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December 17th 2014, 05:14 AM
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
284: Magical Mayhem Author: Erwin Bosch Release Date: July 9, 2008

Auuuuugh, it's all ruined, it is. After I wrote all that stuff about the DMOD drought of 2008 - and it was true that people noticed and complained about it - it turns out that I had the release date of this one wrong, meaning that 2006's record wasn't broken after all. Damn it. This stuff is so confusing, you guys! Why, oh why don't the file pages have an original release date on them instead of just the date of the latest update? It is Hell trying to keep the dates straight. "Magical Mayhem" was released a few days before the date above as a beta, but apparently that version really didn't work at all.

"Magical Mayhem" is a rare attempt at a 2-player game in the Dink Smallwood engine. Two wizards, each controlled by a different set of keys on the keyboard, face off with a large variety of spells. You can choose from nine different arenas to fight in.

Some title screens just make you want to say, "Ta da!"

I didn't have a second player available to play with, but judging from the way the powerful spells you can throw around knock out the wizards' health, I feel pretty sure that a battle would not last very long and that the winner would feel nearly random. Or at least, that's what I'd say if the second player really worked.

It's not the author's fault. Dink just isn't made to accept a second input. Erwin gave creating a second player an impressive shot, giving the second wizard his own little health bar and magic selection display, but the experience for player 2 isn't anything like player 1's. Because of the game's limitations, player 2 has to use move() commands to move around, which leads to imprecise, difficult control. Player 2 also doesn't move at the same speed as player 1.

Erwin tried to come up with a solution for the latter problem. The game includes a "speed test" mode where the game runs little races between player 1 and a player 2 set to various speeds. The resultant speed setting is stored by save file numbers. This process takes a very long time and doesn't seem to help. Even the lowest speed is still faster than player 1, which actually isn't to player 2's advantage. It's tough to line player 2 up to get a good shot at a stationary player 1, let alone a moving one.

The only review on the site badly mistakes the purpose of this speed test for something else. Most of the review is spent complaining about "the racing game," but this is just an automatic test.

All right, so it doesn't really work very well, but you do have to admire the attempt. Also cool is the large selection of spells available. Included are the fireball, an ice orb, a "ice comet" spell that strikes from above, freezing your opponent, a spell that leaves a trail of fire as you walk, a (pretty ineffectual) shield spell, a meteor spell and more.

The lightning spell is quicker than most magic.

The meteor spell creates a large area of destruction.

285: Chasin Author: Kezzla Release Date: September 13, 2008
"I am actually on a quest for bong tolerance"

This DMOD is all about drugs. Dink (or whoever) is all out of weed, and needs to go score some more. This task does not prove easy. It involves doing the same thing over and over and over, like a true pothead.

I've never been much for drugs, but I did smoke pot (yes, I'm so lame that I call it "pot") once, years ago. Should I be saying that here? Whatever. I was hilariously incompetent at it and burned my thumb badly when I tried to use the lighter. While high, I watched Monty Python's And Now For Something Completely Different and laughed until tears streamed down my face at this scene. Good lord. Even now I am cracking up. So it was a pretty good time, though I wouldn't do it every day or anything.

Dink goes to a neighbor named Crazy Jenkins to buy some weed, but Jenkins won't sell unless Dink can beat him in a "bong off," taking bong hits until one of them throws up. Dink proves to be a total lightweight. His quest for bong tolerance is joined.

Dink's epic task begins!

Dink must train with his roommate. He must train with some hippies, which involves taking hallucinogenic mushrooms and tripping the f*** out. Again and again, he still fails to beat Jenkins, until he tries taking some speed beforehand, which does the trick. Triumphant, Dink takes the weed without even paying. There, that's the plot of the DMOD.

