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General Category => Gold Box Games and other CRPGs => Topic started by: Olivier Leroux on April 18, 2017, 02:13:38 PM

Title: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Olivier Leroux on April 18, 2017, 02:13:38 PM
As the great fan of FRUA that I am, and seeing how popular the original Gold Box games are among community members, I was curious enough about them to buy them when they were re-released on GOG. Now that I own them all (well, except for the Buck Rogers titles), I felt like giving them a try. I made some earlier attempts, but the last one I tried recently was Champions of Krynn.

But coming from (hacked) FRUA, with no nostalgia goggles on, I find it quite hard to get into, due to several minor annoyances adding up, like having to press more buttons than necessary every combat round (MOVE, and MANUAL for aiming, which are handled automatically in FRUA), having to re-memorize every spell once it's cast (while FRUA stores your last selection, so you just need to rest), the tedious customization of the crude character combat icons, the emulated PC speaker sounds, the need to constantly check the journal for reading longer passages of text, apparantly no ranged weapons (slings) for casters, etc.

So I wonder, if I can't get into the oldest Gold Box games, is there still a chance for me to enjoy the newer ones, which are a bit closer to FRUA? Which games use which engine, which graphic and color mode (EGA, VGA)? When did improvements for more ease-of-use occur, if at all? Do all of them share the need for pressing MOVE and MANUAL in combat? Do all of them work with outsourced journal entries? Would it even make sense to play a later installment in a series without having played the previous ones, e.g. Dark Queen without Champions and Death Knights?
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Mechanaut on April 18, 2017, 03:09:34 PM
The [much needed] 'Fix' command came later.  Pool of Radiance came first, and Curse of the Azure Bonds came next. In the initial games, the mouse was a curious option; not everyone had them on their machines.
PoR is strangely the most primitive and the most in depth of the GB games that I've played.  I have not yet played the Kyrnn series; but I installed it last week.  You get over it fairly quickly [the keyboard demands], the spell re-memorization is taxing however, but one can get over that too.  It's remarkably unusual [and was fun —to me] to be able to start a party in Pool of Radiance, and transfer them from game to game until the end... as the [ever improving] heroes of Phlan. Though care should be taken about racial choice; because of the early D&D racial level caps, you almost certainly want a party of all or nearly all human PCs.

There is a superb set of articles about SSI and their games on the Digital Antiquarian. The GB relevant ones are part 4 & 5.
http://www.filfre.net/2016/03/opening-the-gold-box-part-4-pool-of-radiance/
http://www.filfre.net/2017/03/opening-the-gold-box-part-5-all-that-glitters-is-not-gold/
 
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Olivier Leroux on April 18, 2017, 03:19:57 PM
Champions of Krynn has the FIX command already, but apparantly spells have to be selected individually again for memorizing, once cast. I only played Ray Dyer's FRUA remake of POR and Curse of the Azure Bonds, which was much more comfortable. Too bad the other games weren't remade in FRUA, even though it's quite understandable, seeing how much work that would involve and how difficult it would be to implement all the features of the originals, if possible at all.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, I tried playing with the Gold Box Companion to make the playthrough more comfortable, but for some reason it didn't show the journal entries as I believe it's supposed to, and if I loaded a save game from the overland map, it wouldn't activate the automap, when I entered a dungeon. I had to save the game in the dungeon, quit, restart, reload, restart GBC for the automap to work. And I'm generally not that fond of playing in Windowed mode. So while the GBC offers some great features, it still didn't help that much against the feeling that everything is more clunky than fun from today's perspective ...  ???
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Mechanaut on April 18, 2017, 03:25:16 PM
Off hand I don't recall which had it first, but the mid to later games eventually started remembering the selected spell lists. [I'm reasonably sure]
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Ray on April 18, 2017, 03:32:53 PM
Champions of Krynn has the FIX command already, but apparantly spells have to be selected individually again for memorizing, once cast. I only played Ray Dyer's FRUA remake of POR and Curse of the Azure Bonds, which was much more comfortable. Too bad the other games weren't remade in FRUA, even though it's quite understandable, seeing how much work that would involve and how difficult it would be to implement all the features of the originals, if possible at all.

