Crawling Through Dungeons

Truly one of my favourite things to do.

My long history of playing through Diablo II can attest to that fact. Though, to be fair, Diablo had far more dungeon crawling than the sequel considering that you were descending beneath the cathedral. But there were numerous optional areas in Diablo II filled with loot, monsters, and unforgiving winding corridors. Curse those winding corridors! That said, it wasn’t until I first heard of Legend of Grimrock that I realised there is a whole genre built around the concept. Or, perhaps more accurately, that there was a whole genre built around the concept. It feels as though the genre has been forgotten by modern developers.

The concept of dungeon crawling is certainly prevalent in ARPGs.

There are also a few wonderfully enjoyable RPGs such as Darkest Dungeon that embrace the harsh, unflinching, puzzling nature of dungeons present in dungeon crawlers. However, in most modern RPGs there are few incentives to explore and fewer still to form a particular party to overcome various challenges. In fact, most of those mechanics are simply absent.

There are a few modern CRPGs such as Divinity: Original Sin and Pillars of Eternity that embrace complex character generation, numerous dialogue options, and party-based adventuring. But it does seem that complexity is slowly but surely disappearing from RPGs in general. In fact, that was one of the reasons that Fallout 4 felt so stale compared to either Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas. There wasn’t really any incentive to explore besides collecting more crafting materials. Most weapons could be completely rebuilt and few unique variants actually performed differently from their base weapon class. There was something ever so slightly addictive about the exploration in both Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. That and your character could actually resolve problems in different ways due to their character builds.

I get the feeling that we’re being watched…

I’ll admit that this post might seem slightly random but I do have reasons for the things that I do. In this case, this post was conceived during the time I’ve spent with the bizarrely enjoyable JRPG dungeon crawler Mary Skelter: Nightmares. While it features much of the typical JRPG busywork it also executes the dungeon crawling concepts nicely. I wasn’t expecting to actually have to solve puzzles or utilise different character abilities to overcome the challenges presented therein. It’s certainly not as complex as Legend of Grimrock (in either the puzzle mechanics or dungeon design) but it’s really fun to play.

Even if it does feature endless winding corridors in some areas.

Hence the reason that I ended up spending several hours looking for other dungeon crawlers. Unearthing everything from the Eye of the Beholder series to The Bard’s Tale series and many other classic dungeon crawling experiences. I’d even forgotten that I do own both The Elder Scrolls Arena and The Elder Scrolls II Daggerfall which fit into that genre.

While the search didn’t necessarily yield the results I was hoping for it did reignite my interest in the many video game adaptations of Dungeons & Dragons rules. Given that many of these earlier dungeon crawlers were either inspired by or developed with those rules. I’ve long been considering rekindling my nostalgic love for Neverwinter Nights, which was one of my first CRPG experiences over ten years ago. When arguing with video card drivers was the true final boss of any gaming experience. Not that I fully understood or appreciated the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition rules, and so didn’t actually get too far into the campaign. But those experiences did encourage me to get into the Baldur’s Gate series and the Icewind Dale series. So it’s not the worst mistake I’ve ever made.

Have a nice weekend, all!


Conquering Mount Grimrock

It’s so dark, I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m cold, and… is that floor bread I see over there?!

That’s a pretty accurate representation of what it’s like to play Legend of Grimrock. This title is one that I feel many kinds of RPG gamers will enjoy as it features a range of interesting elements like puzzle solving, combat, exploration, survival, and a four person party in a rather different fashion than usual.

The first step in this adventure is all about selecting the four people who will make up your party of which you have a choice of the Fighter, the Rogue, and the Mage. You also need to select which two will be in the front row (the two who take damage from most of the fights) and who is in the back row (mostly casters or ranged attackers) which is a key part of your survival. Each class does have a capacity to be in either row, as a Rogue can fight on the front row, while a Mage could also fight on the front row, but close range weapons don’t work from the back row (like swords and axes) so any close range characters are best suited at the front. There is a spear you can get that attacks from the back but it’s effectively useless in later levels.

All of my screenshots for this game are just me setting fire to things.
All of my screenshots for this game are just me setting fire to things.

Once done you will be plunged into the unforgiving depths of the mountain you now call home.

For those new to RPGs or the casual gamers out there I would suggest going slow through the initial levels as there are literally secrets everywhere. There is a lot to find, there is a lot to do, and there is a lot of things hidden in plain sight that you’ll miss being centred on an objective or puzzle so explore and explore some more. You’re going to need all the help you can get.

One of the refreshing aspects of this title (if not more than a little punishing) is that there is content to be explored and puzzles to be solved and if you don’t your progress could quite easily be driven to a halt. There are hints and tips for most puzzles in the game in one form or another, though. That said most of the harder puzzles are for optional loot and some are not necessarily required to progress at all. Tied to this is how the game tracks how hungry each character is, which, while they won’t die if they’re completely starved, they also don’t regenerate health or energy and their attack power is halved. So food and inventory management is a must.

All of this creates an experience where you are going to need to think about what you’re doing and try to solve puzzles or combat encounters efficiently. It’s not a case that you need hundreds of hours of experience to finish the game but it asks that you think about what you’re doing, and that you explore, or at least look around, to get the best experience. You can very easily skip over many of the secrets and unique items to get to the end much quicker but you will have a much harder time for it.

I would also like to add that despite the claims of the game being quite short (it can be if you rush past everything as can most things) I have over 50 hours in it at the moment and I still have achievements to get. I was pleasantly surprised by this title as I wasn’t expecting much from it but it was a memorable and enjoyable experience.

