Showing posts with label Video Games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Video Games. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Post 1000ish: Review of Myst

Title: Myst
Publisher: Broderbund
Developers: Cyan, Inc.
Author: Rand and Robyn Miller
Year: 1993
OS: Macintosh

I lucked out in having a computer or two since 1980. I purchased a Timex Sinclair with the 8k extended memory for the outrageous price of $126.00. It was so expensive at the time, that I financed it and made 12 payments of $12.25 @16.6% interest! Not bad for a kid financed entirely shoveling snow and mowing lawns. I needed Mom's help. I gave her $12.25 in cash every month, and she wrote a check for me.  

With everything going into the basic cost of the computer, I had to beg my parents to buy me software. A lot of times, I had to settle for going to the library for books on programming and a blank tape for storage. In 1981, the film War Games sparked my imagination as to what computers could be.  

A little over a decade later, I discovered a game that embraced both limitations and imagination to amazing effect. 


You're the protagonist in a story that isn't told but shown. The limits of the then modern-day Macintosh allowed for spectacular images, but only just an image. One at a time. Plus a bit of sound. To do this, the Rand Brothers tweaked the hell out of their hardware and software, even stripping down the color palettes to capitalize on the Mac's meager specs. Better than everything else on the market but still limited to a handful of hertz and less than a half dozen megs of RAM.  

Gorgeous images told the story of a family shattered by envy, power, and pride. Using the linking books, you search for the pages that will restore Sirrus, Achenar, and Atrus, whoever they might be. Catherine, the wife of Atrus and the mother of Achenar and Sirrus appears only via a note. You have no idea what is happening and what needs to be done. Your quest takes you to different worlds called "Ages" to recover the pages. 

Each Age, named Selenitic, Stoneship, Mechanical, and Channelwood contains puzzles to be solved. The mechanic of the game required at least two puzzles, one to progress in the game and a second so you may return to Myst Island. Travel between Ages requires a book written to describe that age. Open the book and see the Age. Touch the page and enter the Age. To return, you need to find the linking book hidden within the Age. Ingenious.   

Game mechanics were limited to clicks. Nothing else. Move? Click. Actions? Click. 

Pure and simple. Easy? Hell, no. 

While the execution is simple, the hardware had just enough oomph for a wonderful musical score plus tiny postage stamp-size videos, which when they appeared were like magic. Puzzles were challenging but not insane or click-hell. 

The requirements of the game also allowed for very creative storytelling. There is no clock, no death, no violence, and no enemies. Yet the nature of the game caused tension. This is the fusion of art and storytelling at its finest.  

This 28-year-old game was the reason I started blogging. I wanted to make a fan site for this game. You'll notice there are no stars assigned to this review. How could I assign stars to something that provoked 10-plus years of work and hundreds of posts exploring the nature of play and entertainment?

As a corollary to this review, I gave my oldest son Paul a set of hardcover Myst novels. As former library books, they were cheap. But my son claimed that made them more special. 

"These books have passed through many hands. They were loved by many people and loved by me." He was 10 and that was more eloquent than I could be. And it was true. 

For his 11th birthday, he asked for Amazon gift cards. 

"I want some books. I need books." 

So, his grandparents, aunt and godmother, and my wife and I gave him Amazon gift cards. And he got the books he loved so much. 

He ordered a complete set of Myst soft-covered books. When I questioned this purchase he explained, "The little books are Linking Books. You need them both to succeed." 

To say that this one game has shaped many parts of my life would be an understatement. 

The world of Myst has expanded greatly, but these links are a start if you are interested. 

Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages
of MYST and Beyond from

Monday, November 11, 2019


SimEarth is one of those classic sandbox games, something with a charm that is ageless. I finally found my box and installed it on an old G4 Sawtooth Mac. It turns out that I am very rusty at all of this, so it will be a while before I do a review and some gameplay videos.

Here is a 90 second clip of the software in action.

