Matt Chat 29: Wizardry!

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Matt Barton's picture

This week, I cover Wizardry, one of the earliest and most influential CRPGs ever made! Enjoy! Also, don't forget to subscribe to Armchair Arcade's new YouTube video feed!

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Mark Vergeer
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A video response to an

A video response to an ongoing video discussion on www.armchairarcade.com this time on the wonderful adventure game of Wizardry. I can see the attraction of the game here - especially if you play it with more than one person at the same time and you make up a story along side it and draw a map on graph paper!

This Matt-Chat is without any book-plug or personal introduction from the Mattster, or else it must be totally subliminal as one of the Armchair Arcade readers has pointed out earlier ;-)

Excellent stuff yet again from the Matt-chat-meister himself! Keep up the excellent work!

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Matt Barton
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I thought the bookmark

I thought the bookmark contest was in a way a "plug," since people might be like -- hey, what are those bookmarks? Vintage Games? Dungeons and Desktops? Huh? Let me check on Amazon--wow! I'm getting those right now. :P

But yeah, foolish of me not to even say who I am. D'oh! I guess the intro video might be enough, though, since it does say "with Matt Barton." But surely I could have put in the intro something like, "Hi, guys, it's Matt Barton back with another Matt Chat!" I've been toying with the idea of "playing up the professor" angle, though not sure how to do that or whether it would go over well. I certainly don't expect anyone but students to call me "Dr. Barton," that'd just be silly.

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Mark Vergeer
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Nope
Matt Barton wrote:

I thought the bookmark contest was in a way a "plug," since people might be like -- hey, what are those bookmarks? Vintage Games? Dungeons and Desktops? Huh? Let me check on Amazon--wow! I'm getting those right now. :P

But yeah, foolish of me not to even say who I am. D'oh! I guess the intro video might be enough, though, since it does say "with Matt Barton." But surely I could have put in the intro something like, "Hi, guys, it's Matt Barton back with another Matt Chat!" I've been toying with the idea of "playing up the professor" angle, though not sure how to do that or whether it would go over well. I certainly don't expect anyone but students to call me "Dr. Barton," that'd just be silly.

Ah so that was it - the bookmark was the plug... Now that is what I call subliminal ;-)

It was an excellent video. Nothing foolish about not saying who you are in every video. The into introduces you all right - there's no need to say you're Matt Barton, the Bartmeister every friggin' time ;-). Going with the name 'Professor' is something I would not necessarily recommend - nor would I go with the tag Dr.Matt/Mark.

Loved the video!

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Bill Loguidice
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Sadly, my video response+

Sadly, my video response+ got corrupted on the memory card, so I'll have to have another go at it again tomorrow.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Rowdy Rob
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Matt, you're killing me...

There's so much I wanted to accomplish this weekend, so much on my plate, but you had to put out another "Matt Chat." I just got a couple new games and replaced my old, busted scanner, but no... you have no sense of compassion and produced another "Matt Chat" with no regard for anyone's lives....

I hope you don't mind me commenting here rather than YouTube, since AA has a more robust interface for comments for long-winded people like me.

Anyhow, I have two main things to say: 1) Great Matt Chat (as usual), and 2) "Wizardry" sucks. You generate some complex characters to include in your party, then you use them to wander around a bland, featureless maze. It's a maze game with D&D characters. I preferred "Deathmaze 5000" on the TRS-80, which was not an RPG, but made maze exploring exciting!

I admit that I never played Wizardry (I think), but I watched my computer club cohorts play it. They seemed to enjoy it, but that meant that the rest of us waiting for computer time had to sit through watching them doing apparently nothing but wander around a bland maze. That's what it was; a maze game with random encounters. When the encounters occurred, that's when the RPG engine seemed to kick in. Other than that, it was just a boring 3D maze game, which even back then had been done countless times in other PD programs.

Bard's Tale, Alternate Reality, and other "3D Maze Games" took Wizardry and improved on it and did it better, in my opinion, giving more variation in scenery. Even the overhead RPG's like Temple of Apshai or Ultima seemed more inviting because of the continual change of scenery. Perhaps Wizardry would have been a better game if it was an overhead-perspective game. Wizardry wasn't very inviting then, and I doubt it would be inviting now to most 3D-polygon-spoiled gamers of today. Perhaps the NES version might be an exception, but certainly not the Apple II version.

