The Dink Network

Crazy Old Tim Plays all the DMODs of 2005

October 7th 2014, 04:10 AM
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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
2006
2007
2008-2009
2010
2011-2015

2005 sure was a year that happened.

Okay, seriously, I've got nothing to say about 2005. I have at least one thing planned to say at the beginning of the all the other remaining topics, but I'm drawing a blank here. There was no DMOD contest in 2005. Twenty-three DMODs were released. The year's biggest release seems to be Metatarasal's "The Scourger," which came out in November.

Now that I mention it, there's an interesting trend of the "big" DMOD releases coming toward the end of the year. "Prophecy of the Ancients," "Crosslink," "Stone of Balance" and "FIAT" came out in December. "Friends Beyond 3" came out in November. "Pilgrim's Quest" was an October release. Even "Cloud Castle 2" and "Initiation" came out in September, which is still pretty late in the year. The biggest exception to this rule so far is probably the "Quest for Dorinthia" mods. I don't know what to make of this, but it is a weirdly strong pattern.

207: The Ultimate Challenge Authors: Dinkholland, Missdink Release Date: January 13, 2005
"And I am an old man and I can't fight against all these monsters. I am to old for that."

Missdink is not to be confused with MsDink, the author of "Furball."

This DMOD is not the ultimate challenge in any sense. If 'ultimate' means 'last,' well, I've still got 144+ more DMODs to play. If it means 'greatest,' it's not really that much of a challenge. Now, if it had been called "The Ultimate Grindfest," I might almost agree.

"The Ultimate Challenge" is very unusual in that the most daunting obstacles to your progress are a pair of objects you can't push until your strength reaches a certain value. Usually, when you require the player to be at least so strong in order to push something, you take some kind of step to make sure they don't have a weapon equipped while pushing. Failing that, you at least have the script take the weapon's added strength into account, because it doesn't make any sense that Dink is better at pushing things while he's carrying a sword. Here, however, this effect is worked into the design. You'll never be strong enough to make it past the barriers without equipping a sword.

The first barrier, a large fountain, requires a strength of 30 to pass. There are enough strength potions littered around in this DMOD that I was able to pass this with the claw sword. The second barrier, however, takes an insane 65 strength to push. Even with the light sword, which can be purchased in this DMOD for 10,000 gold, it took some serious grinding to make it to 65. Fortunately, I had been putting all of my points into strength anyway, which I don't usually do. Still, I had to grind all the way to level 14 to get Dink's strength high enough to pass. It turns out there is something built into the DMOD to help you - somebody sells golden apples that give you a strength point for 5000 gold each - but I didn't notice. Oh well, it still only took me 48 minutes to beat the game.


What is this rock MADE of?

This one is unusual in that it only has a smallish romp's worth of content, but it tries to ramp everything up into an "ultimate" climax by making you grind for lots of experience and gold. The grinding isn't too bad because there are stone giants and dragons that give you 400 experience points each and drop a fixed 200 gold.


And there are a LOT of them.

I opened by talking about grinding because that's what the DMOD is really about, but I guess I should talk about the plot too. The game opens with Dink in his home, where he says goodbye to his wife and bizarre adult-proportioned but action-figure-sized son and goes out for... a walk, I guess. He immediately runs into an old beggar, who is crying because his daughter is missing. Dink is, of course, on the case. After that, you just sort of wander around a big old field with a lot of open space. The tiling isn't great, although I've seen many DMODs do a lot worse. A number of things happen - for example, Dink happens upon a bunch of dead people and arbitrarily decides to kill the monsters who did it - but very little of it relates to the main "quest," such as it is.

It's possible to purchase or acquire every item from the original game except for the regular and flame bows and the throwing axe. You can also find wizards with names from The Lord of the Rings (Gandalf, Smeagol, Saruman) who will each sell you one of the original spells for 1,000 gold. Yep, Fireball is the same price as Hellfire here.


Some of the map decoration is oddly geometrical.

The boss, the "Stone Giant King," has one of the highest defenses I've seen in an enemy that you're supposed to kill by normal means with 58. Even with the 65 attack you need to reach him, Dink's attacks often do 1 or 0 damage. This is because the engine takes a random value from the top half of the range from 0 to your attack score and uses that as the power for a given attack. Still, the battle is anticlimactically easy. The stone giant moves quite slowly, and although it took me a while to kill him, he only managed to hit me once. Dink saves the girl, and there's an ending screen with an odd feature - a save point, although you're trapped on the ending screen and can't really do anything anymore. If nothing else, it made it easy to check my play time.

I actually felt like the grinding was the strongest part of "Ultimate Challenge," because at least it's different than the usual "go here, then go there" formula followed by most DMODs. Killing swaths of enemies and watching numbers go up can be kind of fun, particularly when it happens quickly, like it does here. It's ultimately pretty pointless, however, if you're not grinding toward an interesting conclusion.

208: The Goblin Castle Author: Ambikesh (Akamb) Release Date: February 10, 2005
"What did he say?"

REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is tied for last (0.1) on the Dink Network.

"Is it broken?" my wife asked me. "Did the download mess up or something?"

"No, this is what it's really like," I assured her.

"Ohhhh," she said. "I get it now. It's not broken, it's just s***."

**********This DMOD, "The Goblin Castle,"**********
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
  ****DINK FOREVER MEMORIAL AWARD OF BADNESS*****
   *********On this day October 7, 2014*********


Six screens. One line of dialogue, quoted in the header above (two if you count a sign reading, "Smallwood residence"). Zero goblins. Zero castles. Hell, there isn't even anything that could metaphorically be a goblin castle. Honestly, there really isn't anything at all.

"Goblin Castle" isn't the earliest DMOD to have a score of 0.1. It shares that dishonor with ThinkDink's "Ghosts of the Cast: The Quest for the Axe of Destruction." Honestly, I feel like putting that on the same level as this does a disservice to ThinkDink's work. It is that bad.

You begin the DMOD in an upstairs room. You walk downstairs. There, you see a woman, and after a pause, Dink asks, "What did he say?" There is another pause, and then there are no more words. Trying to talk to the woman does nothing. It is a surreal, worrying scene that threatens to peel at the edges of my brain like peeling the tinfoil off a potato. What did who say? Why doesn't she say anything? What the Hell is going on here? What goblins?

So you go outside, hoping you'll find some answers out there, or, I dunno, at least a pillbug to punch or something. But all that's out there are three screens surrounded by an odd-looking treeline with poor hardness. There is nothing on the screens except the house you left and the sign. You can't even re-enter the house. Look, I tried:


"House face, house face!" They taunted him. And because he knew they were right, he could not even cry.

If you look at the scripts, you'll find that there's supposed to be an intro of sorts, except that it isn't attached to anything. It has references to a global variable that doesn't exist in the DMOD. The script that delivers the single, cryptic line has all sorts of dialogue hidden behind checks of variables whose values are never set. The exchange with the woman, who calls herself Aunt Mary, is supposed to go like this:

Mary: The guard from Goodheart castle came here while you were asleep.
Dink: What did he say?
Mary: He said that King Daniel wants to see you.


I suppose King Daniel wants to see Dink about some kind of castle of goblins. I don't actually know, since the scripts contain no other references to the issue.

Maybe Dink's house is the 'goblin castle,' and Dink himself is the goblin. You see, he... no. I really can't BS my way out of this one. There just isn't enough to work with.

One of the many 0.0-rated reviews is by the author. He says that he was 11 years old when he made this. Of his own DMOD, he offers this opinion: "It is totally trash and I am still perplexed why redink1 or any of the other staff members haven't eliminated this Dmod's name from the download list. It is really extraordinary that such rubbish has still not been thrown away." I definitely couldn't say it any better.

I think we have a new leader in the "worst DMOD of all time" competition. Generally, you want to release things that have some kind of content.

209: Impossible Scenarios Author: Nam Hoang Release Date: February 10, 2005
"This excruciating D-Mod will have you crying for your mommy in MINUTES!"

Nam Hoang is the author of "Legend of the Pillbug," which wasn't totally horrible but left a strange impression of being led along a path by a velvet rope.

Nam goes to great lengths to warn us about his mighty DMOD. It will destroy us. It will make us swear oaths to various gods. It will create for us various new and unpleasant bodily orifices. He warns us in the description, in the dmod.diz file, in the readme, in the DMOD itself. "No whining," the mod snottily declares.

Which is odd, because "Impossible Scenarios" isn't particularly hard. It isn't very long, either. It consists of a series of "obstacles" or challenges marked with signs that number them and give a difficulty rating. I was encouraged by the concept. There's something satisfying about taking the different elements of gameplay, cutting them into small chunks, naming and numbering them. The Wario-Ware series has done this sort of thing very well. "Impossible Scenarios" has a pretty cool idea, but what it does with it is really unsatisfying.

In the first section, there are some screens with pillbugs and boncas who are mostly enclosed by fences. The enemies have just one hit point each, so this hardly presents a challenge. Making things even easier is the fact that the first time one of the enemies on each screen dies, the screen unlocks. The game says that it starts off slow "for noobs," but the mod ends up being short enough that this is a significant portion of this "impossible" DMOD.


Honestly, I feel sort of sorry for them. Doesn't seem right.

This is followed by a segment where the player must navigate paths lined with deadly thorny brambles, which do 999 damage when touched. This part actually can get kind of tricky, and I'll admit that I died a fair number of times. It still can't have taken me more than a few minutes all together, though.


DAMMIT NOT AGAIN

After the thorns, you come to the biggest part of the game: a snowy maze built from fences. I expected this to be like Jeff Speed's "Labyrinth," but in fact it's a lot simpler and more annoying. The path through the maze is actually pretty simple. It's only hard to tell where you're supposed to go because your view is blocked by thick groups of trees. You just have to sort of stumble your way through blindly. What's worse is that a big open area in the maze has tons more of the instant death thorns. They're placed on the edges of screens and not screenmatched, so that you have no idea you're walking into them until it's too late. This is a real dick move and an example of fake difficulty. The sign in this area said that it would make you "hate fences," but it really just made me not like the author very much.


Where am I going, exactly?

And that's it. When you get to the end of the maze area, there are no more challenges. Despite the large number of golden hearts I'd picked up, there was no boss or anything. It made me suspect that the author just got lazy and stopped making the DMOD in the middle. The game ends on a screen with a very large number of ducks to kill.


"I'm finished!!"

The title "Impossible Scenarios" makes you expect a tough test of skill, but there's none of that here. Once I actually started playing, I expected an amusing collection of different kinds of gameplay, but the DMOD doesn't really deliver on that, either. Stay away from this one. Somebody could, however, make a neat (or truly excruciating) DMOD based on the same format.
October 7th 2014, 03:10 PM
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metatarasal
Bard Male Netherlands
I object 
2005 already! That's the year I first started posting, apparently it is quite some time ago.

About the DMODs in question I guess you could say that they where just another bunch, probably none of them will be getting much TLC besides being mentioned in this thread. I guess these DMODs simply 'happened' too...

In my mind 2005 marks a transition in DMODs. I'm curious if you see it too or that this is simply because when DMODs came out in/after 2005 I was there on the board.

(Also, your release dates still say 2004!)
October 7th 2014, 03:27 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Whoops. Fixed.
October 8th 2014, 08:30 AM
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merder
Peasant Male Netherlands xbox steam
The Voice in the back of your head! 
a good read and well some d-mods are easier than the name implies XD

October 15th 2014, 05:38 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
210: Apex (Alpha) Author: Matt Tetreault (Hance) Release Date: February 13, 2005
"While I must say it is interestingly Dmod you've created."

Hance's first DMOD "Bishop's Quest" was the most unpleasant experience I've ever had playing Dink. It was characterized by endless, incomprehensible cutscenes, most of which would break if you ever pressed the space bar or the talk button on your gamepad. It also required you to "play along" and pretend things had to happen in a certain order even though they didn't. Nothing in it really worked as you'd expect from a video game.

