The Dink Network

Crazy Old Tim plays all the DMODs of 2000

October 5th 2013, 10:10 PM
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cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
--Crazy Old Tim Plays All the DMODs--

Directory
1998 | HTML version
1999 | HTML version
2000 HTML version
2001 | Article version
2002 | Article version
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008-2009
2010
2011-2015

Welcome to a third year's worth of DMOD-playing-and-writing-about. Give it the gas, people! It's the breakout album of the year, Tim Maurer!

Ah, the year 2000. Used for so long as shorthand for the exciting world of tomorrow, it seems kind of quaint now. Things were so different back then. As I recall, people still said that things were "the bomb" around that time and meant it. I was 14 years old.

It must have been an exciting time to be a Dink Smallwood fan. Whereas 1999 was a down period for DMODs, with just 20 releases and quite a few of them not having much to them, 2000 saw the release, by my count, of a staggering thirty-eight DMODs, four of which are epics! This is more DMODs than any other year, although 2003 comes close with 36. "Good Heart Bad Heart" seems to have been lost by this site somehow, so unfortunately I'll only be covering 37 mods from 2000.

I say it "must have been" exciting because by this point, I'd moved on entirely to other things, including Mike Snyder's browser-based game Lunatix Online (I'd link, but it finally went down for good in 2010). I did make a brief return to the community during this year, releasing "The Tragic Death of Zink Smallwood" (June 15) and the "Crossroads" trailer (July 13), both of which I covered in the 1998 segment, so we'll actually be dealing with 35 mods here.

Despite my brief return, there will be a major change in my coverage here. I had already played almost every one of the 50 DMODs I've gone over so far, but I've played almost none of the 290 to come. This should be interesting.

It's a shame I missed out, really. I feel like there were two Dink communities: The quirky little early one that started with the original release, and the major, enduring one that started around December 1999. I missed the real party. Speaking of parties, I can't believe I missed the chance to make a "party like it's 1999" joke in the last topic. I won't make THAT mistake again.

*ahem*

In the year 2000....

--2000 part 1: Boom--

Suddenly, DMODs everywhere! There were four released in January alone, but one of them isn't like the others.

051: Dink Letterman Author: Jan Willem Veenhof Release Date: January 12, 2000

Does anybody here remember Jveenhof? I do. I remember that one of the community's many dramatic episodes involved him. I probably shouldn't be digging up old dirt like this, but hey, what's the point of me doing this if I don't talk about what I remember? It could be just anybody doing this otherwise. Anyway, Jv faked his death during my mid-year return to the community. Everybody was sad about it and posting memorials, so some were understandably upset when he turned back up. Most were just relieved, though.

Actually, I think I was more upset than anybody else, which was a little odd because I didn't really know him at all. He said something like, "Guys, I'm not worth all this trouble," and I said, "You certainly aren't. You aren't worth a plumb nickel." I meant 'plugged nickel,' but the sentiment was clear enough. Still, everybody, even me, got over it pretty quickly, as it was done in a way that was more confusing than malicious. I certainly don't hold it against him now. He's even joked about it. The community's had much worse drama go on in its time.

No, I don't mean to single Jveenhof out at all (I'd be in a glass house if I did). I bring it up because I happen to remember it, and you can't properly discuss the history of the Dink community without acknowledging the drama. There has ALWAYS been drama, and plenty of it (you can even pick up hints of it in that topic I linked to). I'm sure I don't have to tell you guys. I was the cause of some in my day - constantly threatening/promising to leave, picking a fight with somebody over stating the obvious fact that the Dink Forever series was terrible in an unrelated discussion (I later apologized), etc. One time I did something that REALLY upset people, but I don't remember what it was - I only recall that it involved my unintentionally digging up some buried feud between others. All this drama over Dink! Amazing, isn't it? That's the Internet for you.

Enough of that tangent. Let's actually talk about Dink Letterman. There really isn't much to talk about, which is why I put that wall of unrelated text here instead of in one of Jveenhof's later mods that actually has substance.

Unlike some DMODs that are named after a famous thing, the title here is actually relevant. The Late Show with David Letterman was a favorite of mine back when I used to watch late night talk shows. The jokes are incredibly corny, of course, but Dave has something that makes him more entertaining than most late night hosts, and that something is a serious "ornery dink" streak. Almost nothing is above mockery, especially his own show and its material, and he's got a quick wit. He makes people uncomfortable in a way that taps into a rich vein of schadenfreude. The interview portion of talk shows is usually some of the dullest television out there, but Dave has a way of prodding people out of their comfort zone and into this weird, awkward place where amazing things sometimes happen. Some of his interviews are quite famous. Look them up on Youtube, it's a blast.

"Dink Letterman" consists of Dink standing in place on a single screen and telling a few jokes, like the "monologue" portion of Letterman's show and others like it. A DMOD is a bit of an odd format for this, but it's not a terrible idea. I laughed at one of the jokes. It went:

A lady came up to me on the street and pointed at my suede jacket.

'You know a cow was murdered for that jacket?' she sneered.

I replied in a psychotic tone:
'I didn't know there were any witnesses. Now I'll have to kill you too.'


Hey, I guess I'm easily amused. The rest of the jokes were less funny than that. One of them was at least Dink-specific, modifying a Douglas Adams quotation ("I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.") to be about DMODs. Come to think of it, that was a strange joke since there isn't such a thing as "DMOD deadlines" that I'm aware of. Thankfully.

This DMOD is way less effective because of its total lack of sound. Sound is an important part of Letterman's show - they've got that big band headed by Paul Shaffer. I know there's a MIDI of the theme out there somewhere, and some kind of rimshot sound effect would make the corny jokes more enjoyable. Instead, we get this.

At least this DMOD executes kill_game() at the end. Boy, that's been a rarity so far.

This is the first completely non-interactive DMOD I'm aware of, at least since Gnug's Attack doesn't work. You could go all the way with this concept, including some kind of sidekick/bandleader banter and having some kind of guest that the player can decide how to interview. You could make it a character from the original, or somebody from the community. That sounds kind of fun. It's probably not worth the effort, though, especially not now.

052: Dinkers Author: Dan Walma Release Date: January 15, 2000

Look out! Here comes Dan Walma, stretching our concept of what a DMOD is yet again with another unusual release.

This is a simple checkers game for two players passing the mouse back and forth. It doesn't support multiple jumps per turn, however, which utterly wipes out checkers strategy, so it's more of a proof of concept than anything you'd actually play. It also ignores the rule that you must jump a piece if you have the opportunity, another thing that's crucial to real checkers.

Still, the basic engine is well done. I didn't have any problems with it, and all the usual keys are properly disabled (even the Ultimate Cheat doesn't work). It does support kings, which is good because otherwise most games would end up being impossible to finish. The red team gets a dink head when kinged, the blue team a pillbug. Here's a screenshot. The Dink logo bouncing up and down in the background is the only frill here, and the only sound is an impact sound when a jump is made. This is another interesting example of what you can do with DinkC, and it's nice to have those around, but it doesn't feel like a proper game like Dinkanoid. By the way, has anybody here ever beaten Dinkanoid? I was shocked to discover it was even possible.

053: ...his Ancestor 1239 (Demo/beta) Author: Karaluch Release Date: January 16, 2000

I feel like I have no choice but to quote the amazing dmod.diz here.

Hitler must DIE
prof. Popell has developed a time machine,
and he plans to send mjr.Michael Gorring to
year 1239 to kill Hitlers ancestor, but not
everything is going alright...


Godwin's law! Thread over.

Seriously, though... wow. That is the weirdest story concept I've yet come across. If you had a time machine and wanted to prevent Hitler from existing, why would you go back more than six centuries before his birth? You'd prevent an awful lot of people from existing. That hardly seems fair. I guess they were trying to pick a time when the Dink graphics would make some sense.

There's no mention whatsoever of Hitler in the DMOD itself. Instead, we get a surprisingly coherent explanation of how the time travel works (and some time machine graphics that don't completely suck), then Dink (excuse me, "Major Gorring") is sent to what I can only presume is the past. His appearance frightens an unnamed young woman, and then you're left to your own devices. The intro is okay except for a bit of weird English and the fact that the NPCs walk amazingly slowly - as slow as the engine allows, I think. I wanted to scream watching them creep across the screen. Oh, and once again, there are no MIDIs in this DMOD. 2000 is MIDIless as of yet.

The map in "the past" actually looks quite nice in places. It's a bit cluttered, but maybe that's intentional. A couple of places look weird, and some things that shouldn't be hard aren't. All of that's pretty irrelevant, though, since this DMOD isn't just unfinished, it's barely even started.

Would you like a walkthrough? Walk south. If you do, you'll come upon a screen where Dink/Mike loses his memory, probably a side effect of being atomized during the time travel process. You're done at this point. You can go further, but from here invisible walls are rampant, and while there are a few signs and NPCs, none of them say anything of consequence. Back at the start, there are some pillbugs to fight if you're into that. They're a tough variety, but it won't bother you with your starting stats of 10/10/0. A more insidious foe is a tree I found that does touch damage for some reason.

I don't know why someone would release a DMOD in this state; clearly they intended much more, and this doesn't have nearly enough going on to qualify as a beta or demo. The lack of an ending is unsatisfying, so I shall invent one.

Having forgotten everything, Michael wandered confused into the nearby farming community, where he was cautiously accepted after he proved to be a hard worker. After a few days, he remembered his first name, but nothing else came to him. The girl from the intro (her name is Gisela), despite her initial fright, found herself intensely fascinated by the mysterious stranger. He returned her interest, one thing led to another, and they were wed.

Michael took up masonry. He was a quick study and became a skilled bricklayer. He was able to provide for Gisela and their three children. At first, he suffered from nagging doubts and nightmares about his unknown past, but as the years went by, his doubts became less and less. For a time, he was happy.

But fate yet held cruel tidings for Michael. A fever swept through his village and many died, including Gisela and two of his three children. Michael wept. What kind of God would put him in this place with no knowledge of his past and give him so much only to take it away?

It's true that time heals all wounds, but the scarring is deep. Still, not all was lost. Michael was a proud man when his son Franz followed in his footsteps as a mason and took a wife of his own. He thanked the Lord again for his good fortune, despite everything. Michael was not a bitter man.

Then, one cloudy day, the now-old man was enjoying a heady beer when knowledge rushed to fill the vacuum in his head like water through a dam. It felt as if he'd been struck by a brick, his brain rebounding from the impact and shaken into remembrance. The Michael that had been since he'd arrived in the past died in that moment, but the Michael who had traveled there in the first place had not returned. In their place was a twisted hybrid, this strange, mixed-up old man full of conflicting and terrible emotion. For he remembered everything now: apart from the effect on his memory, the time machine had worked perfectly. He'd been put exactly where he was supposed to be. He was sent to murder Gisela, the ancestor of Adolph Hitler, in a place where no one would see him.

The meaning of this did not escape him. Michael himself was Hitler's ancestor. Oh, cruel irony!

The only way Michael could still accomplish his mission would be to murder his son's entire family. That was the only way to stop Gisela's line for sure. Could he? Should he?

I give my alternate version of this DMOD a twelve out of ten for the questions it dares to ask about the comparative value of human life.

---

Next time: The Quest for Dorinthia. Still January, still part 1, but I've decided that epics get their own posts. Since only 17 DMODs (exactly 5%) are epics, I don't think this is too onerous.
October 6th 2013, 03:00 AM
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yeoldetoast
Peasant Female Australia steam
discord.gg/Ukugfbh 
Do you happen to have any of Jveenhof's "lost DMODS"? He pulled a whole bunch down at some point and nobody seems to have them.
October 6th 2013, 03:36 AM
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cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
I don't. You might try searching some of the old versions of the Dink Network on archive.org.
October 6th 2013, 04:32 AM
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SabreTrout
Noble Male United Kingdom
Tigertigertiger. 
As ever, a brilliant & really interesting read.
October 6th 2013, 05:19 AM
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iplaydink
Peasant Male Sweden steam
Hmm.. 
Very well written as always.
Can't wait for the post on The Quest for Dorinthia!
October 6th 2013, 08:03 PM
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shevek
Peasant Netherlands
Never be afraid to ask, but don't demand an answer 
A good read once again.

Godwin's law! Thread over.

Hahaha, good one. But you should read it more carefully. It doesn't count if the holocaust is actually relevant to the story.
October 6th 2013, 10:47 PM
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DackFight
Peasant Male United States
Making Topics off-track faster then you can say it 
I'd actually would like that D-mod to come out of the demo area, and not into the black abyss which is Tal's toilet.
October 7th 2013, 06:39 AM
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
I never played any of the ones you just reviewed, but I might do so now

Nice read as always.
October 7th 2013, 11:50 PM
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cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
I'm aware that wasn't a real example of Godwin's Law, just making a joke

054: The Quest for Dorinthia Author: Bill Szczytko Release Date: January 28, 2000

Szczytko. Boy, to think I have trouble with people mispronouncing "Maurer" all sorts of strange ways, Bill must have one Hell of a time.

"Quest for Dorinthia" is only the second "Epic" DMOD by this site's reckoning; it had been a bit over a year since Prophecy of the Ancients. It certainly has a lot of map screens, and it took me three hours to complete.

The epic is certainly the most popular kind of DMOD - in a poll on the Dink Network as I write this, currently 56% of respondents say it's the best length for one. Furthermore, of the 17 epics on TDN, 13 have a score of 9.0 or better, while just two have a score of less than 8. It's easy to see the appeal - an Epic gives you a lot to do, allows for the slow development of a story, and clearly shows an awful lot of effort on the part of the author(s). Prophecy of the Ancients was certainly a blast, but I'm not so ready to accept that making your DMOD large and lengthy inherently makes it better. While "Dorinthia" is still a good DMOD, it might have been a better one if the map weren't so darn big.

Before I go any further, I should make it clear that I played the original DMOD, not the remake. The remake sounds much improved, which is good to hear for reasons I'll be getting into.

I went back and forth on what to do about remade DMODs. There are two: This one and Friends Beyond, which came out later in 2000 and was remade in 2001. I decided I'd play both versions of Dorinthia, but just the remake of FB. Of course, this is partially because the original version of Friends Beyond isn't on the site, but it's mostly because Bill released "The Quest for Dorinthia: Special Edition" in 2012, and I'm trying to go in chronological order and follow the way DMOD-making developed over time. Putting something from over a decade later in this spot would be nonsense. "Friends Beyond" was remade less than a year after its original release, so this isn't such a concern.

I had never played this one and went in with no expectations. I found it to be not nearly on the level of Prophecy of the Ancients or even Crosslink, but I'd still have to say it's the third-best DMOD so far to actually feature Dink Smallwood on a standard RPG quest, and that's pretty darn good. Please keep in mind that this is my opinion as I go on to complain about this DMOD.

(I apologize in advance for a lack of screenshots toward the end of the mod; in my last session, I forgot to open my screen-capture software.)

Actually, let's focus on the good points first. The main things I liked were the abundance of out-of-the-way paths that led to powerups and the humor. The humor in this mod is a pretty breezy sort. Not that Prophecy of the Ancients was deadly serious or anything, but "Quest for Dorinthia" almost never takes itself seriously, and I was totally on board with that. The fourth wall is broken a lot even for a DMOD, and even when it's in place, it's pretty transparent, with characters mostly seeming to know how this sort of thing goes by now. For me, this really worked; I thought it was clever and didn't go overboard. Toward the end there's a direct reference to a scene from Prophecy of the Ancients and Dink has to tell the Goblins they're in the wrong DMOD. This reminded me of the endings to Blazing Saddles and Leisure Suit Larry 3 and cracked me up. The downside, I suppose, is that even when villages were threatened and/or on fire, I didn't actually feel an ounce of drama, but I'd rather have the humor in this case because the plot doesn't go much of anywhere regardless.

Some of the humor was on the crude side, but I got a laugh or two out of this as well. If you ask an old man if he has trouble "performing" at his age, he responds, "Bend over and I'll show you..." Needless to say, Dink declines this invitation. Something I was less comfortable with was a woman who murders guys for the cause of female supremacy. Dink asks if there's some laundry she could be doing and thinks to himself that he often wishes that he was willing to "beat on" women. I mean, this is supposed to be a joke, but it just made me uncomfortable. I'm not one to bring gender politics into everything (believe me, I hate it when people do that, because it's usually an excuse to start hating on men), but in this DMOD women are either crazy she doges or a piece of ass, and it bummed me out a little bit. I don't mean to overemphasize this, but this sort of attitude towards women has actually been pretty common in otherwise good DMODs so far. Crosslink is the biggest counterexample I can think of; it took its female characters very seriously.

In QFD, Dink is sent to a land where the King has been replaced by an impostor to free the land from the influence of an evil wizard and to rescue the King's daughter Dorinthia, who speaks to Dink in a dream in what is probably the closest this mod ever gets to a serious dramatic scene. He's been sent there after Milder FlatStomp, who's been resurrected because apparently wizards can do that, because Milder, at least in this DMOD, is an utterly useless boob who does nothing but get drunk and get in the way. This seems out of character to me - in the original, he struck me as arrogant and not too bright, but ultimately a man of noble intentions at least as far as knighthood went. Furthermore, for reasons I can't possibly fathom the blue merchant sprite is used for Milder - okay, so maybe he changed clothes, but it doesn't even have the same hair color. Oh well; as I said, the story isn't taken too seriously at any rate. I mean, you're told early on that there are three crystals, which sure sounds like a series of Macguffins, but they all end up being on the same screen. What's the point?

There are some technical problems with this DMOD, but they're mostly minor hardness and depth-dot errors, with only a couple of showstoppers. One river bank is missing hardness, allowing you to wander the whole river, but this doesn't really get you anything. You can see quite the cache of powerups, but you can't actually get to them until you're supposed to be able to, which isn't much later. By the way, in this mod, all of the potions look like megapotions, even though they're mostly just regular strength and magic potions. I encountered at least one story battle you can go back and fight again, bringing up the old cutscene and possibly messing up the story variables - I wouldn't know, because I loaded my game.

The map is large and does a good job of giving you the feeling of freedom to explore, but this has some serious drawbacks. As I said, there are lots of goodies to find, which is good, but there's also lots of aimless and time-consuming wandering, which is boring and frustrating. This is true even if you're not looking for secrets, as the game frequently fails to give you adequate direction and leaves you to discover the next thing you have to do in your wanderings. I managed to get through without a guide, but I did waste an awful lot of time and got pretty frustrated. Quite a few screens are empty and you kind of wonder why they're there. At least there's a map, the first honest-to-goodness map based on the editor screens with a "you are here" sparkle since the original unless I'm mistaken, which I probably am. Even so, these are rare but nice to have in a big DMOD.

There's not much music in this mod, though what's there is good. You'll be wandering around in silence quite a bit of the time. Tracks from the original game are used extensively, but that's fine because this is actually pretty uncommon in DMODs.

The screens don't look bad, aside from some tiling problems here and there, but the grassy world is generally quite plain and repetitive (You might not think that screen looks bad, but there are a lot of others that look just like it). There are a couple of large villages, but mostly the doors are locked and the people won't say anything of consequence to you. There are a couple of things that you can't do without getting killed instantly, which is a real pain as you're likely to lose a lot of progress.

There is one very cool element here that hadn't appeared in a proper DMOD before - a lantern effect. This works very well, and it isn't just impressive visually, it has a major impact on gameplay. You move and fight differently when you can only see a small area. I wouldn't mind seeing this in more mods. I remember that Dan Walma released one of the earliest "demonstration mods" back when I was still an active member of the community showing how to do this - you have an extremely large black sprite with a transparent section follow Dink around, making sure to have it draw on top of everything. I'm glad somebody actually used it.

The dmod.diz and the game itself make a big selling point of the two big secrets in this game. Really there's a series of secrets, and you can't find the later ones without finding the earlier ones. Despite having been quite thorough, I didn't find these, and when I came across a character later who said it was "too bad [I hadn't] found the magic, I guess the skulls weren't enough," I went back and scoured the map to no avail. Finally I used a guide, and I found out that the skulls indicate where you can walk through places that appear to be solid, but in most cases this only works if you've found the previous secrets. The first one is on a screen that has multiple skulls and bones, which is misleading. This isn't how you hide secrets in games - when you want to give the player a hint, you don't mislead them and you remain consistent. Worse, when I went back and got fireball, the game declared me a cheater and subtracted 50 from my stats, which caused my game to crash.

I had not, in fact, cheated. Looking at it now, I see that it just checks to see if your attack is over 52. There are so many strength potions in this mod that it's not so hard to reach 53 with the claw sword equipped, and that's what happened to me. The lesson to be learned here is that if you're going to try to stop cheating, be dang sure you don't get anybody who isn't. I lost LOADS of progress, became very grumpy, and was nearly soured on this mod altogether. I decided that the secrets could go take a flying leap and went on to beat the mod without them. Despite my awesome stats, the final boss was actually pretty tough because he moved so fast the engine couldn't make the motion fluid at all. I won on my first try with, I'm not kidding, one hit point left. How about that? The game took one last chance to tell me I hadn't found the secrets during the ending. Bite me.

Dink and Dorinthia fall instantly in love, which disturbed the Hell out of me because the "little girl" sprite was used for Dorinthia instead of the "maiden" sprite. I know Dink could hit on "Chelsae" (still think this was just a misspelling) from the original, but here it is strongly implied they actually do it. Ew.

