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I’m playing the Windows 3.1 version (for DOS game club!? Shock Horror!), so I’m not sure how much of this will translate to the DOS version, but I didn’t find the tutorial particularly helpful. I got a much better idea of how to play the game by reading through the manual with the game open.
I’ve only done one “quick game” so far, which I beat incredibly easily by keeping the pause button on. This way time only progresses while your ant is moving, so by the time I got to the red ant nest, they only had like one or two workers ambling about the surface, and I demolished the unguarded queen with about 5 soldiers.
Wow, this game looks really cool! I love the interface and the art style. Can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before.
(And, as somebody in my 30s with an adult job and a house to look after, the short length of the game sounds like a pro more than a con!)
Wow, that looks really awesome! I’d love to play your farming simulator demake when it’s ready. You say you haven’t really coded anything since you were a kid? Well, colour me impressed!
I’ve been working on a little Metroidvania for some time. Pace has slowed considerably in recent weeks, but I’m hoping I’ll get it done by the end of the year.
Programming is about 95% done (unless I figure out how to do key polling in QB, in which case I’ll probably ditch a fair chunk of code and rewrite it).
I still need to make about 60-70 % of the levels though…
I’ve just discovered a language called XPL0
I haven’t had much time with it yet, but it looks like exactly the language I’ve always wanted. It’s got the power of C, but the syntax is a lot more like pascal, which means it should be a lot easier to learn.
There are 16 and 32 bit compilers for DOS, a really good manual and heaps of example programs.
Yeah, there are a few annoying bits as you mentioned. I’m a bit over halfway through myself. So far I had real trouble dealing with the giant horde of skeletons (I decided to go for a very magic-user heavy party this time and, whoops, the skeletons are highly resistant to magic!)
I also found the light beam room with the mantises beyond it very annoying, but it didn’t take me long to get past it. I’m just on the level with the beholders now. You just have to use guerilla tactics on them and they’re not too hard (hit and run). Not sure about the bullettes yet…
But a few little annoyances like that aside, I’m really enjoying this game. I love the art and the atmosphere, and a lot of the puzzles are fun and interesting. Most of the locations feel a lot more believable than the first one as well. In EOB1 all the levels just felt like abstract mazes, and I never felt like I was in dwarven ruins or a drow city or whatever. But in EOB2, even with basic grid-based maps, they managed to make the locations feel alive and believable.
When you look at it, the story isn’t really any more complex than in EOB1, but it feels more involved and intricate, with more and better interactions with NPCs.
I have been waiting about 25 years to play this game, and despite all the buildup I’m definitely not disappointed.
If I can distance myself from my nostalgia, then I’d have to say EOB 1 is … fine. If all you’re after is a straightforward first person dungeon crawler then this should tick most of your boxes. I think it looked and still looks great, what with everything being hand painted and no ugly scaling. A few more frames of animation for the enemies would have made a massive difference, but whatever.
The game loop is not too bad either. A few unnecessarily tedious aspects aside (picking up all your daggers, darts and arrows after a big fight!), the controls and interface are a lot smoother and more intuitive than many games of the era.
But for me the levels and story are just so-so. I will say there is (slightly) more story and interaction with NPCs than you might expect of a simple dungeon crawler, but it’s all pretty perfunctory. The levels also feel mostly abstract and soulless to me, but that could just be me.
Long story short, I’d agree the first title isn’t some kind of standout gem (different story for number 2!), but it’s enjoyable enough if you don’t set your expectations too high.
I’ve never used it, but All Seeing Eye is an extra program you can use to do auto-mapping and maybe a few other things in DosBox.
To me it feels like too much of a cheat. From my point of view a big part of the fun of the game is mapping, but to each their own.
Another tip that occurred to me:
There are a LOT of items in this game, but no way to sell or trade them. How do you know what to keep and what not to?
Armour is easy: put it on, and if your AC goes down keep it (low AC is better)
Weapons are harder. Later in the game there is a way you can identify items exactly (with an orb of power at the oracle of knowledge), but you can also determine what items are magical with the Detect Magic spell. It will also tell you which rings and amulets are useless. It’s not an exact science, but better than nothing.
