The Dink Network

Crazy Old Tim Plays all the DMODs of 2004

September 18th 2014, 10:09 PM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
--Crazy Old Tim Plays All the DMODs--

1998 | HTML version
1999 | HTML version
2000 | HTML version
2001 | Article version
2002 | Article version

Achievement unlocked: Started reading another COTPATD topic.

2004 saw the release of 22 DMODs, which is 14 fewer than the previous year and the least so far of any year except 1999. Still, I've seen people refer to it on multiple occasions as either a part or the end of some kind of "golden age." This probably has to do with the release of two very highly-regarded DMODs, SabreTrout and Arik's "Cloud Castle 2: Scarab" and Redink1's "Cast Awakening Part 1: Initiation," back to back in September. I've probably seen "Scarab" mentioned more often than any other DMOD when the "best DMOD ever" discussion comes up.

Another contest was also held this year: the "Weird DMOD Contest," which I will be getting to very soon.

181: Dink's Father 3: The Hypnotizer Author: Mads Baardsgaard (Lancemads) Release Date: January 16, 2004
"That guy in green pants killed two of our fellows!"

So many planned DMOD trilogies have petered out after one or two installments. That third installment seems elusive indeed. I guess you have to give Lancemads some credit for sticking to his word.

I held out a little bit of hope for this one. It was probably because of the amount of time that had passed. "Dink's Father 3" came out nine months after the second installment, and a full year after the original. Surely, I reasoned, that's long enough for the author to have learned his lesson about some of the things he'd done wrong in his earlier releases. I didn't set my sights particularly high, mind you, but I dared to hope, at least, that "Dink's Father 3" would be the first game in the series that it was possible to finish without cheating. This was a mistake.

The description informs us that in this part, Dink "begins to hunt down the hypnotizer who did make the life bad in part 2." Okay, the word is 'hypnotist,' but it's a step in the right direction to follow up on a plot element that seemed abandoned in the second part. On the other hand, this feels like a decision made after the fact. I have a pretty strong hunch that Lancemads never had a plan for his trilogy - he just decided that it would be a trilogy, and filled in the details later. There's no sign of Dink's father in "Dink's Father 3," although he might have died in the unreachable ending of part 2 for all I know.

The game starts in a snowy version of the town of Brooksville from the earlier installments. The story and dialogue are still a mess, but the author did an okay job putting road tiles in the snow.

Not the best I've seen, but it looks better than it did in "The Legend of the Duck."

Frustration sets in very quickly as it becomes clear how sloppy this DMOD is. The depth dot being all wrong is the rule, not the exception. When you're not supposed to go in a certain direction yet, the DMOD blocks you off with an invisible hard object and gives no explanation. Several NPCs have no script attached. An area later on has a row of screens with "invisible walls" at the top. Almost immediately, you come to a woman who leaves you frozen if you select "Leave" while talking to her (the author forgot the "&" in "&result"). It's necessary to talk to this woman to progress, but this isn't where the unavoidable dead end occurs, since it's possible to select the "correct" option and continue.

This mod does have a couple of laughs to it. When you meet a character called "the oracle," she remarks, "I could ask you to sit down, but you`re not going to anyway," referencing Dink's lack of a proper sitting pose. When Dink wonders how she knows he won't sit, the oracle replies, "Err... I have no chairs." I got a kick out of this, as it's a way more subtle fourth-wall joke than you usually encounter. Later, I got another laugh out of two enemy soldiers who talk amongst themselves at a tavern. One of their random conversations is just pulled from the original game ("Quite toasty things got!"), but they also have this exchange:

"I think we might have a problem."
"I`ve got no money to pay for the drinks."

It was so unexpected that I laughed.

After speaking to the oracle, there's a desert you have to cross. You have to carefully follow a crude but effective map and visit every watering hole, or Dink will die of thirst. It's a very easy puzzle, but it's unique and works well enough. It is kind of odd how you drink by reading the signs that are several feet away from the actual water, though.

Whoever named this desert didn't have a great imagination.

It's not long after that segment that you run into the killer glitch. Dink has to fight a couple of knights who are agents of the "hypnotizer." The script creates invisible, hard objects to prevent you from leaving the screen during the fight by walking into either of the warps that are on that screen - fine. But when you win, the script fails to remove the objects, and you're stuck.

This vase is meant to either hypnotize the people or protect them from evil hypnosis. I don't know; you try figuring out this nonsense.

Desperate for some closure, I cheated my way past this. It isn't long afterward that you end up in the final area: the "cavern of cheese doodles," where you are attacked by cheesy snacks. The final boss (the hypnotizer himself) is too hard - maybe not impossible, but too hard in my book. He's a slayer who moves fast and can paralyze you with his spell of "hypnotition" (really), making it impossible to dodge his attacks. It seems to me that this kind of ruins the entire idea of Dink Smallwood's combat system. There's no resolution if you do beat him - Dink is told to go take a vacation. Some ending to a trilogy.

I can't wrap my head around why this DMOD is so terrible. Lancemads had so much time to learn. The readme says "I`ve really lain in my soul in this one," and I kind of believe it, which depresses me. I don't enjoy hating on this, you know. It could have been an amusing, if nonsensical, romp. There's a neat bit where Dink dodges a fireball, matrix style, by bending over using half of his falling animation. But this sloppiness is inexcusable. The readme also blames any bugs on beta tester Glenn, but there are some bugs you don't even need a beta tester to catch, and every one of this guy's DMODs has that kind of bug. If you can't play your own DMOD from start to finish, you shouldn't release it! Argh!

Whatever, I'm done. No more Dink's Father and no more Lancemads. Thank goodness.

--The Weird DMOD Contest--

Told you I'd be getting to it soon!

The Dink Network's third DMOD contest was announced on December 14, 2003. The theme of "weirdness" was a lot more subjective than the previous themes. You can't get more clear than "the hero has to be someone other than Dink," and while "evil" is a bit more debatable, people generally have a good idea of what it is. But what, exactly, constitutes a "weird" DMOD?

This is how Redink1 explained it:

The D-Mod must be 'Weird' in some easily identifiable way. 'Weird' is a term given to non-traditional D-Mods, meaning D-Mods where it isn't just the player guiding Dink around, talking to people, and killing monsters.

So it could be an arcade-type game, point-and-click adventure, non-interactive movie, extremely odd looking and playing D-Mod, an adventure where you or someone else real is 'sucked into' the D-Mod, or something that nobody has thought of yet.

"Weird" might not be the best word for this. A DMOD that consists of Dink walking around talking to people and killing monsters can certainly still be very weird. The Super Nintendo RPG "EarthBound" is weird as hell, and it's still a fairly conventional RPG. Instead, this is a reference to a old file category that isn't used anymore. At least it's clear enough.

Three entries were submitted to the contest; they were released on February 8, 2004.

182: Dream Weaver: Silent Knight Author: Illusivefing Release Date: February 8, 2004
"You have become nothing to me but a mere toy. I have been but playing with your mind."

"Dream Weaver" placed third in the contest. The consensus seemed to be that, while it wasn't a bad DMOD, it didn't fit the theme very well. Indeed, it doesn't seem to respond to the prompt at all. "[G]uiding Dink around, talking to people, and killing monsters" is exactly what the player does here. Even by a more conventional definition of "weird," this DMOD isn't really any weirder than most.

This DMOD starts with Dink reading a book called "Wizards of Coastal Piracy." He falls asleep and has a dream, but unusual things continue to happen after he wakes up. It's unclear whether he's awake, dreaming, or in a state that's a combination of both.

There's some pretty interesting decoration in this DMOD.

Dink's dream is filled with reflections from his past. We see a childhood for Dink that doesn't quite seem to line up with what we know about him, although it doesn't directly contradict anything from the original game. It's all pretty sentimental until Dink's childhood crush suddenly goes mad and starts attacking him. It turns out Dink's mind and dreams are being manipulated by somebody called the "Silent Knight."

I got stuck almost immediately because of odd map design. Quite early on, the path to continue is hidden on the edge of a screen. It looks like a solid wall of trees.

You have to walk right from here. C'mon, that's terrible map design.

I found my way past that, but ended up getting completely stuck on another puzzle later. In discussions of the file, I see people talking about a telescope and a puzzle that involves looking at stars, but I never found any such thing. In the absence of a walkthrough, I gave up. I guess I'm not all that smart, but I combed every screen and saw no way to proceed.

It seems like a competent DMOD as far as I can tell. There's plenty of baddies to fight. There's an interesting shop where you can buy stat potions - not for gold, which doesn't exist in this DMOD, but for experience points. This doesn't replace the leveling system, since you can only spend experience points earned on your current level, but it supplements it in an interesting way. Potions get more expensive as you buy them.

"Dream Weaver" might not be very weird, but it managed to stump me. Congrats, Illusivefing, I guess.

183: Progeny Author: Simon Klaebe Release Date: February 8, 2004
"At 6 inches, you are no longer a small wood."

"Progeny" is the sixth and final DMOD by Simon Klaebe. Well, final for now, anyway. We all know that "Necromancer" is coming out tomorrow, right? It came in second in the contest. It certainly is a weird DMOD by any definition.

Simon, Simon, Simon. What can one do at this point but shrug one's shoulders, shake one's head, and laugh?

Simon Klaebe, ladies and gentlemen. Let's give him a big hand.

This is a game where you shoot sperm into... sperm receptacles (they don't look much like any human anatomy I'm familiar with, but they're similar enough to get the point across). They open and close and spin around, making hitting your target somewhat difficult. Successfully create progeny and your dick will level up! Charmingly immature comments are made for every level up to 12 ("The tripod has landed!").

I wasn't terribly shocked by this DMOD, but my wife saw it and exclaimed, "Absolutely not! That is unacceptable! See me after class." (She asked me to let you know that she was joking, lest you think she was actually offended by Simon's silly game.)

Believe it or not, this isn't the only game I've ever played that has turned the sex act into a bizarre shoot-em-up. I am reminded of The C word (I doubt I can say its real name here), a game from 2008. I almost linked to it, but it occurred to me that I might well get my post deleted by doing so. It is a lot grosser than "Progeny." It is "not life safe," as they used to say on a forum I once frequented. You can find it on Newgrounds under the title "the C word" if you're really curious. The artist behind that game, Edmund McMillen, is most famous nowadays for Super Meat Boy. But hey, SimonK did it first.

"Progeny" isn't bad as a game, except that the lag gets really out of hand and it messes with the timing. Playing without true color mode on might help. Things are mixed up a bit toward the end with a round where you have to collect keys. These are used in the last round to unlock... um, targets... that are encased with chastity belts.

These suckers are hard to hit.

I managed 10 inches. I think my wife would quit in protest if I had that going on in real life.

184: Triangle Mover Author: Paul Pliska Release Date: February 8, 2004

"Triangle Mover" was the winner of the Weird DMOD contest.

This is a puzzle game that uses the Dink engine! Colored balls shoot out from little emitters, and you have to use the mouse to pick up and move various objects in order to guide the balls to their properly-colored targets.

Here are the rules.

This is a very clever idea and skillfully implemented, but I found it quite frustrating. The balls start moving quickly, and if you lose too many before you've got everything going where you want to, you'll lose and have to start the level over again. I don't mind being stumped by a difficult puzzle, but a fast-paced game where reaction time is important is not what I'm looking for in a puzzler. My reactions are not quick, and I frequently struggled to stay ahead of the action with my mouse movements. I would have enjoyed "Triangle Mover" a lot if you were allowed to take your time and set up the solution. Even the simple ability to pause would have helped, although I know making everything stop in the Dink engine can be difficult.

Some of the solutions I found were different from the ones shown in the walkthrough. Here, you can trap the upper ball in an infinite loop instead of making a constant flow from the emitter to the target.

I managed to make it to level 22 without using a guide, but I found that level too difficult even after looking up the solution. As my frustration mounted, I realized that it would be bad for my blood pressure to continue, and I gave up.

If you enjoy Triangle Mover more than I do, however, there's some replay value here. If you like racing to implement a puzzle solution as fast as you can, you're in luck, because the game keeps records of your fastest solutions. I do appreciate what Paul was able to do with the engine, but for me personally, it was too stressful.
September 19th 2014, 08:59 AM
Noble He/Him United Kingdom
Great reading, as ever. Helluva project.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the rest of the year. Particularly CC2, of course.
September 19th 2014, 09:22 AM
Peasant He/Him Finland bloop
A Disembodied Sod 
Woah. You started this year with a bang!