I've played the Pools series from start to finish (sort of) twice now.  The only reason I get through PoR is because of nostalgia.  I love it just the way it is, in spite of itself.  Curse and Secret of the Silver Blades are a means to an end, because I've only played Pools of Darkness twice.  That's the only game in the series that feels "modern," by FRUA standards.

I'm curious how the Savage Frontier series would feel.  I haven't played them since the late 90's, but I remember them being light years ahead of the Pools series (sans PoD) in terms of art, story, and design...They might be a good place to look...

Off topic, and FWIW, I started a conversion of Secret of the Silver Blades last year (maybe the year before)--I got some folks to help out with music, and some other stuff.  Went at it full bore.  Then I realized how terrible SotSB is, just as a game, and it became the only thing that I ever started in FRUA that I didn't finish.  I expect it will retain that title.  It's just...an awful game.

In order to convert it, I would need to alter it, extensively.  And that would go against everything I've been doing in The Realm.

I really didn't get much more than the (LENGTHY) introduction done, and the map of New Verdigris, but the group I was using to actually play the game struggled all the way to the end.  I kept thinking, If I find something cool here, then I"ll have a reason to go back and convert all that crap...  Never found it, sadly.

Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: hans on April 18, 2017, 03:46:19 PM
...Off topic, and FWIW, I started a conversion of Secret of the Silver Blades last year (maybe the year before)--I got some folks to help out with music, and some other stuff.  Went at it full bore.  Then I realized how terrible SotSB is, just as a game, and it became the only thing that I ever started in FRUA that I didn't finish.  I expect it will retain that title.  It's just...an awful game.

In order to convert it, I would need to alter it, extensively.  And that would go against everything I've been doing in The Realm.
 

Howzabout: Altering it extensively, releasing it as a non-Realms game, under an alias, if necessary.   ;D

...So, what sort of alterations were you thinking about...?   :)

Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Ray on April 18, 2017, 03:59:38 PM

I would mainly feel compelled to reduce the monotony.

I'd remove half the levels of the mine, at least.  Shrink the size of the ruins surrounding New Verdigris.  Reduce the number of wandering encounters dramatically (there aren't that many 12th-level clerics in the multiverse), and add in some environment-appropriate creatures to create some variety beyond the six monsters you fight ad nauseum.  There was just so much sprawl in that game, and so little story...

Maybe someday, Hans...But another thing that I realized after enduring SotSB was that PoD was just too big for me to ever actually convert into FRUA.  So, my dream of all four games will never be realized, because I wouldn't want to shrink PoD...That one was a lot of fun, except for the final battle that I managed to win (hence my "sort of" up above...)

Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Olivier Leroux on April 18, 2017, 04:04:11 PM
So what do you think about playing e.g. Pool of Darkness without any knowledge of the prior games? How much of a story continuity is there? Is it really important to know the whole story, or to import your own characters?

Then again, maybe I should just give up all hope of ever joining the club of Gold Box fans and instead concentrate on the FRUA modules I haven't played yet and which will probably be much more enjoyable to me.    ::)
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Mechanaut on April 18, 2017, 04:29:58 PM
I'd remove half the levels of the mine, at least.  Shrink the size of the ruins surrounding New Verdigris.  Reduce the number of wandering encounters dramatically (there aren't that many 12th-level clerics in the multiverse), and add in some environment-appropriate creatures to create some variety beyond the six monsters you fight ad nauseum.
SotSB —The Good Parts Version.  ;D

So what do you think about playing e.g. Pool of Darkness without any knowledge of the prior games? How much of a story continuity is there? Is it really important to know the whole story, or to import your own characters?

Then again, maybe I should just give up all hope of ever joining the club of Gold Box fans and instead concentrate on the FRUA modules I haven't played yet and which will probably be much more enjoyable to me.    ::)
Not much different than coming into a movie series in the 3rd or 4th installment... Your characters begin the game at appropriate levels, but they will lack the mental history you'd otherwise have for them, and they are attributed to events that you won't know about. Still playable though.

If decided to play Pool of Darkness...You might try playing through each of the others for as long as they hold your interest; perhaps even transfer the party prematurely. Other than that, you can get much of the information by skimming a walkthrough, or a "let's play" on Youtube... with no need to slog through a game than doesn't appeal mechanically.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Ray on April 18, 2017, 08:24:08 PM

I'd agree--Pools of Darkness is less connected to the others in many ways.  If you're familiar with the Forgotten Realms at all (like...REALLY big picture stuff: Elminster is a wizard everyone bumps into at some point, Bane is an evil deity...), then you've got all you need to play.