When I saw that his other DMOD was marked an "epic," the biggest fear I immediately had was that it would actually be long enough to earn that designation. That thought was almost enough to make me break out into a sweat. Well, I needn't have worried. I finished the DMOD in under 45 minutes. I've played longer "romps." I think Hance designated the mod an "epic" to reflect how much respect he thought it deserved, but that wasn't a big success. With a rating of 5.6, "Apex" is easily the lowest-rated DMOD with the "epic" label.

I will say that "Apex" is definitely a better DMOD than "Bishop's Quest." This is awfully faint praise, of course, but it was a relief that it wasn't as bad as I'd feared. It has most of the same problems as the author's first DMOD, but to a considerably lesser degree. For example, some of the things that are meant to be obstacles to progress actually function as such. Cutscenes are shorter and less frequent, and only a few of them have the space bar problem. The heavy-handed yet impossible to understand religious themes from "Bishop's Quest" are absent here.


Everybody's favorite phrase "The God" does make one cameo appearance, though.

There is one area where "Apex" is even worse than "Bishop's Quest," unfortunately: the mapping. While an effort was clearly made to make the screens look interesting by putting a lot of different stuff on them, this mod remains a visual nightmare. Tiles are the biggest problem.


A cave looks like this...


Or worse, like this.


I want to cry, I really do. What is that fire tile doing there, anyway?


There are some screens that manage to look interesting.

Hance re-uses content from DMODs by other authors in odd ways. I'm not talking about the graphics from Carrie's "Golden Buddha" - that's fine. I'm talking about stuff that's pasted in wholesale and no longer makes sense in its new context. There's a scene where you have to get on a boat that takes a script directly from "Stone of Balance." It's hard to figure out how to get on the boat; for some reason, you have to talk to a crate. This brings up the transplanted script, which still contains many of the original lines of dialogue from "Stone of Balance," where Dink was arguing with an old guy about oars. Some of the other character's lines appear even though there isn't anybody around to be saying them!


Straight from "Stone of Balance." Who, exactly, is speaking here? There's no indication that this is a talking crate of some kind.

This copying even extends to the accompanying text file. The following passage is taken directly from the readme for "Cast Awakening Part 1: Initiation:"

"And please don't cheat. There *really* isn't any need to. Some parts *are* challenging, but none of the enemies can run as fast as Dink, and can usually be avoided with proper planning."

This text doesn't really apply to this DMOD. I can't imagine what it's doing here. The text also demonstrates that Hance was aware of the problem with cutscenes that don't freeze the player, because he includes this warning:

"DO NOT USE THE SPACE BAR
Let the script go by it self."

I am totally incapable of grasping the fact that he knew about this problem, but chose not to fix it (this is the second version of the DMOD). I just can't even imagine how that's possible. What in the Hell is even going on here? Hance continues to be an unsolvable mystery.

"Apex" is about Dink's quest to return the 6 golden eggs to King Ducklin and Queen Ducklinda of the Kingdom of Apex. They were stolen by the evil Domar, who has cast a spell of infertility upon the land, animals and people. All of this is presented in a somewhat more comprehensible way than "Bishop Quest's" plot. Actually, I like the infertility spell. It's not one of your typical evil spells, but it would create a huge crisis nonetheless. Unfortunately, while you're told about the infertility spell, you never see any evidence of it. Crops and such seem to be growing just fine.

Somebody named Gunter tells Dink what's going on near the beginning; unfortunately, talking to him causes Dink to stay frozen, one of the DMOD's worst bugs. You've got to ignore the guy who's supposed to be the one sending you on the quest in the first place.

The game progresses through several different areas in a linear fashion. Each area has a few different errands for you to run, but it's confusing because the game doesn't really keep track of what you're doing. You're supposed to bring items to certain characters, but you can usually "give" them the items before you've even found them, meaning that there's no point in actually finding the items at all. Similarly, characters constantly reference conversations that the player may or may not have already seen. There's exactly one order the player could do things in that would make everything make sense, and there's really no way to know in advance what that order is.


Here, we see the DMOD depending upon the honor system for plot progression. It thinks it's a choose your own adventure book!

Some of the items don't work either. The firebow is added as a spell instead of an item, and trying to use it just causes Dink to stand in place and draw the bow. One particularly funny case is an ordinary egg. If you use it, Dink says, "here is an egg," and for some reason, it vanishes! Maybe the egg knows it shouldn't exist due to the infertility spell, and acknowledging it as an egg reminds it to stop existing. Anyway, you can get as many copies of the egg as you want, like every item in the DMOD.

A few things do work properly. One thing that works is a set of colored doors and keys taken from "Initiation." This is the main thing that prevents you from just marching straight to the ending - at least, it does on those occasions where hardness errors don't allow you to just walk through the back of the building and get to the warp the door is blocking.

I was stuck for a little while in an area called the Marshlands. This area is a complicated maze, and you can't just walk to the end - you have to find a pickaxe to clear away rocks that block your path. The Marshlands are also full of stone giants and dragons. It's not necessary to fight a single enemy in this DMOD, but it's easy to get killed by the monsters in this area. You'd think that a map of the area would be helpful... that is, you'd think that if you had never seen one of Hance's maps before.


If this mess has ANY relation to the Marshlands as seen in the game, I sure as heck can't tell.

The Marshlands are the apex of "Apex's" attempt to feel like a real DMOD. After that, most of the rest of the game degenerates into a series of short areas where all you have to do is walk straight to a warp. There are a lot of these areas strung together, but they're so short that it all doesn't take very long. Even when you finally run into the villain, all you have to do is talk to him and he'll shrink away to nothing - that is, if you even care to do so. You can just walk past him to the next warp if you want. The ending gets caught up in a weird loop of scenes where a lot of lines are repeated, and the author pats himself on the back a bit by having Dink say he liked the game.


Saying "download my DMOD!" at the end of that very DMOD is an awfully strange thing to do. I guess this is meant to be a message to pass on to others.

I've said before that playing these DMODs feels like interacting with a piece of their authors, but nobody has mystified me as much as this guy. I only became more confused when I looked through his posting history and found this post. He asks for beta testers for "Bishop's Quest," and people mostly just discuss how old they are. In response, he lashes out at the community for attacks and threats that nobody ever made, calling people "dinks" and "possible closet queens." He declares that "Bishop's Quest" "is gonna be the talk of the Network. and will Blow You Away." I don't mean to condemn the guy, I just really don't get it. Old Matt seems to occupy a different universe from the rest of us.

Playing "Bishop's Quest" and "Apex" is like having somebody who doesn't quite know what they're doing tell you a story. It's obvious that they're putting a lot of work into the telling, and they're clearly quite proud of the story, but you feel a deep unease as they ramble on and you catch hardly any of it. The teller keeps forgetting basic rules of storytelling, and you can't even tell what order things are supposed to be happening in. Finally, you resign yourself to it and sort of float along. You still don't get it, but at least the unease goes away.
October 15th 2014, 02:10 PM
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metatarasal
Bard Male Netherlands
I object 
Hah! At least this is not one of those dime a dozen DMODs. Probably nobody cared enough to fully play through this thing to find out how long it actually is. You are probably fairly fast in your playthroughs given your experience but even then I guess this is no where nearly an epic. (Maybe reclass this DMOD? Sounds like this isn't even a borderline case by any stretch of the imagination.)

EDIT: I remember playing this DMOD, and I certainly did not bother playing through it to find out how long it was. I remember it being a sort of head-scratching experience. The only thing I remember playing that sorta reminds me of this style was this masterpiece. You'll get to it eventually.
October 23rd 2014, 05:44 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
211: Stupid Penguins Author: Carrie Ann Burton Release Date: February 23, 2005
"Well,I'd better go kill them penguins!"

The description of this DMOD lays out the entire plot for you. "A bunch of stupid penguins are pooping all over the place. Kill them before the stench kills us!"

This is indeed a serious problem. Penguin poop smells as if it has issued forth from the devil's own anus, and brother, do they make a lot of it. Once, I made the mistake of going on a short boat ride off the southern coast of Peru to some nearby rocks covered in penguins. The stench was so foul that it overwhelmed my sinuses and I became very ill. I ruined the ride for everybody with my constant moaning. With this experience in mind, I couldn't judge the people in this DMOD who beg Dink to slaughter the penguins too harshly.


I know that feeling, man.

Even compared to some of Carrie's other mods, this one feels pretty small. All you have to do is raise enough money to buy the fireball spell and then go kill the penguins. The money-raising is done partially by procuring certain objects for a few people. Dink obtains these objects by stealing them from other people in the same small town. Nobody complains, although there is one guy who complains that everybody in the town is always stealing things, which is a clever self-aware touch.


NOOT NOOT!

Carrie's amusing derpy-lookin' beavers are back, and the penguins themselves are indeed hilariously stupid-looking. Unfortunately, they're also given a stupid brain 10 (like the dragon, but without magic), which means they don't target Dink, so they can't really fight back. This is a DMOD where you kill helpless penguins. Oh well, that's what they get for pooping all over the place.

Of course, there might have been a more peaceful solution. Those townsfolk may have been able to find somebody who would pay them for the privilege of hauling away the poop. That penguin guano is actually extremely valuable, as I heard the tour guide telling us in between my bouts of retching.

Those stupid penguins.

212: Zach the Marine Author: Chaotic Release Date: March 30, 2005
"Sorcerer Bob ?!?!?!? What kind of sorcerer name is that?!?!?"

In the tradition of Ed the SCV, here's another mod with StarCraft graphics.

This DMOD has something unique - a graphic replacement pack made specifically for it by somebody else. On January 17, 2008, "Jakewedding" released Zach the Marine Extras, which replaces some of the DMOD's regular Dink graphics with more StarCraft graphics and some MS Paint originals. The add-on replaces the inventory graphics and provides a title screen ("Zach the Marine" originally just used the placeholder title from Mike Snyder's DMOD Skeleton). It's packaged quite poorly, though. Rather than including a GRAPHICS folder you can just copy onto the existing one, it contains a few different folders, and you have to figure out for yourself which files to copy to what locations.


This is the new title screen added by the Extras pack. It renders nonsensical a gag where the main character complains about the lack of a new title screen, but it's still nice to have one.


The new inventory screen is the biggest change made by the Extras pack. It's unusual in that it doesn't take up the entire screen. Oddly, the status bar is unchanged by the pack.

In this adventure, Zach discovers that his bomb "the EXPlotion" has been stolen by a king. The player takes revenge by going on a murder spree, but first you have to find a small assortment of odd materials to fix Zach's battle cruiser.

It's actually quite a simple little DMOD that I finished in under fifteen minutes. There's not much to the maps, and the combat presents no challenge. You never have to fight any enemies except for several bosses, and those are easy as Hell because you get a ranged weapon that can fire rapidly and they don't.


Despite the new main character who suggests a very different setting, "Zach" takes place in a kind of bland standard Dink map.

The plot makes little sense and devolves into a series of barely-connected events, but that's fine. Actually, the DMOD charmed me a little bit with an endearing sort of silliness. It's odd - I didn't find its attempts at humor funny, really, but I approved of them nonetheless. I particularly enjoyed a scene where Zach gets caught, tried and convicted for his crimes, and then left to rot in a prison cell with some other prisoners. There's a cutscene of Zach in jail that lasts for a couple of minutes, and the characters begin to argue about whether or not the DMOD is too boring.


Ironically, I found this scene to be the most interesting thing about the DMOD.

There's something I really dig about a cutscene which takes control away from the player for a long time and, rather than use the time to advance the plot, just makes them watch their character hang around in jail. Actually, I was hoping it was going to go on a lot longer. The audacity of that kind of scene in a video game always makes me smile. A video game that has caught your attention can leverage that to make you do certain things that don't meet your expectations of a fun time. Making a player sit around to watch a bunch of exposition just comes across as lazy, but to sit the player down and say, "Here, you've gotten trapped in this cell. Sit and stew in it for a while" - that sort of thing appeals to me. But then, I'm kind of a strange person. I like fetch quests. "They're not fun," people tell me, and I don't exactly disagree. But I like them anyway, especially if they feel like they've been put in deliberately and not as a desperate attempt at padding.


