A Brief Jaunt Through: FTL's Dungeon Master (Part 1)

I threatened to do one more of these before the GOG sales were over so here it is: The last A Brief Jaunt Through (until I find a better way to make them. Video? That seems daunting). After Lands of Lore, I'm taking it back to the real-time dungeon crawler roots with FTL's trailblazer Dungeon Master. The game came out in 1987 (which means it's 25 goddamn years old, holy shit is that a number) and began the whole "real-time 3D dungeon delving" shebang that was followed with countless imitators. In a sense it's a bit like that other big trendsetter Wolfenstein 3D, except you're running around dark corridors in first person, killing bad guys and finding secret caches of treasure instead.

I absolutely love this genre. I used to play a lot of them back in the Atari ST/Amiga era, where it was pretty much the only type of RPG available besides the older and quite cerebral for a littl'un turn-based RPGs like the Gold Box series. Of course, these days I generally find myself preferring the turn-based stuff. Still, I'm seriously hoping Legend of Grimrock turns up in the sales so I finally have an excuse to buy it and run around stepping on pressure plates and figuring out how to open all those portcullises. Portcullisi?

As with LoL (which is probably not the LoL you're all thinking of), Dungeon Master is an excellent starting point for those wanting to experience the genre's history if Grimrock happened to be your gateway and you weren't around during its heyday. I mean, it did pretty much all begin here.

(Disclaimer: This game isn't actually available on GOG.com. But, uh, it's probably so old that it's abandonware now? It works perfectly in DOSBox too!)

Part 1 - I Neglect To Show Off Anything Interesting, Again

Welcome to Dungeon Master! When you load up the game, you're presented with this rather ominous door and a slightly less ominous goofy face carved into that brick up there. It's not an easter egg or anything, it's just a face. However, the scroll down there IS an easter egg. Or just the credits. Whatever, it's still neat.
This is what the game looks like for realsies. Well, the UI is a bit bare right now. That's because we don't have a party yet. We're actually the disembodied ghost of the dead apprentice of the big wizard that got possessed by the Lord of Chaos! Amazing what reading the manual got you in those days.
What a coincidence, I was just thinking I could use some champions.
Generally speaking, you want someone with at least some mana in case all the mages are out and you need a light or a health potion, badly. That means Moobs the Barbarian here is SOL. In case you were wondering, "Resurrect" adds the character to the party and "Reincarnate" adds the character to the party without any of their pre-existing classes (but you can rename them! Yay!).
What the actual Christ is that thing? A brown Creeper?
oh my god
With the addition of a new character that I couldn't possibly refuse, I feel I ought to compensate for the tiny dog with yet another strong fighter, so why not a different Robert E. Howard reference?
I could use another wizard, since doggie is apparently bereft of Wizard classes despite having the highest starting Mana stat in the game. Boris here is a bit too prepubescent Harry Potter for my liking.
Holy shit yes. Gothmog'd.
So it begins. The most notable thing about the otherwise extremely tedious first floor is this little doozy. It's a magical altar that resurrects fallen companions, which is indispensible if you're not the type to save frequently. Of course, sticking it all the way up here on the top floor does make it inconvenient when you're carting back corpses after a defeat by a certain entity down on the 13th...
This a door. I forget why I screencapped this. Flavor? Wooden doors can be chopped down, but why would you want to do that? Doors are useful when you want to sleep. You can also close them on enemies, if you want a really slow but humiliating way of killing them.
Here's what they give you before heading downstairs. The scroll tells you the most basic spell in the game, as seen on the right. It creates light, which you're always in constant need of. Generally, you want to make your own torchlight rather than depending on the physical deal because it's practice for your wizards - all the classes level up with use, just like Elder Scrolls. It was pretty amazing for 1987.
The inventory screen. Why so much food lying around the place? Because you're all slowly starving to death. Welcome to old-school gaming, kiddos.
To be fair, not everything in these old games is deliberately cruel and unyielding. These stairs are OSHA compliant, for instance.
Heading downstairs, we can immediately see (or, rather, can't see) what happens when you run around without a light source. It's not quite Shadowgate "trip over your sword and break your neck" dark, but it doesn't make navigation easy. Like there's no way to know what this thing is without opening the door.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! CLOSE THE DOOR!
So okay, with a bit more light, we explore and find this little nook. The scroll tells you to be wary of "small details". Oh like what, I wonder?
Oh sweet, a falchion. An unfortunate side-effect of this game's age is that it refuses to give away any information about weapons and equipment, except for their weight. This one is slightly heavier than Not Red Sonja's current sword. So I guess that means it's better?
Key Puzzles 101: Uhhhhhhhhh, I give up.
Our first pit puzzle. Pit Puzzling 101: Dropping down there is probably not good, so this'll require some solving if we want that key (and we sort of do, since progress is impossible without it).
Oh hey a lever.
Pit Puzzles 101: Passed.
Pressure Plate Puzzles 101: The first opens the door just ahead (currently shrouded in darkness because this is the 80s goddammit give this game a break), and the second pad closes it. Hmm. Big space to walk around on the right there...
Pressure Plate Puzzles 101: Passed.

