The Dink Network

Crazy Old Tim Plays All the Rest of the D-Mods

January 10th 2015, 09:46 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
--Crazy Old Tim Plays All the D-Mods--

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

After a 2-year rebound, D-Mod production finally slowed down for what seems so far to be for good in 2011. But let's take a moment to remember that at this point, Dink Smallwood was over thirteen years old! D-Mod making slowed down at this point, but it didn't stop, and that is crazy. We're beyond "impressive" at this point. How have D-Mods remained an ongoing event? Contests have helped. Of the remaining 28 mods, 12 of them (~43%) are contest entries.

Since there have been relatively few D-Mods released since the end of 2010, it makes sense to take 'em all on at once. Scratcher and Sparrowhawk are probably sick of the sticky/unsticky carousel anyway. There is still time for you to get your new D-Mod written up if you hurry, but when that D-Mods remaining count hits zero, COTPATD Inc. is closing its doors for good.

There are some interesting-looking D-Mods in the last few years. I'm looking forward to playing them. And of course, I'll get the chance to talk a lot about myself soon. Lord knows I enjoy that.

===2011===

I've got nine D-Mods on my list with a 2011 release. Five of them - more than half! - are entries in the "Carnage Contest," which seems like a very different sort of theme than the ones we've had so far. "Power of Blood" and "The Blacksmith's Trail" are very highly regarded if ratings are anything to go by. But first, let's look at a D-Mod that seems to have given a breath of fresh air to the community by doing something totally new and different.

325: Broken Windows Author: Sparrowhawk Release Date: January 12, 2011
"Oh, Windows is so full of security holes, you know,"

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

I shouldn't be surprised that the author of "Bug Mania" continued to take Dink in interesting new directions that nobody had thought of before, and to show off impressive technical skill to boot. In "Broken Windows," Dink's ancient world breaks apart and he finds himself stranded in the nearly as ancient world of Windows XP (heh heh).


And to think it all started with an actual broken window.

Even the introduction set in Dink's regular world is impressive. The opening cutscene is really smooth. It uses lots of sound effects to tell a little story, and Dink moves and plays a special animation at the same time as he's kicked out of the pub. The animation frames are carefully controlled using sp_pframe so that the animation lines up perfectly with the movement (and also to alter the animation by not playing all of the frames in the usual order). There's a lot of movement in general in scenes in this D-Mod, something that most authors (especially including me, sadly) avoid whenever possible to reduce work. When the screen goes black and dink pops up out of the nothingness, the motion is very convincing.

Anyway, the game "crashes" to a rather convincing blue screen of death and Windows must restart, but Dink finds himself marooned in the OS. The object is to find your way back home, but really the whole thing is an excuse to show off neat scripting applications and tell computer jokes. Dink proclaims that the start button is a good place to start and laughs loudly. He jokes about the name of just about every folder in the C:/ drive. CCleaner summons a bunch of cleaning women to sweep the desktop clean. "Drivers" makes driving sound effects. Starting World of Warcraft results in Dink never being seen again. Firefox is a literal fox with fire powers.


Haha look, it's a "fire wall."


Not just worms. There's also aquatic sheep, explosive grannies, mole bombs, concrete donkey...

There are several things you can do that serve no purpose but messing around. You can change the MIDI by going to "My Music." (Actually, on my first run I couldn't hear any MIDIs, but that had nothing to do with the D-Mod. I've been having a problem lately where FreeDink refuses to play MIDIs anymore, and won't play them again until I restart my whole computer.) You can open Paint, select colors, and draw with the airbrush by walking Dink around the window. You can type a little document in Microsoft Word. In "My Pictures," you can see a few silly pics of people cosplaying as Dink Smallwood.


You have to type pretty slowly or it'll miss some letters. Still, what fun.


Watch out, ducky!

The Firefox boss is pretty tough, and took me a couple of tries. It alternates between throwing fireballs at you and attempting to lunge and bite you. If you didn't get the fireball back during the intro segment, I'd say you're pretty much screwed here. With it, it was manageable, but kept me on my toes. That's fine - it's the only actual challenge between you and the ending, so it might as well put up a fight.


At least it isn't a Mozilla.

There's an aborted attempt at a solitaire game. It's too bad that it wasn't finished; having a solitaire game in the Dink engine would be amazing and the most impressive thing in a D-Mod that impresses all over. I can understand not wanting to deal with the enormous headache of getting it to work, though. You can feel Sparrowhawk's grief and pain if you go through the scripts:

//Using &return here doesn't work!  It works usually, it's worked up until now (D-Mod almost finished),
//and it just stops working!  Out of the blue!  Why?  WHY?   Aaaaaaaarrrrghh


I know that feeling. DinkC hates you for trying to make it work the way the documentation claims it will. It really starts to feel personal after a while.

After you mess around for a while and beat the dread Firefox, you gain access to the directory list, where again, Dink has a lot of little jokes to make about the names. For example, DAEMON tools summons an actual daemon (or demon). When you've seen everything, you select the Dink Smallwood folder (not Dink Smallwood HD, which Dink imagines stands for "Hero Dink") and Dink picks up where he left off, being his incorrigible, rascally self in the setting he's so familiar with. Ah.

"Broken Windows" is a short D-Mod, but a lot of time has been put into the details. Not only is there a lot to do, but care has been taken to make sure little things look or feel right, like folders being highlighted when you "select" them by walking over them. "Dink explores Windows" is a neat idea, sure, but anybody could have had the idea. What's really neat about this D-Mod is the execution.

326: The Dink Wars (Demo) Author: Thor Release Date: January 16, 2011
"This areas still under construction so dont expect too much."

Whoa, the God of Thunder released a D-Mod! Well, part of one, anyway... Hmm. I hope my computer doesn't get wiped out by lightning while I try to write this. For that matter, I hope I don't get wiped out by lightning while I try to write this.

Once again, this really feels more like an unfinished D-Mod than a demo that stops at a place that makes sense, but at least this one has a point where you can definitely say you've reached the end and "won." Not that I managed to make it there without cheating. I don't really recommend anybody else try to either. After an easy start, the enemies quickly become far too tough and strong for you to handle. Furthermore, the boncas in the dark forest section won't drop hearts, and the gold they drop can't be collected.


Seriously! 326 D-Mods, and I'm still coming across new bugs I've never seen before.

"Dink Wars," which might also be called "Kendo" since that's the name of its folder and the only word in its dmod.diz, has a serviceable plot that doesn't stand out from others like it in any way. Dink is at home with his wife and eerie tiny-Dink-clone sons. Dink's wife tells him to go get firewood. Once he does, he comes home to find his wife murdered and his sons kidnapped by the winner of the 14th annual Generic Villain Competition (he calls himself "The Dark Lord," for crying out loud). Boy, the life expectancy of Dink family members is abysmal. At least he has kids in this one. How come so few D-Mods have made Dink a father? Are we to believe he fires blanks? Or has Martridge given him some kind of magical contraceptive? Now that would be a public service.


I know you do, baby. You're only human.

There isn't too much to do after that discovery. You can rescue a guy named Andrew Coward (A. Coward, get it?) from a bonca, but you don't have to. Eventually you'll reach an area called "the pits" (too easy), where there are loads of monsters and screenlocks for the masochistic, but this section might not even work. When I beat the enemies with my cheat-boosted stats, the screen wouldn't unlock. Only by directly unlocking the screen could I reach the sign telling you that the demo was over.


There is an interesting screen at the end where you have to be careful about hitting barrels that may be explosive in order to progress.

There are more problems. Tiling is bad, especially in caves and on water. There are a lot of hardness errors on both indoor and outdoor screens. There's no music. Events that freeze you for a long time are repeated every time you enter certain screens. There's a couple of big chunks of dialogue lifted directly from Pulp Fiction and peppered with misspellings. Some NPCs leave you frozen, forcing you to quit and load a game. The hedge maze toward the end is quite ugly. One positive element is that some of the interior screens looked good and had interesting ideas for decoration. I also liked that a few pieces of decoration yielded different dialogue after the kidnapping took place.


Look, it's a post office! That's neat. I'm permanently frozen in this screenshot, though.

Honestly, I didn't find much to enjoy here. "Dink Wars" isn't one of the worst D-Mods, but I've seen more promise in others that were worse. Sometimes I think a D-Mod might be cool if certain issues were fixed, but I feel like this one would just go from mediocre and broken to mediocre and well-built.

--The Carnage D-Mod Contest--

On February 9, 2011, the Carnage Contest was announced. The basic rule was really simple: have lots of carnage (that is, people dying violently) in your D-Mod. This theme was apparently the brainchild of the bloodthirsty MsDink. You might call it the polar opposite of the previous contest; then again, you could still enter a non-combat D-Mod. There's nothing that says the player character has to be involved in the carnage.

There was an extra requirement that some authors may have found difficult to meet.

4. Must have at least one new thing incorporated whether it is weapons, magic, sprites, fighting system. Anything new - use your imagination!
5. The one thing in point 4 (minimum of one) needs to be new to Dink OR previously developed by someone else, but not used in any actual dmod yet.


Ah, but there's an out for those who can't come up with something new themselves. I think it's good to encourage people to use the dev files on the site, and there are certainly still some of them that have never been used. However, it might be tough for an author to know what's been used and what hasn't. I used quite a few graphics packs in "Malachi the Jerk," but I don't think any of them had never been used before except for VonZeppelin's Dink Toupee. Anyway, I'll keep an eye out for new things in the entries.

The deadline for the contest was April 12th. I'm not sure exactly when the five entries were released because there was no news post about it! It is ever a frustrating task to catalog the history of this place. I think it was April 13th, though, and that's what I'm going with.

327: The End of Snoresville Author: Merder Release Date: April 13, 2011
"this town is to be dinkolished. *evil laughter*"

This D-Mod came in last place, and it's not hard to see why - it's terrible. Even so, it really shows the potential of the theme when even a D-Mod as bad as this one had me grinning at one point.

It's been a while (DinkDoodler's work in 2009) since I've seen a D-Mod with this kind of disregard for how a D-Mod is supposed to be put together. The screens have no borders, they're mostly empty seas of cobblestone, and hardness is a joke. Seriously, there isn't a single bit of hardness that serves its intended purpose. The houses have an inadequate hardbox that doesn't prevent you from walking "into" them, and in the two spots where there are supposed to be tile-based borders, you can slip right past them. This D-Mod would be a sure DFMAOB recipient if it didn't contain one extremely cool idea. I'll get to that.

The premise is about as simple as it can get: Dink comes to a town so boring, they named it Snoresville. I can't disagree, from getting a look at it. All the people there moan constantly about how boring it is and how they wish something interesting would happen. Knowing what I was there to do, I have to hand it to Merder - that is a pretty amazing setup.


Ooooh, they're BEGGIN' for it. Slaughter time!

It would be nice, though, if each NPC had something to say rather than everything being pulled at random from two short lists.

Unfortunately, the anticipation is the best part. Actually killing the townsfolk is rather boring because they hardly do anything in response. They make screaming or grunting noises when you hit them (the little girl sounds like a loudly squeaking mouse), but they don't run away, fight back or have anything to say. You'd think they'd panic or at least complain. Actually, given the setup it might be funnier if they were apathetic or even glad that something interesting was finally happening in their town. Dink, for his part, emotionlessly counts off the deaths. "And that's no 18," he says. "And that's no 19."

You also have to destroy the houses, which amusingly bleed when you punch them. The regular punch doesn't really do the trick, though. You have to use a "magic punch" spell that you find. I used it on the people, too - it comes out a lot faster than the normal punch. Dink excitedly says, "I can hear bones crunching!" as you wreck the houses.

Incidentally, you've got to check out MsDink's review, in which her impressive thirst for carnage is laid bare for all to see. "I did like how you can kill the houses but as a contest entry for carnage, they didn't bleed enough (minimal splutters whereas I had wished for some arterial gushes!)..." "...I felt this dmod idea could have had more impact with blood spurting mightily from the dying houses as they gasped their last." Wow! That does sound exciting! I wish she had made this D-Mod instead.

Here's what redeemed this D-Mod for me: on one screen, there's a stairway leading down. If you go down there at the start, there's a big empty crater:


Totally snoresville, man.

But as you kill, it fills up with blood! Yes, the implication is that rivers of blood are flowing to this spot like a shower drain and filling up an underground lake with the stuff. There are three different levels you can see the lake at, not including empty. This. is. Amazing! What a great idea! Bravo!


*hideous, evil cackling*

There is one person who fights back. After you've killed all the people and houses (yes, killed the houses), a knight in armor shows up. She (we're told it's a woman) doesn't believe it's Dink who killed everybody at first, but when she realizes he's the culprit, she's understandably pissed off. You're given the option to taunt her into using potions and make the fight harder, but even if you do, she's a cinch. After that, you pay one last visit to the blood lake. It turns out that, by filling the lake with blood, you've summoned a demon's spirit, who possesses Dink... but the joke's on it, because there are already no fewer than ten spirits/voices in there already, including a cameo appearance by Mr. SBV from "The Green Voice in My Head." It's not a bad ending.

New stuff: I'm pretty sure the blood lake graphics are new. While I've seen a bunch of "magic punch" attacks before, this is the first one meant to kill buildings with.

Carnage rating: 3 out of 5 Dead Dragon Carcasses. It'd be lower because of the unsatisfying killing, but that blood lake is brilliant.
January 11th 2015, 01:50 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
328: Enter the Dead Dragon Carcass Author: Erwin Release Date: April 13, 2011
"Sacrifices must be made."

"Enter the Dead Dragon Carcass" came in fourth place. It features some very cool new magic, but it's ultimately little more than a demonstration for said magic.

There is a plot, but it's contained within the description. You play as a member of the Dead Dragon Carcass cult. You must use your powerful magic to slaughter the inhabitants of a village, as a lot of dead people are apparently required for some ritual. I've got no sympathy for this bunch of morons, who lack the common sense to go inside in order to avoid magical doom. They were probably going to die of something stupid anyway.

Your character, who I am going to call Cultist Betty because she hasn't got a name, is an interesting new recolor of the typical maiden sprite. She has a new set of default text defined in dnotalk.c, which is good, because that's almost all of the dialogue in the game. It's where I got the quote in the header from.


Betty's favorite daytime talk show had been cancelled. They'd pay. The whole world would pay.

So let's talk about the magic. You can turn into a bonca or a slayer if you just wanna whale on people, but that's boring. Your other options are more interesting: the "air gust" and "dagger drop" spells. Air gust is an attack you charge up. Enemies hit when you release it will be pushed backwards an amount determined by the charge level. If they get knocked into something hard, they'll take a little bit of damage. More importantly, if the charge is above a certain level, they'll be knocked to the ground for a little while. D-Mod authors take note: lots of nice sprites of various characters, including boncas, lying on the ground with no blood around them are here. I've seen many a D-Mod just use the corpse sprite for somebody who's lying down sick or something and not dead, and it is super weird and doesn't work. Use these instead.

Anyway, while they're on the ground and having little stars float around their heads, that's when you want to hit them with the dagger drop spell. It's a projectile that, when it hits somebody, summons a wicked cool purple dagger from the sky to stab them. If it hits somebody who's already been knocked down, it does quintuple damage. This isn't necessary to kill the weaker targets, but it's great for the ones who actually fight back.


Betty summons a dagger to stab a stunned guard. It won't fill the The Talk-shaped hole in her heart, but it's a start.

Spells use mana. You have the same mana bar from Erwin's "Day of the Carcass," but it charges a lot faster here and receives a boost when you kill somebody. Mana will never be a problem in this one. All it does is prevent you from spamming attacks without preventing you from getting two of them off in a hurry, as a higher magic cost would.

There are a couple of bugs. Sometimes enemies who have been blown around will stop animating and slide around in a still pose. Much weirder than that, I had an enemy suddenly transform into an animation of a cultist lady stabbing a little girl on a marble slab. There's a similar image on the title screen (which lacks a title, I might add), but it doesn't animate there.


It's bizarre to see slab, girl and all slide around as the stabbing goes on.

It's easy to win, but not so easy that you can't lose. I was careless on my first try and lost while trying to clear out the last remaining screen. On my second try, however, I had a spectacularly easy time. I discovered that enemies will usually freeze if you hit them with dagger drop while they're moving, making them easy pickings. When you slay the last of the townsfolk, Betty says her work is done and poofs away. A dragon's roar can be heard, and the D-Mod exits.

"Enter the DDC" shows more of the skill that produced "Day of the Carcass" in the new magic. The air gust in particular is a very clever piece of scripting. Without a little more to do with your new toys or more background on why you're doing so, however, it's not hard to see how it ended up in fourth place.

New stuff: New graphics and new magic.

Carnage rating: 2 DDCs out of 5. The new magic is fun, but killing all the people gets dull after a few screens. At least some of them fight back in this D-Mod, but they don't react at all when you hit them. They don't even scream like they did in "Snoresville." It feels strangely... bloodless. Like these aren't people you're killing. Compare it to "Mayhem," where attacked people flip out and try to run. That was much more satisfying.

329: Knight Soup Author: Synbi Release Date: April 13, 2011
"I'm gonna stick a spear in you and make mah a new scarecrow!"

I've liked that title ever since I first saw it. "Knight Soup." It's so evocative. Just... picture that. Try to see if you can hold that picture in your mind for just a second. My goodness.

"Knight Soup" took third place in the contest. It's a chaotic arcade-style game where you muscle your way through hordes of tiny but dangerous enemies. You can make the place plenty bloody by killing the little foes, but curiously, this isn't a "kill-em-all" game like the fifth and fourth place entries. In fact, I found that the best way to win involved dashing past everybody and killing very few of the enemies, which is kind of disappointing. It feels like this should be a game where you gleefully mow down absurd throngs of opponents, but it isn't. Engaging them is dangerous; running is clearly a better idea. It's possible to beat "Knight Soup" having killed exactly one enemy: the end boss. That's not very soupy.


Talkative bunch, ain't they?

The path is mostly simple and tunnel-like, but there are little forks every few screens. Mostly they just lead to one-screen spokes of the path. Some of these contain enemies and will screenlock (the only places you get screenlocked; it's best to figure out where these are and avoid them); others contain a fairy. There are seven fairies in the game, and they'll give you certain things to help you depending on how many fairies you've found. The first fairy gives you a powerful flamethrower spell, but it costs gold to use it (a later very gives you herb boots, which are VERY useful). You get one gold every time you kill an enemy, but no experience, so extra flamethrower casts are really the only benefit of killing enemies - in other words, you can ignore them. How many coins you need per cast changes with the difficulty level you select at the beginning. As far as I can tell, this is the only effect of the difficulty selection, so it doesn't have that much impact on the actual difficulty of beating the game. Having said that, I beat it on hard.


Dink uses the flamethrower spell.

I happened to find the one big secret area in the game. You fight a bonca boss and are rewarded with a sword (very useful) and a chance to mow down a bunch of defenseless DDC cultists, "just for the heck of it." Now that was some satisfying carnage.

This one does have a story - a silly story, but a story nonetheless. Dink is making fun of Chealse in Stonebrook for feeding pigs (using the same old words... I wish I'd thought to count the versions of that scene from the original game in D-Mods, there has to be over a dozen by now) when a bunch of knights of The Cast show up. They kill the girl (causing a GIANT blood spatter to cover the screen in an inspired bit of gore), having apparently mistaken her for Dink Smallwood because she's feeding pigs. They mistake Dink himself for Milder because "Nobody else can jeer at pig farmers with such authenticity but you, Milder." Nothing Dink says in the entire D-Mod can ever convince them he isn't Milder, which is pretty funny. I had always suspected the Cast were kind of dumb.


Whoops, you got some on the lens there.

The end boss is some kind of wizard who has been doing horrible experiments of some kind to Stonebrook and the surrounding area. Every time you hit him, he changes appearance. He casts a spell that does a lot of damage every FIFTH time it hits you, which is different. The difficulty setting does matter here because it determines how many shots of the powerful flamethrower you'll get to use against him. After I used the few you get on hard difficulty, I was able to finish him off with the secret sword without too much trouble.


Dink is counting to five. You don't want him to get to five.

It's a neat setup, with named levels and a manic appearance. It's just too bad that you'll most likely end up just running past everything. I tried playing again on easy with the intention of killing everything, but I couldn't make it far that way without dying. The risk/reward balance is tilted almost infinitely toward running away from enemies, which makes the game easy, short, and not as carnage-filled as you'd hope.

New stuff: The flamethrower spell is new. There was something kind of similar in "Outlander," but it had a longer range and the flames left behind kept damaging enemies.

Carnage Rating: 4 out of 5 DDCs. Actually, the carnage was impressive. There were showers of blood whenever you hit things. Even in the intro when Dink punches a door, it explodes into a cloud of blood. This no doubt helped "Knight Soup" with at least one of the judges. I can't give top carnage marks to a game where you can win while killing just one enemy, though.
January 14th 2015, 07:05 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
330: Power of Blood Author: JugglingDink Release Date: April 13, 2011
"This is the fabled power of the BloodBirds..."

REPUTATION NOTE: This D-Mod is one of the select group with a score of 9.0 or better (9.5) on The Dink Network.

9.5 doesn't mean what it used to; there's just one review. Pillbug sure liked it, though.

Remember "Dinkzilla?" Imagine you could be Dinkzilla, but you had to earn it first. That's the gist of "Power of Blood." It's a very easy D-Mod, but cool nonetheless. It came in second in the contest, but there was also a general forum vote on which of the entries was best, and "Power of Blood" won that.

There are no experience points and no stat potions in this D-Mod. Excluding these elements was smart, since they would have absolutely no bearing on the game anyway. Dink starts with very good stats and ends up with stupidly great stats.

Dink, tired of the constant attention he gets in his homeland as heroic savior of the world, goes on vacation. For some reason, he brings Mr. SmileStein with him. I didn't think they were that close. Does... Dink have any friends? Wow, I'm sad now.

The town you start in is full of NPCs that only have a small set of lines to say, but if you enter the houses there are people to talk to, and just about every object has a unique script. It gets to the point where I think Juggs is just showing off how many lines he can write about inanimate objects. There's a stairway leading down in the middle of town that takes you to a room with twelve beds in it - and each of them has a different script! There's no real point to this area - it's just there so that the author could make Dink say more things while examining and hitting beds. Some of it inevitably gets pretty strange.


Well, not literally, anyway.

As always, Dink's vacation doesn't turn out to be very relaxing. The morning after he arrives, a bunch of knights claiming to be the Cast show up and kill everybody except Dink, SmileStein and the mayor, an old guy named Doug. The knights can't be defeated by conventional means because they aren't really members of the Cast or even real humans, for that matter. They're actually conjured by a powerful wizard. Today's evil wizard du jour goes by Alverk and has a slightly different motivation than the usual: he's come to kill Dink because he killed Seth before the wizard got the chance. HE wanted the glory... to use it as a launching point for ruling the world. I guess his motive isn't so different after all. You can see his dream come true if you ignore the instructions you're given by SmileStein to go to the mayor's house and end up going straight to the Alverk's hideout instead.


I don't see what the point of the cage is. He never moves anyway.

As the three survivors hide out, Doug explains that he knows of a temple where Dink can acquire an unstoppable power that once belonged to a trio known as the "BloodBirds." He sends Dink to the temple. Other than that, Doug and SmileStein are no help. They're world-class idiots anyway. SmileStein says "hit me" during a game of poker, and Dougie claims that STDs "don't exist yet." I bet he's got the clap.

In the temple, you have to complete three challenges in order to collect three vials of blood that once belonged to the BloodBirds. You have to mix 'em all together in a fountain in order to be infused with bloody power. There are some interesting ideas in the challenges here. In one of the areas, Dink is given jumping boots and must leap from one piece of land to another while dodging obstacles. The delay on the jumping animation makes the timing slightly tricky. I also like the look of the jumping challenge area. In another challenge, you have to get points in a time limit by killing enemies. The pillbugs give you one point each, and the spikeys take away five points. However, your health is constantly draining, and you can only refill it by killing the spikeys. It's a clever little challenge, and it took me two tries. That was the only time I died while playing this D-Mod.


Check out that vertical! Dink has got some hops.

Upon completing the blood trials, Dink turns red and gains absurd stats (250 to all), a spell that shoots hellfire off in four directions, and other unspecified abilities, including the apparent ability to teleport by yelling really loud and then exploding. Now he can go confront Alverk. The end battle isn't hard, but it is interesting. There are several phases, each set in a different arena. The boss has a few different attacks for each phase. Fire rains from the sky and erupts from the ground. He'll turn invisible or make clones of himself. He makes clones of Dink as well as more of the fake Cast knights. Dink loses a big chunk of his crazy stats at the end of each phase. Again, it isn't difficult, but it does stay interesting thanks to all the variety.


Phase 1 takes place in a colorful dimension of some kind.


Alverk summons purple fireballs and clones of Dink.

A couple of new game modes are unlocked at the title screen after getting the bad and good endings. Scene viewer allows you to watch several of the game's cutscenes whenever you like. The other unlockable mode is called "the slaughter house" (I thought this might be a tribute to the winner of the very first D-Mod contest, but it doesn't seem so). Here, "Power of Blood" really earns its status as a carnage-themed D-Mod. Here, you can slaughter things in various ways. There's a room where you can kill an infinite number of ducks, a room where you can decide what you want to kill by selecting enemies, a setting and your own stats (kind of like "Dink Arena" without the weapon options) and a section where you fight a bunch of objects you wouldn't usually fight, like chimneys and mushrooms. Once you've killed at least 100 things in each of these settings, you can access a room where you click the mouse to drop flaming death on a crowd of people. Good times!


I think the floor could use another coat!


At long last - a duel between the only two playable characters in Dink Smallwood. I'm talking about Dink and the mouse pointer, of course.


What fun we have because RTSoft decided the title screen needed mouse support.

There are little secrets you can find in both the scene viewer and the slaughterhouse - spells you can use in the main game. They aren't a big deal, but they give you something else to do in the alternate game modes, which gives you a reason to check them out.

New Stuff: There are several new recolored graphics and tiles and a couple of new or new-ish spells.

Carnage rating: 5 out of 5 DDCs. Although a lot of people die in the main game, most of the killing happens off-camera, so even though the quest is very much about blood, the main game isn't bloody enough to get full marks on its own. It's the extra slaughter house mode that really impressed me with the creative ways it lets the player kill things and made this earn all my DDCs.

331: The Blacksmith's Trail Author: Marpro Release Date: April 13, 2011
"Don't you like the smell of burnt corpses and chaos in the morning?"

REPUTATION NOTE: This D-Mod is one of the select group with a score of 9.0 or better (9.5) on The Dink Network.

Again, there's just one review, but pillbug sure liked it.


I don't often feature title screens, but that is nice.

"The Blacksmith's Trail" is the winner of the contest. Although it faces some pretty good competition from "Power of Blood," it's my favorite D-Mod of the contest. Heck, it's also my favorite D-Mod by Marpro. It's so well put together that I couldn't identify a single problem with it - well, okay, at one point you are required to interact with things you have no real reason to suspect aren't decoration in order to progress, and I did get stuck there, but that's the only thing I can think of. The story is excellently paced with events that catch your interest and move the plot along nicely. The decoration is beautiful and helps set a strong tone of corruption, ruin and chaos.


Just look at the way this screen is composed! Look how the shadows frame the house. This is the first screen. Right away you know you're in for a good time.

An evil wizard (I feel like I am starting to wear out the phrase "evil wizard") named Odium Interitus has turned the blacksmith in the town of Foulstone into a beast who makes everyone around him insane. The people of the town have become mindless killers, like zombies without actually being undead. Dink and the wizard Martridge must follow the blacksmith's trail (good title synergy) of destruction, confront Odium and put a stop to the blacksmith-beast. Along the way, you'll have to deal with the mad townsfolk. Martridge will help you fight, but his spells are weak due to something Odium has done. In the end, any survivors are apparently cured, but I killed them all. The game ranks you on how many you killed - I got called a "butcher" for my trouble. Hey, it's a carnage D-Mod, what can I say? You could try to get the best rank ("Hero") for a little extra challenge.


Dink and Marty battle the mad villagers.

The fights can be pretty challenging, as many of the enemies can move very quickly. I only died once against the boss at the end, but I had a few more close calls. The gameplay felt really well-balanced. Exploring turns up a couple of helpful secrets, including a curious potion that flips between red and blue and increases strength or defense depending on when you pick it up.

You can pick up hints here and there of how things went as things went south in Foulstone. There's an old meeting place with messages posted about the spreading magical "contagion," which end abruptly. You can find the remains of a character who was so afraid he abandoned his children, and when he still couldn't escape, he killed himself rather than get swept up in the madness. It's nice to have these kinds of details rather than just being told that another town has succumbed to come catastrophe.


Despite what you might think from a mention of "contagion," there are no zombies in this D-Mod.

"Blacksmith's Trail" is the best treatment I've seen of Martridge's character. He's presented as Dink's mentor, and their dialogue here makes it a believable relationship. You can talk to him as he follows you around, and one of the things he'll discuss is the time he and Dink first met. He explains his behavior at the time - he needed to prove to Dink that magic was real and "not just some random gibberish from an old man." You don't talk to Martridge a whole awful lot and it's not like there's some deep discussion, but somehow referring back to that silly moment in a more serious context really cemented the relationship between Dink and the ol' wizard for me in a way I'm not sure I've ever felt before. A lot of D-Mods take it as granted, when in the original game they really didn't have that much to do with each other. Remember, Dink never even saw Martridge again after killing the bonca, no matter what you do. I guess it speaks to the isolated nature of the original game when this is the relationship D-Mod authors have consistently latched onto.