I guess I lied when I said I went in with no expectations, because I was a bit disappointed and "Quest for Dorinthia" is perfectly fine on its own merits. If you wanted a real meaty Dink adventure, here you were, and there weren't many available at this time. It was even pretty funny. It's just that "Prophecy" set the bar for epics so dang high, which I didn't fully appreciate while I was playing it. In that game, each area had its own theme, events, and things to do. The writing wasn't spectacular, but the game design and technical achievement were quite literally so - they were a spectacle, the kind to make you say "wow" out loud. Everything fit together in the manner of a professional game. Nothing else but Crosslink has been on that level so far. I shouldn't hold that against mods like this one. Mainly, the snafu with the secrets put me in a bad mood and over-influenced my opinion. I think that if you have secrets, the player should be allowed to go back and find them if they've missed them, but maybe that's just me.

All of this is pretty irrelevant anyway, because if I were you I'd play the remake instead. As it was, if you could tolerate some wandering this was pretty fun, and Bill deserves lots of credit for actually finishing a big project like this. The fact that over a year passed between POTA and this should tell you how hard that is to do.
October 8th 2013, 08:19 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
I played Dorinthia a long time ago. I must say it is rather overshadowed by all the other Epics. People scarcely ever talk about it anymore. I truly believe it would still be one of the top D-Mods on this site, if it weren't for all those infernal bugs, and if Bill had just put a little bit more time into small details.

I did check out the remake when it came out, but unfortunately it seemed to suffer from the same problem, even over 12 years later. I couldn't even get past the first few minutes without running into at least 3 fatal errors.
October 9th 2013, 07:40 AM
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metatarasal
Bard Male Netherlands
I object 
And another two great reads.

I never realized that the Quest for Dorithia was only the second epic. It makes my respect for this DMOD grow even more. What is perhaps most remarkable about the Quest for Dorithia is how quickly it was made. Bill only started playing Dink when it had become freeware and finished the Quest for Dorithia already in January 2000...

And even more amazing is how fast after the first part the second part came out. The Dinknetwork puts it at February 20th 2000, which is less than a month after the first part. Apparently Bill Szcytko was out of a job at the time and managed to make an epic in less than a month. You should really read this interview, Bill even mentiones that your DMODs sucked.

The remade mod was made in a totally different period, it deserves its own playthrough if you ask me.

I don't mean to overemphasize this, but this sort of attitude towards women has actually been pretty common in otherwise good DMODs so far. Crosslink is the biggest counterexample I can think of; it took its female characters very seriously.

Paul himself has stated that his mother was a feminist, that might have something to do with that.

And ...his Ancestor 1239 has another unique thing about it: Ever since it was released it has been the first DMOD alphabetically. Whenever somebody posts a topic in the 'file-discussion' forum they need to set the DMOD they're opening the topic about. If this is not forgotten the Dinknetwork automatically assumes it to be this DMOD. Many, many file discussions about this file have been started this way. Almost all of those have been moved to the proper forum by mods, but for me this DMOD remains memorable. Only for its name though.
October 9th 2013, 01:25 PM
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cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Bill even mentions that your DMODs sucked.

Haha, he actually apologized to me. No offense taken, Bill!

QFD is actually pretty astounding when you consider how quickly it was done. Hell, I've been working on Malachi the Jerk for almost a month, and I'm hardly anywhere in it, and I don't have a job either.
October 16th 2013, 09:58 PM
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cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
--2000 Part 2: Between the Dorinthias--

Bill Szczytko released an epic followup to Quest for Dorinthia a little less than a month after the original came out. That's just nuts; I've got no idea how he did it. I've been working on Malachi the Jerk about as long and I've only got 42 screens done.

Another impressive thing is that, the Dink boom well underway, five DMODs were released in that same period. Can you imagine if that happened now? Heh. Anyway, combine that with the title of the 55th release I'll be covering and you get a silly title for a segment.

055: Between the Shadows (Intro) Author: Michael "Silencer" Firsikov Release Date: February 11, 2000

When I spoke very briefly in an unimpressed way about Sword of Paranor (You really couldn't have expected much from those DMODs given the very short time frame they had to be finished in for Mike's contest - considering that, it was done quite well), I didn't talk about Silencer. I personally owe a lot of thanks to Silencer for Created Worlds, an early frontend for DMODs that I used from when it first came out until I left the community for the second time around the end of 2000. From today's viewpoint, it can't stand up to DFarc, but at the time, it beat the pants off of doing this...

c:
cd dink
dink -game dmodname

For every single DMOD you wanted to run. It also had a download feature, and as I recall, you could reskin it (I think I remember doing this). So thanks for that, Silencer, if you're out there. I just wanted to show a bit of love for a simple program that was once a godsend and now seems entirely forgotten.

This is an intro that's over 8 megabytes even when compressed for download; this is because there's nothing in it except a lot of bitmaps and quite a bit of .wav sound. According to the dmod.diz, this was intended to be a separate download to accompany a never-to-come DMOD, and its purpose was "to be introduced to the story." Okay.

After a fairly well-executed THX Sound gag (Check out that Jokerman font!), We're treated to a few minutes of lovely pre-rendered bitmaps. I'm serious, they're really well done and I'm impressed, especially considering that they were made in early 2000. This was close to professional quality at the time. Interspersed between them are opening credits, although nearly all of them credit "Michael Firsikov (Silencer)." All the while, a spooky wave file plays and you feel pretty creeped out.

While this feels shockingly cinematic and sets a mood very well, it does a poor job of introducing me to any story. A man (Dink in different clothes? It's possible) sets down a dead, naked woman (content warning: in some shots, though not the ones I took, you can see her nipples). Some threatining characters appear. Some heroic-looking characters are shown. Beyond that, I haven't a clue what's going on. The DMOD certainly isn't going to tell you - it just dumps you to a static image and leaves it to you to quit. You even have control at this point, though you can't do anything.

The movie has smooth fades between the still images. The animated sequences are quite choppy, but they DO look animated, which is impressive considering the limitations of the engine. I certainly haven't seen anybody else do anything like this. The closest I've seen was Mystery Island, and those were simple still frames. On the one hand, I'd say that if the DMOD in question actually existed, they'd have been better served to release this intro as some sort of video file. Since it doesn't, however, this serves as an effective demonstration of how you can make truly cinematic cutscenes within a DMOD. Beyond that, it's an interesting piece of art that holds up surprisingly well visually, but I can't make out much of a plot.

056: Frogger (Demo) Author: Dan Walma Release Date: February 13, 2000

It's Frogger. No, seriously. This isn't a Dinkanoid-type thing, it is straight-the-hell-up Frogger by Konami in 1981. Dan even put that character mishmash that briefly shows up when you boot up the arcade machine in - nice touch! Nearly all of the graphics in this mod are from the original Frogger, and none of them are from Dink Smallwood.

In case you've somehow never heard of Frogger, it's an arcade classic where you, a frog, hop across a busy street and across turtles and logs into several "home" spots at the top of the screen. Simple but challenging. I went back and played the original arcade game just before playing this for comparison's sake.

This being a demo, it's missing some features. There's no sound except a MIDI, and the turtles (mercifully) do not dunk under the water. The time bar doesn't function. Furthermore, the movement feels a little weird. It isn't quite the smooth "hop hop hop" from the arcade game, though it's close. At a guess, I'd say you'd use sp_x and sp_y to achieve this sort of movement in DinkC, but to really replicate the arcade game the character has to appear to move between the spots... man. These "entirely different game" DMODs always require an impressive amount of effort.

Returning to the gameplay, as I said, the movement feels just a tad weird and the cars move faster than in the arcade, so the "road" segment is pretty tough. Once you get to the water segment, however, it's much easier than the original, as the logs seem to move a bit slower and the turtles don't disappear. Other than that, this is incredibly faithful and feels a lot like playing the real thing.

There's no title screen, you boot right to the action. Getting a game over just makes the game reset. However, unlike Dinkers, this does qualify as a game you'd actually play, and you do get acknowledgement for winning. Hurray! The game then restarts as if you'd died.

I always find these ports of different sorts of games impressive and cool. I think Dan was just practicing coding and the different sorts of things you could do with the engine, but I'm always glad to see that these exist for sheer novelty. "Hey, did you know somebody made Frogger in Dink Smallwood?" "Wow, really? That's cool." That sort of thing. Yet again, it's demonstrated that you can do pretty much anything.

057: The 9 Gems of Life Authors: Jveenhof, Wolfblitz Release Date: February 15, 2000

Jan Willem Veenhof is back with a proper DMOD, a pretty serious quest that took me over an hour to finish. I bet it helped that Wolfblitz did most of the mapping. I have such a hard time with mapping myself that if I ever make another mod after the one I'm making, it'll probably be because somebody else collaborated with me and did the mapping.

Despite many problems, I had a good time playing "9 Gems." You'll probably notice a more positive tone here than in my writeups of undoubtedly superior mods like "Quest for Dorinthia." I'm sorry if this is frustrating. I guess I've got certain buttons a game has to press to really get me enjoying it. Then again, maybe it just has to do with the fact that I played this after coming back from a substantial break from playing DMODs. Maybe I was just in a good mood. Who knows? This is the problem with critique; experience is so subjective.

It's a good thing we've got the DMOD.diz and such to tell us, because the title screen doesn't really give us the whole title. It does feature amusing buttons that change their text when you mouseover them, though.

There's a fairly substantial intro that tells us the story. It's a very standard video game RPG plot: the ultimate evil (here known as "Jaitz") was banished a millennium ago by 9 powerful entities (actually, it is kind of interesting that they're the Ancients, including Seth). Their power is scattered in nine super-macguffins by an ancestor of the hero (I like to see this, it sort of follows up on the wizard in the secret ice castle in the original that tells Dink he comes from a long line of heroes). Jaitz returns and Dink must collect the 9 gems of life to banish him once more.

Spelling and grammar problems have plagued the great majority of DMODs since the start, but this intro is so full of them that it's kind of hard to read, which is a shame because it's trying to tell you a proper story. In the game itself, while the English is FAR from perfect, it's much better, making one wonder why they didn't go back and touch up the introduction.

Dink wears a costume given to him by his sweetie Dorinthia. Yes, it really is Dorinthia, referred to by name, which means that this mod has a pretty impressive turnaround time as well. I'm not sure what the point was of using a completely new set of hero graphics, since you play as Dink anyway and friggin' EVERYBODY you ever run into knows who you are (even in the few cases they don't, Dink freely announces it), including the resurrected Cast, who are exactly the ones whom you're supposed to be hiding from. Oh well, at least it's a change of pace. The graphics are taken from the Genesis/Mega Drive game Beyond Oasis, and actually look pretty spiffy, even though they don't exactly fit into the world of Dink Smallwood. You get used to it. The sword slash actually looks smoother than the one from the original game. The walking graphics do look odd and seem to shuffle, but it isn't too bad. There's even a push graphic. It's unintentionally possible to see Dink out of costume in a couple of places, but only a couple.

Costume or not, this is a standard Dink sort of adventure. You go from town to town solving people's problems. You're actually pretty far into the mod before you start encountering gems of life, and when you've gotten three of them, you're done. To me, this suggests that a trilogy was intended, but since I haven't played the sequel yet, I won't comment on that now.

I like the variation between the locations, including a very nice-looking desert town and a snowy town (Summers and Winters, names lifted directly from EarthBound). The game uses the "rock you have to get past" sort of problem several times, even making you use a bomb twice, but at least it uses this as an opportunity for humor (check out that neat town miniature, by the way). "9 Gems" is generally pretty funny, making use of both the fourth wall humor and the usual Dink brand of refreshing bluntness. There are also some callbacks to other mods, including End of Time (though oddly, after that line it says that if you don't understand you should "play Lost In Dink") and Crosslink (falling into cracks in the icy water produces the same dialogue and effect here as in that mod). There are also the most talkative set of enemies I've ever seen. Talking enemies aren't new, but almost every one in this game has several different crazy things to say.

What I really enjoyed about "9 Gems" is that it was always clear what I was to do next, at least until the final, snowy section, when things became clear as mud (you're required to find two maddeningly hard to find keys - I used a walkthrough). There isn't much of an ending, but there are scrolling credits with a rather stunning image of our hero. There's no reference anywhere in the mod or its documentation to the source of these graphics, by the way, so at first I assumed Jveenhof actually made them. Looking at the actual original graphics in this mod, that was a pretty silly assumption.

Now, I can tell you that I had a good time (I did), but I can't objectively call this a very good mod, unfortunately. Things that are supposed to be hard aren't, things that aren't are, the depth que is rarely what it's supposed to be, there are invisible walls in the desert section, some screens don't match up at all, and the game balance is way off. Powerups are given out like it's Discount Powerup Warehouse over here. I ended up with crazy stats, as you can see in that credits shot above. Combat is extremely easy. The exceptions are some black, fast-moving slayers who remain a daunting challenge until your stats get really nuts, but you can just avoid them. Really, even with everything I've just said I'm understating how broken this mod is - you repeatedly clip under a bridge while crossing it, for example. Enemies reappear instantly instead of waiting 5 minutes, which is unintentional, as one of them specifically says they'll be back in five minutes if you kill them. Worst of all, it's possible to get completely stuck in a number of ways, including using your bombs when you shouldn't or simply walking into a certain building.

It's kind of maddening. I've seen so many mods that barely got off of the starting line, but here's one that got four/fifths of the way to an impressive finish and then just sort of wandered off. With the same basic structure but lots more polish, this could have been a great mod that I'd wholeheartedly recommend. As it is, you can have a good time with it, but you'd better be willing to overlook a lot.

058: The Orion (Demo) Author: Jonathon Manning Release Date: February 20, 2000

OK, here's one I'd never even heard of. I just went back over my list, and yes, that's a first for me.

I believe that a proper video game demonstration has to have a certain value as a game itself. It has to have some gameplay and an ending. Otherwise, it isn't representative of the product you're demonstrating.

Some of the DMODs released as a "demo" don't meet these criteria at all. To me, this kind of release feels less like a demo and more like, "Well, I've gotten something done, I should release it!" Unless your not-even-a-demo does something particularly special, you really shouldn't. But hey, I released things with even less content as finished games. Anyway, as you've guessed by now, "Orion" is one of these kinds of releases.

The plot is that Dink takes a vacation three months after the original, but as he books the cheapest trip available to save money, he ends up in the crappy town of "Orion," where he discovers that Seth is back somehow and controlling people with magic. That's it, really.

Orion hardly qualifies as a town. There's one building, a mine you can't enter, and two warps, only one of which works, and that one takes you to "Grimwood forest." Lovely. You do almost nothing in this mod - there's absolutely nothing to fight, and once you reach the forest and travel a couple of screens, you're done. The only thing you can really do is talk to two NPCs, one of whom refuses to speak to you.

There are a couple of nice prerendered fullscreen bitmaps. I hope they weren't made for this. Seems like wasted effort.

I did get a laugh or two out of the total nonchalance of the characters toward everything, and I do think this was a deliberate attempt at humor. When a man is suddenly killed by a giant fireball that appears out of nowhere right in front of Dink and the mayor of Orion, the mayor says, "That was probably some kind of spell directed at him." "Probably," Dink responds. When Dink finds out that Seth has returned, he says, "I suppose I'd better kill him, then." To me, this is perfect for Dink's character.

The ending screen says to expect the full version in March; unsurprisingly, this didn't happen. While demos back then, unlike anything since 2007, were sometimes followed by full releases, I doubt any such demos had this little content.

059: Fairy Goodness Author: Someone Release Date: February 20, 2000

"Hey, Someone made a DMOD called Fairy Goodness."
"Who made it?"
"Someone did."
"What I'm asking you is, what is the name of the person who made Fairy Goodness?"
"No, What's on second."

And so on.

Someone, with a capital S, is the creator of popular script editor CEdit and has written some useful tutorials. I should mention that IkkeJW is given credit on the title screen for fixing a couple of bugs.

"Fairy Goodness" is a little arcade-style game in which you, according to the readme, are "some sort of angel sent by God to go to hell to destroy all the evil bad guys." The titular fairy goodness is the pig feed you sprinkle on the evil bad guys in order to make them explode in a miniature mushroom cloud. Fun times.

Actually, I'm thanked in the readme. "Tim Maurer, for so thoughtfully forgetting to delete mapnuke.exe in his DMOD when all the Dink file sites had their files down ." Aww, you're welcome, Someone, not that I remember what mapnuke.exe was. I'm amazed that you still had one of my DMODs on your hard drive. Also proof that somebody else spells DMOD in all caps. I know that "D-Mod" makes more sense, but I've said "DMOD" so many times I can't stop now.

The game is pretty tough because you don't have much life and the enemies come at you fast. In several attempts I never got past level 4, because the goblins and slayers on that level can take you out pretty much immediately. The only way to restore your health is by using the bombs that take out all enemies on the screen, but you only get three of those, and you can't get any more. If you play this, my advice is to try and stay away from your enemies, because your pig feed has a surprisingly long range. If you're like me, you'll find this becomes pretty much impossible to do pretty quickly.

The MIDI doesn't loop, although you can restart it by pressing M. I'd forgotten, but before 1.08 (which came out in 2006, for those who've forgotten or never knew in the first place) there was no such thing as a "loopmidi()" function. Making the MIDIs loop by themselves before that would've involved a script that runs constantly and somehow knows exactly how long the current MIDI is and plays it again when it's done. I wouldn't usually say something like this, but the desirability of looping MIDIs is so obvious that I'm kind of bewildered that RTSoft never implemented such a thing.

In 2002, this was updated to support online multiplayer(!!) and given the title Fairy Goodness Online. I didn't play that version, so I don't know how it works, sorry. Look, I've got a lot of DMODs to get through, I wasn't about to spend however much time it would have taken trying to get that to work and somebody to play it with me. It's interesting that it was ever managed at all. Someone credits Silencer with the "whole 'internet Dink' idea."

--
That's all for now. Next time, Dorinthia again! Already! Wow.

You know, despite what I said before, I miss my Dink CD. Finding it on my CD shelf was what inspired me to come back here in the first place, so the fact that I managed to lose it is pretty bizarre.
October 16th 2013, 11:14 PM
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scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
Haha, the walking animations in 9 gems always cracked me up... Those graphics come from the Story of Thor / Beyond Oasis (a very decent platformer/hack'n'lash thing for the Megadrive). They didn't look so wonky in the original.
October 16th 2013, 11:56 PM
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cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Oh man! Beyond Oasis! I never got around to that one, despite being a big Sega Genesis (as it was called here) fan. I shall correct my entry.
October 17th 2013, 07:40 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Man, I don't care if Between the Shadows was never actually made, I still want that title screen as a poster on my wall! It's awesome!

And good job as always, Tim. Looking forward to more. And now I'm really interested in this Beyond Oasis game.
October 22nd 2013, 03:27 AM
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cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Hey, I guess I should keep doing this. Judging by the poll, it's pretty popular around here (then again, illiteracy is surprisingly popular as well).

This write-up is going to exist in a limbo between parts until the HTML version, I guess. Epic DMOD post!

060: Quest for Dorinthia II: The Island Revenge Author: Bill Szczytko Release Date: February 20, 2000

REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is one of the select group to have a score of 9.0 or better (9.4) on the Dink Network.

I am absolutely gobsmacked about this. It doesn't seem possible - another epic in under a month? You should watch me work on my DMOD - everything except scripting takes me forever. I guarantee you'd wrest the mouse from me in frustration in less than 15 minutes.

Not even considering how quickly it was made, I was really impressed with Dorinthia 2. It's still not quite as good as Prophecy or Crosslink, but it was a major improvement over the original in pretty much every way and I'd put it in the same category as those two("the great DMODs"). I had a great time except for a bit near the end where figuring out what to do was a pain. I think I managed to finish in just barely under three hours, and that's with all secrets and a fair amount of getting lost, so this might stretch the definition of "epic" a bit - then again, maybe not. I'm not sure what the definition is. So far, everything I've played that wasn't called an "epic" took less than two. Is that the mark? *shrug*

Once again, I must apologize for not getting screenshots from the second half of the game. As with last time, I forgot to turn my screen capture on for the second session. You guys had better get used to my incompetence, I guess - it seems to be in it for the long haul.

There's a fairly lengthy intro to this one in which King Dan really lets Milder have it and there's way more conversation about Dink and Dorinthia getting it on that is super creepy because the little girl sprite is used. Also, really Dorinthia? Right in front of your DAD? Her primary character trait seems to be a sexual fixation. Dink says she's a "tornado in the sack." Hoo boy. I'd probably find this closer to funny than disturbing if she didn't appear to be a child.

There's another plot about an evil wizard plotting trouble for Dink. It's related to the first installment, but even though I played that not long ago, I was kind of lost during the references to the first game's plot. I think this is because Bill updated this mod last year to reflect changes in the plot of Quest For Dorinthia: SE. Anyway, Dink is called away from his beloved Dorinthia for something inconsequential, and when he comes back, she's been kidnapped and Dink is left a disturbing note. Indeed, the evil wizard turns up frequently to taunt and torment Dink by ruining whatever he's got going at that moment, and it's really effective at making you hate him. Actually, the plot gets pretty dark. A lot of people you're given the opportunity to sympathize with die, and there's nothing you can do about it. You're almost never able to save all those whom you set out to. It's always at least indirectly the wizard's doing.

Speaking of the wizard, it does seem pretty dumb that he never kills Dink when it seems that he can just show up right in front of him as he pleases. I understand that he wants a more drawn-out revenge, but he keeps expressing his confidence that the next obstacle Dink faces will kill him even as this expectation becomes less and less reasonable. The wizard's behavior stands out as pretty obnoxiously dumb even for a video game villain. Still, I cared about the plot at times, which wasn't true in the original, so that's a plus.