The biggest drawback that I can foresee is that characters who come from the previous installments are usually a level or two ahead of characters who are made native to the game.  That's not always the case--it really depends on whether you blunder into as many subplots and wandering encounters as I do--but that really enhanced my enjoyment.

For that, though, there's also Gold Box Companion, which is totally awesome.

Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: hans on April 18, 2017, 08:33:52 PM
Curse of the Azure Bonds is one of my favorite GoldBoxes, neck and neck with Death Knights of Krynn for the top spot.  I'd at least give it a try, because there's so much good stuff in it.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Olivier Leroux on April 19, 2017, 01:51:30 AM
Well, like I said, in principle, I'm already familiar with Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds by way of Ray's adaptations, (even though it's been a while since I played them and I hardly remember anything). So I'd only "miss out" on Secret of the Silver Blades if I tried playing Pool of Darkness now, and it seems I wouldn't miss that much ...
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Ishad Nha on April 19, 2017, 06:52:34 AM
Back to the starting post and spell memorization...
Pool of Radiance: spell selection can be arranged by altering the relevant character files to show all spells as being memorized.

Ditto Gold Box Companion should do this with a click:
"- Store the list of memorized spells and restore the spells with a single click. Can not be used while in combat."
After you use GBC you can rest if you want to.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Olivier Leroux on April 19, 2017, 09:40:59 AM
Oh, ok. I guess I should spend a bit more time on getting to know GBC.

Anyway, I've checked out all the later Gold Box games, and it looks like The Dark Queen of Krynn (1992) is the only one of them that works just like FRUA, with a selection of pre-made and more detailed character icons and automatical MOVING and MANUAL aiming. The same things that I found a bit off-putting in Pool of Radiance (1988) and Champions of Krynn (1990) are still present in Pools of Darkness (1991) (except maybe for the memorizing issue, which I didn't test) and also Treasures of the Savage Frontier (1992) (although that one has the most attractive graphics IMO). All of them, even DQK, use journal entries.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: ProphetSword on April 19, 2017, 09:59:37 AM
I find it a shame that you can't see past the interface of the games.  They're classic for a reason.  As good as some FRUA modules can be, I've rarely felt that they've reached the heights of the actual Gold-Box games.  And that's not just nostalgia...I've replayed them a lot over the years.  The stories in Champions/Death Knights, Curse of the Azure Bonds and Pools of Darkness are awesome.  Pool of Radiance is the best of the bunch.  There's even a decent story buried in Secret of the Silver Blades.

They aren't that much different than FRUA.  Yes, it can be tedious to select your spells when you rest, but no more so than when you select them the first time when you start an FRUA module. Or when you decide to change them. You get used to hitting Move before moving your character.  Again, it's not that hard to get used to doing.  After a bit, you barely notice.

I think you shouldn't compare the games to FRUA.  The good ones came before the engine was updated to FRUA-style systems, but they're completely worth the effort.

Also, you may be the first person I've ever heard who complains about the journal entries.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Olivier Leroux on April 19, 2017, 10:58:09 AM
I find it a shame that you can't see past the interface of the games.  They're classic for a reason.  As good as some FRUA modules can be, I've rarely felt that they've reached the heights of the actual Gold-Box games.  And that's not just nostalgia...I've replayed them a lot over the years.  The stories in Champions/Death Knights, Curse of the Azure Bonds and Pools of Darkness are awesome.  Pool of Radiance is the best of the bunch.  There's even a decent story buried in Secret of the Silver Blades.

I guess this is also a matter of taste, it might just be that I'm looking for different things than you and others. Like I said, I've played Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds - granted, not the original games, but I'd assume that Ray's adaptations are as faithful as can be. I thought these games were okay, but I liked Ray's own stories and Realm adaptations a lot better, and yours too. I've played so many FRUA designs that left a much more lasting impression on me than what I've seen of the Gold Box games so far. But I was never a big fan of Forgotten Realms anyway, hardly ever read any D&D novels, not even the Krynn series, and I think I also kind of prefer hans' short story telling designs to epic Gold Box ones with a lot of combat. If I was confident that I would eventually come to love these classics just as much as you do, I'd be much more willing to deal with the minor annoyances, but tastes differ, and I fear that their length and all the combat to be expected might become tedious to a player like me even without the roundabout UI. So if I'm being honest, the reason that these things put me off are not just the things themselves, but that they represent additional hurdles, when I'm not even sure if I'd really be interested enough in the games to bother. That doesn't necessarily have to do with the quality of the games themselves though, just with my personal tastes.