Dink has to save his old friend in this D-Mod when Odium traps him in a magical stone. Unfortunately, it turns out to be for nothing. Martridge momentarily forgets that his powers have faded and confronts the blacksmith-creature, getting pounded flat as a pancake. It's presented humorously, but I felt bad for old beardy.

The blacksmith himself is a brand new 3D graphic of a huge, headless dude with hammers for hands. He has a spinning attack as well as pounding his hammer-fists together. You should keep your distance; he packs a punch. There is a little background for the blacksmith character - you meet his daughter - but he seems unable to reason very much when you run into the beast he's become.


The tragic consequences of too much iron in one's diet.

So overall, I was impressed with this one. I think I agree with the contest winner this time.

New stuff: The blacksmith and a few decorations.

Carnage rating: 5 out of 5 DDCs. There's death and destruction everywhere, you can personally kill a huge number of people, and the human cost of the carnage feels much higher than in the other entries. You get more background on the town and have more reason to care about its destruction. I feel like this really deals with the concept of "carnage" more than any other entry in the contest.
January 14th 2015, 01:14 PM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
Power of Blood was definitely one heck of a unique experience. Pillbug even recorded a playthrough of it for DSPT. So you can tell just by that as well as the review that he enjoyed it

Unfortunately I didn't play the Blacksmith's Trail back when it came out, but I'll probably go back to take a look at it.
January 14th 2015, 03:30 PM
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Marpro
Peasant Male bloop
-- Marp Ro 
That was (as usual) a good read, Tim!

My biggest problem has always been that I procrastinate too much (just ask MsDink)... I really need a deadline for my hoby-projects to be able to finish them. This is why I've always liked contests. However, the dialogue/story often gets veee-e-eery cheesy when I struggle to get them done in time.
I actually had a great idea for the recent contest; but due to work and other irl-stuff I didn't find any spare time to be able to make it.

Oh, and the Blacksmith has a head... A tiny, red one. I pictured him with a hoodie...

January 14th 2015, 05:12 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
That is one tiny head.
January 15th 2015, 05:38 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
332: Goblin Wars - Breaking Point Author: Castman Release Date: July 14, 2011
"The King had trust in his special team"

"Goblin Wars" is the second D-Mod from Castman, the author of the "City of the Dead" demo from late 2007. It's definitely better and feels more complete than his first release.

This D-Mod is set 16 years before the original game, during the Goblin War. King Lewis of GoodHeart... you know what, I'm going to have to stop there, because now that I think about it, it was clearly established that Daniel was King at the end of the Goblin War. I guess they must have changed kings between this point and then. Anyway, Lewis finds out from a goblin spy that the goblins are planning an attack, so he summons an elite squad to carry out a special mission of attack, sabotage, rescue and espionage. You control this squad. It consists of...

*Sir Nathan, the Brave. His sarcastic wit is almost half as sharp as his axe. Well, probably a third. Gun to my head, at least a quarter.

*Lady Myleena Barkstomp. I hope you like the implied bow from "Lyna's Story." Also skilled at being sneaky. Tries to keep the team on task in the face of bickering; fails.

*And Sir Dan of the Cliff, a Dink Smallwood lookalike. Well, I guess Dink is a Sir Dan lookalike. Is Dan his father? Is Dan actually a young King Daniel, and it turns out that dying your hair and putting on two hundred pounds are requisites for kingship? Could BOTH be true? Beats me. Dan knows the fireball spell, but his main role is stealing information. He's a bit of a bumbler and is constantly derided by his teammates, especially Nate.


His majesty's finest!

Much of this D-Mod is set in part of the original game's map, only most of the interesting elements (enemies, powerups, even some of the decoration) have been removed, leaving the map feeling rather drab and uninteresting. There's no leveling up, but unlike, say, "Power of Blood," which removes experience points - a sensible thing to do if you don't want the player leveling up - this D-Mod lets you accumulate experience, you just say "What a gyp!" when it rolls over, as if you'd maxed the counter while already level 32 in the original game. What, if you'll excuse the possibly racist expression, a gyp. At least a couple of the issues mentioned in the only review have been addressed in the latest version. Instead of just running into "invisible walls" when you try to leave the portion of the original map that's been copied over, characters now at least say something about not going too far from their mission objective. The bug where you used to be able to go into a certain section as the wrong character has been fixed with a little "I shouldn't go in there" type text.

You only control one of the three... uh, mouseketeers (I wish this team had a name) at a time, and you rotate through them as you accomplish various tasks. I was impressed by the way you change active characters seamlessly without fading down the screen; I did this in "Malachi the Jerk," and several steps are involved. Each character has different items they can use. Oddly, all of these are kept in your inventory at all times, and if you try to use them as the wrong character, a message appears at the top of the screen. Multiple such messages can overlap. It would have been better to just have your current character's item than inventory, so it doesn't seem that Myleena is carrying an axe, for example. Nate and Myleena also turn into "Sir Dan" when you push if you started the game by loading a save. Each character has a different text color, which is reflected in the default messages and so forth. This is accomplished by changing the text color that's usually yellow using set_font_color, a side effect of which is that the experience points numbers that show above dead enemies change color too. I bet I bore y'all with this minutiae, but I found it interesting.

"Goblin Wars" isn't the type of D-Mod to leave you to your own devices. The game consists of a series of events that feel very structured. Honestly, it was a nice change of pace, and the characters' sometimes snide interactions added some personality, even though the dialogue was a bit odd and misshapen at times. There are some interesting gameplay ideas. For example, at one point Myleena must cross between rooftops by shooting an arrow at a certain point. The arrow supposedly has a rope tied to it, although of course this isn't shown. There's a significant stealth-based section where getting spotted by goblins means failure as Myleena sneaks through a prison to free a prisoner. A few D-Mods have had stealth elements before, but I think this is the first time it's really been done well. It's pretty clear when you're out of sight and when you're in sight. I got caught an embarrassing number of times, but it didn't feel unfair. It just takes a bit of patience.


The shady spots might look a little odd, but they let you know exactly where you can stand to avoid detection.

I was really impressed by the mapping of the goblin encampment. Bridges connecting the roofs of huts create a second level. Differing elevations are difficult to convey in Dink's kooky isometric perspective, but the author succeeds totally in creating an environment with two levels, in which the bridges above can be walked under if you're on the ground or upon if you're on the upper level. This is because there are actually two copies of the area in the D-Mod's map, although you'd never know it by playing. The only difference between the two is the placement of hardness and the depth dots of the bridges. This is damn clever! You might want to play this just to see this concept in action. There's even a spot where you can walk directly from one level to the other, which is done sneakily by an invisible object that directly changes the &player_map value when you touch it. Mind you, it's possible to touch the object and then turn around and go back, thereby placing yourself on the "wrong" level. Still, it's a neat trick.


Traverse the goblin camp from below...


...Or above.

Dan's quest involves copying some information, and Nate must blow up a building and kill all the goblins he finds. I have to say that this mission makes little sense to me. Why are Dan and Myleena bothering to be sneaky if Nate is just gonna kill everybody anyway? Why bother copying the goblins' documents - why not just steal them? The only point of copying them would be to make it appear you'd never been there at all, and obviously that's out the window. It all turns out to be for naught anyway, as the goblin spy is a double agent and the whole thing is a ruse, and the real attack on the kingdom is already proceeding. Come to think of it, though, that just adds another plot hole. If the mission is blundering into a trap, why on Earth wouldn't you make it a proper, well-prepared trap? The goblins really seem unprepared for our heroes showing up. Thanks to the double agent, they should know about this and be prepared. Our elite squad members should be captured or killed, or should at least have to attempt a daring escape after the trap springs. It don't make no sense.


Oh no, this is a disaster! I mean, you should always remember to freeze the player during cutscenes!

At the end, you're urged to make a save to be imported into a sequel later. This is the second D-Mod that has asked you to do this, but in neither case did the follow-up ever materialize. I can't see what the point would be in this case - there are no secrets to find or levels to gain in this D-Mod, so all the save could indicate is that you've beaten it.

It's a bit rough around the edges, and the plot has some big problems, but "Goblin Wars" is still a neat idea for a D-Mod and contains some boffo gameplay concepts. Maybe give it a go if any of what I've described caught your interest.
January 15th 2015, 05:59 AM
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Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
Oh no, this is a disaster! I mean, you should always remember to freeze the player during cutscenes!

Play Knight Soup and mash buttons to see where you'll end up when being escorted in the start, then. Maybe you can end up breaking the game, who knows.
January 15th 2015, 06:12 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
It doesn't seem to break anything, but it is fun to make him walk through all the walls.
January 15th 2015, 09:22 PM
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scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
Oh yeah, that was a fun dmod. I wouldn't recommend it to someone asking for good dmods, but I'd recommend it to someone who's played a LOT of dmods. It felt fresh.

Different elevations was first done in Crosslink, I think. (With the bridges in the icelands) And I wonder if these are the only two dmods that have that. It's a neat effect, but very easily a logistical nightmare. (Sadly, I speak from experience.)
January 15th 2015, 09:35 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
333: Valhalla (Unfinished) Author: SabreTrout Release Date: October 30, 2011
"Rubbing wizards isn't my thing but here goes..."

Hey, 333 D-Mods. That's half of, um... something...

This is SabreTrout's first release in over five years, and his last to date. It's actually an unfinished project from 2006, released as an apology. Sabre had announced a project on the forum called "A Town Called Daemon: TOE," a romp he intended to complete between when he announced it on October 10th and the end of the month (TOE stood for "The October Experiment"). Unfortunately, things, including a kitten and Dark Souls, got in the way, and it didn't work out, so he released this old thing instead.

In "Valhalla," Ol' King Dan is turned to stone by an ambitious sorcerer named Hashut (he uses SimonK's Spike graphics). Martridge goes to get Dink's help and teleports him into some big open area. I mean, that's Martridge for you. This is really a pretty standard D-Mod. I mean, you have to gather logs to fix a bridge.


That's not true. Occasionally there are also those bridges that are intact, but have some jerk standing on them asking for a toll.


King Daniel is lucky a hero like Dink is willing to quest tirelessly to save him at any cost.

The map is comparable to the original game's. It's not super pretty or anything, but it looks fine and provides a nice world for you to explore with secrets to find (be sure to check any thick patches of grass you see if you play this one). The initial section where you do nothing but punch pillbugs and wander around drags a bit until you reach the first little town.

The game is divided into chapters. There are two of them here; at the start of the third, you're told that the "demo" is over, suggesting that this was prepared for demo release at some point. The full game would have had five chapters. You have to gather ingredients for a petrification cure by completing certain quests, including bringing fish to a moogle. Dink has some encounters with a group of cultists called "The Fell" along the way.


Kupo! He said it, I'm happy.

Early on, I felt like the boncas' attack and defense were a bit on the high side. Later things get very easy as you find an armored guy who will train your attack and defense stats as much as you want for not very much gold per point. He also gives you some pretty good advice on Dink Smallwood combat along with your stat increases ("Stand just off an enemies axis, where they can't get you, and pummel them!")

When you get to the second chapter, it's possible to skip right to the end by telling a knight who guards a building that he should move aside because you're beta testing. At first, I thought this meant it wasn't possible to get to chapter 3 by normal means, but it is. You have to find a scroll in a very hidden location to do so, however. It doesn't seem possible to get to the end AND complete the sidequest that earns you the fireball spell; both require you to use up the same scroll.


There's a cave back here. Free advice for anybody who wants to play this.

"Valhalla" is way more of a playable D-Mod than the last few unfinished projects I've played, but it still needed work. A little girl early on freezes you if you talk to her and select a certain option; I lost fifteen minutes of progress as a result because savebots are scarce at the start of the game. Later, a certain house warps you to a nonexistent screen if you try to enter, leaving you stuck on a copy of the intro screen. The bug where purple boncas can't hit you hasn't been fixed, which is especially problematic because both bosses are purple boncas. All the tables that are used to warp you out of houses and caves have been left visible. Dink turns invisible when he dies instead of playing the death animation (this is one of the problems with Skeleton S). There are other little problems here and there.


Uh... bottles, Dink? Is... is that what you call books?

I got a good, dark laugh out of one of the quests. You have to catch a fairy in a bottle and feed it to a statue. The fairy begs for its life in a shrill fairy way, but Dink is pitiless. You then carry the fairy's little skeleton around in the bottle. It's hard to explain, but I found this hilarious. Maybe it was the line, "I'm sorry little guy, but I think this statue want's to eat you." I am a horrible man.

"Valhalla" is fun while it lasts. Unlike most "unfinished" D-Mods I've played recently, I think it was worth releasing so that people can check it out. It would have been a pretty good D-Mod if it were finished. It did feel similar to the most part to a number of other D-Mods I've played - not recent ones, but ones from several years ago, even earlier than when it was actually made. There's nothing wrong with a little throwback, though.
January 16th 2015, 05:58 PM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
===2012===

Just eight D-Mods came out in 2012, a record low at the time. Half of them are entries into the Dink Smallwood Throwback Contest, as the ol' contest kept D-Mod production on life support for another year.

Despite the low number of releases, 2012 saw some major D-Mods come out. It's the first year to have two new D-Mods that are currently classified as "epics" since 2002! The contest brought back some well-known authors, and "Enter the Iceland" is a substantial quest. Really, the decline in D-Mod production to this point is mostly due to the fact that people stopped putting out a bunch of very short (and sometimes not very good) D-Mods. That's the sort of thing that kept the numbers up in previous years.

334: Trials of a Boy: Enter the Iceland Author: DinkDude95 Release Date: January 4, 2012
"I guess I'd better find this Moa chick and tell her I need a strum."

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

By this point, people had stopped reviewing D-Mods almost entirely. This one only has a review because Leprochaun took it upon himself to try and write a review for every D-Mod that didn't have at least one. Still, the scores matter. They have a huge influence on how many people download these things. That's... kinda nuts, isn't it?

This is the second D-Mod to have the word "Iceland" in the title. There are zero D-Mods that involve Iceland.

DinkDude had been working on this one on and off since 2009. It's a pretty big D-Mod - it took me over two hours to finish. Still, it cuts off at the end before you really feel you've reached the end of the story. It seems that DinkDude wanted to wrap it up and move on to other things. The ending tells you to expect a part II of "Trials of a Boy," but the readme more honestly tells you not to.

In this D-Mod you play as "Dink Smallwood," but not the usual one. This guy has a completely different backstory. At the age of thirteen, he lives with both of his parents. Having come of age, he's expected to undergo three trials as a rite of passage. The first trial involves traveling to a place called the Iceland to meet the winged goddess Moa and convince her to strum her harp. It's clear that this D-Mod was never intended to cover the second or third trials, but it does seem like it should cover the entirety of the first. You never meet Moa. No harps are strummed. For all that, it still feels like a pretty epic adventure. Dink goes through so much that I have a really hard time believing that this is less than a THIRD of something that EVERY boy is supposed to go through in his culture. Dink's age does cast a different light on his usual "rude boy" dialogue, though. He's obviously trying to seem a lot more mature and world-wise than he is. It's adorable.


No prizes for guessing which door the first trial is behind.

I was really impressed by "Enter the Iceland." I think it doesn't get the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, it is held back by several frustrating bugs that could easily have been addressed by an update that never came, so done was DinkDude with D-Mod development. The bugs included multiple freeze bugs and a totally insane problem where using a bomb does nothing unless you have at least one other bomb in reserve. There's also a sidequest that has a big setup and then fizzles out completely, accomplishing nothing, as the author gave up on it. Still, there's so much here as it is. The map is large and packed with stuff. Loads of potions give you all the reason you need to spend time exploring. At one corner of the map, a gauntlet of enemies leads to the herb boots. There is a crazy selection of swords to buy, and plenty of enemies to give you the gold to buy them with. Here, look at a couple of them:


Despite all the magical swords available, my favorite is the simple rapier. The new graphics (a rarity) look great, as does the efficient thrust Dink makes with the sword instead of the usual clumsy swing. This weapon has a quick strike, although not as quick as the herb boots punch.


The sword of protection increases your defense and reduces damage from the scorpions specifically. It's worth grinding to get it. A trail of sparkles follows Dink's feet with this weapon equipped, representing a protective magical aura.

A new magic spell is included. "Mass Fireball" makes an explosion around Dink, damaging nearby enemies and more importantly burning down the snowy trees that the regular fireball can't. You can reach several secrets this way, and it's actually required to reach the final area. It's not required to reach the biggest secret, which is teased in a conversation with an NPC, where it seems like it's just a joke. Can you find the road to Camelot?


Dink makes Smokey cry.

There's some heavy world-building here as Dink comes to a town populated by both fairies and humans. There's plenty of people to meet, and some of them have a ton of dialogue. You can learn all about the history of the settlement and the nature of fairies in this game's world. Apparently the town of Enderville actually occupies an empty point somewhere out in space, and the fairies have magically created it as a place where they can live together with humans. The human mayor mentions an ambition to create a race with the strengths of both humans and fairies, but this doesn't match up with the disgust most characters seem to display toward those few humans who are actually perverted enough to get it on with a fairy. There's a slight ominous note in the fairies' behavior that makes you wonder about the consequences of their long-term goals, but mostly I just found the cheeky little things quite funny. "Ooh, a human!" "Let's have fun with it!" "Make it dance!" I laughed at the first fairies you encounter, who have a grand old time needling Dink for his name and for describing himself as a "smiter of pillbugs."


I can smite other things! Wait, I wasn't finished!

Dink's goal of finding Moa is pushed into the background for pretty much the entire length of this D-Mod. Instead, your major goal for most of it is to free a woman named Marina, whom you find trapped in the Iceland. Apparently some rogue fairies, exiled by the others for their anti-human attitudes, set a trap and intend to eat her. Marina herself is an interesting change of pace as a female character you have to rescue in a D-Mod. She's got an awfully foul mouth and is sarcastic in her dealings with Dink even though she needs his help. You get the sense that she's at least as capable as you are, just caught off-guard by the trap.


This isn't the chick I'm looking for. No wings.

Visually, "Enter the Iceland" has a distinctive appeal. Existing graphics by SimonK and others are combined with new graphics by the author, including several new sets of transitional tiles, to create an icy, magical world. Care is taken with color schemes; a variety of colored walls are well-matched with backgrounds to create attractive screens that grabbed my attention.


The ice caverns look mighty cold all right.


Of course a fairy's house would look like this.


I love this blacksmith interior. Just love it.

Also new for this D-Mod are several original MIDIs composed by the author. They're great tunes (I used one of them extensively in "Malachi the Jerk") and they work well here.

The ending really is abrupt. There's no boss and no real resolution. The last obstacle is actually a riddle. I really would have liked to see Dink meet Moa, but if I were going to end it early, I would actually have done it a little earlier, around the time Dink frees Marina. At least that marked the accomplishment of what ended up being the biggest goal in the D-Mod.

Really, though: play this one if you haven't gotten around to it. It needs more love.

335: Karel ende Elegast Author: Shevek Release Date: January 8, 2012
"It's more like a movie than a game."

Shevek was my other beta tester for "Malachi the Jerk." He was a big help and even sent me a version of the arena script with some of its than-many bugs fixed.

Karel ende Elegast is a medieval Dutch epic poem I had no knowledge of until I looked it up before playing this D-Mod. Karel is King Charlemagne, and Elegast ("Elf Spirit") is his friend who is nonetheless banished due to a stain on his reputation, leading him to become a noble thief. This D-Mod retells the story in brief, replacing Elegast with Dink Smallwood and Charlemagne with King Daniel. Shevek says it's more of a movie than a game, but it felt more like a play to me.


The ordering button (I remember it from the PC Gamer demo!) is back here for a gag about different meanings of the word "ordering" and a statement of the author's enthusiasm for free software. Unfortunately, this bit seems to loop endlessly once you've clicked the button.

So Dink, having been banished, becomes a thief. But since he doesn't want to be evil, he steals only from people who are both rich and judged by him to be evil. In the forest, he meets another thief named Adelbrecht (actually King Daniel in disguise), who kicks his butt until Dink invites him to collaborate on a heist. Adelbrecht suggests stealing from the King, but Dink is too loyal and says they should steal from the King's brother in law Eggeric instead. While robbing Eggeric's place, Dink learns that he plans to assassinate the King. Dink is soon unbanished and has a duel against Eggeric. Before the fight, you may pray to God for a big boost in stats; I wasn't able to win without doing so, which is probably intentional. The story is presented in a simple and lighthearted way. People say "Dude!" a lot.


Elegast-Dink has the ability to speak to animals by putting a flower behind his teeth.

There's no music in this D-Mod, and even some of the sound effects are missing, like the sound for clicking buttons on the title screen and the sound of Dink swinging his axe through the air. Some music would have helped me get into the story. The maps are a bit on the simple side, but look fine. The D-Mod was made as a test of Shevek's in-development D-Mod editor PyDink, which does have the potential to blow DinkEdit and WinDinkEdit out of the water from what I've seen of it.

You can stop in the middle of the story and resume from an automatic save using the continue button on the title screen. If you try to continue after finishing the D-Mod, the characters remind you that the story is over. There's also a bit of dialogue for trying to continue without having started first, but you won't see it without deleting the save file the D-Mod was accidentally released with.

"Karel ende Elegast" is a bit on the buggy side. I'm pretty sure the "Ordering" gag on the title screen isn't supposed to loop endlessly. Dink clips into walls a bit here and there. The story is supposed to advance just as you run out of health in the first fight, but it's possible to die instead. If you try to resume after dying using the "Retry" option, you'll be frozen and have to quit. There was also a truly bizarre bug the likes of which I've never seen before where the escape menu gets drawn to the background on a certain screen.


STILL finding new bugs that have never appeared in another D-Mod! It really is impressive. One wonders how many new bugs are still out there waiting to be discovered.

There is a bit of charm to it, though. Dink has comments to make on all of the objects in Eggeric's house. There's an amusing bit where Daniel says "SMALLWOOD HAS RETURNED!" every single time Dink enters the room, even if he just left. I'm surprised he didn't give away his disguise by saying it while he was supposed to be Adelbrecht.
January 17th 2015, 01:59 AM
girl.gif
yeoldetoast
Peasant Female Australia steam
discord.gg/Ukugfbh 
I haven't seen Shevek around here for a little while now. He played through and analysed Unteralterbach at some point which I suspect must have scarred him for life.
January 17th 2015, 08:02 PM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
336: Quest for Dorinthia: Special Edition Author: Bill Szczytko Release Date: June 17, 2012
"Life is full of joy and breasts."

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

Again, there's just one review - Leprochaun again - giving it that score.

Bill released "Quest for Dorinthia" and its sequel back in 2000, at which point D-Mods were still finding their footing. The quality of D-Mods has come a long way since those days. There were some highlights in 1998 and 99 - POTA, Crosslink, Quest for Cheese, Dink's Doppleganger - but for the most part, solid Dink adventures were hard to come by. "Dorinthia 2" was a top-three D-Mod when it came out. Heck, even the first one might've been, depending on your feelings about certain early D-Mods.

When I played the original, though, I had some complaints. I was annoyed by the aimless wandering and noted a variety of bugs including a couple of showstoppers. I also complained about the map (too monotonous, tiling errors), things that instantly kill you, and the way secrets and cheating protection are handled. Considering how frustrated I was while playing, I was mildly surprised how nice I was to it overall, but that's fine. It came out in early 2000, at which point hardly anybody had done something like this.

Bill set out to fix some of the worst bugs in "Quest for Dorinthia" and soon found himself doing more than that, to where he felt a new release instead of an update was in order. "Quest for Dorinthia: Special Edition" was released 12 years, 3 months and 28 days after "Quest for Dorinthia 2," the longest gap between releases for an author at the time by a mile. The description says that "Special Edition" fixes bugs, adds new quests, towns and a secret area and removes much of the "endless wandering."

Even after reading that description, I wasn't expecting "Quest for Dorinthia: Special Edition" to be as big of an overhaul as it is. You can certainly recognize locations, events and lines of dialogue from the original, but a big portion of the content here is new, and what's left from the original is often edited heavily and in some cases, replaced entirely. I went back and started up the old "Dorinthia" for comparison, and the start of the game is totally unrecognizable. The new intro is much longer, and the first section, where you help some talking trees, seems to have been re-mapped from scratch.

QFD: SE is a longer and better D-Mod than the original. The old "Dorinthia" took me barely over two hours. "Special Edition" took me three and a half, which may still be a bit on the light side for an "epic," but I am so done with that topic. The difference is even more than those times make it sound, because I spent a lot of time wandering around lost in the original, whereas "Special Edition" keeps you moving with a purpose that is usually clear and provides multiple means of traveling quickly. There is a lot more stuff in the new one.


Here's the map for the original "Quest for Dorinthia..."


...And here's the Special Edition. See the difference?

Pretty much all of my complaints about the original have been addressed. The map looks much more interesting and varied now, and all of the quests and sidequests now make the game feel like one that should have a huge map instead of a game that would be better if it were much smaller. Dialogue I found bad or objectionable has been edited or removed. The story about evil wizards kidnapping a king and his daughter is still basically the same, but it's now more involved. You see more of the consequences of what's going on.


No longer is this game full of grassy screens that look plain and totally identical to one another.


I've never seen the different tilesets combined in quite this sort of way.

Still, "Special Edition" could have used more work to fix bugs and problems. There were a couple of spots where I got stuck in hardness. There were a bunch of hardness errors, including several places where I was able to walk on water. Quite a few objects have incorrect depth dot settings, and there are a few places where Dink can walk right through objects like beds or rocks. There was an NPC and a sign that didn't say anything. The inventory filling up is a big problem. It should be possible to sell items, and certain items (the mushrooms, for example) ought to stack in one inventory slot instead of taking up a slot for each one you have. Some of the tiling problems from the original map are still present.


Dink is perplexed by his emergent Jesus-like abilities. You know, every time this sort of issue comes up, I get "Omaha" by Counting Crows stuck in my head, but I already quoted it in a caption ages ago.

There are new secrets as well as new main quests. I think I found nearly all of them, although there's a quest where you're supposed to find two special books and I found them both, but never managed to use them for anything. One secret you find in the same location as a secret from the original game (which I hated - thankfully, Bill realized it didn't make any sense and took it out). You can find "Bill Szczytko's House." Inside are some reflections on coming back to D-Mod development after 12 years and a warp to a short section that was developed for the original game but left out. It's one of the neater secrets I've seen in a D-Mod because of the story behind it.


I wonder if this segment had the new walls back in 2000. That would have been pretty impressive at the time.

The old secret where you found the fireball (which, as Bill himself points out, didn't make sense because you were being helped by one of the main villains) has been replaced by a new, less hidden quest. You visit an island populated by fairies (they're called "fireflies" here), who tell you that their magic scrolls have been stolen. You have to visit a hidden school of magic and grill the students to find out who stole them, using their smaller admissions against one another. It turns out these kids have got a lot of drama going on!

By the way, early on you're given an option to fight some knights or run away. You're supposed to run away, triggering a cutscene, but I fought them. They have 2000 HP and will kill you in one hit, but after they attacked each other for a while, I was able to spend a long time punching the remaining knight and win anyway. Nothing happens! How disappointing is that? At least I got to put my "Bill & Kill" impossible battle training to work.

A new feature that I really appreciated was a flute that instantly takes you to a bunch of major locations once you've visited them. Sometimes, it'll malfunction (this is intentional, not a bug) and take you to a different spot instead, but I actually found this helpful in exploring the map.

Some of the creepiness I noted in the old version has been toned down, but don't worry. Fans of raunch will still find plenty of it here.


no no no no no no no no no


I'm not going to answer that question.


Get thee behind me, jailbait.

Despite some lingering issues, "Quest for Dorinthia: Special Edition" is in a different class than the D-Mod it's based on. Definitely play it instead of the old one.


You know, I'm not sure what brought me back either. I'll say it again - Dink has a way of pulling people back in.
January 19th 2015, 07:56 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
337: Historical Hero II: Armageddon Author: Skull Release Date: July 16, 2012
"Let me tell you, the boogeyman checks his closet for cheese."
"Err?"
"AND CHEESE CHECKS IT'S CLOSET FOR DINK SMALLWOOD!"


REPUTATION NOTE: This D-Mod is one of the select group with a score of 9.0 or better (9.1) on The Dink Network.

"Armageddon" is the thirteenth and (as of this writing) final D-Mod by Skull. It marks the end of a remarkable five-year journey from prolific Award of Badness collector to creator of one of the BIG epics, the kind that gets you into their world and makes you start thinking of what you're playing as a proper game in itself (my 100% time was 8 hours, 11 minutes). No other D-Mod author had an arc to their output as dramatic as the one connecting "Adventures with Jani" to "Historical Hero II." I guess my own "Dink Forever" to "Malachi the Jerk" is the closest, but I wouldn't put "Malachi," a curiously confined adventure, on a level with this.

I did spend a similar amount of time working on it, though, so when I read Skull's emotional outpouring of "thoughts" on the release in the readme file, I felt it in my gut. So much goes into a project like this. You can't quite know how much unless you've done it. People see so much less of you that you don't have any choice but to tell everybody about this weird esoteric thing you're working on. "Well, there's this PC game from 1997..." And you put a lot more than your time into it; you put your heart in its hands. It becomes the sum total of your creative (and to some degree your emotional) output. It dictates your moods. I don't mean to project my experiences onto somebody else here, just to say that when Skull says the release was a "dramatic" moment for him, I understand.

You know, at certain points I felt like this D-Mod was speaking to me. I know it's just a coincidence, but look:


My wife's dad calls me "Timotheus."


That jerk! Whatever he told you to make you worship him, you got suckered, buddy!