One thing I'd like to point out, though, is that you might not want to count Ducklord as an actual author for Initiation. As far as I know, he just made some bug fixes to the D-Mod years later.
September 19th 2014, 02:25 PM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Looks like you're right about "Initiation." Co-author credits are weird on this site sometimes.
September 19th 2014, 06:48 PM
I have been working hard on my DMOD again the past few days... I am intent on completing it before you finish this project, Cocomonkey, so that you have to play it. We'll see what happens though.
September 19th 2014, 08:23 PM
King He/Him United States bloop
A mother ducking wizard 
Yeah; I decided to give credit to Ducklord, because a few years after Initiation was released, he basically went through every single script, checked to see if everything worked, and fixed things that were broken. That seemed pretty darn admirable, so I assigned him as a co-author.
September 19th 2014, 09:24 PM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Hey everybody! Ready to see more 2004 DMODs? Toooooo bad!

--Missed DMOD Catchup Special!--

Damn it, I missed some DMODs.

I happened to spot "Secret of Amehoela" on the DMOD list, and I realized to my horror that I never covered it. Then I saw that Christiaan had also made a demo called "Legend of TerraEarth" that I hadn't picked up either. I found the release dates for both of these DMODs on an old archived version of the Dink Network from early 2002 when it was hosted by Telefragged (thanks, I also tracked down the release date for Christiaan's "Secret of Parizaya," which I had previously only been able to narrow down to September 2001 (it was released on the 21st, but not uploaded until the 24th). It turns out that these three DMODs by Christiaan were all released within two months, and nobody else released a DMOD in this time.

So, why did I miss these releases? When I compiled my initial list, I used a combination of Mike Snyder's old archive, an archived version of the Dink Network from 2001, and the modern DN archives that go back to December 2001. Those few months from September to November were a gap in my sources at the time!

It gets worse. This made me decide to go back and check my whole list against the whole files section. It turns out I was missing two more DMODs as well - "Fountain of Life," released on November 5, 1999, and "Goblinoma Z," released on April 2, 2003. I don't know how I missed that last one, since it's new enough to be in the current news archives.

This messes me all up. Now, my big "halfway point" of Green Voice was inaccurate. If I were to put the four DMODs I missed where they actually go, they'd be numbers 46, 107, 108 and 153. My yearly counts have to be changed - I now have 21 mods for 1999, 26 for 2001 and 37 (tied for first!) for 2003. This brings the total number of DMODs on my list to 350. Going back and fixing all this would be a nightmare, so I'm just gonna stick them here. Sorry. Know that I was tempted to just go on pretending these DMODs don't exist, but damn it, "All the DMODs" means ALL the DMODs.

185: The Fountain of Life (Demo) Author: Christian Appelgren Release Date: November 5, 1999
"I have a mission for you..."

In this VERY short demo, the King instructs Dink to deliver a present to a girl named Jischlie, on whom His Highness obviously has some sort of crush. Before he can even leave the throne room, however, the castle is invaded by a wizard and his goblin soldiers.

Oh no, it's evil Santa! We're doomed!

This wizard guy announces that he wants to kill the king. The goblins easily dispatch the King's two guards, and they beat up Dink and drag him off to the dungeon. At this point, there is nothing at all standing between Evil Santa and his goal of regicide. So what does he do? He puts the king in some kind of fireball cage. I don't get it. Why not just kill him? You just said that that's what you wanted to do.

Dink must escape from the dungeon, which he can do by sending the guard off to get him a cup of water and then pushing on a shelf. After that, there's a short cave full of pillbugs, which can simply be avoided. The cave leads outside, where it's a short walk to a place where Dink declares you've reached the end of the demo. There's a house where you can beat up some slimes for an old lady and receive a reward of 200 experience, if you're looking for something to do here. It's also possible to return to Dink's cell from the other side and kill the goblin guard for a laugh. Other than that, there's nothing. There's no fountain in this DMOD, and no Jischlie. You can open the present yourself if you like. It's a box of chocolates, which Dink will scarf down to restore his health - not a bad idea since you're reduced to 1 HP after the intro.

This could have been a pretty fun little Dink adventure, but it ends just as it gets started in this demo. At least I didn't run into any bugs or map errors.

186: Secret of Amehoela Author: Christiaan Janssen Release Date: October 2, 2001
"He is a fan of Limp Bizkit! And the rest of the world is fan of Metallica."

This is the second DMOD by Christiaan, the author of "Secret of Parizaya." I could not begin to attempt to pronounce the title.

Mimifish's review of this DMOD says, "ignore this one even if you decide to play every dmod available." To be fair, I did for a while.

*********This DMOD, "Secret of Amehoela,"**********
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
   ********On this day September 19, 2014*******

Why am I giving this the DFMAOB? Well, take a look at the title screen:

Uh, no.

"Parizaya" may not have been a great DMOD, but Christiaan clearly wasn't trying here. This is meant to be a joke DMOD, but I didn't find it funny. The thin plot has it that Sori (from "Parizaya") has turned into a puppet. This is represented by one of the worst sets of hero replacement graphics I've seen.

Even the hero from "Zoltron" looks much better. And those pillbugs, yuck!

He looks bad, he stutters back and forth, the side views do not look like the same object as the front view, and he always appears to be facing toward the player every time he stops moving. What's worse, pushing turns him into a box with the word, "Push!" on it. If he dies, he's another box that says, "You're Dead!" Attacking produces a little poorly-drawn explosion that says, "Boo," which doesn't give you a good idea of the direction or range of your attack.

The puppet thing is a reference to the Metallica song "Master of Puppets." All the text in this DMOD revolves around Metallica and Limp Bizkit. Sori, a Metallica fan, must defeat the evil puppetmaster Sjors, who likes the despicable Limp Bizkit. Me, I'm no Metallica fan, but I can get behind anybody who wants to hate on Limp Bizkit.

Almost every other character in the DMOD has the same graphics as Sori.

You know, with all the Metallica and "Master of Puppets" references, I can't imagine why Christiaan didn't use a MIDI of "Master of Puppets" for the boss fight, or indeed anywhere in the DMOD. I mean, I've seen several other DMODs use it, so why not this one? You get Final Fantasy music instead.

"Amehoela" is very short and pointless. There are a couple of 'secrets' you can find, but one of them is just a useless room full of big hearts, and the other is a not-particularly-helpful strength potion. After you beat the boss, you just die at the end. Sorry, Sori.

187: The Legend of TerraEarth (Demo) Author: Christiaan Janssen Release Date: November 19, 2001
"This is an introduction to the new fighting-system."

Hey look, the intro has a cool ghost dragon from Heroes of Might and Magic III! Sadly, it's not in the actual game.

This is a demonstration of a battle system that was planned for use in a full DMOD called "Legend of TerraEarth." It works like this: You walk up to an enemy and strike it to start a battle encounter. Your turn comes up, and you've got five seconds to attack the enemy in the usual Dink Smallwood manner. Putting some distance between you and your foe before your turn is up is also a good idea, because the enemy then gets five seconds to attack you, and the most common attack is to charge into you. There are four enemies to fight in this demo: a slime, a "fire dinosaur" (flame bonca), a dragon and a skeleton warrior.

A battle encounter.

There's really no win condition here. You can go view some credits, but you can do that any time you want. The idea seems to be that you should have to do some serious grinding to fight the harder monsters, but as long as you put some distance and hopefully a solid object between yourself and the monster at the end of your turn, you should be able to beat everything. I was. Some magic attacks will still hit you, but you'll escape most turns unscathed. Some of the enemies' magic attacks aren't even very useful. The fireball spell usually doesn't target you correctly.

The DMOD also features an area where you can view some of the tiles that were intended for the full version. It looks like a patchwork quilt.

There's a voice clip of some kid singing, "We are loading, you are waiting," when you start the DMOD. It's kind of interesting the first time, but this also plays on a constant loop on the screen with a savebot. It annoyed the hell out of me.

The battle system is interesting for a change of pace, but the fights do tend to drag on, and it might have been a pain to play a whole DMOD this way. I'm not sure the system really works that well, anyway. I'd rather have the standard action RPG combat or a traditional, fully turn-based system if you want to go in that direction.

188: Goblinoma Z Author: O. Ellis Release Date: April 2, 2003
"I fink I lef 'em up norf, when I was fifing."

I can't imagine why I missed this one. Oopsiedoodles!

That is one bizarre title. "Goblinoma" sounds like a kind of cancer that only goblins get.

************This DMOD, "Goblinoma Z,"**************
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
   ********On this day September 19, 2014*******

This isn't one of the worst DMODs I've played, really. The gameplay is acceptable as a typical low-effort romp. It doesn't have any bugs that prevent the player from finishing. Why the DFMAOB, then? Because this DMOD has the WORST map ever. That's not hyperbole. This is the single worst map I have ever seen in a DMOD.

No! No trophy for you!

Almost no effort is made to make a landscape out of the map tiles. No thought is given to the way different tiles are meant to join together. Instead, tiles are spread across the screen in a bizarre and offensive mishmash that makes no sense. I started to wonder whether the map had been designed by a program that randomly shuffled the tiles around. The screens are poorly laid out, and it's easy to get stuck at the edges and in corners. Things that shouldn't be hard are hard, like tiny tufts of grass. The edges of the map are unmarked, invisible walls; what's worse, the map is not rectangular, so you have to go around walking into all of the invisible walls in order to figure out where to go.

Make the bad person stop hurting the map editor! Make them STOPPPPP

When the DMOD starts, the game fades down and there is a long pause. There are supposed to be sounds here, but they don't play for some reason. At first, I thought the game was just broken. When it finally fades up, Dink wonders aloud who it was that just beat him up and took his stuff. It turns out that it was a goblin named Erzig, but Dink can't take him on right away. After running a couple of errands (retrieving an old man's trophy, saving a young girl from a bonca), a man volunteers to help Dink fight Erzig, but when he tries, he just gets killed. Dink has to talk to a wizard about getting a powerful glove - the Goblinoma Z. Punching the goblin to death at the end is a bit tricky, but I managed it on my first try.

This one would settle comfortably into the sands of mediocrity if it weren't for a map so feverishly awful it seems almost inspired. So... at least it's memorable for something, I guess.
September 20th 2014, 04:53 AM
Peasant He/Him Sweden
Wow haven't read these in a long time but it was really fun to catch up! I'll make sure to drop by more often! ^^
September 20th 2014, 11:13 AM
Peasant He/Him Finland bloop
A Disembodied Sod 
Great that you're so determined you're actually willing to go back and write articles about D-Mods you missed.

Speaking of which, it seems like you might've missed out on another unfinished D-Mod. Red Shield from 2001, by Someone.
September 20th 2014, 11:39 AM
Peasant He/Him Japan bloop
Responsible for making things not look like ass 
Ah red shield. Another attempt at a turn-based combat system.
September 20th 2014, 12:59 PM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Red Shield was updated in 2007, so I'm covering it then.
September 20th 2014, 01:30 PM
Peasant He/Him Finland bloop
A Disembodied Sod 
Ah, ok then. Although that seems kind of strange considering you're covering all the other D-Mods based on their initial release date. Like Green Voice. That one received big update in 2011 which you played, but you still placed it in 2003.

Does this mean you'll also be covering D-Mods such as The Scourger based on its original release date, or the big update one years later? Or both separately?

Not giving criticism here. Just seems kinda inconsistent so I'm curious, that's all.
September 20th 2014, 02:27 PM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
When I made the list, I thought that the 2007 update changed the mod from "unfinished" to "finished" status, which would mean it'd make sense to consider 2007 the release. I thought this because "unfinished" DMODs are rarely updated. By the time I figured out that it's still an unfinished mod, I was already past its original release, so I figured I'd just get to it at the time of the update anyway.

Everything else is going to get covered at the time of its original release, unless I've gotten something else wrong and don't know it.
September 20th 2014, 04:52 PM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Ah, back to 2004. There shouldn't be anymore interruptions like that one unless some old author pops up and re-authorizes some lost DMOD from the early days.

189: Dinkaventure Author: Marko (MTG) Release Date: February 16, 2004
"What am i doing here... ?"

It's not a great sign when the author's own description ends with the words, "Not too good."

************This DMOD, "Dinkaventure,"*************
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
   ********On this day September 19, 2014*******

That's a good question, Dink.

