Monday, June 18, 2012

Wizardry V: Won!*

The hearts really make this special. The people love me.
 
We're going to have to call it a tie. I won, but I played like a jackass. And I cheated.

I'm looking across the void of years at the younger CRPG Addict that played Wizardry I in the winter of 2010. How innocent he was. He had set a mission to play games without cheating and without looking at spoilers, and by the gods, he didn't cheat or look at spoilers. He mapped all the levels faithfully and carefully recorded each encounter for posterity. When one of his characters died, he raised the character. If the character became "LOST" during the raising, he started over with a new character at Level 1. If his party died in the dungeon, he mounted a rescue expedition, brought them to the surface in groups, and raised them. It took him a while, but he played the game like it was meant to be played, and victory sure tasted sweet.

Of course, Wizardry I only occupied about 3,000 squares. Wizardry V is closer to 8,000 (even accounting for the unused ones). What was new and exciting in 1981 was old and tired in 1988. But I'm just rationalizing. Being older, and more jaded, and more cynical doesn't excuse the deceitful way in which I "won" Wizardry V.

To take it from the top: when we wrapped up last time, I had just finished Level 6. At the time, I thought there were four more levels to go (I had it in my mind that the game had 10 levels, just like the first one). But it turned out that there were only three more, and two of them were so small and predictable that it wasn't even worth mapping them. Level 7 was really where most of the endgame took place.

On Level 7, we finally found some symmetry.

Mapping Level 7 took a long time, mostly because I kept running into monsters bent on killing me for good. Repeatedly, I had to fight parties with multiple spellcasters who thought nothing of casting mass-damage spells like LAHALITO and LADALTO, wiping out half my party members in a single round. Eventually, I got so sick of returning to the surface to raise my dead party members that I simply started reloading every time one of them died. Thus did I start on the slippery slope to the CRPG scum that I ultimately became.

I was just sick to death of being killed by a shirtless Kris Kristofferson.

In various places on this level, I found four magical staffs--air, earth, fire, and water--in places that required me to have certain inventory items to pass. For instance, in order to past a gust of wind, I had to have a lark in a cage that would sing to the wind. Who would have guessed?

The game also had one last bout of goofiness to throw at me: an encounter with King Kong and Fay Wray. I don't think they did her justice in the portrait.

By the time I reached Level 7, I also had three cards, and it turned out that I needed to show them to the guardians of the Triaxial Gate to get passage to Level 8. There were four guardians, and four portals to Level 8, but I only got the fourth card after doing some fighting.

 
On each of the four sections of Level 8, I had to face a party composed of my own characters. Someone--The S*O*R*N, I guess--kept cloning my party and sending them against me. Since these characters had all the items and spells of my regular party members, they were reasonably tough. 
 
Level 8 had me fight myself. It was very metaphysical.

After defeating them, I encountered glowing orbs that corresponded to the four elements. Using the appropriate staff on these orbs (it took some trial and error) caused a talking head to ask me a riddle.


I had no idea how to solve this riddle. There were multiple options, and I had to make multiple selections for each element. None of it made any sense at all, and there was nowhere that I encountered any hints as to how to solve them. And thus did I engage in the next level of cheating: I looked up the answers in a walkthrough.

Friends, I can't overestimate the significance of that. My rules clearly say "no walkthroughs," and for over two years, I have faithfully played each game, winning most of them, through my own wits and copious notes. I am appalled and embarrassed that I capitulated here. But the good news is that I never would have come up with the solution without the walkthrough. Figuring out the answer would have required finding some obscure NPCs back up on Level 5--wandering NPCs that I didn't even know existed--and then asking the right keywords of NPCs back on Level 1 that I thought I was all done with. So between cheating and abandoning the game, did I make the right choice? I give myself to your judgement.


Ah, but it's not over yet. After I "solved" the four puzzles and broke down the barriers keeping me from the Gatekeeper's prison, I marched up to the Gatekeeper himself. At this point, The S*O*R*N (Are we supposed to read something into that? Is it an abbreviation?) whisked him to another dimension before attacking me with a host of demons. They slaughtered me quite badly. Part of the problem was that she had a magic shield around her that prevented me from doing any damage. It turns out that the solution was to cast the SOCORDI mage spell, which normally summons an elemental to aid you in combat, but which for some reason summons back the Gatekeeper in this combat. I have no idea where I was supposed to get that information, but I was cheating at this point so I got it from the walkthrough.

"To remain forever!...unless you think to cast an obscure Level 5 mage spell."
 
It still didn't do me any good. Even with the Gatekeeper on my side, her minions killed me again and again. I realized that I hadn't really paid my grinding dues. Most of my characters were only Level 14-15, and my constant avoidance of combat on Level 7 meant I wasn't really getting any better. I needed to buckle down and spend a few hours killing demons before I could hope to defeat The S*O*R*N.

But I didn't want to do that. I was sick of the game. So I engaged in my third form of cheating: save-scumming so bad it would have horrified a 13-year-old playing a first-person-shooter. The S*O*R*N's companions seemed to be chosen at random, so I just reloaded, reloaded, and reloaded--probably 40 times--until I finally encountered her with a relatively pathetic set of minions. I won, but just barely; only two of my characters were alive at the end. Fortunately, one of them was my mage, and I was able to get back to the castle and get the winning screenshot above.

I really came to over-rely on the mass-damage spell TILTOWAIT.
 
Killing The S*O*R*N freed the Gatekeeper, who had a little narrative for me:

I am the Gatekeeper, and guardian of the Triaxial Balance. It is through your courage, and more importantly, your understanding and wisdom, that the Triaxial Balance of the forces has been restored.