"Historical Hero II" is a different type of game than the D-Mod it's a sequel to. Rather than having the structure of a broad but generally straight track, it's more like a hub with spokes. There's a big town at the center of the map, and you cross back and forth over it to get to the various locations you visit in the course of the story. One structure isn't necessarily better than the other, but the hub structure helps the player become familiar with the world as the game progresses. The setting feels less like a course and more like a constant thing that becomes part of the background - although naturally it is still a course.


The map of "Armageddon." There's quite a bit that you don't see here, of course.

HH2 is better than the original in nearly every way. Skull has called "Historical Hero" a "field test," and as strange as it may seem to view an epic that way, after playing this I have to say it's not much of a stretch. "Armageddon" takes some of the ideas from its predecessor and expands on them while doing a lot more to build and maintain a coherent story, world, and sense of action for the player.

This isn't a D-Mod where you jump right into the story at the start. There isn't an intro that sets up the whole premise. Instead, Dink is summoned to New Derlicon (adjacent to Old Derlicon, the setting of the first installment) to investigate a simple robbery. He even starts to go home after looking into it. Still, unlike the first game, you're given a purpose right away AND it ends up tying into the larger story.


The map isn't super-lavish with the decoration, but I think it looks quite nice for the most part. It feels very much like a world for a Dink adventure. The part I didn't like was the main hub town - it's too much of a big sea of pavement. You'd be totally lost in it without the map.

I did have some problems early on with not knowing what to do and turned to the walkthrough pretty quickly. I felt like I wasn't given enough instruction. I'm not saying I need everything handed to me, but as a designer you have to account for what the player isn't going to know. In the first segment you're told to talk to "the only different animal" in the first town. I figured out that this was a pig on a high cliff, but how was I to talk to the pig? There was nothing to interact with but the cliff, which isn't usually an object at all. Nevertheless, I tried talking to the wall - nothing. It turns out you've got to hit it. No D-Mod ever required me to do something like that before. It made me disregard my correct assumption that the pig was who I needed to talk to, and I wasted a lot of time on fruitless searching.


Gotta love that pig though.

There was also the same problem from the first "Historical Hero" where NPCs would leave the question of what to do next wide open, and you'd have to go talk to absolutely everybody in order to get to the next step. It would end up being somebody you'd already spoken to, who had nothing useful to say before, and it was hard to think of any logical reason that would have led you to speak to them again. I prepared to apply these complaints to the whole D-Mod... but these problems disappeared about an hour in, and the thread of the game became much easier to follow and seemed to have a greater logic to it. I could have handled the rest of the D-Mod (except for some of the secrets) fine without a walkthrough; I only continued to refer to it occasionally for convenience's sake because I have spent SO much time playing D-Mods now and am trying to wrap up this behemoth of a project. Anyway, "Armageddon" finds a good balance in terms of leading the player as it goes on, so this isn't a big complaint.


This new bark-themed status bar and inventory screen is unique but simple and pleasant to look at.

The version I played, which was released quite recently, contained few bugs. There were a couple of hardness errors that let you walk into cliff walls. The rest was mostly visual - some walls you can clip through, a choice menu where the top choice overlaps the title. I ran into a freeze bug, but it was obscure, caused by hammering the talk button really fast on a "familiar corpse" and triggering it again while it was already on its way out.

Like most RPGs, the story here is all about the villains. They act and the hero reacts. This D-Mod seems to understand this well and works to emphasize the villains' role in the story; there are a lot of them, and we get frequent updates on what they're up to. The villains include:

*The Disturbed Rats, the gang of baddies from the first "Historical Hero." BatHat, the leader of said group, has been resurrected and wants revenge on Dink. The female member, Luna, is in love with the group's REAL new leader...

*...Atraquis, the main bad guy. He's a copy of Dink dipped in black ink; he says that he and Dink are "Dimensional Twins," whatever that means. Every other villain on this list is a means to an end for this guy. He means to remake the world and turn it into what he calls the "World of Armageddon." "Armageddon" is apparently the name of his dead dad. That's sentimental of him.


Okay, THAT makes sense, but how come they can't see YOU standing behind that two-foot-tall rock?

*The Four Great Wizards. BatHat, whose real name is Qyernier, is one of them. They seek to use a Great crystal to summon a powerful being named...

*...AvoMal, a typical powerful demon type end boss. Smartly, the real end boss is a character who matters a little more.


Not the end guy.

*A group of renegade "blue knights," led by King Daniel's son Daniel the second. I had nearly forgotten that ol' King Dan was evil in "Historical Hero" and that Dink had to kill him. That just feels so wrong to me. These guys kidnap Libby SmileStein, who had come to visit Dink, so they go RIGHT on his s*** list. They also plan to assassinate the local king.


The Ancients understand Dink's noble quest to save Libby.

*The goblins. They aren't exactly villains, but they certainly become an antagonistic force. Skull makes some effort to give them a background, sketching out a goblin religion that explains the origins of both goblins and humans in a way that makes it clear the humans aren't to be trusted. To be fair to the gobbies, the humans' actions do little but back this up. Some of this stuff comes from "Rise of the Goblins," but it's articulated better here.

There are some interesting bosses here. Few of them are just "guy with a bunch of health." Hell, have a bunch of screenshots of them. Who says I can't? You? Toooo bad!


I believe these spiders are a brand new enemy. The big one spits venom at you.


This goddamned dragon! What a pain in the ass this fight was - not hard if you're careful, but it takes forever. He pops out from the sides to spit fire as you fight his spikey buddies, but retracts too quickly to get a hit in. Once in a while he comes all the way out, but he still moves so quickly that it's easy to miss your chance.


You drop rocks on her by blowing up the supports with bombs, a strategy I certainly cannot see backfiring in any way.


This is Hades, an optional boss who turns invisible and summons strong pillbugs. Honestly though, it was his doorman Cerberus that I found to be the hardest boss in the game.

Once again, there's a counter that keeps track of what percentage of the D-Mod's tasks you've accomplished. This is handled far better than it was in "Historical Hero." I don't think anything is permanently missable, which is great. You can now check your percentage any time in the escape menu instead of having to consult a scroll in certain buildings. Quests that are actually part of the main story are now worked into the count, and quests feel like actual quests rather than dry little errands. You can check the quests in the escape menu too, which displays an image for 15 seconds... it does it in an odd way, though. NPC text can show up on top of it. Why not use show_bmp, which would avoid this and also let the player dismiss it with a button press?

Collectibles make up nearly half the percentage. Honorgems, MageFist rocks, books and houses are back. The MageFist rocks were a bit annoying to find. I didn't mind talking to every rock in "Historical Hero," but here you have to punch them, and not with the herb boots. This means that to check a rock, you have to go into the inventory and equip the fist first. Thank goodness for the map with locations in the walkthrough. The houses are one thing I did feel was handled better in the original. Here, there aren't a bunch of houses you can enter and purchase. Instead, there's just one, and from there you can buy several more that you never get to see. You don't even get some kind of indication that you have the particular house you've bought - you're just directly trading gold for percentage points, and that's lame. At least the books give you a little text after you buy them, even if it isn't much.


This is the entire text of a book entitled "How to Behead Ducks."

One new type of collectible is captivating in its extreme strangeness: "familiar corpses." Dink can find the corpses of people he's known in the past who have died - some in "Historical Hero," some in the original game - and say goodbye to them, causing them to fade away. I can't say I ever thought I'd be collecting something like that. How did Dink's mother's dead body get to New Derlicon? My guess is that it isn't really there at all - it's just a shadow cast by a memory. Dink has known a lot of people who have died, violence being a convenient way to spice up a plot and tragedy a good motivating event for a hero. It must be a lonely life. It must be hard for him to get close to anybody.

If you find all of the secrets, you end up with one of the most powerful Dinks ever. There's a sword that combines the movement and attack speed of herb boots with the strength and range of a good sword, a crazy line that has almost never been crossed before (I think there might have been another such sword, once? It's hard to remember at this point). And then there's the spell which fires three hellfire shots and - this is key - has the minimum magic cost possible. Oh WOW. It's hard to imagine anything really threatening you with that up your sleeve. But you know, I didn't find this D-Mod terribly hard anyway. The beginning was the hardest part.


This... is art.

All those deluded villains I mentioned earlier soon rue the day they messed with Dink Smallwood, the crazy green-tights wearing superhero. Dink bursts with confidence and is kind of an ass to people, which can be pretty funny. Dink himself is easy to mock, of course. NPCs take all the shots they can fit in at Dink's pig-farming history ("I can never escape my past... *tear rolls down cheek*") and his fashion sense (Dink addresses his red bandana in this D-Mod as "Miss Bandana"), but he doesn't let it get to him, focusing instead on all the ass he constantly kicks. "Armageddon" defines Dink Smallwood as a guy who responds when there's trouble... and revels in it. "You never know what will happen in Dink Smallwood's life," he says, speaking in the third person. All the sucker villains out there can just step right up and have their turn. Dink doesn't mind. There's plenty of badass to go around.


It sure is.

Now there's a high note to go out on. What about the 100% ending? What further heights of victory and awesomeness could Dink possibly attain? I mean, he's not even alone anymore. At the end he's settled down with not only Libby, but also his good friend and mentor Martridge and his dad (remember him from the first HH?). What could make his "happily ever after" any sweeter?



Oh... Well... Um.

Moving on!
January 21st 2015, 04:32 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
--The Smallwood Throwback Contest--

The Dink Network was on a roll with annual contests at this point, so another contest was announced on May 8th, 2012. The idea was to make a D-Mod that was a "throwback" to the style of the original game. Given that D-Mods in general already have a lot in common with the original game, this is an unusual direction to push in. Most contests have focused on trying to push authors in new directions, away from what has come before. By 2012, I guess D-Mod authors had gotten so fancy that the old style was thought to be a change of pace. The theme was Pillbug's idea, incidentally.

It's an unusually nebulous idea for a theme. What, exactly, constitutes a throwback? Let's look at the rules:

1. Your D-Mod can't use any of the following:
a) New graphics (Only those available in the main game)
b) New spells or items
c) New MIDIs/sound

3. The D-Mod must use Dink as the protagonist, but the story does not have to be related to the story of the main game (it doesn't have to be a sequel, prequel, or any other -quel).

4. Try to stick to "traditional" Smallwood as much as possible. This means no elemental damage, new leveling systems, new stats, etc. Want to create some fancy puzzle Dink has to get past? Just try not to be too fancy.
This rule is going to be a judgement call on a lot of things. Basically, if it doesn't feel at all like the main game, it's out.


(Rule 2 wasn't important to this discussion, so I didn't copy it.)

See, even the rules admit it's hard to define. At least point 1 is clear - just don't bother having graphics, sound or tiles folders in your D-Mod directory. I am amused that the little jokey comment about "-quels" actually resulted in a D-Mod by that name. The rules also required four entries - such boundless optimism! That's how many there ended up being, but only after the deadline was extended twice. The original deadline was July 8th, but it became the 22nd and finally, the 29th.

This contest was more of a throwback than anyone could have guessed, attracting entries from THREE authors who hadn't released a D-Mod in over six years! But first, a D-Mod from somebody who entered the last contest.

As always, entries will be covered starting with last place and moving up toward first.

--

338: Dink Smallwood and the 4 Towers Author: Merder Release Date: August 2, 2012
"Dink you can't win so go home!"


Hey, that title screen is a new graphic! That's against the rules! Disqualified!

Just kidding. An exception for title screens was made in the forum thread about the contest.

"Dink and the 4 Towers" is the first D-Mod to incorporate an element of randomness into the map design. The player is faced with many levels full of enemies. Each floor is randomly selected from a set of nine floor "shapes," and enemies are placed based on which level you're currently playing. It's a lot less random than a roguelike or Dan Walma's recent D-Mod (and even less than it sounds, since two of those shapes are only used for the extra fifth dungeon), but it still shakes things up a bit so that you don't always know which direction you need to go in to reach the next floor. Merder deserves credit for making something that's never been done before, something clever that most new D-Mod makers probably wouldn't know how to do. Unfortunately, that sort of ingenuity is against the spirit of the contest. "4 Towers" follows rules 1 and 3, but obviously steps all over rule 4. It's a totally different kind of game than Dink Smallwood.

So forget the contest; how is it as a game in its own right? Unfortunately, it's kind of dull. As much as I like grindy dungeon crawlers, there isn't enough variety here to keep things interesting. Each of the dungeons has at most two types of enemies, and there are no powerups, items, or anything like that to find. Those elements are what really make games with randomized layouts fun; it's the feeling of discovery by chance that makes each game feel different. Here, you just do the same thing over and over, with nothing to break up the monotony.


All of the levels pretty much look like this.

There is a story; it's not bad, although the English is a mess. A naughty wizard disguises himself as Dink and talks his way into King Daniel's treasury to destroy an old statue that apparently seals away some kind of evil. A knight sees him do it, and he claims it was an accident. Now the real Dink has to go get a replacement (I love that that's a thing you can just replace) by going to another town and braving the deep dungeons there.


Fake Dink is unimpressed by magical statues.

The town has shops where you can buy weapons and elixirs between dungeon runs, and it has a save point (which you can walk right through). Other than that, it's basically empty. The screens up top are remarkably empty, and the right side of the map has no border. There's a big castle with four dungeons, but the stairs go down, not up. I'm pretty sure that's not how towers work.


This is an actual screen from the above-ground area.

Dungeons 1 and 2 have no screenlock, so the temptation to just march to the end is pretty strong. Dungeon 3 is fully screenlocked, and the fourth mercifully locks only some of the screens. I say mercifully because the grunts in the fourth dungeon are actually really tough, and you're better off avoiding the ones you can.

The bosses add interest, but they also badly unbalance the difficulty. The first boss, a pillbug that splits into more pillbugs when you hit it, is quite easy, although seeing the screen absolutely fill with pillbugs is kind of fun. The second boss, a woman in her forties who teleports and constantly casts harm magic on you, really kicked my butt on my first try. I barely managed to beat her with the herb boots and an inventory full of elixirs. The third boss is also very easy; he's a knight who is supposed to split into multiple bodies, but actually just wanders around slowly. I lost to him once anyway because I was so bored fighting him that I accidentally let him walk right into me. The fourth boss, on the other hand, is a duck who quickly summons a large number of dragons. I don't know how you're supposed to beat him, it's crazy. If you do, there's a fifth dungeon full of dragons on every screen (you can check it out by loading the included save file). The end boss duck's name is Endbossini, which I must admit is pretty great.


Hey, that's correct, you do have Tim to fight. How did you know?

Grinding isn't made any easier by the fact that once you've started a run, you have to finish it, which can take a LONG time. You can't back out, and you can't save in the middle. If you try going upstairs while running a dungeon you've completed before, you're given the option to give up and return to the surface, but it doesn't work. Selecting "yes" does nothing.

A lot of things don't work, actually, even though this D-Mod received an update in 2013. The shop has a "Sell" option - and believe me, you'd love to get the slot for another elixir - but it, too, does nothing. You can clip behind all the walls in the dungeons, and the corners have hardness gaps where the monsters will frequently get stuck. The third boss fails to lock the screen, so you can walk right off of the boss arena. If you walk to the right, you can skip right to the reward screen. The end boss is invisible during the cutscene where Dink talks to him, so you wonder if Dink has lost his mind when he talks about a duck.

"4 Towers" had a great idea (if not a great idea for the contest), and I did have some fun grinding through enemies for a little while, but it's not executed well. It's too monotonous, lacks elements that would add interest, the difficulty is unbalanced, and it's buggy. It's a big step up from "End of Snoresville," though.

339: Quel Author: Metatarasal Release Date: August 2, 2012
"Warning: You're entering a rather unrealistic world"


Okay, see, this is how you do it. NO new graphics. There isn't even a graphics folder with this one.

Is this what it used to be like? It's hard to remember, now. It must be. Wandering around, punching pillbugs, all the damn houses are locked... Yes. Yes, this is what it was like. I can feel it coming back to me now.

This is the first D-Mod by Metatarasal since 2005's "The Scourger." The title doesn't really mean anything. It's just a reference to Rule 3 (see above).

"Quel" is the story of how an evil cake turned a bunch of people into pigs and a handful of pigs into people. Dink must save them (the people-turned-pigs, not the pigs-turned-people; those, he gives to a bunch of ogres to eat) so that he can go back to his regular life of being an oft-drunken, obnoxious moron.


It's a full-time occupation, actually.

Yes, this one is a bit odd. The midboss is a bunch of grapes that summons little girls to fight you (actually, Dink seems to fight little girls quite often). Dink's tasks include urinating on a monument to himself and killing some ducks. Well, okay, some of it is normal enough for Dink.

I thought "Quel" was pretty funny. I liked Dink's interaction with the wizard he meets in this new little land. Dink doesn't know how to do things he needs to do, and the wizard tells him to just go ahead and do things that ought to be impossible. Somehow, the wizard's words make it so, and Dink acts all impressed as if he's just been taught a magic spell. The game informs you that you've acquired a new skill when the wizard tells you that the secret to opening locked doors is to hit them, but like, hard, or when he tells you that to put things in your backpack that clearly can't fit there, all you need to do is defy reality.


Of course! It's so simple now!


Actually, this was my favorite joke in the whole D-Mod. Sometimes it's the little things.

It's too hard to figure out what you need to do next in this one. You're frequently left to wander around, trying to guess at what you could possibly be required to do next. I got particularly stuck after killing the grapes boss. I talked to every character I'd met more than once and wandered around getting more and more frustrated. Finally, I stubbornly trudged around the whole map and found that a really inconspicuous dead end was now a path. That's not even a puzzle, it's just failing to give the player any notice of the game moving along. There are several walls like that you'll likely run into while playing this, but that one was the worst for me. I still managed to make it through, but I'd have had a better time if the game hadn't responded with a shrug nearly every time I completed a task.


Indeed. That is clearly a pie.

I only came across a single bug, but it did make me reload a save. When you beat the grapes, if you press the talk button at the wrong time the bit of hardness that prevents you from finishing them off never goes away. Other than that, it was really sharp, particularly for something done on a deadline. Not a depth dot error in sight, and I thought the map looked really nice in a "Traditional Dink Smallwood" kind of way. Some features were quite clever - I liked the bomb tree. It must be dangerous around harvest time.


Here are my stats! I sure do like collecting bombs!

340: Dink Gets Bored Author: Paul Pliska Release Date: August 2, 2012
"Oh man, I'm bored."

And here's Paul's first D-Mod since 2004's "Triangle Mover." You know, I mentioned the throwback connection, but maybe there was something about this theme that drew in the old-timers.

The title may also be "Dink Gets Board." It's hard to say. Let's check the title screen.


Oh wow! Okay, this one wins. This is how you follow instructions. Wow.

The intro, which establishes how it is that Dink ended up getting bored, is hilarious. A wizard character representing the author tries all the usual D-Mod setups, but Dink is having none of it.


Oh, this one is going with the old standby... no? Huh.


Not quite as overused as the King intro, but close.


Actually, "Dink as a pig farmer again" hasn't been used too many times, but he has a point.

Dink objects to everything, so the author-wizard gives up and leaves him in his (apparently repaired) home in Stonebrook with absolutely nothing going on. Dink immediately realizes how bored he is. The first thing you do is go around bugging the residents of Dink's hometown for a quest - not an epic one, he's sick of those, just something easy. The mod gets in one more shot at the common conventions when Dink refuses to go see Martridge - "he'd send me off to save the world or something." Anyway, Libby comes up with something for Dink to do: she asks him to get some herb boots. But this seemingly simple task turns complicated when it turns out the boots seller has diversified into herb books, which make you read faster but with the unfortunate side effect of teleporting you to a random location when you read them. Not only that, but in the process of the teleportation, Dink's gold, items and stats explode out of him and end up all over the place. Yes, his stats literally explode.


See?

The new area Dink ends up in - the land of Kalest - is surprisingly large. It contains a beachside town and plenty of enemies to fight (although you're too weak at the start for it to be advisable), including slimes that create smaller slimes that quickly grow to full size when you kill them. But you don't have to fight anything or even talk to any of the people in the town on the beach in order to win. All you've got to do is gather up 5000 of Dink's lost gold (not hard to do, there are piles of it everywhere), which you'll need to have before they'll let you into Kalest Heights, a clifftop community for rich people. After you talk to a few people there, the D-Mod comes to an abrupt end on account of Paul running out of time. Dink never finds the herb boots or even a way back home, and the loose ends that have been set up if you did go around talking to everybody never get tied. There's even a scripted character that I'm not sure is accessible, although I may just not have been thorough enough.


Kalest Heights is full of stuck-up snobs, but it does have a lovely little flower-lined path.

There is quite a bit to do and see if you look, though, and I got the feeling this was intended to be a much bigger D-Mod - maybe too big to have finished in the contest period. Some characters in town have a lot to say, and you find out that ships are being prevented from leaving the area in an effort to stop the local pirates, one of whom you can meet. You also learn about an all-female warrior community, and you can catch a couple of glimpses of them. There are several weapons to buy, and the most amusing way I've seen to get back your spells, a "memory tonic" that makes you remember them (bow lore too). There are a few little tasks you can complete. They're mostly simple, like helping a guy find his "lost" girlfriend when it's really just a meeting place mixup (she's willing to have sex with him right in front of Dink - he, not so much. "You owe me an orgasm," she quips). There is a venomous slayer (remember the poison effect from Paul's "Crosslink?") you can fight for some crazy farmer, but you don't get much of a reward.

But what do the locals do for fun? Well, for some gold, you can see a striptease... but the author-wizard shows up to cruelly remind us of the new graphics ban. No matter - the show must go on.


This reminds me of the time I was ten years old and the whole family went to Hooters because we were traveling on Christmas and it was the only thing open. True story.

There are some characters here that seem quite interesting in their limited screen time, and enough world-building that I was losing track of it while playing. I get sad when I think what could have been, but this is still very much worth a download. Heck, the intro alone is worth the download. You should also see the ending, which cops out in a fun way as Dink is allowed to rewrite reality for his trouble.

341: Lost Forest Romp Author: Scratcher Release Date: August 2, 2012
"One tree, two trees... Treeline, singline, sea lion!"

Scratcher won the contest with his first D-Mod since "Fairy Named Bincabbi" way back in 2002. How appropriate that the top spot went to the person who was making the biggest throwback just by releasing a D-Mod.

You know, these D-Mods haven't been all that different from the usual. D-Mods in general use new graphics pretty sparingly, after all. The biggest effect of the contest rules is that I've been getting the chance to hear all of those old MIDIs from the original game again. Most D-Mods rarely use them.


Actually, one of the most interesting things about this theme has been the creative title screens created to follow rule 1, exception be damned.

I have to be honest with you guys, this one totally lost me. I would never, ever have gotten to the end of it if it weren't for a forum post that gives specific instructions on how to get past a certain part (edit: Or I could have used the walkthrough, oops). It says you're supposed to puzzle out some kind of riddle or poem, but if the quote in the header isn't it then I never found it, and if it IS it, I could have worked on this thing for a year without ever extracting the solution from that mess. Nobody else complained about this, so I dunno if I missed something or if I'm just dumb. Probably both.


Not half as lost as me, buddy.

Like "Dink Gets Bored," this one also starts you out with great stats and inventory only to take them away. Wandering lost through a seemingly endless, hallway-like forest, Dink comes upon a hamlet full of women who are a little bit TOO excited to see him. I mean, I guess it's understandable. It must get lonely as Hell out in that forest all by themselves, after all. Your hand and various implements can only do so much. On the other hand, the way they stare at Dink borders on creepy... Hmm, that comment about wanting to eat him could be interpreted multiple ways, but is a bit concerning nonetheless... uh oh.


NO! RUN DINK! DON'T LET THEM COSBY YOU!

In fact, they turn out to be nasty creatures of some sort who suck most of the life out of Dink and leave him for dead in some cave. He's not dead, but he's back to being a weakling once again. Dink takes it in stride. "Hey, it's no big deal!" he says at one point. "I get stripped down to my tights once every few weeks." "Well, not quite so often lately..." he continues, a clever little reference to the scarcity of D-Mod releases by 2012.

The mapping in this D-Mod is really outstanding. Several of the screens feel like carefully laid out stage sets. Thought has been put into object placement rather than just placing things so that the screen doesn't look empty (and even that is more than a lot of authors, yours truly sadly included, manage sometimes). Scratcher does some unexpected things with the graphics from the original game. You can achieve a lot by clipping the sides off of a sprite.


This scene tells a detailed story of how this crazy goblin character lives. Take it in.


Check out this sweet tower made from the castle sprites. Two frames from the castle sequence are clipped and joined together, and it looks totally seamless.

One thing I managed to figure out was that Dink must befriend a duck in this D-Mod by feeding it some grain. It waddles around after you, trusting you completely, you nice-human-who-feeds-it-grain. How adorable! Too bad you're ultimately bringing it along so that a dragon will eat it and let you pass. Hey, better the duck than you.


Wait, does this mean "Revenge of the Ducks 3" is or isn't canon? I'm kidding of course, there's no such thing as canon here.

Points to Scratcher, by the way, for having the dragon fly away by getting larger, as he would appear to do when going upwards from the Dink perspective. Not a lot of authors pick up on this. The top of the screen is north, not up. Oh, that crazy three-quarters isometric perspective. At least Dink isn't a platformer. Isometric platforming always sucks.

I'd also like to take a point out that Dink finally gets his chance here to get his ultimate revenge on that tree you can't burn from the original game. You know, the one who talks in puns. It is glorious. It must be seen. Screenshots don't do it justice.

The end boss is the same ladies as before, except now they're in their true forms as "dire hags," or Ethel-style old ladies. You know, long ago I mastered the ability to unsee the very long beard in the sprite so often used as an old woman, so when one of them draws attention to it here ("By my beard!"), it unsettled me in a deep place that I had buried carefully. Anyway, one of them turns into a big bonca and the other two very quickly cast a series of spells to make that one stronger and stronger, which gets out of hand in a hurry. After several attempts, I managed to win by using bombs I had saved from the early game, and I was quite proud of myself. Unfortunately, there's a second phase. It immediately struck me as impossible, and I confirmed just now by checking the scripts that it's intended to be. However, I knew I'd be unable to find whatever it is I was supposed to have found if I went back, so I cheated my way through. Sorry. I am aware that I suck harder than most black holes.


Enchantment: Make Meaner. Material components: Computer with web browser and Internet connection. This spell siphons meanness from web forums, Youtube and Yahoo! comments, etc. Cast as many times as you please; the supply is inexhaustible, like siphoning ocean water with a drinking straw.

I would like to draw your attention for a moment to the scripts of "Lost Forest Romp." Here's a little sample:

void spin
int &odo = &arg1
if (&odo == 0)
&odo = 500

int &temp3 = sp_dir(¤t_sprite,-1)
int &temp4 = &temp3
if (&temp3 == 1)
goto yy


No parentheses. No brackets. No semicolons. I learned from Scratcher that semicolons are a waste of time and that "void word" is all you need, but dropping brackets seems to cause problems when I do it, so I keep them around. Later, I learned thanks to an email from a user who probably doesn't have an account here that Dink Smallwood HD ignores goto statements that lack a semicolon. This is the only time it has a problem with there not being semicolons. Scratcher notes that this D-Mod doesn't work in Dink HD; this is (at least one reason) why.
January 21st 2015, 02:18 PM
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It's okay, I could not figure out Lost Forest Romp either. I'm awful at those kinds of puzzles.
January 21st 2015, 02:22 PM
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I just checked my stats on Quel again out of interest, I was a malicious nut collector wandering around the endless plain. 46 screens trying to figure out that place... yeah I felt pretty stupid afterwards.

Regards scripting, I always use semicolons, brackets etc even though they're not really needed. There are one or two places where it can break things (especially in Dink HD) and it doesn't hurt, so why not? Plus it just feels wrong to leave them out...
January 21st 2015, 03:27 PM
spike.gif
scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
Oh, you did the throwback contest in one go! Awesome.

You did miss a few things in Lost Forest Romp. There's definitely a (slightly) better hint to getting through the forest. Not sure if you missed anything in the end, though. You just need to find the eleven million ducks in the cellar, and then you can get the dragon on your side, rather than having to fight all of them.

Anyway, I'm glad the fight was challenging - I wanted it to be, but not in an unfair way, like giving the enemies outrageous hitpoints or defence. It should be more a matter of tactics, like lining up multiple enemies to hit at once, and which of them you focus on first. Still having the bomb or the elixir from earlier were intentional crutches, too, although it would have been nicer to give the player new ones near the end... Oh well, suck it!

No parentheses. No brackets. No semicolons. I learned from Scratcher that semicolons are a waste of time and that "void word" is all you need, but dropping brackets seems to cause problems when I do it, so I keep them around

Something stupid about scripts is also that the last line never runs. So, for example, you could have a script like this:
void main
say("Hello, world. I'm a dork.",1)
[pretend this is just an empty line; the forum didn't want to display it when it was really just an empty line]

And it would work. (Notice the extra space) But this script wouldn't:
void main
say("Hello, world. I'm a dork.",1)


Nowadays, I usually just put a closing bracket at the very end, like so:
void main
say("Hello, world. I'm a dork.",1)

void talk
say("`%Don't talk to me, dork.",¤t_sprite)

void hit
say("You're the dork, you meany!",1)
}
January 21st 2015, 07:33 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Yeah, I never found a cellar full of "eleven million" ducks.

Does anybody know why this forum messes up scripts by turning "&current_sprite" into a weird symbol?

