Matt Chat 48: Dungeons of Daggorath

Matt Barton's picture

Here's the latest Matt Chat episode, this time on the Tandy CoCo classic Dungeons of Daggorath. Enjoy, and let me know if you played this game back in the day. Love to hear more about its critical reception among Tandy CoCo owners.

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Calibrator
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Joined: 10/25/2006
IIgs monitor woes
Bill Loguidice wrote:

The Amiga 1084S is the one vintage monitor I have out at all times. It does NTSC and PAL, and has composite, RGB and one other input that slips my mind at the moment. Beyond straight up composite, I also have a cable specific to my C-128, which came with, and one for my Amigas, which also came with it.

I have the 1081 which has mono sound and only understands the PAL color system but at 50 and 60 Hz.

Quote:

I'm curious how you use with a IIgs? I use my IIgs with a genuine IIgs monitor. Do you have a special cable to get it work on the 1084S? It would certainly save me some hassle to use one of my 1084's than the IIgs monitor all the time.

I also have the original IIgs monitor but it's very small (12") and it has a scratch over the screen (got it from ebay from a guy who collected it from a school for US troops kids in Germany - which explains the scratches on the equipment ;-).

However, after I discovered that the IIgs outputs standard RGB analog like the Amiga I immediately checked the possibility to connect it to the 1081 as it also has an RGB-compatible SCART input.
I then found out that the Mac LC uses a similar video output and that the plug is physically compatible. This was great as I had a defective Mac LC color monitor which "sacrificed" it's cable for higher needs. I then soldered the plug to a standard European SCART cable by following these instructions:
http://vintageware.orconhosting.net.nz/apple2/scart.html

If your 1084 doesn't have a SCART input then you can at least use the pinout information of the IIgs video output and adapt it to your needs.
If your 1084 indeed has a SCART connector you can save yourself the trouble and buy a ready-made cable from them here:
http://vintageware.orconhosting.net.nz/
http://vintageware.orconhosting.net.nz/scart.html

It's well worth it, IMHO, as the picture is larger and equally good. The only thing bothering me a bit is that the monitor shows some first signs of age after twenty years.
I didn't have the time to connect the IIgs to my new TV, yet, but I'm sure it will work as it's SCART input is fully RGB compliant, too. If the 1081 fails then I have at least a good interim solution...

take care,
Calibrator

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Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
TI
adamantyr wrote:

The TI came with an RF modulator, rather like the ones that came with the Nintendo Entertainment system but much bigger and bulkier. Apparently that had a dispute with the FCC over RF signals and in order to ship their product they had to supply one.

I thought the story was was that in order to get around the RF issues with the original TI-99/4, it was only solid with the matching monitor. The TI-99/4a was the one that was sold with a standard RF switch.

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

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adamantyr
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TI Monitor; Dungeons of Daggorath
Bill Loguidice wrote:

I thought the story was was that in order to get around the RF issues with the original TI-99/4, it was only solid with the matching monitor. The TI-99/4a was the one that was sold with a standard RF switch.

Quite right, that was the reason. The TI Color Monitor was actually not too shabby, but not worth the $400 they wanted for it at the time. ($600 for the console, $400 for the monitor. Blech.) Plus the TI-99/4 didn't have the more advanced graphics chip in it. My current CRPG project can't run on one.

To bring the discussion back to Dungeons of Daggorath, another thing that made the game seriously hardcore was the "save game" feature only worked to cassette, and was considered unreliable. Most players would just win it by playing straight through from beginning to end. It can take several hours to play as well.

When you think about it, assuming you played it around 20 times before winning, that means you're getting 30-50 hours of play out of the game. That's actually pretty comparable to modern games in value of time.

Adamantyr

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
We used a color TV with our

We used a color TV with our computers until we got a Commodore 1702. My grandmother got another system that she gave to me eventually, so I was using that for many, many years. When we got the Amiga we bought a Sony Trinitron (believe it was a PVM-1390 or something very similar). All was well until we got the 3000 and couldn't use the flicker fixer. I had monitor hell after that, since using a regular VGA monitor also had its limitations--seems like you needed a "multiscan" monitor or some such, and I never had one.

At any rate, that artifacting thing sounds fascinating. Wish I understand it better on a technical level.

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Chris Kennedy
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Joined: 08/31/2008
Late

I am in late on this one, Matt. I got caught up in the snow out in Maryland before returning to Texas. Upon my return I discover that my workplace has once again firewalled out Armchair Arcade. Ahh well...it was great while it lasted.

What an interesting game. Obviously the graphics are a bit dated, but they definitely have a style to them. It's a very angular, vector-like style. The last enemy you fought was highly stylized.

I sometimes wonder how much of a dice roll it would be for developers to aim for a stylized set of graphics. I imagine it would be on something like a PSN, Xbox Live, or Wiiware release. I guess Mega Man 9 would be an example. It was a new game that was released as an official homage to 8 bit games of old. Oh! How I wish they would do that with several other old games.