This mod has a really strange sense of humor about it, which I enjoyed. It's usually kind of crude and frequently sexual, but it's not as direct as that description makes it sound. It's kind of twisted on the side of the sort of joke you typically expect. I laughed often, and my laughs were usually of the "I can't believe he said that, what a crazy game!" variety. I found myself wondering why I couldn't write dialogue as funny, and I think that's the best compliment I can pay in that department.

The maps are the biggest improvement over the mod's predecessor. They look better, for a start - okay, maybe this was achieved mostly by pasting the same few sprites over and over, but it worked. The screens look lush instead of plain. More importantly, the "lost wandering" gameplay that dragged the first "Dorinthia" down so much has been replaced by very deliberate paths. I like this very much - it's just more fun.

The structure of the game is kind of interesting. You're told at the start that you will have to complete five quests on the island of Baron, and you meet a character who gives you the first one and says to return to him, but he is soon killed. I think that presenting a rigid structure like this and then taking it away is kind of a brilliant move, and underscores how ruthless and cruel the antagonist is.

You should be prepared to spend lots of time fighting enemies, by the way, as you will be required to buy a souped-up throwing axe for 12,000 gold. I didn't mind this - actually, it was kind of fun to do some grinding - but others might. Partially due to this, I managed to reach level 12 in this mod, not quite equaling my record of 13 from Prophecy. I wonder how long that'll stand. The experience curve is ridiculously high.

Dink encounters some interesting scenarios here. You come to a village under a spell that turns everyone into copies of Dink who insult him("How do you know about my collection?", Dink replies to that one). You are to try to save a Goblin village overrun by slimes, or as this mod constantly refers to them, 'slimers.' The goblins are portrayed with great sympathy, which makes it all the more devastating when you see the ruin of their city. Corpses are everywhere, and even Dink, who is portrayed here as a bit of a womanizing jerk, is stunned and chilled to his core by the sight. Slimes are absolutely everywhere. I've got to say that it's one of the more disturbing bits of drama I've seen in a DMOD so far.

Over an hour in, I got stuck on something and had to check the walkthrough (it turns out that the posters in town change what they say after a certain event - I am not sure how I was supposed to know this). While I was at it, I went ahead and looked up the secrets so I wouldn't miss them like last time. I had already found one of them on my own - it involved a talking rock and awarded the boomerang, which is a throwing axe in all but name and appearance. The others involve bits of missing hardness that I know I'd never have found, and for a bonus, there's a place where you have to use certain items on a rock without any indication at all you ought to do this or indeed anything at all. Yeah, play this one with a walkthrough. I'm not really on board with hiding your secrets in this manner, at least not if you're going to tell the player later on that they missed secrets, as these mods do.

Speaking of the secrets, they include a really wicked spell that rather oddly uses the unused lightning bolt icon from the original graphics. It looks like a double Hellfire, but it's actually much better. I will repeat that: it is much better than a double Hellfire. That's nuts. It's better because it does way the Hell more damage. Oh, baby. What's more, you get enough magic points to make this castable pretty much constantly. Yes, this makes the mod pretty easy, but I guess that's what you get for going out of your way. It's still not trivial to beat the mod, as the masses of enemies get pretty nuts toward the end.

I would be remiss not to note that you can feed pigs in this mod. It doesn't achieve anything except finally getting Dink to acknowledge the odd sprite choice for Milder.

Where I got really frustrated was when you have to find the "snow boots" near the end. The entrance to their area is hidden behind a tree, and the area the tree is in is itself hidden behind some trees. Even with the walkthrough's help, I absolutely could not find this - I finally found it with the aid of some explicit instructions given by Simeon in a topic on TDN from 2004. (I also found a topic about favorite DMOD authors where somebody jokingly said I was theirs. They actually said "the guy who made the Dink Forever series," but hey, that's me.) Now, despite my views on secrets, ultimately, I suppose you can make your secrets as hidden as you want to, since they aren't necessary. Hiding things that are necessary to proceed is another matter. I understand puzzles, of course, and you don't have to GIVE the player the answer, but I am strongly of the opinion that you need to lead them far enough that they can put some basic things together and figure it out. This moment really interrupted my enjoyment of this mod, which is a shame.

But those snow boots... they looked like the herb boots from the original game. I didn't think much of it until I equipped them. They ARE the herb boots!

YESSSSSSSSS

All is forgiven, Bill! Thank you thank you thank you.

Why do DMOD authors hate the herb boots? This is the first time I've seen them since Lost In Dink, which came out in 1998 and was the 28th DMOD I went over! POTA also featured a way to travel quickly (turn into a slime), but even that was still 1998 and DMOD number 31 on my list. I sure hope these things make a comeback at some point. They ruled the original game. Okay, so here you get them very near the end, but at least it's something. They even make cutscenes faster. Maybe this is why DMOD authors hate them - they make assumptions that you can make about how long scripted events will take inaccurate. I think it's worth accounting for. People like going fast, I'm sure of it. Even if you think the rabbit-punching is too unbalanced, give people a version that doesn't punch or something. It's worth it.

The final boss is very easy. This is partially because I got the secrets, but I'm sure it would have been anyway because there are three full hearts on the screen. Oh yeah, and it turns out that Milder was involved with the evil plot. I had sort of gotten on board with him being the obnoxious, worthless jackass he was in these mods, because it was pretty funny, but this seems a bit much. Oh well. This is the first time Dink fights Milder since Dinkopolis, for you trivia buffs.

The ending is extremely brief, but it's the journey that matters, and this one was pretty awesome. Let me say one last time how amazing it is that this came out less than a month after Quest for Dorinthia. You may have noticed that I didn't talk about bugs - this is because, apart from a tiling error or two and a number of depth que errors (mostly to do with decoration), I didn't encounter any. That's pretty amazing in itself, and though I know I'm playing an updated version, I give full credit for that. Few authors bother to go back and do that.
October 22nd 2013, 03:13 PM
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I made a version of the herb boots that punches at roughly the same speed as a normal punch while retaining Dink's faster walk speed. if anyone is interested I can post it (in it's own topic).

Edit: actually, I'll be gone a couple days, so I'll go ahead and post it anyways.
October 22nd 2013, 04:18 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Good read, as always! I don't remember Dorinthia 2 that well, it's been a long time, but I do remember it was quite a good D-Mod indeed. Amazing even, when you think about how fast it was released right after another Epic. And the plain ideas in these older D-Mods just amaze me. They can be so clever, both in story and humour. I don't think many D-Mods after 2000 have actually managed to reach the level of ideas that the very early D-Mods have.

Also, I'm super tired, so half of that stuff I just wrote probably makes no sense whatsoever. But yeah, good job as always, Tim!
October 25th 2013, 08:17 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
It's kind of sad to see so few people give any sort of feedback or comments on these. Personally I don't think giving some sort of a thought after every update is that much asked. Especially for people who hang out on this site multiple times in a day anyway. I'm not trying to be preachy, but I'm sure Tim puts a lot of his time into playing these D-Mods, looking through their history and then writing about them. I can't speak for him, but I'm willing to bet he probably wouldn't mind some more people commenting on these writings of his.
October 25th 2013, 11:47 AM
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
Why do DMOD authors hate the herb boots?

Mostly because it messes up the balance. Using herb boots is almost ALWAYS better than using any other weapon, no matter the damage on it, due to the hit and run tactic being so prevalent.

Anyway, nice read as always and I agree with pretty much everything related to QFD 2^^ I think back then I voted it the D-mod of the year.
October 25th 2013, 11:59 AM
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scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
Yes, they are. I haven't noticed dmod authors avoiding having them, though... on the contrary, it's always seemed to me that authors tend to be oblivious to how supreme they are; you can find herb boots right outside your doorstep, or like in the original game, buy them with a pittance.
October 25th 2013, 12:00 PM
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iplaydink
Peasant Male Sweden steam
Hmm.. 
Just letting you know I read every post and enjoy them a lot! This gives a very interesting insight to the early dink community that I completely missed!

Following this into more modern dmods is going to be very entertaining and educational.

Good job! ^^
October 25th 2013, 02:11 PM
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cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Thanks, guys. I sincerely appreciate the comments.

It's possible to balance against herb boots by increasing enemy speed. If you have the throwing axe, that is often a better equip for combat. In certain situations, depending on your attack and enemy defense, you might be better off with a high-damage weapon like the light sword. I speak from experience here. I just like the herb boots for getting around the map, although you're right that they're great for combat. I played much of the original game just using them and a magic spell. As I've said, though, 61 DMODs in and just two have the boots, so they'd have to really become ubiquitous to be overused...

Actually, the caster enemies are a good counter to hit and run tactics. You've got no choice but to get in there, especially if they move fast. The strongest enemy would be one who attacks AND casts, but you don't see that much. Hmm. I could put one in my DMOD.

Speaking of my DMOD, are you guys trying to say I should work on this instead of that? Heh.
October 25th 2013, 05:35 PM
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iplaydink
Peasant Male Sweden steam
Hmm.. 
Another D-Mod would be great, but I love this. In the end all that really matters is that you enjoy what you do, don't mind us, do what you feel like doing!
October 25th 2013, 05:51 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Herb boots seem to have become more frequent in D-Mods as time moved on. Don't really understand why, as they aren't terribly hard to script in or anything. And yeah, they're somewhat overpowered but NOTHING compared to the throwing axes. Those things are soooo overpowered it's ridiculous. I used them in Historical Hero 1 and the D-Mod became very unbalanced towards the end. You could barely beat it without the throwing axe, but could beat it too easily with it. After that, I decided I'm never going to include them in any of my D-Mods again. At least, not without asking five million gold pieces from the player before they can get it. And even at that point the player would barely deserve such an overpowered weapon.
October 25th 2013, 06:42 PM
spike.gif
scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
Throwing axes are indeed ridiculous, as long as you have enough strength to actually do damage to enemies. The Throwing Axe of the original game get a hefty damage penalty, so they tend to be useless against things like stone giants, or the final boss.

Throwing Axes also work excellently in conjunction with Herb Boots, and Hellfire; herb boots to run around, and hellfire for the fire rings that slow down the game, making the neverending torrent of throwing axe spam hit even more often.

The weapon that really gets the shaft in Dink is the bow... Those things are next to worthless, even with the critical damage mega hit.

October 25th 2013, 08:51 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
The weapon that really gets the shaft in Dink is the bow... Those things are next to worthless, even with the critical damage mega hit

Yeah, and it's a shame too cause from a technical standpoint, Dink has one of the best bow systems ever. It works nicely and realistically. It's only very recently, with titles like Skyrim and such, that I've seen games match it. So oddly enough, even though the bow sucks as a weapon, it's still one of my favourite things in Dink.
October 25th 2013, 09:30 PM
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I hope you'll like what I did with the bow in my DMOD *wink wink*. Someday, when it comes out...
October 25th 2013, 11:41 PM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
The throwing axe from the original game always has a functional strength of at least 15, but it remains at 15 until Dink's attack is over 25, then starts increasing along with the attack value. So it's actually pretty amazing if you get it early in a DMOD when your attack is still 5 or something.

You know, I haven't kept track of the bow. I'm absolutely certain it's been in at least one DMOD, but I can't remember which or how many. It hasn't been common, that's for sure.

Actually, come to think of it, I put the Flamebow in The End of the World. It was definitely the best way to defeat the ridiculous thousand-hit-point "tim" boss.
October 26th 2013, 09:05 AM
spike.gif
scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
That one should be worth something if you have bowlore, since looking at the script, the Firebow *always* scores a critical hit. Here's the damage calculation for fun:
  &mypower / 100;
  &temp = &strength;
  &temp / 5;

  if (&temp == 0)
    {
     &temp = 1;
    }
  &mypower * &temp;
  sp_timing(&junk, 0);

  if (&bowlore == 1)
{
  &temp = random(1, 1);

     //critical hit
  &mypower * 3;

On top of the above, arming the firebow gives 15 strength. According to dinkc.chm, the top value for &mypower (when the bow is fully drawn) is 500.

SO, if Dink had a natural strength of 15 (=30 with the bow), the damage done per hit should be ~90. By contrast, using a light sword would only do 40 damage per hit. Not too shabby. If you only draw the bow to &mypower = 300 (A little over halfway, I guess), it would still do ~54 damage.

It also scales up nicely, because with just 10 more points of strength (40 with the bow), the damage should be ~120.

EDIT: The actual combat calculations seem to put the damage between 60 and 100, with 120 being the absolute max. Not to mention that the firebow is totally lame. It doesn't burn trees, and it doesn't do the satisfying **POWER SHOT** thing, even though that is calculated in.
October 26th 2013, 03:30 PM
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
Firebow is great and all, but not when I have to farm 3 hours for it
October 26th 2013, 11:38 PM
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Robj
Peasant Male Australia
You feed the madness, and it feeds on you. 
We all know what I think about the flame bow, and it's creator. No?
October 27th 2013, 08:34 AM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
^ What he said, as shown near the end of the Let's Race Dink Smallwood
October 27th 2013, 12:20 PM
custom_coco.gif
Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Yes, the flame bow was way the hell too expensive in the original. No idea why it was so much.
October 29th 2013, 03:49 PM
custom_coco.gif
Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
--2000 Part 3: "It's all nonsense anyway"--

062: Isle of Croth Author: Simon Klaebe Release Date: February 21, 2000

REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is one of the select group with a score of 9.0 or over (9.1) on The Dink Network.

Simon Klaebe is widely regarded as one of the top DMOD authors, with titles like "Stone of Balance" and the top-rated "Pilgrim's Quest." I don't think I've played his mods before, although come to think of it, I might have played "Dink Goes Boating" when I visited in 2006. It's ringing a bell.

Isle of Croth (I like that title screen, it reminds me of Mike Snyder's work... makes me nostalgic) is a quest of reasonable length and quite a good DMOD for a first attempt, I thought. It contained some fun and fresh ideas. I wouldn't give it a 9 out of 10, but hey, ratings are pretty arbitrary anyway. It features a difficulty selection, and unlike the Thanksgiving mod, this doesn't just adjust Dink's stats - instead, it alters enemy placement, which is a lot more work. I played on "Hero," the highest difficulty setting, because I am a bad ass. On this setting the game is indeed very difficult at the start, but it eventually gets very easy, which means that the other difficulties must get even easier than that. This isn't the way difficulty ramps usually go, and I've got to say that it feels pretty odd. The enemies you encounter throughout the mod are the same ones you've been encountering since the beginning, while your stats go from pathetic to absurdly good. This is something I'd have changed, but I still had a good time.

Dink is sent to investigate the Isle of Croth, home to gold mines and a resort, when ships filled with gold and tourists stop coming from there. In a shipwreck, Dink loses his weapons (makes sense), magic (Um... all right) and muscles (...what?). Oh well, it's more than most mods do to explain your weak start. The isle and many of its buildings are filled with stone giant "zombies" that have been raised from the dead by a mad magician of some sort. You'll run into many of them, which is certain death at the start of the game, but you'll want to dodge a few at the inn in order to get the hellfire spell, the throwing axe and a megapotion. This mod contains more powerups than any other I've seen, and it's fun for a while dodging the tough enemies to nick them and build yourself up. There are underground areas to explore with a lantern and some people hiding in a well (I like the way that screen is done) that you'll need a rope to access.

This isn't a very story-heavy DMOD; mostly you just explore, fight, and find a few things that you need. There are a fair number of scripted objects to interact with, and there are generally comments for hitting things, which I always like to see. Once you get underground (I checked a guide because I happened to miss one trivial thing; it wasn't an unreasonable thing to expect the player to come across), you'll find a whole town down there; it's remarkable how quickly these Crothans adapt. There is some cool stuff down there, including a casino with proper animations and sound effects (actually, there are great new sound effects for all sorts of things in this mod). There's a bartender you can get drunk, which is pretty funny. You can also pay to get random stat-affecting potions as much as you like, or visit a brothel. The naked ladies there are generally about twice as tall as Dink. Pay the max to see Jenny and you'll get +10 to every stat, plus a ludicrous amount of experience. Let me make this clear - it sent me from level 9 to level 13! I didn't imagine this would be where I'd break my record level of 13 from Prophecy of the Ancients, but it was. I could easily have reached an even higher level, but there was no need.

There's a few puzzles you have to solve that I could see somebody getting stuck on, but I didn't find them at all unreasonable and figured them out pretty easily. In acquiring what you need to reach the end, you'll learn about the catastrophe that befell Croth. Dink seems disinterested in the exposition and just wants the goods. I can relate.

The wizard boss at the end was unbeatable even with the crazy stats I had until I used the secret acid rain magic to lower his defenses, after which he was toast with one Hellfire ball. The ending text informs us that Dink would someday become a King. I wonder whether Simon followed up on this idea in any of his later mods.

By the way, I didn't run across any serious bugs in this one. The only problems I noticed were visual.

I wouldn't put this one in the top tier, exactly, but I thought this was a creative adventure and enjoyed finding my way into the cracks of the brisk challenge early on as well as stomping my way through the latter part, even though, as I said, that isn't ideal. Yeah, give this one a play.

063: The Catacombs Author: Paul Pliska Release Date: March 19, 2000

The wizard who made by far the best demo ever returns with an unusual concept: instead of starting Dink off with set stats, how about using the stats from a save from the original game? It so happens that I still have one of those from when I played back in August.

Alas, in the real world it isn't so simple as, say, copying a save file into the new DMOD's directory. "Catacombs" comes with a "Transfer DMOD" installer. This is a separate DMOD you must run before playing in order to strip that save file of all the things specific to the first game (say, information about editor sprites on the map). The transfer mod is an exact copy of the original game (in fact, the map file and some other things are copied from your /dink/ dir by the installation program) with one difference: when you load a save, Dink will say he needs to see King Daniel. It strips your save file (it's actually going through the screens and setting all the editor_type values to 0) and sends you on your way. This is quite clever, but it's also a bit clunky, and having to go to all this trouble highlights how difficult of a task this actually is. If anybody else wanted to do this, Paul's made it clear that you can just use his transfer dmod and import scripts, but I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess that nobody else ever did.

As they say, "Don't knock it if it works." It does. All your stats, gold, items and magic carry over from your save. You have a chance to drop items before the DMOD starts properly (what are you doing with that pig feed, anyway?). Trying to drop the fists results in Dink saying "No, I'm rather attached to this." Heh.

King Daniel wants Dink to go do something yet again. This time, he's sent to investigate a silver mine where miners have been mysteriously dying. Above the mine, some aspects of the original game are duplicated. You can bet on bonca fights, buy bombs and elixirs. You have to buy a lantern to light levels of the mine lower than the first. The lantern shadow graphic is different than the one made by Dan Walma that's been used in three DMODs so far.

I wish I could say that the DMOD itself was as interesting as the technical achievement that sets it up, but it's not. It feels empty enough that I'd say this was mainly intended as a demonstration of the savefile transfer system. It's kind of a shame because I'm sure I remember people talking about carrying over the stats as something they wanted to see. Here somebody proved it could be done, but it was never really used for much. Oh well.

The mine has three levels. The first one is well-lit and contains no enemies. The second one has some neat recolored cave tiles and has some boncas that have been powered up to the point where they take a few hits from the light sword (these are the only enemies in the DMOD apart from the boss). This level contains a lot of pits that cause instant death if you touch them, which is annoying. Other than that and a miner you have to find and convince to go back up (but do you really? I'm not sure), there's nothing here but a bunch of twisty passages that mostly have nothing going on. It's kind of boring.

The lowest level is worse, though. There's nothing there at all but a whole bunch of empty, nearly identical rooms. There are some very creepy sounds that are supposed to guide you using Dink Smallwood's 3D sound effect, but this is actually misleading and not an effective way to navigate. After floundering for a while, I gave up and looked up the directions on the Dink Solutions. Finally you come to an Ancient without a form. He becomes a flickering copy of Dink and walks around trying to punch you.

Here, this DMOD offers some validation to those who bothered to purchase the Flame Bow in the original game. The boss's defense is too much for the throwing axe to damage him, and getting close is very dangerous, so bows, which do more damage even than the Light Sword with power shots if you have bow lore, are your best bet. Remember, the flame bow has power shots all the time. I ended up using the basic bow, which took forever.

I'm glad I saw this done, but I can't recommend this actual DMOD. The worst thing a DMOD can be is boring, and for most of its length, that's what this one was. I didn't hate it, it was just kind of "meh." It's too bad, because Paul's considerable skill is evident in parts of the mod.

064: The Adventures of Ed the SCV Author: Dan Walma Release Date: April 5, 2000

What madness is redink1 cookin' up this time? Why, it's yet another DMOD based on a game by Blizzard Entertainment. Unlike Warcraft, I have never played StarCraft. This probably affected my view of this mod somewhat. By the way, Starcraft actually came out shortly AFTER Dink Smallwood. I think this is the first time a DMOD was based on a game like that.

Actually, I've played this one before, during my little return to Dink in the second half of 2000. I had dim but definite memories pop up when I started playing it again.

Ed is a Science Vessel operator in a colony about to be overrun by the Zerg. A dimensional rift sends Ed and the Zerg into an alternate dimension (Dink's world, of course). That's about it for plot. Along the way he meets a few other vehicle operators, who helpfully stay alive just long enough to give him new weapons before dying and mysteriously taking their vehicles with them somehow. Amazing.

This is an uneventful little romp using StarCraft graphics in which the screen is often crowded with an absurd amount of enemies that all target you. There are no savebots and no save slots - when you do certain things, the game autosaves to slot 1. None of it is very exciting except the weapons.