Hereafter, I bequeath to you the power to guard this mortal plane, for none are more worthy or more deserving than thee. I thank thee, both for my life and for thy effort.

And now that I have found worthy successors, my duty is done in this world, and I shall soon return to that higher plane of the everafter. You shall be remembered, and I offer this small token, from which I hope taht you shall remember, not me, but what you yourself have done this day.

Fare the well, my friends.

Is he being sarcastic? Does he know I cheated?
 
This all sounds great, but what if I had been playing with an evil party?! That's not much of a reward.

In college, I felt bad about cheating on a term paper, but I was still happy to get my degree. And here, I feel bad about cheating in this game, and yet I'm still happy that I won. Let's GIMLET this baby and, for La-La's sake, finally get the hell out of 1988.

The shamefully victorious party.


127 comments:

  1. Wait, you cheated on college term papers? :)

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    1. It was too easy. I went to college back in the day where you could invent books and references and there was no easy way to check them. I wrote a couple of papers entirely off the top of my head, making up all the quotes and references, in a single night. Nowadays, I catch students doing what I did and punish them. Weird how the world works.

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  2. I will pass no judgement upon you. If you recall my comments about Wizardry 4 I think that judgment stands here as well. I regard your blog as more an archeaological exercise in this case. So if you needed to use another tool to pry loose this artifact from the Valley of the Loons, so be it. Let those who enjoy go at it unaided.

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  3. I don't see any problem with cheating in games like this. After all, you are not cheating your readers as long as you tell how and why you had to resort to walkthroughs. We want you to progress with the games, and not get stuck infinitely in a game and then burn out.

    We all know how strict you are with your rules. If cheating makes you feel bad, maybe you could first ask for assistance from readers - you haven't minded spoilers earlier in the comments section, so why not just openly ask for hints or solutions?

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    1. I guess I should have done, but I had been playing all day, I knew the end was near, and I was just too impatient to get it over with.

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  4. I personally am *glad* you did this instead of getting fed up and quitting your blog over an obviously stupid game like this. The only problem is if you've done it once, it makes it that much easier to do it again in the future. I think you need to set another rule for yourself: if it's a game you've decided to play to completion (i.e. gotten well past your 6-hour hurdle) and you've also put in more than 24 hours into, and you really just want to get on to the next game, then you should be able to do what you did here. Otherwise it's just masochism for masochism's sake and you are the CRPG *Addict* and not the *Masochist*.

    In any case for this game, you've more than paid your dues, you've extracted all of the content you could out of the game, the rest is just challenge from stupidity and not from anything interesting.

    Well done, time to move on!

    I don't remember *anything* about Wizardry 6, but I played Wizardry 7 (which I remember being brutal but in a fun way). When does the next Wiz come up?

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    1. How about we reserve the "allowed to look at walkthroughs" rule for poorly-designed games made by jackasses?

      If anybody involved in the making of Wizardry V is reading this... well, I make no apologies. You obviously had problems you felt you needed to take out on your players. You ought to be ashamed.

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    2. Oh, that's a little harsh. I think actually V was a bit of a lark after the punitive hell that was IV. A dedicated explorer and grinder could have won this game clean.

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  5. Congrats still seems to be in order, regardless how you underestimate the deed. Enjoy the fact that you don't need to torture your eyes on crude CGA graphics anymore as next game offers beautiful ASCII.

    From one topic to another - Gamersgate has put on sale IndieFort Bundle #2 collection and out of six games four has "RPG" in their categories. DRM Free.

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    1. Worlds of Ultima: Savage Empire and Worlds of Ultima 2: Martian Dreams have been released free on GOG.

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  6. Have fun in 1989. Great games coming up: Chaos strikes back, Starflight 2, Curse of the azure bonds, Space rogue (not very rpg, but I'd still love to see you play it).

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    1. Don't forget Dragon Wars. I still fondly remember that one.

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    2. oh yeah wow.. Dragon Wars...

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  7. It was a huge test of your endurance just to solve this game *with* the cheats. I'm actually surprise that you did not give it up for good just to avoid the grind and the guesswork needed to solve this monstrosity.

    The good news is the last game in the Wizardry series, Wizardry 8, is by far the best game in the series. The bad news is that there are two other Wizardry games to play before you get there....

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    1. I would say VI and VII are huges leaps in the series, much better than the first 5 episodes. If Wizardry hadn't started to improve after this episode, its fame would have faded much more.

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    2. Agreed. VI and VII are outstanding games, far better than I-V. And they even offer color graphics ;-)

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    3. Howard Johnson is right!

      Bane of the Cosmic Forge and Crusaders of the Dark Savant are both lightyears ahead of 1-5 in terms of graphics and gameplay, but also in terms of accessibility.

      For example, as a kid who was stumped by everything in the world, I managed to win them both more or less fairly. I didn't solve all the puzzles, but the awesome thing was that you didn't *need* to. The macguffins the puzzles were protecting generally could be achieved by an alternate method as well.

      There were still parts that were obtuse or challenging, but nothing as painful as V, at least in my opinion.

      In fact I think I am going to go give them another spin now.

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  8. 1989!!! That means Dark Heart of Uukrul is coming soon!!!

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    1. You sound like someone very calendar-challenged talking about some obscure Mayan doomsday.

      I'm not saying it's a bad thing.

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    2. Lol, you are right! I sounded ominous.