Edit: Never mind, I looked it up. "&curren" is the currency symbol (¤) in unicode. It automatically changes "&curren" to "¤." Practically all of the code posted on the forum is affected by this. I had to go back and edit this post several more times to get it to stop doing it long enough for me to even explain this.
January 21st 2015, 08:27 PM
girl.gif
yEoldetoast
Peasant Female Australia steam
discord.gg/Ukugfbh 
I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the currency symbol replacement before seeing as browsers have been doing it for years. I imagine it's parsed as html. Let's see:

¢
£
¥
January 21st 2015, 08:51 PM
spike.gif
scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
It's been mentioned a number of times, at least since the early 2000s, if not before. It's even been 'fixed' at least once, but that turned out to be less than perfect - the problem doesn't occur when you submit a post, but if you modify a post, it will substitute &curren with that symbol in the text field.
January 22nd 2015, 10:42 PM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
===2013===

There will come a year with no D-Mods. We already know that 2015 is not that year, but realistically, it will probably be soon. Nothing lasts forever. Maybe that year will mark the end of D-Mods altogether, or maybe it will be a lull before they come back yet again before vanishing for good. Either way, it will come.

Yes, there will come a time when Dink will be no more. When ducks will run rampant, their heads steadfastly, blasphemously attached to their bodies in defiance of both reason and tradition. When barmaids will be able to do their jobs unsullied by rude, clumsy come-ons from a guy wearing green tights and a red bandana. When pillbugs will turn the land silver, their plated shells tragically unpunched. When sarcastic, fourth wall breaking remarks will go unsaid. When evil wizards will give up their schemes and go become lawyers, because what's even the point anymore? Such a time will come. But it hasn't come yet, and it might have, if not for one man - I'm not going to say a hero, because what's a hero? - but one man with an oddly-spelled username who stood up and said, "No. Not yet."

The Smallwood Throwback Contest was a success, but afterward, D-Modding stopped cold. 233 days passed between the contest's release day and Leprochaun's release of "Moon Child," breaking the record set in 2009 by more than a month. It may have seemed for a time that the throwback contest lowered the closing curtain on Dink, and I admit it would have been an interesting final act, ending by going back to the beginning.

One file released during this period that I'd like to call attention to is the Dink Script Improvement Pack by Thenewguy. This fixes some annoying problems that scripts from the original game have always had, especially the missiles. Anybody who's played a lot of Dink has probably noticed the problems with fireballs and other missiles: they'll hit things they should be ignoring, like text (for example, the damage numbers) or death or explosion animations. It's so annoying when this happens. This pack improves arrow placement and also allows you to shoot hellfire diagonally. I recommend it.

I wrote a "D-Mod Drought Diaries" after skimming through some forum posts of the time for material, but what I wrote just wasn't that interesting (my favorite part was the title "Moon Pregnancy," which - ugh - tells you a lot about the quality of the piece), so I erased it. I mean, it's the same thing every time - the community wasn't very active, and there was a little bit of fretting about it, but not very much. I also listed the new files you could see yourself in the news archive, and had nothing of interest to say about them. I'm thinking that entire recurring segment wasn't such a hot idea. Let's just get down to business, shall we?

342: Moon Child Author: Leprochaun Release Date: March 23, 2013
"Moon Pigs, Cuddle, Rare, Artists, Playing, love, people, oink."

Leprochaun actually made a dev thread for "Moon Child" way back in February 2012. He hadn't posted about it in several months by the time it actually came out, however, so it must have been quite a surprise. Generally you assume the projects in those old threads are dead, right?


Oh, the moon.


My screenshot to text ratio is gonna suck here, but I mean, look at this intro screen! Wow!

"Moon Child" sure is a strange one. I've tossed the "weirdest D-Mod" designation around a few times. I dunno which one is actually the weirdest, but this has got to be up there. It's like a bunch of strange little ideas were put into a blender and then somebody took the lid off while it was still on. There isn't a lot of structure to it. With a few exceptions, the various things you can do or encounter in "Moon Child" bear little relation to one another. Just about any object could turn out to be something that talks, or Dink will at least have something to say about it (there are a surprising number of "push" comments in this one, too). Hidden passages are everywhere, but they mostly lead to an odd scene and/or character that doesn't seem to accomplish anything. Dink goes around crawling into all the holes he sees because he's got "nothing better to do."


I guess it is, compared to my other features.

As I've discussed before, Dink has been portrayed in many different ways. Generally speaking, though, although he can be rude, thoughtless and even selfish, I think he generally intends to do the right thing and feels an obligation to help others who really need it. Not in THIS D-Mod, boyo. This Dink is callous, spiteful and cruel, but above all apathetic. He does not care. In fact, this may be the only context in which I've ever felt confident in using a certain clichéd bit of hyperbole literally: I honestly believe that he couldn't care less about anything and everything. "Not my problem" is his mantra. He cares not for helping people unless a half-considered whim strikes him, and on another whim he'll actively spread suffering and death regardless of innocence or guilt. Dink encounters all sorts of bizarre and fantastic things in this quest, but without a single exception, everything he sees bores him thoroughly. Quite a bit of it also seems to make him vaguely annoyed. I honestly think this Dink would welcome death, or at least not care about it, but the thought of suicide bores him too much to even seriously consider it.


Life is so boring.

So Dink goes to the moon to help out the Moon Child, a person (?) who looks like a little girl but only due to eternal (or at least greatly extended) youth. She wants Dink to kill a giant moon pig. She wants this because she's evil, which she attempts to disguise from Dink, but she's wasting her time doing that. It couldn't possibly matter any less to him whether she's evil or not. You say kill a pig, he figures he might as well. Nothing better to do. Whatever.

The moon is a very blue place. Many sprites have been tinted blue, a nice touch which gives this D-Mod a distinct look and an otherworldly feel. There's a lot going on visually on many screens. Leprochaun is the kind of mapper who runs up against the 99-sprite-per-screen limit a lot. I know because I've worked with him that he really enjoys mapping and designing scenes that not only look interesting, but also have things going on in them, places where things have happened rather than a lifeless landscape.


Being on the moon doesn't impress Dink, but then, nothing does. Actually, I think this line right here might be the most interested he ever gets in this D-Mod.


This screen doesn't do anything at all. It's just here because he wanted to fill another screen with stuff.


Lep is another author who uses some sprites in ways they weren't originally intended. Not all of his visual experiments quite work, but most do.


Daaaang. It's a shame this screen is too late to single-handedly win the Carnage Contest. 8 DDCs out of 5.

The people on the moon are various degrees of off their rockers. I mean, none of them are really on their rockers, but some of them couldn't even tell you where their rockers are. Some of their rockers might not even be in the same universe as them. I'm saying that mental problems seem to be both severe and common on the moon. A handful of the many bizarre utterances the people throw at Dink are references to an Internet thing called "asdfmovie," which I went and watched some of. It's a series of extremely short, odd gags. I wouldn't quite say that "Moon Child" is quite the D-Mod equivalent of asdfmovie, but they've definitely got things in common. The two of them would be drinking buddies. They'd go bowling.


OKAY. I NEVER FOUND A WAY TO STEAL YOUR GOLD HEART, THOUGH.

There are a lot of added graphics in this D-Mod by various authors. Making its first appearance in this D-Mod is the Avoca, a monster made by Iplaydink that looks like an avocado.


Just think of all the guacamole you could make! It might go well with... er... human flesh? Ew.

There's no combat required to beat the main game, which you can do in 15 minutes if you know what you're doing. It took me an hour and ten minutes just to beat the game. A walkthrough is by no means required. I did look it up once, on the very last puzzle, but I shouldn't have, as it turned out the solution was really simple and I'd have figured it out if I weren't so lazy. I did get stuck once, but it wasn't because I didn't know what to do, it was because I didn't recognize that a dead spikey was supposed to be a "button."


Um... well, that is one opinion.

You will need the guide, though, if you want to get all the secrets. After the ending, you go to a room full of "trophies" for doing various little optional things in the D-Mod. Some are miniature quests of sorts, but others just require you to see or talk to something. Really it's just a way of encouraging you to see all of the eclectic stuff in this D-Mod, but even if you get all of the trophies, there's still a lot more to see. There's a unique scripted object or event tucked into every... I was going to say corner, but I am frightened when I try to imagine a shape with that many corners. Anyway, you're given a score based on the number of trophies you collect; I only had 4000 out of 15000 on my first run. Examining the trophies gives you a totally arbitrary title that doesn't have anything to do with anything. I'm partial to the names for the "quests and distractions" in the guide, actually. One of them is a reference to my favorite Tom Lehrer song.


My parents will be so proud.

I went back and played the game again to try and get all the points with the walkthrough's help, but I was prevented from doing so by the fact that the game crashed every time I entered the screen where you're supposed to duel a goblin. I did manage to beat the optional boss, Larry the crazy old guy who has a ton of HP and constantly casts annoying spells at you. I managed to beat him with the help of an item that restores your HP as much as you want (it's a bag of vegetables. Dink says "Yuck," and I agree, but they ARE good for you), but I never got to see the trophy because the game also crashed when I tried to re-enter the screen where you fight Larry after winning. Sad face. I also found a hardness error in the southeast part of the map. I've noticed that otherwise polished D-Mods often have hardness errors that occur when you switch screens while walking along an edge; these kinds of errors are pretty much impossible to spot in the map editor. I'm looking at the place where I know it is in the editor right now and I can only see it if I move a sprite out of the way. You have to be careful around corners of screens.


Dink fights the fearsome Larry the Wizard Guy.

Its disjointed nature confused me at first, but I learned to relax and take "Moon Child" on its own terms. It's just a bunch of things that happen, many of which are dryly humorous and most of which are creative. I do recommend checking this one out. I don't think there's any other D-Mod quite like it.

--

There we are. I've covered all 342 D-Mods that existed back when I said I'd play all the D-Mods back in August 2013, about seventeen months ago. And they said it couldn't be done. Or something to that effect. I think Leprochaun implied that I'd get sick of it. I've managed.

I'm not quite done yet, of course, because 11 D-Mods have come out since I started. I've already played most of 'em, some quite recently. Heck, I made three of them. I sure know how to make more work for myself, huh?

"Moon Child" remained the last D-Mod for a long time, though. 315 days passed between its release and that of "Malachi the Jerk," obliterating the record gap that ended when "Moon Child" came out. This means that it isn't just the only D-Mod that came out in 2013; it's the only D-Mod that came out in a period of about a year and a half. At this point it might have seemed that Dink was finally dying, but it never did. People stuck around, and that meant that the seed for more D-Mods was still there. Do you think I would have started COTPATD or "Malachi" if I came on here and saw that nobody had posted in the forum in a week? I doubt it. Whatever keeps this place together, it's remarkably strong.

Obviously, "Malachi the Jerk" is up next. I could pretty much write a book about it. Should I attempt to restrain myself and treat it more like the other D-Mods I've covered, or are you guys up for an extensive behind the scenes look at MtJ with scans of my original notes and other craziness? Let me know.
January 23rd 2015, 12:00 AM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
Anything and Everything you have to say so far has been a real pleasure to read, Coco. I say go for it; Give us your all-out thoughts on Malachi and feel free to include any BTS content you think worthy of it.
Kind of a shame the LP for that hasn't been fully uploaded yet though on a side note.

Additionally, once the final few currently on your list have been written about, do you think you'll create a ps thread of some sort as a way to cover any other new Dmods that are released after your COTPATD? I'm sure that with the numbers dwindling some of us still working on projects are going to try and speed it up just to get included
January 23rd 2015, 12:33 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Bug Robj about the LP. He seems to respond to getting bugged about stuff.

I'm hesitant to commit to covering D-Mods in the future. It's harder to do these than it might look. I've been spending pretty much all my time on this to put them out at the pace I have since the start of the 2007 topic. Also, I always wanted this to be a project that has a definite ending rather than something that just stretches on forever.
January 23rd 2015, 12:39 AM
wizardg.gif
leprochaun
Peasant Male Japan xbox steam bloop
Responsible for making things not look like ass 
There are more bugs in it? Damn. I know everything worked at one point. Stuff must have gotten messed up when I rewrote it. I think I started making it when I was 15 and only ever worked on it ever other weekend for a long time. It was probably in development for over a year and a half simply because I didn't actually have much time to put into it and I had no idea how to write in DinkC. A part of me wants to go back and rewrite it again, just to add a sense of correlation/connectivity to the game but I would also really like to focus on making something new. When I rewrote it, I also removed a lot and didn't end up replacing it with anything which is why some areas lack interactivity. The reason I decided to rewrite Dink into a highly apathetic character was because this takes place 15-16 years after he becomes a hero and to me it seems that if you're constantly being requested to save people and do "hero things" you'd eventually get worn out. Like you've seen and done everything already, so nothing's really all that special anymore. I wanted to express that when I rewrote it, but I didn't want to make it obvious. I can get into some deep thoughts on my dmod.

I'm partial to the names for the "quests and distractions" in the guide, actually.
I am too. I only wrote that guide a few months ago though, so I had much clever thoughts of how to name things. The in-game title awards are the same as they were in the original release. At the time I was only wanting to give completely arbitrary titles because the game doesn't make a whole lot of sense anyways, so why should those titles? Poisoning Pidgeons in the park is my second favorite Tom Lehrer song. Masochism Tango comes first for me. Speaking of which... I just remembered.. I have to go..do.. something.
January 23rd 2015, 12:49 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Thanks for the insight on "Moon Child." I think it's an interesting piece as it is. It's different where so many mods are the same, and after playing so many I can appreciate that.

Masochism Tango is one of my favorites too. "So darling if you smell something burning, it's my heart."
January 23rd 2015, 11:05 AM
knights.gif
DinkKiller
Peasant Male United States xbox steam
The world could always use more heroes 
Definitely show us as much behind the scenes of Malachi the Jerk as you like, please!

I think 2013 had quite a few D-mod updates as well as the single new one that was released. At least, I revamped DatB and added new things to it to get back into scripting before working on the sequel. I don't remember what else was updated though because 2013 was a long time ago, and somehow I've been around TDN regularly since. Though once this project is over that will probably stop. And that might be true for other Dinkers here, so you should totally continue the project for any and all new D-mods released so we stick around and keep making D-mods!
January 23rd 2015, 08:01 PM
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redink1
King Male United States xbox steam bloop
A mother ducking wizard 
I, too, would love to see any behind-the-scenes type stuff you have for MtJ. No need to treat it like any other D-Mod.
January 24th 2015, 12:53 AM
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magicman
Peasant Netherlands steam duck
Mmmm, pizza. 
I'll +1 the behind-the-scenes and other craziness on Malachi.
January 24th 2015, 10:30 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Well, here we go! It's the final stretch. 342 D-Mods behind and these articles are still impressing the hell out of me. Almost sad to see it come to an end soon. The site could actually see a surprisingly large drop in the forum activity once this is over. You never know.
January 24th 2015, 11:22 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
===2014===

2014 was the first full year in which I was an active community member in a long time. Seven D-Mods were released, at least if you count "Achievement Unlocked Edition" as a D-Mod, which I will if only because it gives me more to write about. 7 releases would have been a new low before 2013, but after a whole year with just one D-Mod it looks pretty good.

--

I haven't covered a D-Mod that I made myself since the 1998 topic, despite the fact that I released D-Mods in 1999 and 2000. I wrote about them all together in order to get it over with. This was a mistake, I now realize. It caused me to be too nice to my later mods. I gave the Dink Forever trilogy and "2001" roughly what they deserved, but taking the others in that early days context instead of their proper context made them look better than they were. I was especially too nice to "End of the World," a bug-ridden, incoherent, tragically unfun mess about which the only positive thing that may be said is that it's somewhat more functional than my 1998 releases. I can't believe I used the word "fun" in that writeup without preceding it with the words "not at all." What I was actually having fun with was the novelty of playing Dink Smallwood again, still pretty fresh at that point. I really do think the core gameplay is pretty good. Good thing, right?

A bigger mistake was excusing myself from writing about "All Out Brawl," the biggest insult I perpetrated upon the community. I justified it to myself by observing, correctly, that there's not much to say about it, but that's no excuse. If even one person wasted their time downloading this shameful crap, it's only fair that I subject myself to it one more time. I nabbed it from the Internet Wayback Machine's archive of Mike Snyder's site. Let's take a very brief look.

NaN: All Out Brawl Author: Tim Maurer Release Date: August 19, 1998

From the readme: "reviewers take note: this was NOT MEANT to be good.
it's just for people who like more FIGHTING an less talking."

Well, at least we can tell from the first sentence that this project turned out as intended. Fighting fans are bound to be disappointed, however.

There are fifteen screens, arranged in a bizarre pattern. This functions as a sort of maze, since none of them have got any borders to tell you where you can and cannot go. All of the screens have the same background. They look like this:


I probably put more thought into stamping those rock tiles than anything else in this D-Mod.

There's nothing to motivate you to actually fight the enemies scattered in no meaningful way across these screens. The enemies include slimes, pillbugs, boncas and slayers. There are megapotions and gold hearts to find, but directly engaging the slayers is still a pretty bad idea. If you really wanted to kill everything for some reason, you might be able to manage it by starting some slayer fights... except that there's one screen with a slayer by itself. Hm.

On a certain screen, there's a "town news" poster that you can examine. I tried to clumsily attach it to a castle corner sprite, but that sprite has been given the slayer script, so it instantly transmogrifies into a slayer who can't move because of hardness. If you examine the poster, it says "THE END!" and Dink exclaims, "what? NOOO!" This is the only text, and it's taken directly from "Dink Forever." The game doesn't stop or anything, you're just told it's the end.

"All Out Brawl" is the worst D-Mod ever released. I gave this matter serious thought before coming to this conclusion. Its only serious rivals in this category are "Land of Transforming Ducks," "Goblin Castle" and "[Alphabet]," and it's not hard for me to recommend the first and third of those over it, as they at least register as not-terribly-funny jokes. That leaves "Goblin Castle" as the only other D-Mod even in the same neighborhood of pointlessness, and I think it wins by default because it has proper dialogue, even if almost none of it displays. Yes, "All Out Brawl" is the worst D-Mod ever. The DFMAOB is too good for it. Come to think of it, I guess 2010's "Quest in the Icelands" will remain the last DFMAOB winner, and don't any of you DARE release something in the next week or so just to prove me wrong. I'm onto you people.

I had completely forgotten, but "Brawl" comes with what I laughably called a "demo" of "2001: A Dink Oddyssey," which was released a few days later. The demo is, predictably, just an unfinished version with the ending missing and even more bugs than the final... but I did notice something odd. My original, terrible MS Paint graphics didn't work when I played the final "Oddyssey," but here they work for some reason. Gaze upon them, but only if you have a strong stomach.


I... what was I GOING for?


Oh, little eyebot. I shouldn't even have saved you in MS Paint.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.

I had also forgotten that Martridge explains that World War III broke out when "someone made fun of saddam's mustache, i think." That's about as close as I got to successfully telling a joke in any of my 1998 D-Mods. Not saying much, obviously.

...Yeah, okay, we're done here. Moving on.

343: Malachi the Jerk Authors: Tim Maurer, Leprochaun Release Date: February 2, 2014
"Tuesday strikes again."

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

Well, technically. That is the score that displays on the page, but it might not actually represent community consensus. There was another review that gave it a good score (8.4) that was nonetheless low enough to take it out of the 9.0+ category, but it was pulled down for some reason. Honestly, I thought the author justified his opinions reasonably well. He didn't seem to like the D-Mod much despite saying it was generally high-quality, so I was kind of surprised the score was as high as it was. But I don't really think it should have been pulled down, even though reading it makes me feel icy spines prickle inside my chest every single time as I realize how many of its biting criticisms are accurate. I could put it back up myself, but I don't wanna step on any toes.

Getting the (Coconut) monkey off my back

One day in early August of 2013, I was going through some old CDs and I found my copy of Dink Smallwood. In the past, when I'd think of those days a shadow would come over my thoughts and I could only think of regrets - sounds pretty dramatic, I know, but my brain just works like that. Even when I returned briefly in 2006, I was soon overcome by such thoughts and had to leave. But this time, over a decade after leaving, I thought back to the fun I had instead. I smiled. I said out loud, "I wonder how the Dink Network is doing." I have since lost my copy of the game, but if I'd never had it, I wouldn't have come back when I did. It speaks to the value of a physical object as a tie to our memories. That's worth the $20 (closer to $30 if you account for inflation!) I paid for that disc.

The first post I made upon returning was in the same topic as the last post I'd made back in 2006. I dumped what little I had written for an aborted D-Mod project from that year. It was a decent idea, but far less than even half-baked. In posting my old script, I hoped to bury my ambitions of redeeming myself with a "comeback D-Mod" for good. Many attempts had proven I just wasn't any good at it, I concluded.

Soon, I came up with the idea to play and write about all the D-Mods. If anybody who wasn't active on the forum at the time wants to see the genesis of that idea and the early reactions to its proposal, it can be found here.

As I started writing about D-Mods, though, I started having ideas for D-Mods I might make. It also occurred to me that people might take my opinions on D-Mods more seriously if I demonstrated myself to be a capable D-Mod author. So I decided to have another go at it after all, but I moved slowly, intent on getting it right. It would be weeks between this decision and opening the editor. I brainstormed, read all the tutorials, and watched every one of Robj's tutorial videos before I did anything.

I had several ideas. They included a remake of the NES RPG Dragon Warrior that I ended up making later, a mod with a constantly changing world called "Channel Surfing" (I still think this one is a neat idea), a combat-focused game similar to the Gladiator minigame from "FIAT," and a "Pit of 100 trials" as seen in the Paper Mario Series. I settled on an idea for an Epic called Dark and Cloudy Day and started writing. I became fairly attached to this idea for a darker epic that would feature prominent relationships between Dink and other playable characters. With the story, I intended to break the fourth wall in a dramatic context rather than the comedic context we're all used to. What would it mean to the characters when they discovered their world isn't real? This theme ended up seeping into "Malachi" a bit. We're so accustomed to fourth wall-breaking humor around here that I've seen the fourth wall-breaking scene with Grardlegar the bonca referred to as a "joke." I didn't intend it as humor at all, not even when Dink starts talking to the narrator. It's intended as an examination of what it would mean to be self-aware as a character in a game.


The scene with Grardlegar seemed to resonate with a lot of players.

I sketched a loose design for "Dark and Cloudy Day" and even started writing dialogue, but as it started picking up steam, I got cold feet. Would I really be able to make an epic? So many people start them and give up. It seemed presumptuous to try. I was too in love with "Dark and Cloudy Day" at the time to want to give up on it, but I decided to make a smaller D-Mod first with a less serious concept. This became "Malachi the Jerk." When I look back, I am amazed that I had the foresight to make this decision and the guts to abandon a project I was excited about. Both qualities are pretty uncharacteristic of me.

"A tale of irritation and futility, of frustration piled on top of frustration"

"Frustration" was an early working title for my new D-Mod project. It was replaced by "Malachi the Jerk" early on when I realized that the working title would make it seem like the game was going to be frustrating due to difficulty, which wasn't what I was going for at all. Instead, frustration was one of the major themes of the story - to see how much of it could get heaped upon Dink and how far he could be pushed. My initial thought was that you could get a lot of comedy out of this concept, and I think I did get some laughs out of it. But I also wanted Dink's character to have an arc in this story. My early notes identify the Dink of "Malachi" as a guy who's been made more introspective and moody and a bit more mature by time and experience. This Dink's glory from his original quest quickly faded as he had no more opportunities to be a hero. When Malachi tricks him and steals his stuff, it does more than piss him off. It really gets to him. Malachi steals the last of Dink's pride, and Dink resents Malachi for making him feel like he's nothing. Dink is plagued by self-doubt and begins to question things he's done in the past.


Is Dink a hero, or just somebody who does whatever people tell him as long as they set it up as a quest?

Overall I'm proud of "Malachi the Jerk." I've gotten lots of positive feedback on it, and I'm happy to know I finally made something that people enjoy. At long last, I got what I wanted since 1998 - for people to think of me as somebody who made a good D-Mod. Looking back at it, even I'm impressed because I know how limited my own abilities are when it comes to game design. It almost seems a fluke that I managed to make something this good. Not that I think Malachi is one of the best D-Mods ever or anything (I don't), but my limitations are so severe that even to make something solidly good stretched me to horizons I didn't think I had. In subsequent attempts, I've had a damn hard time approaching the level of quality I achieved in this D-Mod. But there are still things about it that nag at me. I mean, although you could point out plenty of problems in the mapping and gameplay, I think they represent my best possible work. What doesn't is the story. I know I could have written a better story than the one in "Malachi the Jerk," which doesn't really know what kind of story it wants to tell. At times it's genuinely funny; at other times it manages to pull off some pathos or drama. But as a whole picture? It's a bit of a mess, frankly. Skull - I dunno why I've been bothering to dance around who wrote that pulled review - was right to sense this fractured identity, and the reason goes back to the origin of the idea.

"Malachi" was always hampered by the circumstances of its creation. I was torn. I made the smart decision to make a silly, funny D-Mod instead of my big, probably doomed epic, but I couldn't commit to this approach. As I began to work in earnest on the game, the sheer amount of work involved blew me away. It crushed my spirit, it obliterated my brain, it pulverized my resolve. I thought I knew it would be a lot of work, but I soon learned that I'd had no idea just what "a lot of work" really meant. One of the most frequent comments I've received on "Malachi" is that the "short" development time was impressive. It didn't feel short. For months I worked on "Malachi" as much as I could, and that was a lot since I'm unemployed. There were weeks where, if working on this D-Mod were a job, I would have gotten significant overtime pay. Actually, there were a lot of weeks like that. "Frustration" could as well have been the title of my life for those months.


Me, not long after starting this project.

I wept. I wept real tears over this silly D-Mod. I literally fell to the floor and sobbed over this s***. It was so difficult for me. I wanted so badly to get it right, to make it good, Hell, just to FINISH it. It felt like it would never be done. It takes so long for me to do this sort of thing. A very plain and simple map screen could easily take me an hour to put together. If there's a fence around it, figure two. I'm not exaggerating, I am just that slow at creating maps of any kind. For most of the project I couldn't see the finish line even though I'd planned the D-Mod's contents well in advance and had an easy-to-reference list of things I had left to do. My patience was taxed greatly. It's not hard for me to understand why so few announced projects ever see completion.

Needless to say, I knew within a couple of weeks of starting real development on "Malachi" that "Dark and Cloudy Day" was never going to happen. "Malachi" inevitably became my serious project, and the impulses that drove "DaCD" clashed with the throwaway origins of the D-Mod I was actually making. Suddenly Dink was doing a lot of soul-searching in a D-Mod that was mainly intended to make you laugh. The dialogue involved was mostly pretty good, I think, but a direction was hard to find. "Malachi" is a story about revenge, but what does it have to say about revenge? Points are made about how self-defeating it is to seek revenge, and yet Dink, even while having learned enough to know this is so, still goes through with it. What does that say? I can't even tell you. I strongly considered an ending where Dink just cuts his losses in order to maintain thematic consistency, but it felt wrong. It didn't seem like something Dink Smallwood would do, and the total downer that ending would be clashes even with the dark humor of "Malachi the Jerk."

Although it bugs me, ultimately this fractured thing is what "Malachi the Jerk" is always going to be. It's a thing pushed and pulled by the different desires that ruled its author's mind. It's not the end of the world. People still enjoyed it a lot; heck, some people loved it. It was still able, at least for some, to be funny AND to pull at the heartstrings. So maybe I shouldn't sweat it so much.


Oh flour, such adventures we'll have together!

"Behind-the-scenes craziness," by request


My concept sketch of the world map, drawn before I had mapped a single outside screen. The final map is very similar to this. The biggest change is the replacement of the "Throwing Axe Forest" with the Maze of Three Lands.

As I've said, getting this right was important to me. I also mentioned my limitations. As I've discussed before, my brain doesn't work so well with visual and spatial matters. I can't catch anything that's thrown at me, even a really easy pitch that you alert me to in advance - I just can't track where it's going to end up. I forget faces, even of people I know well and see often - if I've just met you once or twice, you can forget about me recognizing you. I get lost in my hometown even though I stick to the main roads as much as I can. This has made it hard for me to design levels or maps for games throughout my life. In this case, I tried to compensate by planning ahead. I was trying hard to avoid the sort of map design that made "Zink" so awful, where the map is just a big hallway laid out from left to right. I succeeded only partially. "Malachi" twists and turns, but with a few small exceptions - the marks of my poor effort to try and design against my awful, broken instincts - it's still a hallway, or more of a snaking tube. Oh well, at least it still feels like a world, which is better than my other work.


This is a plan for the shape of the map I made early on by copying and pasting red map squares from a WinDinkEdit screenshot. Colored boxes have been drawn around the various planned areas.


Here's a screenshot of the final map. It's fairly similar to the plan. In particular, the beach is still exactly twelve screens long, just as planned at the start.

I also planned out some more specific areas before mapping them out in the editor. The segment of the game I put the most effort into was the Dungeon of Pointlessness, right after the intro. Here, I feel I managed to break out of my "linear hallway" default a little bit by creating forked paths.


"Boxes" concept drawing of the Dungeon of Pointlessness. Most of this is planning the left "stairways" paths so that the "floors" all make actual sense as different levels you could really move between, with the exception of one deliberately nonsensical stairway that leads you back to the initial floor. You can see the other paths marked out here as well.

I didn't trust myself to invent a maze, so for the Mudwalk maze, I used a website that generates mazes.


I took the image from the maze generator site and drew lines over it to represent the screens. This layout is almost identical to the actual maze in the D-Mod.

The map in "Malachi the Jerk" might seem weak or mediocre at best (ignoring Leprochaun's embellishments for the moment - we're just talking about the basic shape that I designed, here). But it actually represents a very high level for me. I've made some small efforts toward further D-Mod development since then, and even the level of map design I achieved in "Malachi" has seemed to be an impossibly high target to hit.

