exterior) as the earlier games, but it requires different parts and tires, runs on different fuel, and handles/accelerates differently; all because it's a completely different engine inside.

      For instance, EOB1/2 is 16-bit, EOB3 is 32-bit. EOB1/2 runs in EGA or on an Amiga, EOB3 does not. 1 and 2 use ADL music, CPS graphics, and one-file saved games; 3 uses XMI music, packed BMP graphics, and a folder of level files as saves. EOB1/2 saves and switches levels almost instantly, 3 takes a rather long time to do so. EOB1/2 interrupts the action for spellcasting, EOB3 does it concurrently. The internal workings, data structures, and opcodes are completely different.

      Here's a fun thing I found: there's a group of fans called ScummVM that reverse engineers old game engines to make them run on newer platforms. From their work, it turns out that EOB1 and 2 share their engine with Lands of Lore, and (surprisingly) the Kyrandia adventure games. EOB3 shares its engine with Dungeon Hack and with none of the above.

      The work by ScummVM conclusively shows that the AESOP engine is not a modification of the Westwood engine, but rather a different engine written from scratch, likely because SSI didn't have access to the source code.

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    7. I deleted a somewhat rude reply. Very well. I accept this thread's correction on the definition of "engine." I have appended an edit the post where I used the term.

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    8. Sorry, didn't mean to be nitpicky! Just seemed relevant to point that out given Rick S's point -- given the different code-bases they technically couldn't have released it as an expansion to EOB2 even if they'd wanted to. And then since my first attempt to play this game when I was 13 was stymied by a bunch of crash bugs that definitely weren't present in EOB1 and 2, I think I have some pent-up frustration that leaked out :)

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    9. The term we're looking for is "interface", rather than engine. EOB3 reuses the (rather outdated at that point) EOB1 interface.

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    10. I assumed that EOB3 used the same engine as EOB1 and EOB2, which left me puzzled with all of the reported issues. The fact that it is not actually the same engine, but rather a new engine that simply has the same look and feel as the old one, explains a lot.

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  2. I loved the first one. I didn’t have a machine that could play dungeon master so it was my first exposure to that style of game. I enjoyed the second one and while I know I played this one but I couldn’t remember anything about it. It was forgettable.

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  3. The new cutscene graphics are much worse than in previous EoBs, though the game also reuses assets like character portraits so it's a mixed bag. Darkmoon had Rick Parks doing that vibrant signature early Westwood game art, and then went on to do Lands of Lore and Legend of Kyrandia. Just compare the close-up picture of the lich from a couple updates ago to just about any cutscene from Darkmoon.

    Minor thing I noticed is that the first two EoBs used ALLCAPS font for their status text while 3 introduces lowercase letters to the tiny font. This also feels like a mistake, the text is noticeably unpleasant to read at least in the small screenshots.

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    1. I think one of the issues is the bland palette of colors used, very muted and bland... the starting sewer levels in EOTB1 look more vibrant and intersting than anything in EOTB3.

      Also getting to the last location and realizing that the tile set used is basically the same as the Mausoleum kind of tells you how half-hearted the effort was.

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    2. To me, the absence of the brilliant Rick Parks is even more agonising in the outright amateurish Lathander (Captain Bible) closeups.

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    3. And that tileset from the mausoleum is taken from EOB2.

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    4. Thank you for remembrance of Rick Parks!

      A few years ago I tried to gather little bits of information about him and put it in a small tribute at Vogons.

      Recently I've found that some other people expanded that info and organized it better in the Lands of Lore Wiki.

      Here's a link for those who would like to learn a little more about the Great Artist that was Rick Parks:

      https://lands-of-lore.fandom.com/wiki/Rick_Parks

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    5. Absolutely, Futility. I can't have been the only artist inspired by Rick's work. It's simply outstanding, and especially noticeable in its era!

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  4. The "Did you actually think that you can take on a god!" line sounds pretty familiar, too. Not word by word, but I feel we've had something similar in several other endgame encounters.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. It remind me most of Dagoth Ur: "I am a god. How can you kill a god? What a grand and intoxicating innocence."

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  5. I was a bit puzzled about the quote "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" because I never heard of this author before but the idiom is quite popular in German. So I searched for the German idiom "Schönheit liegt im Auge des Betrachters". I get results sourcing it back to Thukydides (454 - 398 BC).

    Actually, I cannot find a clear answer of its origins. German Wiktionary lists quite a few occurences of this idiom in several languages which would be astounding if it's less than 2 centuries old in English.

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    1. The first time I read that sentence in English was in Ultima VII Part 2 :)

      In Naples they have the slighly different but more entertaining saying "Ogni scarrafone ė bello a mamma soja" - "Every cockroach looks beautiful to his mother".