Here's a big, empty DMOD. After the initial segment in the graveyard, where you have to push on a specific grave to continue, the rest of "Dinkaventure" consists of a long series of screenlocked monster fights on map screens that look poor and have no borders. The path made of screens is thin and winding, so you're forced to stumble around blindly. This can get you in trouble, too. There's one place where you can blunder onto a screenlocked screen but be trapped along the edge by a fence, unable to reach the monsters.

No, it really doesn't.

You do find a boomerang early on, and it's fun at first to fight slayers with it, but there are much better DMODs to do this in, and it quickly becomes boring without any sort of premise or point to drive things. There's no story here at all, very little text, and just one scripted NPC, a little girl who looks for flowers and tells you that she's never heard of "Adventure Forest." I never saw the little girl; she's on an optional path that I didn't find while playing. There's another NPC who was supposed to be scripted, but her script fell prey to the bug that turns entire scripts into the character ÿ. According to Simeon on an old forum post, this is a bug in the "compiler" that creates the compressed .d scripts. He says it happens when the script contains a character that the compiler doesn't handle. This problem has rendered several DMODs unplayable, but it doesn't make a big difference here.

Look out, Dink, it's a giant luchador!

Eventually you'll reach a boss. That's a picture of the pro wrestler "Rey Mysterio," real name Oscar Guiterrez. His script, too, consists entirely of ÿ, but you can still fight him because all of his stats are set in the editor. Nothing happens when you win, of course. MTG must think very highly of El Rey, because he typed the number 4,294,936,223 into the "experience" field. That is a lot of experience. The game seems to ignore this preposterous suggestion. For comparison's sake, the highest level I've reached in a DMOD so far is 18, and it takes just 178,500 experience to get there. The maximum level, 32, requires 1,041,600 experience. That's a lot in Dink, but if Rey Mysterio really gave out as many points as his experience field indicates, it'd be enough to get Dink from level 1 to level 32 more than 4,000 times.

I guess this DMOD isn't as terrible as some of the worst of the worst. You could sort of have fun fighting its many enemies, but I found it boring. It's the complete lack of a premise, let alone a plot, that really sours me on this one.

190: Hide-and-seek Author: TA Release Date: February 20, 2004
"Ready or not Milder i'm goming"

"Hide-and-seek" is not to be confused with the 2008 DMOD titled "Hide-n-Seek." Yes, with the hyphens and everything.

According to the description, "Dink and Milder is playing hide-and-seek.You are Dink and you have to find Milder." This is still more background than "Dinkaventure" gave. Unfortunately, this DMOD turns out to be even more pointless than that one.

************This DMOD, "Hide-and-seek,"************
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
   ********On this day September 20, 2014*******

Whoops, I gave away the ending.

At least in "Dinkaventure," you had enemies to fight. Here, There's nothing but a big block of forty-eight screens with trees carelessly lumped about them and invisible walls at the edges. Dink says his line (quoted above) at the start, and Milder has his line to say at the end, and that's it.

There is one other thing to find - in one of the corners, there's a house. Inside, you'll find what are apparently statues of all the enemy types from the original game. You can't interact with them in any way, but they're there. The author must have been proud of this extra touch.

Since you're finding Milder, I'll bet this is set before the original game. That would have been an exciting entry for the ol' timeline.

191: A Knight's Tale Trois: Knight of the Round Author: SabreTrout Release Date: March 7, 2004
"Just call me Saint Slashalot"

Yay, Jarvis is back to save me from playing boring, pointless DMODs! And he's too badass to use numerals or the English word "three."

Jarvis thinks quickly to cover up inconsistencies between DMODs in the same series.

Honestly, this DMOD is rather sloppy, but it's so enthusiastic that it's good for a laugh. Jarvis's smug self-satisfaction has reached stratospheric levels, and he puts down everybody he meets in an amusingly cruel fashion while constantly declaring how awesome he is. The plot doesn't really matter, so I'm not going to waste any words on it. All you need to know is that Jarvis isn't really interested in helping people, but he does their quests anyway just to demonstrate what a bad ass he is.

This installment features the return of Pondlady! Yay, Pondlady!

So that's fun and all, but like I said: sloppy. Jarvis's godly two feet of Warcraft II Knight beefcake horribly transmogrify into some ugly pig farmer every time he tries to push something. I also ran into a nasty bug that seems unavoidable where the DMOD fades down but doesn't bother fading back up. I got past this using the console to run fade_up manually. There are two spots where you can end up stuck on a locked screen without being able to reach the enemies to unlock it. During the ending, the script doesn't freeze Jarvis, so you can accidentally interrupt the cutscene, Bishop's Quest style.

Would it have been too much trouble to finish tiling the floor?

There's only two savebots in this DMOD - one right at the start, and another right before the end boss. Therefore, for most of the DMOD, you have to backtrack in order to save. Another savebot somewhere would've been nice. What's worse, there is practically no way to ever restore your health. I had some trouble with an optional midboss because of this, but the final boss is really easy.

Jarvis ain't 'fraid of no ghost.

The second "Knight's Tale" is still my favorite because it's straightforward, compact and fun. This one gets a bit tripped up by a few things, but you still get more of Jarvis being a snarky dink, and that's good to have in the world.

192: Kill Murdoock!! Author: Neo Release Date: March 22, 2004
"Great. Another go-kill-win game. What's happened in your world?"

Boy, here's an unusual DMOD. You know, it was better than I was expecting.

Dink is hanging out with his mom (??) when he's magically abducted by some wizard who wants him to kill an evil guy named Murdoock. During the intro, you're given the chance to choose a weapon (sword or bow) and an additional option (fireball or three health potions). You're then sent to fight Murdoock immediately! No questing, no getting lost, no filler, just "go kill this guy - and here he is!" It's a bold step. I can appreciate it.

Murdoock isn't a totally run-of-the-mill dude, either. Every time you hit him, he summons a monster. However, this doesn't always go so well for him. He sometimes summons grey boncas, who tend to attack him instead of you. You're better off picking the bow at the start, but it's not hard at any rate.

Dink does battle with the mighty Murdoock. My goodness, that is a silly name.

After you beat Murdoock, you have to clean up any monsters that are still hanging around. The screen then unlocks. It's a very short walk to the ending, but you can also get a DinkSaber (from Star Dink) for some reason. There are even a few boncas to try it out on if you're so inclined.

The ending promises a sequel. "Yeah, sure," I said, but it turns out there actually was a followup released in 2006. Neo, you are just full of surprises.
September 21st 2014, 04:01 AM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
193: Sjoerd's Quest (Demo) Author: Sjoerde Release Date: April 20, 2004
"I must go to a quiet place and die. Bye my son.."

In this one, the Dink character is referred to as "Sjoerde." He's also called "Smallwood," though, so we must be dealing here with a character named "Sjoerde Smallwood." I wonder if there's any relation.

Dink certainly has an ornery streak, but Sjoerde is an outright mean dink. I mean, he still does the hero thing, but he finds suffering so funny that I honestly wonder why. Sjoerde does not give a damn. He couldn't give a damn if he was bitten by a radioactive damn and gained its proportional damn-giving ability. I mean, he enjoys an "EVIL LAUGH" while wondering if a woman who died violently suffered any pain. What the Hell, man?

It might look like he's giving a damn here, but he's really just appalled by that tree placement.

Our 'hero' finds himself in an area where people have been getting killed by some kind of monster. To do something about this, he has to talk to a woman at a crossroads and run several errands for her, all of which just involve walking a short distance and talking to somebody. For some reason, you have to make these little trips in a specific order; try to do it in a different order, and there will either be nobody there or you'll just walk into an invisible hard object. Once you've done all your chores, you get to go fight the monster. It's just a slayer.

Somebody built a magic bridge that only appears when it senses the proximity of a sword and then put up this sign explaining the situation. That's what we're expected to believe, here.

I didn't encounter any serious bugs in this one, but it's still pretty sloppy. There's no title screen. A couple of screens don't seal off the edges as they're obviously supposed to. Dink phases into the bridge segments as he crosses the bridge because the depth que isn't set correctly.

What saves "Sjoerd's Quest" from being totally uninteresting is a bit of over-the-top absurdity. For example, there's an old man who gives you a potion. Having fulfilled his only purpose, he announces that he's off to die now. If you follow him, you'll find that, sure enough:

That's what old people do. They die. Also, naming a kid "Old Man" is kind of weird.

If, like me, you find yourself on some crazy quest to play all the DMODs, you may get some amusement out of this one.


On May 1, 2004, another Dink Network DMOD contest was announced. The theme was that the player had to be a vampire. Specifically, Redink1 specified that "[t]he main player character must be a vampire, in that they are required to drink/eat blood to live and/or win the game. Not drinking blood will kill the player and/or make the player lose the game." It's not a bad idea for a gameplay mechanic, but people must have found such a specific requirement to be too constraining, because no one submitted an entry. There would not be another DMOD contest until 2006.


194: The Apprentice Author: Lennard Smith Release Date: June 7, 2004
"But...but...I've just got home from saving the world"

"The Apprentice" is a romp, but it's the longest DMOD I've played in a while. It's set right after the original game - seriously, it starts with the caption, "ONE HOUR AFTER DINK DEFEATED SETH..." Seth's right hand man, an evil wizard guy, finds out about Dink's victory and decides to take swift revenge on the Kingdom GoodHeart. He raises an army instantly by magically forcing weak-willed goblins to obey him. The few that manage to resist his control are murdered. What I want to know is, if Seth and this guy were such bros, where the heck was he when Dink came around in the first place?

Yay, finally a happy ending for George! Good old George.

...Damn it.

The early cutscenes are pretty impressive, with lots of moving parts. In a couple of scenes, sprites with brains are used to portray the action rather than directly controlling all of the sprites.

Immediately upon getting home after beating Seth (to the house he got when, exactly? Oh, well), Dink is summoned by the King. Dink getting summoned by the King in this way is a thoroughly worn DMOD setup at this point, but it's handled quite differently here. It's obvious that a war between the goblins and the King's army is raging, and that it's not going very well for the good guys. Talking to the king in an underground bunker, Dink is sent off to recruit the help of a powerful wizard named (of course) Lennard. We also get to see Martridge finally do something! Bellowing, "YOU SHALL NOT PASS," he holds off the goblins as Dink makes his escape.

Whoa! Apparently, Mr. Never-Shows-Up-Again is a bad ass!

Once you actually start playing, though, this DMOD has a problem: there are too many dang screenlocks.

Generally speaking, I'm a fan of the screenlock mechanic. While it can be annoying, it's an important way to force the player to fight their way through the game instead of just skipping everything. Without screen locks, there's little emphasis on the game's combat. "The Apprentice," however, insists on locking down just about every screen. What's worse, the medium-tough pillbugs that swarm across most of the mod's locked screens are scripted to come back immediately after you defeat them and return to the screen, meaning that these screens are always locked! The open area around the DMOD's town is riddled with screens full of these pillbugs. Putting screens that lock in an open, town-type area like that is almost never a good idea, and when combined with the fact that the pillbugs come back immediately, this makes getting around in "The Apprentice" a truly aggravating chore.

Dink: Master of the one-liner.

As if you're not doing enough fighting, you're required to buy a claw sword for 500 gold - a bargain, but you've only got access to enemies that drop small amounts of gold at this point, so this takes quite a while, particularly if you forget which screens are locked by dozens of pillbugs and keep running into them (*grinds teeth*). After that, there's a segment where you fight many, many slayers, followed by a big boss slayer, and then... the game ends. Some narration tells you that the author was too lazy to finish. You never get to meet Lennard or face the big bad guy. What a letdown.

There's a segment of the map that I don't think you're supposed to be able to get to in this version. It's guarded by a giant tree that claims to be an ent. Because it's the standard pine tree sprite, though, throwing a fireball at it removes its hardness, even though the burning animation doesn't play. If you play this DMOD, don't do this - it goes to a place where the DMOD messes up.

Despite the screenlock frustration and the letdown ending, I kind of enjoyed this one. It has some moments I really liked. For example, you know how healing fountains are all over the place in DMODs? There's one in town here, and it's guarded by two knights, who call it an "enchanted healing fountain" and point out that it is of massive strategic importance in the town's defense and say they've been using it to heal wounded soldiers. This is smart! I'm not sure I've ever seen anybody think this convention through further than being a convenience for the player.

And then there's this crazy, gross old pig farmer you run into.

