The Dink Network

Crazy Old Tim Plays All the DMODs of 2006

November 20th 2014, 10:33 PM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
--Crazy Old Tim Plays All the DMODs--

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

After eight years of impressively consistent output, DMOD authors finally slowed down a bit in 2006. For the first time, less than twenty DMODs were released in a year - 17, by my count, nearly half of which were entries for the Failure Contest. Despite the dip in DMOD production, I still consider this to be a big - no, huge - year for the Dink community. I will explain why in the first installment of a series I'm going to call...

**The DMOD Drought Diaries**
~Chapter 1: Reign of the Release Candidates (Early 2006)~

After "Once a Hero" came out on the final day of 2005, there were no more DMODs released for a while. The next DMOD, "The Quest," came out on March 26, 2006. That's a gap of 85 days - nearly three months.

That may not seem like much now. There was a considerably longer gap in 2014 between the releases of "Bored of the Rings" (April 1) and "Dink Smallwood: Achievement Unlocked Edition" (September 2), and 2014's frequency of releases looks like a renaissance compared to the previous year. You might wonder why I've chosen to call so much attention to this gap in releases after ignoring any that have come before.

For the answer, look back to 1998. I'm not quite sure when "Milli Vanilli" came out, but I do know that Mike Snyder's "Scar of David," released on March 22nd, was the second DMOD. The third, Mike's "Dink's Doppleganger," was released on June 6th. That's a gap of 76 days, and until 2006, this remained the record for the longest DMOD drought! That's impressive both in terms of the community's activity in the intervening years and in terms of making me wonder what the Hell was going on with "Scar of David" coming out so damn early. Mike Snyder's mystical powers confuse and frighten me.

Anyway, I've decided that every time the drought record is broken, I'm going to take a little look at what Dink community was up to in the mean time. This will be a seven-part series. If you guessed that parts six and seven are going to be on either side of "Moon Child," you really know your recent Dink history.

The early 2006 drought coincided with the release of Dink Smallwood version 1.08, the first new version since 1.07 Beta 3 came out way back in December of 2001 and still the latest version of the main "fork" of the game. Public beta testing began in late 2005, but in January, the first release candidate was... er... released. People kept finding bugs, so there were several release candidates. Release Candidate 7, which came out on February 25, ended up being the final release of Dink 1.08, and on March 10 there was an official release with Seth Robinson's approval.

1.08 was a big update - all of the previous releases were minor tweaks in comparison. Dan "Redink1" Walma (with some assistance from Talmadge Bradley) made a new version of Dink with lots of useful new features. The previous updates to the game had been light on features - the biggest one I can think of is the ability to call scripts when the player presses a certain key on the keyboard, introduced in 1.06. 1.08 had so many fantastic new features that I couldn't list them all, but I do want to hit some of the highlights.

*loopmidi - DMODs released before Dink 1.08 very rarely looped MIDI songs. Even the few DMODs that had looped music generally only did so on certain special screens, such as boss fights. This was because MIDI files could only be looped by waiting the amount of seconds that were in the track and then playing the MIDI again. Without looping, the music would frequently cut out, leaving players with an awkward silence. With this new function, MIDIs will loop automatically throughout the game.

*show_console - The console is a new feature that allows you to type DinkC commands within the game itself and have them execute instantly. This is incredibly useful for development, debugging and super-advanced cheating.

*dnotalk and dnomagic - With 1.08, it's finally possible to change those moldy old default sayings for talking to nothing and trying to cast magic without a spell equipped. Frankly, I can't understand why everybody hasn't done this since. A couple of older DMODs used a "blank" initial magic to work around the default no-magic sayings, but no DMOD ever worked around the "talking to nothing" messages. "Dink's World" had alternate text, but only if you used the redink.exe engine, which had the same feature.

*compare_weapon - FINALLY, somebody can tell the difference between you punching them and chopping them with a sword. This was a frustrating limitation that frequently prevented "hit" reactions from making any sense (for example, Dink would chop at a sign and proclaim, "Ow! My Knuckles!"). Some older DMODs found ways to work around this, but it's great to be able to check directly to see what the player has equipped. 1.08 works this into the original game; the bow seller has a new line of dialogue if you shoot him with the bow.

*True Color mode - speaks for itself. I use this all the time.

*external - When calling external scripts, you can now pass values to them using new psuedo-variables like &arg1.

*clear_editor_info - Remember how much trouble "Catacombs" had to go through to reset stored information about editor sprites? Now, you can do it all with one command. This is also useful for testing during development.

There's a bunch more, but you get the point. 1.08 has lots of useful new features for DMOD developers and expands what it's possible to do with the engine even further. Of course, quite a few people had dreams of even more powerful options, but there's only so much you can do without totally breaking compatibility with old DMODs (or, for that matter, without eventually turning it into such a different game that you might as well just start a new one from scratch). As it is, a large number of older DMODs received updates in 2006 in order to fix bugs that turned up when playing them on 1.08.

Other events during this period:

On January 18, gamehampe (author of "Unfinished Business" and "Castle Killers") released WinDinkEdit Plus, adding some new features and fixes to the popular editor by WC and Gary Hertel.

Wesley McElwee returned to the community and released an update for "Friends Beyond 1," also on January 18.

Beuc revived the Dink Smallwood Solutions.

--

230: The Quest Author: Anders Tilly (Srednar) Release Date: March 26, 2006
"You know, you really suck at adventure games."

It's kind of funny that this is the DMOD that ended the first significant drought, because this is pretty far from my expectations of what a DMOD generally is. It seems constructed to make the game do silly things and troll the player. It certainly isn't that new for a DMOD to be based around jokes and references, break the fourth wall, and not take itself seriously, but this one is REALLY out there. It is the anti-DMOD.

The maps are very empty, and the tiling is bad in some places. Dink can walk straight through most of the houses, which make up most of the (seemingly) solid objects you encounter. This is clearly less a case of incompetence and more a case of apathy on the part of the author.


Yeah, he doesn't care.

The only screen with any decoration features one tree and one rock. Upon entering this screen, Dink declares, "This is an unimportant area, made solely to connect the island. I suggest you leave." If you examine the tree, or rock, he explains, "This is an insignificant piece of decoration that's not needed for the main storyline. Ignore it." That's certainly direct. This game seems to be in open contempt of many of the conventions of games in general.

The escape menu we know so well has been totally wrecked. The gamepad setup and restart game options are gone. The "Help" option just tells you that you're on your own. A "Fetch me a badger" option increments a counter and tells you that you have n number of badgers (you end up needing a certain amount of these badgers to pass a certain point). The quit option makes you confirm your choice to quit the game five times.


Now, that's just rude.

Any object or NPC that isn't here to advance the game is here to toss out jokes, references or both. There's a girl who's only there so that you can select from a long list of pick-up lines. There's a black guy, so Dink can make offensive racist jokes that I won't repeat (the guy takes it in stride). There's a statue that plays randomly selected .wavs from The Simpsons. There's a guy who contradicts you like in the Argument sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus. There's a lot of yo momma jokes, which are worked into a "battle" where you have to come up with comebacks, a reference to the insult swordfighting from the Monkey Island series.


Yo momma so fat, she has serious health problems. I'm worried about her.

The gameplay is mainly made up of quizzes and puzzles. Near the start, you have to answer some math problems and a few questions about the German military during World War II. If you answer any question wrong, you'll have to load your save. I think that it's poor design to require outside knowledge, but I'm pretty sure the author wouldn't care what I think. There's a third quiz, but all of the answers to it are "Sweden." The puzzles include some very nicely implemented versions of a "lights out" style puzzle and Concentration, as well as a shell-game puzzle with knights. They move way too fast to follow on the last round, but it's the same every time, so I only had to lose once.


You examine the barrels to try to match the contents. It works quite smoothly.

I was sure that this was going to be a non-combat DMOD, but there are three screens of combat at the end. The first two screens are straightforward enough - a big pillbug that turns into smaller pillbugs when you kill it and a bunch of quickly multiplying slimes. The third screen, however, throws out all the rules of Dink Smallwood. At first, you're just fighting a wizard who casts a variety of spells. It's annoying when he uses his "summon pillbug" spell right after freezing you with a "paralyze" spell, but he's still pretty manageable. When you damage him a certain amount, however, things get weird.


What the Hell is going on?

Explosions are everywhere. Dozens of pillbugs stream into being and swarm you. You'd succumb to the damage pretty quickly, but Dink's health keeps spontaneously refilling for some reason. Dink is frozen and unfrozen every second or so; some of the times that he can move, his speed is set to slow. I was reduced to thrashing about, madly punching, wondering what game I was even playing anymore. This wasn't Dink Smallwood as I know it. This game makes no sense. A game is supposed to be an entertaining friend. This game is a duplicitous stranger, leading me along and then pulling the floor out from under me.

Anyway, somehow I muddled through and got to the big bad guy. After a typical ominous villain speech, he kills Dink, except that I wasn't frozen for some reason, so I could still walk around. Whoops!

"The Quest" is pretty funny in its way. Play it if you're sick of DMODs.


Look, there's a secret Bubble Bobble screen!
November 21st 2014, 12:06 AM
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scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
but no DMOD ever worked around the "talking to nothing" messages.

I think somebody actually released a dev file addressing that problem, but I can't remember what the hell it was called. Essentially, it was adding a large invisible sprite covering the entire screen, so that when you "talk to nothing", you're actually talking to that sprite. A shame if nobody never used it, it worked quite well.

About 'The Quest', I really like that dmod. There's something about the author's apathetic sense of humour that appeals to me. Even the dmod's name sounds like something he basically just brushed off. "What should I name this dmod? I can't think of anything. The Quest."
November 21st 2014, 12:18 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
It was called Cooltext. All the reviews say it works well. I'm also kind of surprised that nobody ever used it, but from what I've heard about how often the much easier to use dnotalk.c is used, maybe it isn't so surprising. For me, changing the default text is a big deal, because it always bothered me that no matter what you did with your DMOD, that same old text would still be there.
November 21st 2014, 04:00 PM
pq_knight.gif
ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
Fun little fact about that whole Cooltext file, in my ignorance I went to use it and had it all set up a couple of months ago. Didn't realize there was a dnotalk/dnomagic.c thing around until I popped into the Dink Chat and asked the author for help. Man I felt like an idiot

Looks like this Drought-Breaker had quite a unique design choice to it though. I can't imagine why the author wouldn't bother with visual details other than the 'unimportant screen', though.
November 21st 2014, 04:42 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
I honestly don't like it very much when Dink's default lines are changed. After you play enough D-Mods, you get so used to them that it's just confusing when Dink suddenly says something different. At least, that's how it is to me.