Next time on A Brief Jaunt Through Dungeon Master: Screaming mushrooms, third floors and I finally get out of the tutorial area. I really need to just skip past those in the future. Who imposed this 25 image limit anyway? Some joker that makes sensible decisions about blog-making coding, that's who. Fie upon them!

Come back in Part 2 for more excuses! Toodles!

Other Brief Jaunts
Master of Magic - Parts 1 - 2 - 3
Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos - Parts 1 - 2
Dungeon Master - Parts 1 - 2
11 Comments
12 Comments
Posted by Mento

I threatened to do one more of these before the GOG sales were over so here it is: The last A Brief Jaunt Through (until I find a better way to make them. Video? That seems daunting). After Lands of Lore, I'm taking it back to the real-time dungeon crawler roots with FTL's trailblazer Dungeon Master. The game came out in 1987 (which means it's 25 goddamn years old, holy shit is that a number) and began the whole "real-time 3D dungeon delving" shebang that was followed with countless imitators. In a sense it's a bit like that other big trendsetter Wolfenstein 3D, except you're running around dark corridors in first person, killing bad guys and finding secret caches of treasure instead.

I absolutely love this genre. I used to play a lot of them back in the Atari ST/Amiga era, where it was pretty much the only type of RPG available besides the older and quite cerebral for a littl'un turn-based RPGs like the Gold Box series. Of course, these days I generally find myself preferring the turn-based stuff. Still, I'm seriously hoping Legend of Grimrock turns up in the sales so I finally have an excuse to buy it and run around stepping on pressure plates and figuring out how to open all those portcullises. Portcullisi?

As with LoL (which is probably not the LoL you're all thinking of), Dungeon Master is an excellent starting point for those wanting to experience the genre's history if Grimrock happened to be your gateway and you weren't around during its heyday. I mean, it did pretty much all begin here.

(Disclaimer: This game isn't actually available on GOG.com. But, uh, it's probably so old that it's abandonware now? It works perfectly in DOSBox too!)

Part 1 - I Neglect To Show Off Anything Interesting, Again

Welcome to Dungeon Master! When you load up the game, you're presented with this rather ominous door and a slightly less ominous goofy face carved into that brick up there. It's not an easter egg or anything, it's just a face. However, the scroll down there IS an easter egg. Or just the credits. Whatever, it's still neat.
This is what the game looks like for realsies. Well, the UI is a bit bare right now. That's because we don't have a party yet. We're actually the disembodied ghost of the dead apprentice of the big wizard that got possessed by the Lord of Chaos! Amazing what reading the manual got you in those days.
What a coincidence, I was just thinking I could use some champions.
Generally speaking, you want someone with at least some mana in case all the mages are out and you need a light or a health potion, badly. That means Moobs the Barbarian here is SOL. In case you were wondering, "Resurrect" adds the character to the party and "Reincarnate" adds the character to the party without any of their pre-existing classes (but you can rename them! Yay!).
What the actual Christ is that thing? A brown Creeper?
oh my god
With the addition of a new character that I couldn't possibly refuse, I feel I ought to compensate for the tiny dog with yet another strong fighter, so why not a different Robert E. Howard reference?
I could use another wizard, since doggie is apparently bereft of Wizard classes despite having the highest starting Mana stat in the game. Boris here is a bit too prepubescent Harry Potter for my liking.
Holy shit yes. Gothmog'd.
So it begins. The most notable thing about the otherwise extremely tedious first floor is this little doozy. It's a magical altar that resurrects fallen companions, which is indispensible if you're not the type to save frequently. Of course, sticking it all the way up here on the top floor does make it inconvenient when you're carting back corpses after a defeat by a certain entity down on the 13th...
This a door. I forget why I screencapped this. Flavor? Wooden doors can be chopped down, but why would you want to do that? Doors are useful when you want to sleep. You can also close them on enemies, if you want a really slow but humiliating way of killing them.
Here's what they give you before heading downstairs. The scroll tells you the most basic spell in the game, as seen on the right. It creates light, which you're always in constant need of. Generally, you want to make your own torchlight rather than depending on the physical deal because it's practice for your wizards - all the classes level up with use, just like Elder Scrolls. It was pretty amazing for 1987.
The inventory screen. Why so much food lying around the place? Because you're all slowly starving to death. Welcome to old-school gaming, kiddos.
To be fair, not everything in these old games is deliberately cruel and unyielding. These stairs are OSHA compliant, for instance.
Heading downstairs, we can immediately see (or, rather, can't see) what happens when you run around without a light source. It's not quite Shadowgate "trip over your sword and break your neck" dark, but it doesn't make navigation easy. Like there's no way to know what this thing is without opening the door.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! CLOSE THE DOOR!
So okay, with a bit more light, we explore and find this little nook. The scroll tells you to be wary of "small details". Oh like what, I wonder?
Oh sweet, a falchion. An unfortunate side-effect of this game's age is that it refuses to give away any information about weapons and equipment, except for their weight. This one is slightly heavier than Not Red Sonja's current sword. So I guess that means it's better?
Key Puzzles 101: Uhhhhhhhhh, I give up.
Our first pit puzzle. Pit Puzzling 101: Dropping down there is probably not good, so this'll require some solving if we want that key (and we sort of do, since progress is impossible without it).
Oh hey a lever.
Pit Puzzles 101: Passed.
Pressure Plate Puzzles 101: The first opens the door just ahead (currently shrouded in darkness because this is the 80s goddammit give this game a break), and the second pad closes it. Hmm. Big space to walk around on the right there...
Pressure Plate Puzzles 101: Passed.