Potions and scrolls: most of the time, don’t feel bad about discarding these. If you have a well-balanced party with a healer or two and a magic user, you’ll never find yourself needing them. Just make sure you keep a few neutralize poisons around in earlier levels, and cure-paralysis in later levels. If you save often, you won’t even need raise-dead scrolls.
Also, don’t be afraid of pits. There are some areas you can only reach by jumping down these.
I find most of the interface is surprisingly intuitive, but there’s a few details you mightn’t figure out for yourself.
To swap characters, click on their NAMES. (I think it needs to be a right click?)
The view screen is very contextual. What you are holding and where you click will determine whether you place the item on the ground, throw it, or use it (like a key)
Throwing items manually (left clicking then taking them to the view screen) can damage monsters, but not as well as using them as a weapon (right click). You can still exploit this when you’ve run out of missile weapons! (Just chuck everything you have at them – keys, books, bones, whatever)
Whenever you find a mage scroll that’s new, go to the CAMP menu and select Scribe Scrolls. It’s the only way AFAIK to get new spells in your spellbook.
Exploit the fact that you can run much faster than the enemies (you can move basically as fast as you can press buttons). Hit and Run. I think the manual even tells you this.
If you are not using a tool like All Seeing Eye, keep an eye on your compass, especially if you keep getting unexplainably lost, or parts of the map don’t make sense. The game loves to spin you around or teleport you without indication.
Hold onto bones.
I’m sure I’ll think of more. I might post again later 😉
I went for the middle ground and printed off some maps I found on the internet, and got the pdf of the hint guide to look at on my phone.
Having physical paper maps and a handful of highlighters to mark off where you’ve visited is a pretty close approximation of making your own maps back in the day without as much of the hair-pulling tedium.
I did end up watching a few playthroughs. Unfortunately a lot of them seem to expect prior knowledge of the game, but I did find one in the end that went a bit more slowly and explained things as it went.
This is an amazing game. I really have to make some time and play it properly at some point!
Haha, that is so cool Dave! I love it!
Lemmings is one of the truly great games of that era. I find it interesting how it and Prince of Persia are such defining and iconic games for DOS, yet they are actually ports from other systems.
They also both have annoying/complex copyright status and, as far as I’m aware, there is currently no legit way to get a digital copy of the DOS version. Such a pity, in a slightly ironic way.
If you want to ease into programming for DOS, you could always start with QuickBasic 4.5
A surprising number of very good games have been made with it (I’m working on one now myself), and I still find it very easy and intuitive to use and learn.
It can also serve as a gateway to FreeBasic, which has a 32bit DOS compiler, is highly compatible with QBasic code and lets you link C libraries, so you can get your toes wet in C as well.
That’s the direction I’m heading down anyway. Food for thought!
Heye Pete, nice to meet you!
I live in Tassie now, but I lived in Geelong for most of my life. Not too far from your neck of the woods.
I wish I had’ve had a modem back in the BBS days. It’s an element of vintage computing that passed me by.
Look forward to seeing you around!
Forums are great aren’t they? I personally can’t get used to this social media business. Forums all the way for me.
I agree with you on the podcast format too. As a rule I usually like my podcasts highly produced and scripted, but round table actually works really well in this case.
(But there is more planning involved than just getting everyone together and asking “so what did you think of the game?” 😉 )
Anyway, nice to meet you and I hope to see you around!
So… I just realised that the “units.cfg” file only affects multiplayer. I think.
I played 2 or 3 single player missions that way, thinking I was cheating and doing pretty well (much better than before). Then I tried the editor and realised my changes to the “units.cfg” file hadn’t actually affected the game at all! (The editor on the other hand made a noticeable difference)
It’s amazing what a bit of misplaced confidence does for you…
Yeah, I’ve just discovered that you can edit unit stats as well. I’m pretty sure I’ll never finish this game without cheating, so I think I’ll just steamroll the game this way just so I can see all the levels and cutscenes!
Can’t say I really feel any guilt hehe
I’m not the biggest RTS fan in the world. My favourite RTS is Warcraft II for all the reasons that everyone else seems to dislike it. Gameplay wise, this Command and Conquer kind of model has never resonated with me.
In terms of getting into the game it’s not too bad. Having only one resource is nice, and it’s pretty obvious what all the buildings do and how to progress in building your base.