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    2. Well, that's interesting. I agree that the phrase has a classic feeling that makes the Hungerford origin suspect, but I just went with what I got from Wikipedia and the first few Google results. It may be that Hungerford's use is the first known English appearance of a saying that was common in other languages.

      I'm trying to decide whether the English part matters. "Eye of the Beholder" is a somewhat peculiar way of saying it in English. I can't think of a single time I've heard the word beholder used in English that wasn't quoting that adage or referring to the D&D monster. Is the German version memorable that way, or does it use words that are relatively common? If the German phrase literally translates as "beauty lies in the eye of the viewer," I'm not sure I'd consider them precisely the same thing.

      Another thing that came up as I looked into these origins: It's possible that I was incorrect in my assumption that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is the origin of the "eye of the beholder" part. Apparently, it's more common than I thought to use "eye of the beholder" as meaning "a matter of opinion." I see the phrase attached to freedom, victory, bravery, leadership, and other qualities, and now I"m not sure what is first.

      In the end, though, I think the reason the title of the game resonates is because of the "beauty" adage that almost every English-speaker hears at one point or another. And I'm still happy to give Hungerford the credit if she's the first known English usage of a phrase that had it been translated differently would be a lot less memorable.



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    3. If there's anyone out there who hasn't already seen it, you might enjoy the cover art to the only issue of Dragon Magazine I ever bought back in the day, an "April Fool's" issue filled with silly content: https://oldschoolfrp.tumblr.com/post/157238817853/eye-of-the-beholder-daniel-horne-dragon-156

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    4. @Chet: I'm no linguist, so I can only offer my 2 cents.

      - While it's usually said the concept and similar descriptions of the same are much older, but this was the first use of that specific expression (see e.g. https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder.html), this page claims to have found at least two quotes of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" predating the 1878 'Molly Bawn' one:
      https://knowyourphrase.com/beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder.

      - "Im Auge des Betrachters" to me is a fixed expression as much as "in the eye of the beholder". Though "Betrachter" might in theory also be used as "viewer" in other contexts, I'd say these are few and far between. The only one I could think of is when speaking about someone looking at a piece of art.

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    5. Hello Chet, first time commenter here (I've been reading your Wizardry 4 entries) and I wanted to let you know that the OED traces English use of the phrase back to at least 1630 in Bishop Joseph Hall's Occasionall meditations: "Outward beauty is more in the eye of the beholder, then in the face that is seene." They have recorded several variants that use synonyms like "looker on" and "gazer." For comparison, they quote the Ancient Greek poet Theocritus (3rd century BCE), translated "for in the eyes of love that which is not beautiful often seems beautiful," but they don't mention whether he may have taken that phrase from Thucydides or someone earlier.

      The info is here under the full entry for "eye":
      https://www.oed.com/viewdictionaryentry/Entry/67296

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    6. Busca, the page you linked doesn't have any such claim that I can see. They point to some earlier sources that express a similar sentiment, but we're not talking about sentiment here, which is why I don't think the existence of a comparable phrase in other languages really matters. SSI didn't title the game Auge des Betrachters, even though a "betrachter" sounds like a cool D&D monster. It chose a phrase that would ring in English-language ears, and so it's the English-language phrase using that specific term that we should care about.

      Now if the OED has an earlier source, great, it's not Hungerford. When I get a chance, I'll go back through all these entries and try to think of new subtitles.

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    7. The D&D monster is called "Betrachter" in German as well, and the word is much more limited in use than "viewer" (which would be "Zuschauer" in most contexts). I think I have only ever seen it as a noun in the fantasy context, and in the (extremely common) idiom. The word "betrachten" could be translated as "to view", but it is much more narrow in meaning, because it connotes a very careful and pensive, but at the same time disinterested way of looking at an object. To me, the prototypical situation would be a 19th century scientist inspecting a plant specimen with a magnifying glass. My impression is that is otherwise mostly used to describe interactions with paintings and mirror images, as well as in some more abstract idioms such as " nüchtern betrachten", literally "to view soberly", probably best translated as "keep in perspective".

      Coming back to the main point, a game titled "Auge des Betrachters" in German would evoke the idiom so strongly that the interpretation as the organ of the fantasy creature would not even occur to me.

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    8. Its not like the references in the subtitles don't have meaning even if it is not the very first example of the phrase.

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    9. @Chet: Not sure why you got hung up on this. Or maybe it's another example of me sometimes not properly understanding the mood/meaning of written (English) language without emoticons.

      The part on German I mentioned (same as Morna afterwards, I assume) was just an answer to the question you had posed in your second paragraph above ("Is the German version memorable that way, or does it use words that are relatively common?" etc.).

      The (second) page I link above does contain earlier quotes of the specific phrase. Maybe you just looked at the first link which I gave as an example of what you also mention (earlier expressions of the same sentiment, but not the exact phrase). Though they are rather obscure and now moot anyway after the much earlier OED one Recent Lurker dug up.