Nice write-up yet again, Tim. It's truly amazing how you've managed to cover all the D-Mods of seven full years, and are starting on your eighth. If these articles were the last thing to ever happen with Dink (hoping they won't be, of course), I wouldn't complain.
November 21st 2014, 05:06 PM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
This is the ninth year I've covered, unless you're not counting 1998 as a "full year." Thanks, though.
November 21st 2014, 05:24 PM
custom_skull.gif
Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Yeah. Oops. xD For some reason I was counting it as if you were still covering 2005 even though I knew you weren't. Brain not working properly tonight.
November 21st 2014, 07:11 PM
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leprochaun
Peasant Male Japan xbox steam bloop
Responsible for making things not look like ass 
Oh boy. New year, new adventures!
November 22nd 2014, 04:37 PM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
231: A Very Dink Christmas (Unfinished) Author: MiloBones Release Date: April 9, 2006
"(Basically, there are a lot of grunting noises)"

Let's get one thing out of the way: "A Very Dink Christmas" is not a Christmas-themed DMOD. Christmas is mentioned just once, at the beginning, when a child is born on the holiday. After that, the story skips ahead at least ten years.


Hahaha you had a difficult birth.
The no-walls interiors are an intentional choice by the author, but I think they look weird.


Usually this project is fun, but sometimes I get really discouraged. Some DMODs are really tough to force my way through, and occasionally, that makes me feel bad. MiloBones is the author of "The Ants" and "Tile Puzzle," which demonstrate impressive creativity and ingenuity. "A Very Dink Christmas" has some of these qualities too, but it really isn't enjoyable to play.

The author agrees. In his own review, he calls the DMOD "an artistic project which obviously took a lot of time and effort but still sucks" and gave it a 0.0, saying that he should probably subtract another tenth of a point for bugs. He also wrote a walkthrough, and even that starts with some emphatic advice not to play the DMOD and to stop if you've started.

Milo is (obviously) too harsh on his DMOD. It does have some strong points. I'm afraid I have to agree with a lot of what he says, though. I couldn't recommend playing "Very Dink Christmas" if you want to have a good time playing a game, although you might enjoy seeing some of the cool ideas put into it.

You play as Dink Smallwood Jr. Dink Jr. (or DJ, as he is humorously known) never met his father, who left his mom before he was born. The story skips ahead 10 years after his birth. 10-year-old DJ decides that he's going to set out to find his father, presumably to make him come back to the family or something. Conveniently, DJ looks exactly like his father.


Y'know, scaling them down to this size almost works as a depiction of children. Authors often make them too small and it looks strange.

DJ soon meets Ridge, Wizard Martridge's father. From here, the plot is pretty difficult to understand (the author says that even he doesn't understand it). There's some kind of weird warp, and suddenly DJ is ten years older and Ridge has gone senile. We haven't actually gone forward in time. Nobody believes DJ about who his father is because he looks 20 years old, and everybody apparently knows that Dink Sr. is only 25 (This means that Dink was actually 15 when Dink Jr. was born, which is realistic enough, but might explain why he high-tailed it). Somebody tells Dink Jr. about an expensive magical artifact known as "the paternity test," which he can use to prove that Dink is his father (I admit, this is pretty funny) but the rest of the game seems to center around Dink chasing after the senile Ridge through a series of bizarre circumstances. There's more to the plot - something about a curse and DJ's grandfather? - but this is all I was really able to understand.

Some of the map screens are sparse even by my standards. An early area has a bunch of people just wandering around on a featureless, square, grassy island, which is plain bizarre. It's not as strange as what DJ has to do there - Ridge instructs him to "seek the pedophile." You find him in an underground (literally) tavern called - I swear I am not making this up - the "Tavern where [the] pedophile is." There is a sign and everything. The pedophile makes DJ prove himself by finding the "Four Transvestites." To figure out who's a transvestite and who isn't, DJ - who I'm pretty sure was ten years old a few minutes ago - must go around punching people and then offer them 5 gold to have sex with them, both men and women. Once he accomplishes this, DJ is sent off to talk to a man known as the necrophile, who hangs out in a cemetary full of dug-up graves. None of this has anything to do with anything else. I think it's supposed to be funny, but it's really just kind of strange and awful. I did laugh at the sequences that just had a black background and a bunch of grunting and animal noises. I'm not sure what was supposed to be going on, exactly, but there was some text describing it for the benefit of the deaf and people without speakers, and it made me laugh pretty hard.


This is not an inquiry I should ever like to make.

The wreck of a story is at least interesting enough to tolerate, though. The real problems of "A Very Dink Christmas" are that it's too hard and you're never really told what to do. All of the enemies are creative new spins on the Dink monsters. There's a bonca that becomes stronger and faster every time it kills a duck, a bonca that emits fireballs that revolve around it, a flaming pillbug, and a stone giant that makes holes in the ground where it attacks. Almost all of them are TOO DAMN HARD. Even if you get your stats as high as you can reasonably hope to have them, nearly all of these enemies can kill you in a damn hurry. After successfully fighting your way through a long series of screens filled with these enemies, ONE mistake will send you back over five minutes to that last save point. It is complete bullsh*t. I spent WAY too long trying to do this legitimately (for those of you who have played it, I made it one screen short of the stone giant boss) before I gave up and cheated up some ridiculous stats. Even then, it was easy to get killed due to some enemies with instant death gimmicks. Knowing that there isn't really an ending anyway, I gave up in frustration.


Another new enemy is this weird four-snake-head thing, which casts a spell to reduce your HP to 1 and then tries to drop deadly fairies on you. It moves extremely quickly toward you if you get close, so it must be defeated from a distance with magic.

Just after I started cheating, there's a boss that can only reasonably be beaten using a spell that, if you don't have a cheated magic stat, would take over a minute to charge. You have to use this spell several times to win. Yikes. What isn't explained to you is that whenever you damage this boss, you take damage as well. It's easy to die before figuring this out on your first try, which would set you back ages.

MiloBones just put every idea he could come up with into this thing without trying to explain any of it to the player. Some of it works. The spell I just mentioned creates stones that revolve quickly around DJ in a spiral pattern, doing huge damage to everything they hit. Another spell called the "spirit whip" has an interesting effect. You have to press the magic button and then a direction, and Dink Jr. will send out a whiplike line of three stars in that direction. If you're good with this, you can hit the enemy three times. It's interesting to have a spell that gives you range, but doesn't fly all the way across the screen. After playing for over 20 minutes, I realized that this spell has more than one effect. If you press the magic button twice, stars will revolve around DJ, damaging whatever they hit. You can then press a direction to send out a stronger "spirit whip." What I never discovered until I read the walkthrough was that there are even more functions to this spell. You can press magic THREE times, and acid rain spouts will circle DJ. You can press magic and then attack to send out a shower of stars. All of this really should have been explained to the player. Actually, some of these functions should just have been cut, since they aren't all useful anyway.


One of the forms of the "spirit whip" in action.

It's not just the magic that isn't adequately explained. There's a point where Dink turns into a copy of that weird snake-head boss, and you have to use the attack, which moves you forward, to bypass a cliff's hardness to continue. Yes, you HAVE to do this. I never would have known without a walkthrough, especially because the more obvious path forward has an invisible wall blocking you, which I assumed to be a bug. Playing AVDC is a frustrating, demoralizing experience.

The worst part is that I think it's the author's very negative attitude toward the mod that was the real problem. This stuff could be fixed. With some polish and rebalancing, this could have been a really neat DMOD, but MiloBones looked at what he created and could only see the worst of the worst.


Here's a shot from long after I gave up. There really are some interesting - though way too damn hard - enemies here.

232: Dink vs. Milder 2 (Demo) Author: Ciprian Oprisa (Cypry) Release Date: June 10, 2006
"Sounds pretty stupid, hope it'll work"

"A Very Dink Christmas" was the last DMOD ever to win the Download of the Month contest on The Dink Network. "Ed the SCV" was the first, way back in April of 2000. For the June contest, the only choices were "Dink vs. Milder 2" and "None." Voters decided to pick nothing at all rather than this DMOD, as "Mr. None" (as Redink1 put it) defeated Cypry's demo 10 votes to 7. There was one last DOTM the month after, in which Cypry was redeemed as his DinkC Editor (which I use myself for DMOD development) shut out Mr. None. The contest was quietly discontinued after that.

"Dink vs. Milder 2" isn't so bad that it deserved to get beaten out by nothing at all. Really, the result reflected less on the DMOD and more on how ridiculous it was to continue having Download of the Month contests in months where there was just one download. It wouldn't surprise me if people voted for "None" just to protest how silly it had become.

This is really more of a "re-do" than a sequel. The first part of the DMOD is nearly identical to its predecessor, right down to the same bad tiling of the wooden floors. Once again, Milder is a much worse jerk than he was in the original game and tries to force himself on Libby. Once again, Dink decides to become a knight so that he can challenge Milder to a duel. As before, Dink goes to kill a bonca to prove himself. At that point, things get weird.


WHAAAT.