      Regarding Uukrul, I won it back in the day and had a totally awesome experience playing it. I really hope that my opinion on how great the game was is not exclusively based on the nostalgia factor (as it seems it happened with my memories of Sentinel Worlds... which was torn apart, and rightly so, by the CRPGAddict).

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    3. PetrusOctavianusJune 20, 2012 at 4:24 PM

      Caron, trust me, it's not just nostalgia. Since the game was DOS only and me being one of those cool hipster (yeah, right) Amiga dudes I didn't even know of Dark Heart of Uukrul (or Løkrull, as I like to call him) until a year or so ago.
      I played it half a year ago and loved it. A solid turn based dungeon crawler with good puzzles, a decent combat system and a novel magic system.
      Too bad it was DOS only (why no Apple, C64 or 16 bit versions?) and had no sequels. But then it was probably Brøderbund's only foray into publishing CRPGs.

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  9. Honestly, I don't think it's cheating when they make a game so hard that there's no way you would probably ever figure it out. They're cheating the player, in my opinion. Cheating them back is expected.

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  10. I understand your concerns. What we get out of certain games is directly related to how much we put in. If you start cheating the systems in these old, relatively bare-bones CRPGS then what are you playing them for? Wireframe dungeon and CGA graphics? The Wizardry series has a purity to it (mechanically) that is a reward in itself to overcome.

    All that said, even if you didn't enjoy/endure this Wizardry as it was mean to be enjoyed/endure, you have done so with past, very similar Wizardries, and you can still do so with future entries. This one had a lot of bullshit attached.

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    1. Your first paragraph excellently states the reasons behind my no cheating rule.

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  11. There is no shame in any of your cheating to get this POS game out of the way. In my jaded eyes, this series should never have gotten onto the pedestal it has been on. Sure, the first game was a "game changer", but 2 thru 5 were hunks of scrap metal and wreaking of fecal incontinence. I can only hope 6 and 7 are good, because I know through experience that 8 is AWESOME :) Don't feel bad in any way that you cheated to get through this game. It isn't worth the bad feelings. At all.

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    1. I don't feel THAT bad. A lot of my self-flagellation above was intended to be tongue-in-cheek. I never quite get the tone right.

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    2. I don't want to pick on you william, but this is about the third time I see people jump to "this game is crap" on conclusion posts.

      Remember first that this game was designed to last someone playing it for at least a year- there were a lot fewer games published back then, the cost was relatively higher, and good games were hard to find.

      Unfortunately the easiest ways to make a game last a long time is by ramping up difficulty in often unfair ways (look at arcade games and coin-gobbling). Punishing long backtracking is only less common nowadays because of a focus on more linear storytelling.

      And also play-testing was much more difficult on as massive a game as this, it wouldn't surprise me if the end game sections of most RPGs never got serious player evaluations- falling apart at the end of the game is fairly common in this era (look at the last few game GIMLETS) and still happens nowadays.

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    3. Have you seen what games cost back in the day? I've not posted it yet, but I found a recite for $90 in my Dad's copy of Might & Magic II. Now, that was $90 CDN in the 1970s, so that is about $170 today, *without* accounting for US/CDN exchange rates. You'd better hope that it lasted you a year!

      Also, my Dad wasn't the one to buy the game: He got it off a friend once they finished it.

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    4. I actually liked Wizardry V as a kid, but I never, ever won it. Never even got close. But at the time, it was kind of ... I don't know, Skyrim-y? It was a big world (ok, dungeon) to explore with actual *characters* in it that you could meet and do more than stab. There were dark areas to map, pools to swim in, weird things carved into the wall... honestly, at the time, it was magical.

      Didn't really hold up so well, though.

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    5. Admitted, I am judging a decades old game on today's standards. Yes, the game and the series helped create the genre and the world of crpg's we have today. But Jesus Bumf**k, the game not only doesn't hold up after decades I would submit it probably didn't even hold up after a few years. It might not have even held up that long- other games coming out at the time were light years ahead the series already. So on the one hand, yeah I am piling on it unfairly. And on the other hand, it was such an ugly infant it's own mother probably wouldn't have minded aborting it- a year after it was born.

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  12. I only played 1 and 6-8. From reading your blog, I'm glad I never played 2-5. Thanks very much for your effort, I don't consider "cheating" to be bad when the designer is clearly not operating in the best interests of the players. It's not as if other people are being hurt by your "cheating".

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  13. I look forward to seeing how the SNES version turns out once I get to it. I hear they made it a bit easier, but these puzzles seem a bit obtuse. It'll be a few years before I have to worry about it though.

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    1. Alert me when you do get it to it, if you remember. I wish I had time to read all of the other great gaming blogs faithfully, but I get behind very quickly.

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    2. I still have to comment (not sure if I remembered to) about the differences in the NES version of Ultima III. I'll remember when I get there, and to the other PC ported games.

      If I were self-employed, I'd probably not have time for idle reading either. No worries.

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    3. I have a blog, admitted right now it'd in hiatus, that is all about nes and snes and genesis et al adaptations of pc crpgs. I should get that puppy up and running again- I got through the beginning of the nes POR... doing the snes Wizardry 1-2-3 and 5 would be interesting...

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    4. If you ever open up your blog again william, I'll be reading it when I can. I'm doing my best to avoid spoilers so my own playthroughs are untainted. But, I'll be there to comment eventually.

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  14. Personally, based on the interface and graphics alone, I'd say the developers cheated making it ;)

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  15. I'm less of a purist than some here, but as it's a philosophical debate on how we play these games, here's my take.