Dink: What ARE you sucking on?
Hobblefoot: *slurps* A pen
Dink: Eww..There's ink and slag dripping from it
Hobblefoot: That's the way...uh huh, uh huh
Hobblefoot: I like it
Dink: You've got problems Hobblefoot

I ain't gonna lie, this bit slayed me. Just slayed me. Some jokes just work really well in short clips of text that come to the viewer one line at a time. It's something I've noticed while playing old adventure games, as well. Something about that little delay can really deliver a hell of a punchline, even if that punchline is just being really damn silly. It actually made it even funnier that I saw that fifth line coming as soon as the fourth one came up.

This one is worth a go, but I'd advise you to cheat your way out of some of the more annoying screenlocks and not to feel guilty about it.

195: Revenge of the Pillbugs Author: DuckKiller4 Release Date: June 7, 2004
"Because we are sick of you killing us!"

It seems like every group of creatures is getting their revenge. First ducks, then pigs, now pillbugs.

This is actually a revised version of this DMOD. DuckKiller4 took a shot at improving it in April of 2005. If they succeeded, it probably wasn't by much.

It probably isn't fair of me not to give the Award of Badness to a DMOD that has six screens, a handful of pillbugs, and nearly no plot, but I got a chuckle out of this, and I've been handing out so many lately. Let me have this one.

The only thing about this DMOD that really matters is the "intro" with Dink talking to a stationary pillbug. Full disclosure, it is past 3 AM and everything is funny, but this tickled me:

Dink: What the?, where am I?
Pillbug: You must die!

Haha, okay, sure little pillbug dude!

I love that Dink seems more offended by the pillbug's rudeness in not answering his question than anything else. As for the pillbug, even when forced to consider Dink's inquiry, it's still intent on getting its message across. It is adorable. Ahahahahah. I am crazy. What am I doing with my life?

Y'know, that boss pillbug actually was kind of tough.

That "magic scroll" does nothing. It's the fireball spell, but you can't get a point of magic until you level up by defeating the boss. Nothing happens when you win, by the way. There are a couple of say_stop lines in its die procedure, but they don't seem to display. I'm not sure why.

This is a dumb excuse for a DMOD. Don't download it.
September 21st 2014, 06:59 AM
Peasant He/Him New Zealand rumble
"Skinny Legend" 
Sometimes the silliest things can tickle the funny bone at just the right moment. I remember finding a few jokes in Dmods that didn't draw a smile from me, and others that left me with hiccups (I found your text-quoted joke from Hobblefoot and the "WHERE AM I?" worked, just not to that extent). Fun times!

Can't remember specifically why, but I recall being told that stop commands in a die proceedure won't work a while ago. Something to do with the die proceedure being a way to close the script, and a stop line breaking everything beyond the stop point?
I'm sure someone can clarify that better than I just did, unfortunately my brain decided to fart instead because I haven't done any Dmodding for about a month.
*goes off to fix the aforementioned issue by scripting stuff*
September 21st 2014, 09:38 AM
Peasant He/Him
IIRC when a sprite is removed any script attached to it will stop running, and any kind of wait, say_stop or move_stop will cause the script to pause until that command has been completed. As the sprite will in that case be removed before the _stop completes nothing after that point will run. If the say line is on a current_sprite when the sprite is removed then the object that is the line of dialogue will be removed as well (or possibly just go floating off to another part of the screen).
September 21st 2014, 11:00 AM
Peasant He/Him Finland bloop
A Disembodied Sod 
Yep. The only way to get pretty much anything but the standard enemy death stuff working via the die procedure, is to immediately have it spawn to another script. I remember back in the day, there was a case in which this confused the heck outta me, cause I accidentally killed a sprite that my cutscene was attached to.

EDIT: Also Tim, you're going through 2004 crazy fast! You've already reached June!
September 21st 2014, 09:43 PM
Jester He/Him Australia
You feed the madness, and it feeds on you. 
"The only way to get pretty much anything but the standard enemy death stuff working via the die procedure, is to immediately have it spawn to another script."

Or you can just put this at the start of the die procedure and then run everything as normal:

sp_brain(&current_sprite, 0);
//seq and frame for dead sprite, in this case it's a knight.
 sp_seq(&current_sprite, 295);
 sp_frame(&current_sprite, 1);

then just kill_this_task(); after everything else if you still want the script die.

September 22nd 2014, 12:00 AM
Peasant He/Him Japan bloop
Responsible for making things not look like ass 
Yeah, that'll work. But I'm not sure you can set editor_type that way. Which probably won't be a problem for story related boss battles but if you want some dialogue after any regularly respawning enemy you'd probably want to use a spawn().
September 22nd 2014, 12:50 AM
Peasant He/Him United States
The world could always use more heroes 
The few time's I've needed things to happen after a sprite/character dies, I do something with script_attach(1000); and creating a dead sprite copy or something so that dialogue can happen after killing someone or something important. I don't know if that's a good or efficient method, but it's what I copy-pasted from other D-mods to learn how to make it work.
September 22nd 2014, 03:45 AM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
I think I've used spawn when I need things to happen after a character dies, but script_attach works too. You can go ahead and attach the script to 0 instead of 1000 if you want the script to die when the screen changes.
September 22nd 2014, 04:10 AM
Peasant He/Him Australia
(Tag Line) How long is this line. 
Jarvis is based the WC2 Footmen not a Knight
September 23rd 2014, 06:43 PM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
196: Castle Killers Author: GameHampe Release Date: July 11, 2004
"Dink! My castle is gone!"
"Yup. Some evil wizard teleported it to the island to the east of here."

"Castle Killers" is actually about the theft, not murder, of a castle, as Dink (or theguywhosavedusfromseth, which the intro claims he changed his name to) finds out during a bizarre little conversation with the King.

Standards of what constitutes a "castle" seem to have fallen considerably.

But I didn't even know that on my first playthrough. This is because there's a well near the start of the game which, when examined, goes ahead and throws you forward to the segment you're supposed to reach after talking to the King and receiving what little exposition this DMOD is willing to deliver. This also makes the game slightly harder, as by skipping that segment, you're also missing out on several of the many megapotions that are scattered around the map.

This one is laid out over several huge, uninteresting maps, though it isn't by any means a long DMOD. There are plenty of pillbugs and boncas around, but no good reason to fight them (while watching me ignore screen after screen of pillbugs, my wife inquired, "gameplay?"). There are a couple of bosses, but they're both touch damagers who don't present much of a threat. Screen decoration consists mainly of badly stamping the same tree in poorly-considered clumps. Tiling is a nightmare.

Yeah, just use that one tile over and over, I'm sure that's fine.

For some reason, there is a winter-themed segment where you encounter a hovel you're told belongs to Santa Claus (it looks pretty shabby - I would think Santa could afford better). Crawling into his fireplace leads to a tunnel that comes out in... Stonebrook. From the original game. Huh?

Well, those are memorable last words, I'll give you that.

Once you get to Stonebrook, it certainly seems that you're stuck. It was only thanks to an old forum post I found that I discovered that you have to examine a perfectly ordinary-looking rock behind Ethel's house in order to continue. Of all the confusing bits of design that require you to read the author's mind in order to progress I've encountered in DMODs, I think this one might be the worst so far.

Anyway, it turns out that it was no evil wizard responsible for stealing the castle - it was Ethel. Would she really do such a thing?

Actually, after playing "Quest for the Golden Nut" I'd believe she's capable of anything.

After Dink defeats Ethel, he returns to the King. If you talk to him, he says, "Hooray Dink! You saved me!!" That's it as far as an ending goes. You can't leave the room, and the game leaves it to you to quit. I think the fact that the script for displaying this one line is named "ending.c" is the funniest part of the DMOD.

"Castle Killers" left me confused and with a headache. Immediately after playing, I took two aspirin. It is tragically easy to confuse me.

197: Matoya Author: Astral Release Date: July 11, 2004
"But Because Dink dont know how to read, he dont Remember what to do..."

"Matoya" insists on portraying Dink Smallwood as illiterate even though this directly contradicts what we see in the original game. It doesn't matter that much - it's just weird, is all. Sometimes I wonder whether some authors really played the original game or paid much attention when they did.

The title is the name of a land where Dink finds himself. His goal is to kill a slayer named the Astral Being, but before he can get there, he has to clear out a major nest of pillbugs and slimes. There isn't a lot of story here, but there are a few colorful bit characters.

The dancing gnome is pretty funny. It's his enthusiasm that gets me.

The extremely cheerful music in this DMOD belies its difficulty. "Matoya" was the first time I did serious level grinding in a DMOD in quite a while; there's just no other way to compete with the bosses. The bosses are a tiny pillbug, a big slime and a fast slayer, and they're all more difficult than you expect them to be. I managed to punch the pillbug to death after a few tries, but I found it necessary to raise 2000 gold and buy the claw sword in order to beat the slime. By the time you get to the end boss, you'll have the throwing axe, but the slayer is so fast that the only way I could win was by leveling up for more defense. Although this is really quite a short DMOD, I got to level 10! This didn't take as long as you might think thanks to a machine that lets you trade gold for experience points, a concept the author credits to "The Quest for Cheese."

A tiny pillbug as a boss is an unusual choice. Also, those brambles are just a harmless backdrop.

Um... "not?"

Incidentally, this mod has the highest portion of unused screens that I've seen. Take a look at the map:

I've drawn a blue box around the screens that actually appear in the DMOD.

The author was probably planning a larger DMOD. I respect them for being realistic and scaling it down instead of declaring this a "demo" that would never be finished.

198: Slimes VS Dink Author: TA Release Date: July 11, 2004
"Now move your butt in the Slimefarm!"

That's right, three DMODs were released on the same day. As far as I can tell, the only other time this happened outside of a contest was back in 1998, on that fateful day in August when I released "Dink Smallwood Forever." "Dinkzilla" and "Legend of Smallwood" came out the same day.

TA is the author of "Hide-and-seek." If anything, his second effort is worse than his first.

************This DMOD, "Slimes VS Dink,"***********
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
   ********On this day September 23, 2014*******

The best thing I can say about TA's DMODs is that they aren't buggy. Instead, they are just completely devoid of interest. Even terrible mods like "Dink Forever" and "Ghosts of the Cast" have a quirk or two that the easily amused might appreciate, but I can't think of a single reason to play this or "Hide-and-seek."

I mean, unless you want to punch a lot of slimes. Then I guess this DMOD has you covered.

This. Lots and lots of this.

On the first screen, a comically big knight orders Dink to kill slimes. What follows is sixteen locked screens in a row full of slimes. There are no weapons. The slime-punching is set to a MIDI of the Bonanza theme, and after a while the contrast between the theme's promise of adventure and the tedium of my task made for some unintentional comedy. The final screen contains a bigger slime with 200 hit points. When you beat it, some text says, "MISSION COMPLETE!" There are supposed to be a couple more lines, and the game is supposed to end on its own, but due to the problem with using say_stop in die procedures, this doesn't happen.

You know, this really was an exceptionally pointless mission. The slimes were contained within an otherwise empty fenced area. They weren't hurting anybody. They weren't threatening some village or something. Hell, the knight at the start even refers to the area as "the Slimefarm," suggesting that somebody cultivated these slimes on purpose. Isn't Dink just pointlessly destroying somebody else's property? Wow, what a jerk. Screw this DMOD, man.
September 25th 2014, 04:08 PM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
199: The Ants (Demo) Author: MiloBones Release Date: July 22, 2004
"I don't have the luxury of questioning orders."

MiloBones once jokingly implied that this was one of the worst DMODs out there. He did this in a reply to me. Yes, I made a post or two over the years without really coming back.

Here's a novel one. There aren't a lot of games that let you play as an ant. Maxis's SimAnt (1991), the game that made the humble antlion into an unlikely star of many young gamers' nightmares, comes to mind. I can't think of another one offhand.

An ant's work is never done.

In "The Ants," the player controls a male ant named Hatman. Hatman can dig in the soil using the attack button, and the magic button allows him to mark a location with a pheromone. You can choose between 'food,' 'danger,' or 'friend' pheromones, but only the 'danger' pheromone is actually used for anything in this demo.

Hatman is ordered to explore some tunnels and mark points of danger, but he's soon trapped in a small area. It's implied that this may not be an accident. Hatman is able to dig his way out to another tunnel by following the voice of a female ant named Elisabetta. After thanking her, Hatman tries to tell her an old ant legend, but he keeps getting interrupted by orders to go do more tasks.