Also, you may be the first person I've ever heard who complains about the journal entries.

Well, how many other people do you know trying the games now for the first time and who aren't huge Krynn/FR fans or oldschool gaming freaks? ;)

I get why they had to do it like this at the time, but back then you had a nice manual in print that came with the box and that you could comfortably leaf through while playing. Nowadays, to read the entries, you have to ALT-TAB out of the game or play in Windowed Mode to read a pdf file, or waste your printer ink on a collection of loose paper sheets. It's not a total no-go for me, but it adds to all the other minor annoyances.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Mechanaut on April 19, 2017, 11:52:20 AM
All of them, even DQK, use journal entries.
This is to be expected; of course.  The journals not only served as deliberate copy-deterrent, but they kept the size of the game data lower, by printing the text instead of storing it on the disk —which might have required an additional disk. These disks were mechanical contraptions... not plastic CDs; and they were not relatively cheap.

'Curse of the Azure Bonds' came on four separate game disks [in the 5¼" version for IBM], and the game regularly needed swapping of these disks to access the data for given tasks and locations.
Without a doubt [or I should say without a hard disk**] , the player would have had to swap out the disk each time the game needed text from the journal; had they embedded the data in the game instead of printing it in the booklet.

The reason FRUA doesn't use a journal, is —user preference; it could if they wished, and the story text would not be so limited. 
Come to think of it... these days FRUA designers could choose to include PDF journals if they wished.

__
**Hard disk drives were an ungodly expense —if even an option at all on one's platform. The drive to read just the floppy disks for the game, cost $200; the game itself cost $50. Hard drives weren't a supported option on the PC I was using at the time.]

Quote
Nowadays, to read the entries, you have to ALT-TAB out of the game or play in Windowed Mode to read a pdf file
I wonder if anyone has made a version of DOSBOX with an emulated monochrome second monitor? Or the option to split-screen between the game and a PDF on a widescreen monitor.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Olivier Leroux on April 19, 2017, 12:42:09 PM
I wonder if anyone has made a version of DOSBOX with an emulated monochrome second monitor? Or the option to split-screen between the game and a PDF on a widescreen monitor.

I think I've read that GBC is able to display the correct journal entries on the side, but I haven't figured out yet how.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: jhirvonen on April 19, 2017, 01:08:31 PM
I wonder if anyone has made a version of DOSBOX with an emulated monochrome second monitor? Or the option to split-screen between the game and a PDF on a widescreen monitor.
I think I've read that GBC is able to display the correct journal entries on the side, but I haven't figured out yet how.
Journals have to be selected manually by activating the HUD menu over the DOSBox window by moving mouse over it. From there select JOURNALS and then the wanted journal number. Maps/images are not shown, just text.

(http://personal.inet.fi/koti/jhirvonen/gbc/graphics/screen06.jpg)

(http://personal.inet.fi/koti/jhirvonen/gbc/graphics/screen07.jpg)

In a perfect world journal entries would be autodetected from the game text and probably a cropped image of the PDF page would be shown. Easier said than done as the text location changes in memory and there are several games to support.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Olivier Leroux on April 19, 2017, 01:15:50 PM
Ah, thanks! I overlooked that you have to activate the HUD menu by mousing over it.  :-[ That should help fixing some more issues I had.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Ray on April 19, 2017, 01:21:13 PM

Completely off topic at this point, but some of my fondest memories of Pool of Radiance are swapping my 5.25" floppies, from Disc One all the way of to Disc Eight.  Disc Three was Phlan, if I remember correctly, and Disc Two was the Slums.  I seem to remember getting excited about Disc Seven, too, but I don't remember why exactly anymore.

In those days, swapping discs was a way to gauge your progress through the game.  It was a lot like being able to tell how far you are through a novel by handling it and sensing how many pages are left to read. 

