Monday, May 25, 2015

Upcoming Schedule: The 1970s

I haven't made much progress in Moria, and even if I had there would probably be very little worth mentioning.  Instead I'm going to post my schedule for games I'm going to play from the 1970s.  The list isn't set in stone.  It might be incomplete.  There might be games I can't find, or can't get to run.  But for anyone looking to play along, here it is.


Adventure (aka Colossal Cave Adventure)

DND (an RPG developed on the PDP-10 system; I doubt I'll be able to find it)

Beneath Apple Manor
Dungeon Campaign
Journey to the Center of the Earth Adventure
Pirate Adventure
Voyage to Atlantis
Arcade Interlude: Space Invaders (I'm going to do some single-post diversions into classic arcade games from time to time.)

Adventure (the Atari 2600 game)
Akalabeth: World of Doom
Dog Star Adventure
Dungeon of Death
Dunjonquest: Morloc's Tower
Dunjonquest: The Datestones of Ryn
Dunjonquest: The Temple of Apshai
Space II
The Wizard's Castle
Wilderness Campaign
King Tut's Tomb Adventure
Microsoft Adventure
Pyramid of Doom
Secret Mission
Sorcerer's Castle Adventure
Arcade Interlude: Galaxian
Arcade Interlude: Asteroids
Arcade Interlude: Lunar Lander

That's 35 games, which could take a while considering that I'm only on my fourth game after a year of the blog.  But some of these will no doubt drop off the list, some will be one-post 'Arcade Interludes', and I expect that the pace will pick up once I move away from games developed on powerful mainframes and towards those made for home computers.

Next week I plan to start posting about Adventure, the original text adventure game.  I'm not abandoning Moria; I intend to keep playing that in the background, and will post when I have more to say about it besides "it's empty and boring".  But I don't want the blog to lie fallow while I play it, so it's time to move on.  Adventure awaits!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Moria: Odds and Ends

I haven't had the time to play Moria at all over the last week, but there are a few things that I haven't talked about yet, so I thought I'd knock them out here.

  • Time progresses in the game regardless of whether you're making moves or not.  If you just stand in place your Vitality will replenish, and you're character will consume food and water.  He'll also age, and age fast.  My character has aged from 13 to 21 in the time it's taken to map the city, the wilderness and three levels of the Forest.
  • This real-time extends to combat as well.  If you don't press any keys, the monsters will just keep on hitting you.  They don't do much damage, but they'll get you eventually.
  • The monsters don't seem to get any stronger as you explore deeper levels.  I've mentioned before that all of the monsters appear in the game from the beginning, and there's not much difference between any of them.  I had thought they would get stronger the deeper I delved, but instead they appear in larger groups.  I'm fighting groups of two right now in the 4th level of the Forest, but it doesn't seem to have made combat any more difficult.
  • There are Magic Apples scattered around the dungeons.  Eating them can raise your scores or grant a magical effect, but they can also reduce your stats.  I've stopped eating them for the moment.
  • Alas, although the dungeon levels vary in size, they don't get progressively smaller the deeper you go.  I had hoped this might be the case, as Forest levels 1 to 3 followed this pattern, but level 4 is a little bigger than 3 was.  I was counting on this to cut the time I have to spend playing this game, but now it looks like I'm in this for a long time.
  • The biggest achievement I've made since my last post is that I joined a guild.  I'm now a member of the Brotherhood of Knights, which I was able to do once my Valor reached a score of 20.  I now have a Valor score over 30, which is enough to get me to the next rank, but I also need a million gold pieces.  I have around 250,000, and the treasures get more valuable the deeper you go in the dungeons, so I expect to get there soonish, assuming that I ever find the time to play.