I really like this scene of prisoners lined up for execution. It manages to look very much like they're tied to those posts even though nothing of the sort is shown. My mind can't help but imagine the ropes.

I almost forgot to mention the odd intro in which Zach listens to his answering machine. It's supposed to play three long clips of a song that sets a typical outgoing message to the tune of the Mentos ad jingle, but it doesn't work. Instead, there are three long, uncomfortable silences.

The ending sets up a sequel, but it also weaves a legend of the author's formidable laziness, so it shouldn't surprise anybody that it never materialized. The only thing that surprises me is the existence of that weird little graphics pack. I mean, why this DMOD? It's not bad, but it's not anything special either. In terms of silly romps about a tiny hero from an RTS by Blizzard, I'll take the "A Knight's Tale" series over this any day.
October 23rd 2014, 02:09 PM
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It feels like ages since your last post. I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms

I really like the idea of the inventory screen that only covers part of the screen. Never really thought of it being possible. What happens to sprites behind it, do they stay visible? There's none in the screenshot.
October 23rd 2014, 02:14 PM
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scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
I really like the idea of the inventory screen that only covers part of the screen. Never really thought of it being possible. What happens to sprites behind it, do they stay visible? There's none in the screenshot.

Only tiles and brain 0 sprites are visible, most sprites disappear. I think it works the same way with show_bmp(), too.
October 23rd 2014, 02:16 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Makes you wonder why someone would change the empty Skeleton title screen, since it was actually quite a big joke in the original version.

EDIT: Oh, and I think Zach the Marine, in its own way, is one of the most successful first-time D-Mod releases. Also one of the funniest D-Mods too. Though I love the Knight's Tale D-Mods, I think Zach has its own style which is almost on the same level of hilariousity. Definitely wouldn't have minded if Chaotic continued the series.
October 23rd 2014, 03:53 PM
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metatarasal
Bard Male Netherlands
I object 
It feels like ages since your last post. I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms

Hah! I felt the same way. Are you working on something contest related by any chance?

Ah, well it at least gave me a chance to catch up with 2004, that felt like you wrote faster than I could read.
November 1st 2014, 08:15 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
213: Quest for the Gems Author: Pieter Biewenga (Metatarasal) Release Date: May 3, 2005
"Can you help me?"

"Quest for the Gems" is the first DMOD by everybody's favorite misspelled footbone. It's a pretty straightforward DMOD, but longer than I expected (it took me 37 minutes).

The title makes one expect yet another hunt for the Chaos Emeralds of the Week, but that's not quite what's going on here. The gems in this DMOD are not talismans of magical power, but mere valuable precious gems. The gems have been stolen from people and mines, and Dink is sent to help mainly because the authorities are concerned that, with everyone having their wealth stolen, they won't be able to pay their taxes.


They take taxes very seriously around here.

Dink is not convinced. He asks the King twice in the intro whether some kind of evil wizard is involved. His instincts don't fail him - of COURSE there's an evil wizard. Throughout the DMOD, there are short cutscenes of the wizard's minions bringing him more stolen gems. This always causes him to exclaim something about how he now nearly has enough to complete his evil master plan. What does this evil plan entail? How do a bunch of pretty, expensive rocks help him complete it? The game makes absolutely no effort to answer these questions.


As has been demonstrated several times, Dink knows how this works by now.

It's a pretty likeable adventure. The maps look nice and polished. I only ran into one bug. Maybe it's a bit too easy, but I will usually take that over too hard. The dialogues are all rather simple and short, but they don't all have to be talkfests. The only thing I really feel like complaining about is the game's extreme over-reliance on arbitrary triggers.

An arbitrary trigger is a device used a bit too commonly in video games in which one event "triggers" another to happen somewhere else even though there's no apparent causal connection between them. A good example from the original Dink Smallwood is the bridge to Windermere, which is broken until you do something totally unrelated. That's actually not a particularly bad example because it diverts the player from something they'll probably come back to in a fairly natural way, but it still lacks a pleasing logic. "Quest for the Gems" uses this kind of plot device so much that it gets quite confusing at times.


Where DOES he put them all?
(Actual game quote: "You can use my pumkins")


In fact, "QftG" is mostly a long string of scenarios that follow the same pattern. Dink runs into some sort of obstacle, you examine it (this is important, because the game will NEVER let you go to the next step unless you have at minimum examined the problem using the talk button), then you backtrack a bit to get something or, more often, talk to somebody. When Dink talks to a character after encountering a problem, he always begins, "Can you help me?" He says this so many times during this DMOD that it's practically the mod's catchphrase. It's rarely difficult to figure out what you should do next, but usually, you have no reason to suspect that the person you have to talk to can help. In several cases, they've had nothing to say to you so far except something along the lines of "Why are you talking to me? Go away." I got a sense that these characters were cosmically aware of their existence as plot devices, and that they were positively annoyed that you'd speak to them when it wasn't their moment to move the plot forward. Anyway, the only thing that made it easy to figure out what to do next was a metagamer's sense of "okay, I get how this works, I probably have to talk to that guy in the house I passed a minute ago," and that's a bit of a drag.

Sometimes it was difficult to figure out how to get to the next "Can I help you?" I'd know who Dink was going to say it to, but first I'd have to do something obscure, like punch a rock (not hit it with the sword, but punch it specifically). On two occasions, you have to walk into a trap and get hurt by it before Dink will think to ask somebody for help. One one of those occasions, the trap is just a big fire in front of you. This does not make any sense at all, you guys.


Dink Smallwood: master of understatement.

As for that one bug I ran into, I had the screen fail to fade up after it faded down during a cutscene. I'm betting that the author forgot to freeze Dink again after the screen changed, and my quick pressing of the talk button interrupted the script before it faded up. I was only able to continue by inputting the fade_up command using the console. Boy, manually adding the console to the Ulitmate Cheat sure has come in handy.

That one complaint aside, this is still a pretty solid DMOD, especially for a first effort. I really liked the music selections, even if I'd heard most of them before, and the map was well-polished.

214: Fifteen Tasks of Dink (Demo) Author: Ambikesh (Dinkme) Release Date: May 7, 2005
"Papa Bear is coming to town"

The author of "Fifteen Tasks of Dink" is the same Ambikesh who made "Goblin Castle," the worst DMOD I've ever seen due to its near-complete lack of content. Fortunately, this demo has quite a bit more to it.

For starters, this DMOD has a new status bar. I've got to say, it's one of the nicer-looking ones I've seen. It's from Simon Klaebe's "Belgotha graphics" pack, and it looks swell.


Customers? There aren't even any CHAIRS in your bar, man!

In "Fifteen Tasks," Dink hears a magically-transmitted voice in his head that tells him to complete various tasks. In completing these tasks, we're told that Dink is to retrieve fifteen magic gems. There's one task and zero gems in this demo, and it took me twenty minutes to beat, so fifteen sounds like kind of a lot. The task in the demo has Dink going up against a peasant rebellion who has kidnapped the King. The rebellion turns out to actually be led by a goblin, and Dink says, "I should have known!" which seems kind of racist, especially considering that it's a goblin that helps Dink infiltrate the rebel headquarters by telling him the password. Oh wait, come to think of it, maybe that's why he thinks he should have known. Never mind.


BEST. PASSWORD. EVER. Oh, and those houses are another new graphic for this DMOD. They're very simple and kind of odd, but at least they're in that pre-rendered 3D like the Dink graphics.

This game makes some faulty assumptions about what the player is going to do. You're told to go kill a dragon. I went and did so, and when I came back, Dink claimed that he won with the "help of helfire magic." I had no such magic; I just hacked at the sucker with a longsword. After that, though, the boss was too difficult for me to handle. I decided to grind until I got enough gold to buy what the DMOD calls the "greensaber" (Redink1's Dinksaber again); oddly, I checked my inventory in the middle of my grinding session and noticed it was already there. The boss was really easy with it, but nothing happens when you win. An abrupt end, even for a demo.


...Yes. Yes, I am the new secretary. This is my secretary's sword. I use it to... shred... documents.

Incidentally, this DMOD contains the weirdest riddle since "DWTD," and I wanted to share it with you. "Who is bigger: Mr. Bigger or Master Bigger?" The correct answer is Master Bigger - "because he's a little bigger." I don't get it. The joke is obviously that he's Mr. Bigger's son, hence a "little Bigger," but I don't see how I was supposed to know that from "Master Bigger."

Even knowing this is a demo, it feels unfinished. There are a fair number of hardness errors, and when you leave the initial town area, you find that it is surrounded almost entirely by invisible walls. It's not a bad DMOD, though; considering the author's previous work, it's a masterpiece by comparison. It just didn't make a big impression on me apart from the new status bar. I kind of like the concept of a mysterious voice telling Dink what to do - who is it, and what's their real motive? - but nothing is done with it here. The voice only speaks to Dink once.

215: Terrania Author: Carrie Ann Burton Release Date: May 7, 2005
"Perfect! I suck!"

In some ways, "Terrania" follows the pattern of Carrie's other DMODs. It's another simple mod in which Dink travels through an unusual setting with new graphics. However, this one is significantly longer and more involved than the author's previous efforts. This isn't to say that it's particularly long or complicated, but there's quite a bit more to it than the "walk several screens, then do one thing" that could serve as a walkthrough for the others. There are some monsters to fight and a few puzzles to solve.

This time out, Dink falls through the ground and ends up in an otherworldly subterranean land called Terrania. I really enjoyed this imaginative setting, which pairs a muted background with unusual shapes and bright colors. Houses are big, brightly colored spheres and fountains cycle through various colors like a night show at a lake. I've rarely seen anything like it before, although I am reminded of the Funkotronian Moon from Toejam and Earl: Panic on Funkotron for the Sega Genesis. Some reviewers complained about the music, calling it "flat," but I thought it complemented the atmosphere well.


Carrie's signature beavers are back and, according to the readme, "bigger AND fuzzier."


Down, boy!

I got completely stuck in the first part of this DMOD. You're supposed to find a cave and fight a bonca, but I couldn't find a way past a pile of rocks that were in the way. There's no walkthrough and not a single post on the forum explaining the way past this, so after spending way too much time trying to figure out how to get by, I cheated. I didn't have any more problems in the rest of the DMOD.

After the first section, Dink also encounters a tiny town full of tiny people, where he has to find a saw in order to help one of those ubiquitous bridge builders.


Haha, wordplay.

In the last section, you'll want to fight some boncas in order to make enough gold to buy Hellfire, which makes the stone giant boss a lot less tedious. The stone giant is also a witch, which is even funnier than the goblin pirate from "Golden Buddha."


But where's her witch's brew?

In addition to the interesting setting, there was also some amusing dialogue. My favorite character was a miserable little man Dink may find walking around.

Dink: So,have you had any cool adventures?
Man: No,I am a dull,dull man..
Dink: Why?
Man: Because I'm cursed!
Dink: How did that happen?
Man: I was born!


Cracks me up. Maybe I'm weird, though.

Yeah, I really like this one for the colorful setting. I wish I knew how to beat it without cheating, though.


This is apparently Libby. My goodness.
November 1st 2014, 09:09 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
"Quest for the Gems" is the first DMOD by everybody's favorite misspelled fingerbone.

Not to be a nerd, but pretty sure metatarsal is a foot bone, not a finger bone.

Ah, these are three D-Mods I always found quite enjoyable. They're not masterpieces or anything, but they're just fun little adventures with not too many bugs. Did you encounter the bug in QftG where Dink, for some reason, keeps turning around when he's supposed to stand still?