Let me back up a little bit. Things actually get weird even earlier than that. The dialogue in this DMOD is kind of strange. Part of that is because Cypry's English (he's from Romania) isn't perfect, and some sentences are so messy that characters end up saying practically the opposite of what they obviously mean. Another thing that bothered me is the way the characters openly discuss DMODs. Now, I've generally had a positive view of all the fourth wall breaking - I don't see how you can tolerate DMODs if you don't. But I balked when Dink asked his mom about his father and she said this:

There are many theories about your father
Some DMOD authors pretend he's dead
some others, that he was a great hero, but he dissapeared
and some others that he was kidnapped


It's not bad as a summary of some of the different ways authors have treated the issue of Dink's dad, but it was pretty damn weird coming out of the mouth of Dink's mom in the middle of what had been a serious conversation. This isn't a typical fourth wall joke. These characters clearly know all about DMODs, and somehow this is okay with them. They don't ask, "hey author, how come you're making bad stuff happen to us?" It's a particularly strange thing to do in a DMOD that dispenses with the usual continuity anyway, and therefore doesn't have to acknowledge anything from other DMODs. I found myself in the unusual position of taking the story more seriously than the author did.

Let's get back to that screenshot. Dink punches the bonca a couple of times, it explodes, and he finds himself in this crazy "time tunnel." Martridge suddenly busts open a giant crate of radioactive weapons-grade exposition all over the place. In a long conversation, he tells Dink that he's from 10 years in the future, he went back in time to save Dink from the exploding bonca, Milder has aligned himself with the goblins and overthrown the kingdom, and now Milder is a Dark Wizard as well as being King Milder I. I couldn't stop myself from laughing derisively; this is the silliest plot I have ever read, and it makes no sense. But, y'know, whatever. What I can't understand is why Cypry would reuse the opening from his earlier mod when this one has such a different premise and it takes such a monumental stretch to get from one plot to the other. The jolt from jumping tracks is enough to make your head spin until it twists clean off.


This DMOD has pigeons instead of ducks. Once, I hit one of them with a fireball and a damage of "0" displayed. This is the first time I've ever seen the game display 0 damage.

The demo is surprisingly substantial. It took me 40 minutes to finish it. Most of what you have to do is kind of monotonous, going back and forth to perform errands across screens that look quite similar and mostly feature the same couple of enemies, but it's not bad. There are no weapons, but you can acquire a pair of herb boots and the fireball spell, which is all you really need to fight the enemies here. There's a big maze just before the end of the DMOD, but you're given a map at the start. It makes perfect sense in the story, because you're sent to the maze by a character who's on your side and would know the layout, but from a gameplay perspective, it's kind of odd.


What's the point of building a maze and telling the player exactly what path to follow? I don't get it.

Dink infiltrates the goblin-oppressed city of Milderburg, but the "end of demo" message comes up before he ever gets the chance to confront his psychotic old nemesis (How crazy is Milder? He's stopping all traffic in an effort to find and kill Dink Smallwood - who has been missing for TEN YEARS).

There were a couple of bits of dialogue that I quite enjoyed. In order to get a bomb you need to reach the herb boots, you ask a bartender for some reason. I found the resulting exchange pretty funny:

Dink: I want to buy a bomb
Bartender: This is a bar. We sell drinks
Dink: I don't know, but I have a feeling that you have a bomb
Bartender: Ok, let's pretend I have a bomb
Bartender: how much would you offer for it?


I love this. Dink is really only asking because the option was there in the choice menu! "This is a bar. We sell drinks." Hilarious.


Ooh, are we going to play Hot Potato? What fun.

And then there's a guy running some kind of lab in the outdoors. He's all like, damn, you found my secret lab! When Dink says anybody could have found him, he says that nobody did until Dink. Dink asks him what he's working on, and when he says that's a secret, Dink astutely points out that so was the lab until he found it.


Hey Dan, I think Cypry is calling you old.

There's an unusual save system in this DMOD. You can save from the escape menu, but it doesn't work on some screens (mostly screens with battles). This is the first DMOD that uses the new version 1.08 function "set_save_game_info," which allows you to change the line of text for a save game (you know, the one that usually just tells you what level you were). It's used here to store your location.


I happened to catch a glimpse of a review that made it sound like the mod had a potentially tough riddle, so I laughed out loud when I saw this.

The DOTM debacle was obviously enough to convince Cypry that a full version was not worth the trouble. Somebody actually tried to argue at the time that, hey, at least his DMOD didn't lose to nothing in a landslide, which is the saddest attempt at encouragement I've ever seen.
November 25th 2014, 04:13 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
**The DMOD Drought Diaries**
~Chapter 2: Aural Presentation (Mid 2006)~

The second record gap between DMODs didn't remain the record nearly as long as the first. No DMODs were released between Dink vs. Milder 2 on June 10th and the Failure Contest entries on September 26th, a gap of 108 days (over three months). This may well be because every active DMOD producer was busy working on their entry to the contest, which was announced on July 24th.

I was briefly hanging out in the community around this time. Really, this happened before the release of "Dink vs. Milder 2," but this is my best chance to mention it. I reviewed a couple of DMODs, updated "Tragic Death of Zink Smallwood" (breaking it as much as I fixed it, sadly) and started my first attempt at a comeback DMOD. This attempt didn't get far before I realized I was still utterly garbage at making maps and decided that I was better off letting that sleeping dog lie. The time for the return of the CocoMonkey was not yet right. There's information on that DMOD idea I had here if you're curious. If you're not curious, that link leads to a post about waffles for all you know.

Cypry released his DinkC editor on July 31st. I use this all the time. The prompts while you're typing a function and the instant access to the DinkC reference are quite handy.

On August 6th, Dan Walma released the Dink Smallwood v1.08 Aural+ patch. I don't really understand why he did this only in a forum post (which is still stickied) and didn't post a news update about it. I feel like some players who could benefit from this patch probably don't even know about it. Aural+ fixes MIDI lag that happens on non-ancient versions of Windows and adds MP3 support to the game.

Aural+ has been installed by many users, I'm sure, to fix the MIDI lag, which is horrendous. The game grinds to a halt when switching MIDIs without it. When I have to use the main game rather than FreeDink for some reason (usually testing my own DMODs), Aural+ is what I'm running.

The MP3 support, although it's a feature some people had expressed a desire for, was doomed to disuse from the start. The first problem is that, unlike with MIDI music, Dan would not allow authors to upload MP3s to which they didn't have the rights. I certainly don't blame him - obviously, distributing copyrighted MP3s is a great way to attract negative legal attention - but it seriously limits what can be used. The second problem is that the patch is kind of low-visibility compared to the main version, and DMOD authors would be catering to an even smaller audience. The third problem is that MP3s are required to be uploaded in a separate file from the DMOD itself, making authors even less likely to want to bother.

Unsurprisingly, Aural+'s MP3 support has been ignored by DMOD authors. There's only one DMOD I know of that has an associated MP3 pack. FreeDink and Dink Smallwood HD both support .ogg (Ogg Vorbis) files, but not .mp3. I don't think any authors have tried to include .ogg files with their DMOD, and I doubt anybody ever will. I guess players can add their own soundtracks if they feel like it. I wonder if anybody's ever done that.

--
The Failure DMOD Contest
--

The fourth successful DMOD contest on the Dink Network had the theme of failure. Redink1 was very specific about what he meant by "failure."

The D-Mod shall give the player a clear goal to achieve. This goal must be the focus of the D-Mod, and cannot be a subquest.

The D-Mod shall prevent the player from achieving this goal, or make it possible to fail to achieve this goal.

When the player fails to achieve the goal, the D-Mod shall tell, show, or explain the consequences of this failure.


This is a pretty interesting theme! Success is a key feature of the plot of most games; the hero or heroes may (and probably do) fail at some tasks along the way, but having them fail at their ultimate goal is nearly unheard of, even in those cases where achieving the goal doesn't lead to the happiest of endings. This assumption is built into the way we discuss video games. When I've completed a video game, I tend to say that I "beat" it - I succeeded in overcoming whatever obstacles it presented. Of course, unless you make a game that's basically indifferent to player input (there are an increasing number of these kinds of games out there, mind you) or one without a "real" ending, there's going to have to be a condition in which the player succeeds, but it's not going to feel like success if the story ends in failure.

The meaning of "failure" could have been quite vague, so it was a good choice to lay out the requirements so clearly. In these writeups, I'll make sure to take note of how well the mods fulfill these conditions. Put another way, I'll examine how well they succeed at making the player fail.

In an amusing bit of irony, the Failure Contest was the biggest success to date in terms of turnout, with eight entries.

--

233: The Attack of the Evil Wizard (Beta) Author: Colin Holser (VonZeppelin) Release Date: September 26, 2006
"You want me to give up my vacation so that I can stop a gnome from murdering someone's pig?"

This DMOD came in last place in the contest. Since this is the Failure Contest, you could argue that this author stayed truer to its spirit than anybody else.

VonZeppelin uploaded a couple of graphical files before this, his only DMOD. His set of alternate hairdos for Dink sprites enabled me to give the antagonist in "Malachi the Jerk" his uniquely hateable look. It was kind of annoying having to put the hair on all of the frames myself, but it was still a useful file.

With its nearly unanimous last-place finish, I was expecting "Attack of the Evil Wizard" to be really crappy, this contest's "Computer Virus." It is not! It's actually pretty decent - above average, even, if it weren't for the bugs. The maps are pretty good, and it's got plenty of personality. The quest is totally reasonable in terms of gameplay. I had a better time playing this than "A Very Dink Christmas," which had lots of original ideas but failed to make a coherent whole.


Hee hee! Danny boy.

Oh boy, those bugs, though. This DMOD feels like it was wrapped up in a hurry and left unfinished. There was actually an update after the contest, which means that the version that was voted on was even buggier, easily explaining its last-place finish. One judge said, "Multiple hardness errors, and signs can't be talked to. 0 health does not kill Dink." None of those problems are present in the version I played, but the update left a great many bugs and a general unfinished feeling intact. A healer will take your money, but won't heal you, leaving Dink to go around farming hearts. A shop that claims to sell a clawsword will give you nothing in return for your money if you try to buy it. Quite a few enemies and a couple of NPCs have been left unscripted. There's one spot with an invisible wall at the end of what looks like a path. Every little blade of grass on the map will stop your fireballs. There's a house that cycles madly through the sequence of house graphics. I could almost look past it all if it weren't for the bugs that make the DMOD impossible to finish.