But the planning I did for the map is nothing compared to the advance planning I did for the story and game design. I have two text documents that haven't been modified since the first time I opened the map editor for "Malachi" that lay out every area, character and event in the story. The only major change is, again, the "throwing axe forest" (which was originally going to have another encounter with Malachi that was cut) getting replaced by the easier-to-make Maze of Three Lands, which is filler if I'm honest. I realized I wasn't going to be able to pull off my forest plan, but it felt like the game would be too short and the end too sudden if I didn't put something there. The Maze area does still have some of my planned "throwing axe forest" elements in it, like a death fakeout with the load/restart/quit box.


Dink is briefly fooled into thinking he's falling to his death on this screen, but the abyss turns out to be an illusion.

I had forgotten how specific these early documents were. For example, every step of the fetch quest was already pre-planned, and I'd already come up with the locations for all of the Legendary Loaves. I also went ahead and wrote the dialogue for several major scenes, although some lines were changed when I actually went to script those parts.

I think that planning everything in advance gives you a big advantage. I think that a lot of projects are never finished because people don't know when to stop and the scope keeps changing. "Malachi" ended up being a much bigger project than I'd expected, but it wasn't because the scope ever changed; the scope stayed exactly the same. No, the reason I nearly bit off more than I could chew was that I'm bad at estimating the size of projects.

Leprochaun: responsible for making things not look like ass

Boy, did I luck out when Leprochaun agreed to help me. Even luckier, it happened very early on. I was in the #Dinksmallwood IRC channel (does anybody ever go there anymore?) moaning about how hard mapping was and how much I hated doing it, and he mused that he could decorate my screens. He seemed confident that he could decorate 300 screens (Malachi actually ended up having just 254) very quickly. I don't think it ended up being quite as easy as he thought. Still, his early commitment freed me from my sad efforts to decorate screens. Shortly after finishing the Dungeon of Pointlessness, I started leaving my screens pretty much blank apart from the important objects needed to play the game, which allowed me to get my map screens done in a... gosh, "reasonable" is a stretch here... let's say "non-obscene" amount of time. I had seen screenshots of Lep's map work and it was gorgeous, so I knew my D-Mod's appearance would end up in good hands.

Here are some comparisons. Alpha screens are on top. I wanted to put them side to side, but the forum isn't wide enough.



From drab to fab!



On some screens, Leprochaun did more than add decoration. See how he completely redesigned my sad little bush rows into a more reasonable set of paths.



Even on screens where I hadn't totally given up on decoration in my version, he still added more.

I sent Leprochaun a version of the D-Mod that was done up through the start of the "Malachi's house" dungeon (all the screens were laid out, you just couldn't play any farther than that yet) in mid-December of 2013. I didn't give him a lot of instruction, honestly. As I worked to finish up a feature-complete version of the game, I actually kept a list of changes I'd made in the editor so that I could make them again when I got Leprochaun's work back.

I may not be the easiest guy to work with. My anxiety about finishing the D-Mod was already through the roof, but it was pushed even higher by having it taken out of my hands. There was a period where there was nothing for me to do but wait. I bugged Leprochaun a lot, although I did try to keep ahold of myself. Eventually he ran out of steam and sent me what he had. Some screens went untouched, including most indoor screens - Lep remarked to me that there are fewer sprites you can plausibly decorate a house with than there are outdoor sprites, and he's got a point there. The "Malachi's House" dungeon stayed as it was, and boy, it shows. Some "Maze of Three Lands" screens went undecorated, although he went back and touched up those for the 1.2 release on Valentine's Day.

Leprochaun went a lot farther than I'd imagined he would. That guy really goes nuts with the sprites and treats a screen like a picture he's painting. He complained to me repeatedly about the inability to place even more sprites than he had done.


This screen, like several others, is at the sprite limit.

He even did something totally unexpected and included new scripts. A few of these were for decorative elements, using scripts to loop parts of animations in unusual ways to create visual effects like one of those bendy poles appearing to blow in the wind. He also wrote some silly dialogue scripts, like the talking rock and Brian the Shell.


This is all Leprochaun. I love this joke, by the way.

"I've seen less interesting things, but not often."

Knowing that there were many D-Mods and that they were in many ways similar, I tried to customize "Malachi the Jerk" in many small ways in order to make it stand out. I used quite a few graphics that weren't in the original game. Iplaydink's graphics packs added to the variety of all-purpose decoration in the D-Mod, and I used the wasps as a frequent enemy. I made the wasps "fly" over low hardness - I was surprised they didn't do that in the demonstration script, honestly.

Knowing that graphics weren't my thing, I customized text wherever possible. I changed the savebot script, the escape script, and the death script - things people usually don't mess with. When I learned about dnotalk.c and dnomagic.c, I was excited. I immediately wrote whole new sets of default text. I had no idea at the time I was only the THIRD author to use this feature from friggin' 2006 to actually change these formerly set-in-stone texts. Did people just never learn about this, or what?

Not everything could be new and different. I didn't know at the time that BOTH of the well jokes I made with the well near the start were already made in "Moon Child!" Seriously, two D-Mods in a row that use "Well well well" and "I'm not feeling well" jokes in a row. It's damn eerie.

There's a lot of text in "Malachi the Jerk." I knew that my ability to write gobs of text was the main thing I had to offer, so I focused on it. It turns out that "lots of text" isn't for everybody, but the great majority of feedback I've received on this was positive. I hid some text away in crazy places people aren't likely to see it. There's a special scene for ignoring the only NPC in the first dungeon for the entire length of said dungeon. There's a new dialogue exchange for every single step of the fetch quest if you go back to Armando the Sorcerer and talk to him about it (I bet nobody did this). I hid a whole gameplay segment and secret ending behind LOSING a certain boss fight! It turns out that you can put anything you want in dinfo.c (the death script). I thought it would be really neat to have the player die by ordinary means and then shift control to the enemy who just killed them without even fading down or anything in between. Unfortunately, most players probably never see this.


I always liked this line.

I put effort into making sure the conversion to the bonca character is thorough, too. The text color when you pick up gold is changed, and if you never picked up the powerups in the Mudwalk, the bonca character has different things to say about collecting them.

I also tried to fix some things I've long seen as minor problems with Dink Smallwood or at least most D-Mods that I've played. Really little things mostly, like making sure the game doesn't let you read books by examining the back of a bookshelf. The big thing I changed was to add a respec system. "Malachi the Jerk" keeps track of where you put your points at level up. Once per level, you can take them all back and put them whereever you want. It's not necessary to ever bother with this, but it's a feature I've wished I've had in several D-Mods that I've played.

I also attempted to vary gameplay a little bit. The mudwalk slows you down, making you be extra careful when fighting enemies. There's the arena, which imposes random handicaps on you each round like the Battle Square from Final Fantasy VII. I love logic puzzles, so I included a fairly simple one near the end of the game that you must solve to continue. I included hidden collectibles that you ultimately need to reach the real ending (the bread) in a nod to "Quest for Cheese" and its pixy poops.


I had to make these tiles by pasting the mud tiles onto James Perley's autumn grass tiles.


The arena has an end boss who is a special guest from Dink's past!

Hidden in the game is a trip to a version of "Dink Forever," my terrible first D-Mod, with added snarky comments by Dink on how lousy it all is. There's also a screen from "2001: A Dink Oddyssey," featuring the Rainbow Trout because that character is the only thing I ever remember anybody specifically saying they liked about one of my 1998 D-Mods. There you go, Rainbow Trout fans. This section also has a tree added to screen 143 in honor of Robj's very important update to the hype thread for the upcoming "The Dark Avilan". There was much discussion there of screen 143s requiring trees; I'll be disappointed if I don't see more onefortytrees as I go through the rest of the D-Mods.


You also get to fight Coconut Monkey and try to stop him before he can make more terrible worlds like "Dink Forever."

"I'll punch right through that goddamn rock if I have to!"

Hey, let's talk about the big long fetch quest in the middle of my D-Mod. It has fifteen steps!


Dink is an errand b**** of renowned proportions, but even he has his limits.

Unsurprisingly, some players found this annoying. This was my intention. Not because I like making bad games or annoying people, but because I'm interested in video games' ability to provoke emotion in players in ways that no other medium possibly could.

As I said, this is a game about frustration. As Dink has more and more frustration piled upon him, it's important that the player suffer some of it too, so that they get a real feeling in their gut of what he's going through. They should feel just how fed up Dink is. They should REALLY hate Malachi. The fetch quest is a means of achieving this. I did try not to push too far, though. My fetch quest required you to walk through the entire mudwalk three times at one point, but I decided that was too much and added the ability to skip to the end.

The real capper is the fake-out at the end of it where Armando says he doesn't want the thing Dink's been questing for anymore. Poor Dink! Poor player.

And then there's the bit at the end where you have to punch a rock two hundred times. You're not allowed to use acid rain or the herb boots to get around this - you have to hit the rock two hundred times and - and boy, this is the part that stings - you have to do it while Malachi mocks you the entire time.


arrrrrrrrgggggggghhhh

You're all going to think I'm crazy, but I'm really proud of this part. I know the game is thematically kind of all over the place, but this is the closest I think it gets to really knowing exactly what it wants to be and just nailing it.

Malachi is at his most hateable here. He's a bully, and the worst kind of bully - the kind who intellectualizes his cruelty, the kind who tries to convince you he's doing you a favor by rubbing your face in the mud, because how else are you going to learn? There's some truth in some of the things he says, but ultimately he's full of it. He's really just a selfish prick, and the fact that he's so arrogant as to lecture Dink is truly galling. Dink loses it, and if I've done things right, the player should be able to sympathize by this point. He takes out all that built-up frustration by hitting an object that should be impossible to break. But he can't back down now - he's done, he's just totally done with this. So he channels all his hatred and anger and weariness into punch after punch. And slowly, impossibly, cracks begin to appear. He's breaking through. If only we all could, all of us who endure such torment.

I noticed a few depth dot problems while playing this again, and had quite a few ideas for improvements I could make. I had originally thought I did a good job with the difficulty balance, but this time I noticed that most enemies were easier than I intended. On the other hand, some of the feedback I got said the game was really hard, so I'm torn about making it harder. Maybe I should compromise by making a hard mode with tougher enemies; we'll see how much work I feel like doing. Either way, I'll probably work on a version 1.4 once COTPATD is all wrapped up.


I know you all can't wait. By the way, that weird little garden is one decorative element I did come up with.

I learned a lot making this D-Mod. I learned that DinkC and the Dink engine can never be trusted to act the way you expect. I got lots of help on the forums in fixing obscure and strange bugs, but some things I ended up having to work around. I had pillars on the arena screen made with create_sprite, but if you threw hellfire at them it exploded forever. Why? Who the Hell knows? I had one map screen in particular that just started refusing to accept new scripted objects. I was doing nothing wrong, they just wouldn't work. I just had to give that one up to the Dink Gods and not try to do anything that displeased them.

There's more that I could say about "Malachi," but this is already by far the longest writeup in the project. I never got around to summarizing this D-Mod like most of the others, so I hope this isn't too confusing a read for anybody who never got around to playing it. If you want to hear even more of my thoughts on "Malachi," you should really check out the Let's Play by Robj that I co-commentated on. Speaking of which - Robj, pretty please upload more of that? I'd love to see it again, doing that was just so much fun.


I end the writeup the same way I ended the D-Mod: with the truth. *folds arms*
January 24th 2015, 07:38 PM
pq_knight.gif
ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
An awesome read, with plenty of insight and information that once again I thoroughly enjoyed.

With regards to Grardlegar, if I didn't already say this once, I actually lost to her without intending to when I found that secret ending segment. It was one heck of a surprise.

I gave Robj a poke via Skype about the LP and other projects, but RL has been claiming a lot of his time. I'm sure he'll get around to it when he can. And on another side note, I do try to open my IRC client every so often.

Never owned one of those consoles, my feelings demand that the PC shall always be the real Number One. Because Dink.
January 24th 2015, 07:52 PM
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redink1
King Male United States xbox steam bloop
A mother ducking wizard 
Come to think of it, I guess 2010's "Quest in the Icelands" will remain the last DFMAOB winner, and don't any of you DARE release something in the next week or so just to prove me wrong. I'm onto you people.

Alas.
January 24th 2015, 08:42 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Well, I did call it.
January 25th 2015, 02:04 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
344: A Fish Named Bloop Author: Iplaydink Release Date: February 23, 2014
"Fear me, I'm Bloop the Shark Slayer!"

"A Fish Named Bloop" is a remake of "Bloop the Fish," a very bad D-Mod by Instalite in which you play as a fish. When I covered the original "Bloop" way back in September of 2013, I was shocked to see a couple of people defend it in response. I mean, everybody hated it back in 1999, and I don't see how you can blame them - it's a broken D-Mod with very little to do. Still, some people apparently found something to like in it. Iplaydink declared that the MS Paint graphics were "strangely charming." A few posts later, Leprochaun suggested, "Someone should make a bloop the fish 3." The idea for this D-Mod may have been born there.


Oh my goodness graphics!

"A Fish Named Bloop" has an entirely new set of graphics made in an odd, cartoony style with thick line weights that really is quite charming. The sprites have nice shading, too. Some of the animations, though simple, are impressive. I like the blinking octopus. It looks on par with what you'd see from a high-quality Flash cartoon.

This is the first D-Mod that has ever really conveyed the feeling of moving underwater. Using entirely new graphics enables "Bloop" to present a side-view perspective, which makes the game feel different from Dink even though the movement is the same. The rocky undersea world reminds me of underwater games I played as a kid like Ecco the Dolphin or Odell Down Under.

There's no inventory and no escape menu in this simple romp. In a touch that I adore, the usual "talking to nothing" text has been replaced by ridiculous fish and ocean puns. "What-er?" "I don't see anyfish here." "Not much hammerhead shark-ening here." That last one totally doesn't work! It is brilliant.


Uh oh, it's that shark guy! I hate that guy!

What little the original game contained is reproduced here. As before, you have to gather three worms to trade for a bubble weapon, which you need to fight the shark boss. Just as in Instalite's debut, there are spiny urchin enemies floating around. There's also a jellyfish that blocks your path until you can kill it with the bubbles. There were no jellyfish in "Bloop the Fish," but there were in "Bloop the Fish 2," so the jelly might be "A Fish Named Bloop's" nod to SabreTrout's 2003 joke sequel.

This time, "Bloop" has a story. It's a silly story, but there's still more to it than you'd be expecting if you've ever played the original. It seems that Sheldon the Shark, who insists on calling himself "The Amazing Shark Guy," has stolen Uncle Bubbles the Octopus's gold! "Everybody knows you need that money to treat you horrible bubble-illness!" bemoans Bloop's friend Fred. Bloop must get the treasure back... but first, he must collect worms for some reason. Oh, and Bloop apparently used to be friends with Sheldon, making his mission even more personal. Wow! Unfortunately, the cutscene where most of the story is established is full of 3 to 7 second pauses. I have no idea why the author did this, but it's really annoying.


Bloop is on the case!

Though you confront Sheldon and may easily defeat him, the screen never unlocks. This is an intentional reference to the original game. Bloop says, "Yay, I can't wait to give Bubbles back his treasure," but of course you never get the chance. "AFNB" does lose some authenticity points for actually displaying the ending line instead of failing to do so like the original. Kidding, kidding.


Poor, deluded Bloop.

There's a secret to be found. At a certain location, Bloop may take to the sky and encounter more Dink Smallwoods than you or your grandmother can handle.


Uh... Okay.

IplayDink is on a mission to spread the Bloop love. In the readme, he invites anyone so inclined to use these graphics to create more fishy adventures. Long live Bloop, I guess. Seriously though, this is gorgeous, funny in its very existence, and totally unexpected. You really should play it, it doesn't take long at all. I wish Instalite would come back someday; this would blow his mind.

345: Quest for Dorinthia III: Nymera's Quest (Demo) Author: Bill Szczytko Release Date: March 16, 2014
"Nymera has selected you Dink Smallwood to become our newest vampire."

This is the first demo release since "Dink Wars" in early 2011. Over time, the impression that "demo" really means "this will never be finished" has become pretty much absolute, and with good reason. I think that the last full version to replace a demo was "Cloud Castle 2" in 2004.

Bill started work on a third installment of "Quest for Dorinthia" in 2012. In February 2014, he commented on the COTPATD 2000 topic in which I'd talked about the first two D-Mods in the series. It might be that seeing the writeups inspired him to put what he had into a demo, although of course I don't know for sure. He released this on the forum on March 14, but went ahead and made it an official release shortly thereafter. It's a rather short demo - I just got through it and saw everything in 8 minutes - but you do get an idea of what the story would be in the full version.

Nymera is a name I recognize from "Quest for Dorinthia: Special Edition;" she was an awful vampire woman, and she'd suck you dry if you gave her the chance. Here, she's apparently been killing travelers on a road seen in QFDSE. In the intro, we get to see her feed upon a couple of somewhat dumb tourists who I think may have also appeared in the Special Edition. That seems to be the main plot: vampires are after you, and Nymera is their leader.


Tsk, look at all that wasted blood! You're a wasteful vampire, shame on you.

You don't really do any mucking about with vampires in this demo, though. Instead, Dorinthia sends you to the Fisherman's Village to get fish and mushrooms for a soup. You can just buy the fish, but picking the mushrooms requires you to fight some strong pillbugs. You have to be careful, because despite the good stats you start with, the pillbugs are strong enough to take you out in one hit. This village is surprisingly dangerous. You shouldn't bother fighting any unnecessary bugs - Dink's stats plummet to a set level later on in a drinking scene.


That stuff is bad for you.

The people in the village seem to know of Dink. Some of them make lewd and crude comments to Dink about Dorinthia, and he seems taken aback. "Keep filling that hottie up," says one guy. "Wow .. uh.. okay," stammers Dink. What is up with everybody's obsession with this girl and her sexuality? It is downright creepy. Even Dink thinks so!

There's a cameo from Martridge, but he's only here because he's lost and has teleported himself to the wrong place again. Silly Marty!

In addition to the vampires, you learn in this demo about another development that would surely be a major factor in the plot of a full version: rifts are opening in time and space. One of the villagers tells you that some white material with the word "Dell" on it came out of one of them, suggesting that the rift came from the modern world. I'd be interested to see which direction this story might take if this were ever finished.


Dink sure has a way with words.

I'm sure than anybody who enjoyed the previous installments - and I did, especially "Special Edition" - would have a good time with a full QFD3, but there's not a lot to this demo. There are a lot of unused screens mapped out, but the playable portion amounts to picking some mushrooms. Bill has remarked that motivation is a problem, which is understandable. You never know, though - a full version could happen. It's not like anybody would have thought "Special Edition" would happen in the first place.
January 25th 2015, 02:57 AM
dinkdead.gif
Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
Come to think of it, I guess 2010's "Quest in the Icelands" will remain the last DFMAOB winner, and don't any of you DARE release something in the next week or so just to prove me wrong. I'm onto you people.

Ahah, I didn't even know you said that. I should make some more godawful DMODs like these...
January 25th 2015, 03:00 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Seriously? You released "Pokemon: Bible Edition" without even seeing that?
January 25th 2015, 03:13 AM
dinkdead.gif
Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
Yep. I made it because I was told to. I just wasn't specified what to make it with, so I went with Dink.
January 25th 2015, 07:45 AM
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iplaydink
Peasant Male Sweden steam
Hmm.. 
"Iplaydink declared that the MS Paint graphics were "strangely charming." A few posts later, Leprochaun suggested, "Someone should make a bloop the fish 3." The idea for this D-Mod may have been born there."

Yep, that is correct,that's when I knew I wanted to make it!

First I wanted to make it much longer and only loosely based on the original, with all the original characters appearing but in a 30 minute to an hour long mystery. Taking it that seriously seemed so funny to me.

Unfortunately I couldn't motivate me to make the game I initially wanted to, I tried to get some cooperation going with other dinkers but I couldn't get anybody else interested.
Finally I just decided to make it as bare bone as possible, just to be able to finish it. Pretty much just a clone of the original but with my new graphics.
January 25th 2015, 11:18 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Heh, I think I was probably the only person ever who started feeling kinda sorry for Malachi at the end of MtJ. Still think he was a prick, though.

Seriously? You released "Pokemon: Bible Edition" without even seeing that?

So... technically this means we can keep releasing tons of short, horrible D-Mods and you'll have to cover them, giving us more time to finish our good D-Mods before COTPATD finishes?
January 25th 2015, 11:26 AM
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leprochaun
Peasant Male Japan xbox steam bloop
Responsible for making things not look like ass 
Yep. I made it because I was told to.

Who told you to do that? Was it me?
January 25th 2015, 11:30 AM
dinkdead.gif
Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
No, Leppykins, it wasn't you. Did you drunk or something?

@Skull, spamming shitty Dmods shouldn't happen. Hopefully. I could always make a compilation of terrible garbage if it comes to more and more ideas so I can avoid having the highest Dmod count on the site.

January 25th 2015, 11:32 AM
wizardg.gif
leprochaun
Peasant Male Japan xbox steam bloop
Responsible for making things not look like ass 
Well someone was talking to me about some pokemon bible thing recently and I was not paying attention at all when they were. Which was probably the right move on my part.
January 27th 2015, 12:06 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
346: Bored of the Rings Author: Stomper Release Date: April 1, 2014
"Ahh, Serutanland. We had many a good field trips here in grade school."

"Bored of the Rings" is based upon a 1969 book by the same title, which obviously parodied Tolkien's famous Lord of the Rings books. The book was also adapted into a text adventure game in 1985. I've never read the book myself, nor have I read the books it parodies, although I have seen the movies.


Hee hee, made in China.

Given the inspiration for "A Fish Named Bloop" and possibly the "Quest for Dorinthia III" demo, if I had never shown up and started this project, it's possible that this would have been the first D-Mod released since "Moon Child," which came out over a year earlier. If that were the case, maybe it would have received a little more attention upon its release. As it was, it released to mostly silence. The only real feedback I've seen posted was Leprochaun's review. There had been several test versions released on the forum; it may be that anyone who was really interested had played it already by the time of its official release.

This is a pretty big D-Mod! It uses all but eight of the available screens and took me three hours and ten minutes to finish. I'm surprised I got through it even that fast considering how much stuff happens in it. The plot is so frenetic and compressed that anybody who hasn't at least seen the LOTR movies might have a hard time following what's going on.


Yeah, that's the map. Hoo boy!


Yes, I really did get through the whole thing.

"Bored of the Rings" is a parody similar to the movie and TV show parodies in Mad magazine. Just about every line of dialogue is taken as a chance to throw a gag or a reference at you. Characters have been renamed in jokey ways - Frodo is Frito, Legolas is Legolam, Gandalf is Goodgulf (an old brand of gasoline), etc. The hobbits are now the boggies, and they come from the Stye rather than the Shire, and so on. Many of the pop culture references have been updated; for example, The Simpsons didn't exist in 1969. The author also throws in some little cutscenes that aren't connected to anything in order to get even more references in, mostly to cartoons.


You know, that fits in better than I'd have thought.

I'd be lying if I said this D-Mod were a laugh-a-minute experience for me. Most of the gags either didn't land, or didn't land hard enough to make me smile, let alone laugh. I did get a few good laughs out of it, though. I liked how the Balrog has been replaced by the "Ballhog," a selfish, shoot-first basketball player. I laughed out loud when I realized how this gave new meaning to the statement, "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" The Ballhog is also represented by an image of Wile E. Coyote, which confused me until he and Goodgulf fell from the bridge - the author seized the perfect opportunity to make a typical "Wile E. Coyote falls down" gag.


Nicely done.

I also enjoyed the appearance of the Jolly Green Giant, who made lots of plant puns like "I want to make peas with you," much to the chagrin of the boggies, who moan and cry for mercy. And then there were some references that I really enjoyed because they felt personal to me. A series of signs along the road tell you how far you are from "Santa's North of the Border;" going up Interstate 95 here in the eastern United States, your eyes are assaulted by an unbelievably long series of similar signs advertising an almost infinitely tacky tourist trap in South Carolina (I've been there - it sucks). Since I'm personally familiar with that, the reference really tickled me. Similarly, there are signs telling you to "See Rock City" and "Rudy Falls." All throughout this region are signs cajoling you to see Rock City and Ruby Falls on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. Actually, if you're ever in the Chattanooga area, I highly recommend Ruby Falls, which is located in a gorgeous cavern deep underground that's full of interesting rock formations.


Rock city, on the other hand, isn't too different from this.

Of course, many of the jokes do focus on Lord of the Rings in one way or another. Some are just typical old-fashioned one-liners transposed into the LOTR setting. Then there are jokes aplenty that make light of Tolkien's serious epic story. My favorite of these was the fact that Mordor (called Twodor, I think?) seems to be a theme park like Disney World with long lines and a FastPass option.


Frito tries to suggest easier methods of disposing of The Ring.

You end up in some pretty odd settings, including a big shopping mall. My favorite shop there is the "Build-a-Bonca Workshop," a take-off on the Build-a-Bear Workshop chain of make-your-own-teddy-bear stores.


These backgrounds are loaded using the load_tiles command. I mention this because Dink HD doesn't support this command. Don't try to play this in Dink HD.

The author claims that this D-Mod is "like Final Fantasy" in that the party changes frequently as characters join and leave. This is technically true, but it doesn't feel like it. Which characters you have in your party doesn't matter an awful lot, honestly. This is mainly because whoever you're playing as, their unique sprite will only display when you're idle. Whenever you walk or attack, you turn into Dink Smallwood. This breaks the feeling that you're playing as whatever character you're supposed to be; honestly, it makes the whole game feel broken and unfinished. You're expected to just pretend that you can't clearly see that you're Dink. Much is made of the fact that you can press the "S" key to switch your party around. The character in front is who you'll see when you stand still, and there are a few differences between them (Goodgulf has magic - that's the major one). You then pick a second character to "defend," which affects your defense stat. Each character has their own attack and defense stat that is saved throughout the game. This all sounds monstrously complicated, but I assure you that in practice, all of it amounts to next to no difference from playing a regular D-Mod. I practically never rearranged my party. I played as Stomper (the character you start with, a parody of Aragorn) all the time except when he wasn't in the party, in which case I played as Goodgulf or whoever had the highest attack stat. I barely noticed any difference. The whole system feels kind of superfluous. Stats don't even matter that much; there's little in the way of required combat. What is there is easy because defeating enemies awards hidden "attack and defense experience," raising these stats quite frequently.


Here's Stomper, our hero...


But take a step, and he's Dink! It's even more jarring with other characters who look nothing like Dink at all.


There was one boss that made an impression on me. Before you can hit Serutan aka Saruman aka Crono, you have to hit his bubble with a bunch of shots, gradually shrinking it until it disappears.

I'd also like to point out that this D-Mod uses Dnotalk and Dnomagic to change the default texts. However, the author made the bizarre decision to make one of the random "talking to nothing" messages try to do 1 damage to you (!!). At least the messages change partway through the game, so you no longer have to worry about this. The "no magic" messages have some amusing references to stage magic.


I protest! I never pressed any space bar!

"Bored of the Rings" uses a huge amount of imported graphics. The graphics folder is over 53 megabytes! The graphics were used totally without regard to how well they fit into Dink's world (answer: not at all). Even so... they kind of work, here. Sort of. Look, I've seen much worse looking graphics in a D-Mod (see: "Bishop's Quest"), and I kind of feel like pasting in stuff that doesn't really fit is still preferable to using that same old set of graphics to try and represent things that just aren't there, stretching the association so far that you have to just use text to tell the player what they're supposed to be seeing (many D-Mods have done this). "Bored of the Rings" refuses to be boxed in by such limitations, and I can admire that. Some cutscenes abandon the usual perspective entirely to stage a scene on a different type of background.


A cutscene where the party defeats a "Disco Yeti" inexplicably turns into a Pokémon battle. Why not? I guess a disco ball is like a pokéball.


This scene has a nice little effect where your character appears smaller as you walk toward the background.


Seriously though, what game am I playing right now? I've forgotten. Is it Leisure Suit Larry 7 ? I don't remember it having this many horror movie killers in it.

A walkthrough is included in the story folder. For most of the game, I didn't need it. Objectives were pretty clear; either you just followed the road, or a character would tell you what to do. I finally had to consult the guide in a maze near the end. This D-Mod is absolutely packed with mazes. I feel confident in saying that this is the maziest D-Mod ever. I was able to get through most of the mazes by wandering around and/or tracing the right wall, but the last maze involves hitting switches to move walls, and sometimes you had to backtrack and hit switches you've already hit again to turn them off, which I found terribly confusing. It's a good thing I had the guide out, because the section after that is pure evil. There are a bunch of ziplines over pits, and if you take the wrong one (there's no way to know but trial and error), you fall and get sent back to the middle of the previous maze and have to muck about switches some more. And no, there's no savebot in this section. Screw. That. Noise. That is SCREAMINGLY bad game design. Ugggh. Use the walkthrough when you get there if you play this.


One of the mazes has these hexagonal panels, but you can't tell which ones are hard until you try to walk through them. It's awfully confusing, but I muddled my way through.

Unfortunately, this D-Mod feels really unfinished and rough. There has been an update since Leprochaun's review, and it addresses some of his complaints, but only partially. MIDIs have been added, but there are still large segments of the game that are silent. There's more decoration (and I should note that there are a HUGE number of scripted objects), but there are still many basically blank screens and several actually blank screens. Most hardness errors must have been fixed because there aren't many of them, but there are a few problematic ones that let you go places you shouldn't. A couple of cutscenes repeat if you return to the screen where they happen, and these are cutscenes which make no sense when repeated. I ran into a freeze bug (but only one, which is nice). I did have the game crash once, but it was in windowed mode, and I get a lot of crashes when I play in windowed mode. Some collectibles leave a hard spot on the map, and some screens have no borders, usually causing an "invisible wall" but in a few cases allowing you to walk to an unrelated screen! Tiling throughout the D-Mod is very poor, especially in caves. "Bored of the Rings" works, and is playable, but the whole thing just feels rough around the edges and kind of jury-rigged.