I haven't played Terrania in probably 8-9 years, but I wanna say that part where you couldn't get past the rocks requires a bomb. Could be completely wrong about that, though. Also, here's a really interesting D-Mod mystery: The first time I played Terrania when it came out, it looked COMPLETELY different. I remember the purple houses were white, and much easier to enter. There were less bugs, and a lot of stuff had been changed around. However, a year or so later when I downloaded it again, it looked like it does in your screenshots. I figured there must've been an update at some point, but what's really weird is that the (what I assume is) newer version is much buggier, and the older version seems to have completely vanished. If anyone can figure that piece of Dink history out, it'd be very interesting.
November 1st 2014, 09:22 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Oops, fixed the footbone. Pretty embarrassing since I was talking about it being misspelled.

I didn't notice the bug you mentioned in "Gems."
November 1st 2014, 09:57 PM
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carrie2004
Peasant Female Canada
*chomp* 
Perhaps an interesting backstory(or not), I was actually mad at Tal when I wrote the the stupid penguins game. I don't remember why I was mad, but since I had named a penguin in my webcomic, Tal, it seemed fitting to retaliate against all penguins in a game. I mean, how else do you win an argument with Tal? I think it was an argument...well, I'm sure he was wrong...whatever it was. That'll teach him.
November 2nd 2014, 10:08 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Correction: The statusbar in "Fifteen Tasks" was not original, but one of Simon Klaebe's graphics that he never used in a DMOD. This keeps happening to me (see: Anarchy Halloween Party).
November 2nd 2014, 11:39 PM
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carrie2004
Peasant Female Canada
*chomp* 
Terrania: Umm...you think I would have the answers but...no. I don't remember. One thing though, I'm pretty sure the houses were never white. The way they look now is the way I remember them always being. I had a new 3d program at the time and was playing around. And yeah, I'm pretty sure there was a spot where you had to blow up the rocks. You could buy a bomb from nearby. I have lost a few computers since those days. so I don't have copies of anything. You get what you get.
November 3rd 2014, 02:56 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
216: Outlander (Demo) Author: Amoebalord Release Date: May 28, 2005
"I killed your pompus ass, bitch!"

Y'know, 2005 has been surprising me. There haven't really been any great DMODs so far, but the overall level of quality has been pretty high. There have been few of the best-left-forgotten DMODs that were quite common in the past few years. I hope this keeps up.

"Outlander" differentiates itself from the pack in several ways, and at least for as far as I got, I found it refreshing. In this DMOD, you play as "Logan," who is represented by the typical farmer sprite. You can attack using the scythe-sweeping animation that's been used in a few DMODs, but the range on this attack isn't anywhere near as long as it should be, making it hard to use. You'll mostly end up relying on magic.

In what I'm sure is a first, "Outlander" features three different status bars. You can switch between them by pressing the "X" key.


This one is used by default. I like it - it feels like a slight corruption of the original. The "Amoebalord" watermark makes it undesirable for use in other mods, unfortunately.


For those who prefer a more familiar feel, here's a bluish treatment of the original status bar.


Aunt Ruthie! Aunt Ruthie! There's ketchup on the computer!

This mod also features some interesting new magic that is crucial for defeating the stronger enemies you can encounter. One spell creates a trail of flames that act like very powerful versions of the acid rain spell. Another new spell is a Hellfire ball that bounces from enemy to enemy, but it doesn't do enough damage to be worth using. There's a third new magic, but it's hidden (you have to walk straight through an ordinary-looking fence to find it). It just picks a random enemy and does 100 damage to them. Well, then.


Here's one of the new spells in action.


Other graphics have been customized too, like this golden savepoint that has a new, wavy effect.

As for the story, there's an interesting enough setup with some shadowy group planning to take over the world, but if it's followed up on in this demo, I didn't see it. I just wandered around the first area doing the many tiny little sidequests the game offers. Although I played the game for almost an hour, I never found a way to really advance the plot.

Maybe it's just as well that I didn't see all of the demo. Browsing through the story folder, I found a script in which Logan meets a fabulous man and sneers at him, "You disgust me." I'm getting sick of this kind of thing, man. I'm not totally against fabulous jokes, but it wasn't even a joke, just straight-up "fabulous people are revolting subhuman creatures, right?" This sort of thing is sadly too common in DMODs.

But enough of that. One of the sidequests involves killing Dink Smallwood. He's the mayor of the little town you find yourself in, and the local undertaker, hoping to profit from a famous person's funeral, offers you gold to murder him. It is shockingly easy to kill Dink - he doesn't fight back or even complain. Maybe he's just sick of it all. I also found it quite funny how easily Logan was able to talk the judge into letting him out of his death sentence. Logan's argument boils down to "The prosecutor is blind and stupid. Dink obviously died from some kind of disease, despite the fact that he was found dead from scythe wounds with me standing next to him holding a scythe." The judge finds this argument so compelling that he lets Logan entirely off the hook! Seems legit.

Actually, it seems that you can kill pretty much any NPC you please. Maybe killing everybody is the way to move on. I didn't try it.


Corpses seem to have a lot more blood than usual in this one.

I didn't notice the game-breaking bugs that reviews talk about. The problems I saw were mostly visual, such as depth que problems and the usual "turning into Dink when you push" problem that is so common to alternate hero DMODs.

I enjoyed the "Outlander" demo for the new graphics and a different feeling than your typical DMOD. I didn't manage to make it far, but you know, I think I'm okay with that. Hey, I never called it "Crazy Old Tim BEATS All the DMODs."

217: Helpin' the Ol' Duck Farmer Author: DaVince Release Date: May 28, 2005
"YOU LIED! YOU SHOULD NEVER LIE TO A STRONG MAN WHO HELPS YOU!"

In sports analytics (Run for the hills! Sports analogy incoming!), a metric called "wins above replacement player" is used to compare the value of players. This number represents how many more wins a player is expected to produce for a team than a "replacement-level player" would. The "replacement-level player" is a hypothetical player who stands for the sort of performance a team could expect to get by just hiring somebody new - somebody who isn't terrible, but doesn't have any skills that'd be hard to replace. A bad player will probably have a negative WARP rating.

It occurred to me recently that I've played a lot of what you might call "replacement-level DMODs." I'm talking about mods that aren't awful or broken, but are unremarkable and similar to the point where, if you were to replace one with the other, few would care. They have some enemies to fight, some kind of plot that you've already seen at least a dozen times, and more likely than not an attempt or two at a fourth wall-breaking joke (usually something about a "lazy author," a joke so old that "Quest for Cheese" considered it worthy of mockery in 1998).


For example.

I don't mean to say this is a bad thing. It's a natural result of having so many games made from the same basic materials. Heck, if your first DMOD is in this category, you deserve some credit for not having released a crappy DMOD. Lord knows I released enough of them.

"Helpin' the Ol' Duck Farmer" was close enough to that sort of DMOD to make me think of that analogy, as it's rather simple and feels like a lot of other DMODs. However, it does have a few little features that I thought pushed its TARD (Tim's Above-Replacement DMOD) score slightly into the positive range.

There's something original in the setup. Rather than Dink getting sent on a mission by the King yet again, we're told that Dink found this mission on a board at the "Hero Unemployment Bureau," which is a very amusing notion. I wish we could have actually seen this, but it's still a novel setup. Dink soon meets the Ol' Duck Farmer, who informs him of a problematic Mother Pillbug.


The ODF (that is what I am calling him now and forever) outlines the problem.

The incidental text is customized where it was possible to do so at the time. Text has been changed for the savebot, the death script and even the map key ("I don't need a map... I also forgot it"). All that old text from 1997 just reinforces the feeling that you're doing the same thing you've done before, so I appreciate it when a DMOD does as much as it can to change these things and give the player a fresh feeling, even if it's just the moment of recognizing, "Hey! They changed that." You know, I check the "Help" option in the escape menu for every DMOD. It's been actually changed maybe... twice so far? But I check anyway.


The savebot even has a push response! First time I've seen that. Several objects in this DMOD have one. Authors hardly ever bother with this.

There's not much dialogue, the only enemies in the game are pillbugs (screens and screens of pillbugs with too much HP), and the map has some bad tile joins (though I've seen much worse). There was something I liked near the end: a "resting room" with some guy hanging out in the dangerous pillbug cave. When Dink asks how he got there, he says that he just found himself there and he can't leave. Dink points out that he can't leave, and he replies, "you're not an NPC." It's a clever bit, and it's the same kind of exploration of what it means to be a video game character that I'd later do in "Malachi the Jerk," though it's a much lighter take.


Did... did Mr. T write this sign?

The boss appears to be yet another giant version of one of the common enemies, but the Mother Pillbug "gives birth" to fast moving regular pillbugs every so often when you damage her. This can become disastrous in a hurry, and it seemed impossible on my first try. On my second go, I realized that it's a lot easier if you focus on the smaller pillbugs exclusively every time they come out. DaVince deserves some credit for making a Dink Smallwood boss that benefits from a strategy more complicated than "hit and run" or "stay back and shoot." The fight might go on a bit too long, but I didn't think it was too bad.


That's the second-largest... wait, "Back from the Grave" did that joke. Damn.

Don't get me wrong, this is still a middle-of-the-road kinda romp. There are a few bugs. Most notably, Dink is sometimes not frozen for dialogues. This is a big problem when you beat the boss. If you press talk, as you'll naturally do to skip the text that comes up, the screen will never unlock, and you won't be able to return to the ODF and report your victory. And then there's the fact that, overall, it's still just a bunch of quite monotonous pillbug-punching. But I decided to focus on those features that make it stand out a little, that give it some charm of its own. I'll remember it for those moments, and not for dozens of pillbugs that take a little bit too long to kill.
November 3rd 2014, 05:15 AM
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scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
I always thought Outlander looked really interesting, but it was impossibly buggy to play. It kept crashing every few screens for me... Maybe sexy little FreeDink is better at running it.

Also, awesome review by Gweaner:
You play as a farmer who finds a messenger that has been killed. You read the letter and begin your quest. You kill a slayer and arrive in a village. There's about 3-4 side quests (including killing Dink Smallwood for money) you can do before moving the story along (which ends the demo).

The quests are cool as well. To improve business for your friend the undertaker, you have to kill... well, I won't say. Further, there's a lot of flexibility about what you have to do, for instance, you can find a guy who'll let you give your farm to him, or you can find the woman who'll buy your farm.


Not only does it mention the Dink Smallwood quest twice, both paragraphs are copied from other reviews.
November 3rd 2014, 05:36 AM
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Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
What the shit kind of review is that?
November 3rd 2014, 09:42 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Outlander is at the top of the demo-list for me. Yeah there's a few bugs, but it's a very entertaining D-Mod overall. I always wanted to see it be fully released some day. Still hoping deep inside.

And sorry to tell you, Tim, but if you only played around the small town, you missed about half of the demo. The other half has you go to another island where you meet and fight some of the bad guys. Also, I'm pretty sure the "fabulous joke" isn't a joke at all. Outlander is just the kinda D-Mod that tries to show somewhat realistically and harshly people's views of the time the D-Mod represents. Even when it comes to different religions. The original Dink does this too, but with that, it's far more obvious when it's kidding around. With Outlander though, it's very hard to tell what is a joke and what is not. The D-Mod has a very dark, twisted, "up in your face" humour that you can't really tell apart from when it's being serious.
November 3rd 2014, 03:30 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Hahaha, wow.

That review should be deleted.

It's true, a lot of things that crash regular Dink are happily ignored by FreeDink. For example, in the DMOD I'm working on for the contest, I didn't want to have that usual choral noise ("high2.wav") when Dink's stats change, so I just commented out the load_sound line for it. This solved my problem in FreeDink, but it crashed 1.08 and Dink HD whenever the sound was supposed to play. I ended up putting a silent sound ("intro.wav", which comes with the original game anyway) there instead.
November 4th 2014, 07:17 PM
spike.gif
scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
Yep, deleted that sucker.
November 5th 2014, 12:10 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
218: The Adventures of Dink Bigwood Author: Gustav Englund (Dinkdragon) Release Date: June 6, 2005
"do you know that george bush is king of mars?"

I suppose it was inevitable that there'd be a "Dink Bigwood" at some point.

Boy, I REALLY didn't like this one at all. Am I allowed to just say that and move on? No? Sigh...