I was concerned about this old Mac's specs, so I updated it a bit. I have max memory and four hard drives. Unfortunately, I can't seem to run OS 7 on this and don't believe OS 8 will run either. Time will tell.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Destiny Done…

Well, that day has come. I have completed all the missions and tasks with my Titan in Destiny.

As of right now, I do not have PSN, House of Wolves, or The Dark Below. I do plan on adding the expansion packs but I am not sure when.

Destiny’s delineation between PvP and PvE is nice. I find PvP to be annoying and Destiny’s model allows me to safely ignore it. I hate being pwn’d by a 12-year-old and Destiny lets me avoid it.
The style of stories shifts as the player progresses, and the planet system neatly ties them all together. The scenes on each world are really nice, except for The Moon. For whatever reason, the grey tones leave me with the impression that the map is more open than it really is. So far, I have killed myself by driving off the map more times than I can count. I could use a few more Vex encounters, but hey, that is what expansion is for. I can’t wait for more Vex. The Legionnaires and their cohorts are interesting and present new challenges. I also love the fact that Venus is presented as a very 1940s, swamp-like planet.
I’m torn. Destiny costs $50 bucks. I am fine with that, however, to continue receiving new challenges, you need PSN, PSPlus, and the expansion packs. That pushes the cost up to $135 for a year or $11.25 a month.

This is where I am torn. I am actually very happy to play a game for less than $12 a month. In addition to great new content and multiplayer, you are free to create 3 characters per profile on your PS4. All three of my kids, plus my wife and I can play this game. This is not true of most online games, normally we would need an account for each player.

As the father of three children, I have to say I find PS4’s limitation of 16 profiles to be spectacular. When I go to a hockey game or baseball game, all the tickets come in “4 Packs”, which sucks when you need 5. The pricing for the 5th ticket is pretty cheap, but the rigamarole of ordering is obnoxious. That doesn’t happen with 16 profiles, which is very generous.

I do find the PSN email requirements for children to be vexing (see what I did there?). I am not sure I want to arm my 10-year-old with an email address. As a happy medium, I created that email account but did not give my child the password. Sony needs to step up and create a more protective model.

I believe that the main hurdles are not created by Bungie, but by Sony. An internet-connected device that requires a separate monthly purchase to connect to some types of data is stupid. I hate it on my phone and I hate it on my games. Of course, Bungie does charge for new content, but that is offered a la carte. I don’t have to do it and still be happy.
So to wrap up, the plus/minus list for Destiny 

1. Inventive Storylines.
2. Nice gameplay.
3. Multiple expansions.
4. PvP or PvE, your choice.
5. Bungie’s website.

1. Sony’s PSN and PSPlus system.
2. Only three classes.
3. Lack of a manual.

On the whole, I really enjoyed Destiny. I can’t say I have seen every detail and facet, but all and all it is gratifying.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Next → Stupid Saucy and XFCE Minecraft Trick

Installing Minecraft on a Chromebook is simple. Get Crouton, install Saucy and XFCE then get stuck. Why stuck?
You need to change the permissions of the Minecraft.jar to be an executable.
On many versions of Ubuntu, it is a simple matter of right clicking and checking the “make executable” check box. Using the standard Thunar XFCE file manager, that isn’t an option.
You have a couple of choices here. Installing a new file manager is a possibility, but if you are running XFCE or other light version of Linux, maybe you simply don’t want to do that.
This is a great chance to use the terminal to do what you want. The command needed is “sudo chmod +x”.

As you can see from the screenshot, I am using XFCE on a Chromebook, so my directory line is a little different.

Hooked on Destiny

It is rather simple game, three classes, a couple of sub-classes and a bunch of armor and weapons. But the stories and different modes of play are really entertaining.
You are a guardian, your companions are a Ghost to provide details and wit and a lot of firepower. You must fight to free Earth, the Moon, Mars and Venus.
Right now I found the perfect farm location on the Moon. You can check out the details on this sweet farm right here.