Next time on A Brief Jaunt Through Dungeon Master: Screaming mushrooms, third floors and I finally get out of the tutorial area. I really need to just skip past those in the future. Who imposed this 25 image limit anyway? Some joker that makes sensible decisions about blog-making coding, that's who. Fie upon them!

Come back in Part 2 for more excuses! Toodles!

Other Brief Jaunts
Master of Magic - Parts 1 - 2 - 3
Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos - Parts 1 - 2
Dungeon Master - Parts 1 - 2
Moderator
Posted by RetroVirus

Good read. It's crazy to look at this game and see how much Legend of Grimrock pulls from this game. The whole key-in-door and push-the-block puzzles are in there exactly.

Posted by Video_Game_King

Why don't you just call these things Text Looks? Oh, and for something a bit more relevant...

@Mento said:

Key Puzzles 101: Uhhhhhhhhh, I give up.

Stab it. Stab it! Why else would the game have given you a falchion one image prior?

Posted by Mento

@Video_Game_King: But it's text and pictures. Maybe a Quiche Look? And I can eat a quiche while playing the game? I like quiches.

As for that puzzle, I finally managed to solve it with /noclip. Maybe "solve" isn't the right word.

Moderator
Posted by Video_Game_King

How about Pic Look?

Wait, no clips? But don't you need paper clips to pick that lock? I know what you're thinking: there's no way they had paper clips in medieval times. One word: fantasy. Anything can happen in fantasy.

Edited by Mento

@Video_Game_King: Very true, and it just so happens that Gothmog knows a way of summoning a paper clip. All he has to do is struggle with his spell-writing software until it decides he needs help.

Moderator
Posted by Video_Game_King

So Clippy can travel through time? That's a horrifying thought. How the hell am I going to sleep next week?

Posted by ArbitraryWater

What? Your previous blog suggested that you were going to do Might and Magic VII. Son, I am disappoint? Oh well. I've messed around with one of the freeware renditions of this game and it seems pretty neat. Obviously, the lack of map is kinda a dealbreaker from the get-go, but for something I messed around with for 30 minutes it was fun enough.

Posted by Mento

@ArbitraryWater: Funny thing, that game was made in 199-frickin'-9 and thus outdates DOS and by extension DOSBox, from which I do all this screencappin'. If capping something requires more rigmarole than occasionally hitting Ctrl-F5 then I am hesitant to pursue it. I love the game but it looks like it was made in the mid-90s, so I was kind of taken aback when I found out it wouldn't run in DOS.

I'll probably do something with Might & Magic VII eventually though. I'm going to look pretty stupid if it turns up on the last day of the GOG sales and I neglected to promote it, which was ostensibly the point of this whole blog series.

Moderator
Posted by Video_Game_King

I'm not sure how easy it is to screencap the fuck out of M&M7. You have to go through a lot to get it in windowed mode, and I don't know how full screen screen caps handle.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

I found I liked it a lot more than I expected to, and in a few ways I liked the controls better than my very dear friend Grimrock. Though I love Grimrock... very much. Hm.

Posted by Karkarov

Yeah this game is uber old school Grimrock. Or Grimrock is the prettier, newer, smarter, and sexier cousin of this. Either way....

@Mento said:

Welcome to Dungeon Master! When you load up the game, you're presented with this rather ominous door and a slightly less ominous goofy face carved into that brick up there. It's not an easter egg or anything, it's just a face. However, the scroll down there IS an easter egg. Or just the credits. Whatever, it's still neat.

What gives bro? How can you diss the dungeon door when it is an easter egg. If not for this door I would have never known that this was all just an elaborate set up by the decepticons to harvest energon cubes.