A Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted

Fool's Errand

 
I've been in a more retro mood than usual of late after playing some of my older games, including the fine Ultima Underworld series and Machiavelli: The Prince.  
 
While looking around on classic gaming sites (including revisiting the new Cinemaware homepage) I noticed that Cliff Johnson's diabolical puzzler Fool's Errand, along with some of his other games, are free for download from his website.
 
It's also cool to note that he's in the process of designing a sequel to Fool's Errand called The Fool and his Money, which he says he'll complete by the end of this year.  
 

Other Kinds of Fool's Errands


In personal gameplay news, I've completed all the lunar quests in the usually fun but at times very annoying Lunar Caves in FFIV GBA.   There's one quest in particular, Kain's, which was probably the single most frustrating experience of the entire game, where you have to go through a linear sequence, clicking on stuff, for something close to 20 minutes before you're forced to fight a boss by yourself.  AND, if you're not paying attention to the clicks, you may accidentally hit the wrong dialog choice, like I did, and have to start the whole damned thing over!  Not fun, especially after the first time.
 
 As far as Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, I managed somehow to collect every soul.  I may not have gotten every item, but at this point...  don't wanna.  I wish the game let you play as all the different characters and used THAT as an excuse to limit you to items you've so far collected, or souls, but I guess they figured they were being generous enough as it is.  On the whole I enjoyed it, but the promise of the game seemed to end early, even though the content within it still lay waiting to be discovered.  

Otherwise, won't be playing much XBox until we get a TV that doesn't freak out if it gets loud noises or bright colors.  Looks like it's time to go LCD...  Not looking forward to it, since most LCD screens I've seen look like ass.
 

ClueSweeper, and General Cluelessness

 
Those interested in playing an alternative to Minesweeper that isn't nearly as irritating and has a nice theme might want to try ClueSweeper.  
 
And while I'm on the topic of Minesweeper, I remember there being a local color news story late at night about some entrepreneur who promised to give an up-and-coming programmer a large cash award if he or she could provide a foolproof program for solving the game.  Problem is, while the game purports to be one of pure logic, when you get down to the wire and are forced to choose between two spots that are both likely to contain a mine, with no other spaces around them with numbers to show what might be there, it comes down to luck (or, if you ask Ben Kenobi, the Force I guess).  Either the guy offering the prize was ignorant of the game, or he KNEW no one would be able to beat it reliably, and got some free publicity from press groups who weren't into that whole fact-checking thing.  
 

Zen Stuff


It also seems that the MMORPG Ryzom has gone open source. They've tried doing a few things differently (like having animals you hunt actually having behavior patterns instead of standing around waiting to be killed, and having something other than the generic fantasy setting). If more people get into it as a result, especially since it works on older machines, I'm fine with it.  And apparently they also maintain a commercial server for those who still want to play officially.
 
Oh, and I tried pOnd, but I guess I lack the patience because the game went black, indirectly told me I sucked, and wouldn't let me restart.  Not a very forgiving game!
10 Comments
11 Comments
Posted by ahoodedfigure

Fool's Errand

 
I've been in a more retro mood than usual of late after playing some of my older games, including the fine Ultima Underworld series and Machiavelli: The Prince.  
 
While looking around on classic gaming sites (including revisiting the new Cinemaware homepage) I noticed that Cliff Johnson's diabolical puzzler Fool's Errand, along with some of his other games, are free for download from his website.
 
It's also cool to note that he's in the process of designing a sequel to Fool's Errand called The Fool and his Money, which he says he'll complete by the end of this year.  
 

Other Kinds of Fool's Errands


In personal gameplay news, I've completed all the lunar quests in the usually fun but at times very annoying Lunar Caves in FFIV GBA.   There's one quest in particular, Kain's, which was probably the single most frustrating experience of the entire game, where you have to go through a linear sequence, clicking on stuff, for something close to 20 minutes before you're forced to fight a boss by yourself.  AND, if you're not paying attention to the clicks, you may accidentally hit the wrong dialog choice, like I did, and have to start the whole damned thing over!  Not fun, especially after the first time.
 
 As far as Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, I managed somehow to collect every soul.  I may not have gotten every item, but at this point...  don't wanna.  I wish the game let you play as all the different characters and used THAT as an excuse to limit you to items you've so far collected, or souls, but I guess they figured they were being generous enough as it is.  On the whole I enjoyed it, but the promise of the game seemed to end early, even though the content within it still lay waiting to be discovered.  