Friday, December 13, 2013


A long time ago, in a computer store called CompUSA, I purchased a game called Zork.

Back in the dark ages, before the internet, it was possible to find games on store shelves for years and years. Zork is an old one, published in 1977. However, I didn’t obtain a copy until some time in the nineties. I bet they handed me a free floppy disk, as per the disk-of-the-month club policy.

I bought Zork in response to seeing my friend's copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game. We figured we could take turns playing each other’s games. The only flaw in an otherwise perfect plan was that he had DOS and I had something named after a fruit. For some reason, it never occurred to me to use Disk Copy and the free disk to give my friend a copy.

Surprisingly, I still have that floppy and a computer that has a floppy drive. How I loved that game. Pretty soon, I will walk through the whole series again.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More Wizardry 1 Information

In the last Wizardry post, I said:
“Wizards, lords and samurai gain spells a lot slower than the pure clerics and mages. Wizards gain spells at the same rate as mages and clerics, but the spell levels are divided between the two types making them weaker but more diverse casters. Lords and samurai gain about half the spells of the two pure casters.”
Now that I have played for a bit more, I noticed the actual rate of spell learning.
Mages and Clerics earn one spell at first level and then gain an additional spell every two levels. The progression is 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc. Roughly, your mage and clerics will have spell levels equal to their level minus one, divided by two. There is a limit of 9 spells available per level.
Wizards gain spells much slower. They gain 1 mage spell at first level and the next spell four levels later. Fun. Cleric spells start at level four and progress at every four levels. This causes you to alternate between mage and clerical spells.
Samurai and Lords gain spells at fourth level, then receive an additional spell every three levels. Lords gain clerical spells while Samurai use mage spells.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Annoying Wizardry Spells

 I dug out my copy of Wizardry – Proving Ground of the Mad Overlord and started reliving the magic.

Sort of. Wizardry has this odd way of naming spells. A few are easily memorable, such as Dios for heal, while others are totally opaque as in Milwa.

Mages and clerics cast only their own spells, clerics also have some physical ability to fight. Mages will die if they try to melee. Wizards cast both types of spells and are able to melee. They have the disadvantage of having to be good or evil, never neutral. Samurai are Fighters with mage abilities. They must be good or neutral. Lords are fighters who can cast clerical spells by their great goodness. They obviously must remain good.

The following characters are not spell casters – thieves, ninjas, and fighters. They may use magic items such as potions. Lords and ninjas are impossible to create at the start, while wizards are easier to create than samurai.

Wizards, lords and samurai gain spells a lot slower than the pure clerics and mages. Wizards gain spells at the same rate as mages and clerics, but the spell levels are divided between the two types making them weaker but more diverse casters. Lords and samurai gain about half the spells of the two pure casters.

Cleric level 1:

Badios – Harm. Injures one monster.

Dios – Heal. Restores some HP of one character.

Kalki – Bless. Improves the AC of all characters by one.

Milwa – Light. Increase sight range when in dungeon. Also increases chance of finding secret doors. This spell has a time limit and is canceled by entering darkness. Do not cast in the dark, it just burns a spell.

Porfic – Shield. Affects only the caster with an improved AC. Drops AC by 4. Critical if your cleric is in the front rank.

Cleric Level 2:

Calfo – Detect traps. Allow the cleric to see which trap is on a chest… most of the time.

Manifo – Stone. Turns some monsters to stone, affects all creatures in a group.

Matu – Blessing. Lowers the AC of all party members by 2.

Montino – Silence. Prevents the casting of spells and affects the whole group.

Cleric Level 3:

Bamatu – Blessing. Improved party’s AC by 4.

Dialko – Curing. Removes paralysis, manifo (silence) and katino (sleep). Of course, if you are sleeping or silenced, you can’t cast this spell. Remember, casting while silenced will burn a spell.

