Author Topic: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real  (Read 3999 times)

Offline Ray

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 311
Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« on: September 30, 2015, 08:38:45 AM »

I'm astonished to find myself writing this, but I'm even more astonished that it's true. 

I only ever played through the Pools series once from start to finish, back when Pools of Darkness was released and I couldn't resist.  But, I have to admit, I fudged my way through Secret of the Silver Blades (I think I skipped the Black Circle headquarters somehow, and I spent as little time as possible in the mine, and I ran from every encounter in the crevasse, and I skipped as many encounters as possible in the Dreadlord's castle), and THEN I ended up getting to the end of Pools of Darkness through some manner of bug that allowed me to bypass several major encounters.  And then I never touched them again.  Till Gog.

When I got the adventures in Gog, I figured I'd try again, and do it right this time.

  • Pool of Radiance is a treasure.  I never get tired of playing.  I've played that game from start to finish at least 50 times.
  • Cure of the Azure Bonds has grown on me over the years.  I've probably played it at least 20 times, and I've really come to love it.
  • Secret of the Silver Blades I just completed for the third, maybe fourth time.  And GOOD LORD that game is agony on a floppy disk!  It's just one massive combat slog after another, studded with endless wandering encounters with a rotating cast of the same six monsters.  If I see another medusa, cockatrice, or basilisk in the next ten years, I'll collapse into shuddering flashbacks.  I mean, who thought it was a good idea to have a 10-level mine crawl that exits into the tenth level of a second dungeon...which you then have to explore back to the top? And, for real, I'm pretty sure I've eradicated Bane's entire clergy at this point.  It's just not possible that there are that many clerics wandering around who can cast slay living!

Maybe what I should say is, that game was not suited to my playing style.  I've got some serious Gold Box fatigue.  And now I have my characters ready for Pools of Darkness, all ready to level, punch a barkeep for 1 xp, and then level again...and I just can't bring myself to click "Play" one more time.  I'm sure I will, but I'm amazed that I'm as worn out as I am.

What do you think?  Is it just that I'm old?  Now that 40 is in the rearview, should I readjust my gaming expectations?  Or is it that I haven't played SotSB 20 times, so I'm not as familiar with it?  Or have you run into something similar?  Am I not alone?

Offline Dorateen

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 268
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2015, 09:55:28 AM »
I've maintained that Secret of the Silver Blades is the weakest of the Moonsea Tetralogy, and perhaps one of the weakest of all the Gold Box games. Some for the reasons you mentioned, but you're also probably missing the overland map and the more open style of the other adventures.

I wouldn't hold that against Pools of Darkness. That one is a real gem, and the high level nature is justified to me because of the epic conclusion of the whole saga and going up against the powers of Bane.
"The curse is time, and the tragedy that we have not enough of it."
~Charlotte, the Village Elder
Hearkenwold

Offline hans

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2716
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2015, 12:02:17 PM »
I replayed the GoldBox games that had EGA graphics some years back, as I was collecting art for my EGA mod project, which became "To Kill the Heroes of Phlan."  Unless I had such an additional reason, I haven't really replayed any of them for fun since I discovered FRUAdom.  The thing is, if I start thinking about how fun it might be to replay one, I then remind myself of all the UA mods that I haven't played yet, and play one of those, instead.  (I've played well-over 100 mods, but that's only a fraction of our library --Heck, Ray, you must've authored that many alone!)   :P

Remembering the days before I became a FRUAite, however, I did enjoy replaying all of them, but PoR, CAB, DKK, and the Buck Rogers games were always my preferences.   

Offline ProphetSword

  • Mod Designer
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2900
  • FRUA Lives!
    • Lands of Adventure
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2015, 01:05:13 PM »
While I think people are overly harsh in regards to the story in Secret of the Silver Blades, I do not think that they are overly harsh about how terrible the game is in general.  Aside from Dark Queen of Krynn, which I cannot complete due to a bug (and have never completed), SotSB is the Gold-Box game I have played the least.  I think I have played it twice (once when it came out and one other time around 1993).  That game would burn anyone out.  It really is the weakest of the entire set.