Really, I tried for two days to think of an angle to approach this one from other than just making a list of things I disliked, but I couldn't think of one. I'm sorry.

To be fair, it really isn't quite "Award of Badness" bad. Something about this one just made it an unpleasant experience for me personally.

OK, I thought of an angle. I just drank an entire bottle of wine. I almost never drink alcohol, so maybe this'll make this writeup a little more interesting.

Actually, the reason I uncharacteristically drank too much (man I am having to erase typos a lot more than usual) was that evil, insane asshole Rick Scott, the worst governor of all time, was re-elected governor of my U.S. State of Florida. I was born in Florida and I have a very strong emotional attachment to the place, so I felt a bit of stupid optimism that my fellow Floridians would not re-elect by far the worst governor of all time. This is because I am a ducking idiot. Hahahahahahahaha. Duck everything.

Okay, so "Dink Bigwood" sucked on toast. The alcohol content in my blood stream emboldens me, and I no longer feel bad about saying this. This is awesome.

The maps were pretty crappy and featureless. There were three cave sections, and they were all the exact same boring shape, and full of the same enemies that do way too much damage and make playing this DMOD really annoying. There are really bad hardness errors that mess up the game and other bugs like that. But that's not even the worst part. Hoo I am drunk. Anyway, my least favorite thing is the text. I love text. I have got the most enormous text boner. The text in this game is really disappointing. It's all in lowerscase and poorly punctuated and the same few scripts are repeated over and over and over again. This really made me hate this DMOD, you guys. If you can't be bothered to come with more text, GO HOME SON. I am writing this while watching Stephen Colbert. He is very funny but I do not laugh much because I am dead inside. Actually I am floating on a pleasant sea of BOOOOZE. I finished the bottle a while ago but I am pretty sure it is kicking in right about now. If there are any screenshots in this writeup I went back and added them later.

I dunno what I'm doing with my life. If I had a spine I'd start taking writing seriously and get a real job writing. It's the only real talent I've ever had. At least that's what I tell myself in those moments when I allow myself to believe that I am good at anything. I have slef confidence problems. I can't even see the screen anymore. The problem is not with my eyes but with my brain.

I hate Republicans. I hate them so so so so so so much. I hate everything. I hate myself. I don't like liberals that much either. I disagree with them a lot but not as much as conservatives.

But seriously "Dink Bigwood" (took me twenty seconds to remember the title) is no fun. Even the few dialogue scripts it has are basically the same thing. Dink says Hi, the NPC says something really inane and boring, and Dink says Bye. It is so repetitive and I didn't enjoy it at all. There were other bugs too. That common bug where dink isn't froxzen for "say_stop" thingos was there and it's easy to end up stuck.

I didn't expect a big challenge from the game but the final boss was too hard. Way too hard. If I were to go back, knowing how hard the boss is, and try again, I might be able to beat it, I might win, but I don't want to. It was too hard and I cheated. You know there was at least one good scene in the game in terms of visuals, and that was the boss.


Screenshot! I like the dead bodies framing. Looks neat.

I seriously can't see at all. Stephen Colbert is smart. I like Jon Stewart too. They're funny.

I am going to upload this as is right now. Otherwise I probably will delete it and not upload it, and if nothing else this is a change of pace. A change of pace is very important to me. I hate writing the same thing over and over and over and over again. I try to keep making these fresh. I care about you guys. I don't want to waste your time.

I am so drunk. That was a BIIIIIG BOTTLE OF WINE Y'ALL.

The plot of "Bigwood" didn't make any sense. And the author clearly didn't know how variables worked so well. He used it right once or twice, but the way he used it didn't make sense. He would use new visions or even whole new screens for occasions when you come back to an NPC after doing something. It didn't make any sense. There was other weird stuff like a bridge that warps you across instead of you walking. I really hated this DMOD when I was playing it but I don't care much now because I'm a happy happy drunk. I love everything right now. Even when I am super drunk I go back and erase most typos. I love you guys. Dink Smallwood is a great game. Oh. What I was trying to say is that I didn't like "Dink Bigwood," but it's all relative isnt' it? Maybe it isn't so bad. It probably isn't any worse than the DMODs I made back before "Malachi." Maybe you guys won't like the new DMOD I just made either when it comes out. Whatever, it's all good. I am a lot happier when I am drunk, but I can't do that all the time or I'd be an alcholic. It's all good.

"Bigwood" sucked. Probably don't play it so much. Goodnight everybody. Kisses, peace and love from your number one monkey. Goodnight.
November 5th 2014, 01:27 AM
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G'night my monkey friend; sleep tight.

Also, I must applaud your very few errors considering you are so drunk!
November 5th 2014, 09:59 AM
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leprochaun
Peasant Male Japan xbox steam bloop
Responsible for making things not look like ass 
I love you too, monkey.
November 5th 2014, 11:38 AM
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metatarasal
Bard Male Netherlands
I object 
Heh, still more coherent than Apex.
November 5th 2014, 01:47 PM
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DinkKiller
Peasant Male United States xbox steam
The world could always use more heroes 
Being drunk made this the funniest write-up to read, while still being fully coherent. I hope you slept all that alcohol off and don't have too big of a hangover so you can do more writing for us
November 6th 2014, 07:02 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
219: Dink Vs. Milder Author: Ciprian Oprisa (Cypry) Release Date: June 15, 2005
"Your are creep, Milder"


What an unusual title screen.

Milder must have really struck a nerve with players of Dink Smallwood. It's not enough that Milder dies and Dink is the hero - people must have felt slighted that they never got the chance to knock his smug jerk block off. Again and again, DMODs give us the chance to make him pay for asking whether pig farming is fun.

In this DMOD, though, Milder really is a terrible person. "Dink Vs. Milder" isn't in continuity with the original game in any way. It takes place in a strange little village that definitely isn't Stonebrook. Milder is the only knight in this village, and as such, he reasons that everything in the village belongs to him, including "all the [chicks]."


But the only women in the village are Libby and Dink's mom... oh, that is it. You are going DOWN, Milder. I bet you're responsible for that awful floor tiling, too.

It actually is a tiny bit disturbing, despite the crummy text. As Libby says to Dink, "This is not right. This has to stop." And Dink has to stop it.

But Dink is just a pig farmer, despite the lack of any apparent pigs in his vicinity. To challenge Milder, he must become a knight. Luckily, the mayor has the authority to knight people for some reason. All Dink has to do is go kill a bonca, and then he can become a knight and fight Milder to the death. All of this took me less than five minutes.


I understand, Mr. Big Giant Developer's Head! And I must say that you are well-dressed for this occasion!

There's very little to this DMOD. There are some hardness errors, and two of the screens have no borders on the sides. Milder runs around at an impressive speed, but isn't much of a challenge. There's nothing in this one to recommend it, but at least pretty much everything works and the plot isn't a load of confusing nonsense. That puts it ahead of a surprising amount of first efforts.

I do wonder how Cypry justified making a sequel to this. As far as I can tell, Dink has killed Milder at the end of it. Maybe Milder comes back from the dead in the sequel! Eh, it's more likely that he'll just inexplicably be alive. "You thought you killed me, but you didn't!" That kind of thing.

220: Dink Learns Music Author: Metatarasal Release Date: June 26, 2005
"In the end it all went well, so nobody has to complain..."

In Metatarasal's second DMOD, crazy old King Daniel orders Dink to play music at a royal party. Why he'd ask Dink instead of somebody who can actually play an instrument is anybody's guess, but at least he didn't order Dink to save yet another town with an old mine full of monsters. Anyway, Dink travels to the small town of Ryth to learn how to make tunes.


Yes, "Happy Soundy."

To no big surprise, Dink's attempt to instantly pick up the trumpet goes less than well.


Well, duh.

Dink has to magically learn an instrument instead. To earn a magical instrument and lesson, he has to do a bunch of mildly silly chores, like delivering a pizza to a hermit and going around to everybody and asking if they want to buy a barrel filled with beer. Dink then learns to play the 'tiny piano,' which is conveniently too small for the player to see, and all is well. Personally, I think going on the quest at all was a bad idea. It's only gonna make King Dan think he can ask for stupid, impossible things and have them done anyway.

This is a simple non-combat DMOD that I finished in about nine minutes. The map was fine, but there were some depth que problems (mostly Dink clipping behind doors) and one weird case where, when you walk into a door, a second door appears beside it, and THAT one opens. "Dink Learns Music" probably isn't gonna set anybody's world on fire, but it's mostly well put-together and the silly main story idea is kind of amusing.

221: Adventures of Dink Smallwood Part 1: The Town of Rakuna Author: Lunacre Release Date: June 27, 2005
"NO!! It would be a suicide!!"

"AODSP1:TTOR," which I am going to call "Rakuna" for short because Cheese A'mighty that is a long title, features a relatively large, open map. There was a time when this was the norm for DMODs, but most of the mods I've played lately have had smaller, more confined maps. Actually, I've just now noticed this shift. In general it's one I like (recall my early complaints about Big Empty Map Syndrome), but it can be nice to do some exploring sometimes. "Rakuna" also felt more like the original game than anything I'd played in a while, mostly due to the look of the screens and the prominent use of MIDIs from the original.


Check out this indoor garden. How they manage it without so much as a window is a mystery to me.

All we're told at the start is that Dink is going on vacation. "Dink on vacation" is a well-worn setup by this point. Something always goes wrong, requiring Dink to delay his vacation yet again to do more heroics. In this DMOD, however, Dink seems to be on some sort of quest right away. It's not at all clear what he was expecting to do on vacation. We're left with the impression that Dink vacations by doing the exact sort of thing he does all the time: beating up pillbugs, boncas and goblins and saving villages.

There's a really weird moment early on where Dink is a jerk to some random guy for no reason. He calls the dude a "queer boy" and beats him up. I thought Dink was going to be portrayed as some kind of horrible bully, but there isn't another moment like it in the rest of the DMOD. I don't get it.

Rather than come up with a variety of different obstacles to "gate" off Dink's progress, the author went ahead and used literal gates every time. In "Rakuna," you'll come across several fences (at least 4 or 5) and have to find a different key to "open" each of them. There is at least a fakeout on the last fence where you fall through the floor when you use the key. I didn't see that coming. It doesn't make much sense, though, because you end up "falling" to a place that is just a few feet in front of you and at the same elevation.


Most of the maps are quite plain, so I was surprised by this colorful section late in the game.

Oh yes, a plot and such. Dink has to save Rakuna from goblins who are being controlled by a demon named Firamin. It's stated that Firamin is just one of several demons that Dink will presumably have to defeat in future installments of "Adventures of Dink Smallwood." There's plenty of fighting to do, but thanks to the great many potions scattered around, it isn't too difficult.


You can choose to join Firamin, become evil and take over the world. The game calls it the "bad ending," but I guess it's a matter of perspective.

The only NPC who made any kind of impression on me was the mayor of Rakuna, a crazy man who is obsessed with his collection of huge rocks and uses an amount of exclamation points that probably should be illegal.


Well, I wouldn't say it's THAT bad.

There's a really bad bug where one of the buildings in town just warps you to a blank screen with a black background. Saved games are also included (accidentally, I assume). A lot of the locked screens will unlock after you defeat just one enemy, which may have been intentional but is more likely just due to lazy scripting.

"Rakuna" is just another decent DMOD. It has a bit of a throwback feel to it, in case that's the sort of thing you're looking for.
November 10th 2014, 05:29 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
222: Dink's World (Unfinished) Author: Legolas Release Date: June 30, 2005
"Welcome, this version of dink is a open game"

In this world... Dink's world!
Where one is all
In this world... Dink's world!
Never fear the fall


Um, sorry. For the record, Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) is a terrible game.

"Dink's World" was intended to be a more open sort of game with an emphasis on fighting monsters to gain levels and gold. A shop sells a long list of different swords with rapidly escalating prices to keep things going. It was to have plenty of tasks or quests to complete, but no overall objective. Because this DMOD is unfinished, however, there's only one quest available, so it doesn't end up being all that different from your average DMOD. There is a neat system that lets you store and retrieve inventory items, but there aren't enough items here for it to be useful.