Quaint, by today's standards, but for those of us who were on this ship when it took its maiden voyages...good times. 
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: ProphetSword on April 19, 2017, 01:56:07 PM
I guess I really can't blame you if these don't speak to you, Olivier.  I was never much a fan of the Infinity engine games (Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, etc) when they were released.  The few times I've tried to go back and revisit them, I continued to be disappointed, especially given how clunky the interface seems compared to modern games.

To each their own.  You'll just have to trust me when I tell you there's magic in those Gold-Box games.  And if this were 1988, you would think Pool of Radiance was one of the best CRPGs you'd ever played.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Olivier Leroux on April 19, 2017, 02:23:09 PM
And if this were 1988, you would think Pool of Radiance was one of the best CRPGs you'd ever played.

That's for sure!  ;D Sadly, I can't turn back time. I guess I should have played them when they were released. I started with FRUA and it spoke to me not for being a Gold Box game but for inspiring creativity.

If there had been a series with a more unusual setting, maybe I'd be more curious about it than I am about the FR and Dragonlance stuff. Too bad the Buck Rogers games aren't on GOG.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: steve_mcdee on April 19, 2017, 04:32:42 PM
Quaint, by today's standards, but for those of us who were on this ship when it took its maiden voyages...good times.
I remember in Champions of Krynn on the Commodore 64, Throtl was "Disk B" (the flip side of the first diskette). It took forever to load!

And I was a cautious player. I remember entering Throtl, it eventually loads, then the hobgoblin says, "Throtl's off limits to you. Leave and no-one gets hurt." I selected the "leave" option and had to swap disks again and wait another 20 minutes while it loaded, the overland map, then reloaded Throtl.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Mechanaut on April 19, 2017, 05:01:28 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKHFZBUTA4k  ;D

As I recall... There was a significant wait (during disk access), just to change body parts in the icon editor for the first two games.
(And that you knew there was a battle coming... because the disk spun up, and started loading in the combat engine.)

I'm might be alone in this thought, but I say that there is kind of esteem and attitude that comes of being annealed by the early series that you don't get by starting in the middle or end.

*But perhaps that's true nostalgia talking.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Ishad Nha on April 20, 2017, 10:16:37 PM
Back to Reply #18: you could make Journal Entries into individual files. Said files are placed in the GBC directory of the game concerned. Then GBC reads the files from the relevant directory, rather than from the current DosBox memory.
It would be simplest if you could have text files for Entries that did not have pictures. PDF files would be reserved for Entries with pictures.
Another approach is to make all Entries into text files.  If there is a graphic, there will be a note at the bottom, which tells the player to check the game Manual for the picture.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: jhirvonen on April 20, 2017, 11:03:42 PM
Back to Reply #18: you could make Journal Entries into individual files. Said files are placed in the GBC directory of the game concerned. Then GBC reads the files from the relevant directory, rather than from the current DosBox memory.
It would be simplest if you could have text files for Entries that did not have pictures. PDF files would be reserved for Entries with pictures.
Another approach is to make all Entries into text files.  If there is a graphic, there will be a note at the bottom, which tells the player to check the game Manual for the picture.
What I meant is that GBC would detect from DOSBox's memory when it's time to display a journal entry and also fetch the entry number. Now you have to select it by hand.

The journals are already included in GBC's data files (GBC-folder\Games\xx. game\Game.dat) as text and for maps there's a text ("A MAP") or something like that.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Outlander78 on April 21, 2017, 07:58:14 AM
The [much needed] 'Fix' command came later.  Pool of Radiance came first, and Curse of the Azure Bonds came next. In the initial games, the mouse was a curious option; not everyone had them on their machines.
PoR is strangely the most primitive and the most in depth of the GB games that I've played.  I have not yet played the Kyrnn series; but I installed it last week.  You get over it fairly quickly [the keyboard demands], the spell re-memorization is taxing however, but one can get over that too.  It's remarkably unusual [and was fun —to me] to be able to start a party in Pool of Radiance, and transfer them from game to game until the end... as the [ever improving] heroes of Phlan. Though care should be taken about racial choice; because of the early D&D racial level caps, you almost certainly want a party of all or nearly all human PCs.