The weapons in this mod are actually quite cool. All three of them are based on the bow (that is, you charge them up). The electro-mine is actually a little sparky mine that you place on the map. It waits for an enemy to blunder along into it, then damages them with a strength based on how much you charged before releasing. This creates a different style of combat where you can make a field of dangers for your enemies, and it'd be cool to see something like this implemented in an "ordinary" DMOD. The second weapon, the missile launcher, is just like the bow except with an explosion at the end, good for damaging nearby enemies as well. The final weapon is, though its shots use a new graphic, definitely a bow that shoots hellfire-style shots. This is amazing. Mowing down the Zerg hordes with it is by far the most fun thing you can do in this mod. And honestly, I can't believe it hasn't occurred to me before: this is exactly what the flame bow should have been all along. Once you consider it, can there be any doubt? There wouldn't have been anybody complaining about the Flame Bow then, I'll bet.

Hey look, I found a hardness error. Hope this thing's waterproof!

I lied a bit, there is one more thing to the plot, but it's quite silly. Hints are dropped throughout that the Zerg are being controlled by some horrible white thing. At the end, you're taken to a weird psychadelic screen, where you discover what that thing is - it's R2-D2. Wow, Star Dink flashback. Artoo has tons of hitpoints (seriously, TONS) but is otherwise not difficult. You win, but things don't work out so well for Ed. Poor Ed.

There's not much reason to play this apart from the new weapons, but those weapons ARE pretty cool. Heck, I want a flame bow that shoots hellfire arrows. Awesome.

065: The Shadow Guild (Demo/Beta) Author: Lurvas Release Date: April 13, 2000

The dmod.diz makes this seem like a genuine beta intended for debugging and not intended for forming an impression of the game. Why, then, was there any kind of public release? Who knows.

For all that, this isn't another barely-started trifle like "The Orion" as I expected. There's actually a fairly big map and some things to do in it, although if there's a real story of any sort (or any reason for that title) I never picked up on it. I did get the feeling that this really was intended to be an early version of a project the author seriously meant to finish.

Here's an oddity - this is the only combat-containing mod I've seen start you out with 0 attack. There are plenty of potions around to make up for it.

The map looks okay - at least it isn't incredibly sparse like everything I make - but on the other hand, things are stamped seemingly at random all over the place to the point where dodging all the trees and bushes is kind of a pain in the ass.

I have to admit I was kind of amused by all the silly dialogue. There's a lot of it because just about everything is scripted, including things like beds and tables. The dialogue was so incredibly silly that it reminds me of the silly crap I wrote in my old mods, except with even worse spelling and grammar (they are spectacularly bad in this mod). I'm not saying it was good, but I was amused by how far off the deep end it went.

I could relate some of the things that happen, but it's all nonsense anyway. It's the same reason I didn't bother taking screenshots. You do get the herb boots here, in case you're keeping track of that. If I were a beta tester, I know what I'd submit in my bug report. There's a certain screen that locks even though you can enter it from a direction that makes it impossible to reach the enemies, and you can only leave by cheating. There's a point where you have to buy a 500 gold longsword, but there aren't nearly enough boncas around to make that kind of cabbage. After making 212 gold honestly, I gave up and cheated. Not long after that, there's a slayer to fight (I barely won), and I think this must be the final boss. Nothing happens after defeating the slayer, but shortly after that the game gives up on things like hardness. There's a lot more map, but no way I can see to access any of it. I understand why there's no proper ending, but SOME kind of indication you'd reached the end would be nice. So it goes. This one is probably best left forgotten.

066: The Saga Authors: Xanthos and Vigilante Release Date: April 26, 2000

This was intended to be the first part of a series of short DMODs that were supposed to be released bi-weekly. Naturally, it's the only installment ever released.

The only thing worth seeing here is Dink wearing denim pants. They did a good job! It looks way better than those silly old green tights he's always wearing.

Dink is assaulted by a gang of blue merchant sprites, who steal his claw sword. This is followed by a very short quest for revenge - I really can't see how it was supposed to lead into some kind of "saga." Sometimes I wonder if anybody even knows what that word means. It usually refers to a story that chronicles generations of a family, but I guess it can also simply refer to a long dramatic story.

No saga here, just some plain outdoor screens (containing one pig farmer you can briefly converse with) followed by a short cave. There are boncas in the cave, but you're not equipped to fight them, so you just walk past them until you get to some screens with a total of eight blue guys to fight. They're not difficult. One problem I had, though, was that when you walk onto the first "boss" screen, you're likely to get stuck in the hardness there. I had to warp out using Ultimate Cheat. Anyway, when you beat the blue guy boss, the game simply ends. I guess this sort of thing would be understandable if they'd actually managed to make it into a biweekly series, but as it is, the only thing worth remembering here is those slick pants. So choice!

I hope I wasn't too judgmental in this part. Really, only the last two mods were bad, and not even they were approaching Dink Forever sort of bad. Anyway, see you next time for another installment of the series more than twice as popular as pretending to be illiterate!
October 29th 2013, 06:15 PM
spike.gif
scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
In a shipwreck, Dink loses his weapons (makes sense), magic (Um... all right) and muscles (...what?). Oh well, it's more than most mods do to explain your weak start.

Bwahaha! I remember liking the fact the dmod gave an explanation, but, yeah... Maybe Dink was just feeling really under the weather after floating in the ocean and such.

Anyway, a very fun read. Regarding save game transfer, that should actually be a simple matter since v1.08 introduced the clear_editor_info command - no more going through the map screen by screen... I still don't think anyone's used the feature, though.
October 29th 2013, 07:54 PM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
and muscles (...what?)

Maybe, while in the ocean, he used his sword to strip muscles from his forearms in order to feed and keep the sharks at bay. In losing his muscles (strength) he lots his grip on his sword as he flailed his way to shore.
As for magic, his spell sheets simply got washed away (assuming he kept the magic written on paper)

Because, Logic.
October 30th 2013, 10:12 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Maybe, while in the ocean, he used his sword to strip muscles from his forearms in order to feed and keep the sharks at bay.

I thought you were gonna say to use them as a raft.
October 30th 2013, 09:31 PM
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shevek
Peasant Netherlands
Never be afraid to ask, but don't demand an answer 
a miner you have to find and convince to go back up (but do you really? I'm not sure)

If you're playing the way you're supposed to, with a save file with huge stats, then you don't. I played it without a save file, and you start out with wimpy stats that don't really increase a lot. There is no way you can ever beat the end boss. Except that is, if you get a thrice bless silver dagger of what's her name. You get that as a gift for saving the miner (if you take the trouble to go back and claim it). It is a lousy weapon in general, but it does decent damage against the boss, and the boss shrieks in agony because he really can't handle all those blessings, or something like that.

That lower dungeon is awful. I mapped it all out, expecting to find some secret in some corner, but it really is entirely empty.

When mapping, it's very easy to locate the boss, though. He's in the center of a 5x5 screen square that has the frightening sound. I actually avoided the center of it, because I wanted to see the whole dungeon before ending the game. But that was a waste of time.
October 31st 2013, 08:17 AM
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
This was intended to be the first part of a series of short DMODs that were supposed to be released bi-weekly. Naturally, it's the only installment ever released.

Haha xD I once thought of doing something like it for another game, then decided against it because I know myself. Then, I thought I could make 12 episodes in one go and pretend like I release them every X weeks when they're done. I still think it's not a bad idea, but fortunately I cancelled the project before I began

Nice read as always, was glad to see a nice amount of d-mods covered
November 6th 2013, 09:43 PM
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Someone
Peasant Male Australia
 
Hey Cocomonkey, thanks for the review of Fairy Goodness. A clarification.. IkkeJW 'updated' the DMOD without my permission. His update involved putting his name everywhere and breaking the gameplay by increasing the size of the maps, but not the spawn area (the enemies won't spawn on the edge of the enlargened maps). I haven't bothered to do anything about it though.

I don't think the online aspect works with new versions of Windows, unfortunately. It was fun though, and fun to make. A separate program reads the save files and writes scripts that are executed in DinkC.
November 6th 2013, 10:08 PM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Hi Someone, thanks for commenting. Man, that sucks. I was wondering why IkkeJW's name was on the title screen, but I hadn't figured it was anything like that.
November 7th 2013, 02:08 AM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
--2000 part 4: Wherein I whine and complain a lot--

067: Friends Beyond 1 Author: Wesley McElwee Release Date: May 4, 2000 (Remake 4/22/2001)

As I mentioned when talking about "Quest for Dorinthia," what I'm playing here is in fact a remake. It was released on April 22, 2001 and according to Wesley, "Everything about this dmod has been redone. It's a little longer and has a story line." Well, a story line is a good thing to have! This is the only version of "Friends Beyond 1" currently available.

I take it that the original mod really didn't have a story at all, because there's very little of it to be found here. After the slick title screen (there's also a really neat fade-in effect, but a screenshot doesn't do it justice), Dink explains that he was at his summer vacation home (he's totally got one of those) when... something happened. That something seems to be a girl seeking magical revenge on her little village for very ill-defined reasons (or at least ill-defined as far as *I* got, but I'll get to that).

There aren't many scripts in this DMOD. There's a pretty large map with competently made screens, plenty of enemies that you never have to fight for most of the game, some lovely MIDIs to keep you company, and a few secrets to find. The only quest I encountered was to collect eight blue flowers (Wesley did a nice job recoloring the flower graphics) in order to get the claw sword and unlock the next bit of story. After finding my way through some mazelike screens for twenty minutes, I finally found the next event, in which an elderly character tells you to get the light sword from the caves behind their house. The cave you see behind the house is a dead end with a bunch of slimes and a gold heart. There's a cool screen with a mirror effect, though it does nothing. The reflected Dink doesn't move exactly like it should, but given how fiddly movement is in DinkC, it'd take a lot of work to make it do so.

Actually, there's a sign before that telling you that the "next room needs some work, but is an interesting idea I think." Granted, but it's weird to see the author directly speaking to the player in this manner. It's hard to take this mod seriously as an actual game with a story; it feels more like the author playing around with DMOD authoring, though he achieved some interesting things along the way.

As I was saying, the cave you are absolutely directed towards is a dead end. There's no guide for this game on the Dink Solutions - there's one for the original version, but they're so different that that's useless here. I was ready to give up, but then I found ExDeathEvn's video playthrough. It turns out there's a DIFFERENT cave you have to reach by pushing a rather inconspicuous rock (it's surrounded by other rocks). I'm sorry, but barring things that are simply broken, this is the worst game design I've come across in a DMOD. You may disagree, but I think trying to trick the player into getting stuck is nuts.

You find that the evil girl has murdered the townspeople, but they had so little to say when they were alive that it's hard to care much. You can follow her bloody trail to a Darklands-type area where you promptly get lost again. I got stuck once more and gave up. Youtube was being crappy when I tried to watch ExDeathEvn's playthrough some more, and he seemed as annoyed at the game as I was.

"Friends Beyond 1" does some unusual things with combat. A lot of screens randomly have one of a couple of different sets of monster placement, which means that you can beat all the monsters and return instantly to find more. The magic costs seem to have been increased. There's a screen in the darklands area where, after beating all the regular monsters, two dragons walk onto the screen. The first time this happened, it felt like such a cool idea that I actually smiled, but this happens EVERY time you walk onto that screen (which is locked until you beat everything, by the way). It would have worked better as a one-time event, to put it mildly.

On the positive side, there are some spiffy original graphics here, including creepy mutant versions of the pillbug and the slime. I also really appreciated this house with a corner broken off that you could enter from that direction - both the concept and the execution were really neat and I loved to see imagination put to use.

There's some cool stuff to see in FB1, and a well-put-together if somewhat generic map, but overall it seems to lack substance; I mostly felt like I was just wandering. That probably wouldn't bother me much if it weren't for the obtuse things you're required to do to progress, but as it was, I couldn't be bothered. Sorry. I did see potential here, so maybe the sequels are better.

068: Crystal of Power (Trailer) Author: Chris Martin Release Date: June 13, 2000

Hey, you guys, I'm going to play a DMOD!

(literally one minute later)

Oh. Uh... Well, then.

***********This DMOD, "Crystal of Power,"**********
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
  ****DINK FOREVER MEMORIAL AWARD OF BADNESS*****
   *********On this day November 6, 2013********


This is the shortest trailer I've ever seen. First of all, there's no title screen - the one from the original game is used. Pressing start takes you to the only screen, where an eeeevil farmer demands that a maiden tell him where the Crystal of Power is. (He's supposed to appear in an explosion, but the scene is made confusing by the fact that he's actually there before the explosion happens - yep, despite being short and having no gameplay, this still isn't bugfree). She refuses and says that Dink Smallwood will defeat him! This is the closest Dink Smallwood gets to appearing in the trailer. He banishes her to an alternate dimension, cackles about his sure victory, and we're told that the DMOD is coming in fall 2000.

The story is trite to the point of being laughable, but it isn't terrible - it's coherent and even workable, and I'd accept it as the story of an actual DMOD. I can't imagine why you'd release a trailer with this little to show, however, unless your story was especially intriguing, which this isn't. That's why it gets my special shiny award. Anyway, since this was never finished we can only assume that in this universe, Dink never even found out about this and the unidentified evil man was victorious.

069: Vagabond's Quest: Dungeon of Dispair (Demo) Author: Ethan Sherr-Ziarko Release Date: June 18, 2000

I'll be danged, Ethan of Slimes and Island of Giants is still at it. I was not expecting that. I respect that kind of continued effort.

This mod is based on a long-gone online RPG called Vagabond's Quest. The readme says that certain graphics are taken from "the might & magic dmod." Was there ever a DMOD based on the Might & Magic series? I wanna play it! By the way, that's how "Despair" is spelled on both the title screen and in the dmod.diz. That's clearly the real title of this one.

Unfortunately, this isn't as good as Island of Giants. Despite its many flaws, that mod was a fairly coherent adventure and even had a couple of interesting things going for it. This one might have some unusual features, but overall it's an unbelievably broken mess.

At least I got a laugh out of the very silly intro. It starts with the common "Dink just had a wild party" trope that's been going around since Snyder's mods. Dink says, "dang, I'm tired, I don't even feel like chick tonight!" I'm serious, this is exactly what he says. Then he proclaims that he's going to bed, and, um, in a way I guess he does. He is, of course, summoned to help some mining town. Their mine has been infested with "imps" (goblins).

Hardness and depth ques are a total joke in this DMOD, with Dink able to stand, for example, behind the fire in a fireplace. There are also many bugs, such as the weapon clerk script also being attached to the bottle shelf. Despite this and a kind of bland appearance, the town does have some interesting things in it. The weapon shop sells a bow that comes with 99 arrows - it's useless because there's no bow lore here, but it was kind of neat to see that somebody finally implemented ammunition. There's an armor shop that sells a "small shield," which can take up to 50 hits for Dink while it's equipped. Because of how Dink's combat works, though, this isn't very useful without having magic (and guess what there's none of in this mod).

You're not allowed to actually go to the mine when you get to town. Despite a pleading voice summoning Dink specifically, nobody in town knows who he is, and they think he looks too wimpy to let him in. All you can do, therefore, is grind up to level 4 (Yes, 4! That's 1400 exp!) at the odd-looking training room, which generates enemies that give 5, 10, or 20 exp. The 20 exp enemies are too tough for you to fight much at the start.

I guess you're expected to slowly build up your gold so you can buy weapons and defense upgrades, but that would take forever, and what's worse, there are no savebots in this mod! One death and all your work is out the window. There's also a little gambling game, but it's inefficient and buggy. It doesn't check to make sure you have enough gold to make your bet, and the way it works is that you only win if all three of the other dice rolls are lower (no ties) than Dink's. Oh, and for one of the betting values, it forgets to even remove your gold if you lose.

I wisely decided all of this was a waste of time and cheated myself up some equipment and, using the console, some experience points. I like grinding as much as anybody (I love me some Dragon Quest), but this just doesn't feel rewarding.

The mine features a neat-looking skeleton boss borrowed from another game, but I think it's too difficult, and I think I'm rather good at this game. There's a night/darkness effect on some of the screens - it looks like scanlines, but would still work well enough if the depth dot were set correctly. Unfortunately, it isn't, and anything toward the bottom of the screen pops in front. Bummer.

The bigger bummer is that this demo is completely impossible to finish without some pretty obnoxiously over-the-top cheating. There's a certain screen that you reach with a stairway you need to take, but this is impossible. Every time you enter the screen, Dink walks straight to the bottom and into the next screen no matter what. If only Dink had had chick instead; it would have been a better use of his time.

---

Sorry I covered so little this time, but I'm having trouble focusing on this right now and I don't want to force it. Next time I'll be looking at "Friends Beyond 2" and the sequel to "9 Gems of Life."
November 7th 2013, 09:41 AM
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
Interesting read as always!

I still think it's funny that Wesley prided himself on delivering good, Japanese RPG inspired, stories in his d-mods, but in my opinion they also fell flat. There's something to be said about many JRPG storylines being flat to begin with but that's another argument The overabundance of famous music themes from other classic games was also a downside in my opinion, the d-mod loses too much personality that way.

I think you'll have much more fun with Friends Beyond 2 though

The demo/trailer "complaining" was justified imo I'm worried about what's still to come in demoland

November 8th 2013, 07:34 PM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
"I was ready to give up, but then I found ExDeathEvn's video playthrough"

Glad I was able to be of assistance in that regard!
I've yet to get back to recording my FB2 playthrough however so you won't have my assistance for that one yet.

"There's a screen in the darklands area where, after beating all the regular monsters, two dragons walk onto the screen. The first time this happened, it felt like such a cool idea that I actually smiled, but this happens EVERY time you walk onto that screen (which is locked until you beat everything, by the way)."

I absolutely hated the screen with the dragons on it. Particularly the fact that it's at a junction where you have to go through it to get to one of the bonus gold hearts(I think, can't remember), then go back the way you came and fight them again to make actual story progress. I still enjoyed FB1 all the same despite the few hiccups... Really should get back to recording FB2 at some point.
November 8th 2013, 09:33 PM
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I actually think I enjoyed the original Friends Beyond better than the revised one, not sure why. There was certainly less story in the original, but then again the story felt pointless in the second one too. I guess it was just easier to figure out what to do for me and so the pacing felt a bit better. Neither version is a masterpiece by any measure but I feel like maybe the original was actually mildly better? Maybe I just have a hatred of getting stuck for lengthy amounts of time in DMODs (or games in general for that matter).
November 12th 2013, 08:56 AM
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metatarasal
Bard Male Netherlands
I object 
DMODs have definitely gotten longer by now. I can see that it's more difficult now to give a full view of what each DMOD is about. Well, except some DMODs which seem to be around only to show you that drivel is something of all times. There are some DMODs here which I didn't even know existed.

Also, I'm looking forward to the next part.
November 15th 2013, 06:25 PM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Sorry it's been over a week since I've gotten around to this. I dunno when I will, to be honest. I've been hard at work on my DMOD. It's hard to stay motivated, so I'm trying with all I'm worth to get it done. No matter how hard I go it still seems too slow.

Looking back over this, I'm a bit worried that I've been too harsh in some of these... The thing about playing so many DMODs is that it gets to be pretty hard to impress you. I feel like it's inevitable I'll step on some nerves as I get around to a period with more mods by people who still hang out here.
November 17th 2013, 06:25 PM
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
I don't man, I think you've been more than fair. Don't forget, most people here will have the same attitude towards d-mod quality after all these years

And I wouldn't feel bad in any way whatsoever if you turned one of my d-mods into virtual commentary dust I think we're all mature enough at this point to recognize the faults in our own work. If anything, I think many authors are overly critical of their own work.

If you're too busy working on your d-mod, then don't feel guilty! There's no "schedule" you need to adhere to here. Enjoy what you're doing so the quality can be maintained In any case, I'll say that I AM looking forward to the next parts^^
November 17th 2013, 09:09 PM
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shevek
Peasant Netherlands
Never be afraid to ask, but don't demand an answer 
I think many authors are overly critical of their own work.

That is perhaps even more true for Cocomonkey himself than for the average author.

I'll say that I AM looking forward to the next parts

So am I. But I'm also looking forward to your d-mod, so if you're working on that, I'm happy to wait.
November 24th 2013, 05:16 AM
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iplaydink
Peasant Male Sweden steam
Hmm.. 
I don't think you should be afraid to hurt the feeling of the creators as long as your being honest! And I don't think you've been overly critical, you've treated every dmod fairly so far.
November 24th 2013, 08:32 AM
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merder
Peasant Male Netherlands xbox steam
The Voice in the back of your head! 
as a author myself i have to say i'd be more hurt if you'd be dishonest than by being critical about my stuff(as long it is constructive critisism not that destructive kind)
November 25th 2013, 03:10 AM
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metatarasal
Bard Male Netherlands
I object 
as a author myself i have to say i'd be more hurt if you'd be dishonest than by being critical about my stuff(as long it is constructive critisism not that destructive kind)

Seconded

Personally I am very well aware that some of my DMODs aren't very good. I don't mind some critisism, I will probably agree in most cases.

Also, if you need some time off to be able to look freshly at these DMODs again, take it. I really enjoyed your first playthroughs as they looked at those DMODs with a very fresh look. It's hard to keep that up, especially with the period of DMOD making you're in right now, which has much longer DMODs than before.
December 16th 2013, 05:02 PM
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iplaydink
Peasant Male Sweden steam
Hmm.. 
Another installment of this would be the best Christmas present ever... just sayin'
December 16th 2013, 05:42 PM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
Ssshhh... He's probably going to complete it all in a single post on Christmas day for this batch
December 19th 2013, 03:26 AM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
By popular demand, here are a few more.