"Dink's World" uses this bizarre alternate savebot graphic made by Simon Klaebe.

At first, you're boxed off from most of the map by a pushable rock that requires a strength of 11. I didn't enjoy having to grind up to level 4 before I could really do much of anything, but it wasn't too big of a deal. Once you pass this obstacle, you'll reach a town. It has a bar full of jerks, but they don't say much aside from implying that Dink is fabulous. There isn't much dialogue in the DMOD at all, actually. If you proceed just a little bit to the east, you'll already be in an unfinished section without enemies, but with invisible walls.

There's another town, but most of the buildings are completely empty. There is something to do here, however. In the castle, you'll find Redink1 and Tal. Tal wants you to "ban" or defeat the "evil idiot posts" made by noobs, in a bit that feels extremely similar to "Dink Goes Boating." The noob posts are represented by some new text-based graphics. They're kind of amusing ("why did you ban me?"), but way too strong, and it's hard to tell where their hitbox is. It turns out that the posts are being created by the "LEADER OF THE EVUL SPAMMERS," a boss that feels very similar to Kory from "Dink Goes Boating." Actually, his script is named "en-glennglenn.c!"


"I'm the dead post" is the death graphic for the noob posts.

Glenn is unreasonably difficult. I gave it a shot, using my cash to buy an extremely large supply of elixirs (you can carry as many as you want because they're stored in just one inventory slot), but it didn't help much. He generates noob posts so quickly that they soon did damage faster than I could heal it. After several failed attempts, I cheated to beat him. For defeating Glenn, you get a few potions and a bunch of gold. If you go back to Tal, he has a little more to say, but that's it. There's no ending, but then, I doubt there would have been one even if this DMOD had been finished.

This is the first DMOD to attempt to replace Dink's default "talking to nothing" messages. It only does so if using redink.exe, however. It uses precursors to dnotalk.c and dnomagic.c (they have slightly different filenames). It would work in 1.08 if you changed the names of the scripts. Then you'd get to see such gems as "Hello shoe..." and "The only thing I could talk to here is my penis!" Charming.

--

I don't usually post one very short writeup by itself (at least, not lately), but I've had this one done for a few days and have had trouble getting myself to sit down and do the next one. How much trouble? I haven't even played the next DMOD yet (that is the easy part).
November 12th 2014, 06:05 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
223: An Age of Darkness Author: Dinkdragon Release Date: July 1, 2005
"well, the knowing of my death is clearly overreacted!"

Already there's another DMOD by Dinkdragon, author of the very bad "Dink Bigwood." Hopefully I won't have to get drunk to handle this one.

Actually, "An Age of Darkness" is much better than the author's first mod, which is kind of impressive since it came out less than a month later. Whereas I found a lot to hate and nothing to like about "Bigwood," "AOD" has some neat ideas in it. I might even be a fan of it if it weren't marred by several big problems. These problems include quite a few screens with "invisible wall" edges, multiple NPCs who will freeze the game if you talk to them before it's time to do so in order to advance the story, graphical glitches, and errors in the text. These problems aren't nearly as bad as they were in "Bigwood," but they still hold this DMOD back from being really enjoyable. Still, it's good to see improvement. For example, although the text is marred by spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors as well as some confusing sentence constructions, it was easy to tell what the author was getting at. In "Bigwood," it was often next to impossible. That's progress. I'm almost disappointed that this is DinkDragon's final DMOD.

Despite the title and a splash screen that features skulls and blood, the story of "AOD" is very silly and impossible to take seriously. Refreshingly, the DMOD does not even seem to try; I think this is why, in those moments where the mod wasn't breaking on me, I quite enjoyed it. The intro (which doesn't bother freezing the player) tells a grim tale of a world overrun by giant pillbugs. Yes, pillbugs. You play as a slayer named Gorbac. You'd think that the pillbugs would pose no threat to you, and you'd be right - they are ridiculously easy to kill. Still, the other members of your slayer village are too afraid of the supposed pillbug apocalypse to leave their homes.


The world will fall before the might of pillbugs!

Contrary to the "ominous" setup, the quest is a series of silly tasks. Gorbac will retrieve items such as a lemonade recipe, a copy of the movie Starship Troopers ("a masterpiece") and a board game to get help from various NPCs. There's a village populated entirely by headless ducks. Nothing is taken seriously, and it is pretty great.


Hahaha. But seriously, how did you fit those tasty humans into that tiny box?

There's also more to the DMOD than you'd think. There are quite a few tasks to accomplish, and it took me 39 minutes to finish the game. Dinkdragon makes use of graphics and scripts made by the community, including a windmill and a snow effect made by Simon Klaebe, pretty trees by Dan Walma, an awesome spell from "Friends Beyond 3" and the skeleton enemy from "Legend of TerraEarth." Unfortunately, the skeleton is poorly implemented. It seems to jump several feet backwards every time it attacks. The main character swap isn't done very well either. In addition to the maddeningly common problem of turning into Dink when you push (this is so easy to fix!), Gorbac, for reasons I can't begin to fathom, started turning into a pig every time I walked about ten minutes into the DMOD. He kept this up until the end: slayer when idling or attacking, pig when moving. Honestly, it was pretty funny.


The climactic battle between a pig and a skeleton!

The map isn't terrible, but it is kind of odd. The tiling has some minor problems. Ledges just sort of end instead of being neatly rounded off in a way that makes visual sense. You can never tell whether or not you can walk off the screen in a certain direction until you try because of all the invisible walls. This creates a lot of major hardness problems, as you can scoot along the edge of the screen past many obstacles and skip big sections of the game. There's loads of gold in the game, much of it deliberately placed, but nowhere to use it except a couple of healing shops where you'll never spend it all. But you know, it was lots of fun being a slayer, especially when the human NPCs reacted in the way you'd expect.


Damn, it feels good to be a slayer.

You never get to confront the "giant pillbug," but it doesn't really matter. I appreciated the chance to be a scary slayer, and I enjoyed the silly atmosphere and some neat if not fully realized ideas like the TV and a castle wall you can walk on the top of. It's just the freezing bugs and constant invisible walls that really drag this one down.


Hahaha, and he took the time to write that down. Love it.

224: Tile Puzzle (Demo) Author: MiloBones Release Date: July 24, 2005
"TRY TO REACH THE PURPLE SQUARE"

From the author of "The Ants" comes another unusual DMOD. The name "tile puzzle" makes you think of a sliding tile puzzle, but this, in my opinion, is something more interesting: an attempt to create a tile-based puzzle game like Chip's Challenge in the Dink engine.


Here's a little screenshot from the PC version of Chip's Challenge, for reference.

In Chip's Challenge, made in 1989 by Chuck Sommerville for the Atari Lynx and later PC, you play a little guy named Chip McCallahan who runs around collecting chips and avoiding hazards. Everything in the game is tile-based. Everything takes up exactly one tile, and Chip moves one tile's length at a time. In development it was even known as "Tile World." There have been quite a few Chip's Challenge clones and a handful of fan-made level packs. This game came with my childhood Windows 95 computer as part of the "Microsoft Entertainment Pack," along with games like SkiFree and Rattler Race. Whoa, memories.

In this short three-level demo, a few of the many different kinds of tiles from Chip's Challenge have been implemented. Here's what it looks like:


"Tile Puzzle" comes with no explanation. It took me a minute or two to figure it out.

Each tile type has a different effect. The spike tiles are just walls. Stepping on the arrows will force Dink to move in the direction they indicate, while stepping on fire or water will bring swift death... unless you collect the stars. In Chip's Challenge, different kinds of footwear enable you to ignore tiles' usual effects - fire boots for fire, swim fins for water and suction cup boots for arrows. Here, color coded stars have the same effect. There's a major difference in "Tile Puzzle," however - unlike in its inspiration, where shoes last for the duration of a level (or until a certain tile takes them away), only the star you most recently collected will be in effect. Another difference is that when you step onto a water tile with a blue star, you'll end up in an underwater area instead of simply swimming across.


The underwater areas look like this.

Once you figure out how the stars work, it's not difficult to solve the three puzzles included in the demo. It's quite a barebones release, with no title screen or sound of any kind. It also would have been better if Dink moved one tile at a step like Chip does. As it is, Dink's free movement can end up getting you stuck inside a wall. Tile-based movement is definitely possible in the Dink engine - "Frogger" does something similar. Still, it works pretty well once you figure it out, and I always love to see DMOD authors trying different types of games.
November 16th 2014, 03:52 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
225: The Treasure Battles Author: Erwin Bosch Release Date: September 18, 2005
"Of course I'm having fun. That man over there just died!!"

In the description for this one, we're told that Dink is "knocked out and robbed from nearly everything, even his powers."


See?

Dink was robbed and de-powered on his way to the town of Purunga, where he intends to take part in "the treasure battles." He also wants to track down the thief who robbed him. Purunga itself features shops where you can buy weapons, herb boots, and the hellfire spell. It all seems to be setting up something like the "Gladiator" minigame from "FIAT." Bizarrely, there's absolutely nothing like that here. When you make it to the area labeled "arena," it's just a big open field full of monsters. It leads to a forest area and then to cave and darklands areas. All of this is supposedly the arena, but that doesn't make any sense. The "treasure battles" concept is completely ignored.


This screen, where people watch boncas fight, is the closest thing I could find to an arena.

The map is quite sloppy. Invisible walls are very common, and the edges of screens are rarely matched properly. Most screens have little or no decoration and look quite plain and boring, although there are some unusual-looking screens toward the end.


Can't say I've ever seen anything quite like this screen before.

The difficulty is uneven. There are TONS of enemies everywhere, and I kept blundering onto screens with monsters that were too difficult for me to fight. One screen has FIVE DRAGONS as well as a horde of other enemies - I found this screen totally unsurvivable unless I brought elixirs. On the plus side, this mod uses screenlocks that only work the first time you reach a screen, which is something I'd like to see more often. Speaking of unusual screenlocks, there are two screens where you're required to defeat a fish - you know, just those ordinary fish from the original game - to proceed.


To be fair, there's a sign on the previous screen warning of an "verry unrealistic large amount of bonca's to the east."

The only way to make it past the tough concentrations of enemies is to spend a lot of time grinding and looking for powerups. I spent over an hour on this silly little mod. You'll end up with a lot of gold, but I never quite had enough to buy the most expensive item in the game. A secret shop offers a fire bow with built-in bow lore and a piercing shot for 30000 gold. I kind of wish I'd seen that, but not enough to go back into the game and grind even more.

Dink finally catches up to the thief (his name is Jackson), and discovers that he used a machine of his own invention to remove Dink's powers. This machine is called the "Suck-o-matic."


This screenshot has so many uses.

Jackson is a complete Seth clone, right down to saying the exact same lines when you hit him. The only change to the boss script is that Dink says something slightly different when you win; he now says, "Good that I killed him, he Didn't seem likable enough." That's right: if Dink doesn't consider you to be up to his standards of adequate likability, he will kill you. It's a tough policy, but fair. For some reason, I had a really tough time against this guy. It took me several tries and lots of elixirs. It doesn't help that he likes to hug the walls of his room, making hellfire useless.

This is the first DMOD to feature an appearance by the 2000-HP Darklands pig from the original game. I love that little pig.


This DMOD also has a few riddles. The riddles themselves are totally standard, but the options given... well.

Everything in "The Treasure Battles" works well enough, and it has a surprising number of secrets to find for the size of its map, but it is still kind of a mess. If you are really in the mood to grind and fight lots of monsters, you might still have a good time.

226: Land of Transforming Ducks Author: Zellfaze2 Release Date: October 6, 2005

REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is part of the incredibly select group to have a rating of less than 1.0 (0.4) on The Dink Network.

And 2005 had been going so well.