There is a superb set of articles about SSI and their games on the Digital Antiquarian. The GB relevant ones are part 4 & 5.
http://www.filfre.net/2016/03/opening-the-gold-box-part-4-pool-of-radiance/
http://www.filfre.net/2017/03/opening-the-gold-box-part-5-all-that-glitters-is-not-gold/

Thank you for posting these.  I am looking forward to reading them.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Amarande on April 21, 2017, 08:51:34 PM
All of them, even DQK, use journal entries.
This is to be expected; of course.  The journals not only served as deliberate copy-deterrent, but they kept the size of the game data lower, by printing the text instead of storing it on the disk —which might have required an additional disk. These disks were mechanical contraptions... not plastic CDs; and they were not relatively cheap.

'Curse of the Azure Bonds' came on four separate game disks [in the 5¼" version for IBM], and the game regularly needed swapping of these disks to access the data for given tasks and locations.
Without a doubt [or I should say without a hard disk**] , the player would have had to swap out the disk each time the game needed text from the journal; had they embedded the data in the game instead of printing it in the booklet.

The reason FRUA doesn't use a journal, is —user preference; it could if they wished, and the story text would not be so limited. 
Come to think of it... these days FRUA designers could choose to include PDF journals if they wished.

__
**Hard disk drives were an ungodly expense —if even an option at all on one's platform. The drive to read just the floppy disks for the game, cost $200; the game itself cost $50. Hard drives weren't a supported option on the PC I was using at the time.]

Quote
Nowadays, to read the entries, you have to ALT-TAB out of the game or play in Windowed Mode to read a pdf file
I wonder if anyone has made a version of DOSBOX with an emulated monochrome second monitor? Or the option to split-screen between the game and a PDF on a widescreen monitor.

This disk swapping would not only be likely, but a certainty - Ultima VI came out around the same time as the final Gold Box games, and on hard drive-less systems (e.g., the C64; I can't remember if the DOS version even had the option to run from floppies at that point), it was CONSTANT.

Talk - (NPC)
PLEASE INSERT THE POPULACE A DISK AND PRESS ENTER

Name, Job, Bye ...
PLEASE INSERT THE BRITANNIA DISK AND PRESS ENTER

ad nauseam for literally every NPC you might talk to.

As for the spell memorisation thing, it's more a convenience than anything else (how often do you really use and re-memorise most of your spells except for the few basic offensive mage ones? Except in POR, you pretty much always used FIX for healing anyway - not only was it more convenient, but I'm actually pretty certain it uses less game time than it should, which is why FIXes are so rarely interrupted ... and buffing is pretty much only a thing for major fixed battles that you have to take time to prepare before anyway).

Although I should note one thing significant about it - which is probably technically a bug exploit. In the two later Dragonlance games, the auto rememorise feature is implemented, but it does not appear to take into account changes to the moon phase since you originally memorised spells! This means that if you selected spells at full moons and the moons wane, you get to keep the bonus spells as long as you use the automatic re-selection feature (and, of course, providing your mage didn't level up in a way that resulted in gaining an extra spell slot of the level(s) that the bonus spell(s) normally use); in Champions, on the other hand, you would have to actually wait till the moons got back to full to get all the spells back as this feature is absent.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Olivier Leroux on April 22, 2017, 01:52:36 AM
As for the spell memorisation thing, it's more a convenience than anything else (how often do you really use and re-memorise most of your spells except for the few basic offensive mage ones?

I'm not sure I understand - what do you mean "except for the basic offensive mage ones"? Those are crucial to me, so my answer to "how often" would be "all the time, after every second battle or so" ...  :P
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Ishad Nha on April 25, 2017, 08:51:50 AM
I can use the GBC Teleport inside towns but not outdoors in Champions of Krynn...

Pools of Darkness, if you can identify the current Ecl in the DosBox data, then you can know which outdoor map the party is currently in. This might enable you to bring Teleport to the game.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: jhirvonen on April 27, 2017, 01:27:49 PM
I can use the GBC Teleport inside towns but not outdoors in Champions of Krynn...

Pools of Darkness, if you can identify the current Ecl in the DosBox data, then you can know which outdoor map the party is currently in. This might enable you to bring Teleport to the game.

Can't remember why teleport is not working in Champions.

In Pools, If I remember correctly, I figured out the memory location that indicates the current indoor map index but it didn't change correctly to Realms/Moander/etc. ECL when you left the map to outdoors. It worked in some cases but not in all. There also seemed to be some game state values regarding the outdoors map.

