A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Retro Computing: Why Bother? Special: Wasteland Rerelease!

In case y'all haven't heard those suckers lucky people like myself who hopped on the Kickstarter for Wasteland 2 got a free bonus I believe everyone else can probably buy.

WASTELAND 1.  Except now with some graphical mod options and voiced narration for the now built in copy protection paragraphs masquerading as a way to save disk space in the late 80s.  (Also see Wasteland's sibling, Dragon Wars.
Dragon Wars at game start.  I am using TEAM GOOBER who are all made up of comic relief cartoon characters that live in infamy.

But now everyone can replay yet again or for the first time the game that was both a spiritual sequel to The Bard's Tale Trilogy, and the spiritual prequel to both Dragon Wars AND the legendary Fallout games.

(Except Brotherhood of Steel.  Fallout fans don't like to talk about that.  It is to them what liberals are to AM radio hosts.)

However unlike our classic Wizardry inspired adventures of a singing alcoholic and his or her more impressive wizards (OMG CASTER SUPREMACY DON'T LET TRAD GAMES KNOW!!) this one is top down, adds in a ton of stuff to do besides just hack n slash, adds in skills to help said hacking and slashing, plus GUNS AND STUFF.

You could also get Bard's Tale Trilogy (plus that 3d hack n slash with the same name but an Action RPG) for free on Steam but the original trilogy is buggy.  But I had already bought the Android port so I can play BT while taking a dump.  

Hilariously however this game that ran on my 64 kilobytes of ram, 1 mhz Commodore 64 on a couple sides of a 360k 5 1/4 floppy now requires/recommends a 1.4 ghz PC with 300+ megabytes of hard disk space.

(This should tell anyone a little about how while computer tech has numerically shot into orbit compared to the 80s that actual live performance isn't exactly hundreds of times better.  And we cannot blame it entirely on lazy programmers, modern OSes, or modern CPUs requiring more RAM to do stuff.  Maybe all of it together though...)

Here we are at my first game start with my brand new party of four.  (You can recruit 3 more NPCs later on.) I have turned smoothing off so the text and graphics and interface don't have that weirdo look a lot of smoothing options give you.  I have however left on the redrawn art graphics in the upper left window.  The little pink hand is a mouse cursor if you wish to use mouse controls.  I tend to mix it up between keyboard AND mouse.

Here is Beef after a single level up.  You have to roll for stats D&D style.  SKP (Skill Points) are the all important thingie that let your party DO STUFF in this game.

There are ways to learn and improve skills later on, but your initial INT (Intelligence) gives you your starting points to assign to skills.  Advancing a skill with points doubles from the previous cost and you need varying levels of INT or points just to grab the skill to begin with.  In general using your skills will with time improve them.  You can learn 27 different skills at the start of the game.  I recommend writing down them all and build your party based on rolls (reroll till you are happy enough with your character) and check off the skills you want to have.  Pretty much every skill in the game has at least one use, many lots more.  

The question mark is in game information so you can read up on what various things actually DO.  This is an oldschool game.  No tutorial kids.

Every now and then RADIO back to the Ranger Center and you will see if anyone in the party has earned enough XP to level up, something I cannot seem to actually see on the character pages.  You get a whopping two points to spend on attributes each level plus two more HPs.  (Shown in game as Max/Con)

 The little book icon lets you know you have a paragraph to read by clicking that icon.  Or you could get a copy of the original manual and paragraphs book and just look it up.  I honestly recommend the latter.

 With DISBAND you can split up your party to maybe send your close in fighters to engage while the snipers stay behind, or in this case so Sneakycheeks can go into the Ladies' Room.  

 You can also talk to various NPCs and the like when they let you.  If you have a good keyword to enter you do so.  It is like a primitive version of Ultima 4's chat system.  Made harder as the game doesn't exactly go out of it's way to tell you what words to keep note of.  You gotta figure it out yourself.

In combat you can run towards or away from enemies, use stuff, try to have them join you with HIRE, try to avoid being hit, attack with your equipped weapon, swap weapons, or load/unjam a firearm.  Unlike Bard's Tale Armor Class goes UP in this game and it actually reduces if not outright PREVENTS combat damage.

