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December 20th 2014, 05:44 AM
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CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
292: A Day in the Life of Dink Smallwood Author: Flood Release Date: July 13, 2009
"[yawns] O good another day of being me"

Y'know, it bugs me that while the article "The" is ignored when alphabetizing titles on the Dink Network, anything starting with the articles "A" and "An" are filed under A. I used to work at a library, so I can't ignore this kind of thing. It bugs me.

My take on these DMODs has a lot to do with what mood I'm in when I play them. This has probably caused me to be too harsh on some DMODs ("Okaly-D Dink," lots of problems but it probably didn't deserve quite the thrashing I gave it) and too nice to others ("As Good as Eternity," above average for its time, but I dunno how I didn't rip it for the lousy tiling). When I started playing "A Day in the Life of Dink Smallwood," I was in a nasty mood, and I really hated the thing. I was having such a bad time that I gave up and took the rest of the night off. When I played it again today, I was surprised to find myself having a good time. I know I've talked about mood before, but I still didn't see that coming.

You might not expect much of a plot from that title, and boy, would you be right not to. Dink mostly does chores for his girlfriend (starting with retrieving her stolen underwear, but going on to include things like gathering firewood), but the DMOD is less clear about this than "Chores" was. Then she tells him to go keep himself busy while she makes soup. This is somehow the point where you're supposed to go find some kind of warp, which leads you to a duck statue with a button on it. Nothing seems to happen when Dink presses the button, but somehow THIS is the event that finally makes the plot happen. All Hell breaks loose as a result of the button, but this ends up all being an illusion and a trap for somebody named Ganzith. Dink often talks to the player in this DMOD, calling you "Player," so I am going to talk back. Game, how do you expect me to care about this even if I wanted to? The first you ever hear of anybody named Ganzith is at the end. You're a hot mess, game.


I don't think he ever knew.

I didn't care for the DMOD's attempts at humor, either. They involved liberal use of the f-word and being dirty in ways I didn't find funny. Dink can invite somebody he calls "Auntie" up to bed with him... but it turns out he's actually having sex with a duck. I dunno, it doesn't tickle my funny bone. There are also a lot of depth dot errors in this DMOD.


Either this is a depth dot error, or Dink has replaced his backpack with a window.

There were some things I liked about "Day in the Life," however, and it ended up being enough for me to have some fun. There's a library with an admirable amount of text on the shelves, and mushrooms with a variety of different bonus effects are spread throughout the map. A couple of them even teleport you to an area where you can pick up a couple of powerups.


Already, Dink is having flashbacks to his "Chasin" experience.

The main thing I enjoyed was a new spell that allows Dink to shoot arrows out in multiple directions. It's a great spell that gains strength as your magic stat goes up, and the number of arrows increases from four to eight at 8 magic points. It's more than worth putting all of your points into magic for this. It even changes strategy. It's usually a pretty bad idea in Dink Smallwood to be surrounded by your enemies, but here it can be worth it to max out your damage.


Now that's bow lore, am I right?

There's a healing spell in this DMOD too, but it costs 300 gold. That might not sound like much, but it takes a lot of grinding to get that here. Enemies never drop hearts in this DMOD, so the spell is important. Most enemies drop just one or two gold, and even stronger ones will rarely give you as much as ten... that's if they drop gold at all. Dink says, "Great, 2 whole gold" when picking up two gold pieces, but 5 is enough to get him to exclaim, "Sweet!" I didn't mind the grinding so much because it gave me plenty of time to play with my new spell. I also ground up 150 gold to buy a sword, which came in handy against the boss. I tried not to get close to most of the other enemies because they had sky-high strength.


New text colors are quite popular lately.

When you defeat the boss, you can go back to town and see new dialogue from all of the characters acknowledging (if not congratulating) your heroic feat, but there's really no proper ending or credits, which would have been nice. Still, it seems fair to say that I beat this DMOD. It wasn't great, but a fun new spell and a chance to use it can go a long way if you're in the right mood.

293: Old Hero New Thief Author: Zeddexx Release Date: August 14, 2009
"now get in there and steal stuff!"

I don't even know where that title comes from. On the title screen and in the dmod.diz, it's just "Theif" [sic].

"Thief" has been built right on top of GOKUSSJ6's "Trapped." The maps and most of the scripts are just altered versions of the map and scripts from that DMOD. I think this practice is better avoided, as you can clearly tell that the maps are pretty much the same, but Zeddexx does at least give credit to Goku.

Dink is sick of being a hero and has decided to become a thief. Your objective is to rob a house and retrieve at least 4000 gold's worth of stuff. All you have to do is examine things and Dink takes them, adding their value to the gold counter. Like in "Trapped," there's a time limit, but even though this one's a bit harsher, it's not going to bother you. At least in "Trapped," the order in which you examined the objects was important and gave the mod a certain puzzle structure. Here, all you have to do is take everything. It's extremely quick and easy, and doesn't amount to much of a game.