A dragon boss toward the end of the DMOD and the final boss both are supposed to trigger cutscenes when they die, but only the first line is spoken and Dink is left frozen. The last thing you'll see if you don't fix the game yourself is Dink saying "Yay, I won," which is a funny ending for a Failure Contest DMOD. I gave these scripts a quick and dirty fix by adding the line "script_attach(1000)" in both cases. These kinds of bugs are hard to understand. Self-testing is the worst way to test a video game, but even a simple self-test, no matter how unthorough, is guaranteed to catch a bug that makes the game impossible to finish. It's crazy to encounter multiple such bugs in a game that's been not only released, but patched.


The map comes with some advice. The bit about slayers not being so tough is a damned lie. You're better off avoiding them.

In "Attack of the Evil Wizard," Dink, accompanied by the wizard Martridge, is sent to save a town that is menaced by an evil wizard named Ermadgrit. He fails, of course. You spend much of the DMOD going around talking to everybody, trying to figure out who can help you next, but there are some other segments to break it up, like a trip to the (ridiculously big subterranean cavern at the) bottom of a well.


Somebody tells Dink a dumb story about how he dropped a pie down the well. It's a nice touch that it's actually there when you get down there.

Dink eventually is teleported away somewhere on what he hopes is a lead to Ermadgrit, but when he returns, he finds that everyone in town has been murdered in an extremely grisly fashion. It's entertaining to walk through the town you've spent the last half-hour in and around, but redecorated in blood and guts.


Ermadgrit is either a poor speller, or he ran out of blood before he got to the apostrophe and the E.


Somebody's been busy! If you're curious, the Dead Dragon Carcass was already present as part of the church.


"I love what you've done with the place." "And all for under fifty bucks!"

The big plot twist (which I feel pretty comfortable spoiling here) is that the evil wizard was Martridge all along. As soon as this was revealed, I became profoundly disappointed in myself for not noticing until then that "Ermadgrit" is an anagram of "Martridge." Anyway, Martridge decided that he hates the world for constantly mocking his height. He does make a really great point when chiding Dink for not suspecting him: "The only thing I ever did for you was give you fireball magic..." It's true, Martridge's role as a loyal ally of Dink is something that's been established almost entirely in various DMODs that may or may not be in continuity with each other. This was very clever, and I liked it a lot despite the fact that you could pick apart how much sense it makes that Martridge lets Dink hang around and have the chance to fight him (he teleports Dink early in the DMOD - why not just teleport him into the ocean?). The actual battle is kind of disappointing, though - it's pretty much just a regular dragon, which makes me wonder how he managed such devastation in the first place.


Dink confronts Martridge on some new volcanic-ash style land.

This DMOD technically follows the guidelines set out in the contest. Dink is assigned a specific task (save the town), fails to accomplish it, and we see the results. It doesn't feel like it's quite in the spirit of the assignment, though. For one thing, the failure to save the village doesn't really feel like Dink's fault. He was given no help and there was never any hint of Martridge's treachery. More importantly, although the townsfolk all die, Dink does kill the evil wizard, thereby, we may presume, saving the rest of the world from his wrath. That's not a failure. If this is a failure DMOD, so is "Pilgrim's Quest." Dink complains at the end that now he'll never get off of the island, but I think it's a stretch to assume nobody will come looking for him when King Dan knows where he is.

234: Ex-Peppermint Author: Robert Tolda (Square Watermelon) Release Date: September 26, 2006
"Hi-o, I am the cotten candy frog. Can I take your order?"

"Ex-Peppermint" (boy, what a title) came in seventh place in the contest. I don't really understand how it didn't come in last. "Evil Wizard" must have really been unplayable in its original release.


This does not bode well. Look, they even misspelled "peppermint."

The author has said that virtually everything "wrong" with "Ex-Peppermint" is a deliberate creative decision. Unlike some similar claims in the past, I actually believe this, but that doesn't make this a good DMOD.

This DMOD doesn't have anything to do with peppermint, as far as I ccan tell. Honestly, it doesn't seem to have anything to do with anything at all. Nothing makes a bit of sense. Dink frequently walks on things like trees and walls and is walled off by grassy plains. Not only does it ignore the established rules of Dink Smallwood, it isn't even internally consistent - the same tile will mean something different from screen to screen. There's lots of text, but it's mostly just absurd babbling, and even when it's coherent, there isn't really much of a plot to piece together. Oh, and I sure hope you like the word "poop," because you'll be seeing it a lot.


The "treelines" are paths and the red things are warps. This is the first real gameplay screen. None of this is explained to the player, you just have to sort of muddle your way through.

The combat in "Ex-Peppermint" is different from the norm in that fists and weapons are omitted in favor of a variety of magic attacks and abilities. The magic meter is renamed PP, and the different abilities use it in different ways. In addition to the regular full fireball, there's a "quick" fireball that doesn't use the whole magic meter and does less damage, a fire-punch, a dash that speeds Dink up while the PP meter drains, and other abilities that I gave up on the mod before unlocking. All of the magic attacks, including the basic fireball, increase in power with your magic stat. The different abilities have their own assigned keys on the keyboard - for some reason, they don't seem to work in FreeDink, so I had to switch to 1.08 Aural+ in order to even survive past the first few screens.


I cheated up a crazy magic stat in order to demonstrate how the fireball increases in size as well as power.


Dink uses the fire punch, or "burning monkey technique" as the DMOD insists on calling it.

The enemies are insanely difficult. Screwing up once is usually good enough to get you killed. Since there's no real plot, I had little motivation to struggle through and gave up. This is one of the least playable mods and the single most confusing DMOD I've ever seen. I'm not alone, as I can't find any evidence that anybody other than the author has ever beaten this thing. Areas I managed to reach in this DMOD included a maze made out of pies and filled with bread enemies, a maze that swarmed with wasps, and a series of odd-looking rooms connected by stairways. Have some screenshots.


This is the first DMOD to use the wasps, which had been added to the site recently. They're my favorite add-on enemy.


Okay, I kind of like the pie maze, at least in concept.


The cat enemy is, of course, by Simon Klaebe. It looks just incredible in motion, particularly its attack.

It's an experimental DMOD, but I don't think the experiment went well. It was hard to figure out what to do, and once you did figure it out, it was even harder to do it. The player is never given an explanation of why Dink is in this strange place or what he's trying to do there. The dialogue mostly struck me as juvenile and obnoxious, with the usual references to things like monkeys and bananas as well as the constant discussion of poop, although there were a few jokes that I liked.

There are some bugs that I'm pretty sure aren't intentional. Multiple conversations will leave the player frozen, and I got stuck in a wall more than once.

Although a sense of failure was omnipresent in "Ex-Peppermint" - my failure, Dink's failure, the failure of logic and sanity - the DMOD doesn't follow the contest rules, either. Remember, it was stated that "The D-Mod shall give the player a clear goal to achieve. This goal must be the focus of the D-Mod, and cannot be a subquest." There's no clear goal at all in this one, at least not one that's the focus of the D-Mod. Some sort of task for Dink to fail at may be introduced near the end, but that doesn't constitute a clear main goal.

At least it isn't boring. We've got another new champ in the "Weirdest DMOD" category for sure. I hope this one stays on top, because my mind can't take much more.
November 25th 2014, 06:02 AM
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Arik
Peasant Male
 
I was also surprised by the quality of Attack of the Evil Wizard when I eventually downloaded it, although I didn't play if for long enough to encounter any of the major bugs. The quality of the entries overall was surprisingly high considering the number of entrants, many of whom weren't the usual suspects. Although possibly that's just in comparison to Ex-Peppermint, which I didn't get on with at all -the quotes from the failure contest judges are gold for that one.
November 25th 2014, 06:37 AM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
Hmm... I wonder if Ex-Peppermint should get a Let's Play recorded. I mean, why not see if I can beat it? Sometimes insanity is worth it.

Anagram names can work well for disguising evil villains, but they're better when you separate the name into several words somehow.
"Ermadgrit" could've been "Tamir Dreg" or anything else to make it a little harder to piece together, just as an example.
November 26th 2014, 05:32 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
235: Return to Rathor Author: Carrie Ann Burton Release Date: September 26, 2006
"Oops, looks like I caused the hatred."

I guess you could call this a sequel to "Elves of Rathor," Carrie's first DMOD. It came in sixth place in the contest.


Hey, it's box art Dink! Haven't seen you in a while, box art Dink. How you been? Still got that weird expression on your face, I see.

There was a moment during the intro to this one where I thought it might be a more serious DMOD. The moment didn't last long. Of course it's another silly, short romp from Carrie.

A war with the elves is going poorly for the humans. A couple of wizards decide to send Dink back in time to try to prevent the hostilities from ever beginning. They don't give Dink any idea how to accomplish this, so I'm not sure how they think it's going to work.


Add a silly hat, replace the scythe blade with a mystical orb, and presto - wizards no longer have to be gnomes.

Dink doesn't like the elves, coming as he does from a time when humans are at war with them. He thinks they're jerks, and he's kind of right. Although the elves of the past don't hate or want to make war on the humans, when Dink asks them how they feel about his species, responses range from a patronizing "they're adorable" to "they're okay, I guess - good for pig farming and such." To be fair to them, they've apparently helped the humans out, providing them with "clothes, knowledge and even magic." I guess I'd put up with a bit of smugness in return for all of that. I mean, I'd still curse the elves, but like, behind their backs.


And obviously I'd make fun of their dorky haircuts.

You see the end coming, don't you? I sure did. Dink finds a "scroll of snow" that plunges the area into an icy cold, pissing the elves off and making them hostile towards humans forever. Dink isn't too broken up about having caused the war he came back in time to prevent. "I guess I blew it...heh." Oh, that rascally Dink, dooming his species.


The spell also summons a whole bunch of beavers. I mean, of course it does.

This is the first entry I've looked at to really get the theme right. Dink has a clear goal, and he fails spectacularly. He definitely couldn't have failed any harder.

"Return to Rathor" is a very simple DMOD (the only required combat is a fight against one ordinary bonca), but it's well done for what it is. There are some funny lines to be found. Bookshelves contain information on "the sexiness that is Tal" and naked pics of Joshriot ("Yikes!"). Dink asks one woman he meets, "Just having a stroll around the room?" which is the kind of thing that always makes me laugh. Those NPCs sure do like to pace. Good times. See, failure doesn't have to mean sad times and angst.