Hurts to look at this. I mean... yuck. There are so many screens like this one.


I have to admit, though: turning the cliffs on their side works better than I'd have guessed.


The freeze bug is caused by hitting this desk, in case Stomper reads this and wants to fix it.

But I don't mean to dump on this D-Mod too badly. It's a big project with effort and care put into it, and it's more playable and even more enjoyable than an awful lot of D-Mods I've played. Hell, it's a considerably less frustrating experience than "Stone of Balance," and yes, I mean that. It also makes me rethink what can or should be done with a D-Mod. I mean, you can make the game display any sort of graphic. You can bend the medium here in strange ways if you want to. Stomper had the gumption and the willpower to try, and that impresses me. This D-Mod still needs a lot of work, but I feel like it's a shame it didn't get a little more attention than it did. I'd like to encourage stomper to work on it or other D-Mods more in the future.
January 28th 2015, 02:30 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
347: Dink Smallwood: Achievement Unlocked Edition (Modification) Author: Tim Maurer Release Date: September 2, 2014
"I'm complicit, aren't I? I made the achievement list. My God, the terrible power."

I wasn't so keen on jumping into developing another D-Mod after "Malachi the Jerk." This is why I didn't make a D-Mod for the "Dink's Demise" contest that was announced on December 28, 2013, which was cancelled after receiving only one entry (a D-Mod Leprochaun called "horribly broken" and ultimately decided not to release). It's too bad; I thought that was an interesting theme, and I had a couple of neat ideas for it, but I was really burned out at that time.

But "Achievement Unlocked Edition" wasn't exactly a new D-Mod. It's just a modified version of the original game by RTSoft. I've seen a remark or two on the forum expressing surprise that nobody had ever done this sort of thing; well, here you go. As you may infer from the title, this modification adds "achievements" to Dink Smallwood. These, of course, are tasks you can do in a game that are recognized with a little banner that pops up on the screen, as seen on Xbox and Playstation consoles and Valve's Steam service.


The achievements menu on the title screen.

There was a conversation on the forums about trying to get Dink onto Steam, and it occurred to me that if it ever did get there, it would probably have achievements. Now, I'm generally not a huge fan of achievements - I mean, they don't do anything. Rarely do I go out of my way to get them. What they're good for if anything is as an excuse to spend more time playing a game you really like. At their best, achievements remind me of the self-imposed challenges we used to put ourselves through as kids. Actually, I remember Nintendo Power magazine suggesting such challenges back in the 90s, and even assigned point values to them! Anyway, when I thought about Dink Smallwood with achievements, I thought, "Hey, that'd be an interesting reason to revisit the original game." Then I thought, "Hey, you could add achievements to the game as it is." Then I thought, "Hey, *I* could add achievements to the game as it is." And so I did.

I started out by asking on the forum about ideas for achievements Dink might have if it had any. This seemed like a better way to get a response than to just come right out and say what I was doing. Most of the ideas I got this way came from Skorn. Everybody was credited in an accompanying text file, though. Excited by the idea, I knocked the thing out in six days. Six full days of work, mind you. I implemented 27 achievements, two secret achievements, and several unlockable extras. I wrote text for the achievements menu - one set for things you'd yet to achieve, and another for achievements you'd completed. I tried to be clever, to give some incentive to play and earn the achievements.

There wasn't a big response when I released it. A few people thought it was cool, but there were also a couple of people who came out and said they didn't see the point. My biggest hope for this project - that it would give people a reason to revisit the original game that they may not have played in a long time - might not have come true. This is the first D-Mod I've covered without a single review, after all. Still, this project does seem to have had an influence on the community. After I released this, Paul Pliska went back and added achievements to "Mayhem," and Dan "Max Gamerscore" Walma included achievements in "Cast Awakening Part 5: Revolution." Paul's achievements menu was much nicer than my simple solution, but Dan's was actually quite similar.

Fairly early on in the process of writing COTPATD, I planned to wrap things up at the end by returning to the original game and doing some arbitrary tasks such as reaching level 32. After I finished "Achievement Unlocked Edition," I realized that I had given myself a pretty good excuse to put that sort of exercise right into one of the writeups. What follows is a series of notes written as I play the game and attempt to earn all of the achievements. I'll be running a stopwatch to see how long it takes me (I'll stop it when I stop to take down these notes).

I wonder if anybody else is going to enjoy reading this, or if only I find this idea amusing. Oh well, I'll be entertaining at least one person (me).

--

00:00:55 - Achievement 1/27 Unlocked: "I am NOT a pig farmer - Kill the pigs before feeding them (10 points)." I always thought it was hilarious that you could do this.


Dink, you so crazy!

00:01:42 - Achievement 2/27 Unlocked: "Something to Talk About - Murder Chealse (10 points)." When I first played the game back in 1998, this really disturbed me. During development, I implemented this achievement after I couldn't figure out a way to track another idea I'd had.

00:02:35 - Achievement 3/27 Unlocked: "Poultry Punisher - Kill Quackers (10 points)." Despite the stopwatch, this isn't a speedrun. I usually hit Quackers as soon as I see him to save time, but this time I did it in front of Ethel for extra laffs.

00:04:00 - I killed my first enemy, a pillbug. This version of the game counts the enemies you kill for an achievement later. Respawned enemies don't count.

00:05:05 - Achievement 4/27 Unlocked: "Clearing the Crops - Save SmileStein's farm (10 points)." I used that silly talking pillbug as a boss in "Malachi the Jerk." Enemies that give you an achievement, like this one, don't count towards the total enemy count.

00:06:25 - Achievement 5/27 Unlocked: "Something for Nothing - Rescue a random guy (10 points)." Well, not quite nothing. You do get a gold coin for saving this dude from the wandering jerkass knights. I also hit level 2 here.

00:09:27 - I got my first powerup. There are 63 in the game, if I counted right. I hope I counted right. There's an achievement for getting all of these, too, so the game counts them for you.

00:12:18 - Killed Martridge's cave bonca. I mention this because I feel like some games would put an achievement here. Personally, I don't like achievements you get in the normal case of a game - they feel even more pointless than usual. As such, there's only one achievement like that in this D-Mod (beat Seth).

00:13:27 - Burned down my first tree. This is the last of the three "X all the Y" achievements. The variable that keeps track of this is called &smokey. The total tree count is 172 (trees that reveal a secret stairway don't count). You have to burn down all of the copies of a screenmatched tree for this. It's possible to exceed this number a bit by using the hardness error to visit the unfinished area, but I decided not to force the player to do this.


The FIRst of many. HAW!

00:17:55 - Achievement 6/27 Unlocked: "Steroids are Dangerous - Kill the big pillbug (10 points)." I did really poorly at this fight here and almost lost. Whoops.

00:19:17 - Achievement 7/27 Unlocked: "Karl Marx Hates Your Guts - Sell an AlkTree nut (10 points)." Yeah, some of these are pretty trivial.

00:20:34 - Reached level 3. There's an achievement for maxing out the level. I imagine that not many have put themselves through the grind of getting to 32 in the original game.

00:27:11 - Achievement 8/27 Unlocked: "Domestic Violence - Kill Jack (20 points)." Dink is a little weak for this at this point, but the old "punch him through the wall" trick carries the day. I'm disappointed with myself for not calling this one "Jack Attack" instead. Very disappointed.


C'mon, Auntie, I should think the little banner down there makes the answer to that question pretty obvious.

Dink actually has a response to that question - "I guess I just killed your husband." But it doesn't display due to a missing quotation mark. I meant to fix this bug from the original game and even left a comment in the script saying that I had, but I didn't. Whoops.

00:28:40 - Achievement 9/27 Unlocked: "A Simple Job - Complete the burglary quest (10 points)." Ah, the pointless little burglary thing now almost has a point. By the way, you don't have to kill the knights to get this. There's really no benefit to killing them anyway.

00:30:06 - Whoa! I'd forgotten that I fixed the purple bonca bug.

Incidentally, I love the exchange between Dink and the prisoner. "You probably deserved it." "No, actually I didn't." "Oh."

00:37:24 - Herb boots bought. Oh yeah. There's also an achievement for having all the different weapons in your inventory at once. It was easier than keeping track of all the different things you'd bought.

00:38:50 - Reached level 4. Experience in this game is super weak.


00:44:45 - There's a tree near KernSin that's tricky to hit.

00:48:36 - Reached level 5. Actually, the experience gets pretty decent in KernSin. Decent for now, anyway.

00:49:05 - Achievement 10/27 Unlocked: "Heartless dink - Kill George (10 points)." Poor George, he only wanted to be friends. I never, ever did this on my normal runs, but hey, you must obey the achievements. They control you. They control us all.

01:00:13 - Achievement 11/27 Unlocked: "Parade of Death - Carry out the Cast's plan (10 points)." It was tough to implement this because the villagers that walk across the screen (the "parade") at the start are inexplicably given brain 16 in the original script. Actually, the way I've got it set up now, It's possible to get the achievement without killing everybody since they change brains when you attack them. I should fix that.


Such a hero.

01:02:07 - Reached level 6. The goblins give good experience. Too bad Mog doesn't, even though an experience value is set in his script.

01:04:31 - Achievement 12/27 Unlocked: "Treely Worthless - Try to burn the invincible tree (10 points)." That damn pun-making tree.


01:08:15 - I'm not sure I ever stuck around to see this line before after reading the "Dink Worship Center" sign.


01:08:49 - The most hidden powerup in the game is near Windermere. Why would you think to bomb this random rock?

01:14:35 - There's a pushable rock in eastern Windermere. It serves no purpose at all. What an oddity.

01:15:42 - Achievement 13/27 Unlocked: "Walk on Water - Find Koka Isle (20 points)." Hey, I was proud of myself when I found it way back in the day.


01:16:04 - Achievement 14/27 Unlocked: "Riverwalk - Exploit the hardness error (40 points)." I had to put some invisible objects on the map in order to detect this. It's a little fussy.

By the way, that brings me to 200 points, which unlocks the first extra, music select. Any time during the game or at the title screen, you can listen to any of the MIDIs in the game, including an unused track called "Lively" that has appeared in several D-Mods.

01:18:06 - Reached level 7. Koka Isle is a lot of fun.

01:20:00 - Achievement 15/27 Unlocked: "Bow Before Me - Purchase bow lore (10 points)." This is a kind of lame one I added after another idea fell through. For example, a "speed run" achievement doesn't work because the way the game keeps track of time, it would absolutely have to be a single-segment run.

01:29:03 - Reached level 8. Even the basic bow with lore is a good way to take out stone giants.

01:30:43 - There's a tree in the "Edge of the World" area that can't be burned down because of map hardness. It isn't counted, of course.

01:35:52 - Secret Achievement: Seth Rules. I added a couple of achievements that don't give any points. The first one is for finding a secret in the original game that I haven't seen talked about... well, ever, actually. I'm sure people know about it, but here it is anyway.


You can walk right through the trees here...


...and find a hidden message spelled with duck heads.

01:36:11 - Secret Achievement: One Forty-Tree. I added a tree on Screen 143 AND a way to get there. What fun. Read the "Malachi the Jerk" writeup if you have no idea why I did this.


It really ties the screen together.

01:38:22 - Achievement 16/27 Unlocked: "Loose End - Meet the ice wizard (20 points)." This guy adds some very interesting loose ends to the story. A handful of D-Mods have picked them up, but not to the degree I'd have hoped.

01:42:06 - Reached level 9. Really though, Hellfire is a very good way to kill stone giants.

01:46:54 - Arrrrgh. It turns out there was a huge oversight on my part, and trees burned down by hellfire don't count toward the total. I am so very dumb. I'll work on an update right after posting this.

01:58:17 - I went and burned down the inaccessible trees in the unused area... and it fell one short of making up for the trees I burned down with hellfire. This is what I get for releasing a buggy D-Mod. Incidentally, it turns out there's also a normally-inaccessible pillbug out there, so it's possible to exceed that counter by one as well. I'm not going to worry about the trees - it's necessary to do at least a few runs of the game to get all of the achievements anyway.

02:02:25 - Achievement 17/27 Unlocked: "Smokey's Nemesis - Burn down every tree (50 points)." Never mind, I found a tree I had missed. Again, I promise I'll soon add a version that fixes the bug and a couple of other issues I've noticed.

02:03:00 - Reached level 10. I had to go back and get the throwing axe at this point. I'm going to stop noting every level up for a while.


02:09:22 - Achievement 18/27 Unlocked: "Once a Farmer, Always a Farmer - Feed the darklands pig (10 points)." Finally, a reason to still be carrying around that sack of feed!

02:10:00 - Achievement 19/27 Unlocked: "Some Pig - Kill the darklands pig (20 points)." It was great to have a chance to make a Charlotte's Web reference.

02:11:44 - Achievement 20/27 Unlocked: "Genocide - Kill every monster at least once (50 points)." I seem to have miscounted the enemies. I ended up with 369 of 366. I should have one extra because I killed the inaccessible pillbug, but that's still two extra enemies.

02:17:27 - Achievements Unlocked: 21/27: "Pig Farmer to Hero - Defeat Seth (50 points)" and 22/27: "Powerful Pugilist - Defeat Seth using only your fists (80 points)." The name of the latter achievement is a "Malachi the Jerk" reference. To earn it, you have to beat Seth using just your fists - weapons, magic and herb boots are disallowed. For this reason, I put most points in this run into attack instead of my usual preference, defense. Fighting Seth this way would be damn tough if you weren't allowed to use elixirs. As it is, it isn't so bad.


Defeat the pale evil!

At this point, I've got enough points to unlock the second extra, colored blood. Simon Klaebe released a graphics pack of several different blood colors; now you can pick which color you want all blood to be. The setting is remembered when you load a save.


Blue blood? I guess that was a noble stone giant.

02:21:45 - Returned to the King. This should be the last of the powerups, but I'm 2 short. I must have missed something... ugh.

02:45:00 - Achievement 23/27 Unlocked: "Treasure Hunter - Find all the powerups (60 points)." Whew, I DID miss something. I was afraid that was another bug.

Now all that's left to do is grind. Grind, grind away. Hoo boy.

02:49:17 - Reached level 14. Hey, there isn't much other progress to note at this point.

02:58:06 - Reached level 15. The game wasn't really designed to make reaching the upper levels plausible. The exponential curve is steep as hell. The dragons and stone giants give by far the best exp with 400, and it takes 19,600 points just to get from 14 to 15.

03:08:58 - Reached level 16. Obviously the Darklands are the best place to grind, but respawning takes too long to stay there. I've been going on trips to the Ice Castle every time I clear it out. That seems to take about the right amount of time to allow a respawn.

03:19:32 - Achievement 24/27 Unlocked: "Fully Loaded - Have one of each weapon (60 points)." Yes, I finally earned enough gold from grinding to buy the flame bow. The bow doesn't do me much good at this point, but at least going to get it was a change of pace. I included this achievement because it was the closest thing I could think of to matching the "get lots of experience" achievement with a "get lots of gold" achievement. As you can tell by the fact that I'm still level 16, it's not particularly close.

Now I have enough points for the third extra - you can buy the Dinksaber from the Edge of the World shop for 4000 gold. It's the same as a light sword, but more fun.


Fsssh!

03:23:50 - Reached level 17. I've started listening to a podcast to pass the time. Specifically, the Videogame Generations podcast by Dink legend Mike Snyder, in which he talks about games with his daughter. It's cute.

03:37:26 - Reached level 18. I'm not sure what I was thinking. The levels keep getting longer. Having this achievement probably dissuaded anybody from even trying to get them all, which is a shame because I put some effort into a feature for getting them all. I dunno how I'd fix this. Maybe I should just scale it back to reaching this level.

03:49:58 - Reached level 19. This stuff is gonna leave an image on the back of my eyeballs.

04:06:30 - Reached level 20. I'm going to say it - "Achievement Unlocked Edition" is a bad D-Mod. This is proof.

04:29:38 - Reached level 21. I mean, I'm not sorry I made it. It's interesting conceptually, and it may have caused a few people to think about what kind of features you can put in a D-Mod. But as a thing to actually play? Yikes.

04:47:09 - Reached level 22. Really, I'm sorry. I should have known better than to release something like this.

Incidentally, respawning in this game is kind of weird. The DinkC reference says "5 minutes," but screens don't seem to respawn in the order you cleared them. In addition, after I went through the same few areas enough times, they refused to respawn at all for quite a while.

05:30:19 - Got 100,000 gold. I didn't even know the counter expanded until I played "Green Voice in My Head." I'm level 24 at this point, but I stopped feeling like there was any point to making a note every time I leveled up.

I gave up on the stopwatch because I kept forgetting to start it again. Level 25 is the level where, if you've gotten all the golden hearts, the second healthbar will reach the end of the screen.

...Okay. I gave up shortly before reaching level 26. Obviously if I can't make it, I can't expect anybody else to either. Releasing this D-Mod or add-on or whatever with this achievement in it was obviously a big mistake. I'll probably simply take it out entirely in an update soon. If this thing is even worth updating. Man, I'm pretty bummed out about this.

The other achievements left are finishing the game at level 4 and going through the whole game without saving, buying bow lore, the light sword/dinksaber, bow lore or hellfire, or using an elixir. I know these are doable because I've done them, but the latter might be extremely frustrating and cause you to give up if you die against Seth and have to start over. Maybe for playability's sake I should also remove the prohibition on saving from that one, I dunno. Let me know what changes you think I should make.

There are two more extras. One of them is the respec system from Malachi the Jerk. For the other, you go talk to the King, who has some new dialogue about having gotten all the achievements. Dink demands to know what he gets for his effort.


What do you want, some kind of trophy?

After talking to the King, if you start a new game, the guy who demands a toll on the bridge will become possible to kill. If you do so, a lot of the game content changes from that point on. What I've done is taken the content from this topic where I made fake screenshots imagining a silly alternate story direction for Dink Smallwood and actually put that content into the game. Dink must pay for his crime of murder. You can also meet Charlie - he demands 100,000 gold for that little house. If you're crazy enough to actually raise that (please no), it becomes yours and is lightly furnished. If you want to see this mode, you can go ahead and copy a save file with the number 99.


A scene from the alternate story.
January 28th 2015, 06:33 AM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
An interesting read as always! A shame you didn't go all the way to 32, but the experience gains do get pretty bad up that high.

I noticed you didn't mention an achievement for not using/equipping any swords :c I would have included bows but you require one to get into the Goblin Village as it is.

I may actually go back and take a look at this once you've patched it, should be fun!
January 28th 2015, 06:38 AM
dinkdead.gif
Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
Not using bows is too easy since they are the single most terrible weapon in the game.

And probably all dmods that have them.
January 28th 2015, 09:54 AM
girl.gif
yeoldetoast
Peasant Female Australia steam
discord.gg/Ukugfbh 
>That's not even a puzzle, it's just failing to give the player any notice of the game moving along. There are several walls like that you'll likely run into while playing this, but that one was the worst for me. I still managed to make it through, but I'd have had a better time if the game hadn't responded with a shrug nearly every time I completed a task.


I was one of the testers for Quel and I tried to get him to change such things, but Meta justifies it as being an element of original Dink such as when the rocks to KernSin disappear all of a sudden which I sort of respect as the author's choice. The Scourger is also full of such things which you noted so I guess it's just a habit of his.
January 28th 2015, 10:29 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Speaking of original Dink, I have this strong feeling that I remember Joppa Isle (the fight against the dragons, where you get the throwing axe) being optional. I have a feeling that I didn't even do it on my first run through the game. Is it possible that it was only made a necessary condition for getting the King to send you to the Edge of the World in an update, possibly even an update before the game became freeware?
January 28th 2015, 11:58 AM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
I remember the Joppa Isle part being optional too. I'll totally believe if somebody says it wasn't; it seems a somewhat big part to have just been cut out from the main story in the original version. But for some reason I still seem to remember not having to do it. This was with the version I got on Mikrobitti in 1999, which I believe was after the game became freeware. At one point much later, when I had downloaded a newer version of Dink, I actually remember being dumbfounded as to why I couldn't get in the castle, until I thought maybe I need to complete the Joppa quest first.
January 28th 2015, 12:04 PM
dinkdead.gif
Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
Speaking on unfinishedness, does anyone have a clue what the full game would officially be like?
January 28th 2015, 12:44 PM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
There's nothing specifically about the dragon island in the whatsnew.txt, but 1.06 (the first freeware version) does have a really general note about rebalancing the game, so it could have happened there.

Only way to know for sure is to look at an old version of the game. If only I hadn't lost my disc with 1.04 on it last year...
January 28th 2015, 10:03 PM
dinkdead.gif
megadogV2
Peasant Male New Zealand bloop
Only paritally dead. 
Man, I'm seriously worried you'll get to mine before I have time to fix the things I want to fix. Damn having a job!
January 28th 2015, 10:47 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Looking at the original game's walkthrough, it doesn't really specify if you have to complete Joppa Isle or not. It does say that you can leave Windemere right away after the main quest there is done with, but it's not clear whether this means you can just leave to wander around the map aimlessly for your own fun, or if it means you can leave and move forward in the game.
January 28th 2015, 10:47 PM
custom_king.png
redink1
King Male United States xbox steam bloop
A mother ducking wizard 
Paul's achievements menu was much nicer than my simple solution, but Dan's was actually quite similar.

I did look at your system for inspiration. I was running a bit low on time, so I tried to simply things as much as possible (like making the achievement notification text-only, and re-using the same choice statement for 'todo' and 'achieved').
January 28th 2015, 11:50 PM
girl.gif
yeoldetoast
Peasant Female Australia steam
discord.gg/Ukugfbh 
I have a cracked copy of the Dink CD that I downloaded from The Underground Gamer before certain wankers got them shut down that is dated April '98. The scripts in question that I can determine are KING.C and S5-END.c which runs after you save them from the dragons.

These two scripts are identical in function in both versions; s5-end updates the STORY var to 12, and king.c checks it to see if it's 12 before it will let you talk to him.
January 29th 2015, 12:03 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
That settles that: I've just got a bad memory. April 98 was earlier than when I got the game.
January 29th 2015, 12:31 AM
girl.gif
yeoldetoast
Peasant Female Australia steam
discord.gg/Ukugfbh 
I actually thought the same thing which made me want to check it out. Maybe it's the Dink equivalent of the Berenstain/Berenstein Bears conundrum.
January 29th 2015, 12:52 AM
dinkdead.gif
Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
So it checks to see if you completed a random quest in some random guy's basement to defeat some dragons to save some random people we've never heard of to get no real reward except overpriced throwing axes...

but it doesn't check to see if you actually heard about Milder?

Actually, the Windemere Quest had no relation to Seth's evil plot. Actually, nothing did. Nevermind. Nothing makes sense. The king may as well have said "Dink! There's some evil. I don't know where the hell it came from, but stop doing random things and stop it!"

I know Milder said the Cast were a front, but what were they even trying to accomplish for Seth? Was it just that there was a goblin war and a Smallwood and then there wasn't a goblin war or a Smallwood and Smallwood lineage and ancients and shit, so the Cast wanted to incur another goblin war even though there's only a handful of them in the sanctuary and that's weird, and Seth just wants to drink Dink?
January 29th 2015, 12:53 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Huh. I remember those books. I think I used to say "Berenstein" when I was a kid too, although of course it's always said "Berenstain." I guess kids just tend to gloss over things.

Edit: There is a point, though a thin one. Dink just isn't renowned enough for the king to send him on such a mission until he famously saves Windermere.
January 29th 2015, 04:15 AM
girl.gif
yeoldetoast
Peasant Female Australia steam
discord.gg/Ukugfbh 
Remember that the whole "Seth at the end" thing was tacked in there as a joke and deus ex machina because they ran out of time so it's not really supposed to make sense.
If they had planned the development more effectively they may have put something relevant in there instead. I don't even know if they bothered to write design documents or a coherent plan.
January 29th 2015, 04:33 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
How often I forget we're talking about a game that wasn't even close to finished.
January 29th 2015, 06:00 AM
dinkdead.gif
Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
Remember that the whole "Seth at the end" thing was tacked in there as a joke and deus ex machina because they ran out of time so it's not really supposed to make sense.

Well alright then. At least it makes some sense I guess.
January 29th 2015, 03:48 PM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
348: Epochs and Aeons: Part One Author: Leprochaun Release Date: October 4, 2014
"I'lL aLwAyS wIn At EvErYtHiNg."

"Epochs and Aeons" is the best short setup for a multi-part story that I've seen in all of the D-Mods. Unfortunately, even after an update it's still held back by one particularly annoying bug.

It opens on the first screen from the original, with the same line from Dink's mom - "Dink, would you go feed the pigs?" But Dink doesn't say, "What, now?" He says, "I'd do anything for you mother. Anything." In just two lines of dialogue, we already know that we're dealing with a very different version of Dink Smallwood. The Dink we know is bored and frustrated by his mom's chores; this guy, on the other hand, is more than eager to please - he's desperate to please. This is a timid Dink Smallwood; far from wishing to break out of his quiet village life, he clings to it as the only thing he knows. You can go around Stonebrook and have altered versions of the normal conversations with the characters there. When Renton tells Dink that leaving is too dangerous, he agrees. "Good boy," praises the knight.

But Dink has bigger problems than timidity or even cowardice; he's also so dumb, it's kind of surreal. As a result, he's not even good at being a humble pig farmer. He takes every idiom literally like first-two-seasons Data, and he can never figure anything out without it being directly explained to him. He seems almost too stupid to live. It's rather odd - he doesn't act like an ordinary stupid person or a person with a mental disability. I wonder if this version of Dink is even real. Is something screwy going on here?

It sure looks that way when he tries to feed the pigs. No matter how much feed he throws, they won't eat. He becomes increasingly agitated until he starts to scream, and reality promptly flips the Hell out.


It's a glitch in the matrix!

The remainder of the D-Mod takes place in a small but mazelike and lushly decorated forest. The forest takes up only 16 screens on the map (which has just 27 in total, 9 of which are from the original game), but it has the lantern effect applied, and the paths are mazelike enough that I spent several minutes lost in it before I figured out where I was going. The forest is gorgeous and appealingly strange. Leprochaun did a great job creating a spooky but for the most part not overtly menacing atmosphere. The lantern effect, VonZeppelin's night tiles and the MIDI used for this area work well together. There are a lot of custom graphics used in this short D-Mod. New sprites provide striking highlights among the basic ones.


Hear that, Someone? Dink needs your help! You aren't just gonna leave him hanging, are you?

Once you find your way to a cabin, there's a very long cutscene (you can skip it if you've seen it before or like your story-based D-Mods to have as little story as possible). Dink meets a woman named Shiva who seems to have some kind of grudge against him, which must be a misunderstanding. It turns out that there's another Dink Smallwood, who shows up as "our" Dink hides. This Dink isn't like the Dink we know either. This guy is evil, megalomaniacal and clearly mentally unstable. He believes that the world belongs to him, and that he can therefore be as cruel as he wants. He paces back and forth constantly, maybe to intimidate Shiva but probably because he can't help it. He speaks in AlTeRnAtInG cApS (RIP spellcheck) to convey just how deranged he is. This guy is bad news, and you can really feel Shiva's frustration in being unable to fight this monster. This Dink makes quite a villain speech, I must say. Maybe he really does rule the world. When you're actually in the room with somebody like this, some self-important, violent bully, it can feel like they control everything. You feel mute, powerless, ashamed. Most of us become almost infinitely weak in the face of implacable evil. That feeling comes across in this scene.


Dink, I'm impressed! Have you been practicing your villain lines?

The main thing you do in terms of actual gameplay is a short fetch quest, and here's where I ran into a nasty bug. While wandering around the forest initially, I found two of the necessary items before arriving at the cabin. I assumed this would make my quest easy - I had two out of three items already. Instead, having the items at this point makes it impossible to continue, since the game doesn't think you have them and they're gone from their original locations. All I could do was restart the game, which didn't take so long but still felt like a real shame. I've seen discussion of further bugs, but the only other issues I ran into were minor (You can clip behind the corner of the cabin, evil Dink says "insanse" instead of "insane") or obscure (Dink sometimes slows down because he's scared of the forest, but if you restart in one of those moments, the slow speed will persist).

There's a segment at the end where you get to control Shiva. If you do a bit of poking around, you can learn that she mourns someone she looked up to, someone who sacrificed himself to save her. She thinks that it should have been her that died instead. Shiva is a fascinating character; she's got so much anger and regret tied up in her that she literally burns with it.


Then again, some things are worth getting angry over.

By the way, this D-Mod makes nice use of Dnotalk.c to provide three sets of "talking to nothing" text: One for Dink's carefree life at home, one for him scared and lost in the forest, and one for Shiva. It's nice that you can finally account for things like this.

I may have spoiled this story-based D-Mod a bit by summarizing it, but it is intended as the first part of a larger story, after all, and I don't know how I could have seriously discussed it without talking about what happens. This is a great setup and leaves you with many questions. Who is the timid Dink Smallwood, really? Where does he come from? Why did the other Dink become crazy and evil? Which one is the real Dink? Both? Neither? What are the details of Shiva's past, and can she avoid a gruesome fate that looks inevitable? I'd sure like to find out.


Here is another pretty picture from this D-Mod. Leprochaun sure can map.

349: The Woods Author: Endy Release Date: October 9, 2014
"The Yellow King DEMANDS a meeting."