The concept is a good one, at least. Imagine something like Paul Pliska's "Mayhem," but with thievery instead of murder and property destruction. That could be something special.

There's a secret room you can find by burning a tree that contains a bizarre display I do not understand. There's also a woman there who will give you "useless health and exp." The experience is indeed useless, but the health resets the timer, in case you were worried about that. You can get these things from her as many times as you want, but Dink's attempt to solicit sex will come up empty every time.


Can anybody tell me what is going on here? I haven't got a clue.

There's an encrypted ZIP file included with this one for some reason. It contains two WAV file sounds. An accompanying text file says that the password might be in the author's other DMOD "Legend of the Ancients," but then again, it might not. What a bizarre little thing to include in your DMOD.

I don't recommend playing this DMOD, but I do recommend making a more involved DMOD where Dink steals stuff. That sounds fun.

294: Legend of the Ancients: The Capture Author: Zeddexx Release Date: August 26, 2009
"i should do somthing spontanous!"

Quoth the description, "there are lots of bugs, but hey! its my first dmod!" Oh boy.

Actually, it's not as buggy as that disclaimer would lead you to believe. There are bugs, yes, but I never ran into any that required me to restart the program. That's more than I can say about many a DMOD that felt no need for such a warning.

"Legend of the Ancients" is the work of somebody who didn't quite understand how the whole DMOD thing works, but tried his best anyway. The result is at least more coherent than hance's work, and it does have a positive side in that Zeddexx doesn't see any reason not to use sprites in strange, unexpected ways, and the results are sometimes interesting. It made me smile as I remembered the really early days when nobody had figured it out, and DMODs in general were strange, shaggy things. We had to make up the conventions, the original game proving to be an incomplete template at best for all the things authors wanted to do. Even the early part of "Prophecy of the Ancients," by far the most polished early-period DMOD, has a distinct 'figuring-it-out' feel. I do not, I feel I should point out, mean to compare this DMOD in any way to "Prophecy of the Ancients." The titles are similar, but that's about it.


Pyramid as a tarpaulin? Why not?


Even some parts that are clearly bad are kind of interesting to somebody like me. This reminds me of my old stuff: not knowing how to set up a proper cutscene, Zeddexx constructs a tableau...


...with arrows to show you where to walk so you can see the result of the little story. Why did an army of Dinks fight an army of Jarvises? I don't know, but the result is pretty predictable.

The story is about "the ancients," who are all Dink Network members, being held captive by the apparently-evil ExDeathEvn. You're left to wander around cluelessly for a while before the DMOD bothers introducing this story, though. You're rarely given much of an idea what you should do next, but it's not hard to stumble upon the progression as you explore the odd, stringy map. The game is composed of a number of separate little snakelike areas.


Zeddexx didn't skimp on the sprites when decorating the screens. Some of it looks good and some of it looks like a mess, but the effort is certainly there.

The "ancients" you encounter include Zeddexx himself and his sisters, skull, pillbug, merder, quiztis, Christiaan, and midboss Godley. By defeating ExDeathEvn, you set them free, which is apparently a good thing. I guess that Seth fellow was just a bad apple.


I'd be lying if I said that Godley's portrayal was super flattering.


ExDeathEvn's review calls this "The Dmod where I had to kill myself."

When you beat ExDeath, Dink stands in front of the title screen and tells you you've won, but the DMOD doesn't end there. You can walk through a door and come to a large new town area. Most of the NPCs in this area just call Dink a hero or say that they're busy, and there isn't much to do but explore. Some screens feature Dan "Rain Man" Walma's original rain effect. Some buildings feature little museum exhibits about Dink's world. There is someone who will tell you about a farmer-looking guy who plans to bring back the Dead Dragon Carcass cult, and you can find him by burning some trees on a certain screen, but he doesn't actually do anything.


A statue honors the humble pillbug.

Although I found "Legend of the Ancients" to have a certain baffling charm, let's be clear: it isn't what you'd call well-made. Hardness errors are absolutely rampant. Many decorative sprites are not screenmatched, leading to a jarring effect when you switch screens. Many monsters are stuck inside their own map-placed hardness, and others are placed on the edges of the screen, unable to even enter the map. One section is full of slayers that lack a brain to attack or even pursue Dink, and you get no experience for killing them. There's quite a lot of gold to be found, but the only place you can ever spend any of it is on a cheap hotel room early on, and you can't even sleep in there. For no discernible reason, bombs are represented in your inventory by a graphic of a primitive spear that does not fit in the frame. The game is absurdly easy. Let me reiterate: it is so easy that the very idea that it is a game becomes absurd. The monsters and bosses present no threat to you. There's a "monument" early on that gives you ridiculous stat boosts, but I am confident that even without it, the battles would have been a joke. Just in case you are having any trouble, there are big hearts all over the place. The boss screen has five of them.