      In the end to me neither has any impact on the subtitles (and even without a smiley I'm sure you're not considering changing them). Based on the sources almost everyone would first stumble on, Hungerford is the first well known use of the expression and therefore a choice that makes sense for the subtitle quotes.

      As I'm sure is the case with many other readers, I value and enjoy these little thoughtful touches that go beyond "pure CRPG territory". And another thing I value in the same vein are interesting comments and discussions on this blog which expand not only my knowledge of CRPGs and their evolution, but also of many other aspects of life and "general culture". This here to me was and is just another example and I hope to continue to see many of both (subtitle wordplays or references and broader subjects touched upon in the comments section) in the future :-).

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    10. @Chet, by no means did I want you to change subtitles!

      It just was some kind of linguistic, historical curiosity. There are English idioms that made their way into German (or other languages) but the archaic feeling of "Im Auge des Betrachters" hinted at a far older origin than mere two centuries.

      As has already been mentioned, "betrachten" has a slightly different meaning than just "to view".

      However, I was glad to have learned something new.

      @morna.bla, regarding a German language title "[Das] Auge des Betrachters" (like "Lord of the Rings" became "_Der_ Herr der Ringe"), I'm quite sure English native speakers had the same feeling before "Eye of the Beholder" landed in the shelves. People unfamiliar with D&D couldn't even think of any other feeling, as Beholders aren't very popular outside of D&D. People familiar with D&D on the other hand might appreciate the wordplay after some time to let the title sink in.

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    11. Die Schönheit liegt im Auge des Betrachters is the german turn of phrase. Betrachter is similar to viewer, but more important, is exactly the name of the DnD Monster concerned.

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    12. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" sounds so Shakespearean, I am genuinely surprised it's not one of his.

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  6. The Forgotten Realms is a pretty big deal, and first impressions count. Note how the first game opens up with the Lords of Waterdeep hiring you; the second game has THE Khelben Blackstaff himself; and the third has a generic guy in a generic tavern. Right. Then the game starts in a wide open area in an engine that looks much better when showing walls; and unless you import a party, you start surrounded by monsters that you can't hurt. And then it crashes.

    Well, that's just setting players up for disappointment in the first half hour of gameplay, isn't it?

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    1. Next to Undermountain, Myth Drannor is probably the most high profile 'dungeon' in FR. Unfortunately the two games it has its name appended to are duds.

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    2. The one with Undermountain in its name ain’t so hot either. Actually, now that I think of it the port on Toril in Spelljammer is part of Undermountain too - I’m sensing a theme…

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    3. I am unreasonably excited to see the Addict's take on Descent to Undermountain someday. Sadly, it's still a ways off.

      Congrats on finishing off the EotB series, Addict, even if it ended on a disappointing note. Dungeon Hack's an intriguing experiment but not one with a lot of depth.

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    4. So here's a weird little conspiracy theory: What if this game was originally developed without the surety that SSI would still be able to use the D&D license? They were coming up on a deadline, I think, and perhaps if EotB3 had been delayed, they wouldn't have been able to market it as a D&D game. That would explain why the plot seems so generic, the setting could be anywhere, and most of the monsters aren't even drawn from D&D canon; the developers were keeping things as generic as possible in case they had to sell the game as an original title.

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    5. That sounds plausible. I was thinking that, canon aside, tabletop players want to see some of their favorite monsters in a computer game; but the most famous ones are under copyright.

      EOB1 and 2 indeed have a large amount of "fan favorite" monsters (like drow, mind flayers, gelatinous cubes, thri-kreen, and so on); and every other D&D CRPG I can think of tries to use famous and iconic monsters. And EOB3 has only generic stuff like ghosts, or weird critters that most players wouldn't recognize. Heck, there isn't even a beholder in the game.

      The Digital Antiquarian writes that SSI's license was unexpectedly extended for about a year, at the very last minute, so I think your theory is spot-on.

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    6. Unless he contradicts himself in a different article, Jimmy Maher wrote in Opening the Gold Box, Part 5: "While Eye of the Beholder was still high on the charts, TSR and SSI agreed to extend their original five-year contract, which was due to expire on January 1, 1993, by eighteen months to mid-1994." which implies the extension was done in 1991. EOB III had a fair amount of breathing room before the license expired.

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    7. Well, it was just a thought, so I'm not going to fight hard to "prove" it, but EotB3 wasn't released until almost the end of the year, so an extra six months seems to me on the edge of what you'd call a "fair amount of breathing room," especially if they had to rebuild the engine. I'd also point out that I have no reason to doubt Maher's facts, "SSI agreed to extend their five-year contract . . . to mid-1994" doesn't tell us anything about the conditions of that extension. Maybe it was just a verbal agreement. Maybe it was subject to revocation at any time. I still think my theory has some viability.