Latumapic – Identify. Reveals what type of monsters.

Lomilwa – Light. Continual light spell. This spell has no time limit but is canceled by entering darkness. Again, do not cast in the dark, it just burns a spell.

Cleric Level 4:

Badial – Pain. Blasts one monster for a good amount of damage.

Dial – Heal. One character recovers 2-16 HP.

Latifmofis – Cure Poison. One character only.

Maporfic – Shield. Lowers the party’s AC by two and has no duration. Cast this one on entry into the dungeon.

Cleric Level 5:

Badi – Death. May kill one monster instantly. It does not do damage if it fails.

Badialma – Pain. Causes 3-24 HP damage to a single monster.

Di – Life. Non-combat spell. Heals one character to 1 HP. It causes damage to Vitality and can accidentally turn a character to ash.

Dialma – Heal. Restores 3-24 HP to one character.

Kandi – Locate. Give the cardinal direction to a lost person. It is relative to where you are in the maze.

Litokan – Kill it with fire. Strikes a group of monsters for 3-24 each.

Cleric Level 6:

Lokotfeit – Recall. Teleports the party to the castle, but causes the loss of all gold and equipment.

Lorto – Ginsu! Creates a tornado of blades that slashes whole groups of monsters to pieces. 6-36 points of damage.

Mabadi – Pain. Reduces a single monster's HP to 1-8. It does not kill all on its own.

Madi – Restore. Heals all damage and removes all status effects. It does not raise the dead.

Cleric Level 7:

Kadorto – Resurrection. Restores a character to full health outside of combat, even if the character is ash. If it fails, the character is gone forever. Sorry.

Malikto – Death. Causes 12-72 HP of damage to all monsters. A real crowd pleaser.

Mage Level 1:

Dumpic – Sight. Gives the coordinates of the party, relative to the castle stairs. Should have been called “dumbic”.

Halito – Bad breath. Singes a monster for 1-8 HP.

Katino – Sleep. Causes one or more monsters to fall asleep. Affects one group of creatures.

Mogref – Armor. Reduces the caster’s AC by two.

Mage Level 2:

Dilto – Dark. Lowers the AC of one group of monsters.

Sopic – Armor. Reduces the AC of the caster by 4.

Mage Level 3:

Mahalito – Fireball. Cooks a group of monsters for 4-24 points of damage.

Molito – Lightning. Zaps a group of monsters for 3-18 HP. Very unreliable.

Mage Level 4:

Dalto – Ice Storm. Causes 6-36 HP damage to a whole group of monsters.

Lahalito – Big bad breath. Burns whole groups of creatures for 3-36 points of damage.

Morlis – Shock and Awe. Causes the group of creatures AC to drop by 4.

Mage Level 5:

Madalto – Ice storm. Causes 8-65 points of damage.

Makanito – Poison cloud. Kills most monsters less than 8th level.

Mamorlis – Terror. Causes fear.

Mage Level 6:

Haman – Change. Drains caster of one level, so if this is the highest level you can cast, you won’t be able to do it again. Can have the following effects:

  1. Augment all magic cast by the party.
  2. Cures the entire party of all status effects.
  3. Silence all enemies.
  4. Teleports enemies away.
  5. Heals all party members as if Madi was cast.

Lakanito – Suffocation. Kills monsters, but doesn’t affect certain monsters.

Masopic – Armor. Reduces AC by 4.

Zilwan – Dispel. Will destroy one undead creature per cast.

Mage Level 7:

Mahaman – Change. As Haman, except more. Remember, you lose a level so it is unlikely that you will be able to cast it a second time.

  1. Augment all magic cast by the party.
  2. Cures the entire party of all status effects.
  3. Silence all enemies.
  4. Teleports enemies away.
  5. Heals all party members as if Madi was cast.
  6. Restores characters as if the Di spell was cast on them.
  7. Reduces AC by 20 for all party members.