070: The 9 Gems of Life 2 Authors: Jveenhof, Wolfblitz Release Date: July 8, 2000

"9 Gems 2" is one of the few DMODs to have a modification made for it by somebody else. In 2002 (version 2.3 was released on April 11), Ted Shutes released a modification for this Dink Module, fixing many of the showstopping bugs it had. I tried out the original version, and this was something it badly needed. While its predecessor was certainly very buggy, and there were places you could get permanently stuck, it wasn't so bad that it was hard to get through. This game, on the other hand, is so buggy that I'm not sure it's even possible to finish. Luckily Ted, while not a fan of "9 Gems 2," took the time to fix it enough to make it playable. He said that he "almost despaired at making this dmod stable."

So many DMODs never have their bugs properly fixed, and Ted, a veteran programmer, was the only one to really go back and do this. He also did much-needed work improving the DinkC Reference. Sadly, he died on October 11, 2006 at the age of 56. That might sound old enough to some of you, but my dad is 56. I feel ill just thinking about it.

Anyway, if you want to play "9 Gems 2," install this on top of it. TRUST me, the original is unplayable. I don't know why Jveenhof and Wolfblitz released it like that.

You might recall that I was a surprisingly big fan of the original "9 Gems" (if you don't, just scroll up). It was lazy, sloppy, buggy, and bizarre, but dang it, it was fun. It had lots of personality and a good quest structure. This, on the other hand, is the most pathetic followup I've ever seen. This is a TERRIBLE DMOD. I don't have to qualify that statement in any way, I assure you.

The plot starts off, for some reason, with an old person telling his granddaughter a story about Dink and the 9 gems of life. From there we pick up after the end of the last game. One thing cool this DMOD does is character portraits, which I think is a first. Look at that MS Paint eyepatch! Hilarious.

Link is kidnapped by pirates to be sold into slavery, and you have to fight a goblin. It's a pretty annoying fight due to high defense, but if you think that's bad, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Ted Shutes opined that it was impossible to beat this mod without cheating, and I decided to put that to the test. Was he right? Stay tuned.

Soon, Dink calls on Martridge to teleport him back (if he could do this, why didn't he do it earlier?). Martridge also has a hilarious portrait. From there, Dink is sent to a cave to recover the fifth gem, and this is where this DMOD goes sailing right off the rails.

The cave is a giant, awful maze where everything looks the same and it's hard to tell where you're going because of the teleports all over the place. I'll admit that this isn't THAT bad and that my reactions to the end of the mod are coloring what I say here, but it definitely isn't good. The cave is chock full of purple boncas, and this mod has neglected to fix the INI bug from the original game where the purple boncas can't actually hurt you with their attack, so they flagellate you pointlessly with their big purple rods, boring you to tears.

One kind of cool thing here is the magic. certain rooms award you a magic spell. It's all one magic item, and you select between the spells you've gotten with M (or in my case, the equivalent button on the gamepad). There's the standard fireball, a spell that temporarily boosts attack by 10, a spell that gives you temporary herb boots speed, and a heal spell, although the latter is pretty useless, charging up forever and then healing you something like 3 HP.

There's a warp somewhere in the cave that, with no warning, sends you to a fire-filled room of instant death. I don't know how many times I'd have to bludgeon myself in the temple with the Rod of Greater Stupidity before I'd think randomly killing the player for no reason was a good idea, especially with no save point nearby.

It gets even worse when you get out of the cave. You have to fight a purple bonca that has 200 HP and 10 defense (I guarantee your attack at this point is under 10 when you're not using the strength spell). After grinding my way through that, I sure hated this game... only to find there are THREE MORE of them, each on their own screen. They can't really attack you, true, but their touch damage is very high, so you can really only take two hits. This might be the single worst stretch of play I've seen in any DMOD. I mean, look at this nonsense. I've never had less fun playing Dink Smallwood. All told, this took me like forty minutes!

Whatever, I don't care anymore. Dink gets the fifth gem of life (remember them?). Then, there's a adventure-gamey segment on the pirate ship as Link. It's short and simple, but I liked it and it single-handedly saved this disappointment from the Award of Badness. There's even a fantastic joke.

"Where'd you get that wooden leg?"
"I was thrown into a school of sharks!"
"Where'd you get that hook?"
"I was swordfighting and me enemy cut off me hand."
"Where'd you get that eyepatch?"
"A seagull dropping fell in me eye."
"You lost your eye from that?"
"It was my first day with the hook."

The change to Link (and to a maiden he disguises himself as briefly) isn't complete, by the way - you still have the "non costumed dink" fist, and if you equip it and punch, you turn into Dink for the duration of the punch. This is pretty funny to watch.

After that, though, you must suffer the crowning moment of this DMOD's failure to be fun or even playable: the last boss. Ted Shutes is right, you can't win without cheating. He's got 300 HP and his defense is higher than your attack even with the strength spell on! He also does enough touch damage to kill you in one hit. He seems to heal himself at random, but I looked at the script and somehow, I doubt the line, "&sp_hitpoints += 20;" actually does anything at all, since no variable by that name seems to be initiated anywhere. You simply can't win. I cheated, raising Dink's stats by 10, which was good enough because they didn't account for your magic being high enough to cast the strength spell before the last one has worn off, and you can just keep on raising your attack.

Once you've cheated your way through that, it comes to a sudden end, and you're left there shocked, wondering, "what in the Hell did I just play?" It would be extremely short if those battles weren't drawn out so much. This should not exist. I am seriously left wondering if this was released as a prank. I mean, there's cases where the author didn't know what they were doing, and then there's stuff like this, where there's simply no way they could have thought they'd done it right. I have no way of explaining this DMOD at all. I'm really disappointed after the fun I had with the first part.

071: Friends Beyond 2: Branches of Destiny Author: Wesley McElwee Release Date: July 8, 2000

Believe it or not, my own Crossroads trailer won Download of the Month against these July DMODs. I can't say I'm surprised in regards to 9gems2, but this one should have won.

Ted Shutes made a patch for this mod in 2002 as well. In additon to fixing the bugs, however, this patch goes a little farther and does some rewriting, making my choice tougher. It's not hard to say, "I should go with the less buggy version," but writing is more subjective. Going over Ted's description of what he changed, some of the changes sound to be very much for the best - FB2 was a DMOD with many interesting choices to make, but all but one path led you inevitably to a bad ending, which hardly seems fair. On the other hand, Ted didn't seem to understand why anybody would want a challenging time, which I don't really agree with.

I ended up playing quite a bit of the original version as well as the patched version because I didn't copy the patch correctly on my first try (the original mod has .d files, so the .c files in the patch won't overwrite them). As such, I can say with confidence that Ted's version is better and you should play it. In fact, I'm just going to do this with all his patches from now on. If nothing else, it's much less buggy, and the bugs it gets rid of are real showstoppers. In the original version, making the "wrong" decisions won't just lead to a bad ending, they'll lead to a broken game as well.

"Friends Beyond 2" (check out that title screen. I guess that WAS Dink in Between the Shadows) is a very interesting DMOD that tries some new things. As such, I'd love to give it a really enthusiastic writeup (especially with all the sour grapes I've been handing out lately). Unfortunately, it's got some major problems that make it a frustrating experience.

FB2 finds Dink in a new land threatened by the evil mage girl from the original (it turns out her name is Tenjin - yes, the first one was so thin on plot we never even learned her name). Dink has the opportunity to make some decisions that will lead him down alternate paths. This is the first time this sort of thing has really been done in a DMOD, so that's pretty exciting. The main choice involves going to one of two different locations which will result in a "fighter" path or a "magic" path. In the original version, the magic path always lead to a bad ending, but in this one, either path is valid.

There's actually a different branch early on. There are two mines you can enter and save someone from a monster, but if you save the wrong person, you end up on a rather short path to a bad ending. The Chevy Chase Show? How could she be so heartless?!

The different paths come to the same ending area, but apart from that their content is entirely exclusive. Each path has a LOT of content to itself - enough to make up its own Quest-sized DMOD, easily. I was pretty impressed by this, since DMODs (and heck, games in general) are usually too afraid to hide anything back from us on a single playthrough. This is like two DMODs in one. What's more, the two paths form different sides of one coherent story. The "Fighter" Dink finds himself in an underground human village; threatened by the cold from the surface, they need to go deeper, but they risk war with the monsters who live there. As "magician" Dink, you go to the monster village and learn that the monsters are themselves in hiding from the humans, who have nearly wiped them out. On both paths, you learn that the sides are on the brink of war, and in helping the group you've found yourself among, you prevent it. It's a long way from the barely-there story in FB1, I can tell you!

Actually, the writing here is pretty solid. Though the dialogue is a bit simplistic, it deals with some potent themes. Dink wonders what the point is in trying to be a hero when someone he cares about always dies, and he learns that trying has its own value. You can see the motivations on both sides of the conflict, and even Tenjin herself has a tragic past that motivates her evil actions.

Another cool thing in this DMOD is the final area, where you fight a bunch of bosses around a little hub. Which bosses you fight depends upon how far along in the story you are when you choose to go there.

That's all quite nifty, so what's wrong? Well, first of all, this is one of the worst cases of Big Empty Map Syndrome I've ever come across. Nearly every screen Dink allows for is used, but many are just empty grass screens with a couple of trees and/or rocks. It's easy to spend a lot of time wandering around lost before you get your bearings, and it's not fun. It all looks the same. Some screens are pretty much totally empty (this sort of state is why I'm having leprochaun detail the maps for Malachi the Jerk). Also, some spots look... odd.

Now, there are some neat puzzles. One involves these amusing faces on the map, and another has a cave where each room you enter performs a mathematical operation upon a number. You have to go through the right rooms to get the number to a certain value.

Unfortunately, even Ted's version still has some nasty bugs. There's a place where you have to fight a bunch of really tough monsters without the ability to heal or save... I gave it an honest shot, but it turned out that one of the fights was complete and total bullshoot (tough bonca with just a tiny corner of the screen to fight in), and I lost. When I loaded my save, the whole segment would no longer work at all, and I was forced to cheat with the console and advance &story.

Furthermore, the balancing is not good. I don't know how Ted's playtest must have gone that he thought the fights were now pushovers; they are actually extremely difficult later on. Some fall under the same "Oh God, will this ever end" category as 9 Gems 2 - by the way, this DMOD also loves those purple boncas, and also hasn't taken the time to fix the bug where their attack doesn't work (it's not that hard to fix!), but at least this one seems to have made it so they almost never attack. Anyway, what really drags this DMOD down for me is the final boss. My stats were 68 attack with the light sword, 11 defense and 52 magic, with 140 HP. Even with those, I couldn't even beat her FIRST form... out of FOUR. I can't imagine what I might have done differently so this would have been possible. I had no choice but to cheat a LOT. The magic form ends up weaker even with Ted's attempts to balance it - even the hellfire spam you get ends up not being terribly useful against the end boss. It's all a real frustrating shame.

If you REALLY want to win without cheating (best of luck to you) save up lots and lots of gold before you go to the final hall. This won't be easy, because most enemies drop tiny amounts of gold, and when I say lots, I mean it has to be several tens of thousands to make any difference.

After you defeat Tenjin, there is a shockingly long ending. This DMOD isn't the first to have some neat cutscenes, but even ambitious mods like POTA have always had pretty short endings thus far. Hell, remember the "ending" of the original game? Yikes. You tend to just run out of development steam at that point and just put the minimal effort into getting it done, but not here. Dink visits everyone he met in the game (on both paths, oddly enough) and even some people from FB1. There's some fairly heavy discussion about the nature of evil - an intelligent goblin opines to Dink, "Everyone needs something to believe in. Some people just choose the wrong things." I actually felt kind of satisfied despite what an aggravating mess my actual play experience had been toward the end.

I would say that this game is worth experiencing, but be prepared to have no qualms at all about cheating. Unfortunately, this is another one in the "really interesting, but pointedly flawed" bunch.

072: Dink X Trivia Author: Jveenhof Release Date: August 7, 2000

I remember this one. I played it when it came out and had a nice chuckle.

This is an extremely simple trivia game created to promote a new website at the time called "Dink X Productions." It really could have used some polish. There's no scoring system or anything, and no graphics. Some of the questions are quite obscure, being about little-known fansites, and others are unknowable to anybody who wasn't around at the time. I got a perfect on the "DMODs" category, obviously, even though some questions were subjective ("which DMOD is considered the funniest?"). There's a question about me ("which DMOD author is known as Coconut Monkey?") in the "People" category.

Generally, the mod just says "Correct" if you get a question right and "Wrong" if you get it wrong, although there are a few comments for certain wrong answers, like Jveenhof proclaiming, "C'mon me and Tal are like God and Satan" if you suggest they collaborated on his website. There are no reactions to doing well or poorly, however, which really seems like the least you could have done to make this kind of entertaining. At least the MIDI selections are fantastic.

The only point of this is a bit of nostalgia. Anybody who wasn't around at the time will be totally lost, especially by mentions of lost DMODs (Spawn, Dink Logan) and ones that never really existed at all (The Fountain of Youth).

Finally, this monumental task is a bit closer to being done. Take that, people I just invented in my imagination who said I'd never get back to this. Now there's just... 268 left? Oh my, that's a lot of DMODs. If you want to keep me at this forever, release more of them. Anything released before I finish is officially part of the project.

In the future, would you rather see shorter, more frequent updates (Hell, I could do one at a time), or longer, rarer ones?
December 19th 2013, 05:31 AM
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
Yaaay

I'm also one of the people who really liked the first 9 Gems of Life. I don't even remember having played the sequel, maybe I never did? That or it didn't stick with me for obvious reasons apparently xD
The idea of the Trivia d-mod is actually still a good one, especially now with even more d-mods released. Of course, only true veterans would be able to answer anything about the beginning of d-mod development as you pointed out. But still, the combination of community + d-mod is attractive.

I wouldn't mind shorter more frequent updates, because it gives me something to read when I visit
December 19th 2013, 06:19 AM
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metatarasal
Bard Male Netherlands
I object 
If Kyle is going for shorter more frequent updates I'll go with longer rarer ones. It's just the way I roll.

Joking aside, I really love to read some of the in-depth analysis/mocking of all of the DMODs. Doing shorter descriptions would detract from the overall quality of the final overview. But really it's up to you to determine how detailed you want to make your overview, it's hard for me as an audience to determine that for you! Though you could always do fewer DMODs per update, I definitely don't mind that.

For as far as I can remember Friends Beyond 2 has always been considered to be a project that had some fantastic ideas, but failed on the execution of those ideas. I personally played through it only once, I got (one of the) worst endings and didn't bother to play it again. Though it didn't feel bad for me it felt less than both FB1 and FB3, the multiple path was novel but ultimately I don't think it was properly executed.

If you want to give the player a choice in the course of the DMOD the design decision to create a branch at that point, effectively creating a DMOD twice the length from there on isn't the best way to handle player choices. This is especially true with multiple player choices in which the amount of work required starts growing exponentially. I believe a system where player choices result in things like getting a magic spell or not getting a magic spell, an NPC that lives or dies, country A or country B winning the war. Those kind of things take only a limited amount of extra time and really make the player's actions mean something. Having one or more optional dungeons that determine the outcome of the DMOD in a way consistent with the story is the easiest way to make multiple endings. I think Wesley eventually decided on this as well and made FB3 much more in this fashion.

Arik on the other hand (who has always admired FB2) made another attempt at this with 'I, Kara Gu' in which you often have two different paths to take. However there are multiple points where those stories come together again and you can make new choices making it much easier to accomplish.

Also, surpisingly I got a lot of the answers correctly on Dink X Trivia when I tried it a few years ago, even though I only joined TDN in 2005. I was kinda proud of that for some reason...

Lastly: A great read again, nice to see you haven't given up on this
December 19th 2013, 09:27 AM
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
Don't get me wrong, I was not talking about shorter reviews! I was talking one d-mod at a time instead of 3-4 in one go if it means more frequent updates
December 19th 2013, 09:53 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Yes! These are so much fun to read. It's one of the few things that keeps me checking on this site still. I think you should keep it at the phase you've felt is most comfortable so far. Personally I've enjoyed the 3-5 D-Mods per post method you've been doing, but if you feel better doing one per post, that's probably for the best.

About the D-Mods, I definitely remember 9 Gems 2 being an awful disappointment too. And I think I even played the buggier version. I, too, enjoyed the original 9 Gems a lot, which is weird to think back because it wasn't THAT good of a D-Mod. Then FB2, which I always felt was overpraised. Most people seemed to say it was the best of the FB -series, but I call bullcrap on that. Legend of Tenjin is amazing, and totally underappreciated. And FB1 works as a fun little quest. Branches of Destiny however, I remember being an interesting attempt, but one of the biggest bugfests in history. And that Dink X Trivia game just makes me wish there was a TDN Trivia book that would cover this site from the beginning to this day. xD
December 19th 2013, 10:23 AM
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metatarasal
Bard Male Netherlands
I object 
Most people seemed to say it was the best of the FB -series

I seem to remember that many people thought it was the worst... I definitely can't remember anyone saying that FB2 is better than FB3. Depends on who you speak to apparently.
December 19th 2013, 10:47 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
I seem to remember that many people thought it was the worst... I definitely can't remember anyone saying that FB2 is better than FB3. Depends on who you speak to apparently.

Really? Everybody I ever talked to about it called FB3 crap for having an empty map, but praised FB2 cause it had an amazing storyline. When the truth is that both have an empty map and both have an unique storyline, with FB3's story being better, in my opinion. I think you're the first person who I've ever seen say FB2's the worst.
December 19th 2013, 02:19 PM
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leprochaun
Peasant Male Japan xbox steam bloop
Responsible for making things not look like ass 
Coco said that because his dmod's pretty much done he just wants to put the finishing touches on it and make sure everything's in order. So he's going to go back to this very soon.
December 19th 2013, 04:47 PM
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iplaydink
Peasant Male Sweden steam
Hmm.. 
Very interesting read as always!

Oh and I'd prefer fewer dmods per update, more often. Like skull said, it's one of the few reasons I still visit this site >_<
December 20th 2013, 04:22 AM
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Robj
Peasant Male Australia
You feed the madness, and it feeds on you. 
I also only come to this site regularly for these.
December 20th 2013, 07:20 AM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
I tend to stop by for the posts in this thread, and it kinda makes up 90% of the reason I still visit.
The other 10% is for any new Dmods to check out.

Personally I wouldn't mind seeing this thread get a new update more frequently; Less Dmods but the standard amount of content per review. However I'm also greedy and stick to the words of my last post
December 21st 2013, 12:29 AM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
073: Birth of an Empire Author: Stephen Ebrey Release Date: August 17, 2000

This DMOD was in development for quite a while. Stephen, also known as "George" for some reason, says he started it in 1998, though there was a period of about a year where he didn't touch it. I think it could have used a bit more development time, however, because I ran into some problematic bugs, and that's with a bugfixing patch released by Ted Shutes (of course) in 2001 installed.

This DMOD throws you right into the action; like the original game, you really have to pick up the plot as you go along. The first thing you see is this rock gliding majestically onto the screen in a magnificent bit of unintentional humor. I laughed my ass off. It's hard to explain without seeing it: just hitting the start button and bam, a rock strolls onto the screen, like it's getting to its spot a little late. "Oh crap, don't mind me guys. I overslept."

Anyway, you play as a goblin named Karg. The goblin sprite is used well as the character with no problems, although it is a little hard to tell if you're close enough to hit with the hammer at times. At the start, you just have to clear a mine of monsters (I love how Karg walks onto a screen and announces, "Oh, a bonca. I'd better kill it."). Once you get aboveground, the real plot comes into focus: the goblins have been oppressed by humans, forced to pay an unfair tax to the king (a certain NPC will tell you that Dink Smallwood's adventure happened 500 years ago). Confronted with the tax collector knights, Karg shows himself to be a bold young goblin who takes no crap from anybody and engages them in battle. After winning, he encourages his people to overthrow and conquer the humans, reasoning that years of untroubled rule have made them soft. Karg proves to be a charismatic leader with a powerful persuasive ability, and soon has everyone on his side.

The first major problem I ran into (apart from a fair number of depth que problems) was in that scene. I defeated the knights and the game froze while the other goblin on the screen endlessly moved around with no base walk set. I've determined that most of the bugs that I encountered throughout this mod had to do with the author using say_stop without ever bothering to freeze the player. This happens with quite a few conversations, meaning you just have to stand around and wait if you want to see them, but it also happens in some spots like this. The problem is that the say_stop command does the same thing as wait() - it stops the script. Therefore, the script can be interrupted at this point by something else, and if it's doing anything important, that can be a disaster.

The map is fairly big for being as short as it is (I finished in about 50 minutes), and not terribly detailed, but there were a nice amount of features and I never felt lost. The amount of wandering I did didn't feel annoying, which is nice. Some screens were really crammed with enemies. One problem I had was that in some places, invisible walls of hardness are used instead of some kind of object you can see blocking your way.

There's some humorous stuff in this mod, like a pig farmer goblin - he says people "made fun of him until they learned where their bacon comes from." Nice counter to that! Also there are a bunch of goblins who seem content to just hit something over and over again forever, which made me giggle.

There are a few secrets. There's a spell to discover called "summon bonca," but rather than create a bonca, it actually freezes you in place and makes you select among the enemies on the screen using an arrow. After you select an enemy, a bonca will appear for less than half a second and attack them once. I don't like this spell, honestly - it leaves you too vulnerable. During a boat segment ("Oh no! Sea slimes!") there's a hidden secret island you can find - there, you can purchase regenerating potions, which simply reverse the poison effect from Crosslink (this is stated in the mod itself). Now, this is a cool and very powerful effect - drink a potion and fight with impunity. It really makes combat feel totally different and I'd like to see it in some other mods. There are "orbs" (a new graphic) you can find throughout the game that lead to a secret path near the end. There, you find fire boncas, which look incredibly cool, but unfortunately flicker to the side once per walk cycle. This path really doesn't lead anywhere, which is disappointing. It ends in a screen that generates fire boncas endlessly, and due to the constantly renewed screenlock, you can't really escape. There's a reference to FIAT, which had already been in development for quite a while, here.

