Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Game of Dungeons v8 and Moria: Impasse

It appears that I've reached something of an impasse in regards to Moria and The Game of Dungeons.

Not that I've stopped playing them.  On the contrary, I'm progressing slowly but surely through both.  The problem is this: all of these PLATO games are incredibly front-loaded.  There's no plot progression, little in the way of interesting new places to explore, and no features that become available as you advance.  The games are what they are from the very beginning, and they don't change all that much as you progress.

Needless to say, this is a problem for a blogger trying to maintain a weekly schedule.  I've tried to have two games on the go at once to make sure that I'd always have something to write about, but currently I'm tapped out on both.  I've milked them dry.

So I'm probably going to abandon Moria for the time being, and focus my PLATO-time on finishing The Game of Dungeons (it doesn't feel like as much of a futile slog).  In the meantime, I'll move on to the next game on my list.  If I follow my list strictly chronologically, the next game is Oubliette, but that's another PLATO game.  I don't want to get bogged down in a third one of those.  There's also DND, written by Daniel Lawrence for the PDP-10 mainframe, but that seems to have been a port of The Game of Dungeons.  It got reworked and released as Telengard in 1982, so I'll pick up that thread when I come to it.

Given that I'm kind of burned out on these prehistoric RPGs, I think it's time to pick up another text adventure.  I have Adventureland on the list for 1978.  I see that it's the first text adventure game for microcomputers, and the first game from Scott Adams, so it seems like the perfect game to play next.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Game of Dungeons v8: Widening My Scope

After a few weeks of focusing on one dungeon, trying to explore as deeply as possible, and dying repeatedly, I've changed tactics.  The Game of Dungeons has three dungeons, after all: Whisenwood, the Tomb of Doom, and the Caverns.  I've decided to broaden my focus, and explore all three dungeons in parallel.

This is working pretty well so far.  None of the three dungeons is more dangerous than the others, so there's no reason to avoid any of them.  After exploring the top levels of all three dungeons (and doing a decent amount of grinding) I have a 9th level character, with a decent selection of magic items.  If I proceed with the appropriate caution, I think that Geoffrey will do well.

Caution is the key word, as I'm taking very few risks.  I'm determined to grind until I'm perfectly safe on dungeon level 2 before I descend any further.  I've stopped reading magical books altogether, as there's really no protection against Explosive Runes.  I don't drink potions unless I know they're safe, and I don't open chests that I know have traps in them.  It slows my progression a bit, but not as much as starting over from scratch.

The Tomb of Doom and the Caverns aren't significantly different to Whisenwood, but I've noticed that they have their own quirks that make them more difficult to navigate.  The Caverns are loaded with areas that cause hallucination, while the Tomb has a lot of transporters leading up and down.

I've taken a look at the Hall of Fame to figure out what level I need to reach to finish the game.  The lowest level there is 68, and the highest is over 700.  The majority are around level 80, so I think I should be fine if I advance to about level 100 or so.

And now, a selection of things I've observed in the last week of gaming:

  • Once you get strong enough, monsters of low levels pose no threat at all.  My character, currently at 9th level, can't be harmed by monsters of 3rd level or below.  You can even set it so that your character automatically fights monsters below a certain level.  It's very satisfying to watch your character mow down enemies without ever having to press the Fight key.  In a smart move by the developers, auto-combat turns off for Rust Monsters and Eyes of Thieving.  Those enemies are best dealt with via magic, and fighting them is never a good idea.

Geoffrey is set to Auto-Fight monsters below level 3, and to ignore books.

  • Not only can you set the level for Auto-Combat, but you can turn some other options on and off as well.  I don't want to risk reading books any more, so I've turned them off: they don't show up at all while I'm exploring, and that removes any temptation to read them.  You can do the same with chests and potions, too.
  • I forgot to mention this, but during character creation you must choose an Order that your character belongs to.  The Orders have names such as Black Knights, Ruby Crown, and Ivory Tower.  My favourite is the Dead Moose Order.  As far as I can tell, this has no effect on gameplay whatsover, and I wonder why anyone bothered putting it in the game.  If you look at the Hall of Fame, the vast majority of characters there have chosen Emerald, which suggests that players are just automatically hitting 1 when the option comes up.  I like to choose my Order based on my character's stats and race; I can't resist the urge to do role-playing.

  • I had thought that the Cleric spell Dispell was the most effective against Eyes of Thieving, but for some reason it hasn't been working so well lately.  I've switched to the Pray spell, and it seems to be working better.
  • I haven't mentioned them yet, but sometimes you will randomly find Symbols.  Some of these will increase your stats, and there are ones that gives you more experience, money and hit points.  They take effect on you automatically.  There are a lot of negative symbols as well, but I haven't encountered those yet.  Apparently they don't affect you automatically, but there seems to be no way to avoid them except by chance.
  • Using the PG-UP and PG-DN keys, you can teleport up and down between levels, at the cost of 1 magic and 1 cleric spell.  This comes in very handy when you get lost, or fall down a chute, but occasionally it backfires and does the opposite of what you want.
  • Similarly, you can hit the P key to pass through any wall, at the cost of a magic spell.  It's another handy navigational tool.
  • You can use your Clerical magic to restore hit points.  Even better, the option is there to do it on the Open Chest menu, so you can heal yourself before risking a trap.