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    8. Jimmy might "imply" that it's 1991 in that article, but he outright states in the next article that it was 1992. It is plausible that development on EOB3 was already underway at that point.

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    9. That's the contradiction then. Parts 5 and 6 came out two and a half years apart so he must have found a firmer time period, "early 1992", by then or at least decided to be less vague the second time it came up. My main point is that the deal between SSI and TSR was not something that came up at the last minute. Maher outright says it was released in May and review timing e.g 8/93 for CGW doesn't contradict that.

      It seems strange to me that SSI would build in a contingency like that when most if not all the development would have occurred after the extension with a release slightly over a year before the deal ended. EOB III shares most of it's staff with Shattered Lands, and they simply might have been spread too thin between both projects. SL got the main effort as the next flagship RPG while EOB III got the absolute minimum to the point it barely feels like a D&D game since it was the safe sequel with a build in audience.

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    10. It probably didn't happen the way I hypothesized. I just thought it was a fun thought experiment given how "generic" this game feels in its use of locations and monsters, with all of the specifics in cut scene title cards.

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  7. I put the time stop scroll in my spellbook because I was expecting to eventually be able to cast it; so I couldn't use it in the final battle. However, this fight is not overly difficult even without time stop.

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    1. I was thinking it would be an interesting mechanic if a game rewarded you with bonus endgame content for carrying powerful consumables to the end without using them. Then it would work as a sort of built in difficulty mode. Players that are struggling can go ahead and use them to make progress, but skilled players are encouraged not to use them and thereby not undermine the challenge.

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    2. I like it! I'd certainly benefit from that with most games I play.

      Anon, I believe there are at least two "Time Stop" scrolls in the game, but I agree--it's not necessary for the final battle.

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  8. Honestly, I was 13 years old when I first played this, and without extensive knowledge of the genre or overanalyzing its gameplay, it was just good enough back then.

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    1. At 13 years old, I suspect what you didn't do was not "overanalyze" it but rather "analyze" it.

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    2. Good one, you got me there ;)

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    3. I recognize CRPGaddict's comment as one that's been made by all of us who have had to grade undergraduate papers.

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  9. Also, has anyone seen the 'Dungeons&Dragons: Honor among Thieves' trailer? I think they nailed the tone of a tabletop group this time, and I hope it gets really succesful, so we can enjoy a 'Dark Sun' spinoff, a 'Ravenloft' spinoff, an 'Al-Qadim' spinoff, you name it...

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    1. The trailer makes me think it'll be standard buddy-hero fare, but with awkward nouns thrown in.

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    2. It will be terrible. With how popular watching people play D&D has become though it has a good chance to make a ton of money.

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    3. No, no... this is a cause for celebration, guys!

      If they manage to squeeze in a framing story with suburbian teenagers playing at a table, mirroring their heroes, occasionally cutting back and forth between the two spheres, that could be something really innovative and fun (plus they could get all the product placement they want). Commercialisation is a boon in this special case, the more RPG awareness, the better.

      On to the D&DCU!

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    4. As long as it's better than the one with Jeremy Irons and Marlon Wayans, I'm not going to complain too much.

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    5. Bestie, so basically the D&D equivalent to the Lego movie? I have my doubts about this one going that meta, although I could see it working. I think Hasbro/WotC is more likely to want a D&Dverse that's as self-important as the Avengers movies.

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    6. Bruce, I'm unironically optimistic with this one, since audiences have become accustomed to high-fantasy concepts by the way of LOTR and GOT, so WotC have no qualms putting a Displacer Beast and Gelatinous Cube(!) in the same frame during the damn trailer.

      After the ongoing success of 'Stranger Things', opening and bookending their classic fantasy romp with some likable teenagers playing the actual game seems like a no-brainer. It would also be a great story device for changing settings and lore on a whim (thus not being stuck in the Forgotten Realms for the next nine movies). Fingers crossed!

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    7. "The movie focuses on a group of four friends who are transported into the titular realm and follows their adventures as they try to find a way home with the help of their guide the Dungeon Master, while combating an evil wizard, Venger"

      Sounds cool.

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    8. I can't imagine any modern team of screenwriters *not* coming up with this very concept on the first pitch meeting during the past five years...

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    9. Venger is from the 1980s cartoon, I thought.

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    10. Yeah, I pasted the synopsis from the cartoon, twas a joke.

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    11. I feel like a framing story involving kids playing D&D would be clever, but it would also ruin any tension in the main part of the film.

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    12. There would be no reason (other than the meta-reason of "stories rarely end with 'and then everybody died,'" which applies at least as much without the framing method) to presume that a D&D game would not end in a total party kill.