One thing I'll say for "Chasin'" - it is authentic. Kezzla is clearly far more experienced than I at the doing of drugs. I had to infer what a lot of the slang meant. The stoners who populate this DMOD are pretty funny to watch, going "whoa, man" and such. Also amusing is the way the DMOD treats Dink's quest for a higher drug tolerance like some kind of serious martial arts training, as in this exchange between Dink and a hippie woman he calls "sensei:"

Moondance: you suck at pulling bongs because you cannot handle the high
Dink: you know me better than I know myself

The scene where Dink trips on mushrooms is something to see. As he wanders around, the screen keeps fading up and down, up and down. Dink starts laughing really hard at everything and having wild hallucinations.

like, wow

There's no combat in "Chasin'." The author emphasizes this point in the description and on the title screen, seeming defensive and arguing that drugs are less immoral than violent themes, but I didn't see anybody on the DN trying to morally censure this DMOD. There are some ducks you can kill if you want, so I guess it isn't totally free of violence.

This screen right after the start looks good, but it's just about the only screen that isn't a bit of a mess.

The map is really sloppy. A lot of the grass tiling is bad, screens don't match up properly, some screen edges are "invisible walls," and it's easy to end up in places you aren't supposed to be, like the middle of the river. Some scenes happen repeatedly if you backtrack, and this can cause Dink to move to places he can't get out of. Don't operate WinDinkEdit under the influence, kids.

Ultimately it's pretty dumb, but it wears its dumbness proudly. It's not gonna be for everybody. Some people can't stand this kind of humor, and I do understand that. I went to college, and one of my least favorite things was hearing people blab about all the drugs they did at such and so party. They sounded so much lamer than they thought. "Chasin'," on the other hand, seems to know exactly how lame it is, and for that reason, I found it good for some chuckles.

The Rise to Power DMOD Contest

This contest was announced back on April 9. The original deadline was July 20, but that got dragged out for over a month due to a lack of entries, and the results were delayed even further.

The objective was to create a DMOD that involved the main character rising to power. Specifically, as outlined by SabreTrout:

The D-Mod must be centered upon a playable character's rise to power. This ascension to greatness can be relative, however. Ethel's duck taking rule over Stonebrook would be just as valid as Dink becoming King.

The protagonist must succeed in rising to power. This may not necessarily be the end of the game, but their rise to power must be the central theme of the d-mod.

Man, I want to play that DMOD where Quackers takes over Stonebrook now. A triumphant sequel to "Quest for the Golden Nut!"

This seems like a more specific theme than past contests, except for the unsuccessful Vampire contest. Maybe more general themes are more successful, or maybe it's just a function of who's got the time and motivation to make a DMOD at the time the contest is staged. These qualities seem to have been at a low ebb at this point in 2008.

There were two entries. I don't think there was ever any real voting, but ultimately, one of them won and the other one didn't. Let's look at the one that didn't first.

286: The Kingdom of Chaos Author: Nawal Release Date: September 13, 2008
"So, Dink, you turn your back on your own people? Your own King?"

"Kingdom of Chaos" takes place mainly on the map from the original game, with one small additional area. Most of the event scripts have been properly removed from the old maps, but the wanderers and guy who gets robbed near Stonebrook are still there. Some of the old object scripts are still in place, and I was annoyed by the fact that it's now impossible to enter the house where you buy the herb boots. You don't even get so much as an "it's locked."

Stonebrook has gotten a bit of a makeover. Unfortunately, some novice mapping problems come in here. There are lots of depth dot problems, and the houses have a much larger area of hardness than they should. There's also a new sign in Stonebrook that doesn't say anything.

Interesting garden, though.

There's a bit of new interaction with the old characters. Ethel is furious with Dink for killing Quackers (again, you can't prove that!). There's a pretty funny bit where Dink tries to make it up to her by buying a new duck... but he can only find a headless duck.

Dink: It was the only thing I could find in the category of 'Duck.'
Ethel: You're damn useless, you know that?

In this DMOD, Dink is cursed by an evil queen named Vanessa and turns against King Daniel. He finds her being captured by some knights and, without thinking, rescues the "damsel in distress." She poisons his mind with some kind of potion or spell, but the poison takes effect slowly. At first, Dink has only a slight inclination to obey her, but it increases over time (actually, you can press "P" to see what percentage of the "poison" has taken effect). It's helped along by the fact that Dink was already dissatisfied with the King, who gave his highest post in the guard to Milder's brother despite Dink's service to the kingdom.