    1. On "walk-through" cheating: I consider it fine for "unfair" puzzles where there is NOTHING in the game that points you in the right direction, or if the solution pattern relies on convoluted thinking processes and/or luck-based events you might easily miss (for ex. your wandering NPC you never met). For me a puzzle is supposed to be a challenge of intelligence, wit. Some trial and error is normal of course, but not trying over 1000s of combinatinos.

    2. On save-scumming: I have a personal a bit imprecise idea of what consitutes a "fair" difficulty for a game, but I think it has to do with the luck part involved. Let me explain: for a fight x, if my chance of winning is let's say 5% at level 10 and I grind grind grind and get to 50% win chance for the same fight at level 20 and then 75% at level 30 and 98% at level 40, then I feel I have CONTROL over the development.
    If for various reasons (the enemy may or may not cast an instant death spell you have nothing to do against; the encounters wildy range from 2 hobbits to 84 dragons; the enemy's AC is so high you'll hit it 1 times in 150 no matter what weapon or skill) character and equipment advancement doesn't ever raise win chance over a decent amount, then I consider the game unfair. For me, maybe 10-25% would be a decent range, for others it may vary.

    After all, I'm considering playing a RPG, not a gambling game, there's casinos for that. So bottom line: Fairness of game = luck-to-skill/developpment ratio.

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    1. That's an interesting system, although I don't know what the 10-25% part means at the end. I agree with you, though: if instant death can come out of nowhere no matter what you do to prevent it, then you can't regard frequent saving as a sin. I remember that corridor in Omega that dropped you to hell without warning. Otherwise excellent game, but that kind of surprise death is near-unforgivable in a permadeath roguelike.

      Skyrim is an example of a game that would be theoretically possible to win without dying once, if you're careful about when, where, and how you choose to adventure. The odds catch up to you eventually, but rarely enough that I felt I was scumming if I did anything but rely on the autosave. The Infinity engine games are other examples of this.

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    2. What I meant is that I feel (I threw the numbers like that off my head) I should be able to reach a minimum success rate of 10-25% at a given point in a game.

      If, let's say, on the 5th level of Zangmar's Tower of Hell I always lost fights and died 8-9 times out of 10 no matter what equipment/experience points/skills/tactical cleverness I had, then I would judge the game on relying too much on luck, and wouldn't mind reloading on "bad luck".

      Another way to put it is that I would find acceptable, with proper stats/gear for a particular situation, to win about at least 1 in 4 fights, and reload/cast a raise dead spell/go back to the temple/whatever the rest.

      But I agree that an ideal game should allow you to raise the success rate quite close to 100% by the player's talent and dedication - ie your Skyrim example. Dungeon Master is another example where you can finish it without ever reloading if you know what you are doing. Same for the Might & Magic series past part 3.

      All new games are way too easy anyway: no problem for a cRPG to be maddeningly difficult, just not "random" difficult.

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  16. Congratulation on beating Wiz5 :)

    Love your blogg! So much that I have started to play the old classics myself. I actually got a question about the goldbox games. Since you already played Pool of radiance I thought this would be the right place to ask.

    Are there any way to change the spells your magic-user have memorized? Or can you just add more when he levels? Beginner as I am I think I have choose the spells rather foolish :-)

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    1. There is a way to choose which spells you memorize, although I don't remember exactly how. I'm pretty sure there's a memorize option under spells that allow you to select them, and those are the ones you'll have the next day.

      If you're talking about gaining new spells, magic-users need to find scrolls to scribe them into their books, but priests get access to all spells once they level.

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    2. I found the memorize option. But is there a way to change the spells that I choose at the beginning? It seems like the ones I have choosen I have to stick to.

      hmm this would be so much easier to describe in Swedish :-)

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    3. Two things I can think of what you mean:

      1) You may need to deselect ones you have currently chosen to memorize before selecting new ones for the next day.

      2) Spells you picked at the beginning of the game are the ones that you're stuck with. You need to find scrolls of those spells and scribe them in your book.

      I hope this helps.

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    4. 1) You may need to deselect ones you have currently chosen to memorize before selecting new ones for the next day.

      Exactly. Is it possible to deselect?
      Thank you for taking the time helping me :-)

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    5. Yes, it should be possible deselect it. I think you just select one that is already selected (it has a * next to it I think). Honestly though, it's been far too long for me to remember straight. Here's a text version of the manual. Look at the Magic Menu I believe. Hopefully the text version is easy for you to translate if that helps. http://www.lemonamiga.com/games/docs.php?id=1254

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  17. I quite enjoyed 1-3 playing them back on the apple 2. I never could beat 4-5 and they left a bad taste in my mouth. They were purposely created to screw with you. Like others mention 6-7 are much much better games. Sort of like dungeon master meets wizardry. Still they go a little off the deep end in terms of story but the game play is fun and beatable.

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  18. Personally I think you did right to cheat. This game and others you get stuck with or tire to boredom with run the risk of you quitting the blog instead :-) Besides your rules are hard as they are already. Just tell when you do use a walkthrough as you have done above and move on.

    If you still feel bad about it, why not setup a timelimit for say 1 effective hour to solve a problem and if you don´t progress by then, feel free to take a shortcut by reading a walkthrough. In that way you won´t fall to easily to check out every obstacle encountered.

    /Saintus from http://crpgrevisited.blogspot.se/

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  19. It just sounds like a stupid game, honestly.
    I'm reading your description of it and it sounds like no fun at all.

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    1. There are many people to whom it would not be fun. I fond it kind-of fun.