*****This DMOD, "Land of Transforming Ducks,"******
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
  ****DINK FOREVER MEMORIAL AWARD OF BADNESS*****
   *********On this day November 15, 2014*******


This DMOD doesn't have a new title screen. It only plays the Dink Smallwood title MIDI. It never shows the status bar. Once you get past the title screen, there isn't a single scripted object or screen in the whole thing. There is therefore no text, so I had nothing to quote in my header. Only one screen has any hardness, and it's clearly there by accident. The tiling is godawful. Every object in the DMOD, with the exception of some fire sprites, turns into a duck as soon as its duck brain decides to start moving. You are now caught up on the contents of this DMOD.


There was a church on this screen, but it is ducks now. Everything is ducks now. You are a duck now. Everything always was ducks. There is no such thing as non-ducks, and there never was.

The second screen (I guessed wrong three times which direction you have to go to reach it) features a giant object. It's that weird unused graphic of Dink's head, but you can scarcely tell because it's so large. Instead of quacking like everything else, it makes an unholy screeching, clicking noise. If you don't get off of this screen in a hurry, the game crashes.


You persist in the delusion that you are some sort of "not-a-duck." You do not exist.

There are quite a few screens with fire all over them. The fire can hurt Dink, but Dink can never die. There is no escape from the Land of Transforming Ducks.


All right, we admit it, there are two things in the universe. There are ducks... and there is pain. Pain everlasting, without reason and without relief. Quack. QUACK.

The path dead-ends into something that sure looks like a boss arena. It features a giant wizard who turns into a giant duck with a booming, ominous quack. Of course, it has no script, so punching this duck is no different from punching the other ducks. It doesn't even stay dead if you leave the screen and come back.

The story folder contains a complete set of the scripts from Dink Smallwood. I have no idea why this keeps happening.

There's a fun review of "Land of Transforming Ducks" that awards the DMOD its highest score, a 1.0. The author of the review notes a "stubbornly dadaistic approach to game design" in the mod. He also gets bonus points for describing DinkEdit as "a Lovecraftian horror."

There isn't much to say about "Land of Transforming Ducks." I guess it's a little better than "Goblin Castle." Where that DMOD has no identifiable ideas, "Transforming Ducks" has one clear idea - that idea being "what if everything was ducks?" It also deserves credit for delivering on the promise made by its title. "Goblin Castle," by contrast, contained no goblins and no castles.

227: Red Jacket Murders Author: Carrie Ann Burton Release Date: October 8, 2005
"This years fashion theme is RED!"

When I first saw the title back when I was compiling my list of DMODs at the start of this project, I expected a very serious story. I thought "Red Jacket" might be some kind of metaphor; I certainly didn't think it'd mean that all of the victims literally wore red jackets. That first impression came back to me before I started playing this one, but then I remembered that this is a Carrie2004 DMOD.

"Red Jacket Murders" is a very silly little story about serial murder. Martridge sends Dink to DN village to investigate after a murderer claims several victims, all of whom were wearing red jackets at the time of their death. You'd think that people would stop wearing red jackets after that. An October release, "Murders" is clearly meant as a Halloween DMOD with its spooky MIDIs, jack-o-lanterns, bats and moaning, wandering ghosts.


There's also a little graveyard with gag headstones, a Halloween staple.

The ghosts are the spirits of the victims, and Dink must drink from a magical fountain in order to temporarily become a ghost and talk to them. The ghosts give clues about the murderer. They're represented by a typical NPC sprite recolored a ghostly white. It works pretty well, but the walking animation shuffles around in an odd-looking way. At least Dink's transformation into a ghost works well, cleverly repurposing a few frames from the "Dink turns into a duck" animation (first used in "Mystery Island," but present in the original game).


The ghost on the right is Dink. I think.

It turns out the murderer is a fashion-conscious guy who thinks that red is out of style, so he strangled all of the people he saw wearing it with a rope. Like I said, this is a very silly story. When Dink catches up to him, he looks like a goblin with a wig on. He's not hard to beat. I finished the DMOD in eight minutes.


Dink uncovers the killer's motive.

There are a few amusing little additional touches. A lot of objects are scripted and have talk and hit responses. If you guessed that "DN" stood for "Dink Network," you were on the money - characters in the village are named SabreTrout, Tal and Redink1. Redink1 has no response to the talk button until a certain point in the story; this was the only bug or problem that I noticed. For some reason, the bomb has been replaced by an exploding soccer ball. Why not, right? It doesn't have any purpose in the quest, but it helps you take care of the boss more quickly.

It's very short and very easy, but the lighthearted tone and Halloween atmosphere in "Red Jacket Murders" made me smile.

Next up: The Scourger.

--

It's been a while since anybody commented here. Actually, nobody's commented since the time I got drunk. Unfortunately, I can't do that every time. Are these just not that interesting anymore?
November 16th 2014, 05:51 AM
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merder
Peasant Male Netherlands xbox steam
The Voice in the back of your head! 
still are interesting but i myself an not much of a replier here.(shh sometimes a little too distracted by sexy gloved lady pictures )
November 16th 2014, 06:37 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
As I said, commenting might slow down a bit for '05 and '06. Despite being quite good in quality, most of these D-Mods are pretty much forgotten entirely. Seriously, I think when it comes to 90% of these D-Mods, this is the first time I've seen anybody talk about or even mention them in the last 8 or so years. The best remembered D-Mods from this time-period are probably The Basilisk Smile and The Fall of Tahmar. I'm confident that people will start commenting more again when you reach 2007.

But I'm still enjoying reading these. Keep up the good work!
November 16th 2014, 08:52 AM
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I wondered about the text in your headers. Are they direct quotes from the D-Mods or your own words? Or does it depend?

I always liked Carrie's D-Mods. Fun and silly

"Redink1 has no response to the talk button until a certain point in the story"
This is not a bug, it mirrors reality
November 16th 2014, 09:49 AM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
"This is not a bug, it mirrors reality"

Someone put that in the quotes?
(Wonder how long it's been since someone said that...)

The Scourger should be a nice highlight, I'm certainly looking forward to your take on it. But as it was with Skull's post, I myself haven't played a lot of the Dmods you've gone through for '05. When I first came to the DN looking for Dmods I went straight for the high-rating ones before I started singling out interesting sounding titles. Can't say the same for other people's choice as to what Dmod they wanted to play next, but that was how I did it for a while. Trust me, your unique writing style will always be interesting regardless of how many more Dmods are left in the list and I can honestly say I'll be right here reading every pseudo-review you make.

Keep it up buddy!
November 16th 2014, 10:57 AM
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SabreTrout
Noble Male United Kingdom
Tigertigertiger. 
I'm still reading but I only take a real interest in my own d-mods, or those which I remember. Which isn't many, because I've only completed a couple of d-mods since 2003.
November 16th 2014, 12:47 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
The quotes are direct quotes from the text of the DMOD. In one case, the quote was from the description, but "Land of Transforming Ducks" didn't even have that.
November 16th 2014, 04:43 PM
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Marpro
Peasant Male bloop
-- Marp Ro 
Mmm... Apex. I remember when I tried to beat this game a couple of years ago. The game does have a certain weird appeal to it(??), but it was far too buggy to enjoy (or even complete, for that matter).

Anyway, nice work, Coco!
November 16th 2014, 05:17 PM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
"The quotes are direct quotes from the text of the DMOD"
I was actually talking about the forum quotes at the bottom of the DN.
November 16th 2014, 06:04 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
I was actually talking about the forum quotes at the bottom of the DN.

But Sparrowhawk wasn't.
November 16th 2014, 09:50 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
I was responding to Sparrowhawk.
November 17th 2014, 12:58 AM
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DinkKiller
Peasant Male United States xbox steam
The world could always use more heroes 
Tim, your write-ups are always interesting. You're the only reason I still check this website with any amount of regularity. Please keep writing
November 17th 2014, 06:13 AM
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metatarasal
Bard Male Netherlands
I object 
I see you've nearly gone through all of my DMODs already. I personally haven't touched either 'Quest for the Gems' or 'Dink learns music' for many years. But what I remember comes pretty close to your conclusions, so probably my memories aren't all to far off. I personally would like to forget them sometimes, I guess they're still around for their historical value.

I'm curious to hear what you make of the scourger. I think it's much better than the earlier two though it does have its issues as well. (Mostly with fetch quests and mazes.)

EDIT: Also, the land of transforming ducks. That DMOD was the first DMOD I ever wrote a review for. It wasn't too hard, saying that it sucked.
November 19th 2014, 05:14 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
228: The Scourger Author: Metatarasal Release Date: November 19, 2005
"Listen up rock man: You teach me the Goblin language now, or I'll topple you over."

REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is one of the select group with a score of 9.0 or better (9.2) on The Dink Network.

"The Scourger" seems like an odd title to my eyes. I'm used to seeing the word 'scourge' as a noun. It can be a verb, but I've never seen the word 'scourger' before. It seems like it would make more sense to just call it "The Scourge."

This mod is the last to have the "epic" label until 2010. It's the only epic of 2005, now that Apex has (quite correctly) been relabeled a romp. It received a large update on April 1, 2010 that added new content, including an "extra world" at the end. Actually, what I just said about epics is only true in retrospect. Apparently, "The Scourger" wasn't added to the "epic" category until its update, at which point "Historical Hero" had already come out! At any rate, I think it deserves the designation, as it took me over four hours to finish - 4 hours and two minutes, to be exact. I probably could have beaten it faster, but hey, it's not a race.

"The Scourger" picks up from the plot of "Quest for the Gems." Apparently, the villain from that mod succeeded in his evil plan. Although I never quite worked out what that plan was while playing "QftG," it turns out that it involved resurrecting an ancient wizard who is basically made of fire.


The red guy is the Scourger, and he is bad news.

I feel like this DMOD is a big step up for Metatarasal. The game design is a lot clearer than his earlier mods. In "Quest for the Gems," the events felt frustratingly arbitrary and the plot was hard to follow at times. In "Scourger," things made more sense and the flow was better. "Scourger" is a mostly linear game with a number of distinct areas, roughly in the mold of DMODs like "Stone of Balance." The areas include:

*A pair of neighboring desert towns locked in bitter conflict over their preferred methods of preparing food. The eastern town insists that food should only be "cooked, not fried" (judging by the way their cooking requires water, I think "cooking" means "boiling" here), while the western town insists that frying is the only acceptable way to prepare food. I found this silly concept really clever and charming, and I loved how far the author went with it. Such is the zeal with which residents support their side of the argument that even when the eastern town desperately needs water, residents refuse to trade with the relatively wet westerners because 'all they'd want is bonca fat, and I refuse to be involved in frying.' This is Dr. Seuss-level genius.


And I thought shows like Iron Chef took food preparation techniques seriously.

*The catacombs of an icy castle, where Dink must find at least 10 magical "blue stars." If you can manage to find all 12, you get the fireball spell as a bonus. It was fun being told to look for secrets and probing my way around the walls and objects to find the 12 stars. It took me a while, though, and the endless repetition of a MIDI version of "Shine" by Collective Soul eventually got annoying enough that I muted the game.


Outside the castle, there's also a little ice fisihing challenge. I think this is the first time Dink has been ice fishing, but who knows anymore?


This little reference must have been added in the update, since Metatarasal's tutorial file came out in 2009.

*A garrison where Dink is tasked with retrieving personal items from the bodies of dead soldiers. Unexpectedly, this made me kind of sad. A description of a personal item has a strange way of making you feel sorry for a nameless, faceless, dead knight. This area is connected to a town built in underground caves. This concept has turned up quite a few times - I suspect it might have something to do with how easy it makes it to map out a town area.




*A village that sits on the border of a huge maze of skinny paths over water. You have to do favors for all five village residents before they'll let you into the maze. There are several mazes in this DMOD, but this one is by far the trickiest. Still, it isn't too onerous - nothing a little "follow the right wall" action won't solve eventually. I've seen the author cite mazes as a concern about this DMOD, but while it's maze-heavy to be sure, I didn't really have a problem with it.


It is kind of funny how you can tell how full of mazes the game is just by looking at the map, though. Prepare to be amazed.