Otherwise, won't be playing much XBox until we get a TV that doesn't freak out if it gets loud noises or bright colors.  Looks like it's time to go LCD...  Not looking forward to it, since most LCD screens I've seen look like ass.
 

ClueSweeper, and General Cluelessness

 
Those interested in playing an alternative to Minesweeper that isn't nearly as irritating and has a nice theme might want to try ClueSweeper.  
 
And while I'm on the topic of Minesweeper, I remember there being a local color news story late at night about some entrepreneur who promised to give an up-and-coming programmer a large cash award if he or she could provide a foolproof program for solving the game.  Problem is, while the game purports to be one of pure logic, when you get down to the wire and are forced to choose between two spots that are both likely to contain a mine, with no other spaces around them with numbers to show what might be there, it comes down to luck (or, if you ask Ben Kenobi, the Force I guess).  Either the guy offering the prize was ignorant of the game, or he KNEW no one would be able to beat it reliably, and got some free publicity from press groups who weren't into that whole fact-checking thing.  
 

Zen Stuff


It also seems that the MMORPG Ryzom has gone open source. They've tried doing a few things differently (like having animals you hunt actually having behavior patterns instead of standing around waiting to be killed, and having something other than the generic fantasy setting). If more people get into it as a result, especially since it works on older machines, I'm fine with it.  And apparently they also maintain a commercial server for those who still want to play officially.
 
Oh, and I tried pOnd, but I guess I lack the patience because the game went black, indirectly told me I sucked, and wouldn't let me restart.  Not a very forgiving game!
Posted by Willy105

Awesome! I also love playing Retro games when new games come out that I can't afford to buy new. That Ultima project looks pretty sweet.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Wait, there's a game called Machiavelli: The Prince? That sounds like the best game ever. However, I haven't played that, nor have I played Ultima Underworld. However, as someone who occasionally frequents a Might and Magic message board, I know exactly how all ambitious fan-made projects end up (i.e. two years of awesome screenshots and empty promises, then nothing, with a secondhand report that the developers have quit for some reason or another). Some guys are trying to make a Might and Magic X (having the ambition to call it a straight up sequel), using the Might and Magic VII engine. If they succeed, I would be very surprised.
 
There are exceptions, obviously. Otherwise we wouldn't have such "gems" as Heroes III WoG, which is more of a gamebreaking sandbox that, while hilarious in its scattershot (and very russian) enhancements, none of it actually makes Heroes III a better game. Heroes IV Equilibris, on the other hand, tweaks Heroes IV to be a much more balanced and playable game, but doesn't solve the fact that it's still Heroes IV.  Then, of course, there are the patches for Might and Magic VI-VIII that not only fix bugs but also tweak small things and allow you to run the games on XP, Vista, or Win 7. Those, I actually appreciate. (insert reminder here)
 
My rant on fan projects aside, I was never a fan of mindsweeper. However, looking up Ultima Underworld makes the game seem interesting, and since I just finished Wizardry 8, I really don't know what to play. Maybe I will check it out...

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Willy105:  I mention other retro stuff throughout my blog. If you have the time you can find a few other good games.  There are other bloggers out there that are better at it than me, though, I'm pretty sure.
 
Speaking of which, @ArbitraryWater:  Machiavelli has its flaws, but I remember loving it even when I had the demo many years ago.  Random maps, trade, skullduggery and bribery, misappropriation, death, and money money money. I'm not a big fan of heartlessness in real life, but economy and and ruthlessness in games can be fun :)  
 
Oh, I know all about fan-made disappointments.  I actually tend to suspect them more if they HAVE screenshots. And it's not that I hold it against them; I've only recently learned to extend my enthusiasm over long periods rather than blow it all on a few days of feverish creation only to be burnt out or distracted by the newest shiny bauble. Me, I'd like to do a M&M game using the Xeen engine. I know you're not a huge fan, but I like how varied the puzzles and abilities can be in a game so seemingly simple. I'd do different stuff with it, but the format is really cool to me.  Ever hear about anything like that?
 
Yeah, I remember originally being excited about Homm III mods until I realized that all they were doing was some sort of nanobot monstrosity of geometrically increased features without trying to make it all a better game.  Homm actually bothers me because I enjoy exploration and building more than I do hashing it out with an opponent that will either crush me or be stupid and be easily crushed.  I'm more ambivalent about IV than most fans or non-fans; I like the RPG elements but miss the straightforward units of I and II, as well as the more manageable combat board of the older games.
 