(Veteran players will note the redrawn graphics which you can just choose the original versions are now no longer animated at all, and seem more or less like an artist took some pixel smoothing and manually tweaked it.  I kind of like it as someone obviously didn't just let a render option do all the work which makes the effect work when normal smoothing in old games makes me unhappy and I run back to the sweet embrace of 20+ year old pixels.)

 Here we have a nasty clan of Topekans all out to kill us.  (The Phelps Clan must have moved out towards Vegas after the bombs dropped.)  Close combat guys like Beef are limited to around 15' range and guns go further than that with accuracy based on range, weapon, and skill.  (Pistols are basically close combat range at 1-2 skill points.)  

If you have ever played Bard's Tale the combat is just like that except now you have an actual on screen slider to speed up or slow down the text.  And enemies can explode into BLOOD SAUSAGE!!!

Damage heals over time and up to Unconcious will heal over time as well (hold down ESCAPE in a safe place out of combat to slowly heal up) though if you take enough damage to go into SERIOUS or worse categories you need the medical skills or a doctor to bring you out of it otherwise you eventually die.

(One irritation is sometimes your party can be entirely knocked out.  Monsters usually won't kill you, merely wait till someone wakes up and then knock em back down meaning a clearly lost fight takes 5 minutes to resolve or you need to shut down the game and restart it.)

 Here is my party getting ready to run towards some critters.  You also use this basic interface for skill or attribute usage outside of combat.  Sometimes it is odd how exactly to make a skill properly interact.  Even moreso when things like a secret cave isn't shown on the screen, you merely have to know to look for it and then make all your button presses.

 I hope this has given y'all a little inspiration and idea if buying Wasteland off Steam or GOG.com is for you.  I would say YES, though probably GOG over Steam.  (It practically isn't Steam at all.  No achievements, screenshotting, or anything.  I haven't encountered any major bugs other than a single lock up and one or two bits of oddness that never repeated themselves.)

But adding to the above here are a few more hints to get you going:

1: Trade items from the four pregenerated PCs to each other then remove the empty handed one, make your character, and trade them goodies.  This will give you a ton of extra starting ammo and some stuff to sell for early money.  GIVE EVERYONE CLIMB AND SWIM SKILLS.  I recommend one PC be your close combat type early on.  Make sure they have two points in Brawling so they get an extra close combat attack.  They can also be your pack mule.

2: Leave the Ranger Center and head west to the Campground.  Make sure to use Perception a little bit south of the river and in the buildings.  Picklock comes in handy.  You can also ENGAGE in manual combat to fight the blueshirt people who won't engage with you otherwise.  There is a shop to sell a few basic goodies but nothing major.

3: West from there is the Agricultural Center.  You can sell food to the clerk and get an early quest.  Picklock comes in handy as the big area by the Shopkeep is a totally safe place to rest as opposed to most places where you can be engaged by random encounters.  Make sure to use PERCEPTION skill on all the boxes in the storage bin after you kill the Bunny Dude.

4: Head south then north around the mountains till you see the multiblock town of Quartz.  The west most block has a store right on the southwest corner there.  Big white building.  You can sell off all those extra guns and weapons you don't need (you probably have enough ammo to sell off the close combat weapons for everyone but your CCer) and get the 500 dollar bulletproof armor.  You might want to do this before entering the southwestern mini cave from above.  Or even getting a set or two of this armor before taking up the mission in 3.

5: In the southeasternish corner is the bar.  It has a north and south entrance.  The south one puts you right up on some baddies to fight.  There are a few more in the men's room.  Make note of the stuff written on the tables.  Get up on the stage for a laugh if someone has Acrobatics or Sleight of Hand.

6: Go back out to the Agri Center and head north and a little west to the Nomad Camp.  They have a mission for you to go back to Quartz and the Bar which will send you back here and you can get into a nice fight and get some more loot.

7: If you don't like your team's performance by this point don't feel bad, just reroll now that you know what the game is like and try again.  My team last night took 2 odd hours to get to where my current one did in 45 minutes.

8: If repeating multiple keypresses for skills gets you down make macro keys for your gaming keyboard or mouse or something.  If nothing else, make one for your character who uses Perception.

If you need more help and advice, http://www.pixsoriginadventures.co.uk/downloads/ has a Wasteland solution and map suite in Quest for Clues 2, and the original manuals for us Steam folk can be downloaded from http://replacementdocs.com/news.php .  I will note that my antivirus complains about the site but I have never actually had any issues with it.


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