Still, a great "Matt Chat." I'm sure all the hardcore RPG players will be stoked to play this game upon viewing your video. It almost makes me want to play it.... almost. :-)

qoj hpmoj o+ 6uo73q 3Jv 3svq jnoh 77V

JFrehInEffect! (not verified)
Great MattChatt

This was a great Matt Chat, and I'm a huge fan of this site. You hit a home run when you mentioned the games playability today. It's influence also cannot be understated. Look at Dragon Quest in Japan(which uses Wizardry's combat system to a tee) or the bestselling Etrian Odyssey. There are so many games that are influenced by Wizardry. There is even a Wizardry clone on the iPhone called sorcerer(created in japan of course, they love that damn game over there). Also please cover Epxy's Impossible Mission. I thought of that when you mentioned Apshai(which was only made fun by the descriptions in the manual).
Peace out from BK

Chris Kennedy
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Thanks again, Matt

Hey Matt -

I haven't been commenting on many things on armchair arcade lately because of how busy things have been. I wanted to drop in and say that I still enjoy the videos and make it a point to say, "Hey - It's Friday/Saturday. I need to check out the latest Matt Chat." Yep. That's right. It's a weekly event that I look forward to experiencing. You know that we like it. You know that the effort you put into these videos is WORTH it. I also think you deserve to continually hear this as you crank out these videos.

I have never played Wizardry. One of my roommates in college certainly had. He loved it. I've definitely logged some time in Dragon Quest, myself. This video certainly helped answer the question - "what's all of this wizardry stuff about, anyway?"

You mentioned one thing in your video that I find to be an interesting topic - making maps. I posted a topic on this on the Monroeworld forums within the last couple of years - http://www.monroeworld.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12008

I asked if map-making was ever fun. I'd like to take a bit more of a social commentary angle on this and say that perhaps it was more acceptable for most gamers 20/25 years ago because life was a bit simpler back then. Aside from the obvious frustrations we would experience if the internet suddenly disappeared, imagine if we didn't have it right now. Would it seems like life allowed us to stop and smell the roses a bit more often? Would you read more books than you do now? Would your patience increase a bit? Would map-making seem a bit more acceptable?

Taking away the internet alone wouldn't be enough to try and imagine making maps today. We also have to accept the fact that -
1: We made maps "back in the day" and are most likely tainted by a feeling of nostalgia concerning the making of maps (assuming we liked making them in the first place). This would most likely get in the way of trying to imagine if making maps in today's games would be fun or not.
2: You still have modern day games to use for comparison. Does most people's tolerance for map-making drop off once games start doing it for them? Shane made an interesting point in his post when he said you had to do it in Etrian Odyssey - a modern game.

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Bill Loguidice
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Mapping

I know I made maps for several games. My most elaborate were maps for the Phantasie series, which I even colored. One day I'll get to scanning and posting them. Most games have auto-maps nowadays, so self-mapping is unnecessary. For a classic game, though, I would consider mapping it, but I might not have the same tolerance for a modern game. After all, I would think my characters, among things like going to the bathroom without my intervention, would be mapping their way on their adventure.

I'm playing The Dark Spire on the Nintendo DSi right now, and it has a map of where you've been, but it doesn't tell you where you are on the map. You need to learn and cast a spell to be able to do that. I think that's a fair compromise.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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A lot of this does depend on

A lot of this does depend on the game in question and what it's trying to accomplish. Many of the old dungeon crawlers (Wizardry, Bard's Tale, PoR, Dungeon Master) placed a great deal of importance on the way their areas were laid out. Most of them were simple square grids, and since you moved one "square" at a time, it wasn't difficult to map them. Once you had a map, you could see which areas you hadn't explored yet, or discover hidden rooms. I'll never forget my pleasure at stumbling into a hidden treasure room in Pool of Radiance (in the slums!). You just would never have that surge of joy if you had just seen it on an automap (or clue book; Por's automap was crap). It was also just cool having a nice hand-made map, since you could take pride in that and being able to navigate the dungeons swiftly and accurately. By the time you were finished exploring the whole thing and making your map, you really knew that dungeon well. That's a very different kind of experience than just blowing through a dungeon, letting the automapper track your progress.

That said, I did often rely on official guide books for CRPGs, mostly because I wanted to experience the entire game. Sometimes I would go through a game once with no guides, and then again with a guide to make sure I had seen all the content. Later on I just decided to keep a guide handy, since I didn't want to miss out on anything cool.

In any case, mapping out many modern games would be very tricky, since few have the nice square grids. But I could see it in small doses--maybe have an automapper everywhere but in the dungeons. Some games have automappers as part of their magic systems, so you have to cast a spell or use a magic item in order to see the map. Anyway, I would rather have an automapper unless the developers have really worked to make map-making easy and worthwhile. Also, I don't think it would work well for real-time games; you'd need a turn-based setup with very discrete steps or movements.

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Orakio "O Gagá" Rob (not verified)
Mapping...

Excellent show, as usual!

I've never played Wizardry, and I'm very curious about the series. I've been playing lots of Might and Magic I these days, and I love the way the game forces you to map everything. It is quite fun, you really get the feeling that you are indeed exploring the place. Drawing maps means lots of fun to me.

I'm curious to see how the automapping feature evolved in M&M and the Wizardry series. Drawing your own maps you can add helpful notes to them. Does the automapping in later Wizardry games allow you to add notes?

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