As far as Gold Box fatigue, I have faced it many times over the years.  Playing so many FRUA mods and the Gold Box games themselves has sometimes led me to be completely burned out on the whole engine.  Eventually, I come back to it, but not until I spend some time doing other things and playing other games for a while.

There are two ways you can handle it:

1) Play something else to give yourself a break and then play Pools of Darkness.
2) Jump into Pools of Darkness, as it is a million times better than SotSB and one of the best Gold Box games (in my opinion).
LANDS OF ADVENTURE: An Old-School Style CRPG

More Information Here: http://landsadventure.blogspot.com/

Offline Null Null

  • Maker of excessively difficult vanilla mods
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 567
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2015, 07:54:42 PM »
Transferring your party from Curse without playing through Secret (or transferring now, rather than waiting to finish the game) might be an interesting challenge.

I agree with the above; Secret is a PITA. It's interesting you mention repetition of monsters; POD seems to have enough to mix them up a bit, probably because the party's strong enough to take on a few of anything. It has a lot of what I would call 'neutral variation' (and I'd love to hear experienced designers' take on this); you could easily replace the five dragon varieties in the Aerie with one and just have, say, varying numbers of green dragons in terms of challenge, but switching them around makes the fights less routine. Similarly, there's a variety of human enemies (what exactly is the difference between a Swordsman and an Evil Knight? why do you face one and not the other?), and moving away from a straight level system (BC Trooper/Veteran/Lord/Dread Guard/Legionnaire) makes the fights more interesting and varied.

Also, there's the weird trippiness of the settings, by 1990s standards--purple clouds in the web dimension, running around Moander's heart and trying to avoid the cardiac cycle, and so on.

ProphetSword: is this the missing Book of Amrocar? I'm sure you've heard this by now, but you have to fight Trandamere from the secret passage. Unless you just don't like Krynn games, but hey. It's your only chance to stare down a god in D&D continuity of that era. ;)

Offline ProphetSword

  • Mod Designer
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2900
  • FRUA Lives!
    • Lands of Adventure
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2015, 08:07:12 PM »
ProphetSword: is this the missing Book of Amrocar? I'm sure you've heard this by now, but you have to fight Trandamere from the secret passage. Unless you just don't like Krynn games, but hey. It's your only chance to stare down a god in D&D continuity of that era. ;)

A quick aside, as I don't want to derail the thread:
There have been mentions before about how to bypass the bug.  I haven't had time to play the game again.  Some part of me wants to play all three games in a row, as I've heard it's easier if you bring a party from DKK.
LANDS OF ADVENTURE: An Old-School Style CRPG

More Information Here: http://landsadventure.blogspot.com/

Offline Ishad Nha

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 945
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2015, 10:06:18 PM »
Dark Queen of Krynn: modify the pregenerated party, remove some of the duds and add a few of your own PCs. Keep all the good equipment that comes with the PCs you drop.
On my Amiga, I played DQK through to the end many times. DQK had the normal assortment of SSI playtesters, hence the game should not have any bugs that would stop you finishing it. I usually did not import a party from DKK, I did have a well arranged party line-up. Some items from DKK like Olin's Staff would be handy in DQK alright but they were not necessary to win DQK fights.
Book of Amrocar can be found, in the Amiga version, if you know where to look. If it can't be found, Official SSI Playtester mode could enable you to fix the bug, 116: Book of Amrocar

Secret of the Silver Blades I thought was okay, I only played it a few times. It was a bit linear, limited in where you could go next. Repetitive monsters, you are looking at a game that is two or three Floppy Disks in size. Mirrors would make short work of Medusae and Basilisks.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2015, 02:45:39 AM by Ishad Nha »

Offline Null Null

  • Maker of excessively difficult vanilla mods
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 567
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2015, 12:34:18 PM »
Champions of Krynn had a similarly restricted monster list and everyone enjoys that one.

Offline ProphetSword

  • Mod Designer
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2900
  • FRUA Lives!
    • Lands of Adventure
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2015, 01:47:31 PM »
Champions of Krynn had a similarly restricted monster list and everyone enjoys that one.