So Dungeons of Daggorath has a art style of its own. I would like to see something new that creates atmosphere by not giving you very much to look at. Having a certain lack of depth in the game doesn't mean it is primitive. Having a lack of depth quite literally means that the difference background and foreground is blurred. When that last monster came after you in DoD, it was BIG.

And that wizard - there is something to be said about characters on the screen without a background. It creates quite an effect.

Take a look at the T-rex approaching you in monster maze. The graphics were quite primitive, but the art and animation were highly stylized. I think this trait helps increase one's immersion into the game.

You know what I mean?

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Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
Vector-based, real-time dungeon crawling of "DoD" an innovation?
Chris Kennedy wrote:

What an interesting game. Obviously the graphics are a bit dated, but they definitely have a style to them. It's a very angular, vector-like style. The last enemy you fought was highly stylized.

What intrigued me about "Dungeons of Daggorath" is the graphics themselves. While primitive by today's standards, I'm sure the "vector-like" graphics were pushing the state-of-the-art for its day! I say this because I can't think of another CRPG game of the time period that utilized 3D-computed shape tables to display the graphics.

It may have been done before (most likely on the Apple II), but 3D shape tables of "Dungeons of Daggorath" seem to predate polygon-based first person games, or even other shape-table games such as "Wolfenstein 3D" and "Doom," or even "Elite."

Real-time, first-person dungeon crawling seems to be quite an innovation. Add the adrenaline-pumping "heartbeat" sound effects, and it sounds like you have an immersive winner of a game for it's time!

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Calibrator
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Joined: 10/25/2006
Vector shape graphics
Rowdy Rob wrote:

What intrigued me about "Dungeons of Daggorath" is the graphics themselves. While primitive by today's standards, I'm sure the "vector-like" graphics were pushing the state-of-the-art for its day! I say this because I can't think of another CRPG game of the time period that utilized 3D-computed shape tables to display the graphics.

It may have been done before (most likely on the Apple II), but 3D shape tables of "Dungeons of Daggorath" seem to predate polygon-based first person games, or even other shape-table games such as "Wolfenstein 3D" and "Doom," or even "Elite."

Ultima 1 (1980/1981 original Apple II version) indeed had this a year before DoD (1982).
http://www.mobygames.com/game/ultima

To call these graphics "3D shape tables" is a stretch, too. They are simply predefined 2D vector shapes with no 3D engine behind them. The Apple II had drawing routines for this built into the operating system and could be called from BASIC - as the original version of Ultima 1 was mostly a BASIC program it made drawing the monsters easy.
Scaling the shapes to bigger or smaller sizes was no problem - it's a built in feature, too.

Elite on the other hand had a full vector graphics 3D engine with hidden-line removal (for display solid and not transparent bodies) but it came out 1984 and was written in 6502 assembly language. Conversion for the more popular computers came out a year later.

The iD games you mentioned are using a raycasting-engine and came out at least 10 years after DoD (Wolfenstein 3D = 1992 and Doom = 1993).

Quote:

Real-time, first-person dungeon crawling seems to be quite an innovation. Add the adrenaline-pumping "heartbeat" sound effects, and it sounds like you have an immersive winner of a game for it's time!

U1 was AFAIK turn-based (never played it) and didn't have the heartbeat.

Another CRPG that used vector graphics was "Questron" from SSI (1984 Apple II, Atari and C64 versions shortly after that).
http://www.mobygames.com/game/questron
As there were legal problems (Richard Garriott aka Lord British sued or threatened to sue SSI because of the similaritied to his Ultima franchise) the game got delayed until the royalties/license fee were sorted out so I don't know exactly when it was being developed. It's probably safe to say that it was "heavily inspired" by Ultima 1.

After SSI cleared the legalities with Garriott it pumped out several RPGs with similar tile-graphics ("Wizard's Crown" 1985, "The Eternal Dagger" 1987, "Shard of Spring" 1986, "Demon's Winter" 1988) before starting the AD&D games with "Pools of Radiance" in 1988 - but none of them used vector graphics for dungeons, AFAIK.

There are other graphically interesting RPGs (or RPG-adventure-hybrids) like for example "Shadowkeep" by Trillium (1984) with full color illustrations like a graphics adventure. I don't know if the graphics were simply loaded from disk or drawn on the fly, though. Instead of a dungeon the game features a single "evil tower" to "cast down an evil demon" who helds a wizard captive.

A similar game is "Realms of Darkness" from SSI (1987) which drew static pictures from picture definition files using the Graphics Magician toolkit - often used for graphics adventures as it was royalties-free. This saved lots of disk space as it used much less memory than a pre-rendered graphics page. This is the logical conclusion to the 2D vector shapes used in the earlier games.

take care,
Calibrator

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