Hatman talks to Elisabetta.

The two ants get on well. Although he insists otherwise, talking to Elisabetta soon makes Hatman begin to question his orders and wonder why he isn't a bit more appreciated. Thematically, it reminds me somewhat of the movie Antz.

This demo establishes an interesting atmosphere, but it's over before you know it. It really is too bad this one wasn't finished; I was totally on board with the concept.

200: The Elves of Rathor Author: Carrie Ann Burton (Carrie2004) Release Date: August 23, 2004
"Canadian beer is the best beer, eh."

Hey, look at that, two hundred DMODs. It took me a bit longer (~7 months) to get here from 100 than it did to get to 100 from the start (~6 months). The Dink community, by contrast, put out the second hundred DMODs quicker than the first. The third took a bit longer, as my current count has number 300 in September of 2009. As for the fourth... it might never come, huh? Sadness.

Dink? Is that you?

"Elves of Rathor" is the first DMOD by Canadian Dinker Carrie2004. We'll be seeing a lot of her, as she put out nine DMODs by the end of 2007.

This is a silly DMOD in which an author self-insert sends Dink to Canada, where he must rescue a princess. The princess of Canada, I guess. Apparently Canada is a monarchy now. The princess doesn't appear in this DMOD, but the King does.

These fat little beavers are a hoot.

It is pretty funny that the Canadian author chooses to portray Canada as a frozen land where every building, even a church, is an igloo, and people say the word 'eh' at the end of virtually every sentence. That right there is enough justification for this DMOD's existence.

There isn't much to "Elves of Rathor." There's only one enemy you really need to fight at the very end, and it certainly isn't challenging if you pick up even a few of the megapotions that are scattered around. The "Canada" town is fun, but when you get to the Rathor area, the titular elves all have only the same few lines to say about how much they hate smelly humans - I would have liked to see more of that. There are some bugs - hardness errors that let you go places you aren't supposed to, a savebot and a tree with no hardness. It isn't strictly a bug, but the fact that you get the fireball spell but can't burn down fir trees feels wrong, somehow. For a simple first DMOD, though, this isn't so bad.

201: Chaos Author: Ric Release Date: August 31, 2004

According to Ric, the author of "Bane of the Magi," "Chaos" came about when he was "experimenting and it got playable." I guess sometimes a DMOD just sort of happens on its own.

In fact, this barely qualifies as a DMOD. It seems more like a playground for new graphics and concepts that had a very short "quest" added to it. There's no title screen and no intro. There are some bugs, too, like a fireball scroll that comes back after you've already gotten it and some dialogue that doesn't use the freeze command properly, making it possible to get yourself frozen.

There is a simple plot. Martridge wants Dink to test out a spell, but Dink messes it up and transforms Martridge into an animate tree. Dink then has to go find a bit of money in a nearby cave so he can buy a restoration potion to fix Martridge. After he does this (and maybe after another form for Martridge or two, chosen at random), there doesn't seem to be anything to do, so we'll call that the ending.

Anyway, the original graphics are pretty neat. Let's look at them.

Here you can see the new savebot and the new choice dialog. The latter seems to be badly misplaced for some reason.

Martridge turning into a little tree that walks around is a hilarious visual gag.

..and then he dresses himself up like a Christmas tree! I was almost crying from laughter. You have to see this in motion. This alone makes "Chaos" worth downloading.

There's a house that you can see things pass behind. It's a clever effect, done by having two house sprites - one in the background, and a semitransparent extra on top of it.

This isn't a new graphic, but I wanted to register my approval for the clever use of the rock sprites to make some stairs here. They look like really convincing stairs!

Really, that's all you need to know about this one. The pictures are the reason it exists anyway.


Here's a little Dink history note. At the end of August 2004, the .dmod format now used to distribute DMODs became the standard. Earlier DMODs came in a standard .zip file, which you had to unpack and manually move the resultant folder to your Dink Smallwood directory. It wasn't terribly complicated, but some people had trouble with it. The .dmod format is a .tar.bz2 archive that the DFArc frontend recognizes and automatically moves the files where they need to go. It's a neat trick; it really couldn't be simpler to install DMODs than it is now.


202: Cursed Author: Carrie Ann Burton Date: September 12, 2004
"A curse has made me...well,half the man I was."

This is currently the only DMOD ever to come out on my birthday. Whee!

The swimming pool filled with cherry Jell-O seemed like a great idea at first...

It seems the King... well, a King, at least... has been cursed, and Dink must travel to the "Deadlands" to fetch a cure. It's a pretty simple errand that doesn't take very long.

I don't think that's King Dan. By the way, if you're wondering where these NPC graphics come from, they're apparently the author's original creations.

Surprisingly, that title screen is a literal depiction of what we see in the DMOD itself.

There are two screens' worth of enemies you have to fight due to screenlocks. These come back immediately, but it's not nearly the problem it was in "The Apprentice" because it's just two screens. The enemies are these little ghouls with scythes, but although they appear to swing their weapons, they're really just like pillbugs.

These guys might look dangerous, but these first ones you encounter are identical to the basic pillbugs from the start of the original game.

This DMOD, like the author's first, has got some personality to it. Most objects are scripted with a talk and hit response ("DINK HATES FURNITURE!"), which is always nice. There's a weird guy in a jester's costume named Pimm who keeps showing up for some reason, and every time you talk to him he makes some kind of joke at Dink's expense. The jokes aren't particularly funny (Are your shoes wet? They must be, with such a drip in them!), but the obnoxiousness of the way he laughs at his own jokes kind of is. There are a few other little gags I liked, such as the fact that an attendant complains when you open the treasure chests in the castle.

There are quite a few hardness problems in this one. Although this is the author's second DMOD, it seems she still hadn't heard of tile-based hardness, because all the hardness in "Cursed" is sprite-based. As a result, hardness is rarely where you'd expect it to be, and frequently full of holes. I got trapped behind the castle in this DMOD after missing the warp on my first attempt at entering it.


I'm sorry if the writeups lately have seemed kind of short and lazy. The fact is that the DMODs in 2004 were almost all rather short and simple, and I just don't have that much to say about them. At least I haven't had to hand out the Award of Badness too many times.

Let's be honest, though: I know what those of you who are following this are really interested in. Anybody who's reading this after the fact (unless they're the author of one of these DMODs) is probably scrolling past all this stuff in order to get to the part they really care about. Well, here we go.

Next: Cloud Castle 2.
September 26th 2014, 12:14 AM
Peasant She/Her Canada
Haha. That seems like a lifetime ago, I don't remember half of what I put in those dmods. Good times though. But, just so y'all know, I am NEVER EVER going to go back and fix any glitches. No. Just no.
September 26th 2014, 09:34 AM
Peasant He/Him Finland bloop
A Disembodied Sod 
So when are we gonna get a new Dinkorro adventure, Carrie?
September 27th 2014, 04:57 AM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
203: Cloud Castle 2: Scarab Authors: James & Neil Troughton (SabreTrout & Arik) Release Date: September 25, 2004
"I should probably try to avoid doing anything stupid"

REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is one of the select group with a score of 9.0 or better (9.6) on The Dink Network.

This DMOD is recommended in Dink Smallwood HD.

*Waves to everybody who scrolled down here from the top without reading anything else*

Right now, I'm actually wondering why more title screens don't use in-game graphics. It works well here.

I was a little apprehensive about getting to this one. What if I didn't like it?

I didn't know what to expect after all the hype I'd seen. To live up to it, a DMOD would have to feel like more than just a DMOD. "Scarab" doesn't, which is fine. Actually, I loved the DMOD; it's just that a thing's reputation can get bigger than the thing itself. "Cloud Castle 2" is almost exactly ten years old; it's hard for a new thing (which this DMOD is to me) to live up to a memory. It's easy to say, "Ah, DMODs will never be as good as CC2 again." This happens in every medium.

There's an interesting readme file included with the DMOD that addresses this issue right from the start, actually.

SabreTrout says, "It's far too over-hyped, so I'm very sorry about that. Hopefully you will enjoy it though, as I feel it does have some pretty cool stuff involved."

Arik says, "Scarab is essentially a very simple d-mod that has had a lot of stuff pumped into it, and it's hard to tell whether it has remained fun along the way. But I enjoy parts of it. I hope you enjoy parts of it too."

These statements are right on the money. "Scarab" feels very much like a regular sort of DMOD with a lot of cool stuff pumped into it. It definitely remained fun along the way, which is an achievement worth celebrating.

*sigh* This is awfully familiar...

"Scarab" begins exactly how I remember "Cloud Castle" ending: with Dink getting his ass handed to him by Monkeynuts the Fairy. Seriously, that series of bosses was ridiculous.

Damn you, Monkeynuts. The biggest disappointment of the DMOD is that I don't get the chance to get my revenge on the stupid fairy.

The DMOD is set in a prison desert called Salamak, using Simon Kleabe's sweet desert graphics as usual. The game refers to it as a "desert prison," but that really implies a prison compound of some sort in a desert; Salamak is a pretty good chunk of magically-sealed desert made to keep in an evil Ancient or two and a bunch of poor sods whose psychic abilities power the enchantment somehow. The inmates have formed a small town that serves at the base of operations for the adventure. Dink goes out, undertakes some leg of the quest, and returns to regroup. This is a different structure from most large DMODs, which tend to move from location to location with only occasional, if any, backtracking. It's a nice change of pace, and it helps to emphasize the feeling of being trapped and to get the player very familiar with the little town and its immediate surroundings. By the end, I knew quite well where everything was. Still, the world is big enough that a map would have been nice. (EDIT: And there is one, I just never found it. Whoops.)

Wow. Disappointment Town could take lessons from this place on despondent signage.

Dink is accompanied at the start by a woman named Alessa, whom he met in the Cloud Castle. There are three different party members you may have accompany you. The game goes quite far with this. Not only can you "pull them out of your inventory" and have a conversation with them, but your partner will also join in on any conversation you have with an NPC. Since you can choose which character you'd like to have accompany you at some points, this means that there is alternate dialogue and even alternate versions of some cutscenes. You can even learn things when talking to one party member that trigger a dialogue choice when talking to another, and so on. It definitely adds depth for Dink to not always be alone on his adventures, and the amount of care put into this detail impressed me.

Partners can also heal you once per outing, which is awfully handy in a pinch.

I also have to give high marks to "Scarab" for getting quite a few good laughs out of me. Most of them were connected to the villains known as "Scarab Club 7," a group of troublemakers who keep getting in Dink's way for most of the adventure. These guys are an absurd bunch of bumblers with names like "Pencilhead" and "Lord Duckington," but they're also a credible threat and make for some tough boss fights. Pencilhead was my second-favorite of the team, with his lab full of notes on various crazy inventions.

To be fair, Dink can be a bit of a bumbler himself.

My favorite member of the Scarab Club was the seventh member, young Dink Smallwood. The team travels to the past and manages to recruit Dink from around the end of the original game to their cause. The game deals with the various vexing continuity problems this presents by resolutely ignoring them and pretending they don't exist. I'm OK with this.

Anyway, this unusual choice of villain highlights the differences between Dink as he was originally created and the character he's become, partly by necessity in order to have ongoing adventures, in the world of DMODs. In a very funny scene, young Dink confronts old Dink about what he's become.

Young Dink: You, however, can't even remember a simple spell for more than a couple of days at a time!
Dink: Uhh, that's not true
Young Dink: Damn right it's true! I know all about you, imposter
You never own a house for more than a week at a time!
All of your equipment gets stolen once a fortnight!
EVERY girl you rescue runs off sooner or later, and don't you deny it!

Dink the younger then goes on to belittle Dink's famed adventures:

Young Dink: You went on a gruelling quest... to heal a pimple on your nose!
You started hearing some freaky 'Green Voice' in your head!
A tree ordered you to kill a duck once... and you failed!
I even heard you once went on a Quest for Cheese!
Dink: Hey, that was really important. That was a good quest!
Young Dink: A. Quest. For. CHEESE!
It wasn't supposed to be like that! I was going to be a hero!
I was going to slay fearsome beasts, and find vast treasure troves
Everyone would revere my name, and I'd get to have SEX with GIRLS!