236: The Honor Quest Author: Ciprian Oprisa (Cypry) Release Date: September 26, 2006
"But the problem is that sometimes even heroes make mistakes"

This DMOD came in fifth place. I don't mean to spoil anything, but there is a subtle pattern behind the order in which I'm covering these.


This is a really interesting title screen. It does a nice job mixing Dink graphics into a different type of background.

In "The Honor Quest," you play as wizard Martridge. Dink fooled around on Libby (who is apparently his wife) and got some chick named Beth pregnant. Now, he wants Martridge to find a husband for Beth. Dink says something sweet about how Martridge is like the father he never had, but really he's just being lazy and selfish. I don't see why he doesn't solve his own damn problems. Plus, he doesn't really care about Beth - he's just trying to preserve his "honor" (aka prevent his wife from finding out). What a loser.

This is the first DMOD to use Dink 1.08's new feature to change the default "notalk" text. It only takes the original set of texts and changes them to Martridge's text color, but it still counts.

This DMOD is full of puzzles. They're quite interesting, but I was feeling lazy and dumb, so they were also kind of frustrating. It's also hard to figure out what you're supposed to do next in general. I made it through the first section, which is set in part of the map from the original game, on my own, but after that, I wouldn't have made it far without relying on a walkthrough.


It's an impressive feat of scripting, but I am wretched at sliding puzzles. This one is pretty fiendish, too.


In this cave, you have to push a rock in each room and you usually can't backtrack, so you have to work out a winding route to get where you want to go.


...Chess?

Martridge is a wizard, not a warrior, and that's reflected in this DMOD (unlike the first DMOD where you play as Martridge, where you had no magic at all). The only physical attack is a kick that has almost no range. Martridge's spells consume mana, which is displayed in a bar on the status bar (a rare case of adding an element to the status bar - it isn't easy to do!). Limited mana might be a good way to counter the general overpoweredness of magic in Dink Smallwood, but pairing it with an ineffective physical attack makes combat something that you mostly try to avoid, especially since mana can only be restored by expensive potions. Honestly, I was okay with this, since there isn't all that much required combat, but something like a small mana refill dropped by enemies might have been nice.


Somebody better call a necromancer. Eh? Eh?

Spells include the fireball, a healing spell, an ice ball that stuns enemies while doing damage ("created by an ancient named rabidwolf9") and a magic bomb that only activates when an enemy approaches it. I really like that last one, because it takes the normally-pretty-useless bomb and turns it into a powerful magic. The "explode on contact" effect makes all the difference. There are more spells, but I didn't get to them. Yeah, sorry, I didn't really finish this one either.


You can press the "I" key in this DMOD to see a description of your current magic. I'm not sure what those damage ratings are supposed to mean, though.

There are three endings, including one where Martridge is successful. Personally, I would have disallowed successful endings (it seems to ruin the point of the theme), but the rules said you could have one, so it's okay. Anyway, it's very difficult to reach that ending. You can easily end up doing something in the wrong order (there's no warning about this) and make it impossible to win, which is what happened to me. I realized that in order to continue, I'd have to reload a save from half an hour ago and redo a bunch of puzzles including that sliding puzzle, which takes a long time even if you have the solution in front of you. I gave up. The only ending I reached involved Martridge getting smooshed by a rock and Dink's reputation getting ruined by the vengeful Beth. Serves him right, I say.


You're wondering now... what to do... now you know this is the end.

"The Honor Quest" is in some ways quite an interesting DMOD, but in the end I was a bit too lazy to jump through its many hoops. Given the context, I'm going to call that "miserable failure" ending the real one anyway. You can't stop me.
November 28th 2014, 04:42 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
237: If Ducks Ruled the World Author: Wesley McElwee Release Date: September 26, 2006
"I've got a bad feeling about those ducks."

As we come to the 4th place DMOD, we see a familiar name. Wesley McElwee is the author of the "Friends Beyond" trilogy, at least the last installment of which I was quite impressed with. This is Wes's first DMOD in quite a while. Let's take a look at DMOD authors who released something after a long hiatus.

--DMOD authors with the longest gap between new DMOD releases (5+ years)--

1. Tim Maurer - 13 years, 6 months, 19 days (Crossroads: 7/13/00 - Malachi the Jerk: 2/1/14)
2. Bill Szczytko - 12 years, 3 months, 28 days (Dorinthia 2: 2/20/00 - Dorinthia SE: 6/17/12)
3. Scratcher - 9 years, 8 months, 29 days (Bincabbi: 11/4/02 - Lost Forest Romp: 8/2/12)
4. Paul Pliska - 8 years, 5 months, 25 days (Triangle Mover: 2/8/04 - Dink Gets Bored: 8/2/12)
5. Metatarasal - 6 years, 8 months, 14 days (The Scourger: 11/19/05 - Quel: 8/2/12)
6. Wesley McElwee - 5 years, 10 months, 10 days (FB3: 11/15/00 - IDRTW: 9/26/06)
7. SabreTrout - 5 years, 1 month, 4 days (Basilisk Smile: 9/26/06 - Valhalla: 10/30/11)

Let me know if I missed anybody.

Yes, Dink has a way of drawing people back in, but Wesley got in on this trend early. Incidentally, as of right now, it'd take at least the return of the author of "Evil Empire" to unseat me from the top of that list.

There's an alternate, even longer title to this DMOD. It's "The Ducks Are Coming and They Are Trying to Take Over the World."


Try to pronounce that acronym. It's fun!

Despite an assurance otherwise near the start, this DMOD is about ducks. Scheming, evil ducks. This is an idea that goes all the way back to "Lost in Dink," or maybe even to the original game if you think those ducks in Windermere were somehow responsible for creating the weird duck cult (as is implied in "FIAT"). Even after all this time, ducks plotting to take over the world is still pretty funny.

I liked IDRtW a lot; it's my DMOD of the year so far. It doesn't seem especially failure-themed, although there's a novel mechanic that is used to trigger an alternate bad ending. IDRtW uses get_time_game, a function new to 1.08, to determine how long you've been playing. If you take more than 60 minutes to reach a certain point, the bad ending happens. I should mention that the way Dink Smallwood keeps track of playing time is pure evil if you're working with a time limit. Going back and loading a save (or dying, which has the same effect) will not result in your play time going back to what it was when you made the save. Even quitting the game without saving doesn't help. For this reason, I abandoned an idea to have a speed run achievement in "Dink Smallwood: Achievement Unlocked Edition."

In this case, however, 60 minutes is fairly generous. I got the good ending on my first try, although I'll admit I got some help from the lovely HTML walkthrough that's included. I didn't lean on it too hard, though. I did miss a secret you have to find in the first 13 minutes.


In the bad ending, the ducks successfully complete their evil plan... to turn the whole world greyscale, so everybody will see it just like they do! Oh no!

The DMOD doesn't jump right into duck-fighting, though. Dink is sent by a particularly apathetic version of King Daniel to solve some ill-defined "disturbance." This turns out to be a conflict between two neighboring goblin villages, where the mountain goblins (called "Rockies") keep cutting down all of the forest goblins' trees. Of course, it turns out that all of this has been engineered by the ducks.


Goblins can speak English just fine in this DMOD. They can talk just like a local TV ad.

There are some very funny situations in this one. My favorite bit is a guard who won't let you into the forest without a sword. There's a sword in plain sight right behind him.

Dink: Are you sure I can't just grab that sword?
Guard: Afraid not, rules are rules.
Dink: Perhaps you could grab it for me quick.
Guard: No can do, who would guard the entrance?
Dink: I could.
Guard: But you don't even have a weapon to guard it with.


To get past the guard, you have to sneak by when he falls asleep. This is determined by the time of day, using another new 1.08 function: get_time_real, which gets the time from your system clock. You can give the goblin boring books in order to increase the amount of time in the day in which he'll be asleep.


There's no actual snoring sound, he just emits a stream of Zs.

The treasure chests in this DMOD are all locked, and Dink can find keys to open them. This doesn't really work as intended, though. Keys found on the map return when you come back to the screen, so you can get all the keys you need at once.

There's an item called the warp crystal that enables Dink to travel instantly to several locations on the map. It's very handy for completing the game quickly, and it's just a great feature in general.

The final battle against the duck leader is almost a joke. He's impossible when fighting normally, but you can use a sack of feed to lure him to spots where he'll get smacked by a big rock. He'll continue to fall for this, even as he comments that he should probably stop doing that.


Evil mastermind or not, it's still a duck.

The world is saved from certain... er... greyscale. But the King doesn't even care enough to listen to Dink's story. Poor Dink can't get any respect.

If you finish in 45 minutes, the game will show you some screenshots of a future project that either never happened or is "Infinidink." I'd do it for fun if I didn't still have so many more mods to play. I really enjoyed this one.

238: Prelude Author: Joshua Kozloski (Joshriot) Release Date: September 26, 2006
"Marty! The bathtub needs more Mr. Bubble!"

"Prelude" received the same number of points as "Fall of Tahmar" in the voting, but lost the "which one did Redink1 rank higher" tiebreaker. The top three authors were all awarded prizes.

This is the only DMOD ever to take advantage of the MP3 support of 1.08 Aural+ by offering a pack of (almost entirely) original music in MP3 format. A MIDI soundtrack with much simpler arrangements is also included.

I played "Prelude" with the MP3 soundtrack. The MP3 tunes are quite good and give the DMOD a level of atmosphere that couldn't be achieved with MIDIs (at least, not without some work with soundfonts on the user's end). The MP3 support in Aural+ works very well. The songs loop seamlessly, and there's no noticeable lag when loading songs.

Unfortunately, playing in 1.08 Aural+ (as opposed to FreeDink or even Dink HD) seems to break a lot of my screenshots. Some of them come out with all the sprites removed, the text blacked out and almost illegible, or part of the screen simply cut off. I have no idea why this would be, but I had to throw out my shots of some of my favorite moments from the DMOD.