*A smaller maze filled with fire. I had problems with this segment. You get trapped in this maze with an acid rain spell that you can cast only a very small number of times. It's up to you to scout ahead and determine which route requires you to put out the fewest fires. The warning you get about this is really vague, though, and you're not likely to figure it out on your first try. Since you're trapped, there's nothing to do but load a save, which at a minimum puts you back before the start of the area. I hadn't saved right before entering, though, so I had to recover some ground. This could have put a really bad taste in my mouth if I'd been even more forgetful about saving. The puzzle itself is pretty clever, but I'm opposed to making the player feel trapped and hopeless like this. There should have been a way to retry the puzzle.

By the way, if you run out of charges right at the end, it's possible to kind of "cheat" your way past the spike obstacle at the end of this section. Similar to how it was possible to skip a whole section back in "Prophecy of the Ancients" by barging right through a fatal energy barrier, you can equip an elixir, walk across the spikes (taking fatal damage) and use the elixir before your health reaches zero. It calls to mind the rolling health meters from the Earthbound series.


AH COME ON

*The final area, a goblin prison. I assume this is the "new world" that got added in the update. It has the neatest gameplay element in the DMOD: warps take you to the "shadow world" and back. This switches the background between regular and blacked-out, changes which enemies you encounter, and changes several elements (gates, hazards) in such a way that you're required to swap back and forth to make your way through the prison. I had an idea for an entire DMOD based around this kind of concept a while back, and I like the way it was handled here. My favorite bit was a shelf of bombs that could only be removed in the shadow world, where they are, for some reason, apples. This means you have to leave an apple sitting in front of a rock that's in your way.

Your inventory is removed at the start of this segment. That's fine, but it meant I had to spend a ridiculous amount of time punching the tough blob enemies. It wasn't hard, just tedious.


A screen in the regular world...


...and that same screen in the shadow world.


After the one in the header, this was my favorite line of dialogue in the DMOD.


The fight against the Scourger is tough, and took me a few tries. It doesn't look like he agrees with you, Dink!

It wasn't always easy to figure out what to do next, but it was never particularly hard either. The only time I got really stuck was in looking for a couple of caves that blend into the shadows of the cliff walls a bit TOO well.


Even with Dink actually crawling into it, it's still hard to see.

Pressing the "J" key in this DMOD brings up a list of objectives and highlights your current task. I didn't have much use for this, but it could be handy to somebody who didn't play the game in one day. The "T" key is used to throw away inventory, but I only used this once, when the game requires you to throw away a certain item.

Here's an oddity - you don't get to select your level-up bonus in this DMOD. You just get a point of defense instead. I was going to put my points into defense anyway, but I wonder why Meta removed the choice.

I ran into some bugs - mostly hardness errors. On five or six occasions, Dink ended up stuck in a wall, some water, a void - generally, some place he wasn't supposed to be. I just used the Ultimate Cheat to warp back to a place that made sense, but it's no fun having your immersion break like that. In the "pet peeves" department, a segment where Dink is disguised as a goblin features the dreaded "turning back into Dink when pushing" problem. I give the DMOD bonus points, though, for fixing the purple bonca bug and using the walk and death animations that make sense for the spikey enemies.


Another problem: most apostrophes are replaced with this symbol for some reason.

I did run into a fatal bug, but it isn't Metatarasal's fault. This is a rare case of a FreeDink-specific problem (I wonder if that was enough to get Beuc's attention). It turns out that FreeDink doesn't play nice with a script that contains a fade command while another fade (such as the fade that happens when you walk into a map-placed warp) is already happening. I could only proceed by editing the script myself. You can't blame the author for not considering a way to play the game that wasn't even out yet when this was originally released. I found a reference to this problem from 2009, so it's odd that this hasn't been fixed. Until it is, you can't beat this mod in FreeDink without messing with a certain script.

"Scourger" didn't quite wow me as much as the best DMODs I've played, but it's still a great one - fun, consistent, and with few negative points, although the hardness errors were a bit of a bummer in a game that was otherwise well-polished.


I like jokes about the limited set of graphics.
November 19th 2014, 06:17 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Pretty sure the fire maze and Goblin prison areas were added in the big update. I remember that in the original version, once you'd reach the end of the big "water maze", you'd fight The Scourger and after that the game would end.
November 20th 2014, 05:44 AM
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Beuc
Peasant Male France
 
> I wonder if that was enough to get Beuc's attention

Let's say it usually works better if you send me a savedgame with how to reproduce the issue
November 20th 2014, 03:13 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
229: Once a Hero (Demo) Author: James Troughton (SabreTrout) Release Date: December 31, 2005
"Man, I've never even touched a sword before, let alone used one."

REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is one of the select group with a score of 9.0 or better (9.3) on The Dink Network.

There are certain things we just take for granted in a DMOD - at least, in a DMOD that doesn't radically depart from the kind of game Dink Smallwood was and turn into an arcade game or something. There's the usual cast of monsters. There's magic. If we're playing as Dink, he knows how to swing a sword in that way he does - it looks like he's attempting to bludgeon you with the hilt, true, but it seems effective. Even in DMODs where Dink never gets a magic spell or never even fights a monster, these assumptions are not challenged. "Once a Hero" is a different kind of DMOD.


It's like he's never even seen a weird, mooing tail-beast before.

As a duck in the void conveys during the intro, "Once a Hero" is set in a far future where, despite the apparent lack of an industrial revolution, magic and monsters have long since disappeared and are all but forgotten. The only remaining signs of them are tales in old books that are assumed by most people to be pure fantasy. There are no wizards, no dragons and no boncas as far as anybody knows, although there ARE still giant pillbugs making a nuisance of themselves.


There are also deer. I like them. They fit right in.

So we're introduced to another Dink Smallwood, living with his mom in a small, quiet village. This has some similarities with the beginning of "Friends Beyond 3," which also featured a different Dink in the future. Actually, come to think of it, it isn't that different from the setup of the original game, with the exception that our Dink probably knew that monsters existed. There never was much of an explanation as to why Dink, who had no experience with fighting or adventuring, was suddenly great at these things as soon as he tried them. THIS Dink, when he gets his hands on a sword, doesn't really know how to use it. As a result, the attack bonus from the sword is only half of the usual bonus. I probably would have taken this a step farther and added some kind of chance for attacks to miss.


I like the house interiors in this DMOD. There seems to be a bit more effort put into them than usual.

Dink has a friend named Jacob who is obsessed with the legends of magic and mythical creatures. Dink doesn't share his friend's interest. Maybe he thinks it would be cool to be able to use magic, but this Dink strongly feels that reading is "for dweebs." He seems so bored by Jacob's enthusiasm that you almost wonder why they're such close friends, but then, Jacob is the only other boy Dink's age in his village. I remember being a kid. You hung out with other kids that you didn't necessarily share interests with because hanging out is just what kids do. I can relate.

A large portion of the demo is spent just doing ordinary stuff around Dink's village. The dialogue in this segment is remarkably down-to-earth and free of melodrama. It was almost to the point of being boring, but I appreciated the realistic feel. It grounds the story and builds character. I'd be excited to see where the story leads from such a muted starting point if this weren't just a demo. Still, we do get a creepy scene of the village being suddenly deserted when Jacob accidentally casts an unknown spell from an ancient book.


The moral is that reading really IS for dweebs.

"Once a Hero" was intended to become an epic, made with collaboration between SabreTrout and Striker (who, according to the readme, didn't have much to do with the production of this demo). Evidence of the project's high ambition can be found in the demo. If you press the "S" key, there's a status dialog with Dink's current class and languages known. Dink's class starts as "youth," but it changes to "adventurer" once an NPC explains to Dink what one is ("You know the sort. They go around killing things for fame and glory. Helping damzels in distress, slaying almighty foes. That kind of thing."). There were plans for other classes like mage and thief, and for skills like Swordmaster, which would make Dink better at using swords. There are more design ideas and some unused scripts in the story folder. Also included with the DMOD is a screenshot that seems to prove CC3 was in development at some point.

After Dink leaves his village, he'll soon find his way to a nearby town, where a farmer will pay him to slay some giant spiders. Once you beat the spiders and return to the farmer to collect your reward, the demo is over.


They're nasty little buggers.

"Once a Hero" has a story concept with a lot of potential and a direct effect on gameplay. Instead of throwing out all the usual fantasy trappings right away, they're introduced one at a time as the hero discovers them. I'm not sure how well the class system idea would have worked out, but I suspect this might have been a favorite of mine. Even as a demo, it at least gets you thinking about some things that are usually taken for granted.

--

Obviously, that's it for 2005. It seems that I was more on-target than I knew when I shrugged and introduced it as "a year that happened," because it seems to be a big blind spot in the Dink community. For whatever reason, 2004 seems to be regarded as the end of the "classic era" that contains many DMODs people have played because of the high esteem in which they're held or simply because they're old. The "modern era" that more people remember directly doesn't seem to start until at least 2007.

Despite the lack of attention paid to it, I think 2005 was a good year for DMODs. I was surprised and impressed. Previous years forced me to muddle through too many mods that I just didn't enjoy at all. In 2005, there were only a few DMODs that I really disliked. Apart from those few (heck, I'll name them: Goblin Castle, Apex, Dink Bigwood and Land of Transforming Ducks), I found something to genuinely enjoy in each of the mods from 2005, even those that were sloppy or generic. There were a lot of creative, fresh-feeling ideas this year, and a lot of fun Dink-style adventure.

(OK, I admit that there's one more mod I didn't really find anything special in: "Dink vs. Milder," truly a replacement-level DMOD if ever I've encountered one.)

Even the mods that I really disliked weren't as hard to make it through as some from previous years. I only gave out two copies of the Dink Forever Memorial Award of Badness - compare that to NINE from 2003, for example. Speaking of the DFMAOB, I've given it out 29 times. That's nearly 13 percent of the DMODs so far. Also, 1998 mods got a free pass for coming out so early. If they didn't, all four of my 1998 mods would get one for sure, bringing the total to 33, or over 14 percent. This might seem harsh, but I want to assure you that I have reserved careful judgment in the use of this deadliest of snark bombs. Many are the times I have said, "Wow, that DMOD sucked and I hated it," but had to admit to myself that it was not DFMAOB material. Yes, there really are that many duds out there. Here's hoping the percentage will end up creeping down rather than up.

Here are my favorite DMODs from 2005:

The Bronze Pig (3rd place): Terrania, by Carrie Burton. I know it's weird to pick one that I had trouble finishing, but I've always been a little charmed by Carrie's silly mods with their interesting settings, and this one is easily my favorite so far. The atmosphere is very weird in a pleasant way, the dialogue is funny - this one stood out for me.

The Silver Duck (2nd place): Once a Hero, by SabreTrout. It's fun while it lasts, but I'm grading this one mainly on potential. It really gets my mind racing with the possibilities of what a full version would have been like.

The Golden Pillbug (Best place): The Scourger, by Metatarasal. A big long DMOD with a good number of distinct areas that each have their own theme. The pacing was good, and I never got stuck. Comparable to "Prophecy of the Ancients" in terms of gameplay. Pretty impressive work for somebody who got their start the same year. Some of my favorite parts were added in a 2010 update, but the author deserves the credit for putting in the rare effort to go back and add to a previous work.

See you in 2006, when things slowed down a bit... at least in terms of DMOD releases.
November 20th 2014, 03:47 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Yes, there really are that many duds out there. Here's hoping the percentage will end up creeping down rather than up.

Oh don't you worry. I made sure it'll creep back up. A lot.
November 26th 2014, 04:37 AM
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ThePunisher
Peasant Male
Kill Police Officers 
Also included with the DMOD is a screenshot that seems to prove CC3 was in development at some point.

Sabre finish CC3!
November 26th 2014, 05:47 AM
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Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
MOTHER OF A DUCK, CAN WE CENSOR CC3 AND ITS VARIANTS TO A CODE THAT IMMEDIATELY DELETES THE POST!?