Vanessa lives in a land called Zanshir, also known as the Kingdom of Chaos, where humans and monsters can marry each other (okay). Dink is disturbed at first by the hunger and... well, chaos that he sees in this place, but Vanessa reminds him that King Daniel had food gathered around his court while his people in Windermere starved. That's... a really good point, actually. Screw that guy!

Slayers use hashtags? In 2008? #iveneverevenusedtwitter

Dink dons a suit of armor and becomes Vanessa's Dark Knight. He performs tasks to bring the towns from the original game over to her side. He brews a "loyalty potion" and puts it into Stonebrook's supplies of water and booze (I forgot to mention that Stonebrook has a bar now). He slays the citizens of loyal Terris, including his own aunt and her husband, which I guess is kind of grisly as they beg for their lives and all, but mainly reminds me what a joke of a town Terris is.

Dink does experience one brief attack of conscience, but then the poison kicks in a bit more.

It's hard to turn down a polite request, but orders are orders.

Dink also turns the people of KernSin into stone giants with a spell and uses his influence over the people of Windermere to talk them into changing sides. This might sound like it involves a lot of walking, but Dink gets the ability to teleport to the various locations in this DMOD, which is quite handy. When Dink and his army confront the King, the ensuing battle... is not much of a battle, really. It's more like a bunch of people jittering around. All Dink has to do is kill Milder's brother, which is very easy, and he wins.

You know, I always wondered why the stone giants' arms turn red when they attack. It looks weird.

Dink becomes the King in Daniel's place, and Vanessa makes her plans to go on to take over the world. Even though Dink is Vanessa's puppet, this still meets the requirements of the contest. Dink starts out as pretty much a nobody and becomes a king, and this process is the main focus of the DMOD. I really thought this wasn't bad for a first-time effort, despite some problems.

287: The Lumbergh Legacy Author: Marpro Release Date: September 13, 2008
"There's that hatchet I need."

Marpro is the author of "Fall of Tahmar" from the Failure Contest. It seems only contests motivate Marcus to make mods.

"The Lumbergh Legacy" is more polished than "Kingdom of Chaos," but there's much less to do, and I don't think it fits the theme as well. Not that placement matters, since both authors got a prize for bothering to submit something, but I'd have given the nod to the other one, personally.

"Lumbergh" is a simple story in which a boy named John decides to murder his abusive stepfather. In doing so, he becomes the head of his deceased father's powerful estate. I suppose this is a kind of rise to power, but power isn't John's main motivation. Mainly, he wants to kill his stepfather because he abuses John and his mother. Whatever power John attains is not seen in this DMOD and seems beside the point.

The outside screens have an interesting muted palette, which is a very appealing sight. I have taken well over a thousand screenshots for this project, and green is by far the most common color.

Too bad that sign doesn't work. It's not the only one in this DMOD that doesn't, either. That always really annoys me.

John's stepfather, whose name is Hermann, orders him to go collect firewood. You go to the shed to get an axe, and there's a really effective moment where you hear a pounding beat as the boy's head swims with visions of vengeance. All you have to do at this point is go back home and kill your stepdad. It's a very short DMOD.

If you want to stretch it out a little further, there's a sidequest where John meets a neighbor who teaches him about alchemy. After gathering some ingredients, you can mix some potions that temporarily improve your stats, but there's really no need. Hermann is easy to beat either way.

He'll swing his sickle at you, but it's not hard to avoid.

Unfortunately, no matter what you do, John's mother dies. I guess that this is so John will inherit the estate immediately.

Marpro apparently cranked this one out in just a few days, and it's impressive that he managed to make such a polished little DMOD (signs aside) in that amount of time. I just don't feel like it fits the theme of the contest as well as the other entry.