When the goblins come to the human land, there's a segment where you control a soldier with the Mog sprite who has to hold off the human knights for two minutes. This soldier has an awesome spin attack for his magic - it hits everything in range multiple times. Unfortunately, I ran into another bad bug here - if you defeat the soldiers at the end of the time before the text saying you should goes away, you'll get stuck.

Something bothers me about the plot of this mod. I mean, it makes sense, it's constructed fairly well, and the grammar and spelling are good, which sure is a relief, but I feel like Karg's actions ought to be more morally contentious than they're treated here. Everybody falls in line and not a soul ever challenges him. Nobody argues that they shouldn't rock the boat with the humans, despite the risk involved, and the humans who reside on the goblin island have no reaction to the fact that you've declared war on humanity. Once you get to the human land, the first town you come to (Stonebrook, rechristened Smallwood - and like other mods that reused screens from the original game, they didn't remove all the scripts, argh) surrenders instantly, including what I can only presume is Dink's less brave descendant. Okay, that in itself is totally reasonable - who wants to get killed by goblins when they'll accept your surrender instead? - but what seemed bizarre to me is how accepting the humans are. They practically welcome the invading goblins with open arms, agreeing that the King deserves to get it. I can't for a minute accept that the people would so calmly accept being conquered, and anyway this is just setting up a situation that's going to be the reverse of the one that existed at the beginning of the mod!

But get ready for the part that really takes the cake... a human comes up to you and straight-up offers to murder the King himself. Indeed, you take control of this human and do exactly that in a cool if easy boss battle where the King has shields that take a certain amount of damage and guards come in to fight you. Karg ascends to the throne, and it's all way too convenient for me. Are you sure you're the hero of this story, Karg? Do you even care? Do your subjects even care? Hasn't anybody got a motherducking spine?

I dunno. At any rate, despite some annoying bugs that had PLENTY of chance to get fixed, this is a pretty solid little adventure. It didn't blow me away, but it was pretty fun and had some neat ideas in it. If you're looking for alternative hero mods, you could do a lot worse.
December 23rd 2013, 03:58 AM
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iplaydink
Peasant Male Sweden steam
Hmm.. 
Oh, another one!

Hm never heard of that D-Mod, and it sounds pretty good by your description! I should play it ^^

Great read as always!
December 25th 2013, 07:14 AM
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Love to read these as always Cocomonkey!

This thread is certainly not the only reason I come back here though; even though it's rare, a new DMOD or update or talk about a project always makes my day when I see it!
December 27th 2013, 06:33 PM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
074: The Quest of Life Part 1 Author: Stephen Martindale Release Date: August 28, 2000

Ludum Dare, started back in 2002, is a game development competition that challenges its participants to make a game based on a theme in just 48 hours. Dink programmer Seth A. Robinson is currently one of the staff of this project, and his games won a couple of the past competitions. I mention this because "The Quest of Life" was made in 48 hours itself. It's not the first DMOD to be made in that amount of time or less, of course. Redink1 made "Dink Goes Trick-or-Treating" in a day, and I knocked out Dink Forever in an afternoon, for example (bet you aren't surprised). I saw "48 hours" mentioned with this one, though, and made the connection. Anyway, the author makes a point of advertising the short development time in this case.

It got me to wondering about that 48-hour time limit. Yes, this is off-topic and I haven't even played "Quest for Life" yet, but this'd get boring if I didn't meander a bit, right? "I liked this part of the DMOD and I didn't like this other part of the DMOD." Let me know what you think.

Anyway, what's to be gained by setting a time limit? After all, the disadvantages are obvious - the limit of scope, the possibility of just plain running out of time, the necessity to forgo polish. Despite this, this concept is incredibly popular - and not just for games (see "24 Hour Comic Day"). Well, there's the challenge itself - people like a challenge. But I think the real hook is something even more obvious: just getting something done.

Think about it. Isn't that liberating? Just getting something done. There's something admirable about that. The finish line never really out of sight. I just made a DMOD, though it isn't quite ready for release yet, and let me tell you, I often despaired. Even though I knew exactly what I had to accomplish, I couldn't see myself getting it all done. For three months, it was hard not to give up. Thinking about doing another one makes me ill at this point. But two days? What's wrong with that?

If I were to say I'm making a DMOD right now and submit it the day after tomorrow, even if it weren't anything special, wouldn't that be kind of cool? How about if several people did it at the same time? (Ludum Dink?) Can you imagine? When I think like that, I think maybe it isn't impossible to get some life back into this thing. I dunno, maybe I'm nuts. Even if I am, I think I've realized the special kind of enthusiasm that the LD people have tapped into.

OK, but really now. Quest of Life. Actually, it's a good thing I spent so much space talking about 48-hour games, because there's not a lot to this one. There's really no plot, except in the literal sense of "a series of events" (and I will admit I've seen a DMOD or two that doesn't even meet THAT standard). All you get are a series of quite simple tasks to accomplish.

At the start, Dink finds a letter. It's a bit confusing - it tells you to meet a wizard in the forest, but also admonishes Dink "not to venture into the forrest today!" What you've got to do is examine Dink's bed so it'll be tomorrow. Step 1: Nap. Going to the meeting point will simply reveal another letter (get ready to read a LOT of letters) telling you to go to another meeting point, and you'll get your tasks at last - really, I think this should have been called "Quest of Totally Unexplained Chores." The tasks could hardly get more basic: Go here, retrieve this, kill that - sure, these are the basic forms nearly all video game quests take, but they're rendered here in their most simple form. The most interesting thing you have to do is kill a pillbug you can't actually reach. This is hard because it moves fast and those mushrooms and that duck are actually invincible fireball-blockers. Ooo, stuff your laughing, you indolent isopod.

I encountered some bugs, but happily, not a single one that interfered with my gameplay. The ones I did see were pretty glaring, though, like the warp point for Dink's house being a good four feet from the door, and more than one forest edge screen looking like this for some reason. Still, the maps looked OK (better than mine usually do, to be brutally honest) and had a surprising amount going on. The map was tight and purposeful instead of large and empty. I like that. Oh, also the spelling is terrible. "Dink, you beet the pillbugs!"

The end still explains nothing except what you were told early on, that this has been a "test" of your abilities. It leads into Part 2, which, amazingly, exists. Getting stuff done!

Honestly, this is a totally generic little romp that took me ten minutes to finish, and there's nothing special (or good, really) about it, but I was a bit impressed by how competently put together it was, considering the development time and the fact that the author had never made a DMOD before. I've seen (and made) notably worse.

075: The Quest of Life Part 2 Author: Stephen Martindale Release Date: September 2, 2000

This claims to be part 2 of a trilogy. Oh, we know how that goes. Of course there's no part 3. I think there are more two-part trilogies than actual trilogies in the world of Dink by a fair margin. Like the first mod, Part 2 was finished in just a couple of days.

This part certainly has more of a proper story than the first, even if it is quite thin, silly, and at any rate incomplete. I don't think I need to get into the details, because this DMOD doesn't seem overly concerned with them itself, but there are some nice turns of phrase here, spelling aside. The tradeoff is that the maps are for the most part not as surprisingly good looking as they were in the first part - with the exception of a few interesting screens (you're required to use an item you've been given earlier to escape here), they look more like (ugh) my maps.

Having a bit of plot seems to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it makes it easier to get interested and invested in what's going on. On the other, it leads me more easily to disappointment. In the original, I was fairly willing to accept that Dink was just supposed to do a bunch of tasks for some ill-defined "test;" why not, right? Here, something is established about goblins and a kidnapped daughter and it's kind of annoying that this thread doesn't really hold together. It ends even more quickly than part 1, right after you save up to buy a claw sword. I mean, it was to be expected, but it was still a bit disappointing after the events up to that point had felt a bit more like a proper quest than the list of tasks from its predecessor.

There are some moments of weird humor here that I enjoyed - everybody is so deliberate and enthusiastic in these, and I enjoyed Dink actually shouting, "HARK!" at the beginning of reading a poster more than I probably should have. Still, although Stephen's DMODs are a bit more interesting than you might think, without the third part this claims to lead into, they really can't leave much of an impression.

I still like the idea of quick DMODs, though. You could do something with that, especially if given a theme to work with like the LD competitions.
December 29th 2013, 05:51 AM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
076: Forest of Dangers Author: Sharp Release Date: November 11, 2000

As far as I know, this is the first DMOD by a female author. That doesn't really have anything to do with anything, of course, but I thought I'd note it for historical reference. She was just 13 when she released this one, which, um... has not been a good predictor for quality among DMODs thus far, let's say, especially among first efforts.

This DMOD doesn't really buck that trend, but you know, it's not completely terrible either. My expectations were pretty low, so it was more enjoyable than I thought it'd be. That's entirely on the strength of being oddly amusing, since the gameplay here is totally null. "Forest of Dangers" is amazingly short - I'm talking two minutes here. You start out with a huge max life that you've got no opportunity to fill, and your actual life is pretty low. There are some pillbugs at the start; if you want to win, you've got to beat them up and hope they drop some hearts. You should also make sure you don't get hit even once before the boss; otherwise, you will lose for sure. This isn't particularly hard to accomplish, though.

The tiny map looks okay, although with just three trees toward the start, I don't think it's much of a forest. Everything seems to work as intended except that some duck enemies aren't implemented properly and turn into arrows when they die. Great work putting the arrows in the duck's base death slot instead of using one of the many empty spots, RTSoft.

Although there's almost nothing to do, I got a bit of enjoyment out of how surreal the DMOD was - I'm reminded of "Scar of David" in that regard. Everything from the title to the author's bizarre insistence throughout that she is Santa Claus was quite weird in a way that amused me. It also featured this enjoyable exchange with an NPC who gives you a longsword:

"How much?"
"Oh, it's yours for free."
"..if I do something for you, right?
"No, it's just free."
"This is something quite new to me."

I dunno, I laughed. I guess it's because I've been playing my own DMOD, where EVERYBODY wants something from you.

After talking briefly with the odd NPCs, you proceed through some screens of ducks and pigs. There's no warning, but they will hurt you if you touch them, though there's no point to fighting them. When you get to the end of the line, there's an "old person" sprite who REALLY surprises you by having a dragon brain. If you manage to beat them on your small health, all you've got to do is return to the NPC hut and you're done.

I certainly wouldn't call it "good," but I had a better time with this trifle than with something frustrating like "9 Gems 2."

---

"Friends Beyond 3" is next. Holy crap, 2 map files? I didn't even know a DMOD had ever done such a thing.
January 6th 2014, 03:47 AM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
077: Friends Beyond 3: Legend of Tenjin Author: Wesley McElwee Release Date: November 16, 2000

REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is one of the select group to have a score of 9.0 or better (9.1) on the Dink Network.

The final installment of McElwee's trilogy (how about that, a trilogy with an actual third part that exists!) is far more ambitious than its already ambitious predecessor. It's the first (only? I haven't a clue) DMOD to get around the 768-screen limitation by including a second map file.

I am playing this mod with the last of Ted Shutes's patches, released in 2002. This patch doesn't rewrite the game like the FB2 modification, but it fixes many bugs. Some of the bugs it fixes would really drag the game down, so definitely use the patch if you're playing this one.

With his "Friends Beyond" series, Wesley sought to bring the Japanese RPG feel to Dink, and with this third installment, I have to say that he succeeded. The first game was kind of a mess that just seemed like little more than a chance to learn DMOD authoring. The second did some impressive things, but was ultimately fractured and frustrating. With Legend of Tenjin (heretofore referred to as "LOT"), though, he nailed it. I really got the same feeling playing it as I do when playing a good sprawling JRPG, and I enjoyed it very much.

In the words of Mr. Bean, "first of all, it's big." Now, as much as I liked "Quest for Dorinthia 2," I have to say that this is only the second DMOD that really felt like an "epic" to me, especially if we're going with the stated definition of "as long as the original game or longer." It took me 8 hours and 42 minutes to get done with this one, shattering my record of just over five hours with Prophecy of the Ancients. I could have finished it quite a bit quicker, I'll admit - I adopted a "kill everything" policy here, resulting in my setting a new level record of 15 as well - but the point is that there really was a ton of stuff to do. It's a meaty one.

What put me in the mindset of those great roaming RPGs was LOT's well-constructed open world - two of them, actually, but I'll try to focus on one thing at a time so the rambling train wreck I call "prose" doesn't get even sadder. A lot of mods either funnel you through a mostly linear sequence of areas or have one area you spend all your time in. Actually, even the original game was a bit like this, gating you off one area at a time. There's nothing wrong with these approaches, and they have their strengths - if I didn't think so, I wouldn't have just made such a mod myself. LOT features a number of different areas you are allowed to explore, each with things to do and tasks that interrelate with one another, and this gives the gameplay a certain feel that put a smile on my face, maybe because of all the memories of other fun RPGs it brought to mind.

With more screens than any two other mods I've played so far put together, I was quite concerned that LOT would suffer from a serious case of Big Empty Map Syndrome. Impressively, I did not at any point find this to be the case! Unlike FB2, which frustrated me with large vague areas that got me lost for long periods, LOT's maps feel very purposed. I felt like I had a general idea of where I was and what I was doing at all times, and there were lots of enemies, locations and objects to find. The availability of a clearly labeled world map certainly helps, as does the fact that you may obtain a ribbon that stands in for the herb boots via a sidequest early on. Incidentally, I didn't find this to unbalance the combat at all - in fact, I found the various swords better for fighting in nearly every case, the exception being weaker creatures without a base attack.

A lot of things about this DMOD are customized, from the HUD (I don't terribly care for the texture, honestly, but I got used to it) to the basic sound effects that we're all used to being replaced. You get "points" to put toward stat increases at level up, but honestly, unless I got the full 8 points (enough for two stat ups) I usually loaded a save. There's a lot of new magic, including a heal spell that's usable but not so good it makes fights pointless and a meteor spell that I friggin' love. There's also a fruit mixing system for potions, but I didn't use it much and I think it could have been done better. If you are into it, though, a separate DMOD is included so you can mix to your heart's content.

LOT begins with a long cutscene showing the key events of FB2 as well as giving you a vague idea of what Dink did afterward. This DMOD stars Dink, but not the Dink we know. LOT's Dink is a descendant of the original Dink Smallwood, two hundred years later. He comes from a long line of heroes, but has not been prepared for such a life himself.

This might seem like a bit of an odd direction to take, but I thought it really made this DMOD much better than it otherwise would have been for several reasons. First of all, we get to drop all of the "Dink Smallwood" baggage including the first two games of this series. Something that limits DMODs in general is the need to keep in line with at least the original game, if not a number of other things that have been vaguely established through various other DMODs. Dink is an established character, and there are things in his past that can't be responsibly ignored. You can do a lot with that, of course, and use it to your advantage, but it isn't right for every type of story. This is why a lot of RPGs - the first six Dragon Quest games, Lunar, Phantasy Star, debatably Zelda - use this sort of "generational" conceit - the story of the callow youth coming of age and overcoming the odds to save the world doesn't make sense with a character who's already been through that arc. Here, we get to see another young and inexperienced Dink go on a whole new adventure. He's even quite a different character - nicer, maybe a bit less assertive - and that's fine because he's just not the same guy.

Like the original Dink, this one lives alone with his mother. Unlike him, though, it doesn't take this kid until it's too late to realize how much he cares about his mom. At one point when he thinks he's lost her forever, there's a long cutscene looking back on their happy life together. It's an emotional scene.

There are several parallels between this story and the original, and it's interesting to see the differences. Also like his ancestor, Dink Jr. lives in a small and cozy village that he soon must leave. This is hard because he has closer ties there - a best friend and a "will they/won't they" girlfriend named Laura. There's a scene of the two of them walking together that I really enjoyed. There aren't any words, just a silent montage, but to me it conveyed their relationship in a way that would have been difficult to do with words. Little things like having them turn to face each other with just the right timing to make it seem like they're conversing in a natural way made me forget, amazingly enough, how limited all this Dink stuff is and think of them, just for a moment, like real people. Actually, this DMOD was packed with effective cutscenes. It's one of my favorite things about it.

I won't go into every detail of the plot. LOT is packed with quests. Dink Jr. gets a job, he gets pulled into a rebellion against a king, he gets thrown into jail. You find out that the successor Tenjin mentioned at the end of FB2 is a Dink recolor named Sid, and as you progress you see some scenes of him making progress on his own evil quest. He succeeds, and destroys the world. Dang, I hate it when that happens!

Included with the DMOD is a second map.dat and dink.dat file, to be swapped with the ones you're using at this point (3:35 for me). I was skeptical of this method, but it works perfectly. The process is as unintrusive to gameplay as swapping a disc on a console game, right down to the screen telling you to save and swap files.

There's a lot to the map swap apart from simply making the game bigger. The rest of the DMOD takes place in the world after the destructive event. It's almost exactly like the "World of Ruin" from Final Fantasy 6. In the second segment of the game, you can choose which of the islands you want to warp to and complete the quests in the order you please, which is nice. You can even go to the end early, but if you haven't completed all the quests, you won't be able to get the best ending.

There are three endings. The worst one is incredibly silly. The middle ending is actually pretty happy apart from the implication that evil will return. It's worth seeing for the drop-dead gorgeous scenes, which simulate lighting and use the whole screen with sp_noclip to wonderful effect. As for the best ending, I don't want to spoil it for you, but I'm too excited not to mention that Dink successfully collects all of the Chaos Emeralds and gains the ability to turn into Super Smallwood. Okay, that's a lie. Neither of those things happen. That is a real screenshot, though.

Wow, that was a wall of praise. Despite how much I liked LOT, there are still some problems I had. First of all, even with Ted's patch installed, the mod is still kind of buggy. There are hardness errors, things that you can push from the wrong direction and have move on top of you, at least one item that freezes the game if you try to "use" it, and quite a few cutscenes fail to freeze you, so don't touch the controls or you can have big problems. The warp points also fail to freeze you during the warping process, which can get you stuck. I had one nasty problem where story didn't get incremented when it should have, getting me totally stuck. I'm almost tempted to fix these problems myself, but there's got to be even less audience for that than there is for a new DMOD at this point.

The other problem is the writing. Now, to be clear, the writing is fine. It's certainly well above the standard of the average DMOD. The thing is that this worked so well as a game that it made me want to judge it above that standard. The actual story was fairly solid, usually making reasonable sense (more than I can say for any Final Fantasy Plot later than 7's). It's just that the dialogue could really use some punching up. It's stiff and overly simple. It's not quite to the point where I was like "geez, people don't talk like that," but a lot of it totally failed to grab me. Also, the themes explored could have been deeper. I honestly thought that Friends Beyond 2 (at least, Ted's rewrite - is that the issue here?) did a much better job of discussing the nature of evil than LOT. I'd much rather have "some people choose the wrong thing to believe in" than "an evil force made evil people evil." Mind you, these two explanations aren't incompatible - maybe this evil force can easily lead astray these people who are already lost and looking for something to believe in anyway. That's actually kind of interesting, in fact. Without that aspect, though, it becomes terribly facile and cliché. The "fight evil with goodness and friendship" speech from the middle ending was also a groaner.

I actually had the most fun with LOT due to the gameplay. I always felt like I was doing something, often several things at once. It was great fun to have such a sense of both specific and grand purpose. As a game, minus the inferior writing and humor (although this mod did have some funny moments), LOT works better than the original Dink Smallwood. It joins POTA, Crosslink and Dorinthia 2 in my top-tier favorites.
January 6th 2014, 06:23 AM
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
Ah, Friends Beyond 3. It made ripples with its twin map system. Unfortunately, I could just NOT get into it because almost every single screen is nearly empty. Now, aesthetically this ruins things, it ruins immersion, but worst of all I felt it made it impossible to navigate the large distances you travel between points of interest. I think I finished it though, eventually, because I wanted to write a review of it (as I did often back then). I think I ended up comparing it to Stone of Balance or Pilgrim's Quest, and I shouldn't have done that.

I used to be completely in love with JRPGs so I should have loved this d-mod as it does replicate many of the genre's tropes. The music was all from the 16-bit era as well, which I should have also loved. And yet... It felt like it was drawing from my nostalgia instead of delivering its own thing. I'm easily emotionally triggered by music, so many of the old songs carry a memory with it of the game it originates from. Take Aerith's Theme from Final Fantasy VII. No point in using it for other games or d-mod, because it is intrinsically connected to a character and particular scene from that game for me. This is the feeling I had all the time while playing FB3. It's hard to blame this on the author though, it's more of a personal thing.

Anyway, I did like the gameplay and cutscenes. I think it was one of the first d-mods that tried to do cutscenes in a fashion that goes beyond talk scenes (like the example cutscene you mentioned). There was also a ton of stuff to find (if you could navigate the map) and explore. I feel that if the map had actually been smaller, it would have served the game better in the long run. Smaller, but more focused.

Nice write up Coco, I enjoyed it as always
January 6th 2014, 10:30 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Great write as always! Been waiting for you to get to this.

Personally, FB3 is I'd say in my top 5, maybe even top 3 (depending on the day) favourite D-Mods of all time. Yes, there are some bugs and the map is a bit empty, but I still think the other areas in the game are so excellent and well-made, it didn't ruin the game for me, or even bother me that much.
January 7th 2014, 03:53 PM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
078: Beginning of Sorrows (Trailer) Author: Wesley McElwee Release Date: November 21, 2000

Wesley had planned a followup to his Friends Beyond series, as we see in this brief (although not THAT brief) trailer. The title is from the bible according to this title screen, and it fits the events in the trailer quite well.