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  20. Oh, saw this nice bit of news:

    GOG is releasing the two Ultima Worlds games for free(Savage Empire and Martian Dreams).

    http://www.gog.com/news/free_releases_worlds_of_ultima_1_2

    And of course they include lots of nice extras with the downloads.

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  21. I just recently played and beat Wizardry V. I think I started last year and finished up early this year in January or February. I like this blog but it's a shame that so many of your readers get the message that a game sucks depending on your experience playing it.

    The game gives you all of the clues necessary to win. Even stealing the Gold Talisman from Evil Eyes is clued from dialogue. The important thing to Wizardry V is that you need to say all the important words gained from the Priest of La-la to all NPCs you meet, just in case. I guess if you forget what your actual mission is (to close the Tri-Axial Gate), then you might forget to ask important questions about it while exploring and doing other quests.

    I didn't have anywhere near the problem you seemed to have with thieves and armor eaters. Perhaps I did a lot more grinding than you did. The pool with Lady Neptune was a fantastic place to grind and it doesn't feel like grinding because each encounter pays off with great treasure as well.

    Also, it's much easier to survive Level 7 when you have 7 Tiltowaits at your disposal and you can keep renewing your spell points. Yes, it pays to have all of your characters with high swimming scores. The pool on Level 7 Resurrects, Heals, and gives Spell Points.

    This game doesn't reward rushed play, that's for sure. And when you've got a backlog of games thirty years deep, I can definitely see rushing this and missing a lot. But that doesn't make it a shit game either. It's actually a lot of fun, if you don't mind its severe drifting into whimsy every other encounter.

    I also played by saving my party after exiting the dungeon every now and then. Mostly when I remembered. Party death in Wizardry can come so randomly, no matter how well you've prepared, playing without a back-up is just insane. I'm surprised Wizardry 8 comes with an Iron Man option. Has anyone ever managed that?

    I also beat Wizardry IV back in the day. A really satisfying game to beat and a fun, fun story, especially once you make it out of the dungeon and to the castle level.

    But these games were made to be played for months and months and MONTHS on end. Rushing through them because they're just one in a list paints them as shitty games which they really are not.

    Also also, even back in the day, we made back-ups. The Utility Program that came on the disk helped to make character back-ups and it was suggested to do so. This was time consuming though, so usually if your party suffered full party death, you'd just pop open the disk drive door so it couldn't save or quickly shut off the computer. That was the cheating back then!

    Great blog, by the way. Except you write about games so well that many of your readers believe your experience is the only experience to be had with these games, as everyone has seen by the way people frequently abandon the site or flip out when the Addict abuses their game of choice! I'm pointing specifically at Dungeon Master here!

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    1. Oh man, I remember the panicked drive-door-dive. Worked like a charm, until you mistimed it and corrupted your disk. Still didn't stop me from trying it.

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    2. I remember CRPG Addict liking Dungeon Master, except for the lack of an economy.

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    3. Yeah. My thought in that last paragraph was incomplete. I just meant that he played it a certain way and a lot of people in the comments were upset about some of the things he had to say. Or the rating he gave it. It caused some controversy. Which I meant to point out is an example that these games can be experienced in a variety of ways and that Addict's well done reviews shouldn't necessarily be taken as the be all conclusion of each game.

      Most everyone gets that! Good community of commentors here. I think more dissenting opinions should be voiced without taking the Addict to task for not liking a game a person loved as a child. I'd like to hear more reasons why someone loved a game he hated or why someone hated a game he loved.

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    4. Very insightful commment, thanks!

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    5. Lizard, that was a great comment, and I agree fully with everything you said. It seems likely that I didn't exploit the NPC dialogue system enough to get hints.

      I certainly wouldn't want anyone to think that W5 "sucks" because of my review. I got frustrated with it at times, but it's a decent dungeon-crawl, and I think my GIMLET will reflect that.

      There's really no way to be "objective" about something like a CRPG, and I don't really try. That my experience might not mirror everyone's experience goes, I hope, without saying. I appreciate commenters who disagree with me because they offer alternate perspectives on the game.

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    6. Lizard, good post.
      I was going to write something similar, but now I don't have to (well, not as much anyway).

      The problem with Wiz 5 is that it's huge and takes a long time to finish. And many of the puzzles are not self contained. For example to find out which three of the nice candles you need to light on lvl 8, you need to remember the description of rooms on lvl 3, including the colour of the curtains (which match the corresponding gate).
      So if you rush the game and don't keep very detailed notes you are screwed. Combine that with lots and lots of backtracking of huge levels and the game can get frustrating.
      But nothing is more frustrating when the game bugs out very cose to the end. I have closed all the gates on lvl 4 and I'm ready to face the Sorn, but when I try to enter square 0/0 where The Gatekeeper is imprisoned The Sorn just pushed me back.

      Delete
  22. Personally I like reading your recaps of the games and the ends so I do not care if you cheat or not. That is just me. It brings me back to days of yesteryore or some such crap like that. :).

    ReplyDelete
  23. I enjoyed your review and perseverance. I remember playing it back in the late 80s on those big black floppy disks. I got frustrated quickly and threw in the towel. Games are supposed to be fun, so I quit.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I was also a big fan of Wizardry 5 (heck, the entire series). Sure, it was hard, but I certainly got my money's worth. $50 was a lot for a 16-year-old back in 1988. The game was absolutely solvable without cheating or using a walkthrough - you had to be thorough and take a lot of notes. It's not like Oblivion or Morrowind where the walkthrough is built into the game ("Follow the arrow to complete your quest - no need to think!"). The games of today (especially the RPGs) have been dumbed down to the point where I very rarely enjoy them. The storylines may be better in general, but usually if I want a great story, I read a book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, the Elder Scrolls series can be worked to suit your level of difficulty. If you don't WANT to have the game point out where you have to go to continue, you do have the option to turn that off. Then it's ALL up to you to figure it out- no In Air arrows pointing you where to go. I know Morrowind and Oblivion did this, not sure about Skyrim, have to be honest. And of course, in Morrowind you could accidentally kill someone so important to the game that it made the game unsolvable... And while they did warn you (unlike some of the POS game designers of the past- Zork "designers", I am looking at you), you could ignore the warning and play on in that doomed world if you so chose.