As I've said before, it's much more difficult to pinpoint memory addresses compared to static save files. Where there's one value for one thing in a save file, there might be several in the game memory. When an address is found you'd want it to be an offset to some base address so that in can be safely used. In most cases the save file is not a dump of the memory so knowing the save file structure does not help.

I wrote a tool which can search for values in memory and then narrow the list after the value changes and can monitor the changes live but still there can be hundreds of false positives especially if the value is just a byte.

Try HxD, it's a hex editor which can view/edit the memory of a process like you would view/edit a file.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Ishad Nha on April 27, 2017, 08:56:59 PM
Town offsets in Pools of Darkness save files:
18, 21, 197
One of these might be the Ecl figure. Changing offset 18 changed the town map. There are only three Ecl records for the outdoors, their numbers are known of course.
If all else fails, you could always have the player manually enter the correct Ecl number: 17, 51 or 80.

Champions of Krynn might have a different variety of outdoor map. I don't recall decrypting it. I can always have another go.

Already using HxD, it is a good editor.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Ishad Nha on April 29, 2017, 10:02:27 AM
Outdoor teleporting worked properly in Death Knights of Krynn.

Champions of Krynn outdoors is definitely 38x15. Outdoor terrain is basically water and town entrances, there is no need for a map. So I suspect that there is no map unlike DKK, DQK, PD... In the Ecl there are only 255 Bytes left to decrypt, and the outdoor map is 15*38 = 570 Bytes.
Finished decrypting Ecl 16, now I will have to work out what the functions mean.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: jhirvonen on April 29, 2017, 12:52:26 PM
I added the Champions of Krynn world map teleport but didn't update the homepage / game archive for that. There simply was no code to handle CoK teleporting.

Have you tried using HxD to search / edit DOSBox's memory?
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Ishad Nha on April 29, 2017, 09:35:05 PM
"Have you tried using HxD to search / edit DOSBox's memory?"
No, I am not much of a programmer and I am busy with several other things.

Champions of Krynn, once you expand the record for Ecl1_016, by using DaxDump, you have the normal Ecl functions, then you have a remnant section of 245 Bytes. This begins at offset 3,568. Now, the x and y town coordinates occur in separate areas. X coords are found in offsets 3,701 through 3,712. Y coords are found in offsets 3,713 through 3,724
Meaning of other 221 Bytes is still unclear.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Ishad Nha on May 01, 2017, 08:51:51 PM
State of play

Outdoors teleporting worked properly:
- Gateway to the Savage Frontier
- Treasures of the Savage Frontier
- Death Knights of Krynn
- The Dark Queen of Krynn

Compatible with both cheat codes and GBC: GSF, DKK
Has no known functioning codes: DQK
Can't use both GBC and cheat codes: TSF

Notes:
- Gateway to the Savage Frontier only works within the current Ecl area, there are six such areas. Ditto Treasures of the Savage Frontier.
- The Dark Queen of Krynn, only works within the North/South half of the outdoors that the party is currently in.

Not currently working, I can use the GBC Teleport inside towns but not outdoors:
- Pool of Radiance
- Pools of Darkness (Can't use both GBC and cheat codes to boot)
- Champions of Krynn

I can use the GBC Teleport inside towns but not tested outdoors:
Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday
FRUA

Not tested at all:
Buck Rogers: Matrix Cubed

Can never work:
- Curse of the Azure Bonds displays only a static world map picture. No world map walking.
- Secret of the Silver Blades has no world map.
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Amarande on May 05, 2017, 02:10:34 PM
As for the spell memorisation thing, it's more a convenience than anything else (how often do you really use and re-memorise most of your spells except for the few basic offensive mage ones?

I'm not sure I understand - what do you mean "except for the basic offensive mage ones"? Those are crucial to me, so my answer to "how often" would be "all the time, after every second battle or so" ...  :P

Basically in the sense of "ok, I've used up my Fireballs, let's just select a bunch more Fireballs & there we go" vs. "ok, I need to replace my Bless and my Resist Fires and my Fire Shields and etc."

Not really much need for easy rememorisation when you know you just need to pick Fireball a bunch of times again, but it's much more useful when you would otherwise need to go picking around the spell list hither and yon :)
Title: Re: Gold Box series: Differences in the engine and continuity of story?
Post by: Null Null on May 06, 2017, 07:50:31 PM
Oh, and everyone knows the Curse<->Gateway and Pools<->Treasures transfer tricks, right?