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  10. Forgotten Realms and MCU share a problem: Any actually world-threatening event would be handled by the immortals. Hawkeye, Black Widow and other Level 11s are going to be responsible for tasks of modest importance only.

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    1. That's why a reasonably-written FR story is about something like a dragon trying to take over a country; not about an unnamed "dark god" taking over the world through unspecified means.

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  11. I wasted way too much time as a teenager grinding up levels just to see the high-level spells. There's a doorway in the Mausoleum that spawns a bunch of enemies whenever you walk through. Absolutely not worth it.

    Also, to make the boss fight even more anticlimactic, you can chuck your throwing weapons through the teleporter that takes you to the fight, and kill him without ever triggering his villain speech.

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    1. That's pretty hilarious, to be honest.

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    2. Verified! That's awesome. It took about 35 arrows and a couple dozen throws of other missile weapons, but it works. Suddenly the game just cuts to the final set of scenes.

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    3. That is hilarious! There's been some gold in these comments, but that wins the day for me!

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    4. In fairness, you can do similar to one of the tougher bosses in Dark Souls.

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  12. Also, Death Knights reduced to mooks? This DM is a powergaming 12 year-old.

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    1. I was gonna say… Death Knights absolutely have spells in tabletop.

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    2. Their fireball ability was rather memorably implemented in Death Knights of Krynn.

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    3. And in Order of the Stick.

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    4. You sure you're not thinking of the Eye of Fear and Flame? The only Death Knight I recall appearing in OotS was in the battle for Azure City, and it didn't cast any Fireballs...

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    5. The 1e Death Knight definitely could cast Fireball, but that wasn't remotely all it could do. This article runs down the original 1e Fiend Folio entry: https://oldschoolroleplaying.com/death-knights-in-dungeons-and-dragons/

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    6. The Eye of Fear and Flame was also a Fiend Folio monster, though.

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    7. Order of the Stick death knight casting fireball, here: https://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0440.html

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  13. Note for Chet: on your index of games by series, for the list "Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms", neither Greyhawk Temple of the Elemental Evil nor Planescape Torment takes place in the Forgotten Realms.

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    1. I wrote and maintain that page.

      I included "Planescape: Torment" with the other Infinity Engine games to avoid putting it in the huge "standalone games" section. Similar reasoning for "Temple of the Elemental Evil", set in Greyhawk ("D&D Heroes" has to go next to "Dark Alliance" and "D&D Tactics" is a handheld console game).

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    2. But why? Planescape Torment IS a stand-alone game, not (as your list suggests) the sequel to Baldur's Gate. Likewise, the Buck Rogers games are not forgotten realms despite using the Gold Box engine.
      After all, you're sorting by series and not by engine.

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    3. (Please choose a pseudonym. No ideas? Can we call you Johnmark?)

      The list by series is far from rocket science (I am a scientist myself). Simply put, I like to find any kind of link between games and, if reasonably possible, avoid putting them in the "standalone" section. Do not overthink it.

      Instead, do as I usually do: press "Ctrl+S" while on the webpage you object (thus saving it on your computer), then open the HTML file using the Notepad, then edit it as you like. It will be a personal file on your own computer "for your eyes only", but "your eyes" will be happy. This is the way I learned HTML.

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    4. I like your work Abacos, the only thing I can think of is perhaps adding a "See also: Wasteland" to the Bard's Tale section.

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    5. In deference to Abacos, I'll let him tell me if and when it's time to make edits to that list.

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  14. That this and Wake of the Ravager were led by John Miles makes a lot of sense, Ultima VIII has a scroll that really skewers EOBIII in an unkind way and Wake of the Ravager has a retort taking the piss out of U8

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    1. Please quote those for us!

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    2. https://wiki.ultimacodex.com/wiki/Ultima_VIII_books#Eye_of_the_Boulder.2C_the_Runes_of_Myth_Drainer

      "...Immediately, its dire effects became apparent. My memory and other mental faculties grew weaker, the images I beheld lost resolution, and the sounds around me began to seem like bland reproductions. I left my hidden tower, staggering forward at a grueling pace, one step at a time. And since then, the events of my days have seemed the tired tellings of a poor storyteller, and all I have wanted is release.
      I am ashamed to have wasted so much time and so many of my resources upon such a disappointing thing. I sought nothing less than the Ultimate, but instead received only a pale reflection, a hint of what could have been."

      No punches pulled there! The book in Wake of the Ravager is called "Prince of Pagnasta" but I can't find a text dump.

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    3. That must be the best writing in Ultima 8, by some distance.

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    4. Prince of Pagnasta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyzWjl9f7jE&t=526s

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    5. That's hilarious. I knew about the dig in Ultima 8, but not about the reply in Ravager.

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    6. Never Played Wake of the Ravager, but that bit of back and forth is one of the funniest petty feuds I've heard about in a while.