      Delete
    2. I just wish the temptation wasn't there. I wish games made you choose, at the outset of the game, the difficulty level and which of the "help" features you want to turn on.

      Delete
    3. Oh, and Morrowind incidentally didn't have the quest markers, or even much of a quest log. Quests got entered into a permanent journal, but it reached hundreds of pages very quickly and was nearly useless as a reference. I had to keep a written quest log while playing Morrowind and reference the page numbers in the journal. I thought it was a near-perfect approach.

      Delete
    4. Yeah, Morrowind didn't have the arrows (though the expansion(s) did clean up the journal and make it more searchable). Oblivion and Skyrim allow you to toggle what quest markers are active, IIRC, but the games are not designed to be played without the quest markers and often provide no way to infer where to go next without them.

      Delete
    5. Yes, Morrowind din't have quest arrows, but too many players didn't manage to find Caius Cosades despite detailed written directions.
      Funny that one of the first AAA RPGs developed for a console should be so "difficult", while I don't recall players having problems finding Jaheira and Khalid in Baldur's Gate, for example.
      Yes, I do blame the decline of CRPGs and computer games in general on the X-Box. Before that console games and computer games were two different genres that appealed to different people. Generally console games were for smaller kids, while computer games were for older kids and (relatively) grown ups. With the X-Box games had to appeal to "everybody" and that meant games had to be dumbed down so that even small kids could enjoy them. I guess Bethesda overestimated the Morrowind players, but they learnt from their "mistake" and put up quest arrowns in Oblivion. Fortunately on the PC you can mod most of the things you don't like, though.

      Delete
  25. If you want to avoid that type of frustration in future, you might want to consider giving out a 'help' post when you get stuck: Trickster does something very similar on his blog, as outlined in this recent post: http://advgamer.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/companion-assist-points-explained.html

    I'm not saying it needs to be that formal, but you could consider it the internet equivalent of asking your friends to help. That might avoid your frustration with cheating, while still letting you finish the game.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Back then, before the internet, it was par for the course for gamers to call hint lines and buy gaming magazines and cluebooks to get answers to these puzzles. By 1988, there was a whole mini "hint industry" feeding off of the CRPG industry.

    So, "playing it as it was meant to be played," by 1988, also meant that game designers expected players to find cheats and workarounds for their own games. So I don't think you really were "cheating" -- only that the internet meant that you got to cheat much faster.

    And if it helps at all: no one ever meant *anyone* to play through all CRPGs made in existence, so that in itself should give you special status. ;)

    P.S. I'm finding the sense of whimsy returning to your posts. I really enjoy your blog and love seeing the fun come back. Congratulations for slaying the beast that is Wizardry V!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For a funny anectode, I remember being stuck in Wiz 7 (Dark Savant) back then, I was playing it with my father. As a last resort, we actually bought the official 200+ pages clue book with all maps, hints and detailed walkthrough.

      An so... we still didn't manage to win the game, because... there were a few errors (!) in the book, notably right where we were stuck. So I never won the game and actually only finished it a year or two ago. I understood the error in the cluebook by comparing it with a more exact on-line walkthrough. :)

      It's still one of my favorite RPGs ever, hard but intelligent.

      Delete
    2. Wow, you're a lot nicer about it than I would have been. Incorrect information in cluebooks ought to be an excuse for major punitive damages.

      rotgrub, I actually had to resort to the Origin hint line to solve Ultima IV. $3.99 per minute, if I remember correctly, and they somehow managed to stretch "INFINITY" to 6 minutes.

      Delete
  27. I wish more games these days had the old infocom style of hints. The kinds where for every puzzle/question/difficult battle, there were anywhere from 3-10 levels of hint to reveal. From 'He comes from a cold land' to 'The Sword of Burny is on level 4 at 3,4 and can kill him in two hits'.

    Nowadays, it's a pixel-by-pixel walkthrough or nothing. Sometimes I just want a little nudge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try this: http://www.uhs-hints.com/

      Just use an ad-blocker. ;)

      Delete
    2. There aren't enough games represented on that site, unfortunately. W5 isn't there at all. It is a really good idea--just what moonmonster is talking about--and I wish more people contributed to it.

      Delete
    3. I agree. It's a good beginning, though. Maybe you could adapt your Wizard Wars walkthrough to that format? I may be a bit ahead of myself (and you) here. I can't for the life of me remember if you've finished that project or not.

      Delete
    4. What about setting aside a post for hint discussions by game?

      The post would just be basic info about the game, outline of what you consider too much of a hint. Also quick tutorial for a spoiler tag method(probably do the change text color tot background color trick where you have to highlight to read). Then include a link back to that post for every future post for that game.

      We could start with some basic gameplay hints on interface or setting up characters. If you hit a stumbling block, you post there and your readers can try to offer quick hints and more detailed instructions hidden.

      Delete
    5. Colored text may not be supported if he reads comments via email. I'd suggest using rot13 or similar encoding.