Oh, you're just... going to give me Ultimate Cheat-style stats? Okay then.

On the plus side, there is a new spell. It creates a wheel of fire that detonates into several explosions in a row. It's hardly necessary here - it can't even make the game easier, since that's impossible - but it'd make a nice secret bonus in a big DMOD.


The new fire spell.

You know, I just realized that I didn't find the .ZIP password Zeddexx said might be in this DMOD. I suspect that it isn't there, because I was pretty thorough.


I couldn't think of a place to use this screenshot in the writeup, but I think it is pretty funny by itself.

This DMOD certainly isn't worth playing as a game, but I enjoyed the strangeness and the obvious fun the author had with making it. If you have an interest in the sort of DMOD that can't see any good reason NOT to make a bowl into a teleporter, you might want to give this a look.

--

I just want to take a moment to remark on the continued influence of the 374 MIDI pack. As much as I talked about its ubiquity in the early days, I always thought it'd be long forgotten by this point. Yet it can't be a coincidence that the same MIDIs of songs like "Bad Moon Rising" and the theme from Cheers keep coming up. It's possible that authors lift them from other DMODs and never even knew about Perley's file, but the ultimate source is the same. Maybe you're rolling your eyes at me for bringing this up again, but it's really interesting to me how such a small thing can have such far-reaching effects in a community.

--

295: Dink and the Bonca Author: DinkKiller Release Date: September 5, 2009
"Welcome to Walmart. Get your s*** and get out."

"Dink and the Bonca" is pretty much the archetypal DMOD. If I wanted to demonstrate what DMODs are generally like with just one example, I'd pick this one. Give me a moment to look back over my list so that I'm not completely pulling this statement out of my ass... yeah, it's hard to come up with one that marks the midpoint better. That's actually pretty good for a first DMOD. An awful lot of authors have started out with a DMOD much worse than this one. It's much better than "Legend of the Ancients," but that one was more remarkable.

Some evil wizards want to kill Dink because... he's Dink? Actually, it seems they're working for somebody who presumably wants Dink dead for some specific reason, but we never find out what that reason is in this DMOD. It does set up a sequel that I've heard DinkKiller has been working on.


Oh, you guys!

And whom could a hero like Dink look to as an ally in such a troubled time? None other than Wizard Martridge, of course. Does he teach Dink the fireball spell? You bet your green tights he does. I think that Dink and Martridge get together to hang out on the weekends, and the first thing they do is always Marty teaching Dink the fireball spell, because they wouldn't even know where to start conversation without it. And then they get wasted and go play magical pranks on King Daniel. Damn, I want to play this DMOD now. Where was I?

The bosses are tougher versions of regular enemies. There's a big pillbug, a trio of boncas, a dragon and a wizard (his name is Syzygy, which I choose to pronounce "Sih-ziggy" - I wonder if he's related to Bill Scyzytko) who acts like a dragon. They are all really easy to beat. Only the dragon is really a monster; the others are evil wizards in disguise. Syzygy is the titular bonca who created the disturbance that causes the typical wimpo villagers to summon Dink, but he's back in wizard form when you fight him.


Dink doesn't catch on so fast.

The version I played (last updated less than half a year ago) was close to bug-free. I only ran into visual issues. Dink can clip behind most houses while standing in front of them, and some doors open to reveal another door behind them.

There are a couple of new (in the sense of not being in the original game) graphics, including a sword with a new attack animation, which is something you don't see too often. The sword is from the Elemental Swords pack by Bruce Harrison, whose four graphics packs have been used in many DMODs. It would have been nice if DinkKiller had given credit, but I guess it isn't required. It's a pretty neat sword, and I'm pretty certain this is the first DMOD to use it. The other "new" graphic (not sure if I've seen it before) is a dead wizard, which I enjoyed seeing.


Taste cold steel, enemies! ...Uh, it's supposed to be an ice sword, if you can't tell.


Even in death... so cute.

It took me 33 minutes to get through "Dink and the Bonca," but that includes about ten minutes of grinding that turned out to be superfluous.

I don't know what else to say. It was good enough to keep me reasonably entertained throughout, but rather generic as DMODs go. I mean, there's an icy area called "The Land of Ice and Snow." There was a sign saying so!

Let's play a game to pad this one out. I'll take two unrelated screenshots and pretend the text in them is somehow related.




What the...? Ewwww. Nasty. You nasty, screenshots. I don't want to know what was coming near fences and howling loudly as a result of the Tal porn. I don't want to play this game anymore.