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  15. I mentioned in previous thread that Living Muck can't eat the +5 sword from EOB1. I'm pretty sure it also can't eat the +5 halberd from the same game, or indeed any +5 weapon. Dhauzimmer can't be eaten either, and here's my suspicion: I think the developers wanted to ensure Dhauzimmer, as a plot-relevant item, is safe, but instead of flagging it specially protected they accomplished that goal circuitously by instead making the Muck only capable of eating items of +4 and below, then put no other plus-fives in the game. Not a big deal, but contributes to the general sloppy image of the game.

    I've read somewhere that the final boss can't be killed all the way without using the sword, but didn't bother experimenting whether that's true or not. At that point I just wanted it to be over. EOB3 was a shameful ending to a series that was meant for so much more.

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    1. "didn't bother experimenting whether that's true or not" - Well apparently not, if thrown weapons can kill him. Just read that bit now. Never mind.

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  16. One way to hit the level cap in this game is to grind on the abominations (wings, curly horns, and an elephant's trunk) in the second game. There was a map manipulation that could be done to spawn a few of them if I recall correctly. If you had enough EXP for level 20 then you wouldn't get those levels in the second game but would get 1 level/kill when those characters are imported into the third game. Utterly pointless, though, since EOB3 was easy.

    Why did I do this? At the end of EOB2, I took the thief from the start that steals your items and got him powerleveled. Bringing him to EOB3 breaks the party leave script so that he stays in your party when resting. Also pointless.

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    1. That is very cool! ...the nerd in me can't help but clarify that those abominations are actually yugoloths, which are the neutral-evil equivalents to AD&D 2e's chaotic-evil tanar'ri (demons) and lawful-evil baatezu (devils). I think in other editions the yugoloths are called fiends.

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    2. So, after picking up Insal the Thief you managed to finish EoB2 without ever resting? Or did you keep a party of 4, so he wouldn't leave?

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    3. I think you could just not unlock his cell until you're close to the end, at which point it shouldn't be too hard to kill a bunch of enemies at low/zero risk to level him up, then take out Dran (as I recall you pretty much need to do the beholder two-step with him because if he tags you with more than one or two attacks you're dead, and he's not vulnerable to magic, so if you're a bit down on HP and spells from the grinding that's not likely to matter very much).

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    4. tetrapod is right, progressed to nearly the end of the game then backtracked to get Insal. I think I wanted single-class NPCs to be my final party at the end of EOB3 for some insane reason and Insal was the only one of those in the trilogy if I recall correctly. So Tabitha, Delmair, Insal, San-Raal, (and probably a fighter and cleric from EOB1 that I do not remember)

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  17. This just occurred to me: No boots to be found in the entire game is really odd... sort of baffling.

    But if you think about: Boots in Blobbers are just an equipment slot. What difference could boots make? Well, boots of sneaking would make you undetectable, boots of flying would let you levitate, boots of water walking would let you... you know what...

    My point is, those can't make a difference in a Blobber, because you'd have to equip every party member for it to work in the game or even make sense.

    And thus, because it literally serves no purpose, the devs forgot to implement simple 'leather boots' for authenticity.

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    1. For instance, D&D has Boots of Speed, which increase your attack rate.

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    2. Not until third edition D&D, which in computer game terms means not until Neverwinter Nights. The ones in 1ed (and thus the ones that show up in the Gold Box games, et al) and 2ed (Baldur's Gate) double your movement rate but don't make you do anything other than run any faster.

      That said, I'm pretty sure makers of "blobbers" could with very few qualms have added, e.g., boots of fire resistance if they'd wanted to. Or they could have had boots of water walking and given "do they actually do anything?" the same implied shrug that the ring of feather fall got.

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    3. Cursed boots of tapdancing!

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    4. Dungeon Master has boots that provide armor/protection, boots that increase the carrying capacity, and "Boots of Speed" that increase the walking speed.

      In the latter case, as you said, the effect is only visible if all party members carry a pair. I never found more than 1 or 2 pairs of boots of speed, but I also played DM once with only one character (which quite a few people did, I think), so in that case the boots were very nice.

      I checked online and there are actually 4 pairs of boots of speed in DM. They must be well hidden. I think that this a pretty fun design choice. Yes, it's difficult to find pairs for all party members, but if you do, it's a nice reward. Similar to "armor sets" (which DM also has), where you try to get them all.

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    5. Doesn't D&D have any generic boots +1 or boots +2 the way it has helms? The issue isn't just no boots in this game; the fact that my characters all started with plain leather boots suggests there aren't any notable boots in the entire trilogy.

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    6. Early editions aren't fully consistent on this, but boots are supposed to have movement-related powers, and helmets should have mind- or sight-related powers, and neither should boost your AC (because there is already plenty of stuff that does).