      Delete
    6. It's not a bad idea, Kellandros, although I don't think the current system--I ask for hints in the relevant postings, and you respond, occasionally on ROT13 if it's a real spoiler--has been working badly. I'd have used it here except it was late and I was just impatient to get it over with.

      Delete
    7. Actually, here's an idea: why don't I merge yours and Amy's suggestions: encourage all my readers to head over to UHS and put their hints there. That way, they'd not only benefit me, but other readers.

      Delete
    8. I have no idea how one goes about submitting to that site or how quickly they would add them to the webpage, but in principle it sounds like a good idea.

      If we can confirm those 2 things, then I'd suggest putting that idea and info into its own post(since this is in the middle of the comment thread, I don't think everyone would see it).

      Delete
  28. Your mistake wasn't that you started backing up saves, your mistake was that you didn't start doing so or quit playing earlier.

    When the developers fill their game with brainless, repetitive grinding so they can boast about the length of their game (8,000 squares isn't much, you've played far bigger rpgs) and you waste many many days doing so they outsmarted you.

    Doing extra backup saves isn't really cheating since it only saves you some work, the challenge is if you're smart enough to beat the game, not if you're stupid enough to waste lots of time with stupid, repetitive work.

    Since you stopped getting fooled by the game developers you've earned +1 to your wisdom stat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What I appreciated about the grinding in the early wizardry series versus the later series or, say, JRPGS, was that you always felt you were on the verge of finding a rare treasure. The grinding was less about experience points (although you needed those!) and more about the excitement of the treasure drop. So grinding was always exciting. Hauling all that loot with Question Marks back up to your Bishop and hoping for a Blade Cuisinart or a Butterfly Knife or, really, something you'd not yet found. That was a lot of fun. Especially in the days when you couldn't go online to see the list of treasures available in the game and how often they drop and which monsters drop which treasures most.

      A lot of the value of these games changes across time. As a 12 year old, Wizardry was a glorious sign of things to come. And its ability to hold a players interest without a complex story or quest was phenomenal.

      But really, back up saves all the way! The fact the Addict beat Wiz I without ever having a back up is a stellar, if a bit insane, Iron Man accomplishment.

      Delete
    2. I agree with Lizard regarding the 'thrill of the hunt' in encounters. One of the best parts of Wizard's Crown was going through the pile of equipment after beating some foes in combat. If a particular enemy was tearing my party up, it just made me that more determined to kill it, since *whatever* it was using against me would be in the loot upon victory. Some of the best weapons in the game that I found were acquired off the dead bodies of enemies. Unfortunately, Addict gave up on that game... a shame, as it's still one of the most detailed CRPGs ever.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, I regret that a bit. Given how much influence it had over the later SSI games, I should have stuck with it longer. My approach has evolved over the years.

      Delete
    4. This treasure-hunting-through-grinding is incidentally what Diablo 3 is all about. So the industry has gone full circle (once again).

      Delete
    5. " If a particular enemy was tearing my party up, it just made me that more determined to kill it, since *whatever* it was using against me would be in the loot upon victory."

      Whoa, that was a feature of WIzard's Crown? Awesome.

      Delete
  29. S.O.R.N. = Something, Or Really Nothing
    Okay, I made that up.

    Congratulation on beating this horror of a game. On to bigger and better things!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The "congratulation" should be plural.

      Delete
    2. Nah, I only deserve one for this one.

      Delete
    3. Awww. Well, I'm just thrilled that you're past Wizardry 5, and done with 1988. And I don't mean that critically or sarcastically. :)

      Delete
  30. Winning Wizardry 5, cheating or not, is an insane achievement. It's just a game. If it stops being fun then why play? Wizardry 6 is much more enjoyable, I actually had a good time with it so look forward to playing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lot of people have said the same thing, but there's an easy answer: I keep playing even after it stops being fun because a) I still want to see the ending; and b) I want to write about it whether it's fun or not.

      Delete
  31. The way I see it, you put tons of effort into beating the game on your own, and also the early Wizardry games were made of the Guide Dang It and Fake Difficulty tropes to a ridiculous degree. I also would rather see you fudge things a bit than quit the blog again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, but that wasn't really a danger. A lot of people seem to have conflated the timing of my hiatus with my playing of Wizardry V, but I promise you they weren't related. I quite for reasons wholly unrelated to W5.

      Delete
    2. Human beings, in general, seem to like having a single thing to blame. It often isn't that simple, though. *shrug*

      Delete
  32. Wow. Where did all you people COME from?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, sure. I'm glad, of course. But I don't think I've ever had this many comments within 12 hours of posting before.

      Delete
  33. I played Wizardry 5 back when it came out, but I gave up somewhere around level 5. I never figured out the pools, and I got hopelessly confused. If I could have cheated easily, I would have been able to figure out what I was doing wrong and I might have finished.

    I liked Wiz 1 and 2, which I finished, I never tried 3, I gave up on 4, and I finished all the later ones. Wizardry 6 is pretty good, and 7 and 8 are better still.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to hear. I'll look forward to the later installments.

      Delete
  34. Congratulations! I played Wizardry I on the Apple //e back when I was 13? I never beat it, but loved the grind, and was amazed when I was able to convert a character to a Lord / Ninja / Samurai. I tried Wiz II-IV, but never got anywhere near close to completing them.

    I actually went back and re-played Wizardry I SNES on an emulator on a handheld gaming console (GPX2 I think?) but never got too far on that either, probably only to level 4.