The AI seems to be a bit more interesting (not sure about smart) than in other games of this type.
Navigating the map and using the interface feels a bit clunky to me at times.
Pathfinding doesn’t always work too well, especially in the heat of battle – but that is a pretty common problem, even in my beloved Warcraft II.
But overall, the gameplay isn’t really my thing. I find myself enjoying the early missions without base building the most.
Aside from the gameplay:
Acting is above par – sure it’s cheesy, but in a fun, not cringey way.
The overall tongue-in-cheek tone is pretty good, although I feel at times the self-referential fourth wall breaks (especially in the manual and text files) go a bit too far.
Long story short, despite my not loving this particular genre, I can’t help but be a little bit charmed by this game.
It gets bonus points for being Australian too 😉
Star Control II has always intrigued me, and looks really awesome, but I’ve never played more than about 30 minutes of it.
It was heavily inspired by Starflight, which the club did a few years ago (and which I also haven’t played!)
I think it could make for a good DGC episode – there’s a lot of rich discussion you could have about the differences and similarities between the two games.
I could have sworn that it was made freeware a number of years ago, but now I see it for sale on gog and steam (for just a few bucks to be fair).
I must be getting mixed up with the open-source spin off, “The Ur-Quan Masters”. Which, like, is apparently exactly the same and why would you buy Star Control II when you can just play the open source version?
I’m getting the impression that MechWarrior and BattleTech are a huge, deep rabbit hole.
I think I’m just going to get the original CD version and go for it.
Should I read up on any lore, or maybe even give MechWarrior 1989 a shot first, or just dive right in?
In regards to the kex engine remaster, I wonder if the problem is the “pre-emphasis” that the tracks have on the CD audio? I’m not much of an audiophile, so I may mangle this explanation, but apparently you can’t just straight up rip the tracks and play them in a modern engine because they have certain filters applied to them that you need to reverse first.
Anyway, I really enjoy the Quake music. It’s really up my alley (even though I’m not really into NIN), and reminds me of a lot of Aphex Twin’s ambient work. Repetitive doesn’t bother me, especially in a video game, but I will agree that it doesn’t quite tonally fit in this game. I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but it would have worked better in a survival horror game.
I’m beginning to wonder if the problem with Quake is not that the enemies are too bullet-spongy, but that they’re not bullet-spongy enough.
Given the creepy soundtrack and overall design of the game, I think id could have beefed the monsters up even more and slowed down the pace of gameplay and it could have made a pretty solid survival horror game.
The single player campaign is actually growing on me, and I don’t know why.
I agree 110% with every criticism of this game, plus plenty of my own, but… I’m most of the way through the second episode and for some reason I’m really getting into it and enjoying myself.
I’m trying to join the server as a spectator (because my lag is too bad to be a player), but I’m having some trouble. I’m a n00b with this stuff, and it seems to be weirdly hard to google, like everyone is expected to know all the details already and so it’s not posted anywhere.
Anyway, before trying to join the server I’ve used the console to set the password and my status to spectator thus:
setinfo spectator 1
But I still can’t join the server. It just says Trying to connect, then connect: failed.
Does anyone know what I’m doing wrong? Does it just not work with the Darkplaces Engine?
Edit: I think rcon has to do with some master password for the server? Anyway, I’ve tried every conceivable combination of setinfo, password and dgc and still nothing.
DarkWhalebone – in my experience it’s a blessing and a curse for people like us. A large proportion of the stuff I have has been rescued from eWaste, which makes me wonder just how much more gets dumped and destroyed.
A lot of people don’t know there are even collectors out there, so if you are after something specific you have to get really lucky or pay through the nose to buy off greedy ebay sellers.
It also depends on where you live. I’m in a pretty unpopulated area where pickings are slim. I understand collectors in bigger cities are practically swimming in cheap vintage hardware!
Anything much happening on this server yet?
I would love to try and join on one of my real DOS machines, but I’m shockingly bad at network-y stuff. I’d probably be spending the rest of the month just trying to get it to work.
I’ll probably just use Darkplaces or Quakespasm instead…
I’ve ordered the original CD version from eBay to play on one of my old machines. Until that arrives I’ve been playing the demo version through DosBox on my linux PC and… Hoo boy!