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    7. While you were replying, I was looking up the answer myself in the AD&D2 Dungeon Master's Guide. I have to agree with BESTIE's original conclusion that there really is nothing in the list of magical boots that it includes that would help in a blobber, except perhaps Boots of Frost. I note that Boots of Fire Resistance aren't mentioned anywhere in the AD&D documentation, although I'm aware that various supplements and magazine articles could add and change things.

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    8. And, of course, the lack of official support for helms +x didn't stop them from showing up in EotB3 anyway. I guess my overall conclusion is that SSI probably shouldn't have included a boot slot in EotB, but if they were going to include one, they should have broken from AD&D rules the way they did with helms and offered some useful boots.

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    9. I agree; if they can make up stuff like an "ogre slug" they can also make up "boots of extra damage" or whatever. A damage boots, if you will.

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  18. The biggest reason I never played this EOB is because it didn't come out on the Amiga! The sound effects, especially for EOB2 on the Amiga were absolutely fantastic, even if a little sparse.

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  19. Fun fact: the ScummVM team has reverse engineered the engine from the first and second Eye of the Beholder (to make them run on newer systems, including Linux/Android), and it turns out the same engine is used for Lands of Lore and (surprisingly) the Kyrandia adventure games. But not for EOB3; the AESOP engine written for EOB3 is only reused for Dungeon Hack.

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  20. Many sequels are "bigger, but spread out and shallower". EB3, at least, understood that if you have less content, you should make a smaller game world.

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  21. "...his visage changed from a human one to a gaunt skull" Could the Dark God be Bhaal?

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    1. If we go by Forgotten Realms lore, then Bhaal has a common symbol which is not seen in the game; and his zone of influence is far away from Myth Drannor; and more importantly he died well before this game takes place.

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    2. Is the in-canon date of the EOB games well-determined? From some quick googling, folks seem to think they're all set during 1358, which was the Time of Troubles when all the gods were kicked down to the mortal realm, Bhaal died, etc. This seems pretty unlikely though since divine magic wouldn't be working, and you'd think folks would notice that gods were walking among us and that would be a bigger deal than like a couple randos going missing around the Temple of Darkmoon!

      And anyway even if you do assume it's 1358, we know what Bhaal was up to then and between knocking up a truly prodigious number of women and getting ganked by Cyric I doubt he'd have had much time for this little misadventure.

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    3. Yeah, I've seen the claim for 1358 and have been unable to find an actual source for it.

      However, the Time of Troubles marks the transition from first to second edition D&D, and pretty much all the classic D&D CRPGs use second edition, so it makes sense to place them after TOT unless the game or manual specifically claims otherwise.

      Note that TOT lasted only a couple months, so it is still possible for EOB to be set both in 1358 and after TOT.

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    4. I'm familiar with the Time of Troubles from Baldur's Gate, but I don't see how it could have happened in the middle of the PoR/CotAB/SotSB/PoD series without any mention of it.

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    5. @Radiant -- all true, though from a more granular timeline of the Time of Troubles it looks like the excitement happened from June to September, so it's definitely a lot to squeeze into the tail end of the year!

      @Chet -- since Bane was killed in the ToT (though of course later un-killed for 3rd edition) but he's the main antagonist of PoD, those games would have to have all happened before then. Though I don't think it's Forgotten Realms canon that for a couple months the cities of the Moonsea were all yoinked to wherever Bane stashed them, so these attempts to anchor any of these games to the official continuity is probably an angels-on-the-heads-of-pins endeavor (Baldur's Gate is much better integrated and I believe there've been recent-ish references to it in the tabletop game).

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    6. Frankly, I don't know why any franchise ever tries to make video games part of the franchise's canon, but in the case of the four FR SSI games, we have novelizations . . .

      Well, that's interesting. The Forgotten Realms wiki sets the PoD game in 1368 but the novel in 1350. Similarly, they put the game PoR in 1358 but the novel in 1340. I wonder how many times I need to repeatedly learn a lesson about not trusting wikis.

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    7. Right, and obviously the novelizations don't have the same stories as the games (kind of radically so, in the case of Azure Bonds!)

      So different dates for the two could be reasonable, though in this case I suspect Radiant's right that folks are just arbitrarily assigning 1358 as the date for Second Edition games since that's the in-universe change-over time without putting in any more thought than that (even then, PoR came out at the end of the First Edition days...)

      Anyway it's all a mess!

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    8. Azure Bonds wasn't a novelisation of the game - the game was a sequel story (and came out afterwards). It was also unrelated to the Pools series of books, the first two of which were novelisations of games.

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    9. "Frankly, I don't know why any franchise ever tries to make video games part of the franchise's canon"

      I think there's a decent likelihood that a big chunk of Knights of the Old Republic becomes canon. Got my fingers crossed. Sadly the remake looks to have been torpedoed.

