Gates of Delirium Live - Post 1

yakumo9275's picture

BL: Welcome to yakumo9275's (Stu) ongoing "Gates of Delirium Live" recounting of his play through this obscure Computer Role Playing Game for the Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer, released in 1987 from Diecom. Post 1:

Gates of Delirium Title Screen: Gates of Delirium Title screenGates of Delirium Title Screen: Gates of Delirium Title screen

Intro
Built for the CoCo2 by Diecom of Canada, this is a rarely seen CRPG (outside of coco circles). By just looking at the screenshots can be forgive if you think you see Ultima III. (Now how Questron was sued for copying Ultima but this got by I'll never know!).
Hey look! They even have the familiar animated intro at the start.
Gates of Delirium Intro: IntroGates of Delirium Intro: Intro
(Compare the Ultima III intro to Gates of Delirium Intro)
Ultima III Intro: Ultima III comparision for Gates of DeliriumUltima III Intro: Ultima III comparision for Gates of Delirium

Gates of Delirium GameplayGates of Delirium Gameplay

Ive yet to see a full review or solution for this game on the net so, in the spirit of Blogging Ultima, Blogging Dragon Quest and Bills playing of Wizards Crown on a C128.. I'm going to attempt to play Gates of Delirium, live... on the XMess emulator.. OK, so it didnt sound as dramatic as playing it directly on a C128.

Gates of Delirium took quite a scenic route to make it to playable disk images in emulation land. Michael Crawford, Andrew Ayers and Tim Lindner did the hard grunt work and Dave Dies of Diecom gave permission to release it to the public.

This is going to be a bit hard to play because of the 'artifacting' of the screen emulation (Remember those blurry Apple ntsc sceens? The coco does them too) and good old spare time.

You'd be forgiven if you thought Diecom just hex edited Ultima III, only its not available on the CoCo. Richard Garriots Ultima III was influential but this game is really a brazen copy, even the tiles look nearly identical. The command set is the same, Z-tats, Y-ell, O-ther, etc.

Now, there are differences from Ultima III, so lets hope they improved on it when they copied it (Unfortunately, it didn't come with a cloth map but a paper one as "The Ancient Map of the Land of Gates").

Player Creation
To start with, the game instructs you to create your player, rather than an entire party like Ultima III does. Creation screen is pretty much identical. Name, Sex, Race, Class, some stats and 50 points to spend on them.

Class is your usual Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Cleric, Magic User, Druid, Thief, Illusionist

Races are Dwarf, Elf, Human, Gnome and Orc.

They all have different max attributes which will affect what class you choose for your character.

Story
So, After reading the manual what do we know? Not Much. Nothing about the story, and from the map we assume the land is known as "Gates". We dont know if there are 8 moons on the bottom of the screen or what they are? (But we are assuming they are the keys to the moongates shown on the games map).

GamePlay
With my character rolled, GrimJak sallies forth into the land of "Gates" as a lone Ranger (and lone player in the party). I'm going to head to the castle, tool up and talk to everyone I can and see what they say.

Comments

Bill Loguidice
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Woo hoo!

I'm so glad you're doing this! If I could split myself into more me's I'd play more games like this, but this will be the next best thing. Thanks!

======================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
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adamantyr
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Excellent!

Yeah, awesome! I'd can't wait to read an in-depth view and review of the game.

Another CoCo game to look for is the Seventh Link. That one's much easier to find, and it's for the CoCo3. I've seen some walk-throughs on line, and played it a little, but it's worth looking at as well. The original author has put it up for distribution, so no legal worries.

As for how Diecom managed to dodge a lawsuit from Origin... well, there was a LOT of clone software on the CoCo. It just seemed to slip under most lawyer's radar. The only piece of software that was affected was Tom Mix Software's "Donkey King", which was renamed to "The King".

One thing, make sure you know how to cast cure spells. It's really really easy to get poisoned, and it's pretty much fatal.

Bill Loguidice
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Questron and other legal actions

I thought that Questron wasn't actually sued for being what it was but licensed the whole look and feel thing? It's funny, I was telling my wife about Legends I/II for the TI taking "inspiration" from Phantasie I/II and she asked how SSI didn't sue. I said it probably helped that it wasn't immediately obvious from a visual standpoint, more from a conceptual and mechanical standpoint, meaning you had to be intimately familiar with the Phantasie games AND still be active in the TI community to both see and play the game, something rare for an owner of one of those other computers by then since the platform was "dead" long before Legend's 87/88 release (interestingly, Phantasie III was released around 1988, the last game until Phantasie IV's Japanese-only release several years later). Certainly Gates of Delirium's own seemingly low production run and relatively low profile gaming platform must have worked in its favor, particularly since by 1987 the Ultima series itself had moved on to more ambitious things (with the pending release of Ultima V in 1988). It's actually refreshing that back then these lesser games weren't targeted by publishers/developers like SSI and Origin, as there really was little to no impact on their game's sales or IP's, which is really all that legal action would help to mitigate anyway...

======================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
======================================

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Matt Barton
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Legal Issues
Bill Loguidice wrote:

I thought that Questron wasn't actually sued for being what it was but licensed the whole look and feel thing?