This is Endy's first D-Mod released in a long time. In fact, this had come out just before I made a list of the longest release gaps in the 2006 topic, and I forgot to include Endy. Let's take another look at that list.

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. Dan Walma - 10 years, 3 months, 7 days (Initiation: 9/29/04 - Revolution: 1/5/15)
4. Scratcher - 9 years, 8 months, 29 days (Bincabbi: 11/4/02 - Lost Forest Romp: 8/2/12)
5. Paul Pliska - 8 years, 5 months, 25 days (Triangle Mover: 2/8/04 - Dink Gets Bored: 8/2/12)
6. Metatarasal - 6 years, 8 months, 14 days (The Scourger: 11/19/05 - Quel: 8/2/12)
7. Endy - 6 years, 6 months, 11 days (Hide-n-Seek: 3/28/08 - The Woods: 10/9/14)
8. Wesley McElwee - 5 years, 10 months, 10 days (FB3: 11/15/00 - IDRTW: 9/26/06)
9. SabreTrout - 5 years, 1 month, 4 days (Basilisk Smile: 9/26/06 - Valhalla: 10/30/11)

If JVeenhof waits just a few months longer to make his comeback, he can unseat me from the top of that list. I'm just saying.

"The Woods" is a different sort of thing than any other D-Mod I've played. It's an experimental work of horror, and it does manage to be a bit creepy, or at the very least unsettling. According to the dmod.diz, it's based on a French play titled Le Roi en Jaune, but that's not strictly true. "The King in Yellow" is a book of short stories by an American author at the end of the 19th century. The first few stories in that book describe a play (also called "The King in Yellow," but translated either from or into French, presumably by a translator who went mad in the process) which drives anybody who reads the second act completely mad. If that sounds Lovecraftian, it isn't a coincidence. H.P. Lovecraft was influenced by the work and referenced it in his own. There is a published attempt to write out the whole play in French and English. Here's your chance to go mad, folks, just $31.36.

This is the second D-Mod in a row that starts in Dink's mother's house from the original game. "The Woods" also uses the original game's title screen, which is clearly an intentional design choice rather than simple laziness. This time, all of the dialogue on that screen is identical to the original game. The only difference is that you're missing your fist. You should grab that pig feed, though. You'll need it.

Everything is normal until you leave the house. During the screen transition, a vision of the burned-out version of the house flashes on the screen.


What a beautiful dream that could flash on the screen in a blink of an eye and be gone from me...

Something is off about Stonebrook. People are missing. Smilestein is there, but he won't respond to Dink's questions. If you feed the pigs, Milder shows up. He seems concerned for Dink, but Dink doesn't notice. He says his same old lines. But things don't really get weird until you talk to the well, where Dink has apparently stuffed Chealse's dead body.

The bulk of the D-Mod is spent wandering around a black void. You can hear creepy music, bells and a girl singing. Pages are strewn about with quotations from The King in Yellow. There's a trail of blood, but if you follow it, you soon come to a sign telling you to stop following it. When you stop following it, bizarre things happen. At times, the game talks directly to the player.


But I like following blood.

A unique feature of "The Woods" is that ending (the program terminating itself using kill_game) is part of the normal progression of the D-Mod. This is possible because the game can check to see whether a saved game exists with any number attached to it you like; many D-Mods have used this technique to keep information across saves. An idea I had planned for the "Dink's Demise" contest would have used kill_game like this, but I never got around to making it. When you start "The Woods" back up after it quits itself in this manner, the "Start" option will be gone. "Continue" brings up a list with a few false saves that make no sense and one for you to actually load and continue the game.


Try loading a saved game that exists, friend.

I don't want to say too much about this one because it's just a surreal experience that you have to see yourself. There is an interesting segment where you have to navigate some screens blind, without even the ability to display "talking to nothing" text to guide you. Eventually you'll meet a Yellow King and your game will end. If you try to start the game again, all you'll see is this:


And it was all yellow.

That's it. The only way to play again at this point is to delete the save files from the folder.

One of the scripts contains a hidden poem. It may be the author's original work - at least, I couldn't find any references to it online. It will never display in the game... Well, it's set to display when 1 is equal to 2, and if that ever happens you'll probably be more concerned with reality undoing itself than playing a D-Mod.

There's a typo at one point. "Quetions" instead of "questions." That's the only error I ever noticed.

"The Woods" is unique and very interesting. It and "Cycles of Evil" are the only D-Mods I've played that felt like a work of literature. Definitely give this one a go, it won't take long.


Oh, hi. I've heard you're also beauty. Is that right?

--

Would you look at that, we're all out of D-Mods that came out in a year other than the current one. Just a few more...
January 29th 2015, 04:22 PM
dinkdead.gif
Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
COME ON, SOMEONE ACCEPT MY NEW DMOD! COCO WOULD LOVE IT.
January 29th 2015, 06:45 PM
wizardg.gif
leprochaun
Peasant Male Japan xbox steam bloop
Responsible for making things not look like ass 
I see you decided to push stuff up her bum. Did you also try pushing them down her throat? I'm actually not fond of that fetch quest at all. When I originally made it, I never intended for or wanted there to be a playable aspect to this section. I just didn't think many people would enjoy something so story heavy without some form of playability. *shrug* oh well. Writing that dmod was both incredibly fun and painfully aggravating at the same time. That's the issue with trying to be both serious and ridiculous, but I think I managed to express both. Actually, when I first was planning it out, I wasn't sure what Shiva was going to be. I decided to take some of Tharia Northwind's background and make it my own. So, thanks for that. Honestly, I have so much I want to do for this series, that I'm not sure if I'll be able to get to it all.
Also, to everyone else, I promise I will fix the bugs as soon as I get a new computer. As I currently lack the means to do so.
January 29th 2015, 07:29 PM
custom_king.png
redink1
King Male United States xbox steam bloop
A mother ducking wizard 
Fine...
January 29th 2015, 07:56 PM
dinkdead.gif
Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
Oh. I was going to paste your comment about it to see who said it, buuuut.

Have fun, Coco.

January 30th 2015, 01:19 AM
girl.gif
yeoldetoast
Peasant Female Australia steam
discord.gg/Ukugfbh 
Speaking of unfinished, I have uploaded a couple of Dink shareware demo versions onto my server. The first is ddemo104.exe which is version 1.04 of the engine which was released after the game started shipping and is dated 28th April '98. It includes a reasonable chunk of the game and includes a screen with the word "Hi!" written in blue potions. It also features a short RTSoft logo video before the engine starts, and some of the music is different. The game ends at the entrance to KernSin after the rocks disappear. Martridge shows up and tells you to order the full game and won't let you go any further.

The other demo is the very primitive Dink version 1.01 from October '97 which is from before the game was finished! I downloaded it way back in 2008 and have had it since then. It features an incredibly rough-looking map that lacks many features such as paths and even-spaced fencing. A lot of the music is missing or different such as in SmileStein's house which uses the original neighbour.mid. A lot of the dialogue is different as well such as the confrontation with Ethel's duck, and the letter you get after the house burns down is instead from an "Aunt Kinney" who lives in "The NorthLands" (loving the CamelCase). The bridge toll man tells you that the bridge is still under construction and urges you to purchase the full version for $15 if you want to cross instead of 100 gold. The filename is dink101.zip. Both may be found here

They both work perfectly in FreeDink's 1.07 mode in case you want to play them and explore Dink's history. I had to get a program called The Universal Extractor to get 1.04 to extract though. In both of them the credits.txt and readme.txt files are much more verbose than in later versions, and in 1.01 it shows the list of planned features including a multiplayer mode. Strangely enough there's a BMP in there called DINKLOAD.BMP featuring a picture of a young Seth and some debugging keys, and none of the graphics are FastFile'd.

There's an interview with Seth where he claims that the last third of the game was done in a week. I'm unsure if version 1.00 of the engine was ever released as a demo though.
January 30th 2015, 02:17 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
I think that 1.04 demo is the one that was on the PC Gamer demo disc later in 1998. That was what convinced me to buy the game. I remembered it having some sort of "it's just a demo" ending just before KernSin. That's neat, thanks for uploading those.
January 30th 2015, 04:23 AM
spike.gif
scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
The 101 demo is great for an in-progress look at the game. They don't have proper road tiles yet, and Dink can't even glide against hard objects. My favourite part, though, is when Martridge admits to being too old and feeble to defeat the bonca in the cave. In the full version, he plays it off as wanting to 'test' Dink.
January 30th 2015, 04:33 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
==2015==

There's no time like the present. As of right now, there are four D-Mods out this year, which is neat when you consider that it's still January. Sigh... okay, fine, FIVE D-Mods. What's that? Six? Goddamn it. You know what, I'm calling it here. No more D-Mods will be accepted. Otherwise Skorn or anybody can just keep putting out crappy D-Mods just to make me write about them. Too bad this means I'll have to end on the likes of "Dink and the Chins," whatever that's about.

--The Silent Protagonist Contest--

The Silent Protagonist Contest was announced on October 6th, 2014. It was the first contest to be announced by redink1 since 2006's Failure Contest. Entries were required to have a protagonist who never speaks outside of the intro and ending. Workarounds like showing their thoughts or having a voice in their head were also disallowed. The idea was to have a game with a true silent protagonist like an oldschool RPG. Entries were also limited to no more than 60 screens. The announcement said that "[t]he spirit of the contest would be to create a standard Dink-style D-Mod," but only one of the entries ended up being that type of D-Mod.

Three entries were received by the original deadline of January 4th, 2015, so the deadline wasn't extended at all. How about that? The winner was decided in an unusual way - the entrants themselves voted. Since we couldn't vote for our own entries, there were only two possible arrangements of votes - a three-way tie, or 2-1-0. The latter case occurred. Let's start with the one that got 0 votes.

350: Dinkgon Warrior Authors: Tim Maurer, MsDink Release Date: January 5, 2015
"We were hoping you could take care of it so that the real hero doesn't have to bother."

By this point, I had made a silent decision that I wouldn't make any more D-Mods. The last idea I'd really been into was a complete and utter disaster when I announced it, so I ended up shelving the work I'd done on it for good. But when Dan announced the contest, I thought, Hell, I had to do something. If the second contest in a row failed to happen, I didn't want it to be because I couldn't be bothered to make anything for it.

I couldn't come up with any new ideas, so I went back to the list I'd made when I was brainstorming before I started "Malachi the Jerk" and found my old idea to remake the 1989 NES RPG Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest in Japan; newer releases go by that name outside of Japan as well). I hadn't originally intended for Dink to be silent when I came up with that idea - instead, I was going to have him crack wise about the setting and the RPG tropes - but having him stay silent seemed to make a lot of sense. It made it truer to the original.

I talked to MsDink about doing the map work. At first she agreed to do all of the map work, but she ended up having a whole lot of stuff happen in real life, and her role became more like Leprochaun's in "Malachi the Jerk," with the addition of making some new graphics as well. Actually, with everything she had going on, I'm impressed that she managed to help me out on this project at all. I've been very fortunate to have two of the community's best mappers clean up my mapping messes. My initial map for "Dinkgon Warrior" was a submarine wreck. I had become too lazy even to map as well as I did in my initial version of "Malachi the Jerk," which is saying a lot. Here are some comparison screenshots (original on top, final on bottom):



The title screen. MsDink said early on that she'd make it, but I had one ready juuuust in case. Not that I didn't think she'd make one, but you never know.



Can you BELIEVE my version of the throne room? Dear god.



The best thing I can say about my attempt at the castle garden is that MsDink could at least see what I was going for. Her version is gorgeous, of course.



MsDink made my avatar a bedsheet like she did for various authors in "Furball!" That was sweet of her.

I worked long hours on this D-Mod and finished a fully playable version (pending MsDink's contribution) around Halloween. I was fortunate that the formulas used by Dragon Warrior have been fully documented. Thus, I was able to port the whole battle system over to Dink and have it work exactly as it does in the NES game (barring a case or two where the systems handle rounding differently). At first, I used a simplified version of the battle system, but as I worked on it, I realized that it wasn't too much trouble to go ahead and implement every feature. I was even able to approximate the same experience curve as Dragon Warrior by having an experience multiplier that changes depending on your current level. The turn-based combat system is all contained within one script, including the stats for each of the 17 enemies. It's too bad that DinkC won't store and retrieve text strings, because I couldn't reproduce the battle messages that say things like "The Slime attacks!" without having an entirely separate version of those lines for each enemy, which is nuts. You can sort of store strings by representing letters with numbers, but it won't do you any good, since you still wouldn't be able to put the result into a line of text.


A fierce battle of stats against stats! Text flying at you as fast as you can handle!

This D-Mod is different from a typical Dink game in many ways. There's no inventory screen, and the item slot is just used for medicinal herbs. Magic is used as MP, and you have a maximum MP stat that you can view in the escape menu along with your equipment. Dying sends you back to the castle with half of your gold removed instead of forcing you to load a save. At level up you're assigned stat increases (several at once). In Dragon Warrior, your stat growth pattern depends upon your name, so I gave you the one you'd get if you entered your name as "Dink." And of course, there's the turn-based battles.

The battles in "Dinkgon Warrior" are less than exciting, I realize. You walk into the monsters on the map and then Dink and monster both just stand there as you go through an entirely text-based battle. There are sounds, but no animations. I considered having Dink and the enemies go through attack animations when they attack, but doing so would have slowed combat down a lot, and in testing I really found it more fun as it was. "Dinkgon Warrior" feels just like playing Dragon Warrior in terms of gameplay except that battles are much faster. I've played it through several times now and always had fun; it turned out just the way I had hoped. It has that same feeling as that game from my childhood: grinding methodically to upgrade your equipment, testing the limits as you push further and further form your safe haven, the tension as you push into a dungeon you might not yet be ready for, knowing that half your gold is at stake if you lose. It was exactly what I wanted it to be, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily going to appeal to other people. It's a very niche thing I've made here. Dragon Quest has never been very popular outside of Japan, and Dragon Warrior, the game that invented the JRPG, is slow and simple. Many people don't like grinding; although I tried to allow for this by including an option to play with the higher experience and gold rewards from the 2000 Game Boy Color remake, it's still plenty grindy either way. That's just what it is. I don't doubt that some players also found the fact that most screens lock every time you enter them extremely frustrating, but this was intended to recreate the slow progress across the map in Dragon Warrior thanks to random encounters. It also can't help that you rarely hear more than a couple of seconds of any given MIDI.


Caves are what this sort of game is all about, so I made room to include two of them. It wasn't easy to do with the screen limit.

"Dinkgon Warrior" was never going to have a wide appeal, so I certainly shouldn't have gotten upset when it came in last place in the contest. Unfortunately, I didn't take it well. At all. I sure am not proud of that, but I've linked to other people's dirty laundry, so here's mine. I have to apologize once again, particularly to Dan and Megadog, whose entries I showed disrespect for by freaking out about not getting any of the (two available!) votes. On a less awesome community, a fight probably would have happened, and it would have been my fault.

You know, I'm reminded of a lyric from a song I used to listen to back in high school. Anybody remember The Black Album? At least a few of you must; it was extremely popular.

No matter where you go, you are what you are player
And you can try to change, but that's just the top layer
Man, you was who you was when you got here


That lyric always rang true to me. People don't change, not at the core. They might seem to, but it's just the top layer. Behind it, we're still the same thing we always were. People don't change.

Here's what's beneath my top layer: my opinion of myself is unchangeably miserable, and I take even well-intentioned criticism extremely poorly. It was true back in 1998, as anybody who was around to see my histrionic rants well knows, and it's true now. It happens on a level beneath my conscious thoughts. I read or hear the words that tell me - often just in my own head! - that my work, and therefore, my lazy brain insists, I - am deficient, and I begin to spiral downward. A cold feeling seizes deep in my chest, and I become unstable. I actually have trouble breathing. If you've ever wondered why I haven't seriously gone into a real career in writing, there you go.

This explains, but certainly doesn't excuse my behavior. I have to try to do better in the future. At least on the top layer.

That's enough of that; I still have more to say about the D-Mod itself. I had fun with the dialogue, although there isn't a lot. Most of the lines the NPCs do have are based on dialogue from Dragon Warrior, so I got to make fun of absurd lines like "No, I'm not Princess Gwaelin" and "No, we have no tomatoes. We have no tomatoes today." I had special fun pointing out at length how creepy it would be for some chick you just met to throw herself at you the way the princess in this game does and demand your undying love immediately.


It's tough to be an NPC, okay?

The contest's 60-screen limitation had a big impact on this project. It made it impossible to remake the entire game, which I admit would have been a huge job. I scaled it back to end when you rescue the princess, which happens less than halfway through the original game. I had to seriously compress the map of even that segment to fit "Dinkgon Warrior" into its 57 screens. I did find room to include two dungeons, though. One of them is based on a totally optional dungeon from Dragon Warrior that had no significant reward, but I really needed a dungeon there to make this chopped-down version feel like a real game.


The map of "Dinkgon Warrior."

This was fun to make. I could see myself expanding this to cover the whole game if I had more help with mapping, and Leprochaun has offered to help. But even if most people found this to be tolerable, I can't imagine there'd be much demand for a much longer version of it.

I found a couple of bugs playing this just now. Looks like all three of my recent releases are going to have to get a patch at some point.

351: Silence Author: Megadog Release Date: January 5, 2015
"She never spoke. She couldn't find the words."

"Silence" is the story of a girl named Imogen who has permanently lost her voice. She lives in an insular community called Calbora that no one is allowed to enter or leave. When girls of Calbora reach the age of fifteen, they are mutilated in such a manner as to render them incapable of speech. The casual, haughty cruelty of the elders as they do this to Imogen in the intro is unnerving. What's really amazing about this society, though, is that the girls somehow don't know about this practice until the moment it's done to them. The only way this could be possible is if the girls under fifteen were kept totally isolated from any girls or women past their fifteenth birthday. The D-Mod doesn't outright state that this is done, but there's nothing to contradict it either.


There must be some kind of cult religion going on here. It's the only way I can rationalize this type of behavior.

Imogen manages to escape Calbora after her "procedure" due to excellent luck - someone has left a tunnel. We see earlier in the intro that her big sister Lilith managed to escape as well - I wonder why she didn't take Imogen with her, knowing what they were going to do to her?

Unfortunately, I didn't see any of this the first time I played the game. You see, the title screen has two start buttons.


Count 'em!

I clicked the one in the middle of the screen. It skips the intro and makes you start with the fireball and a stat boost, but at the time I assumed that was just how the D-Mod started. I was able to infer what happened in the intro from the rest of the story, but it seemed like an odd way to present things and obviously didn't have the same impact. The stat boost and fireball also had a big impact on the D-Mod apart from just making it easier. Imogen is intended to be portrayed as a frightened, inexperienced girl who has to learn the fireball spell later in order to defend herself (she starts with 0 in all stats). If you click the center button, the D-Mod seems to be about some kind of mute but fairly experienced mage. This harmed my first impression somewhat. I didn't find out about this until after I'd already beaten the D-Mod.

Imogen's run of good luck (she could use it after having the miserable luck of being born in Calbora) continues as she meets a man named Michael who's willing to help her. Even better, he immediately understands her situation because he's met her sister (although obviously he doesn't know that Imogen and the woman he met are sisters). It's a lucky thing that girls in Calbora are taught how to write (I wonder why? I have so many questions about this place). Imogen is soon able to go out looking for her sister and find information that leads her to find her nearby.

There are certain pitfalls in making a game about a character who's silent not because of RPG conventions, but because they're literally incapable of speech. When Ness, Crono or the Dragon Quest VIII guy talks to an NPC and the NPC immediately knows what they're on about, we just assume that they said something. It isn't a big deal; their muteness isn't a stated character trait. When your character is literally mute, you have to think about how they're communicating with the people who talk to them. Imogen mostly nods, shakes her head and points, which is a good start but you'd still think she'd have a lot of trouble being understood. Oddly, she doesn't. The D-Mod never outright has a character know something they couldn't possibly know without Imogen speaking to them (or writing something down - given that it's established that Calboran girls are taught to write, why doesn't she?), but Michael does deserve an "All-time Charades Champion" medal for getting "there's something that will help you with your mouth up on the cliffs" from Imogen pointing to her mouth and then toward cliffs that he can't even see because they're indoors. It would have made more sense if she had to go a bit further to get things across. This isn't a huge issue, but it did bug me a little bit.

A bigger problem is all of the talking Imogen does in this D-Mod. She says she doesn't have a map when you press the map button. She says "Yum!" when she eats food. She tells the save machine to die when she hits it, explains megapotions when she picks them up, and counts her gold out loud. Dnotalk and Dnomagic have been used to change the associated default messages, but everything else is intact, something I'd probably let slide if contest rules were the only problem, but Imogen is supposed to be totally incapable of speech. As such, it takes you right out of the story to see her saying all this stuff. It would be simple enough to edit all of these cases in an update (megadog, if you need any help just ask).


This is the only thing she can say any time she wants. That'd almost be worse than being mute.

The map is quite good. There isn't a lot of decoration, but the screens don't look too plain thanks to good use of tiles. Visually, everything makes sense. The map doesn't have the boxy or tunnel-like shapes that plague so many D-Mods, and the clifftop path is layered over the town below in such a way that the whole "world" makes sense and looks good as a unit. Megadog avoids common errors in his debut release such as bad tiling and hardness and depth dot problems. All 60 screens allowed by the contest rules are used. It's a nice little map.

Imogen ultimately finds Lilith (boy, she didn't get far in the years since her "procedure"), and Lilith has found a magic flower that can cure her injury. Unfortunately, she used it up right before Imogen got there! Poor Imogen is left silent at the end of this D-Mod. Actually, the last thing Imogen and Lilith do is buy a house. You have to pay for it, but you'll probably have enough money already unless you bought the throwing axe, which you don't need. The ending is a little abrupt as the author ran out of time and screens. I think it would have been slightly better to end right after the sisters meet or maybe right after they get back to town; having to go buy a house doesn't add much when that's the end of the D-Mod. The reunion is a strong story event to end on.


Way to hog the magic flowers, sis.

"Silence" is a solid effort for a first time author with a unique story for a D-Mod and a well-built map. The author is apparently working on a patch that should hopefully fix the issues I ran into, so it should be a pretty nice little D-Mod once it's all done.
January 30th 2015, 07:02 AM
girl.gif
yeoldetoast
Peasant Female Australia steam
discord.gg/Ukugfbh 
Open up the map in DinkEdit if you haven't already as well to see how they did their mapping. I've been having a look through some of the scripts and it looks like the in-game map was originally designed to be more useful as it suggests that save machines would show up as dots once you'd discovered them. The travellers allude to a Goblin Castle that's only in the full version, and some scripts are early versions of what would come later, such as this gem (s1-ss.c) that later probably became part of the dragon fight (look on screen 423 to see it in development):

void main ( void )

{

   freeze(&current_sprite);

   wait(2000);

   say_stop("`3Protect the women Smallwood!!", &current_sprite);

   say_stop("`3Protect the women Smallwood!!", &current_sprite);

   say_stop("`3Protect the women Smallwood!!", &current_sprite);

   say_stop("`3Protect the women Smallwood!!", &current_sprite);

   say_stop("`3Protect the women Smallwood!!", &current_sprite);

   say_stop("`3Protect the women Smallwood!!", &current_sprite);

   unfreeze(&current_sprite);

   say("`3Protect the women Smallwood!!", &current_sprite);

   wait(500);

   say("`3Protect the women Smallwood!!", &current_sprite);

   wait(500);

   say("`3Protect the women Smallwood!!", &current_sprite);

   wait(500);

   say("`3Protect the women Smallwood!!", &current_sprite);

   wait(250);

   say("`3Duck this, I'm done talking!!", &current_sprite);

}


The traveller named "Chance `Zands" doesn't have the backtick in his name in 1.01 (I can't understand why they put it in). Some of the graphics are missing such as the red woman death frame which is evident in Dink's house fire (skull and crossbones are used instead), and slayer death graphics are also absent.
January 30th 2015, 10:45 AM
custom_skull.gif
Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Too bad this means I'll have to end on the likes of "Dink and the Chins," whatever that's about.

If you want, I could try to make a D-Mod within the next couple of weeks, so you could end this whole thing on a higher note. I've had the idea in my head for a while, and it would be a pretty fitting D-Mod to end the COTPATD with. If you don't want to, that's ok too. Just thought it'd be a shame to end it with some horrible D-Mod.
January 30th 2015, 10:55 AM
dinkdead.gif
Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
It wouldn't end on it as long as people release more after Chins.
January 30th 2015, 01:07 PM
knights.gif
DinkKiller
Peasant Male United States xbox steam
The world could always use more heroes 
Or he could stop on my D-mod and ignore Skurn's

Really though, we're at the end at it makes me sad. This whole COTPATD has been amazing to read and I don't look forward to it being done.
January 30th 2015, 01:13 PM
dinkdead.gif
Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
My DMODs are too good to pass up. Just look at all the previous ones.
January 30th 2015, 02:43 PM
dragon.gif
Quiztis
Peasant Male Sweden steam bloop
Life? What's that? Can I download it?! 
It's bad but kinda fun.
January 30th 2015, 03:23 PM
dinkdead.gif
Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
Dink and the Chins?
January 30th 2015, 03:26 PM
dragon.gif
Quiztis
Peasant Male Sweden steam bloop
Life? What's that? Can I download it?! 
Yeah.
January 30th 2015, 10:14 PM
dinkdead.gif
megadogV2
Peasant Male New Zealand bloop
Only paritally dead. 
While I don't need scripting help, I find it amazing how many scripts didn't occur to me that needed to be changed. I will add changing food, savebots, "m" and megapotions to the (getting long) list of things to fix for the next update. (If anyone would like to supply help, constructive criticism is appreciated. I may just have to make a DEV thread on the subject, it's quite fun to have my first thing out and keep improving it.)

As to story related concerns, there was lots I wanted to tell, but didn't have the time or the place to. Considering I want to eventually release an update that replaces the current, placeholder, I'm-trying-to-finish-in-time-and-screens ending with the proper one, I may get the opportunity to answer a few of those questions, like why Lilith can read and write.
January 30th 2015, 11:54 PM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
There's a bit of text so obscure I even forgot to remove it from "Dinkgon Warrior." In the escape menu, if you try to load a game that doesn't exist, the player character will say "Wow, this loaded game looks so familiar."
January 31st 2015, 11:43 PM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
352: Cast Awakening Part 5: Revolution Author: Dan Walma Release Date: January 5, 2015
"Is this really how you want to spend your death?"

Here's the shortest line from my brainstorming document from the lead-up to "Malachi the Jerk," when I was considering different ideas for D-Mods: "Is it possible to make a roguelike using the Dink engine? It probably isn't." Shows what I know!

I should explain what a "roguelike" is, in case anyone reading this doesn't know. Rogue is a 1980 computer game in which you explore randomly - or, more accurately, procedurally - generated dungeons. It was turn-based and had tile-based movement. If you die, you have to start over. "Roguelikes" are games that are very similar to Rogue, having all those features as well as others such as a hunger stat that requires you to eat to avoid starving to death. The most direct descendant of Rogue is NetHack. A Japanese series of roguelikes called Mystery Dungeon is quite popular and has many iterations based on various video game franchises.

Dan describes "Cast Awakening Part 5: Revolution" as a "rogue-like-like." Like a roguelike, it features random maps, lots of elements and items to discover, and a series of "floors" to get through in order to reach the end, but it differs in other aspects. There are a lot more "rogue-like-likes" than actual roguelikes. Blizzard's Diablo series is the most famous example. My first experience with this type of game was with the Sega Genesis classic Toejam and Earl. As a kid, I was confused at first by the unfamiliar gameplay but quickly fell in love with the unlimited replay value. When I found out that this kind of gameplay had come to Dink, I was excited.


Not to mention my excitement at playing another D-Mod by this guy.

In "Revolution," Dink must fight hordes of enemies while exploring a variety of stages. A complete run features 12 stages and a boss, but there are more locations than you can visit in a single run. When you clear a screen of enemies, you usually receive some kind of bonus. One screen per stage features a shop. 14 melee weapons and 14 ranged weapons (magic) are available. Dink's stats are different than usual: "Melee" is the same as the typical attack stat, but "Luck" replaces defense and the magic stat is split up into ranged rate and ranged damage. Taking out defense was a good move because it would so obviously have been the best place to put your points. Enemies also have no defense in "Revolution," avoiding situations where you can't really fight an enemy because you can hardly damage them. In a game that could offer a different experience every time, avoiding this kind of situation altogether is probably the way to go. I think that luck determines drops and the rate at which ranged enemies will attack you; I think it's worth putting points into it.


I'm tempted to just show you a shot of every location, but I'll restrain myself.


The game includes these lists of the melee and ranged weapons. There are also slots for lists of locations and enemies, but they must have been excluded for time.

A full run takes hours if you're thorough about clearing out the stages, which you should be (the game autosaves every time you change screens, so you can quit at any time and resume where you left off). You might think that the extreme repetition would get old, but there's a lot of variety to keep you interested. Each level up is accompanied by some kind of saying or quotation; I love it when games use unique text to keep you playing. Furthermore, many of the level ups offer a choice of special bonuses rather than a simple stat increase. At level 2, you're given the choice of herb boots or a map; trust me, the map is the correct choice. Not all level ups have positive effects. The variety of level up effects makes going through the levels more interesting and adds variety to the game. Lots of graphics are imported from various other D-Mods and graphics packs (I'm thanked in the credits file for taking the screenshots in COTPATD so he'd know where to get them). A huge number of MIDIs are used, including, for what has to be the first time, the entire 374 MIDI pack, so as you sink hours into this D-Mod you won't run out of tunes. Ah, the 374 MIDI pack. I hope you like the Eagles and Queen.