This scene is easily my favorite thing about the entire DMOD. Not only is it the cleverest riff I've seen on the constant continuity resets that plague Dink's existence, it also convincingly shows how Dink, for all his accomplishments, could look like a pretty big loser to his immature younger self if the wrong person was doing the explaining. The reference to "Valley of the Talking Trees" just about killed me, especially because Young Dink's line is an accurate summary of that DMOD's plot. A tree orders Dink to kill a duck... and he fails. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.

Of course, Dink has also gotten to do plenty of those things his younger self dreams about, although his obsession with sex is a little bit sad. You know, I do wonder exactly how often Dink has really gotten laid. Sure, he has some (rather perfunctory, for the most part) sexual encounters in SimonK's mods, and I'm sure Dorinthia (that poor, oversexed girl) put out at some point, but the majority of Dink's wild sexual conquests are things we're just told about in various intros. For the most part, they sound rather unlikely tales of several women at once (or more, to ludicrous proportions), and I'm not sure it isn't just a bunch of empty bragging. I know that a lot of those statements are made to the empty air, but do you think that Dink is above lying about such things to himself just to make himself feel better? I'm not sure I do.

Or maybe DMOD developers have largely been a bunch of horny teenage males. Nah. Forget I said anything.

"Whatever, Smallwood." You know, it must be no fun when a girl can emasculate you just by calling you by name.

Oh, right, we were talking about some DMOD. "A Knight's Tale Part Cinco: Sweet Sir Jarvis's Badassss Song," or something. "Cloud Castle 2?" Close enough.

The bosses are pretty sweet. There's a lot of imagination and scripting wizardry put into making each of them a distinct experience. There's a fight against two opponents where one buffs and heals the other. There's a room full of cloning machines where you can only win by destroying the machines first. There's a guy who you can only hit with projectiles at first, and there are poles that will fling projectiles at him if you strike them, but doing so summons more enemies. Most of these fights are tough as nails. It was a real stretch for me to beat some of them. I wish I'd spent my extra gold on steelskin and healing potions when I had the chance.

There is a lot going on in some of these boss fights.

The dungeons feature some interesting traps and puzzles, especially the big, purportedly optional 'Temple of the Ancients,' which features spear, flame and arrow traps and a segment where Dink gets turned into a duck. The boss fight with Jameil really throws everything at you - enemies, flame traps, moving walls, rocks dropping on your head - but it feels curiously easy. The dungeon is supposed to be a super hard optional challenge, but I was completely unable to beat the regular final dungeon until I went back and did the "optional" one, after which reaching the ending was a piece of cake. The temple actually was a fun and slightly sadistic challenge, but the Big Bad was a bit of a letdown.

Jameil takes the form of the Room of Doom. That is a name that I made up, and I like it very much.

The rewards for beating Jameil kick ASS. A herb-boots-speed sword and spread shot Hellfire. I AM AS UNTO A GOD

If I have a complaint about this DMOD - and it's a minor one - it'd be that I think the gameplay balance could be improved a bit. I spent way too long marooned in dangerous situations without a weapon at the start, and I got into some frustrating situations with regularity. I say it's a minor complaint, though, because unlike some other mods (including this one's predecessor), it was never unreasonably difficult. Beating "Scarab" without cheating is tough - maybe a little too tough at a few points, depending on how you play - but reasonable. That's it, really. I didn't run into any bugs worth talking about. The authors (or maybe just Arik ) have shown impressive dedication in polishing this DMOD. Arik released a patch just a few months ago to fix a few minor, lingering issues. I wonder if it's because he saw me coming? Heh.

Mario would quit in protest if he saw THIS fire wand.

I've gone and gushed like crazy yet again. You might wonder why I wrote that paragraph at the start about hype if I liked this DMOD so much. The thing is that the hype seemed to me, at times, to raise the expectations to levels a DMOD couldn't reach. There's a point at which I feel like saying, "It's just a DMOD." It doesn't attempt to overreach that status as much as some other mods do. I wonder if part of what's holding people back from wanting to make a great big DMOD like the old days is the impossibility of ascending to remembered heights that were never really reached in the first place.

As for the "best DMOD" debate... I don't think it matters that much. It isn't a competition. They have different strengths and weaknesses. The ratings on the site don't mean that much either. Stressing about Simon Klaebe giving this an 8.9 - essentially, a NINE OUT OF TEN - would be totally raving bonkers, but that's what's keeping it slightly below the top. To twist my own arm, though, if I'm objective and discount personal favorites like "FIAT" and "Green Voice" because of their obvious flaws or lack of scale, it's probably a two-way race (from what I've seen so far) between "Scarab" and "Pilgrim's Quest." I've heard that people hate wishy-washy non-answers, so... I'm going with PQ. It's a thin margin, but that DMOD really knocked my socks off. Sorry, SabreTrout.

I don't want to end on an even slightly negative note, though, because I had a great time with this one. For those keeping score (which is nobody, but indulge me) I spent a little over six hours on it and finished at level 12. It continues to amaze me that Dink Smallwood, an old game that few found impressive even when it came out, has inspired people to make projects like "Cloud Castle 2: Scarab" - projects with so much hard work, imagination, thought and heart put into them. When "Prophecy of the Ancients" came out, I thought it was a ridiculously over-the-top example of talent and effort being put toward something like this - surely it'd never be equaled. How little I knew.

Next: Initiation.
September 27th 2014, 07:04 AM
Noble He/Him United Kingdom
I'm glad you enjoyed it.

September 27th 2014, 07:07 AM
Peasant He/Him Australia
(Tag Line) How long is this line. 
Still, the world is big enough that a map would have been nice.

There was a map you idiot in the right house when you first get to the town a man has a map but to get it you must bring him fresh water from the house in the oasis area Its the one with the green woman that's missing her daughter.

To twist my own arm, though, if I'm objective and discount personal favorites like "FIAT" and "Green Voice" because of their obvious flaws or lack of scale, it's probably a two-way race (from what I've seen so far) between "Scarab" and "Pilgrim's Quest." I've heard that people hate wishy-washy non-answers, so... I'm going with PQ. It's a thin margin, but that DMOD really knocked my socks off. Sorry, SabreTrout

Fiat was repetitive and too dam big
Green voice Is ok I guess

Pilgrims quest is overrated like nearly every SimonK D-mod My favourite SimonK d-mod believe or not is Dink goes boating yep I said it.

The best would be either Initiation or CC2
September 27th 2014, 07:27 AM
Peasant He/Him
Be nice - the oasis water subquest was a pretty obscure and arguably late place to include an item that's most useful towards the beginning of the game. (You definitely don't need to be an "idiot" to miss it, unless you're talking to all the NPCs every time you return to the village). I felt its placement was a little awkward at the time, although it kind of made sense as a nice to have but completely nonessential reward.

The balancing on the temple of the ancients was a pretty weird side effect of the way it went from completely optional to semi-optional-but-not-really after I'd finished making it - it was balanced to account for the possibility that it wouldn't be accessible after you got the light sword, rather than it being accessible automatically. I'm OK with it skewing on the easy side though after CC1, and at least it makes earlier runs at the temple more viable. If anything I'm sadder about the final cave being too hard, since I think the bad endings mostly came out better than the good ones.

Hope you enjoy Initiation - I honestly feel that it, along with Lyna's Story, is the smartest and best designed d-mod I've played through.
September 27th 2014, 08:16 AM
Noble He/Him United Kingdom
Everyone should talk to every NPC every time they come back to the village. And with every party member too.

I didn't write all that goddamn dialogue for nothin'.
September 27th 2014, 09:34 AM
Peasant He/Him Finland bloop
A Disembodied Sod 
Hmm... maybe it's just the fanboy of this D-Mod in me talking, but I must say I am sorta disappointed in this write-up, Tim. Sorry.

First of all, Scarab Team 7? Really?! With how much the name Scarab Club 7 is thrown in your face during the game, and the name itself being an obvious reference/joke, I'm surprised you remembered that one wrong.

Also, it sounds to me like you missed a lot of things. Which I can't blame you about. Thing is, writing an article like this about CC2, after just one playthrough, is impossible. I've played it through about ten times and there are still things I know I haven't found, and probably even more I don't know about. For example, you mentioned there is no map, when there is one. It also sounds to me like you missed an entire village, The Oasis, and its dungeon, which probably means you missed out on a handful of quests too. I also assume you missed out on the fact that there are 9 different endings, which I think would've been worth mentioning (pretty sure it's a record).

And it just sounded to me like you weren't very eager to write about this one, for some reason. As if you were purposefully trying to hold it down. Just feels like there are so many simple great things about this D-Mod that you must've known were there, but left unmentioned. Such as the dialogue in the game which no other D-Mod matches, having a well-mapped and interesting world to explore, as well as just all the neat little side things you can do. I mean, they're not any jaw-dropping things on their own, but CC2 just does so many of these small simple things that it becomes amazing. For example, after playing PQ again recently, its dialogue absolutely sucks compared to Scarab.

So yeah, maybe it's just the fanboy in me speaking, but can't help but feel that whereas in the article of Green Voice you were purposefully trying to prove that D-Mod as far more amazing than it really is, it felt like with this one you were purposefully trying to prove it as far less amazing than it is. *shrugs* Personally, I don't think PQ or most other D-Mods come anywhere close to this one, but that's just me. It's obvious you disagree.
September 27th 2014, 10:20 AM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Oops, it was late when I wrote this. I fixed the scarab club. I, um, don't get the reference.

The missed map will continue to stand as a huge monument to my incompetence. Having said that, eat me, Pun.

Bloody hell, that was an awfully positive take on something I was trying to "prove was less amazing than it actually is." I give my honest opinions, no more. I didn't mention everything because, like you say, it would be difficult to do so. I gave it a try.

I think I did go to the Oasis, but not until it was almost too late to do so.

You're right that I wasn't eager to write about it; I said as much at the start of my writeup. The reason has little to do with the game itself and more to do with the fact that I knew whatever I wrote wouldn't satisfy everybody.
September 27th 2014, 10:47 AM
Peasant He/Him Finland bloop
A Disembodied Sod 
Eh, just seems that you left out a lot of stuff that would be the first things to pop into anybody's mind when writing an article about this game. And these are the exact things that mostly make CC2, in many people's mind, the best D-Mod available.

I'm not saying this write-up was horrible. And it was mostly positive about the D-Mod, indeed. Just felt like it left a lot out that could've been mentioned in it. For example, in PQ's write-up, you spent an entire section talking about and praising one bad ending, whereas with this one you didn't even mention there were multiple endings, when there's 9. It left this sense in me that CC2 didn't go down as one of your favourite D-Mods, and you didn't feel like giving it all its deserved credit due to that. It felt somehow... biased. As if from the get-go you had already decided it won't live up to its hype.

But that's just my opinion. You're entitled to your opinion about the D-Mod, and I'm not gonna challenge it or anything. I'm just being honest about how I feel about these write-ups. Mostly I've said they have been great. This was one of the few that felt like a miss to me.
September 27th 2014, 01:39 PM
Peasant He/Him
Most of CC2's endings are pretty similar; in particular there's really only one good ending, just with a bunch of modifiers based on your party member and on whether you completed the party member's sidequest, but the bad endings are variations on a theme as well. They're also all achieved in the same place, rather than by taking an unfortunate course of action that lets you see the game's events from another perspective, which Pilgrim's quest did to great effect.

I wrote the endings, so my perspective is a little weird and self derogatory and I'm glad you liked them, but you've hit on an area I think could have been more interesting. The approach Initiation took was really cool for that, in that all the endings are achieved by the player taking very different and very active steps to get them. Back when I was toying with a pseudo-romp version of CC3 I was considering a hybrid CC2 and Initiation approach, where you'd be able to finish the game really quickly but the ending - possibly including what you did to get it - would have a lot of modifiers based on the active things you were doing in the module up to that point.

For what it's worth I agree with Tim's write up. And if CC2 is about all the small details then ultimately not all of them are going to get covered - there's only so much that it makes sense to write up. Also, the screenshots show that not only did Tim bomb through Cloud Castle to the oasis but he also found Alessa's memory, which requires talking to an invisible fairy with a specific NPC in your party. Given that so many players miss the oasis completely I'm kind of floored by the attention to detail.
September 27th 2014, 11:51 PM
Peasant He/Him Australia
(Tag Line) How long is this line. 
Back when I was toying with a pseudo-romp version of CC3 I was considering a hybrid CC2 and Initiation approach, where you'd be able to finish the game really quickly but the ending - possibly including what you did to get it - would have a lot of modifiers based on the active things you were doing in the module up to that point.