I did manage to get this shot of the unusual title screen. It has the title on it, although it's a bit hard to see.

Dink, who the intro tells us has been running for six years without stopping, comes upon a settlement destroyed by monsters. Everyone is dead except one old man in hiding that Dink finds later. There's quite a story built up here, actually. Apparently magic is a dark and mysterious force linked to the moon and much older than humans. People may think they have it controlled, but the greater humans' magic power becomes, the closer it gets to slipping out of their control. This is what happened to the unfortunate land that Dink comes upon here.


I had to open up FreeDink to get this shot of the intro. It's a pretty neat-looking intro.

This DMOD does quite a bit to stand out from the crowd. In addition to the MP3 soundtrack, there's a new status bar that I quite liked, and savebots have been replaced by save scrolls. When Dink finds a save scroll, you can use it to save whenever and wherever you want, but only once per scroll. It's an interesting way to add a little strategy to saving.


This screen replaces the usual inventory. The "current objective" changes several times throughout the game.

The map, while not obsessively decorated, does a nice job combining new and old graphics to create a slightly dark mood.


The crows, a neutral creature, are by Rabidwolf9; I think this is their first appearance.

Let's get back to the story. We learn that magic was brought to humans by Martridge, who was working as an assistant to the ancient Seth, (!) who called him Marty and made him do embarrassing tasks (!!) when he got fed up and stole the secret of magic.


Ergo, Martridge is pretty ancient himself.

Dink receives his quest from the old man in hiding: to save his granddaughter, Sara. She was in love with a young man who practiced dark magic. When he was forbidden to see her and banished by the fearful populace, his experiments got more reckless until he lost control of the magic, which summoned all of the nasty creatures who killed everybody. We're told there are vampires, orcs... vampire orcs. It's a hell of a buildup. It feels like we're in for quite an epic. We're not, of course, and there are no vampires or anything.


Sorry, there isn't one.

The boss is a fearsome creature known - for SOME damn reason - as the "geezemunk." When Dink wins, the geezemunk explains that he already ate the geezer who gave Dink the quest. Dink is bummed about being gypped on his big quest, but ol' Geezy astutely points out that this is the FAILURE contest and that Joshriot didn't have 5 years to make the DMOD. Actually, I'm pretty impressed with what he managed to make in about a month. This is a really solid adventure that took me over 50 minutes.

There are a couple of bugs, though. One involves Dink's magic stat being reset to 2 and isn't a big deal. The other unfortunately makes the DMOD difficult to finish. The Geezemunk constantly spawns enemies, and doesn't bother to check how many there are. If you don't beat him quickly enough, Dink will freeze when you deplete the boss's HP. To win before this happens, I used a powerup called "Crunk Juice" that temporarily gives Dink fast speed and crazy stats. I had to use two of them, actually.

I actually shared a bit of Dink's disappointment, because I was really enjoying myself, and the story was pretty interesting. It's all good, though. If Josh had tried to go for a SUPER QUEST, it probably would never have been finished.


I know that feeling, man.
November 28th 2014, 05:53 AM
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"... Martridge getting smooshed by a rock"
"We can say your death was in vane"


As he was so flat they stood his body up on the roof after that and used him to show which way the wind was blowing.

HAW HAW HAW
November 28th 2014, 05:59 AM
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yeoldetoast
Peasant Female Australia steam
discord.gg/Ukugfbh 
I always loved "A Very Dink Christmas". Even though the jokes are revolting and nothing is explained to the player it always managed to make me laugh which was enough for me to continue playing it. The author claims you can finish it but I only ever got up to the Land of Mud and the underground Gnomes, and looking through the scripts it seems you can't get any further than that.
November 28th 2014, 03:32 PM
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SabreTrout
Noble Male United Kingdom
Tigertigertiger. 
Must be noted that while Valhalla was released in 2011, it was made in 2004 or something like that.
November 28th 2014, 06:20 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Yeah, I know it was old, but releases are what I decided to count.
November 29th 2014, 05:00 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
239: The Fall of Tahmar Author: Marcus (Marpro) Release Date: September 26, 2006
"I'm Dink Smallwood. Your time has come to an end. This will be your last moment."

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

"Fall of Tahmar" came in second place in the Failure Contest, winning a tiebreaker against "Prelude." Wesley McElwee expressed shock that FoT didn't win. Indeed, it has ended up with the highest rating out of all of the entries in the contest.

The name "Tahmar" is taken from "Mystery Island." You may have forgotten (I certainly did), but Dink's actual instructions from King Daniel were to deliver a letter to a land called Tahmar. In this DMOD, Dink has delivered the letter and decided to settle down in Tahmar. He's not in his new home for long before he gets enlisted to help fight off an invasion... or so he thinks.


Dink is easily distracted, and perhaps not the brightest crayon in the box.

In fact, Dink is really helping the invaders all along. Honestly, it isn't much of a twist. Although it isn't explicitly stated until the end, it's very obvious to the player what is going on from the beginning. I guess the author figured that since this is the Failure Contest, he might as well make a story where Dink is clearly set up to fail from the start. I can get behind that, but Dink's failure to ever realize what's going on makes him look kind of dumb. If I were in Dink's position, I wouldn't have figured it out quite as quickly as I did from the player's chair, but I still would have known something was up in time to do something about it. The conspirators aren't great at covering their tracks.


Uh... no?

The scale of this DMOD is kind of impressive when you consider the time constraints of the contest. There's a pretty big map to explore, and the time has been taken to make it all look good.


Visually, "Fall of Tahmar" is quite polished and detailed.

Unfortunately, the difficulty curve is upside-down. Once you get out of the first town, the game is tough early on. I did a lot of grinding in reaction to the high difficulty. Not long afterward, I found some powerups and the game became very easy. The hardest fight in the game comes around the halfway point, when Dink is captured by goblins and forced to fight a dragon in a gladiatorial arena. That was also my favorite sequence in the game.


For some totally unexplained reason, the goblins defer to a giant duck named "King Quackzor." I love it.

Although the level of polish is impressive for a first-time author (part of this might be due to updates, for which I always am happy to give full credit), I did run into a few minor problems. Several cutscenes don't freeze Dink properly, so you can move him into the wrong position and make the default notalk text pop up. The purple bonca bug hasn't been fixed (I mention this because there are several DMODs that have fixed it at this point). Some conversations have unskippable text, which might be intentional, but is annoying nonetheless. As you can tell, though, these are just nitpicks. I never ran into any major bugs.

There are a few little sidequests you can do for some nice rewards. They're pretty simple (bring a certain item to a certain NPC), but it does help flesh out the game. One quest awards the "sword of doom," which has a new inventory graphic.


Ooh, that sword has a spooky red skull.

This being the Failure Contest, it's no big surprise that the bad guys win (with plenty of help from Dink) and kill Dink off when he doesn't serve their purposes anymore.


When you hear this sentence, things generally haven't gone well.

I had a good time playing "Fall of Tahmar," but I don't have an awful lot to say about it. The story was very predictable, and there wasn't much focus on humor, so I didn't find it as interesting as some other top-rated mods I've played (although it was more stable and had more enjoyable, less frustrating gameplay than some of those same top-rated mods). Still, it impressed me by giving me a lot to do and by having a map of impressive scope and detail for a contest DMOD. It also does a great job of sticking to the theme of the contest, since Dink's impending failure was on my mind the whole time. I can understand why some people thought "Fall of Tahmar" should have won the contest.

240: The Basilisk Smile Author: James Troughton (SabreTrout) Release Date: September 26, 2006
"An old man, his face frozen in stone as he looks at the pocketwatch. It's stopped and needs winding."

"It's short. It wins!" - Tiny Toon Adventures


I'm only posting the title screen so I can ask: why does it say ".bmp" in the corner?

DMODs have a history of having dodgy titles like "True of Life" or "Eternal Suicide" (seriously, what is that supposed to mean?). "The Basilisk Smile," on the other hand, is the best title I've seen yet. It's only after you play it that you really understand what it means. A basilisk is a mythical reptilian creature that turns people to stone with a look (well, most historical references I can find say that its look just brings death and don't mention anyone turning to stone, but if it's good enough for Heroes of Might and Magic III it's good enough for me). But what about the smile? Stay tuned.


The status bar is the Wooden Status Bar by GOKUSSJ6.

There's an exciting intro in which Dink is on a ship under attack by "goblin corsairs" (which is awesome). You can fight and even kill some of the goblins, but there's no benefit to doing so. Dink manages to escape, alone, and rows to an island that's home to a terrible mystery.


And bunnies. The island is also home to bunnies.

Dink soon finds that all of the people on the island have been turned to stone - except one little girl, but he doesn't find that out right away. The main story isn't that complicated, but the revelation of each important piece of information is carefully paced with "lock and key" type puzzles that make sure the player spends plenty of time wandering around, soaking in the somber mood.


Dink is appropriately horrified by the human statues. He's in no mood to make snarky comments.

The plot reminds me of a scenario from Dragon Warrior VII for the PS1. There, too, the heroes encounter a town that's been turned entirely to stone apart from one remaining person. In that game, as here, there is nothing the player can do to save the people turned to stone.

The little girl, whose name is Jessica, tells Dink that the people turned to stone can still move their eyes. Once you learn this, you can interact with the statues in a way. The NPC descriptions in choice statements, a feature I've always enjoyed in SabreTrout's DMODs, is used to amazing effect (I don't use that word lightly, this is impressive) to describe what Dink sees in their eyes. The game speaks of their emotions in words like "unimaginable despair," but the emotion that came across best to me was a disturbing yet muted sort of melancholy. Things are too frozen in time for anything like desperation to penetrate the deeply settled gloom.


There are 26 stone NPCs, each with a unique description.

Dink can interact with some of the NPCs at this point. He can do small things to help them out with some bit of unfinished business they had when they were turned to stone; for this, he is awarded experience points. Even leveling up is turned into a story event in this DMOD. When you level up you can choose to learn Fireball or to receive two strength points; both are ultimately required to progress. It all feels like you're working toward a solution. If it weren't for the context of the Failure Contest, I'd have been surprised at the outcome. This, I think, is the potential of the contest's theme realized: a video game that presents a problem without treating it as something for the player to solve. I think that this is the reason that "The Basilisk Smile" won the contest. Anyway, Dink's good deeds cannot really help the people - at best, it may bring them some temporary emotional relief.