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    10. Yeah, that's what I was referring to -- though as I recall (and it's been like 20 years since I read Azure Bonds and 7 or 8 since I last played the game) the game's story is more of a soft re-do of the book than a true sequel, since the baddies' plot feels sufficiently close to what they were up to in the book to be a little implausible as a distinctly separate story. There was also a tabletop module that was an adaptation of the game, making things even more confusing!

      (And of course there was no module or novelization of Secret of the Silver Blades).

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  22. On the topic of DM-style games... I see Dungeon Master III on the upcoming game roll, what is that supposed to be? I don't think there ever was a 3. Is this refering to "Theron's Quest"? That was a japanese sonsole repack of the original Dungeon Master, in a simplified version (easier, less items/monsters) with new levels but which are overall copy/paste stiched together from old DM/CSB content. I'm not sure this looks like a "real" different game. Yet I'm not sure what your rules are about "ports", how much does it need to be different to be a different game?

    Apologies if this was already discussed elsewhere here, I didn't see it.

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    1. It's an obscure sequel released only for the ZX Spectrum in India.

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    2. Hehe, now you're just being mean... .

      @Georges: Try reading that roman numeral again now.

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    3. I fell for it for a moment... besides, Theron's Quest is from 1992 and for console.

      It irked since it came up on the list, but not enough to risk Chet's wrath by commenting on it :)

      Looking forward to it, it's a game with a lot more personality than EOTB3, but not always for the best.

      Quite a few design decisions seem to be aimed exclusively at annoyinng the player.

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    4. See, if Chet used the Apple ][ style of Roman numerals, this mistake wouldn’t have happened. 😂

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    5. Ah it was DM2 and just a mistake! I somehow was sure Chet had already played 2, I didn't remember it was from 1993. My comment was actually sincere I really genuinely tried looking for info for DM3 in case there was something I didn't know, or it was something mislabeled in an RPGs list somewhere. And then after Chet's comment I found a "The Dungeon Master" for Spectrum ZX... but in 1983, and was even more confused.

      I wasn't trying to troll :D hahaha that was funny.

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    6. If something similar comes up again, an idea could be to check out the Master Games List. It contains additional information like developer, publisher, platform(s), alternate title etc. and is linked below the "Recent, Current & Upcoming" in the sidebar (in desktop view).

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    7. I too had thought "Huh, didn't know there was a Dungeon Master III. Cool!" Like Georges, I didn't know Chet hadn't played II yet, nor did I know that it didn't come out until 1993.

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    8. Well, there is the Saturn game, but you can probably just write that off as a spin-off like Theron's Quest and Chaos Strikes Back.

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    9. I saw some screenshots of that Saturn game (Dungeon Master Nexus) recently and I'm really curious to try it out. It's still recognizably Dungeon Master, but has 3D environments and full panoramic movement. It more resembles one of FromSoftware's early King's Field games if anything. Hopefully it finds its way to a fan translation some day.

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  23. Am I misremembering EotB2, or am I correct that EotB1 is the only game in the trilogy that has NPCs visible in the environment? Why do you suppose that is?

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    1. I don't really remember much about them, but it might just be stylistic differences. EoB1 felt like DM, but D&D while the second felt like they were trying to put more of their own spin on it

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    2. I'd suggest that EOB2 had more budget (or more people, or more disk space) for setpiece art, so they used those for cutscenes instead of sprites.

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    3. I think if you have a visible NPC you use up one of your monster models for that level? eg the Dwarf levels only had spiders or kenku right?

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    4. You mostly had the dwarves as visible NPCs in EOTB1. I remember them being kind of annoying as they blocked perfectly passable squares and, being static, they didn't really add that much flavor.

      I think getting rid of them was probably a stylistic/gameplay choice more than a technical limitation.

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    5. Ironically, SSI went through a lot of trouble to write a 32-bit engine for EOB3, meaning that it can work with much more memory and has no technical reason to limit itself to two creature types per map...

      ...and then they have so few sprite resources available that they stuck with it anyway. That's kind of sad.

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    6. Since Dungeon Hack uses the same engine, we know for sure that it supports more than 2 enemies per level. In Dungeon Hack, the level boss is often a different enemy type than the 2 regular types.

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  24. Hmmm, I love this game, finished twice, made my own maps. There was only one problem - with the sounds. But game is also interesting with nice locations and there is strange melancholic Gold Box feeling.

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  25. ah and i almost forgot... then there is day of the viper

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  26. I keep thinking "dhauzimmer" is German for something morning-related, but it's really not. "Dew" would be "tau", not "dhau", and "zimmer" means "room" which doesn't really make sense. Does the name refer to anything else, or is this an instance of wanting to sound German without consulting a dictionary?

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