Let's see how much I actually age between you first ribbing me about not playing that and me actually playing it.  I'm actually curious if I'll survive long enough.  
 
I can't speak much to the first UW.  Ultima Underworld II was the game I really played a lot of (save often, as in most RPGs. There are things that may happen that could be bad), and I still think of it fondly.  I think part of the coolness was that it wasn't a set place, and each area you visit has a strongly different feel to it.  It's still, y'know, early generation 3D and all that implies, but the design feels like the place is substantive and full of little things to find.  Lemme know if you track it down.
Posted by ArbitraryWater
@ahoodedfigure: I never said I wasn't a fan of the Isles of Terra engine games. I beat the Cloudside of Xeen before getting hung up on the Darkside (admittedly, being a child of the 90s and 00s, I used a walkthrough to even get that far, but from what I have seen the darkside is already the better half). Plus, there is an elegant simplicity to the entire thing, something that is lacking in Realms of Arkania (this and others coming soon to your local blog) and other such Wizardry derivative games. As for Might and Magic VI, I'll stop harassing you, if only because I feel like I am pushing drugs on someone.  And in some way, that's true. 
 
As for some fan made project news, this video was posted a month ago. Does that mean anything? probably not. But I give this cove town at least a 60% chance of coming out, which is more than I can say for anything else.  
 

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@ArbitraryWater:  Darkside was better, but since I played world I could go between the two. I solved a riddle early on in Darkside that gave me a million experience and made the early challenges in Cloud pretty easy to beat. I could live with that, though.  Darkside was better all around: better designed, more ominous, better music, cooler enemy design... So I was glad to get the experience to be able to play that area earlier.
 
Man, just seeing those little red arrows makes me want to play Heroes again.  I just don't know what it's actually advertising.  Cove town?  Is there any place, preferably with a translation, that talks about the town's features?
Posted by ahoodedfigure
Posted by davidwitten22
@ArbitraryWater said:
" Wait, there's a game called Machiavelli: The Prince? That sounds like the best game ever.   
If it's anything like the book, that sounds like the worst game ever.
Posted by ahoodedfigure
@davidwitten22: If any game was like a book, I'd be very surprised.
Posted by ArbitraryWater
@ahoodedfigure: It's advertising the Cove town, which is apparently in closed beta no doubt in some part of russia. The cove town was originally going to be part of a big fan-made expansion that added 3 towns, but then the team broke up and people continued working on this one because it was the farthest along. It's impressive and if it comes out it will be the first new town project to be completed (others include a revival of the infamous forge, an egyptian style desert town, and a grove town that would basically have been Warcraft III's night elves). It's interesting to see this kind of enthusiasm, but it's the kind of enthusiasm that no doubt burns out when you figure that you are making a project that only a few hundred people will even know about and even less will play.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@ArbitraryWater said:
" @ahoodedfigure: It's advertising the Cove town, which is apparently in closed beta no doubt in some part of russia. The cove town was originally going to be part of a big fan-made expansion that added 3 towns, but then the team broke up and people continued working on this one because it was the farthest along. It's impressive and if it comes out it will be the first new town project to be completed (others include a revival of the infamous forge, an egyptian style desert town, and a grove town that would basically have been Warcraft III's night elves). It's interesting to see this kind of enthusiasm, but it's the kind of enthusiasm that no doubt burns out when you figure that you are making a project that only a few hundred people will even know about and even less will play. "
It looks pretty damned professional. The buildings and models look like they belong in the original game, that's for sure.
 
With all this creativity going into the towns, though, I almost feel like the next step for this sort of game is to let you build your own kinds of buildings. You could still have alignment penalties, the tiers would only allow you a level a piece in terms of advancement (no spamming with dragons or whatever), and maybe you'd have to gather resources to build them, in part, from locations that are in connection to that building type (swamps grow a certain type of thing necessary for most swamp buildings, and so on), and you could even have synergy bonuses based on the prior structures.
 
Still, I do like the old combinations, so I wouldn't pretend this would be the only way to do this type of game. I also miss the hand-drawn aesthetic of the second game. These sweaty claymation models sort of feel cheap to me.
 
As far as enthusiasm it's hard for me to knock it even if it winds up sputtering out.  Yeah, it's a hobby thing but I think there are still tons of people interested, and no matter what you'll get programming experience and networking opportunities.