Amusingly, you also get experience points for killing the rabbits. If you kill them all, you get an experience bonus and the game declares you the "Ultimate Bunny Destroyer."


Hooray! Failure nothing, that's an achievement.

There's a neat little extra feature in this DMOD - you can find an item called the "MIDI gem" that lets you change the background music.

Should I give away the twist? I suppose I will - stop reading now if you don't want to know. It's worth playing either way, and doesn't take up too much of your time. It turns out that Jessica has been cursed to turn everyone around her to stone whenever she experiences a certain emotion. That emotion is happiness - she has "the Basilisk Smile." There are four endings. In two of them, Dink becomes yet another statue; in the other two, the girl dies. I suppose the latter endings are closer to "good" because the girl will remain dangerous - and let's be fair, miserable - as long as she lives.


That doesn't mean Dink feels like celebrating, though.

This is right up there with "Cycles of Evil" in my favorite storytelling DMODs for its slow-burn pacing and dominant mood. It would have gotten my first-place vote.

--

The Failure Contest had a great turnout, and not just in numbers. There are some really good DMODs here. There was only one I disliked ("Ex-Peppermint"), and even that was a lot more interesting than something like "Computer Virus." 2006 already looks like another good year for DMODs.
November 29th 2014, 10:32 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
The Fall of Tahmar is definitely the best D-Mod that got entered into this contest. One of the best D-Mods overall, perhaps. The Basilisk Smile is a better failure D-Mod, though, and has one of the best stories. It's probably the most emotional D-Mod ever released. Looking at the results of the contest, I'm really surprised how The Basilisk Smile didn't get straight 1st place votes and The Fall of Tahmar straight 2nd place votes. FoT got one vote as far as 5th place. Wow.

Sabre needs to make a dang sequel to The Basilisk Smile, with a happy ending this time. That D-Mod is far too depressing to end like that. xD
November 29th 2014, 11:53 AM
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SabreTrout
Noble Male United Kingdom
Tigertigertiger. 
Oh,

.BMP = .bmp & Blue Mushroom Productions. I was intending on releasing a few small d-mods akin to TBS, with very little combat and a bigger focus on story & emotion. Never got further than a few mock up screens for the second, as is my usual style.
November 30th 2014, 01:35 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
241: The Gold Knight Agency (Demo) Author: Robj Release Date: October 21, 2006
"Ahh, GODDAMNIT"

DMOD Demos: do authors ever really intend on finishing them? Robj didn't. The description plainly says that it's a demo because he "couldn't be bothered to finish it." This is the first of three DMODs in a row in 2006 that were released as demos.

There have been DMOD demos that were later released as a full game, but not many. I have compiled what I believe to be a complete list:

4/21/98: Dink's Doppleganger (okay, so "full" was actually unfinished here, but it was still the longest DMOD for quite a while, so I think it should count)
Prophecy of the Ancients (Can't pin down date, but there was a demo for sure)
1/24/00: Quest for Dorinthia Demo (full released just a few days later)
2/15/00: 9 Gems of Life Demo
5/13/00: Stone of Balance Demo
5/20/00: Friends Beyond 2 Demo
6/11/00: Tragic Death of Zink Demo (full released a few days later)
1/31/01: Rings of Destiny Demo
6/23/02: Bane of the Magi Demo (over a year before full!)
7/19/02: Legend of the Pillbug (2nd demo a few days later)

That's a total of ten, two of which came out so close to the full version that it's safe to call the demo completely pointless. A demo hasn't been replaced by a full DMOD since 2003. That's even worse than I'd thought. Some demos may have been released with the intention of increasing motivation to finish the full version, but that clearly doesn't work. Mike Snyder may have set the precedent by releasing the first demo, but at the time he intended to charge money for the full version, so a demo made obvious sense.

Incidentally, I wonder if anybody still has copies of any of those demos. I remember the POTA demo.

Anyway, this is currently the only released DMOD by Robj. You all may know Robj for Let's Plays and rap parodies, both of which are very fun. He's also known for card tricks and cookie hoarding. He still has plans to release more DMODs in the future. Maybe some of them will be out by the time I finish this project.

A better title for "The Gold Knight Agency" would be "Dink Does Boring Chores for Women," because that is literally all you do. By the time the gold knights show up (over 20 minutes in, quite a time to introduce the actual plot), the demo is over.


Mind you, the chores include punching a dragon to death, but this is Dink Smallwood we're talking about.

At the start, you're given a chance to declare yourself a wimp and get a strength boost. The boost is just from 1 point to 3 points, where a reasonable DMOD would start you anyway, so I can't see any reason not to accept.

Libby wants Dink to deliver a letter. Dink and Libby seem to have some kind of weird relationship where she's almost babysitting him, because he won't do anything in the opening segment without going to her for approval. I immediately saw a key to get out of the village, but Dink refused to collect it. Instead, he has to...

1) Go look for his sword and see that it isn't around
2) Go back to Libby and tell her, "Mom," oops, I mean, "Libby, I can't find my sword."
3) Go try to leave the village and discover that the gate is locked.
4) Go tell Libby that the gate is locked.
5) Go ask the neighbor for the key.
6) FINALLY go and get the key he could see for himself the whole damn time. He has to beat up some pillbugs first.


No you don't! What do you even MEAN by that?

It's not much of a stretch for me to imagine this Dink asking Libby for permission to use the bathroom.

Leaving the completely fenced-in village involves, for some reason, traversing an underground tunnel filled with monsters. I beat the dragon with just 1 HP left on my first try, but died on the thorns in the next room and had to restart the DMOD. I said the same thing I quoted Dink as saying in the header.

Dink delivers the letter (it's a birthday card) to a woman named Mary, who promptly starts ordering him around as well. "Get this key," "kill that bonca." Dink decides to obey for... some reason. Maybe he likes getting ordered around by ladies, I don't know. Of course, if you head to the forest first, like I did, Dink won't take the key.


You learn NOTHING! NOTHING!

The second town also has a problem with homeless beggars who accost people and demand money. Dink points out that when you MAKE people give you their money it's called "stealing," but they don't care. Because of this, you can't actually use a healing shop in the town until the DMOD is all but over, which is a drag.


How do they always know how much you're carrying?

Despite my gripes, it's an okay romp. The tiling is iffy in places, but there's at least been more effort to decorate the maps than I usually make. The difficulty is reasonable. Probably the biggest problem is that there are some objects (like trees) that should be hard but aren't. Still, it's not as bad as Robj has led me to believe.

242: Kill Murdoock! 2 (Demo) Author: Neo Release Date: November 11, 2006
"Oh, shut up! It's lovely!"

Even for a demo, this is as short as Hell. There's pretty much nothing here.

First, there are a series of splash screens in which the author repeatedly lies about the DMOD being presented by Twentieth Century Fox.


Haha, no.

Then, there's a brief intro in which Dink buys a new house. A jerk named "Murdoock Junior" shows up an destroys it with lots and lots of fire.


Dick move, bro! Dick move!

Then, Dink finds out that his dad has been found dead in some nearby caverns. Quite a day he's having.

There is something interesting after that. Once Dink leaves the area right outside his house, he comes to a "world map" type screen where everything is scaled down like in many RPGs. There are even periodic random encounters as you wander around on this screen. The encounters are some boncas, some pillbugs, or a slayer. You're screwed if you get the slayer.


I can see my house from here.

There's nowhere to go, however. The only location on the map is Dink's house, where you just came from. I can't imagine what the point was of releasing this as a DMOD. Even as a "world map and random encounter system demonstration," it would've been nice to have at least two locations to visit on the map and some place to heal.

243: Dink Goes Hunting (Demo) Author: Erwin Bosch Release Date: November 14, 2006
"I'd better not go in there before I've reported to the King."

It's been a while since we had a "Dink Goes" title. Here I thought they had fallen out of fashion.


The DMOD doesn't actually have anything to do with hunting as far as I can tell.

Remember how Dink could ask the King to lower taxes back in the original game? Here, the King took his advice too closely to heart, and the kingdom is broke. He sends Dink out to collect 100,000 gold. I'm fine with that concept, although the later revelation that the King has been manipulated into these dumb actions by an unknown force kind of loses me. Since this is a demo, we never learn the ultimate cause of the King's folly.


King Daniel explains that the damage you see was caused by excessive partying. No, really.

This isn't a bad DMOD, and it's got some ambition to it, but I didn't enjoy it. The dialogue was mostly boring, the story made very little sense, and it was sometimes hard to figure out what to do next. I mostly felt frustrated or bored.

Here's a random example of how things just don't make much sense. Dink asks a security guard how they tell whether someone who comes through a teleporter is a "bad person." The response:

There's a magic rock in the room with the telleport..
..wich sort of checks if a person is bad or lying.
With this magic star I read the information of the rock.
But it's too complex to explain further


It's a pretty weak and awfully stretched explanation of something that didn't really require an explanation in the first place. This DMOD is full of stuff like this.

The first area is a typical DMOD sort of village, although it does have a new take on the oft-repeated pig feeding cutscene from the original game. Dink gets his revenge on his latest tormentor by tossing feed at his feet, causing the pigs to nip at his heels.


Fly, my pretties.

I actually got stuck here for an embarrassing amount of time because you're told to find an arrow, and I couldn't find it. It's next to the side of the screen, and it's hard to see. Don't judge me.


I like this makeshift fort from which bandits control this pass. It seems like the platform is made from crates. It's clever.

The second section is more interesting. It's a big city with a lot of things to do. There are a couple of little sidequests, shops where you can buy all the weapons and spells from the original game, and a casino where you can make loads of money. The blackjack from "Initiation" is here, but you're better off just betting the money on coinflips at a nearby machine. It'd be easy to get 100,000 gold if that were your real objective, but by this point the original plot has already been all but forgotten.


This glowy blue fence gates off content that isn't available in the demo. Oooh.