Go for it,It sounds like a fantastic idea.
September 28th 2014, 03:05 AM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
You know, it's kind of amazing that CC2 didn't even win Download of the Month. What rotten luck that was, the two biggest releases of the year by far coming out right next to each other.
September 28th 2014, 09:28 AM
Peasant He/Him Finland bloop
A Disembodied Sod 
What makes it even more rotten, is that Initiation is a serious contestant for the most overrated D-Mod ever. The secret to that D-Mod's success is all its fancy scripting, causing a slightly unique gameplay. But pretty much everything else in it is a letdown. Especially the train wreck of a plot.
September 28th 2014, 11:23 AM
Peasant He/Him Australia
(Tag Line) How long is this line. 
Initation is my second favourite D-mod after CC2.

-I like Initiation I like how there were multiple ending and different ways of unlocking them.
-I like that the intro had voice acting(Although at the same time it would be annoying if the whole entire D-mod had it)
-I like the final boss
-I like the flame sword

However there were certain thing keeping it from as being my favorite.
-Intro inst skippable (A problem if you have played it before)
-The weird red world (What the hell was Redink1 thinking)
-Stealth is based too much on luck
-Sewers is annoying

Pilgrims quest and Stone of Balance are the most overrated D-mods in my opinion.
September 28th 2014, 11:48 AM
Peasant He/Him Finland bloop
A Disembodied Sod 
I'd say Stone of Balance is somewhat underrated actually, in terms that it's in many ways superior to Pilgrim's Quest. I'm not sure whether that's due to SoB being underrated or PQ being overrated, though. Perhaps a little bit of both. I've yet to get that same feeling of adventure as I do with SoB, in any other D-Mod.
September 28th 2014, 12:45 PM
Peasant He/Him Australia
(Tag Line) How long is this line. 
I played the beginning of SOB many times atleast 3 eventually I bite the bullet the fourth or third time played though to the end hoping it will get better NOPE.
I couldnt bloody stand the map design the of second map it was boring and annoying.
Everything felt a little saturated the gold town just felt out of place.
You never feel for the place because your forced to teleport and to never come back MANY TIMES.
The story was just DAFAQ! even with Dink Smallwood standards and dont get me started with the mutant/scopion babies I mean what was he thinking.

No way SOB is underrated

Initiation destroys SOB

CC2 is still my favourite I really want Sabre and Arik to finish CC3 yet they are too wash up and stubborn to do so nowadays which is sad because They had some really good ideas with NPC walking out and the Hybrid system ending system with CC2 and initiation
October 1st 2014, 11:13 PM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
204: Cast Awakening Part 1: Initiation Author: Dan Walma Release Date: September 29, 2004
"I mean, if I'm an asshole, and I eat pie, does that mean my pie is an asshole?"

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

This DMOD is recommended in Dink Smallwood HD.

Wow, a Redink1 DMOD. It's been a while. When I first learned about it, it overturned my assumption that he'd stopped making them a lot sooner. Looking back, even "Dukie's Shooting Gallery" was an old unreleased project, so we have to go back to 2002's "Cycles of Evil" for the last new DMOD by the prolific Mr. Walma. This is his last DMOD - to date, at least. Who knows what the future may hold?

DuckLord made a bug-fixing update to this DMOD in 2007; for this, he has a co-author credit on the site, like Ted Shutes on Legend of the Duck.

I was an enthusiastic player of all of Dan's mods back in the ancient days of 1998-2001, so I wish I were more eager to write about this one. I feel like I should take some time to explain the last known whereabouts of my head. I'm gonna dig up some stuff that I initially intended to keep to myself, but I don't feel like doing that anymore. I really do apologize for delaying the writeup of the actual DMOD, but I feel like I gotta explain myself. If you don't wanna read that kind of thing, scroll down until you see a pair of hyphens on their own line.

I was not looking forward to writing about "Cloud Castle 2" either, as I've mentioned. I had this sense that I was starting to cross into a "modern period" of DMODs that most of the people around remember and care about, and I felt like my opinions might not be so well-received anymore. I was relieved when I liked CC2 so much, as I thought it wouldn't be an issue, but then I was told that I hadn't given "due credit" to a mod about which the worst thing I'd said was that it was the second-best DMOD I'd ever played.

Skull's words got to me. I was frustrated that, after I put a particularly large amount of effort into writing about "Scarab," he'd think I was so bad at this as to make up my mind about the DMOD before I started. I was miffed, I'll admit it (Punisher calling me an idiot for not finding the map wasn't so fun either). Of course, he's entitled to his opinion no matter how much it annoys me, but my motivation for this entire project flagged big time. Looking forward, it didn't seem like it was going to be fun anymore, so what was the point? It isn't just what Skull said, either. I've been really depressed lately for reasons that are still too personal to get into here, and my motivation to do anything - getting out of bed, for example - has been at an all-time low.

I talked myself into starting "Initiation," but my mood being what it was, it didn't go so well. I struggled to make progress. I got frustrated easily. All I could see were flaws. The flaws were real, but I am pretty sure I wouldn't have been so harsh on them or focused on them as much if I'd been in a better state of mind.

Out of pure stubbornness, I stuck with it, and after a while I started to have fun fighting the monsters and finding my way through the maze. I started having quite a bit of fun, actually, and the fact that I was able to do that in the kind of mood I was in proves that this is a good DMOD. This positive feeling lasted until near the end, when I started running into challenges that seemed impossible. After four hours of play, I gave up. I directed my browser to the Dink Network, intending to post about how this project was over. When the page loaded, however, I saw something that I certainly hadn't expected. Dan had updated "Initiation" on its tenth anniversary.

In his post about the new patch, he mentioned this project as one of the factors that inspired him to go back and work on "Initiation" again. Suddenly, I remembered what made me want to do this in the first place. I wanted to give something back to a community that meant a lot to me when I was younger. To see that I've managed to inspire some new activity in that community from people who hadn't been directly involved in some time - well, that's the best possible result of the work I've done here. It really meant a lot to me to see that. Thanks, Dan, I mean it.

Thus, I have resolved to press on. Here is a writeup about "Initiation." I can't really purge the influence of the mood I was in from my take on the DMOD, but now that I've told you about it, you can at least conclude for yourself how much you think it colored my view of things.


My goodness, that DOES sound unpleasant.

In "Cast Awakening Part 1: Initiation," Dink is invited to a ceremony in which he is to be enshrined in a "Hall of Heroes." This turns out to be a trick by the Cast, who actually imprison Dink deep within an underground stronghold. This plays out in an almost fully-voiced intro, which is a great touch. The voices, done by Dinkers, are obviously a bit amateurish, but their performances still add a lot of comedy to the scene. I particularly enjoyed Simon Klaebe as Lothar. Dink is the only character in the intro without a voice, which is kind of strange. The low sampling rate on the audio really took me back to early 'talkie' games like King's Quest V. The presence of voiceover really made the intro to this one stand out, and it made me think of how fun it would be to have a fully voice-acted DMOD.

I don't think that Dink is really quite this dense.

The majority of the story is contained in the intro. There are plenty of characters to talk to, each with their own little touches of personality, but they tend to exist to do one specific thing, and that's it. It's rare that you'll go back and talk to a character you've previously spoken to. In fact, the only character other than Dink who has a persistent role throughout the game is Death, but I'll get to him in a bit. Anyway, Dink must escape, and that's all there really is to it. "Initiation" isn't really an "epic adventure" type of DMOD. It's more like a silly romp that ended up getting a lot bigger than you'd expect from that sort of mod.

"Initiation" takes place almost entirely in a series of cave "levels," from level 7 at the bottom to level 1 at the top. Each level has a designated purpose and a different recolor of the cave tiles. There are also color-coded doors that require you to obtain a matching key in order to open them. This simple sort of map is less satisfying than a bigger, more varied world to explore like in "Cloud Castle 2," but it still works pretty well in its own way. The emphasis on levels, doors and keys gave this DMOD a bit of an arcadey feel to me. It reminded me of old-school dungeon crawlers like Gauntlet. It was satisfying to plunge through the tunnels defeating the many monsters and finding keys and secrets - at least until I got frustrated and stuck near the end.

The cave colors are kind of odd, but they do serve to distinguish one level from another well. By the way, I always get a kick out of these kind of text effects in the Dink engine.

Humor is a major focus of this one. Dink is always pretending (?) to be an idiot and saying weird things, and there are references and plays on words everywhere. Some of it works, and some of it doesn't. "Initiation" is set shortly after the original game, so it makes sense that we get a less mature Dink here like the old days, but some of the jokes were a miss for me. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for "random" humor or dirty jokes when I played, I dunno. My favorite jokes typically involved references to the community or characters questioning things that made no sense ("How did we get this huge ass catapult down here?" leads to a lengthy explanation of feats of engineering used to make that possible, but they've got no answer for how they're going to get it out).

One of several silly jokes about Talmadge Bradley. Y'know, "Tal" works surprisingly well as an obscenity.

Dink is mentally unstable.

My favorite thing in the DMOD was the role played by the personification of Death, "The Santa Claus who wears black and takes lives." It's very amusing the way he tries to talk Dink into killing as many people as possible in order to help him meet his quota. Every now and then, he'll row onto the screen to check how many people Dink has killed. He'll also show up sometimes to gloat when Dink dies. If you kill the various NPCs, you'll be rewarded with stat potions. I wish I had done this all along, it would have been a big help. Aside from NPCs who have some kind of useful function like running a shop, there's no consequence for this until you kill absolutely everybody, which immediately triggers one of the bad endings.

Death wins again.

There are quite a few neat features in this DMOD, actually. There are lots of different equippable items. The cleverest new item is a glove that causes Dink to face backwards and moonwalk, enabling him to punch as he moves backward instead of having to keep turning around to attack as you usually do. Although a lot of the items are just sword-like weapons, it is funny to see Dink wielding a loaf of bread, a hunk of meat, and a fish (a "SabreTrout," haha). There's also a casino with a slot machine and a blackjack game, which is very cool to see implemented in a DMOD.

That's a lot of items!

Hitting on 16? Too risky for me.

Unfortunately, frustration marred my good time with this one. Mostly, this was near the end, although I did have some trouble early on thanks to the fact that you're given just two bombs. If you waste them, like I did, the only way to get more is by walking through what appears to be a solid wall behind a locked door and buying more from a limited stock. This was kind of annoying, but these sorts of issues may be alleviated by the new patch, which apparently adds hints.

My big problem was that the enemies at the end are just too damn hard. I know I'm going to catch some heat for this, because none of the reviews seem to agree with me, but I don't care: you don't give your enemies - non-boss enemies, at that - an attack of 50! When I've encountered those kind of stats before, it has almost always meant that you're somewhere that you weren't supposed to go. And sure, I should have played on Wimp mode (believe me, I am done being prideful when it comes to difficulty selection), but the difficulty selection screen claimed that the game was "not made intentionally difficult." 50 attack! Come on!

Maybe some people enjoy a really stiff challenge - I've been in that mood myself on occasion - but this DMOD doesn't bill itself that way, and it ISN'T that hard for most of its length. When you reach level 1, though, there is a crazy spike in difficulty. My first problem was the undead enemies, which have 50 attack, 150 hit points, and teleport behind you when you swing at them, causing most attacks to miss. I eventually figured out a good way to handle these guys using the moonwalk glove, but that item is very easy to miss, and to me it just seems like bad design to lock the player into battle with something they can't really fight without special items they may or may not have found without at least indicating this somehow. At least once you have the glove and figure out a good strategy (hint: magic), these guys aren't too tough. I ran into worse problems even closer to the end.

Right before the final boss, there's an area called the "training grounds" where everything goes to Hell. You have to fight screens that are just gushing with enemies that take unusual forms, like the heart, barrel and crate sprites. I couldn't even get past the first screen with crazy attacking fish when I got there. It turns out that magic is absolutely essential to beating this part, but I had long ago deemed the spells totally useless for combat because, when you get them, they are. How was I supposed to know that the spells get stronger at 5 and 10 magic points? The uselessness of the spells made me ignore the magic stat, which usually just speeds up the recharge, entirely. Already at level 10, I had to go back and do more grinding.

All you need to understand is everything you know is wrong.