Here, you're given a choice between the ability to harvest rewards from two different types of decoration.

Decoration is randomly placed, but rarely is a decoration just a decoration in "Revolution." You can burn down the usual fir trees, of course, but even regular trees can be chopped down for an occasional bonus with the axe weapon. Mushrooms may be smashed to produce hearts, including new purple hearts that hurt instead of heal and blue hearts that give you temporary "superlife" if you collect them while already at max health. Flowers may be gathered to exchange to a certain randomly-occurring NPC for a megapotion. You'll always be paying attention to your surroundings while playing this D-Mod.


Gah, I can't stand the way those dead Avoca eyes just stare at me. It's... unnerving.

The weapon selection is great and features many new ideas. The breadstick produces food when you use it to kill enemies. All three of Bruce Harrison Jr.'s elemental swords produce different effects on the enemy that linger after you hit them. Ranged weapons include a selection of bows with different effects; their arrows pierce through enemies, but not quite as well as hellfire does. There doesn't seem to be any "acid rain" type weapon, oddly enough. Most weapons produce different effects rather than different amounts of damage. There are a couple of weapons that do higher damage, but there's typically some kind of associated drawback. My favorite weapons (not necessarily the best weapons) are the fire sword and hellfire (called the Super Fireball here).


I'm not sure what the drumstick is supposed to do. I guess you just whack fools with it.

"Revolution" is a heck of a technical achievement. Dan Walma is a mother ducking wizard. If I had moved forward on this idea, I would have had no idea where to start. Even having it in front of me, I don't quite understand how it works. The scope of the game is huge, but the actual map contains just 60 screens as per the contest's rules. It seems to contain a screen for each possible arrangement of exits to the four cardinal directions as well as several additional screens used for special purposes. The different appearances of the levels are accomplished using the load_tiles command; as such, this D-Mod is incompatible with Dink Smallwood HD. There's a significant loading time when you change screens (maybe a second and a half) and another pause about a step beforehand, at which point I assume the game is changing the value of &player_map so that you'll cross to the correct screen. What I don't understand is how the game keeps track of the entire current floor and all the things on it at once. The status of all objects on a screen are remembered for the duration of the stage. The powerups you earn for clearing a screen of enemies even remain in place if you leave them and return to the screen later. It feels as if you were traversing a real map laid out in the editor, even though you know you're not. It's amazing.


The maps for some of the later stages can get quite huge, too!

A list of achievements is provided to give you some incentive to check everything out. The achievement list features text for achievements both unearned and earned, like "Achievement Unlocked Edition." Here, the text is a brief statement from Dink's perspective. It's fun. It took me eight runs to complete the D-Mod 100%, and I feel confident that I've spent more time on it than any other D-Mod if you don't count those I've developed. A good deal of luck is involved in getting some of the achievements, but it's worth it. There's some cool stuff hidden deep in the game that you'll probably only see if you go for the achievements. I do feel that I was lucky that I got to level 32 on my third run. I didn't encounter enemies that paid off enough experience to get closer than level 29 on any of my later runs.


The final location you'll unlock is Azeroth from the old Warcraft games. I have played Warcraft, but this mostly brings back memories of Dan's early D-Mods, which kept me interested in Dink back in the day.


Presenting... the Compensator. hahahahahahaha

This D-Mod is fun as Hell, but I do have one complaint: it's too easy. "Too easy" doesn't bother me much with most D-Mods, but given this one's unique focus, I think this is a huge issue. Roguelikes are hard. Your life isn't worth dirt in them. Actually winning them is a rare event that requires skill, carefully accumulated knowledge and pure dumb luck to come together perfectly. Now, I don't expect or even want "Revolution" to be like that. This isn't NetHack. I'm not having to identify rings to make sure they're not cursed. Still, there should be some tension. Some things suggest to me that Dan intended this as well. The readme suggests that winning may require luck and that you should just try again if you lose. A sign that sometimes appears tells you to be "prepared to lose." It did take me three tries to win, but on that third try and my five subsequent runs, I never felt in significant danger. It doesn't surprise me that others won on their first try.


It looks hectic, but there are so many ways to make Dink strong that you're probably never going to be in big trouble.

Death is permanent; that should mean something. The intensity of the experience should rise in the later stages as you fear losing all your progress. Chances to transfer benefits to future runs, like putting money in the well, should feel precious. When the level up to 24 makes you drop one of your weapons, it should hurt instead of being a minor inconvenience. When another level up makes you choose whether to unlock the final boss stage and real ending or give you a 1up, this should be bitterly tempting even though you know you want to see that boss. Your choices should feel like they really matter. As it is, if you pursue optimal strategies (not even COUNTING the pig magic exploit, which badly unbalances the game), you will feel totally invincible. You won't even be able to remember the last time your health bar didn't stretch its red all the way across the screen twice. If you opt for less-optimal strategies - say, not choosing to get potions for killing NPCs, which is a huge advantage you're giving up nothing particularly desirable to get - you'll feel less invincible, but still in no serious danger. I still love this D-Mod and consider it one of the most replayable D-Mods ever, but I don't really see myself going back to it, as it is. If there were more of a challenge - if victory were something you had to stay sharp to earn - I could see myself returning to this game again and again. The replay value could be truly endless. I mean that. Anyway, I don't doubt that any imbalance this D-Mod suffers is due to the contest deadline, and that it could be perfect with some more time and testing.

I ran into some bugs:

*Encyclopedia images display behind some things.
*Flower girl is sometimes a dude instead.


Uh... hm. If you say so, game.

*One time I happened to win just as I would have hit level 28. I closed the program after the ending sequence. When I started the game up again, imagine my surprise when the level up hit at the title screen.


Hahaha what is going on

*When I pick "start with fist plus bow on future runs," I actually start with last ranged weapon I had on the previous run. There's no image in the ranged weapon box, but it works just the same.

*Level-up bonus "+1 level" does not work, does nothing.

The story only figures into the start and the ending. The intro starts by recapping the "Cast Awakening/Dinky Dimensions" series using screenshots from "Initiation," "FIAT" and "End of Time v2" as well as a couple of scenes from the nonexistent second installment, "Paragon." I guess Dan figured as long as he was making another D-Mod, why not try to provide a limited kind of closure to his old series? There's efficiency for you.


Remember this? No, you don't.

After his execution in "End of Time," Dink's voiceless soul is taken to a place in the afterlife where he can fight his way through a gauntlet... not to fight his way back to life or anything, just as something to do. I wish there were some way to rewatch this intro without removing your save file, as I had to do temporarily in order to take these screenshots. My favorite thing about the intro is when Charon breaks out into singing "Come Sail Away" by Styx, which is so perfect when you think about it. I started laughing as soon as the music started up.


And we'll try, ohhh loooord we-'ll try-yyy... TO CAAAAAAAAARRY ON!

The ending shows us Lyna and Martridge as they to resurrect Dink to help fight against the forces that have taken over since "End of Time." Lyna seems to have control over some of the robots from "Mystery Island." Marty manages to bring Dink's body and voice back, but his soul remains in the afterlife... and this spell requires the wizard to sacrifice his own life. Lyna and the undead Dink prepare for the climactic battle... and that's all we get. Still, it does provide closure at long last to "End of Time's" cliffhanger. We no longer have to wonder how Dink comes back to life.


Incidentally, this line drove me crazy. All it means is that they figured out how to control the robots from Mystery Island, but I went nuts scouring that D-Mod and everything associated with it on the site, somehow - against any reasonable logic - thinking there would be a place for me to enter this. I am HILARIOUSLY dumb.


Included lest you think the ending is too serious.

But the real ending provides a different kind of closure. Honestly, it put tears into my eyes. It seems to wrap up this very project. Part of me really hoped that "Revolution" would still be the latest D-Mod when I got here, because there couldn't possibly be a better note to end on.

Dink defeats the boss, Death, who suddenly asks a strange question.

I hope you found that entertaining?

Dink, against what we've been told about his voice, replies.

Yeah, it was alright.


Death doubts himself.

Soon, Death is revealed to be Martridge. All of this was just a fun diversion for Dink, a sort of magical vision game that the wizard created for his old friend. All Dink has to do to leave is say the magic words...



Mike Snyder's timeline may have been doomed from the start, but someone, at long last, has found a way to bring all of the D-Mods into one continuity. They're all just games that Dink has been playing, just like me.


The script counts the years since 1998 to display this line.

I felt overwhelmed. Did Dan have me and this project in mind specifically when he wrote this? It's too perfect. And everything from 17 years ago has come back at once. Dan's old D-Mods (including "Dinkcraft"). The original story. The friggin' 374 MIDI pack. All of it.

I'm sorry. I know that it may seem kind of corny. I know that I've "opened up" and blabbed about my personal issues here probably more times than I should have. But this game, this community and this project have mattered a lot to me, and this little ending just poked me in all of those places in my brain where it matters, it turned on all the switches labeled "meaning" tucked away in those odd locations, those long-forgotten hallways. I had feelings. I could tell that the author put some of his feelings in it as well, putting his voice into the wizard as he talks about how it helps him to create new worlds. I've spoken before about how the best thing about D-Mods is feeling a certain connection to the author. Here, I could almost imagine that he and I were conversing directly.

Dink: It was fun 'dreaming' through what might have happened.
Traveling, fighting, saving the world, all good stuff.
Even if things did get really weird at times.
It helped, kept my mind from focusing on the pain too much.

Martridge: It helped me, too.
Creating new worlds and whatnot.




Hell, you can go ahead and imagine that COTPATD ends with that screenshot if you want. It's bound to be a better ending than the real one.

If I inspired "Cast Awakening Part 5: Revolution," that's justification for this project all by itself. It still helps, Dan. Thanks.


Hey, stats! Everybody likes to post their stats.
February 1st 2015, 01:42 AM
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I wouldn't be offended if the pig/duck spells got nerfed in an update.

I also liked that ending a lot; it felt fitting.

I agree that the difficulty may have still been a tiny bit too weak in the DMOD, though I did only play through it once through the default locations, and with exploits at the last 2 stages or so. I wouldn't want to see it get crazy hard, though. I'll definitely play through it again when it's updated, but it's still great as-is.

Also, I can confirm the level up bonus "+1 level" to do nothing as well.
February 1st 2015, 06:54 AM
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ExDeathEvn
Peasant Male New Zealand xbox steam
Don't look at me, I'm a ghost 
"Some have greatness thurst upon them."
That line in the levelup... Hell, it looks so appropriate in context. Boot up the game to find a levelup screen saying THAT? Jeez!
Some grow to become great however. This project and all of your efforts up until this point are proof of that.

If there's on thing that could be changed to balance levelups a bit, or maybe add a challenge mode, it would be adding an option to all levels; "Receive no additional benefits".

Having, to be perfectly honest, not played any of the contest Dmods just yet (though I've installed them), and reading through this latest COTPATD addition, I can see exactly where you're coming from in terms of it being an almost perfect conclusion.
It's almost a shame that you aren't quite done yet.
February 1st 2015, 04:58 PM
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redink1
King Male United States xbox steam bloop
A mother ducking wizard 
I'd say that COTPATD significantly inspired Revolution in several ways, including dumping the entire 374 Midi pack into it (on several occasions, you mentioned how much of an influence it had on D-Mods, which I wouldn't have concluded on my own), adding the percent complete display (which you had mentioned as a nice way of motivating people to play to the end), and the easy difficulty (as a response to your Initiation write-up, I really didn't want the game to be impossible to finish, and I erred on the side of caution).

I really wanted to put as many 'revolution' (i.e. ending where you began, 360 degrees) motifs into the game as possible. There's already the concept of a 'run', where the end result (whether winning or losing) is the same title screen. Reaching Level 32 gives you the pig feed (the first item Dink ever receives). Even the plot doesn't really make any progress; it essentially ends the way the original End of Time did, with Dink outcast and outmatched. So it felt appropriate to finally end with something that tied back into the original game. I did write the ending dialog with you in mind, but not solely; it's also a discussion between two halves of myself, the builder and the player. Mix all that together with a bit of midlife melancholy, and Tada!

I do feel the sentiment is probably a bit misplaced (it's quite possible to play games for pure fun, and not as a distraction from the real world of pig farming), but ah well
February 1st 2015, 06:14 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
To be fair, without much time for testing it was probably better to err on the side of not making it impossible.
February 1st 2015, 08:03 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
353: Shadows of Death (Unfinished) Author: DinkKiller Release Date: January 12, 2015
"I thought you were a noble hero. A real man."
"Depends on what day of the week it is. Today is not your lucky day."


Back at the start of this topic, I said, "There is still time for you to get your new D-Mod written up if you hurry." I thought I was joking, really, but DinkKiller took me up on it by releasing this unfinished version of his long-incubating sequel to his 2009 D-Mod "Dink and the Bonca."

When you play an unfinished D-Mod, the best-case scenario is that it's like a normal D-Mod (though maybe a bit less polished) until it comes to a stop after a certain major plot event and is nice enough to tell you that you've reached the end. In other words, the best-case scenario for an unfinished D-Mod is a demo, but without pretending it's ever going to be finished. Unfortunately, even the "finished" portion of "Shadows of Death" is pretty unfinished. NPCs are left unscripted. Houses are un-enterable. Treasure chests are empty. The worst part was that there are some buildings you can enter, but they're set to warp you to a nonexistent screen. The copy of screen 2 they send you to can't be escaped; all you can do is load a save. Really, all he had to do was turn off the warps on the map and the biggest problem would have been fixed... well, the biggest problem apart from the ending not working, but I'll get to that.


Odd things can happen if you don't do things in the order the D-Mod expects you to.

At the start of "Shadows of Death," Dink finally learns who's been trying to kill him. It's that jerk Luke, who appears in "Dink and the Bonca" but not in this game. Martridge teleports Dink to yet another beach, which of course causes him to lose his stats and stuff again. You know, I'm not sure if the rapid movement is worth the trouble. Anyway, in the Kingdom of Astaelith, Dink has some typical D-Mod times. He has to help some people by going into a cave full of monsters so that they'll fix a bridge for him.


Seems like a reasonable job to me. What kind of a job is "adventurer," huh?

If you saw the development threads, you may know that this D-Mod was supposed to involve some kind of moral choice system. When the second town you come to is attacked by knights working for Luke and his allies, you get to decide whether or not to help them. If you choose not to, you get to skip the battle and watch a cutscene of the town being destroyed. On the other hand, you'll also miss out on a reward of some cash and a longsword and lose access to a healing fountain and a weapon shop, so you'll probably want to help them out.


I dunno. It was my day off?

The last fully playable section features a clever puzzle. It's a cave with several levels, and you have to push rocks into holes on the upper levels so that they'll drop into the lake on the base level and form a bridge. It's kind of like the Seafoam Islands in the original Pokémon. It's not as simple as just pushing the rocks into the holes, however. You have to solve some simple puzzles to reach them, including pushing some other rocks around and solving a very easy math-based riddle. Then you have to push the rocks around carefully to get them into the right position. The rocks move a set amount when you push them, and they'll stop if you push them into a hard object. It works well, and I know it's not easy to do this sort of thing in Dink, so I was impressed with that part of the game.


Dink sets up the puzzle.

Unfortunately, there's a bug that prevents you from progressing just before you get to the message saying you've reached the end of the "finished" part of the game. When you try to leave the cave, the game fades down and nothing else happens. This is because a touch procedure is being constantly triggered. I went into the script and added the line "sp_touch_damage(¤t_sprite, 0)," and that fixed it, triggering a cutscene and then the end message. It took me 49 minutes to reach it, which is still quite a bit longer than the finished "Dink and the Bonca."

After the message, you can wander around an unfinished desert. It's part of a much larger, even more unfinished section that is mostly inaccessible and includes a snowy area. There's one scripted NPC to find in the desert, but he sets up a quest to which there is no resolution (the ending text warns you about this).


It's just as well, really. I dunno about this guy.

I'd also like to take a moment to acknowledge a good use of one of my favorite 1.08 features, the dnotalk and dnomagic scripts. There are whole new sets of default text here, and they're pretty amusing, especially the "no magic" text.


Heh.

I understand running out of motivation and wanting to release what you've done, but I do think it's a bit of a shame that "Shadows of Death" was released in this state. It could have used a little cleaning up to make the "finished" portion playable without incident. It wouldn't have taken that much work - I'm not asking for a high level of polish, just some smoothing down of the roughest edges.

354: Pokemon: Bible Version (Stupid) Author: Skorn Release Date: January 24, 2015
"Hyper Beam."

Previously on Crazy Old Tim Plays All the D-Mods: The Next Generation...

Locutus: From this time forward, you will service... us.

Tim: Come to think of it, I guess 2010's "Quest in the Icelands" will remain the last DFMAOB winner, and don't any of you DARE release something in the next week or so just to prove me wrong. I'm onto you people.

Riker: Mr. Worf... Fire.

And now, the conclusion.

******This DMOD, "Pokemon: Bible Version,"*********
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
  ****DINK FOREVER MEMORIAL AWARD OF BADNESS*****
   ********On this day February 1, 2015*********


Sorry about that. I couldn't resist. In fact, you might say that my resistance... was futile. OHHHH

Skorn says that he hadn't even seen the above statement when he released this. You know, I can actually believe that. I have access to the records of rejected submissions on the site, and like a third of them are Skorn's. He does this kind of crap all the time.

I like Pokémon. I'm far from its biggest fan, but I have spent a lot of time playing it. It's a really good series of games. Back in 1998 when it came out, I was obsessed with it. Even before I got Pokémon Blue Version and a Game Boy Color for Christmas that year, I played the game using an emulator. Actually, that was when I first learned about emulators. "You mean I can play all these games for free on my computer? What's the catch? 'Delete after 24 hours?' Uhhh... sure."

This, on the other hand, is not a good game. In fact, it isn't a game of any sort.


Derp.

It's really just the picture above with a Pokémon MIDI. The Gyarados is you. You turn into a different Gyarados, another copy of the Pope, or Dink Smallwood depending upon which direction you move. Do not download this. Do not install this. Do not play this.

355: Dink and the Chins (Stupid) Author: Skorn Release Date: January 26, 2015
"Wow ...unreal. My gosh!"

Well, this at least could be considered a game.

A bad one.

********This DMOD, "Dink and the Chins,"*********
 ******Has been awarded the prestigious*********
  ****DINK FOREVER MEMORIAL AWARD OF BADNESS***
   ********On this day February 1, 2015*******


Dink finds himself amongst a world made of chins. You can collect lint instead of gold. If you collect 720 lint and bring it to a little girl, she'll make you incredibly powerful. I couldn't find that much lint, but fortunately a save with what you need is included. You can then defeat the boss.


Your chins have no power here!

Nothing happens when you defeat the boss. It just goes back to the title screen.

Or... maybe something did happen. Maybe something happened when I wasn't around to see it. Maybe the power of the chins was too much for Dink after all.

Dink Smallwood died. As had happened so many times before, he fell to his knees and planted his face into a rapidly-expanding pool of his own blood. But this time was different. When the player pressed the start button, Dink was still dead, for true death is a thing that cannot be undone. The player was confused. He checked the scripts - Skorn must have done this using save_exist. "That's actually pretty clever," he thought. "Maybe I won't give this the Award of Badness after all." But there was nothing to cause this in the scripts. He deleted all of the save files and tried again. Dink was still dead.

He tried to launch another D-Mod. Dink was dead there, too. The snarky hero, the former pig farmer, he was no more. The other characters in the intro to "Dink's Doppleganger" acted as if he were still there, but when the game started, he could do nothing. It was the same with every D-Mod he tried, except those that didn't star Dink at all - those still worked. But Dink himself was dead and gone. They had asked so much of him, pushed him into so many strange and awful situations. The chins were the last straw. The concept of Dink Smallwood had died.

Soon, everyone else noticed it too. It didn't seem the Dink Network would long survive - what was the point? And yet it did continue. In fact, it became more popular than ever as the bizarre story of the old PC game that suddenly stopped working for everybody spread like wildfire across the Internet. At first the story was spread by those who vaguely remembered playing the original game once, and then it hit the mainstream as people looked for an explanation and couldn't find one. This project was read thousands of times more than it had been previously as the only remaining documentation in many cases of what these games had been like. Eventually, someone found a workaround. They made a character that was like Dink, but not quite the same, and replaced him in all of the old D-Mods. But still... something had been lost.

Or... maybe that's not how it went. No, Dink can't die. We need him.

Dink lived on. "Dink and the Chins" was not the last D-Mod, or the second-to-last D-Mod, or the hundredth-to-last. Dink outlived the Dink Network; improbably, another community eventually replaced it. Who can say where the new interest came from? Dink persisted on and on, getting into new adventures and endless permutations of his old ones. He slayed boncas, he had bridges repaired, he assisted some wizards and fought others. And his adventures expanded in new directions. Eventually, someone made a true sequel with almost entirely new content, and that was itself the basis for countless new D-Mods. Dink outlived Seth Robinson. He outlived you; he outlived me. Descendants of FreeDink ran the game on computers and operating systems as yet unknown. The game was played in forms that would be unrecognizable to us. Dink would always be there for whoever needed him.

~FIN~

...And that's all the D-Mods! Thanks for reading, everybody. Wrap-up post to come soon.
February 1st 2015, 08:10 PM
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Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
Uh...well.

You need Aural+. I think one of the older versions had that listed, but not the current one. I guess a final version is in order. Gotta get those saves out, which I did know about but did nothing about, and to include the Aural+ notification. Perhaps even find a way to get the DMOD to not work without it like I've seen with true colour.

maybe.

And there's lint behind some chin walls. Your quest isn't complete.

EDIT: Woah, woah. 940 lint? What.
February 1st 2015, 10:25 PM
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Wow. He has fallen farther than I thought since he started doing Game Grumps...
February 1st 2015, 10:34 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Haha, is that Egoraptor? I didn't recognize him.
February 1st 2015, 10:35 PM
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Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
Wow. He has fallen farther than I thought since he started doing Game Grumps...

I mean, he did fall out of the sky. Also, I noticed how close it is to Cloud Castle at some point.

Meh, whatever. Maybe it comes from space or something.
February 1st 2015, 11:38 PM
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DinkKiller
Peasant Male United States xbox steam
The world could always use more heroes 
I swear I went through that "ending" sequence like six times to make sure everything worked right, that the "you beat the game" message would show afterward, and for me it worked every time. Damn it. I'll try to fix that soon.

Yeah, there's things I should have removed so that some of those warp bugs wouldn't happen, more I should have touched up, but my desire to even touch this project at all went to zero. I fixed up what I needed to try to make sure weird stuff wouldn't happen and the game wouldn't crash, but it's hard to catch everything on your own. I know exactly what treasure chest is empty that you mentioned, and like a lot of other things in this D-mod, it was working early on but for some reason decided to stop working later. Part of that frustration of random things that I managed to get working, not just the treasure chest, but many other things, just suddenly deciding to stop working killed what little desire I managed to regain after the long break from working on this thing. It's annoying to have to redo something three times for little to no reason other than "Screw you, you'll never finish this D-mod, evil laugh!"

It sounds like you once again chose not to explore side-quests, and there were a lot more of them this time around. That or you somehow are better at the D-mod than I am to beat everything in 49 minutes. You missed quite a few things that I would have liked to see your take on, be it my dark/twisted humor or the new weapon I put a good deal of thought and effort into even though it wouldn't get truly powerful until much later in the game, or just how bad I am at coming up with side quests. I am slightly disappointed, but I'm glad you liked that rock puzzle. I'm really proud of that dungeon.
February 2nd 2015, 01:02 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Gee, I tried to play it thoroughly. Only weapons I ever had were the longsword and the claw sword.
February 2nd 2015, 01:35 AM
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DinkKiller
Peasant Male United States xbox steam
The world could always use more heroes 
Talk to everyone. A lot. There's a few quests in Drayete, one in Faiori to get some magic, and one in Eaglevale, off the top of my head. Some quests are only accessible after a certain point or you complete the main quest of that town.

Whenever I played through, I never once bought the claw sword. Didn't ever really try though. Besides those two swords, the only other obtainable weapon is my special Pyragaede Sword which you get through a side quest. I put a lot of effort into planning out that sword.
February 2nd 2015, 01:45 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
I never even got to Drayete. When I tried to go there, the bridge would just say "Access Denied." I guess it becomes accessible at some point, but I never knew.
February 2nd 2015, 04:55 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
OK, as a little wrap-up, here are some numbers associated with COTPATD.

D-Mods covered: 355
Total Word Count: 297,750
Screenshots: 1,514 (Most for one D-Mod: FIAT, 42)
D-Mods released as a "Demo," "Alpha/Beta," "Trailer" or "Unfinished": 71
DFMAOB "winners": 46 (~13%)
D-Mods I beat fair & square: 244 (~87% of D-Mods that CAN be beaten fair & square)
D-Mods I cheated to beat because I wasn't good enough: 15
D-Mods I didn't beat at all: 25
D-Mods that can't be beaten without cheating: 22
D-Mods with no win condition: 53
D-Mods that feature one or more evil wizards: At least 32
D-Mods that open with King Daniel sending you on a quest: At least 23
D-Mods where Dink is "on vacation": At least 6
D-Mods that feature the wizard Martridge: At least 31
D-Mods that star somebody other than Dink Smallwood or a Dink lookalike: 47
D-Mods that are in a totally different genre of game than the original: 17
D-Mods that are sequels to other D-Mods: 36
Longest topic by word count: "Rest of the D-Mods" (45,783 words)
Longest topic by word count (single year): COTPATD 2000 (29,845 words)
Shortest topic: COTPATD 1999 (15,295 words)

Thanks again for reading, and thanks especially to everyone who took the time to post in these topics. I never would have finished without your support.
February 2nd 2015, 01:38 PM
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Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Congrats on finishing this awesome project, Tim! I'm a little bit behind in reading these (this is the only time I've been, too), so I'm gonna read them first and maybe comment some more about it afterwards. But really, it's an unbelieveable, amazing task you've just managed. And one that a lot of people have probably thought about doing over the years, but just haven't been able to. Really can't think of a more fitting person to have done this than you.

Also, how about the amount of D-Mods with Milder in them? That would be interesting to know. *curious*
February 2nd 2015, 04:13 PM
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Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
And I'm the 100th post.

I am now your deity. This is my throne. I demand a rainbow star that spins with glorious gif 3dness with a mouseover that says "Supreme Being".
February 3rd 2015, 02:52 PM
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GOKUSSJ6
Peasant Male Poland steam
Everyone should get a pizza for free in each week. 
The chins dmod, oh god why i haven't heard about this. Atleast it's not a DMOD about Mike Matei's dick......wait.
February 3rd 2015, 03:50 PM
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Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
I can make that a weapon in the next Dink and the Chins if you want.
February 3rd 2015, 05:03 PM
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SabreTrout
Noble Male United Kingdom
Tigertigertiger. 
Now you need to review them all.
February 3rd 2015, 07:39 PM
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DinkKiller
Peasant Male United States xbox steam
The world could always use more heroes 
Sounds like you need to play through my D-mod again. Playing an "open-world" D-mod as liner as you possibly can is just lame
February 3rd 2015, 09:07 PM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
I wasn't trying to play through it as directly as I could. As far as I knew, I'd seen everything. If I missed stuff, it's because it's easy to miss.
February 3rd 2015, 11:16 PM
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Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
Finally got around to Shadows of Death despite it being a demo.

The warning about "bad language" really soured the experience instantly and I closed the game.
February 4th 2015, 12:36 AM
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DinkKiller
Peasant Male United States xbox steam
The world could always use more heroes 
It is not a demo. It is unfinished. Huge difference.

I put that warning in on the off chance someone might be offended by bad language, though I don't use all that much of it. And being the internet it's unlikely to happen anyway. I try to use it only in situations where it would be appropriate. I didn't expect to offend a former troll, though. Didn't see that one coming.
February 4th 2015, 01:14 AM
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Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
It is not a demo. It is unfinished. Huge difference.

Not on this site.

I put that warning in on the off chance someone might be offended by bad language

Don't be afraid to offend someone with "bad language". It's entirely on them to feel offended by words that aren't offensive in the slightest bit.
February 4th 2015, 05:56 AM
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Quiztis
Peasant Male Sweden steam bloop
Life? What's that? Can I download it?! 
Man up and play the game.
February 4th 2015, 08:13 PM
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Skurn
Peasant Male Equatorial Guinea xbox steam duck bloop
can't flim flam the glim glam 
I did. A pub door sent me outside Marty's house. I get it's unfinished, but how is that overlooked?
February 6th 2015, 07:03 AM
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MsDink
Peasant Female New Zealand
Tag - Umm.. tag, you're it? 
gone thru this for the first time CCM wow this is amazing so well documented u are a credit to the forum absolutely excellent job there hugs
February 6th 2015, 09:15 PM
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DinkKiller
Peasant Male United States xbox steam
The world could always use more heroes 
Small things get overlooked when the author is more concerned about fixing major bugs and getting as much playable as possible, and eventually giving up on the project, not bothering with little things, and just throwing it into the wild to survive on its own.
February 8th 2015, 05:00 PM
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Hard to believe it's been a year and a half since you started this project. I've enjoyed every minute of reading these, thank you

You should know that you inspired me to continue and finish my D-Mod but hey, you have a lot more perseverance and [whatever the opposite of procrastination is] than I do
March 21st 2015, 01:33 PM
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Bsitko
Peasant Male United States
 
Wow - GREAT review. I'm glad you "got" it. As for the bugs - SIGH - the DMOD's size just got away from me. Found it nearly impossible to find them all. Still, I'd be willing to fix them if someone can provide a list. Thanks again for this great run down.