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Default Darklands - Retrospective and Interview @ RPG Codex

June 13th, 2012, 22:22
RPG Codex has a short retrospective on Darklands written by none other than J.E. Sawyer, followed by an interview they conducted with the lead designer, Arnold Hendrick. Here's a snip from the retrospective part:
The Magic Candle was the most unusual CRPG I had played to that point, but I wasn't prepared for Darklands. It used 15th century history for almost everything: canonical hours, Medieval currency, alchemical formulae, Catholic saints, practical arms and armor of the era, period-accurate names and spellings for cities, traditional music, mythic conceptions of satanic Templars – the works.

It also bucked so many CRPG conventions that it took me a while to wrap my head around it. Instead of making a party of characters of different races and classes, you developed them along life paths, Traveller-style, in five year increments. You could, in fact, have a party with a grizzled knight, a young bandit, a hapless mystic of affective piety, and an 80 year-old alchemist (whom you most certainly would not abandon for his potent potions five minutes into gameplay!) And as previously mentioned, there were no alignments, no levels, no experience points – just a learn-by-doing skill system and a big open world. I felt like the game gave me the freedom to explore “Greater Germany” as I saw fit.

Not that it was a forgiving exploration. Darklands was a wonderful open world game, one that rarely warned travelers about dangers lurking in a Raubritter's castle or what you might encounter while stumbling through the Black Forest. You could find yourself arguing with a demon in Latin at the Devil's Bridge, fleeing from the Wild Hunt after you've interrupted the witches' High Sabbath, or praying for a saint's intercession as you await public execution in a town square.
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June 13th, 2012, 22:23
i love the artwork for this game, and still treasure the memories of playing it. I would love this to be a kickstarter revival project as well.
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June 13th, 2012, 22:39
The first RPG i played on PC, good memories of this game.
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June 13th, 2012, 22:45
Missed it back in the day. Been playing the GOG version recently. Definitely has a few flaws, but is otherwise a very compelling experience. The manual is awesome as well. Printed it at work to get the "whole experience".

If someone were to kickstarter a fairly faithful sequel with improved combat (Say something turnbased, and Riddle of steel-ish) I would plop down as much as I could.
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June 13th, 2012, 23:29
Lord I haven't thought about that game in ages. It was the game that forced me into a ton of computer upgrades as I tried to get it to work with the extended memory and play around with various start up configurations. Finally just got a new PC.

Awesome game though and one of my favorites - really loved the entire theme and design.

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June 13th, 2012, 23:43
I still have very fond memories about that game. I actually had to go to the library and pick up a book on the period to understand the setting.

And I remember having to free up memory under 640K on my 486DX2 because my mouse driver was causing lock ups during the combat.
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June 14th, 2012, 00:13
Strangely, one of the few early rpg's I just couldn't stomach. Played it for a few hours, was bored out of my brain and immediately deleted it!! I have never understood its appeal.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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June 14th, 2012, 00:30
I still have high hopes that Josh will some day end up being a lead on something with similar design goals as Darklands, just seems to be right up his alley.

It's one of my all time favs so cool to see this little interview/retrospective. Main weakness is really the combat which is not particularly fun. Would love to see an "updated" version of the game with better combat, a bit more balance amongst the skills and just even more quests and stuff to do.
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June 14th, 2012, 03:43
Originally Posted by Starwars View Post
I still have high hopes that Josh will some day end up being a lead on something with similar design goals as Darklands, just seems to be right up his alley
I totally agree with you on Josh being on such a game. I think he would do a fantastic job of it, especially with his interests and knowledge of History.

But there is no publisher on Earth that would fund such a game. That will never happen sadly.
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June 14th, 2012, 04:03
I have fond memories of Darklands, but it's also hard to forget how buggy and incomplete it was, and how certain major quests were impossible to complete even after multiple patches. But even with all of that, it was still a very unique game for it's time.
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June 14th, 2012, 06:42
One of the most intriguing RPG's I've played to date and definitely one that I would love to see revived in a Kickstarter-campaign. The amount of historical and cultural information it contains is amazing. I still occasionally leaf trough the heavy manual which contains a wealth of info on medieval life.

I went and installed it a while ago, but - while the core game still gives a lot of satisfaction - the combat-system is quite cumbersome compared to latter-day games such as BG etc. Navigating the Knocker-mines, for instance, isn't very satisfying.
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June 14th, 2012, 08:47
The retrospective series at the codex is really cool, and this was my favorite entry so far. Well done, Codexers!
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June 14th, 2012, 08:59
Missed it back in the day but played some on DosBox a few years back (will finish properly one day, Hmm the upcoming RPG draught might be a chance, after I am done with the rest of my backlog )

Certainly down for a Kickstarter revival of the design/setting…
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June 14th, 2012, 18:56
heard of it but never played it. a lot of games in the early 90's were off my radar because I was in college. any version now not as buggy as they say?

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June 14th, 2012, 19:32
This was a great one, back in the day. I think I'd be happy if someone made a version that worked with Vista, without any silly emulators or anything like that.



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June 14th, 2012, 21:24
Originally Posted by Carnifex View Post
This was a great one, back in the day. I think I'd be happy if someone made a version that worked with Vista, without any silly emulators or anything like that.
Whats wrong with playing it in an emulator?
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June 15th, 2012, 10:57
Buy it on GOG and bam, there you go.
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June 16th, 2012, 17:12
Originally Posted by Jaesun View Post
I totally agree with you on Josh being on such a game. I think he would do a fantastic job of it, especially with his interests and knowledge of History.

But there is no publisher on Earth that would fund such a game. That will never happen sadly.
K-k-k-k-k-kickstarter!
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