With improved magic, I was able to get past the fish. I was met by hordes of strange enemies, like bouncing magic potions that cast a nasty "firebolt" spell that rains down upon you when hit. I did quite like the big hearts, which declare, "Sticks and stones will never hurt me," a reversal of the old rhyme that, naturally, means you must use words to hurt them instead. Talking to them makes Dink say, "Die!" and does 20 damage. I got a kick out of that. The hordes of enemies are very, very tough. The most frustrating thing about it is the fact that, after the whole DMOD has featured screenlocks that only happen once, that rule goes out the window here, where it really matters. I could have handled things if it weren't for this. It takes a long time to fight a screen full of these enemies, and you've got to fight loads of them to get anywhere. It's easy to screw up and have to start the whole section over. And that's not the worst part.

The point of the training grounds area is to retrieve a powerful sword, but this sword won't show up until you defeat a screen full of enemies that's even harder than the others because it gives you a lot less room to move. When it does appear, you can't just go get it. Instead, you have to go through several more screens, walk through what appears to be a solid edge, and then walk through the void, getting assaulted by tough monsters even there, to get it. The walkthrough wasn't very clear on this point either, so I got really stuck here (at least the new version adds a hint about this). Finally, after several tries, I gave up and cheated. I used the "kill enemies" cheat to clear the relevant screen of enemies and warped over to grab the sword, and I don't regret it. I'm certainly not saying it's impossible to beat this part, but after spending well over five hours on a DMOD that you could definitely beat in two, I couldn't stomach the thought of several more attempts at marching through that Hell.

Look, I know most of you are probably thinking that I just suck and don't know what I'm doing, but I have played more Dink Smallwood than most people, and I've managed to beat the great majority of the mods without cheating. I think it's fair to say that I represent a significant portion of the potential audience for this game when I say that, for me, this section was too hard and really spoiled my enjoyment of the DMOD.

Dang it, I hear you making those chicken noises at me!

Hey, but I beat the final boss without cheating. He was a pretty tough sucker without any of the NPC-murdering stat potions, but I got him. The first time I saw the good ending, the game crashed in the middle of it, which I guess serves me right for cheating.

The different ways the endings are triggered are pretty clever in how distinct they are from one another. I like the way the multiple endings are handled here. Icons representing the different endings appear on the title screen, enabling you to rewatch them. This is a nice touch that motivated me to play a little longer to unlock all four endings. The endings themselves all definitely take a comedic approach, but the good ending does set up what was to be the "second" part in what Dan soon called his "Ancient Legacy" series, Paragon. The series was to include the already existing "FIAT" and "End of Time v2."

A title screen complete with all four endings. The shiny bits are the ending logos. I like how they're worked into the scene.

"Initiation" is a cool DMOD that I'll definitely remember, but it had some frustrating elements that kept me from enjoying it as much as some of Dan's previous work. Still, I'm glad it has a new update, and I hope the author will dabble some more with DMOD development if he gets the time.

There are two more DMODs from 2004, so expect those soon. Hopefully I can move forward and have a less painful experience with this project than I've been having lately. Thank you all for reading and for putting up with my craziness.
October 1st 2014, 11:57 PM
Peasant He/Him Japan bloop
Responsible for making things not look like ass 
I will continue to read your write ups until you run out of dmods or decide to give up. I don't read these and expect them to be newspaper neutral. I want to hear your honest opinions of the dmods. This is a really great project and it's constantly motivating me to work on new stuff. Anyways, I look forward to reading your next write up.
October 2nd 2014, 05:50 AM
King He/Him United States bloop
A mother ducking wizard 
Wonderful writeup (as always). I am sorry that you didn't have a better time, but I am glad you pushed through (no shame in cheating to proceed through a poorly balanced D-Mod).

When you posted about being stuck with the zombies, I checked the script and cringed when I saw the strength was set to 50. The difficulty selection should be properly labeled as "hard" and "impossible", instead of implying "super easy" and "normal".

I suppose I should make another update to rebalance the combat portions; when I recently played, I played on wimp mode and placed most of my stats into defense and magic, so I ended up having a grand old time. Maybe for the 20th anniversary?
October 2nd 2014, 10:58 AM
Bard He/Him Netherlands
I object 
Man I haven't finished reading up on 2003 yet. You move like a train!

I will read up on all of them, but man there's a lot of content being generated here!
October 2nd 2014, 11:13 AM
Peasant He/Him Finland bloop
A Disembodied Sod 
I wonder if Death's appearances are randomly generated or not? Too lazy to check. I just remember trying to replay Initiation about a year back and Death kept constantly appearing in the screen, which was rather annoying.
October 2nd 2014, 11:37 AM
King He/Him United States bloop
A mother ducking wizard 
It's random; 1 out of 50 chance when you visit a screen with no alive monsters/people.
October 2nd 2014, 11:45 AM
Peasant He/Him Finland bloop
A Disembodied Sod 
Guess I was just unlucky then. I do remember that when I played it previously a long time ago, Death wouldn't show up as often. Last time I played Initiation, by the time I had reached halfway through The Mines, I had already run into him like five times.
October 2nd 2014, 04:04 PM
Noble He/Him United Kingdom
These continue to be the best threads.
October 2nd 2014, 10:07 PM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
205: Search for Mother Author: Luncare Release Date: December 4, 2004

This is another DMOD without much to it, but it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. This is probably because of an update a few months after its release that seems to have fixed the bugs that the reviews complain about.

Why does this feel like the setup to a bad joke?

In "Search for Mother," Dink is bummed because his mom is dead. But then somebody says she might not be dead! She's in a place called the "Land of Destruction!" Dink runs there immediately! This paragraph is exactly as detailed about things as the actual intro!

You start in a tiny, weird forest area that I got lost in for a few minutes. The path forward is a tiny gap in the hardness that appears to be blocked by those bush sprites that are usually hard.

Here's what I'm talking about. It's not the clearest path I've ever seen.

Most of the DMOD takes place in a Darklands-type area. There's a sort of village, but all but one of the houses are locked, and nobody has anything useful to say. There's an odd, open-air shop where you can get a sword, but I went the "wrong" way first and had to punch a 100 HP bonca to death before I ran into a sign telling me I should go back and get the sword.

Oh no! Fortunately, this is just a nightmarish vision of some sort.

I had to fight a slayer with my fists to get the money to buy the sword, but the game was pretty easy (and short) after that. There's a hidden fireball spell that helped make the final battle against a Cast knight pretty easy.

Dink has an alarming tendency to walk right through solid objects during cutscenes in this DMOD. That ol' pig farmer is playing with fire, and it eventually catches up to him: right before the bonca boss, a cutscene ends with Dink somewhere he's not supposed to be. I was only able to get back on track without cheating because of the problem with hardness around the edge of screenlocked screens.

Dink finds his mother and asks the obvious question: why isn't she dead? Her response is one of the dumbest things I've read in some time: "It wasn't me, Dink. It was my sister Julia."

Wow. Even "a wizard did it" would have been better. Wow.

Okay, so apparently:

*Dink's mom has a twin sister we didn't know about
*Dink therefore has another aunt we didn't know about
*This mysterious aunt had taken the place of Dink's mother at their home at some point. How long before the start of the original game had this happened? Who knows?
*It isn't particularly upsetting to Dink's mom that her sister died in a fire

There isn't really anything to recommend this one, but there are worse DMODs with a higher rating than it has. And hey, Mr. SBV makes a cameo. Sorry, I'm still a "Green Voice" fanboy.

206: The Golden Buddha Author: Carrie Burton Release Date: December 7, 2004
"Pure thoughts suck!!"

I lost the first version of this writeup to a power outage, right before I was going to save. It was probably a lot better than this one.

Okay, I think I get how this goes now.

["Elves of Rathor"/"Cursed"/"The Golden Buddha"] is a DMOD by Carrie2004 in which Dink has to travel through an unusual setting ([Canada and the elvish land of Rathor/a version of Hell with huge pools of blood/Possibly a Japanese garden]) in order to retrieve something ([the Princess of Canada/a cure for a curse/a golden Buddha statue]). It's all rather silly, there are some new graphics, and the whole process is done in maybe five minutes.

Dink has clear priorities.

Yes, the basic template seems quite familiar to me. Still, these have more to make them stand out than a lot of DMODs.

Monks throughout the settlement in which you start (not a temple or monastery, oddly) each have some kind of wise saying to spout at Dink. Dink always counters with something like, nuh-uh, being dumb/violent/lewd is actually awesome. It's refreshing to meet a man who knows exactly what he wants out of life.

This is consistent with what I know about Dink's character.

There are quite a few new graphics here for such a short DMOD. Most of them don't really fit into the Dink style, but they still seem to work within the context of this DMOD. In addition to trees and such, there are new black-headed ducks, which I quite liked, and sheep, which don't look so hot. There's a new weapon, the "feather of fortitude," a big feather that Dink somehow uses to cut or bludgeon his enemies. The best new graphic is the new desert tileset, which looks really good in the Dink world. It's all the more impressive given how much has already been done with desert settings since "Stone of Balance."

The sprites aren't much to look at, but those tiles are pretty sweet.

Dink soon finds that the statue has been stolen by a pirate, despite the lack of any nearby body of water. Don't ask me. The boss and only enemy you have to fight is a goblin wearing a pirate hat, which looks hilarious.

hahahaha lookit him. Is it goblin Halloween?

Once you find the statue, that's it. You don't even get to take it back to the monks, the DMOD is just over. Once again, there isn't much in the way of gameplay or plot here. I appreciate the way Carrie's mods create colorful new settings, but that's all they really do.

At least there are fewer hardness errors than in the author's previous DMODs. There are still hardness errors, but they don't mess up every single screen like they did in "Rathor" and "Cursed." There is a bridge that Dink appears to walk underneath when he should be going across it. Still, this isn't bad for a short lark.


My, my, another year in the can already. A lot of my writeups for 2004 were awfully short, but a lot of 2004's DMODs were awfully short, and I didn't have much to say about many of them. The Weird DMOD Contest produced some interesting results, and of course "Cloud Castle 2" and "Initiation" coming out in the same week was crazy. "The Ants" intrigued me, and I liked what Carrie's mods did with graphics and setting, but there were a lot of nondescript little mods this year.

My previous attempts at handing out end-of-year awards got zero responses, so I guess it really doesn't matter if I don't keep doing them. I doubt I'd shock anybody by saying "Cloud Castle 2" was the best DMOD of the year, with "Initiation" a not particularly close, but still extremely comfortable second place. I'm not sure what I'd give third place to. I'd give it to "The Ants" for a really interesting different direction, but it stops way too quickly and abruptly for that. I guess I'd have to give it to "Triangle Mover." Even though I couldn't handle the pace, I always love to see authors implementing new and wildly different kinds of gameplay. The fact that I'd give out third place to a DMOD that I was too frustrated to finish, though, unfortunately goes to show how much most of the year's DMODs excited me.

Even so, it's nice to see that so many new people were still trying their hand at DMOD development, and little of it was really terrible like the mods that had me passing out the Awards of Badness like free candy in the 2003 topic. I think the Dink community could sorely use that kind of effort now, even if the results aren't spectacular. It's impressive that development was still going so strong in the seventh year after the game's release. DMOD releases continued on a regular pace throughout 2005, not hitting their first significant slump until 2006.

See you next time. So, you know, tomorrow, probably. It's not like I've got a lot else to do with myself.
October 2nd 2014, 10:21 PM
Peasant He/Him Japan bloop
Responsible for making things not look like ass 
I did not know a feather weapon existed. That's nice to know.

See you tomorrow, Tim.
October 2nd 2014, 10:29 PM
Peasant He/Him Finland bloop
A Disembodied Sod 
These articles might get a bit quiet for the next couple years, cause not many memorable D-Mods were released in 2005 & 2006, unless you count The Failure Contest. And Scourger, of course, which gets surprisingly little attention in the community. 2007 onward it should pick up cause you'll be reaching D-Mods made by many members who are still active here today.
October 2nd 2014, 10:46 PM
King He/Him United States bloop
A mother ducking wizard 
I quite liked the end-of-year awards. It was a succinct way to summarize the standouts (good and bad) from the previous year.

But, I suspect they would be even more difficult to hand out, once you start covering the rather sparse years.
October 2nd 2014, 11:21 PM
Jester He/Him Australia
You feed the madness, and it feeds on you. 
Keep making these Tim. I mean, not that I can talk or anything, ya know... postponing all my youtube projects for months here and there -_-

But these are awesome. Keep going.