    I'm really enjoying the blog, keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Just imagine you'd have played the game like you think your were supposed to:


    Your party gets wiped out somewhere deep down in the dungeon.
    Spend a long time rolling new characters.
    Spend a long time grinding on level 1 again until you're strong enough to survive on level 2.
    Spend a long time grinding on level 2 again until you're strong enough to survive on level 3.
    Spend a long time grinding on level 3 again until you're strong enough to survive on level 4.
    ...
    Finally you arrive on the level where your party died.
    Just before you can retrieve them you meet some enemies which wipe out your new party. You repeat the whole process above (how long does it take ?) again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. That's what I did with Wizardry I, and what I started out doing (in November and December) with V. For better or worse, I think the creators of the series intended to include a roguelike dedication to permadeath.

      Delete
  36. Great Job CRPG Addict. This one was fun and deserving of the win no matter how it came about.

    I would just like to thank you for writing all of these. It has been a joy and a real pick me up to visit your Blog.

    Long time observer, first time poster...
    Eric Kinkead

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoy the blog, Eric. Feel free to post a lot more!

      Delete
  37. I have a feeling that you'll feel a lot less a jackass once you step into the refreshing pool of 1989 RPGs.

    ReplyDelete
  38. PetrusOctavianusJune 19, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    I'm looking forward to 1989. It was one of the better years for CRPGs; IMO the best year before 1992, with games like The Magic Candle, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Sword of Aragon, Chaos Strikes Best, Dragon Wars, Starflight 2 and Dark Heart of Uukrul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm looking forward to it for almost those exact same reasons. Also Quest for Glory.

      Delete
    2. Chaos Strikes Best sounds like the dark version of some 60s sitcom.

      Delete
    3. Heh, I was thinking "best CRPG ever" when I wrote that.

      Delete
    4. I'm looking forward to CRPG Addict mapping Chaos Strikes "Best" in Excel... there's going to be a whole lotta copy/pasting going on (I just did it, I know).

      I remember fondly in my youth of tons of tiny bits of maps on transparent graph paper so you could superpose them in various directions, parts of corridors and staircases stiched together with scissors and tape. If non-linear is what's he's after...

      Delete
  39. Oh man! You could do a review of the Atari ST rpg game I made with my cousin when I was 17 !!

    http://tinyurl.com/7esgkk5

    It was... Errr... Never mind ... Lol!! Hey I had to start somewhere!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If only you ported it to DOS...

      Delete
    2. I know right? The ST emulator is terrible. However my cousin did go on to make this...

      http://tinyurl.com/clcx5za

      and I did a very limited amount of uncredited graphic work on that as I moved onto coin-op arcade dev, so maybe that could make it. When it comes to obscure titles, my portfolio of work is wide open. lol.

      you have a cool blog too Zenic, I must follow that as well.

      Delete
    3. That's cool. I've never made anything worthy of releasing. Maybe some day.

      Delete
    4. You can do it! Feel free to follow me as well. I am making a NEW 2.3D crpg for mobile, in the vein of all these blogs I follow for inspiration, and I desperately need support of the community. :D cheers.

      Delete
    5. Nice, following. I should check out other people's profiles more often. :D

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

    ReplyDelete
  41. What I'm gathering from this is that you think I'm an appalling, deceitful scumbag.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would probably depend on who you are. Is this JR Ewing?

      Delete
    2. Dad, please stop going on the Internet when you're drunk.

      Delete
  42. "Part of the problem was that she had a magic shield around her that prevented me from doing any damage. It turns out that the solution was to cast the SOCORDI mage spell, which normally summons an elemental to aid you in combat, but which for some reason summons back the Gatekeeper in this combat. I have no idea where I was supposed to get that information, but I was cheating at this point so I got it from the walkthrough."

    I believe the original manual had a description of the SOCORDI spell and how it worked along with every spell... some comment about returning the most recently dispelled creature.

    Anyway great blog... me and my brother beat this back in the early nineties without any walkthrough, and every vague text in the game or manual was some clue later on. Tough game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just looked at the manual, and all it says about SOCORDI is "conjures a group of monsters from one of the elemental planes to come and fight for the party." Maybe there was some kind of hint in-game?

      Delete
    2. In any event, congratulations on your blind victory. As hard as it was for me to win WITH cheating, that must have really taken some effort.

      Delete
    3. I don't think it was in the manual exactly. The game came with a game manual and a spell reference card with a summary of the spells. The description on the spell summary card had the hint... I wanna say an extra blurb at the bottom of this reference card was the hint.

      I cant find this card on the internet anywhere. I'm curious where this hint was exactly.

      We couldn't figure out the stealing of the locket from Evil Eyes and gave up on the game for a year, then came back the next summer and finally beat it.

      Delete
    4. Saw the manual and reference card, I couldn't find the hint about SOCORDI either.

      Somewhere there was a reference of the SOCORDI and possibly another spell being the opposite of the spell Sorn uses to banish the gatekeeper.

      Delete
    5. It's The Loon that gives you the hint about the summoning spell.

      Delete
  43. These old games had some very bad tendencies. They often added space for its own sake. They artificially inflated the length of gameplay by introducing long, repetitive walks and extremely difficult puzzles. The Wizardry series only took it to the top. Many old games had strange mechanics. Today's games are much more streamlined. It seems to me that there are certain conventions on what games should be, what you get if you look for a certain genre, how difficult the game should be and how long they are. I..think...that there was more versatility back then - versatility in the way the mind had to approach games. Today, the better computers do a lot of the work for you. I guess that Wizardry V was the last of these ancient games.

    ReplyDelete

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