The story here is about a faction developing killer robots with awe-inspiring power. They reason that they do what they do because the opposing faction is so crazy that the consequences of not doing so could be even worse. I really like the story here. The writing is a lot sharper than in "Friends Beyond." The characters talk very much like real people, and they question the morality of what they're doing to themselves before nervously rationalizing it away. It really gripped me and I would be excited to play the full version.

Unfortunately, the full version never came. Wesley explained in a 2006 review that the data for this DMOD was lost in a hard drive failure, and he decided to move on. Them's the breaks. Make backups, people.

There are some nice graphics here, including the recolored Mystery Island robots and this establishing shot. The problem is that Dink is never frozen, so pressing "talk" at any time produces the familiar text ("I'm bored," etc.), which kind of undercuts the drama a bit. What's worse, in the scene where we see Dink himself (in an ordinary Dink setting - how was this intended to coexist with the more modern-looking scenes?), you can walk around as you please.

Anyway, there's not much to see here. Just a little tease of what could have been, but wasn't.

Next time: Another epic already? Yes, it's Stone of Balance.
January 7th 2014, 04:25 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Well, it's time for Stone of Balance. Have fun! I've a feeling it'll take a while for you to even get to the writing part with that one. I'm actually really excited to hear what you have to say about it, cause it really was a groundbreaking D-Mod. May not be the best D-Mod ever, but I do consider it the biggest D-Mod ever made. Dunno how others feel about it, but Stone of Balance is where I sort of draw the line where old-school D-Mods end, and a new, sort of more "polished" style started, which kind of lacks that classic feeling, but after which D-Mods' quality (mostly) began getting better.
January 8th 2014, 05:49 AM
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iplaydink
Peasant Male Sweden steam
Hmm.. 
There are so many dmods I've never played... O___O
Interesting read as always, I'm really looking forward to STone of Balance!
January 8th 2014, 07:31 AM
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SabreTrout
Noble Male United Kingdom
Tigertigertiger. 
Very interested to see Tim's views on Stone of Balance and the d-mods that follow. The benchmark for quality is raised high drastically by SOB.
January 9th 2014, 12:30 AM
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DinkKiller
Peasant Male United States xbox steam
The world could always use more heroes 
Stone of Balance is one of my top 3 favorite D-Mods (that I've played) of all time. I definitely look forward to reading what you think about it.

High five for the Sonic reference in the FB3 write up
January 14th 2014, 01:27 AM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
079: Stone of Balance Author: Simon Klaebe Release Date: December 2, 2000

REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is one of the select group with a score of 9.0 or better (9.4) on The Dink Network.

I remember when "Stone of Balance" came out. It was made available for download in parts on a less than fantastic server, and with everybody trying to download it at once (most people still having 56K modems at this point), I remember people having a really hard time downloading this. The server crashed at one point and for a while, only a few had a complete copy. That is, unless I'm confusing it with something else, which is certainly possible. I am sure that it was hotly anticipated, having been announced quite a long time in advance.

I was mostly out the door of the Dink community at this point, but I did play a little bit of SOB back in the day. I was going to write that I hadn't, but when I saw Dink saying, " They did a bad, bad thing," I knew that I had. I don't think I ever got out of the first section back then, though.

I've never called these things I'm writing "reviews," and there's a good reason for that. I'm writing in a quite literal way about the experiences I have playing these mods, and what they're like for me. Reviews, while obviously being based on the reviewer's subjective opinion, do generally represent an effort to be somewhat objective in evaluating the content of the subject. I'm not really doing that. As I've commented before, my experience can involve a lot of things, down to even my mood at the time. I wanted to establish that so that you understand that when I said I had a better time for the most part with Friends Beyond 3, I'm not actually saying it's better than this one. SOB is definitely a more impressive effort, I did have a good time with it, and if I were reviewing it I'd probably give it a score in line with its current average. But redink1 said "Stone of Balance is a D-Mod you're going to love and hate at the same time," and so it was for me.

I probably shouldn't compare this DMOD to Friends Beyond 3 for a number of reasons, the most important being that the two mods represent two very different approaches to building a game world and a story. Whereas FB3 has a pair of large, open worlds that you move back and forth through, accomplishing various tasks in an order that is sometimes up to you, SOB is a series of scenarios presented in a linear fashion. As I said in my review of Friends Beyond 3, each approach has its strengths, and Stone of Balance is certainly a model for the strengths of the second approach. Moving the player through the story in a linear fashion enables the game to put you on a path with many twists and turns. Everything changes for Dink several times during the story, which can be quite thrilling.

"Stone of Balance" is actually like a collection of different quest-sized DMODs that each have a different theme. It's all unified by Dink's search for the fragments of the Stone of Balance (or, once again, the Chaos Emeralds). It's kind of like the plot of 9 Gems of Life, where Dink is magically sent to each location to retrieve a crystal, except that this game is much better in every imaginable way and actually completes its story. SOB keeps things interesting by repeatedly changing up its formula, though.

You're probably still waiting for me to justify what I said about Friends Beyond 3. Here's what I mean: while I played FB3, my train of thought sounded like this: "Oh, here's another cool thing to do. Gosh, this is fun." In this one, it was more like, "Wow, all this is really impressive... Oh hell, what am I supposed to do now? I've been looking for nearly forty minutes, that's clearly a hint I saw but when I do what they seem to be insinuating it doesn't seem to work. dang it, I'll check the walkthrough again... You're friggin' kidding me, I have to walk all the way back THERE? Oh, and I've permanently missed out on THAT. Great."

Yes, "Stone of Balance" can be a frustrating experience in several different ways. The actual combat gets really tough in places, but I didn't mind that so much. What bugged me was how many times I'd get stuck, and stuck hard. Now, there's a lot of imagination to the various puzzles here, which is good, but I can't help but feel a lot of the time like you'd have to be a goddang mind reader to figure out what Simon was getting at. Fortunately, a thorough walkthrough is included, which is something I recommend all authors do if you think it's remotely possible to get stuck in your DMOD. It reminds me of Phantasy Star II for the Genesis - it's a cool game, but without a guide, it'd be a terrible hassle to muddle your way through, which is why they included one with the original retail release. I think that the inclusion of a guide can in fact affect the quality of a game overall.

Even with the guide, though, I had problems. When using a walkthrough to help me complete a game, I usually just play the game normally and explore for myself, only referring to the guide when I get really confused or stuck. I do NOT recommend playing Stone of Balance that way; I wish I'd stuck to that guide a lot closer than I did for the length of it. Unless you do some mind-reading on the level of that expected of you by that dang Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy text adventure, you're definitely going to end up having permanently missed important things - things like, say, the Hellfire spell, which I restarted an hour in to go back and get. I'm glad I did, because without it the early game would have been stupid hard. Whenever I tried to work things out for myself, I felt like I was getting punished for it. Things like this happen with great frequency in this DMOD.

Those are the reasons why I I'm not sure I'd say this one is a personal favorite of mine, although I wouldn't dispute that this is one of the great DMODs (and believe me, if I thought I should, I would). The quality here is certainly top notch, it's just that there's some design philosophy going on that I'm not thrilled about, and this is totally subjective. If you, unlike me, enjoy getting stuck and potentially missing things, this might be exactly your bag. I just thought I'd get all (well, almost all) of my complaining out of the way up front so I could focus on the many interesting features of this DMOD.

Skull commented that this is the biggest DMOD ever made, and that certainly may be so. My time record of 8:42 from Friends Beyond 3 certainly didn't stand for long, as I spent exactly an hour longer on this one, a mark I'm not sure anything could top given the limitations we're dealing with here (though I only tied my highest-level record of 15). Whereas it's a valid complaint about FB3 that its thousand-plus screens are a bit empty, Simon worked hard to pack SOB's 768 as full as possible - not of sprites, mind you, although this mod does have some nice decoration, but of things to do. Each segment of the game is really packed with events and locations of note.

My favorite thing about Stone of Balance was the imaginative scenario concepts. From a land where all speech must be sung by decree of a queen with a singing jewel to a balls-out insane land of ovary trees and bouncing boob enemies, Simon clearly felt constrained neither by the usual tropes nor by the limits of the Dink Smallwood graphics that most mods work within. "Stone of Balance" is filled with high-quality new, original graphics to a degree that completely blows away anything that came before. I particularly like the desert area with its cactuses and tumbleweeds. And although it's based on recolored sprites, the land of Midas is a sight to behold.

There are also several impressive technical feats going on here. The biggest one is how bugfree the mod is. It's hard enough making a big DMOD that works properly, let alone one as complicated as this. Through many patches (the final release incorporates patch 14b), Stone of Balance has been polished to a striking level of professionalism, which I must applaud. The only major bug I came across was that, if you use the mud item in the desert area, the periodic text that follows can sometimes interrupt a cutscene at a time that will cause a freeze. Apart from that, I experienced no real problems. This DMOD also contains the most impressive magic spell I've yet seen, "translocation." This enables Dink to move to any place on the screen. Now, this is pretty much the same effect achieved by the "Warp to a different spot on the screen" option from the Ultimate Cheat, but to actually work something like that into the design of your DMOD just floors me. The whole reason we feel like we've kept the whole experience from falling apart in the first place is that we've carefully controlled where the player can go, and here's something that lets the player go anywhere. It must have taken very careful design to make the parts of the game where you're able to use this spell stable. There are some spots where you can get stuck this way, but since they're all places you'd definitely be saying "haha, watch me break the game" by trying to warp there, I don't see this as a problem.

Oh, and then there are the riddles. When I saw that screen, I shouted "No ducking way!" out loud. Actual letter-by-letter input! When considering this as a developer, I had personally written this off as basically impossible. Showed me! Of course, this makes the riddles very difficult to solve, or maybe I'm just stupid.

"Stone of Balance" solves the typical problem epics have of the protagonist becoming too powerful in an interesting way. As you enter the later segments, something will happen to badly handicap you, whether it's having all your stuff taken away or having gold become worthless and get replaced by silver coins. It's all justified in the story and works with the episodic feel of the segments. This is smart design.

The story goes back and forth between something you're inclined to take seriously and something you definitely shouldn't. I think that it mostly ended up in the latter category, which is fine, but a few elements in the former demand attention. There's a theme here of questioning to what degree the end justifies the means. Dink, I probably don't have to tell you, is out to save the world from an evil power that threatens utter destruction. When that's your purpose, what is it moral to do toward that end? Anything at all? Well, if you use enough imagination, you could probably come up with something bad enough that you'd rather just let the world end, but let's lower the stakes - how about murdering a few innocent people? You'd have to conclude, logically, that you'd be ethically bound to do that if that's what it took, right?

That raises the question of what's really required, of course, and whether there's a better way. Dink only seems to care about this to a certain point, frankly. In the desert section you end up with quite a bit of blood on your hands, but the really disturbing part comes later. In the "land of reverence," where a sinister church holds absolute power, Dink must bring a sacrifice. There are actually a couple of different things you can do here, and at first I ended up murdering a woman in front of her daughter. Now, this method doesn't work out very well for you either. What you're really supposed to do, though, is still pretty dang bad, involving brutally beating her. Call me crazy, but if I were that little girl I don't think I'd forgive Dink even if he did save the world. What does it mean to be a hero? Maybe more games should take a look at this.

On that zany note, I'd like to talk about this game's sense of humor. As a certain forum denizen would have it, it's very "rude and crude." To be fair, you're warned up front about this, in a screen that explodes with a rather nice effect. Lucky me, I can never again say I haven't seen Dink pissing, holding his dick out, having sex with 13 women at once, or killing a masturbating old man. Yeah, my feelings are kind of mixed about this. There's quite a few moments in the DMOD that I found very funny, from the complaining about having to sing in rhyme all the time in the first part, to the way NPCs often fail to put up with Dink's RPG-protagonist bullshoot. There's an ornery Dink Smallwood-type feel to a lot of the game, which is good. Mr. Klaebe is nearly as clever as he thinks he is, and believe me, that's high praise.

All the crass humor got to be a bit much for me, though, particularly the sexual fixation. I mean, the way practically all the ladies are raring to go with "sex god" Dink was sort of funny at first, but it wears thin quickly, and holy crap, does it get reused a lot here. You know, I was planning to make a certain joke about Dink's focus on getting off and his subsequent ten-second coitus, but to the author's credit, he already made it.

Still, it really comes to a head in the crazy sex-themed segment near the end. Dink comes across a colony of nude women who plan to use a segment of the Stone of Balance as a "fertility crystal" to get pregnant without men's help. Dink must have sex with 13 women at once to impregnate them instead, and in order to manage this he has to gather ingredients for a Viagra potion. Now, you might think I'm a prude, but this kind of storyline makes me cringe when it's used in a porno comic, let alone a video game. The women Dink's supposed to knock up are treated as... no, even cattle are animate... as furniture. I'm not offended, because this stuff is obviously not to be taken seriously, but it was kind of gross and off-putting, and I could've done without it. Oh, and that's not to mention what Dink has to do to make the potion itself. Unspeakable things. Although I will say that if Simon drew the woman-creatures in this segment, I give him a big salute for the art quality.

It's certainly a challenge to the end. A lot of DMODs have a real pushover for a final boss, but the one in this DMOD is crazy hard. It's a Seth-type boss that makes a bunch of annoying regular enemies for you to fight. I had to try about a dozen times before I finally won, but I did beat this whole DMOD without cheating. I guess that final boss would have been easier if I'd gone for those "immunity potions" the guide mentioned. By the way, while I'm comparing Friends Beyond 3 to Stone of Balance, I noticed an odd coincidence: both have a second-to-last boss that consists of three Dink clones.

Stone of Balance is a mod that set some new standards for what you could do with DMODs and proved once again how far you can go with the engine if you're able to put in enough work. You may question what I said earlier about it not being one of my favorites, but I look at it like this: if I were going to list the greatest DMODs, I'd include this one without a doubt, but if I someday wanted to have a great time revisiting DMODs, I wouldn't be in a hurry to pick this one due to some things that kind of bothered me while I was playing it. I might end up picking it anyway, but I wouldn't be in a hurry to.
January 14th 2014, 07:39 AM
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
Holy shhhhh, that's long I'll take the time to read this right now, I'm sure it'll be a great 10 minutes spent as always!
January 14th 2014, 07:58 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Heh, by "biggest D-Mod", I didn't exactly mean the length. I was talking about the impact the D-Mod had and its effects on the community, and how it raised the bar. And just the overall "epic feeling" that the game itself has. But now that I think about it, it might just be the longest D-Mod ever, too.

Stone of Balance to-date is the only D-Mod which I felt like was an actual new game, and still do. It doesn't feel like an add-on, it feels like something you could actually go and buy in a case from the store's shelf. I feel something like this would've come out if RTSoft grew into a bit bigger company and created Dink 2. Now the D-Mod can be a bit hard, and maybe goes a bit far with the sexual jokes at times, but it really offers so much variety and such a big adventure. It's amazing. SoB definitely has to be in my top 5 fav D-Mods.

Then there's still Pilgrim's Quest. Maybe you'll like that one better. My personal opinion is that one wasn't nearly as awesome, epic and groundbreaking as SoB, but it is still rated the best D-Mod, so...
January 14th 2014, 02:29 PM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
You're right about that, about the "new game" feeling. That was impressive. As I hope I conveyed, I thought Stone of Balance was very good overall.

Hmm, I think I may be treading on dangerous territory with the things I say here. People may not be saying "that Tim guy is awesome" anymore as I go on. I feel like I have to be honest about how I feel, though.

My favorite DMOD is "The Green Voice in my Head Part 1: Hangover & Agony."
January 14th 2014, 02:53 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
I don't think you're headed to a dangerous territory. People might disagree with some of the things you say, but at least you're being honest about how you felt. And I don't think anybody's gonna get mad even if you bash their own D-Mods. Most people realize when their D-Mods suck. Even I'm gonna try and keep my hot-headed attitude elsewhere when you get to bashing my D-Mods.
January 14th 2014, 04:52 PM
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
Most people realize when their D-Mods suck. Even I'm gonna try and keep my hot-headed attitude elsewhere when you get to bashing my D-Mods.

This goes for me as well Don't forget, this community has lived with reviews all their d-modding careers, it's nothing new under the sun.

And you'll still be that awesome Tim dude to me
January 15th 2014, 12:07 AM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
"People may not be saying "that Tim guy is awesome" anymore as I go on."

That Tim guy is awesome.
Keep up the good work, your opinions and thoughts are well worth the read. A review doesn't necessarily need to be objective, either. You're giving a critique, alongside your experiences, after all.
January 15th 2014, 12:19 AM
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I love to read your experiences as always. I had a little bit more frustration than you with Stone of Balance, but to be fair FIAT was even worse. I'm not one who enjoys relying on guides to get through games, but I do agree that the effort put forth to make SOB is incredible, and the quality is certainly there.
January 15th 2014, 09:45 PM
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Striker
Noble United States steam
Daniel, there are clowns. 
Okay, these are really awesome. I'm impressed that you're just getting through these d-mods, let alone writing up enjoyable synopses of them.

I agree with your analysis of a lot of these that I remember playing. SoB certainly... I love it, but it does have it's flaws. My opinion of FB3 is kind of the same as Kyle's though, some people really love it, but I tried about 3 or 4 times to get into it and just couldn't.

Very much looking forward to more.
January 17th 2014, 06:11 PM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
080: Mrs. Scarlet's Murder Mystery (Demo) Author: Zail Release Date: December 5, 2000

A DMOD where Dink is a detective and investigates a crime is such a great idea! It's too bad this "demo" goes absolutely nowhere. Generally when you call something a "Demo," I expect to have SOME kind of objective to complete, but Dink accomplishes Jack and Squat in this one, and Jack left town.

As you may expect, this is a non-combat DMOD, and the HUD has been altered a bit - your experience bar is now "progress" and measures how much of the story you've progressed through, which is a sharp idea. It helps give the feeling that you're collecting important information in your investigation. You can still punch things, which is great because there are responses for punching every relevant object, a feature I love that is too uncommon in mods. Some of the responses were fun. If you look at a bookshelf, Dink says, "There are more books here than I could read." If you punch the bookshelf, he says, "There are more books here than I could punch." You also have herb boots in your inventory, which is nice - as Dink says, "My trusty Gumshoes should help me move faster!" Cute.

Although the spelling is kind of lousy, the writing is otherwise pretty good. I actually started to get into it - not as a drama, really, but at least in the, "Oooh, a puzzle to solve!" sense. The problem is that there isn't. There's a few characters to interview about the death of Mrs. Scarlet, but the information you gather doesn't really get you any closer to learning whodunit, and as soon as you try to leave the smallish mansion, the game ends.

It's a shame that Zail never finished this. Although it's very simple and the maps are kind of odd-looking (but in a boring way, hence no screenshots), I would have been all over this one if it were finished or even a substantial demo release. As it is, this is just a stub, a clever idea never implemented.

081: Milderr!! Author: Sharp Release Date: December 12, 2000

Although it was a silly bit of nothing, I got a chuckle out of Sharp's Forest of Dangers. This, on the other hand, was something I didn't enjoy at all. In fact, I briefly gave this the Dink Forever Memorial Award of Badness, but I'm retracting that with this edit for reasons I'll discuss in my next post.

"Milderr!!" is a big incoherent mess full of bugs and empty of a point. Out of all of those qualities, it may surprise you to know that "big" is the one that made it annoy me more than anything else. My patience for buggy, pointless incoherence vanishes like promised third installments in DMOD trilogies when combined with Big Empty Map Syndrome, and this mod has the worst case of it since "Mike Dingwell's First DMOD."

So in this DMOD, you play as Milder FlatStomp. This is a good idea that nobody's tried before. He stuck out more than most characters in the original - what's his story? If nothing else, it could be fun to play as such an unrepentant jerk. I assure you that this DMOD takes this concept and goes nowhere at all with it. Actually, Milder seems in character at times and out of character (lacking the confidence of a true moronic git) at others.

The setting seems to be a bizarre alternate version of the original game's. You start out in what is obviously supposed to be Stonebrook. Apparently Ethel is Milder's aunt - it seems like this would have been mentioned, but then again, it never was clear where Milder lived, so I'm fine with it. Stonebrook is shaped all wrong, but at least it's sort of recognizable, whereas once you leave, the whole map becomes associated with the original in only a vague, fuzzy sort of way. I can't imagine why you wouldn't start any DMOD set in the original area by simply importing the screens. Of course, a lot of DMODs that have done that have failed to remove attached scripts, but really, that's not so hard.

The actual maps here are astoundingly empty. Here, take a look at the overall map to see what I mean. Those screens that look entirely empty ARE entirely empty, and it's a big drag. (If you'd like to enjoy a bit of schadenfreude, while my fiancee saw me playing, she said, "Oh, those maps look like yours!" I wept bitter tears.) Wandering the huge empty map without much to do or, since Milder has no base attack, even a single enemy to fight is seriously unfun. The interior screens all have a weird quirk: the exit warp is a big floating door whose hardness doesn't properly cover the exit. As such, you can walk right past it, in some cases into other interior screens! I'm also demonstrating something else in that shot: many NPCs in this DMOD have no script attached to them at all. In one case, there's a whole screen with just one NPC who has no script.

On top of being empty, the maps are poorly matched, at one spot allowing you to cross the screen border right onto some water. Another location has a house that should be on four screens, but inexplicably disappears on two of them.