I think that could be because Champions of Krynn has one of the better stories.  I remember when I played it, it was the first time a Gold Box game felt truly epic in scope.  It's always been one of my favorites because of that.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2015, 03:30:35 PM by ProphetSword »
LANDS OF ADVENTURE: An Old-School Style CRPG

More Information Here: http://landsadventure.blogspot.com/

Offline Dorateen

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 268
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2015, 03:02:19 PM »
Also, in regard to monster variety, the draconians first introduced in Champions were fun and interesting opponents.
"The curse is time, and the tragedy that we have not enough of it."
~Charlotte, the Village Elder
Hearkenwold

Offline steve_mcdee

  • Dungeon Craft Tester
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1951
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2015, 03:32:53 PM »
Champions of Krynn had a similarly restricted monster list and everyone enjoys that one.

I think that could be because Champions of Krynn has one of the better stories.  I remember when I played it, it was the first time a Gold Box game felt truly epic in scope.  It's always been one of my favorites because of that.
I agree. It is the first gold box game I played (I was given it for my birthday when it was new, on the Commodore 64) and remains my favourite. It is fairly (but not totally) linear, but funnily I think the linearity actually helps contribute to the epic feel.

Offline PetrusOctavianus

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 394
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2015, 06:54:25 PM »
I think most players, even dedicated Gold Box fans, would be burnt out by playing all four Pool games in sequence, without a break. I think it's best to complete one game, then transfer the characters and save them, so that you can start the game right away after a break.

As for Secret of the Silver Blades, the problem is that it completely breaks the suspension of disbelief. PoR and CoAB, and even Pools, are more believable since there is a finite amount of enemies in any given place, while in Secret you have a bleeping mine  filled with enough monsters and high level clerics and mages to conquer Toril many times over. And in addition of the bazillion fights in the whole game, only a handful are mildly memorable (Marcus' house, the Lizard King, Dark Circle HQ and end battle), while PoR is a veritable memory lane of CRPG battles.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2015, 06:56:01 PM by PetrusOctavianus »

Offline Null Null

  • Maker of excessively difficult vanilla mods
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 567
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2015, 09:21:16 PM »
Eh, I beat them back-to-back, but it was over a period of months, and I had a supermaxed Curse party to help me through Secret. A few extra fireballs do wonders--there are few magic resistant monsters in Secret.

Suspension of disbelief: hmm. Pools isn't that crazy for a post-apocalyptic game where the world is overrun with monsters. There are a few too many 12th and 13th level enemies running around, but the world's worst mercenaries could easily have come out of the woodwork when Bane steals the cities around the Moonsea.

What was particularly amusing, in retrospect, is how all the B- and C-level enemies were trying to off each other. The fire giant mage tries to pay you to kill Manshoon. A random drow prince and princess try to pay you off to kill Manshoon and/or Marcus. That cleric in Marcus' tower is sending Bits of Moander after Manshoon and someone in Thar. Tanetal pays off a disgruntled slave of Kalistes to get the party in. Arcam sends you to kill Thorne, Marcus, and Manshoon. It's more or less what you would expect from the bad guys coming into their own. I'm trying to finish my own minor mod, but you could set many stories in the background of POD, particularly for evil parties.

Amusingly, I looked it up--starting equipment in Pools matches the enemy equipment on the generic high-level enemies in Secret.

Offline Ishad Nha

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 945
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2015, 02:45:56 AM »
I played SSB with a normal party and finished it easily enough.

Offline Olivier Leroux

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2334
  • Yip, yip, yip!
Re: Gold Box Fatigue...The Struggle Is Real
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2015, 06:29:05 AM »
Heh, I'm usually tired of a game as soon as I've finished it for the first time (or earlier), and I hardly ever feel the urge to replay games even several years later. Plus, I haven't completed (or felt the urge to complete) a single Goldbox game that wasn't made with the UA engine (so excluding your two remakes, which I did play through). In, short, I'm astonished beyond belief that you've played through some of these games 20-50 times :o - an extremely surreal number to me. I can't even pretend to relate. ;D (But SotSB sounds like a real pain from what you describe, with all those meaningless random encounters and terrible grinding. I'd rather replay the Realm games instead, if anything.  ;) )