That's my understanding. The title screen acknowledges the debt for the "look and feel," which they licensed from Origin. I haven't heard of any attempt to get by, and that seems confirmed by SSI's few CRPGs after their break from TSR, which certainly weren't rip-offs of AD&D. You did have people like Edu-Ware getting sued by the tabletop game they ripped off (GDW's Traveller). TSR seems to have been oddly lax in letting so much get by that was obviously based on AD&D, such as the spell names and basic character classes. Of course, SSI did come pretty close to ripping Tolkien a few times, and countless games that started off with "hobbits" changed it to "halfling" or some other name.

It is strange how these obvious clones didn't arouse any ire from Origin or SSI, though. Seems hard to imagine they simply didn't know about them. Maybe they just thought going to court wasn't worth it for that sales volume (I really don't know).

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yakumo9275
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From an old Ultima AOL

From an old Ultima AOL chat

http://vorlon.case.edu/~zwb2/Ultima/1984-06-14.txt

Quote:

June 14th 1984
(1,CONTACH) WHAT DO YOU THINK OF QUESTRON?
(1,LORD BRITISH) QUESTRON... A TOUCHY SUBJECT....
(1,LORD BRITISH) WELL, THERE IS A LONG STORY BEHIND QUESTRON...
(1,LORD BRITISH) AND I'LL GIVE YOU THE VERY, VERY SHORT ANSWER....
(1,LORD BRITISH) QUESTRON WAS SUBMITTED TO A NUMBER OF COMPANIES...
(1,LORD BRITISH) INCLUDING ON-LINE WHILE I WAS THERE...
(1,LORD BRITISH) AND THEY DID NOT ACCEPT IT....
(1,LORD BRITISH) THEN IT WENT TO BRODERBUND, AND THEY...
(1,DW MAZE) QUESTRON IS NOT ON THE SAME LEVEL AS YOUR GAMES.
(1,LORD BRITISH) THANK YOU....
(1,LORD BRITISH) THEY ALMOST PUBLISHED IT UNTIL I COMPLAINED....
(1,LORD BRITISH) THEN, THINKING IT WAS ALL OVER,...
(1,LORD BRITISH) SUDDENLY SSI HAD ALMOST RELEASED IT...
(1,LORD BRITISH) AND WOULD NOT STOP WITHOUT A SUIT,...
(1,LORD BRITISH) SO WE SETTLED OUT OF COURT...
(1,LORD BRITISH) AND I GET CREDITS ON THE BOX, DOCS & BOOT FOR...
(1,LORD BRITISH) GAME STYLE AND A SMALL, SMALL ROYALTY. GA

I find it odd, mostly because Questron I is nothing like any Ultima. That they settled means SSI thought there must have been something to it. Questron I dates to 1984, Ultima III to 1983. Hmm looking over mobygames, I cant see any rpg thats tile based, it looks like Questron I was the first (that I can see).

I'm kinda surprised it took until 1984 and post Ultima III for there to be another tile based crpg!

(feel like I missed something tho. lots of roguelikes, but no tile based stuff).

Mmm the days of look-and-feel lawsuits.

-- Stu --

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Matt Barton
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Thanks
yakumo9275 wrote:

From an old Ultima AOL chat
http://vorlon.case.edu/~zwb2/Ultima/1984-06-14.txt

Thanks for that, Stu. That'll be very useful in my book. Can we be sure this website is legit?

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Calibrator
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Tiles
yakumo9275 wrote:

I find it odd, mostly because Questron I is nothing like any Ultima.

Well, take a look at the game mechanics and the scenario:
- same tile-size as any Apple-developed Ultima
- outdoor map with the special tiles like towns etc. which can be entered ("zoomed into")
- single-screen locations like Ultima I
- line-drawn dungeons like the first Ultimas...
- most commands are the same
- the game plays in more or less the same Tolkienesk fantasy world

To put it into other words:
The game mechanics are cloned, as was often the case with games software since a small quadratic ball hit a white line...

Quote:

That they settled means SSI thought there must have been something to it.

Indeed.

Imagine the game would've simply been called "Ultima II - The Quest for the Tome" - what would've been your thoughts?

Quote:

Questron I dates to 1984, Ultima III to 1983. Hmm looking over mobygames, I cant see any rpg thats tile based, it looks like Questron I was the first (that I can see).
I'm kinda surprised it took until 1984 and post Ultima III for there to be another tile based crpg!

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (Quality Software) is copyrighted 1981 (Atari version) and its tiles have about the same size - but the screens are static and not scrolling. Also the setting is different enough to get mixed up.
The same applies to its successors in spirit (by the same author, Stuart Smith): "The Return of Heracles" and "Adventure Construction Set".

Tunnels of Doom for the TI-99/4A from 1982 has a traditional fantasy setting and also tiles - but it's innovative enough when compared with Ultima II and (the later published) Ultima III: Party management and combat screens

Quote:

Mmm the days of look-and-feel lawsuits.

Exactly.

take care,
Calibrator

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yakumo9275
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yeah its from the 'blogging

yeah its from the 'blogging ultima' guy. see here
http://bloggingultima.blogspot.com/2007/03/old-chats.html

-- Stu --

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