The Inventory Adventure Games

An elegant synthesis of adventure game websites.

The Lord of the Rings: Shadows of Angmar Online

Perhaps Dungeons & Dragons itself would never have existed were it not for Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Codemasters, the UK company famously responsible for the Dizzy games are co-publishers. In 1999 they took over the abandoned facilities of Sierra On-Line in Oakhurst, which gives them a curious connection to the stalwarts of adventure gaming history. Lord of the Rings now has a free-to-play option, which began November 2, 2010 in Europe (September 10th in North America). Developed in one form or another since 1998, it has won several awards, including PC Golden Joystick Game of the Year 2007.

Quest For Infamy

Another day, another Kickstarter, this time for a RPG-Adventure hybrid by Steven "Blackthorne" Alexander.
Pre-orders are being taken, so it should surface in 2014.

 

Baldur's Gate  -  1998 - 2014

No adventure game website would be complete without mentioning one of the greatest games of all time, and one which only narrowly and spuriously fits into the genre of adventure game. Why mention role-playing games on this site at all? Well, especially in the early days of computer gaming, there was a lot of crossover between adventure games and role-playing games (RPGs). In fact, in the earliest days "adventure game" could mean role-playing game or text adventure, and many games had elements of both. Nowadays RPGs are sometimes used as synonyms for Zelda-style games, even though traditional adventure games and RPGs are very different genres to Legend of Zelda. On the other hand, now adventure games refer to games with adventure within them, and unfortunately this encompasses many titles which are not much better than first-person-shooters with very little story or interesting narrative element.

Baldur's Gate is a precursor both of World of Warcraft and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and the (released-for-ages-it-seems-now) MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic. What was very intriguing about it was that it ran using the precise rules of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing (board) game. Without those quirky and geeky games with much dice-throwing and bespectacled computation, Colossal Cave/ Adventure would probably never have developed far beyond a simplistic cave-emulation. Years later, we see that World of Warcraft, although perhaps not as precisely, also uses Dungeons and Dragons as its calculational core.

Baldur's Gate: The Enhanced Edition was scheduled for release in November 2012 for PC, iPhone and Mac, with an Android release soon after. Thankfully the intention is only to enhance not to rehash or remake. BG still plays perfectly today in its old form, and there are a barrage of mods available for the original. Mods are playable together with Big Picture (BWP). Now, however, we are soon to see Beamdog's official release, with new characters and encounters.

 

 

A Retrospective on Baldur's Gate (click link to learn how much this game means to people)

What Baldur's Gate also had in abundance was great story-telling. It'll be interesting to see whether The Old Republic is just a hack-fest or if it can encompass some of Bioware's infamous story as present in KOTOR.

 

World of Warcraft

Did you know you could play World of Warcraft for free? Didn't, did you? There are many independent servers. Molten is an excellent server and you can get the downloads you need here. The realm Lordaeron is recommended :-)


An interesting interview with some of the designers of World of Warcraft, especially Tom Chilton, a lead designer who once worked on Ultima Online can be found here. First launched November 2004, it is now quite a phenomenon. Apparently the decision to break the world into two factions - the Horde and the Alliance - was debated until the very last moments.

 

My World of Warcraft Blog

When I play World of Warcraft, I like to play and imagine I am a single character with one life, rather than playing a game where you get killed every 15 minutes, as this breaks any role-playing illusion: this is after all a role-playing game. As such I like to extend this to trying very hard to stay alive. I guess I would call this hardcore game playing. I tried this to varying degrees with a few Horde characters, and this really ramped up the emotional impact of the game, to the point that I was enraged or completely crushed after dying, particularly after managing to create a character and have them not die for quite a few levels. My current journey is to play an Alliance character with my fave Priest specialisation and to attempt to remain alive. Having learned a thing or too from my previous characters, I feel I have quite a good chance now of creating a character with longevity.

Day One:

Thanks to playing within the second realm rather than Lordaeron, I am able to quickly progress up the levels. This is, of course, a private server, and on this particular realm, they increase the XP (eXperience Points) a little so that you can level up your character (WoW players merely call this levelling, but I am old and still call it levelling-up). By the end of play I am at Level 17. No jokes, this would have taken weeks, months or longer on the regular realm with my typical login habits. For newbies, realms are just alternative servers really: the game zones are basically the same, though this one lets you advance a little bit quicker. I didn't feel I was losing anything with this addition, it cut out some boredom and unfair fights, especially when you play a Priest class. Plus, playing a Priest usually takes three times as long as the favoured Paladin, and Warrior classes.


Off I went, crash-landing into the World of Weirdoes with my new Draenei character. I had one moment of terror when a Blood Elf crept up on me from behind. I was quite near the starting point, so this was a big shock, even though I was around Level 6 or 7 by this point... I thought this was a human player but maybe that was just paranoia, and I will check out the location again tomorrow.There were some Blood Elves elsewhere on the island that I found later. Anyway I ran as fast as I could as my health and mana were low after hand-to-hand combat with some generic animal, then teleported to a nearby inn. After this heart-attack moment, I patiently built up my character until she was a neat Level 17 character safe back to her favorite inn for the night.