So that's where I currently am in Moria.  I'm not particularly enjoying it, but at this point it's more of a mapping exercise than a game.   Normally I enjoy mapping grid-based mazes, but this one is too big, and the constant pattern of 6x6 blocks is a bit boring.  There's also no tension, as the combats are far too easy.  I'll definitely stick with this one until I find the Reaper's Ring, but it might take a while, so don't be surprised if I tackle some other games in the meantime.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Moria: Vast and Empty

I started playing this game about a month ago, and I feel as though I've barely progressed at all.  It's not that I haven't been playing it; I've put a decent number of hours in already, but it's becoming clear to me that this game is going to be a serious undertaking.  A serious one, and possibly not an altogether interesting one.

When I last posted, I had just finished mapping the City and was heading out into the Wilderness.  Graphically the Wilderness looks no different, it's just another maze of walls, corridors and doors.  The same can be said for the Forest, which is the "dungeon" area that I'm currently exploring: the graphics have a green background, and that's as different as it gets.  As I mentioned in the last post, it seems as though the whole land of Moria is actually one huge subterranean labyrinth.

Unlike the City, the Wilderness is full of random encounters with monsters.  Combat is quick, but there are a lot of options available.  The basic option is to Fight, which simply involves hitting the F key until the monster is dead, and is highly dependent on the quality of your weapon.  You can also Trick your opponent, which uses your Cunning score; a successful Trick results in an instant kill.  You can Pray for help from the gods, who provide aid in a variety of ways, with success dependent on your Piety score.  You can Bribe opponents with gold or items to let you go (I haven't tried this yet).  There is an option to Run, but apparently you lose treasure with this option, so I haven't used it much.  You can Evade, making yourself more difficult to hit, but it doesn't seem to be all that useful in a single player game.  And finally you can cast spells, which are quite handy, but also drain your Vitality.

Praying grants you the choice of a number of boons.  You can pray to escape from your foes, or for healing.  Holy Word, if successful, will kill a monster instantly.  You can also pray for direct intervention from your god, which kills all of your foes at once.  I haven't had any success with this option yet, and I'm loathe to attempt it too often; the help file says that the gods tire of giving aid if asked too often, and I'm kind of worried about the consequences.  I'd probably be better trying it out now, rather than later when I have a more established character, but I'm already at the point where I don't want to lose my progress (scant as it is).

There aren't very many combat spells, and all of them have basically the same effect.  Paralyze causes the victim to stop moving, allowing for an instant kill.  Charm makes the victim believe you're its friend, allowing an instant kill.  Sleep puts the monster to sleep, allowing for an instant kill.  Dispell Magic turns the monster's magic against it, causing an instant kill.  Sensing a pattern?  Magic Missile is a simple damage spell, but at least it breaks the monotony.  I haven't used much magic in combat, to be honest, as it tends to drain more Vitality from my character than the monsters do.

The game has more options than any other in the blog so far, and yet combat is ridiculously safe.  None of the monsters have special abilities, as far as I'm aware.  The different types don't seem to vary much in strength; it seems to me that the level you encounter them on has more to do with how tough they are than what type of monster you're fighting.  They don't do much damage, and most of them die with a single blow.  Your Vitality slowly regenerates even when you're standing still, so it's a simple matter to wait a few minutes when your Vitality is running low, and you'll soon be at full strength.  So far it's been a bit too easy.

Most monsters have treasure, which is sometimes trapped but usually safe  The traps simply cause damage, and your Cunning score determines whether they hit or not.  Most treasure comes in gems and gold coins, but occasionally I've found a weapon or a piece of armour.  It's worth hanging on to these, because you can sell them at the store for a decent amount of cash.

Combat is frequent, but it's not the biggest threat in the game.  The biggest threat is the game's size.  The wilderness is enormous, and took a long time to map.  Level 1 of the Forest is about the same size as the city, which was big enough that I starved two character to death mapping the thing.  I wouldn't mind the size of these maps if there was anything interesting in them, but they're mostly empty.  My only consolation so far has been that level 2 of the Forest is slightly smaller than level 1, and level 3 slightly smaller still.  If that pattern holds this game will be a lot more bearable.  As it is, it feels like it's going to be a long, hard slog to find the Reaper's Ring.