Have a nice week all!


“Magey, it’s cold outside.”

Of course it’s cold outside- we’re on the frozen plains while you have nowt but a loincloth to cover your loins.

Given the fact that the first town in Icewind Dale is surrounded by snow I’m surprised they haven’t frozen to death running around in little more than a suit of splint mail or leather armour. Though my Fighter and Paladin do have a helmet as well. But still- they should be frozen solid. Maybe they have incredibly high endurance? I know their Constitution scores are generally above 10-11 so maybe that’s it? They ate their greens, drank their milk, and done all the good things that we tell people to do but rarely do ourselves.

As you can probably tell I have started my adventures in the massive world of Icewind Dale. I was off to a rough start with my previous party (made to test that the game works more than anything else) but with my new and improved party things are much better. Even when we invaded a cave full of orcs by accident there were good results across the board.

I decided to tweet a few of my adventures from the first night.

If you’re looking for more Moggie-related gaming-inspired Tweets then be sure to check out my various stories from Legend of Grimrock. There were some silly ones like that time I fought many slimes, many crabs, solved many puzzles, and was joyously rewarded with a whole host of ice lizards. So I decided to take my rage out on their curtains for a laugh. Or that one light ball puzzle that had me stumped for a while as I was under the impression I was doing it wrong- when I wasn’t- and when I finally solved it I was full of joy and smug Tweet retaliation.

I never really use Twitter much for anything other than linking the sites together so I thought I’d tweet about games.

Some content is better than none, right? Right. Besides this is a pretty big part of what I do. I also post art related teaser tweets or random sketches that are kind of cool but more suited to the small size of images on Twitter cool. Rather than full blown pieces that when scaled up I just cringe endlessly at the quality. Or lack thereof.

When looking over the content I have posted on WordPress over the last six months I feel that the range of topics, quality, and general consistency is improving and diversifying. With that I want to bring the same to Twitter and Facebook to actually give those sites meaning. Twitter is pretty much done for the time being as I have a range of cat related, art related, gaming, random, and silly tweets which are posted regularly enough that I can consider it active. That and I feel like being more personable these days and being more social. Moggie is evolving into a social creature! Quick- press B- it cannot happen!

As for Facebook who knows? I don’t know what I’m doing with that. Maybe I should just bury it. I get the least interest and traffic there.

In any case here’s a mid-late November post that is trying desperately to make sure I don’t disappear until February next year like I have done for the last two years. I’m improving! Honest. I can do this. Or at least I think I can do this. We’ll see when there are either a consistent number of posts in December or if I go into hibernation over the winter months.

Have a nice Sunday, all!


Modding Legend of Grimrock

I’ve got an obscure note, a torch, a red gem, and there are nine pressure plates in front of me. Makes total sense.

I’ve recently picked up Legend of Grimrock (for an absolute steal at £2.49) which is a first person four person party dungeon exploration title featuring a balance of combat, puzzles, and frustrated profanity. In the first few hours you get the feeling you’ll be out of here in no time at all as you’re coasting your way through the third level while channelling your inner Indiana Jones but then- crabs! Why did it have to be crabs?

No self respecting explorer likes getting ambushed by crabs.

Especially considering there isn’t a poultice or potion that can cure such an ailment. Then again, that’s why adventurers get paid as much as they do (or next to nothing in most cases) for the thanks and admiration from townspeople (that you never actually get) for braving such dangers (often at great personal expense). It’s the life, eh?

The opening level of the mod is a dimly lit prison complex. Few items are offered to give a basic set of equipment for the first encounters.
The opening level of the mod is a dimly lit prison complex. Few items are offered to give a basic set of equipment for the first encounters.

But the beautiful thing about this title (for the purpose of this post) is that it comes with a dungeon editor which allows you to create your own self contained dungeon experiences featuring either reused or completely new assets. It’s up to you how much and how far you mod it and whether you mod it at all. But I thought I’d give it a go as this is probably the most apt game for me to mod given my appreciation of dungeons, loot, fine floor food, profanity inducing puzzles, and the destruction of my enemies. However, as it’s my first mod I am trying to keep it a fairly small dungeon for the time being. I might expand it if I have much success with the creation but it’s likely to be five or so floors.

Maybe six. Such a round number is six.

I do want to create custom equipment and enemy encounters but that is about as ambitious as it gets with the “additional content”. I would enjoy adding a few spells, too. Especially if I could create scrolls that explain how to cast them. That said, all of the original content for spells and potions will be present (just not original equipment or monsters).

Given the nature of the title it’s quite easy to create a dungeon that may or may not thematically fit in with the lore of Legend of Grimrock, as we don’t really get much information about this wonderful world in the course of playing the game. Well, at least not the first. I am looking forward to the outdoor areas and swimming areas of the second title which is currently on my Steam Wishlist. (Basically my way of keeping track of games I liked the look of as sometimes I forget and they come up in a sale and I miss awesome savings.)

So far I’ve got the first floor down, some basic equipment made, I’m working on the second floor, and I’ll be looking into the enemy encounters soon. Once finished I hope to publish it on the Steam Workshop (if I like it) and then maybe a few people will play and hopefully enjoy my creation. Or they could leave reviews along the lines of “lol this is poo”.

That’s cool. Kind of.

This is a topic that I haven’t really discussed before as I don’t actively mod many games these days but I have always been passionate about game design, coding, game creation, and the like. I love the thought of one day having a game of my own that I built and developed.

Have a nice week, all!