Day Two:

Perhaps my biggest fears are a laptop overheat or server lag, as this could mean curtains for my experiment, so I have to make sure I always have "Shadow World of Pain" attacks and melee attacks ongoing during any fights. The Shadow World of Pain inflicts damage but bit-by-bit over a few seconds, and could continue after an unintentional crash. Also my headphones are playing up.The previous day I bought a mace but my skills remained at 1/90 while attacking with it... maybe targets are too low level. The music in this zone is my favourite so far - it is a sort-of combination of Hindu and New Age music. Actually, come to think of it, it reminds me spookily of the music from Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. Also had my first group interaction with a guy called Djukson, a Draenei shaman. Manage to get up to Level 19 despite my first overheat and a major nightmare when I came to Stillpine Hold. Hmmm... what are all these dead bodies lying around...maybe, just maybe there is a horde raid... let's take a look and see, shall we(!) Lo and behold, there is a PvP (Player v Player) Alliance player on the horizon killing everyone. I ran very very fast indeed, took a right into the forest and fortunately survived.

Day Three:

My laptop keeps overheating while waiting in the queues to join the server. I need to purchase a  "tray of cooling" at the local hardware store. Yesterday I decided that I needed to keep a good supply of melon juice, as previous playing of this game revealed a decided lack of patience meaning I was running around the continent with next to no mana all the time.That's melon juice in the game, I'm drinking the Slovakian staple imitation cola drink called 'Kofola' in real life. Actually it tastes better than Coca-Cola. One of the locations discovered yesterday was Odesyus' Landing, obviously a reference to the Greek hero Odysseus (more famously known as Ulysses). Waddya know, this game has some culture after all.

So I realise that neither of the scary situations from the first two days were real players, they were both just game 'mobs'. Mobs is Geek-speak for 'mobiles' meaning non-player entities, rather than gangs of London-based teenagers. So I'm gonna be in mega-fear when I eventually take on a player in PvP action... Still, I managed to survive a fight with a giant owl-man thing despite my laptop overheating and turning off. For non-Wow players, there are no save games in WoW - if you go offline in the middle of a fight, you can expect to wake up as a ghost. (Though it does log you off and you disappear from the world after about 30 seconds or so - enough time to be killed twice-over). Was desperate to get to Level 20 today so that I could get a steed - primarily for running away faster - but by the time I got a bit of cash and went back to the nearby town/citadel/exodar, I ended splashing all the dollars on Priest training. It made me infinitely better than the weak character who could barely kill a level 14 walking-plant-Triffid thing though. So tomorrow should be a lot easier - though I still definitely need that steed.

Day Four:

In a moment of sheer idiocy, I think to myself "Who is this guy, looks like an Alliance Guy, but it also looks like I can attack him." And so, I try. Two seconds later it is off to ghost land for me. Despite his being a few levels below my Level 22, it looks like he rocked and I sucked. I guess he was some sort of super-hero guy at an ambassador meeting. Abandoning that character, I make a new one. With all my knowledge of the terrain, I manage to get up to Level 16 in just a few hours,,, Then, curtains again. Laptop overheat when I have the Number Lock key on, the function which puts you on automatic run mode. When I switch back on I have clearly ran blind into a tree and been killed by an owl beast. However, I'm pretty impressed with the progress of this character. I'm guessing that you have statistics rolled for you at the start of the game, like in Baldur's Gate or other roleplay-based games. So even though I have the same race, character and class, I seem to have a better set of stats. Feeling a bit more laissez-faire, I join a random dungeon. I am in a group of five players, one of which is the designated tank. I am the healer, and the other two are DPS, a term which baffled me the first time I played. I don't even think many people know what DPS stands for, but basically it means a guy who fires at range at the beasts, to take the aggression off the healer. My job as a healer is primarily to heal the tank, though I have found in practice that I have to continually look at the list of players and heal everyone at times. Well, I give all the players a "fortitude buff", buffs being spells that make a character temporarily better: so you can be buff, like Hugh Jackman I guess. What happens next? Well, they all run off at once into the middle of a mob of mobs, with me already on low mana, I heal a couple of them, then get ambushed by a load of bad guys, even though I was hiding in the corner. Belated messages in the chat window of "stop aggro on healer" - keep the aggression off the healer - are a bit 'so-what' when you are already dead. Especially when I realise that if I go back to the "instance"- a dungeon which takes part in a separate instance of space - I'll probably be instantly chopped down again anyway.

So no more hardcore Warcraft playing for now. Two characters, one dead once and one dead twice before I even got going really. Perhaps I'd better stick to classic adventuring.

Arcuz

Play the casual RPG Arcuz right now in your browser. Now the game is embedded on the Mobile page (towards bottom) to prevent major insanity
from too many audio files playing at once.

Parsely Games

 

Jared A. Sorensen has crated a selection of RPG-games based on text adventures.
He's also renowned for an infinitely cheeky viral marketing campaign here.

 Memento Mori have used a simple concept - make the parser a human player - to bring text adventures into board-game life. Review here.

Nethack

Few games have had the longevity of Nethack, a roleplaying game which persists even in its ASCII form.
The Vulture's Eye isometric perspective is my personal favourite, though.

There are several classes, though any character can cast spells or use weapons, something which always
struck me as a fundamental flaw of "Dungeons and Dragons" - why should it be impossible for a person
to use a particular weapon, even if it is against their religious beliefs, as in the priest class. Of course, the
classes are different, and the barbarian finds himself a lot sturdier than the wizard, who has much better
luck at remembering spells. The archaeologist is a thinly disguised Indiana Jones, complete with fedora
and bullwhip.

At first, the cryptic messages intrigued me. It was disappointing though when I found they were little more
than in-jokes. Making decryption of the messages essential to gameplay could have brought increased
depth to the whole experience. Not that there isn't depth to this game. After ingesting the wrong flavour of
mould I was treated to a psychedelic-fest which twisted my melons, man, as my pet cat transmogrified into
a variety of beasts, and my trusted bullwhip became a cheese toastie.

It is perhaps the lack of hold-your-hand instruction or commentary which makes this game so compelling.

 

..cat on leash, killed by a book 

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