There's not a lot of story going on here. I'm not even clear when this is supposed to be set: You can see Dink's mom in Stonebrook, but later you can find a woman who claims that she was married to Mog and Dink killed him. This is completely impossible, of course. There are a couple of amusing bits of dialogue, though I'm concerned by Milder's... rapeyness. He claims that it was Libby's idea to sleep with him, but her tears suggest otherwise. Yeeesh.

All you have to do is proceed northeast to get some "runes" (crossbones) and talk to a wizard, then go north past the bridge to eventually find a warp to the Darklands. The rest of the map (a big chunk of it) can be ignored; there isn't much there anyway, although there is a place in the castle where you can do a fun little dance. Anyway, in the Darklands you'll meet the capricious, most likely evil Sharp, who has some choice words for Milder. The interaction that follows is... pretty difficult to understand. Basically she says "I CAN DO WHAT I WANT, I'VE GOT MAGIC POWERS," and attacks you, but doesn't kill you because of reasons. Dink shows up, but he gets yelled at and runs away. At the end, Milder is told he must go to Finland, where she lives. Okay.

What I'd take away from this one is that giving your DMOD an alternative hero, making a non-combat DMOD, and setting your DMOD in the original setting are all pretty ambitious things to do, and they give your project a much greater capacity to disappoint than usual, so one should approach these ideas with some caution.
January 17th 2014, 07:59 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
I'm not arguing that Milderr!! is quite horrible. For most parts I did not enjoy it at all, but the worst D-Mod you've played so far? I'd say that's pretty harsh indeed. The game might be buggy, but it's got a fairly big (though empty) map, a storyline (that sucks, yes, but still is there), an alternate main character which was fairly uncommon back then. The overall concept of the D-Mod isn't very bad either, and it has some unique humour. The D-Mod sucks, plain and simple, but I'd still say it wasn't entirely horrible by the standard of those days.

Apparently Ethel is Milder's aunt - it seems like this would have been mentioned, but then again, it never was clear where Milder lived, so I'm fine with it.

I find it surprising that so many people seem to have missed that the original game clearly states that Milder grew up in Stonebrook. So that makes it fairly possible that Ethel could be Milder's aunt, and he lived with her.

Hope I wasn't too harsh on your points of view. I just disagree with your statements of Milderr!! being the worst D-Mod you've played so far. It's horrible, but I wouldn't say it was even near the worst D-Mod at that point.
January 17th 2014, 08:12 PM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Wait, what? At no point did I say that Milderr!! was the worst DMOD I'd played. Hell, I specifically said that it was better than the other DMODs I'd given the "award of badness" to and better than Dink Forever, but it was still bad enough that I felt like "honoring" it.

Oh, and re: Milder. I meant that it wasn't clear where exactly he lived in Stonebrook. I guess that was unclear, sorry. Come to think of it, there are so few houses in Stonebrook that he'd have to live there, wouldn't he? Never mind, then.
January 17th 2014, 08:22 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Oh, I think I've misunderstood the whole "Memorial award of badness" thing the whole time. Oops! Sorry, my mistake. xD
January 17th 2014, 09:45 PM
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scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
Milder being related to Ethel makes surprisingly much sense. He's not related to Dink, and he flirts with Libby, so it would be weird if he lived with the SmileSteins.

Then again, where the heck does Chealse live? It's a classic RPG cliche, really; there are never enough houses for everybody.
January 27th 2014, 09:35 PM
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shevek
Peasant Netherlands
Never be afraid to ask, but don't demand an answer 
Now that I've finally caught up with this thread again (that took me a few days ) I want to respond to your part about Friends Beyond 2.

I've played everything without patches, because I didn't actually know they existed. (Although I fixed The 9 Gems of Life 2 myself to be able to leave the pirate ship. Oh and I "fixed" its end boss as well.) I don't think it is unfair that the wizard cannot get the "real" ending. That's what happens; you choose a path, and you may not get what you want, even if the choice itself wasn't wrong.

It's also fairly important for the storyline: at the cutscene which ends the real ending of FB2, the kid whose wizard grandfather you didn't save (because you saved the other guy) is very angry at you, and it is implied that "evil" is out to get him (or actually, that it already has him). The kid is called Sid, and the only thing that doesn't make sense is that FB3 is set 200 years later, so he wouldn't be alive anymore.

I recognize the problems you describe, but they were due to a bug (which I tried to diagnose; I think it's Freedink-specific, but not Freedink's fault; it's in the graphics library): the boy that was cast away from Perfection says he gives you the Ice Sword, but I didn't seem to receive anything. With this sword, things that follow are pretty tough. Without it, they are impossible.
(Side note: to work around the bug, set the sequence or frame in its add_item to something different.)

I'm not sure if it was also the last sword I got, and so I had to battle Tenjin with it. In any case, I don't remember Tenjin being as impossible as you describe. I don't think I beat her on the first try; it was certainly a challenge, but I think I get her the second or third time. Long before I would have given up, anyway. Perhaps my tendency to put lots of points in defense helped me as well.

FB3 on the other hand was way less impressive to me, mostly because it was so buggy. So I suppose you made a very good choice there to go with the patched version. The ideas are good, and I liked it a lot, but it was much less enjoyable than FB2 to me.
January 27th 2014, 11:01 PM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Even in the patched version of FB2, you can't save the kid's grandfather and get the real ending. The turning point I was talking about is a little later.
January 28th 2014, 09:23 PM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
082: Rise of the Rebels Author: Dali "Cybermonkey" Zheng Release Date: December 15, 2000

There's something wrong with this one as packaged. No title screen displays at the start, and there's no dmod.diz file.

Well, this is another crappy waste of time. I had to go back and remove the Award of Badness from "Milderr!" because I realized that playing Friends Beyond 3 and Stone of Balance back to back had made me forget what the average quality of a DMOD was actually like. The level of sarcasm necessary to hand out an "award of badness" ceases to be fun if you're doing it all the time, so I'll go back to saving it for truly special achievements in terrible DMOD-making.

Even so, this still comes close. "Rise of the Rebels" is a lot less broken than "Milderr," at least, but that DMOD did show the potential for some clever ideas at a couple of points. I'm not sure I've ever seen a mod with less of a point than this one, and yes, that's even including my early stuff.

"Rise of the Rebels" is about Dink being part of some kind of rebellion against a government. You might think that was an awfully sparse summary, but I've told you exactly as much as the DMOD itself ever does at this point. At school (Okay, it IS kind of funny seeing Dink in a classroom), Dink is instantly talked into joining a rebellion against "that government over there on that island" so that they can gain their "independency." Riveting stuff, here.

Nothing ever really happens in this DMOD. Its few attempts to have any sort of personality are lifted from the original game (punching Dink's mom: "I HATE YOU!" "You'll get over it.") or other DMODs ("Oh, that was my favorite barrel" from FB3, "Sadly, Dink couldn't escape the [boss room] and died," from Ed the SCV). Also, the tiling is very bad. Anyway, you go over to the other island. Your co-conspirators die during the screen transition (Dink's comment of "?" expressed my thoughts pretty well). There are some knights you may fight if that's your idea of a good time, but all you really have to do is go kill a king. There's some unintentional comedy to that fight - other mods featured fights against a king sprite, but they never had it move around like a pillbug before. It is REALLY funny looking.

The ending shows Dink displaying exactly the same gravity and excitement over the result that I felt. Why did Dink blow up the government? Because that's what you do with governments, I guess. The experience brought to mind the very early DMODs that weren't made by Mike Snyder, but when I actually think back on those mods, they nearly all had something to make them more interesting than this.

RotR isn't the worst DMOD - there's a certain level of competence to it. It might be the blandest, however. A lot of DMODs that are worse than this one are bad in a sort of interesting way, at least. If I were prioritizing which DMODs you should play first, this would be near the bottom, under things like Dink Forever and above only things that don't work (Gnug's Attack) and things that lack the necessary components to call them a proper DMOD (All out Brawl, that alphabet one I haven't gotten to yet).

083: Norman the Killer Tree (Demo) Author: Jonathon Manning Release Date: December 26, 2000

Jonathon was the author of the hardly-even-a-demo known as The Orion. According to the intro, in this DMOD you play as Dink's father, "Donk Smallwood." Boy, this family has some stupid and terrible names. I didn't help matters with "Zink," either. "Zink?"

This "demo" has more to do than "The Orion," but it actually ends up feeling even less like a proper demo to me. "The Orion," for as little as there was to it, at least felt like a complete, self-contained experience as far as it went. This feels more like the author gave up in the middle of making it.

Still, it gets points for being incredibly silly. The introduction puts us in a time when people were happy, animals were happy... "Dammit, even the grass was happy," before the terror of Norman, the evil killer 3-meter pine tree, was summoned by foolish wizards to this plane of existence. I was repeatedly amused by the wisecracking lines, like a sign saying, "Town Well - We don't know why it glows," or Dink, when told he has to get his magic to 20 to cast a certain spell, proclaiming that he doesn't know how he'd do that "aside from the Ultimate Cheat." I also found the melodrama to be quite deliberately humorous. For example, "Mildretta" tells you about how Norman destroyed her town in an almost blasé conversation until she gets to the line... "and... and... HE KILLED MY SONNNNNN NOOOO!" It cracked me up.

It's a good thing, because holy cow the maps are crappy. The tiling, hardness and sprite placement are all wrong. And this is a bit of an aside, but I've been noticing by poking around in the map editor that a lot of the small DMODs from around this time used a script for invisible sprites instead of setting them to be invisible. Maybe this is because it was hard to see invisible sprites in the original DinkEdit? I can't remember.

After the first village area, you get to a screen where rocks block your path. It seems that hitting them with a fireball is supposed to make them disappear, but it didn't work for me. I was only able to proceed by walking straight through solid cave wall by sneaking through some conveniently missing hardness.

The cave comes out on a huge empty second area that couldn't be more obviously unfinished. The screens to the right edge simply stop with no border at all, and many screens are completely empty. I didn't find much to do here - it is possible, apparently, to trigger a "this is just a demo, Donk" style ending, but I never found it. I did find the only proper enemy in the mod, a slime. That's one more than "The Orion," at least!

There's some amusing material here, but it peters out almost immediately and you're left with a clearly unfinished mess. Donk never so much as glimpses Norman, which is an awful shame. I thought there was a lot of potential in a game about a killer tree.

084: Revenge of the Ducks Author: Jveenhof Release Date: December 29, 2000

When I saw the intro start up with conspiring ducks, I thought this was going to be just like "Kill the Ducks" from Lost in Dink. In this DMOD, however, the player takes the role of a duck named Ronan seeking revenge for his "people" on a human known simply as The Hunter.

There is very little to this one. A significant amount of the time I spent on it consisted of watching a credits roll show me the name "Jan Willem Veenhof" over and over. All you have to do is go north, get the fireball magic, defeat a bonca (those who remember the first appearance of the bonca in the original game will consider this appropriate revenge in and of itself), then go back and kill the Hunter. I think that an opportunity was wasted by not having the Hunter turn out to be Dink. There's a little powerup cache you can find, but it's pointless.

There may not be much here, but the concept of the duck hero, complete with over-dramatic Final Fantasy music and an incredulous dragon statue, entertained me a little for a couple of minutes. It's almost inspiring when Ronan insists, "Even a duck can be a hero!" If you don't mind bad grammar and spelling, you could do worse for a quickie.

085: Legend's Tale Authors: Tallis, Kyle Release Date: December 29, 2000

Uh oh, it's the first DMOD on here by somebody who's actively been posting in these threads! Hi, Kyle.

Like in Friends Beyond 3, you're playing a Dink Smallwood who's descended from the one in the original game. As I've been over, I'm totally cool with that, as it's a nice way to get a fresh start. You're actually "Dink of Smallwood," according to the description. This is the second DMOD to have a town named Smallwood in the future of Dink's world, the first being Birth of an Empire.

A proper demo appears! This demo took me a little under 20 minutes to finish and felt like a pretty good little Dink adventure.

There was obviously a lot of ambition here. There's a lot of text for such a small demo. All the inhabitants of Smallwood (and there's quite a few of them) have their own little backstories to tell you, which impressed me. There's lots of exposition that feels like it's setting up a story for an epic of the "Friends Beyond 3" type. In this demo, however, the only thing Dink has to do is fetch some special flowers for a sick woman.

There's some nice presentation touches in "Legend's Tale;" the authors obviously wanted it to stand out a bit from the average DMOD, which is a good thing. A little introduction is presented by a duck and a pig, who tell you about the new savebot graphic as well as the renamed stats. There's also a "luck" stat, but as the farm animals will tell you, it does nothing in this demo. Honestly, the same can be said of life itself. A feature I really appreciated are the little informational screens you get after completing a quest or defeating a boss. I always dug that kind of thing in RPGs.

This demo does have a couple of problems. There are some minor spelling errors, but mainly I'm talking about the fact that on the left side of the map, there are screens that cut off with no border (producing "invisible walls"). This is a big no-no for DMODs. Lord knows it's what people gave me the most crap about in regards to my early stuff.

The final boss is a girl that turns into a purple bonca, and let's all give this DMOD a hand for being one of the VERY few so far to fix the bug from the original where purple boncas can't hit you because they don't have any special frames set in the INI. How rare is this fix? In fact, the only DMOD I can find before this one that implemented it is Wesley McElwee's Friends Beyond 3. What do Prophecy of the Ancients, Crosslink, Quest for Dorinthia 2 and Stone of Balance have in common? None of them fixed the purple bonca bug. The mind boggles.

*I* fixed the purple bonca bug for Malachi the Jerk. There's something for y'all to look forward to.

...Ahem. Anyway, this feels like the start of something pretty cool. As it is, it's worth devoting 20 minutes to. Maybe give this one a go if you've played all the popular DMODs already.

086: The Emerald Hunt (Demo) Author: Alexander Schroeder Release Date: December 30, 2000

Holy cow, the end of 2000 was crowded with releases.

This was the second demo release of "The Emerald Hunt," which was intended to have many such releases on the way to the final - an odd approach. Of course, we know now that it turned out to be the last.

Okay, I've been joking for a while about how Dink always seems to be collecting the Chaos Emeralds, but come ON. Not only are they actually CALLED emeralds here, they look a lot like... no, I'm pretty sure they ACTUALLY ARE the Chaos Emeralds from Sonic 1. You can't fool me by calling them "Peace Emeralds," Schroeder, I know what's up. Who the Hell would call something that lets you throw fireballs (as the only emerald you can get in this demo does) a "peace emerald" anyway?

The plot involves the emeralds getting stolen by some delightfully colorful wizards called the Six Evil Hodge-Podgers. I love how, after killing the guards, one of them remarks, "Wow, we're evil!" Now that's pride in one's occupation. Their crimes also include savebot destruction. No, really.

A lot of attention has been paid to sound in this DMOD, which is nice. Everything that happens has an (often new) sound effect, and there are some seriously kickin' MIDIs. I was jamming out.

Unfortunately, this demo is sparse, incomplete and has little content. There's a big empty map, but I wisely stuck to the road. A glance around in the editor confirms that the road takes you to anything you could need or want to see. What really annoyed me are the presence of signs with no scripts attached. This is the kind of thing you absolutely want to polish up before releasing a demo. Otherwise it looks like you don't even care.

You go fight one boss (it's a bonca) and recover one emerald. The boss at least has an HP counter, which is nice. I'm not sure I've seen that before. It changes text colors as the HP reaches different levels. Anyway, after that you go to pay a bridge toll, and the collector is Milder. Dink and Milder reminisced about the old days while I muttered, "He's dead, that guy is dead, he's supposed to be dead," at my monitor. The monitor regarded me with cold indifference, like my overpowering, ever-present ennui. Anyway, that's the end of the demo. Skip this one, I'd say.

---

And that wraps things up for the year 2000. What a year it was for Dink! With the game going free in late 1999, the community really went nuts. Just think about it - Quest for Dorinthia, 9 Gems of Life (call me crazy, I still like the original), the Friends Beyond Series, Isle of Croth and Stone of Balance were all released the same year! This one's going to be hard to top.

Edit: I've also submitted an HTML version of the 1999 writeups, for anybody who's interested in those. It's actually quite a bit of work typing the HTML tags over and over.
January 29th 2014, 04:57 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
I most certainly understood your Dink Forever Badness award wrong earlier. I didn't realize it was referring to your D-Mod, I just thought it meant in general something like "Forever the worst D-Mod" or something like that. Shows I need to pay more attention to things. Granted, I do read these at 4am, so...

I remember Rise of the Rebels. Back in the day, I used to think it was a fun little D-Mod. Looking back though, it looks pretty awful. Time changes a lot of perspective, even with D-Mods, apparently.

Always loved the Revenge of the Ducks -series. The first one though is just... well, what you described. It's really short with not much to do, but still manages to be quite entertaining, for some reason.

Legend's Tale I played years ago, and never even finished it. But from what I can remember I still enjoyed whatever little amount of it I did play. I think it has an "Epic" feel to it, and it's actually something I'd perhaps be interested to see completed. Or maybe a new project from Kyle, similar to it?

These are awesome to read, Tim! Keep up the great work. Congrats on getting done with 2000, the biggest year. You say it'll be hard to top, and I agree. In fact, no year probably does top 2000. When it comes to D-Mods, the next few years come quite close, with some great ones, but overall 2000 must definitely be the best year the Dink community has seen.
January 29th 2014, 07:41 AM
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
Awesome writeup again! Really enjoyed it You're absolutely right about the year 2000 being hard (or impossible) to top. I don't think it has to do with the game going freeware though, most of the good d-mods of that year were made by longstanding community members and were year long projects anyway.

I don't remember any of those d-mods except The Emerald Hunt, which I *think* I liked, can't remember exactly. I think back then, in that release window, it was hard to make an impact with all the heavy weights being released so close to each other.

As for my own Legend's Tale demo, thanks for the commentary The screens had invisible walls (which I also hate) because there are actual screens past it that were cut for the demo xD But that's no excuse. The d-mod never came close to being finished, but there is significant content in the version I have, about 2 hours of play I'd say. Maybe I'll release that some day, I mean, might as well at this point with the current drought I even forgot I fixed the purple bonca bug btw... But yay!

January 29th 2014, 08:55 AM
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metatarasal
Bard Male Netherlands
I object 
Only just managed to catch up with this. Some awesome reading here. I can also totally understand your sentiment about Stone of Balance, I personally never finished it, though I'm thinking of playing it again sometime. I especially had this feeling of 'a great one-time experience' with Pilgrim's Quest. When I played it I had an absolute blast, but when I tried it again a couple of years later I quit in frustration half-way. I just cannot enjoy it twice. Stone of Balance is actually better in this respect, I've played through the sandy part at least twice and never found it boring.

Also I love 'Revenge of the Ducks'. Perhaps the first installment does kind of suck objectively, but I love the entire atmosphere of this series. It also is an actually finished trilogy where each part is better than the previous, a rare thing indeed. Maybe it is my rose-tinted glasses that make me say this though... After many years of Dinking your thoughts about DMODs last played a decade ago can be a little bit misleading.
January 31st 2014, 09:15 AM
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iplaydink
Peasant Male Sweden steam
Hmm.. 
What I love about these is how you pick out the things that are unique in every D-Mod, things that you don't really think about when you play just a couple here and there...

Can't wait for the next one!
February 1st 2014, 06:19 PM
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Beuc
Peasant Male France
 
"I recognize the problems you describe, but they were due to a bug (which I tried to diagnose; I think it's Freedink-specific, but not Freedink's fault; it's in the graphics library)"

Can you explain me this some more?
February 1st 2014, 07:43 PM
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
Beuc, I swear you have a filter set to detect mentioning of your name or Freedink. xD
February 2nd 2014, 02:46 AM
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shevek
Peasant Netherlands
Never be afraid to ask, but don't demand an answer 
Can you explain me this some more?

What I found was that it did in fact put the ice sword in the inventory. However, when pressing enter it would load the image so it could show it, but that would fail (I don't know why; the image (after extracting it from dir.ff) looks fine when viewed with an image viewer, it's item-w19.bmp). The game's response to being unable to load the image is to remove the item from the inventory (this could be argued to be a bug in the engine, actually). The code that does this is in freedink.c, function draw_item.
February 3rd 2014, 04:04 AM
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Robj
Peasant Male Australia
You feed the madness, and it feeds on you. 
Because I have remained silent throughout this thread, I just want to assure you that I am thoroughly enjoying this.

I actually want to give you a cookie. And that's rare.
February 3rd 2014, 12:07 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
I actually want to give you a cookie. And that's rare.

*grabs shotgun* Who are you and what have you done with Rob?!
February 28th 2014, 09:52 AM
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Bsitko
Peasant Male United States
 
Wow. Just went through this crazy post and loved your write-ups. I agree wholeheartedly with you on QFD I and it's what I tried to fix with the SE but then introduced new bugs and the domino effect began. I do feel like the SE is playable and much better than the original. If there are show stopping bugs remaining, please let me know so I can take a look at them.

QFD II is still my favorite. Hands down. Great stuff Tim. 2000 was the glory days of dmods, imo and no offense to anyone who has created one since.
February 28th 2014, 05:23 PM
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Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
OK, I'll let you know. QFD SE is a long way off for me though, obviously.
March 2nd 2014, 12:16 PM
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Bsitko
Peasant Male United States
 
Obviously. Keep these write-ups coming. I look forward to exploring the DMOD's you feel are worth it.
April 24th 2014, 09:11 AM
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Tim, these write-ups are terrific! Thanks for taking the time.
April 24th 2014, 12:56 PM
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SabreTrout
Noble Male United Kingdom
Tigertigertiger. 
omg its pureevil

hi xx