There's also a bar with two floors. On the ground floor are folks who just like to get drunk, but upstairs you can find wizards who drink weaker alcohol with magical properties. It'll raise one of your stats and lower the other two. It didn't seem worth the trouble, though, especially since there's another shop where you can buy potions that temporarily raise your stats.


The King of the land of Thesaurus. Yep, that's what it's called.

In this city, Dink answers to another king. As I said, the original plot is pretty much forgotten as Dink focuses on helping out this city that is increasingly besieged by monsters. The King wants Dink's help, but he insists that Dink train at his training grounds first. The training grounds are broken up into melee, ranged and magic training, which sounds interesting, but they're all nothing but ordinary little areas full of monsters. It's only suggested that you use the designated kind of attack; actually, I used melee attacks on all three tests. I can think of several ways to restrict the player to use a certain kind of attack. It would have been interesting, but just having signs telling you what to use is silly.


This target is just for decoration, but it makes me wonder why there isn't some kind of target range. Incidentally, bows in this DMOD have abandoned the usual bow-power system in favor of a quick trigger.

Dink reports incessantly back to the King. On two separate occasions, he finds an entrance to a new area and, instead of investigating it, says "I'd better report this to the King!" and refuses to enter. Both times, you have to backtrack quite a lot to see the King, who pretty much just says, "Boy, you'd better check it out then!" Argh, what a waste of time.

Eventually, Dink finds an entrance to a HUGE area filled with hundreds of tough, green-tinted pillbugs, boncas and slimes. All you're told is that you're to go train there. I got stuck here for ages. I nearly gave up. At first I was convinced that you had to try and wipe out all the enemies, which would have taken over an hour. Eventually, I found what I was supposed to find, tucked off to one side and very easy to miss. At least this part has a cool MP3 background music - a rock arrangement of Pachelbel's Canon in D. I converted it to .ogg so that I could listen to it in FreeDink, and it makes a great background tune. So much for that rule about MP3s having to be in a separate file, eh?

Anyway, once you've finally found the point to that area, you report back to the King, leave town and the demo ends. This one kind of wore me out, honestly. Again, it isn't a bad DMOD, but I'm glad to be done with it.
November 30th 2014, 05:05 AM
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Robj
Peasant Male Australia
You feed the madness, and it feeds on you. 
Mmm... I'm pretty sure if I ever went back and completed that demo I would probably remake the whole game and it wouldn't resemble the demo at all....

Because it's terrible.

November 30th 2014, 05:10 AM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
He's just saying that, he really actually loves it like a son.
Check the Let's Play video on TGKA for proof

EDIT: Still a better demo than my one.
December 1st 2014, 02:25 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
I watched the video and it is a riot. Much more entertaining than actually playing it.

I must add, though, that ExDeathEvn's play style drives me crazy. You really have to kill every last enemy you see? And you won't even make the boncas fight each other? Arrrrgh!
December 1st 2014, 05:29 AM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
Heh, well at the beginning I didn't take the strength boost, you have to remember.
December 1st 2014, 05:57 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
244: Call to Greatness Authors: Hezzu, Lunacre Release Date: November 30, 2006
"They are coming..."

I don't know much about Lunacre's collaborator here. Judging from Hezzu's representation by the maiden sprite ingame, she must be female. Maybe the crazy humor in the mod is her contribution, because I don't remember Lunacre's other DMODs being quite this wacky.

"Call to Greatness" is a joke DMOD that nearly tricked me into thinking it was something with serious gameplay. There's really no coherent plot, just a series of jokey twists. The f-word is used a lot.


This f-word. Just so there's no confusion.

There's a character called "The Storyteller" who is set up like she's going to be a narrator character, but she (I'm assuming? It's the androgynous old person sprite and they're called a witch at one point) never gets to say much. Every time she shows up, she ends up exploding while shouting, "NOOOOOO!" with an accompanying voice clip. Most of the time, there's a character called "the critic" (this one is definitely a girl) who shows up, declares that the storyteller has violated some rule of DMOD storytelling, and banishes her repeatedly to Hell.

There are more odd characters in this one. Dink has a "pet" wizard he calls Fluffy (he angrily insists that this is not his name, but he's never called anything else to my recollection) and a stone giant butler named James. In the intro, Dink is warned by his little-girl janitor of some unspecified threat that is coming to kill everybody. This is the closest thing around to a plot, but it's incoherent and never really goes anywhere. It's just a flimsy excuse to mess around and claim to have an IMPORTANT QUEST.


No, see, she's doing it for the exposure.

It's a pretty primitive DMOD. An insane amount of tree sprites are pasted everywhere instead of the usual tree background, making this the worst nightmare of anybody who insists on burning down all the trees whenever possible. Some things that ought to be hard, like shelves, are not. There's an event that should be one-time, but will play again if you return to its screen. The tables that warp you out of buildings aren't invisible. I also don't understand why the usual 10 save slots have been reduced to three here.


Maybe when she said "they are coming" she meant the trees. Good grief.

A handful of the trees actually obscure piles of gold. There's an NPC who offers to sell stat increases for large sums, which might fool you into thinking there's a substantial game to play here. It almost got me. When I got to the boncas that are the only required battles and found them pretty tough, I considered going back to grind. On a hunch, I pressed forward instead. There's a fakeout where it seems like you're going to fight Dink's butler gone rouge as a boss, but instead there's just another silly scene with the storyteller, the critic and the authors. No boss fight at all. Dink also seems to get killed in the end. Maybe this is a belated Failure DMOD.


Ya rly. Wow, is that meme this old? I guess it's even older than that, actually.

If you get anything out of this one, it'll be a laugh or two. My favorite part was a knight's hilariously stupid response to Dink saying that his mother was terrible in bed.


Yes, I laughed at this.

245: Island of Hell Author: Laughlan Fahey Release Date: December 17, 2006
"BYE"

Oh, 2006. You were so close!

***********This DMOD, "Island of Hell,"************
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
  ****DINK FOREVER MEMORIAL AWARD OF BADNESS*****
   ********On this day December 1, 2014*********


I have no explanation for this DMOD's 3.8 (Tolerable) rating. Maybe people just got tired of giving out richly-deserved sub-1.0 scores. This is about as bad as it gets.


Maybe they just liked the title screen.

I guess the mapping could be worse. There are tiling problems, but they're not as bad as in "Apex," and the maps otherwise look... tolerable. The emphasis is on "look," though. Hardness and depth que errors are everywhere. You can walk right through trees, savebots, houses, you name it.


Also, the first screen looks like this.

The only scripted NPCs in this DMOD are shops that use scripts directly from the original game (one of these scripts has been modified, but the dialogue remains the same). There's a farmer guy who doesn't respond to you all (no script). The only thing to really do is burn down a certain tree and find a tunnel full of many, many boncas. If you happen to find this before preparing yourself at the shops, you'll probably die. After getting past all of the boncas, there are some pillbugs and a giant boss bonca. When you start fighting the big bonca, the game ends.

I checked the script; in the attack procedure, kill_game is called. Wow, a boss with the power to destroy reality itself. I guess that's one way to make an enemy difficult.

It should be possible to beat the boss if you stay well clear and patiently throw fireballs. Remember, though, if it even tries to swing at you - it doesn't have to hit - the game ends. I certainly wasn't going to bother.

If you do win, you're rewarded with a short message from the author. These are the only new lines of text in the entire DMOD.

At least Laughlan had the excuse of being just ten years old. I believe this makes them the youngest DMOD author to date.

246: The Scary Beast Author: Glenn Ergo Release Date: December 29, 2006
"Dink! You must help me at once!"

This is Glenn's last DMOD and his second-worst rated (1.2). He gave it a big update in July of 2009. The update features these eye-popping release notes:

- Mapped the whole D-Mod properly.
- Made this into an actual D-Mod.


This gave me some hope that what I was about to play was something different and better than what all those reviewers gave such low scores.

Sigh.

***********This DMOD, "The Scary Beast,"***********
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
  ****DINK FOREVER MEMORIAL AWARD OF BADNESS*****
   ********On this day December 1, 2014*********


Glenn, unlike Laughlan, is devoid of excuses. He never made a good DMOD, but previous releases had shown improvement, at least. What did he think he was doing releasing THIS over three years later? What did he think he was doing implying he had somehow improved it more than two years after that? I really can't imagine.

When you start the game, you're unceremoniously dumped into some kind of field. There's no intro and no music. There's no music in the DMOD at all, actually. So you wander around, and eventually you find this girl.


Oh no! Is it a SCARY beast? By the way, where do you live? Ain't no houses 'round here.

She asks Dink to kill some kind of beast. Well, okay. So you wander around some more - the map looks fine, but has no distinguishing features at all - and find a rock. Okay, maybe let's try pushing it. Dink says that he's not strong enough. Back to the girl, who tells you to go punch "the special tree." There's no way of knowing what that means, so you go around punching each of the many trees on the map. Finally, you find one that displays a number when you hit it.


Hit it 20 times and your strength goes up. Yay?

Now Dink can access the lair of the SCARY beast, which is a bonca. A totally ordinary bonca, except that it has 150 hit points. So you kill it and return to Ms. Damsel in Distress, who calls you her hero and promises "something special" in return. Then the game ends. That's it. Honestly. I saved you the trouble of playing it, because there's practically nothing more you could learn about it by doing so, unless you're enthralled by exchanges like this one:

Ms. D-in-D: Did you kill it yet?
Dink: No, I have not.


Glenn certainly didn't kill it with this outing, unless what he was trying to kill was my enthusiasm. I think this is his worst DMOD. At least you could laugh at "Glenn's First D-Mod."

--

There's another year in the can. The end was a bit of a letdown, but overall, I was impressed again by 2006's DMODs. I feel like the standard has been raised to a new level over the past few years. My favorites were all in the Failure Contest, but I really don't feel like splitting hairs to try and rank them. Actually, that contest was almost all aces. Great stuff. On to 2007.
December 1st 2014, 09:34 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
You're going through these so unbelievebly fast that it's making my head spin. Amazing job! It seems you're covering the years much faster after reaching the halfway point.

2007. Uh oh. *worried*