I don’t know why, but this particular setup is BUGGY! The most noticable (and hilarious) bug happens with the Spawn – half the time they load with the wrong assets and become a floating head or ammo box, flying around and attacking you. Other than that, I’m getting elevators that clip through you and gun graphics vanishing.
As fun as all that is, I’m getting a little tired of being soft locked. I guess I could install the shareware episode on my Pentium machine, but for the sake of science I’m going to try Quakespasm, mainly because I want a more “vanilla” experience.
So far I’ve had little luck with it though. It supposedly supports the Shareware version, but it keeps insisting I need a file called pak1.pak, which I understand to be the data from the full version…
Welcome back, sorceress, and thanks for sharing! I always love hearing people’s nostalgic stories about video games. I wish my home room at high school had been a computer room 😉
I was afraid of sharing my thoughts on this game so far. I feel like I’ve been overly critical of everything lately, and that I’m probably missing something with Quake since it’s so popular. But you have said basically everything I’ve thought about the game – the poor balance and design of weapons and enemies, the monotonous colour scheme, etc.
The fact that somebody that has been playing this game since it came out can see these flaws makes me think it’s not just me being picky!
Still, I can see why the game is and was so popular. It plays remarkably modern – with just a slight tweak of the controls you can almost forget this game is 25 years old. It’s just so smooth, and it sells the genuine 3D environments really well.
Apparently the true joy in this game is in the multiplayer. While I’ve never liked multiplayer shooters, I think I’m going to give it a shot this month with the club.
I like that text file you linked. It’s a really interesting to get into John Carmack’s mind a bit.
Do you have any videos or demos of your runs, Sorceress? I quite enjoy watching that sort of thing 🙂
Wow, I had no idea you were such a seasoned veteran of this game, pix!
My first impression at the time was about the same as yours. I was playing a lot of Duke3D, and by comparison Quake just looked brown and bland. I was also an insufferable teenage so-and-so that thought anything that was hyped or popular couldn’t be good. Add to that the fact that I didn’t have a machine powerful enough to play Quake, and it ended up totally passing me by.
I don’t think I’ve played more than about 5 minutes of Quake in my life – something I’m looking forward to remedying this month!
I went looking for basically the same thing some time around 2016 and was equally surprised and disappointed at the lack of good offerings.
The best podcast I could find at the time claimed to be a general “retro gaming” podcast, but almost every episode was about japanese games on the NES and SNES. I only listened to one episode where they attempted a DOS game (Ultima IV), and most of the hosts had not even heard of it before!
Anyway, I’ve added “Like a DOS” to my podcast player. Let’s hope it’s good!
It does look similar to Archimedean Dynasty. TBH, before seeing this game I wasn’t aware of any submarine-sims for DOS apart from a few very sluggish ones from the very early 90s. It seems a whole genre passed me by!
By the way, shout out to psy for suggesting SubWar before me. I didn’t realise there was already a post about it back when I made this one!
I beat the game quite quickly as well, so I decided to spend the rest of the month playing various other DOS shmups.
In addition to Raptor, I played Overkill, Space bats of Doom, Major Stryker, Xenon2, Galactix, the Dragon’s Power, Stargunner, and Tyrian.
Most of them are pretty short (and I was not afraid to use cheats), and I would say for me Raptor, for all its flaws, still comes in second of the ones I tried.
You know, it seems like this is something I would have done, but I can’t think of any time I’ve ever run DOS on something non-traditional. Apart from maybe when I booted my main PC into MS-DOS 6.22 natively just to see if I could.
I have thought about trying something on my android phone, but then I just think about touchscreen controls and nope right back out of there.
Don’t feel bad about sharing your opinion, titanduck!
I have a soft spot for this game, but I can see why people might not like it.
It feels like Raptor can only appeal to a very narrow band of people. Fans of shooters will be bored by it – it’s very short, the enemies are mostly pretty boring and the weapons are not as wildly over-the-top bonkers as in other shooters.
Non shooter-fans (such as yourself) on the other hand are not going to find anything in here to change their minds.
The only people I can really see it appealing to are PC gamers that have a passing interest in shooters. People who want to have the experience of playing a vertical scrolling shmup but don’t want to spend too much time memorising every level.
It is painful for me to say this because I have always strongly been in Team Apogee, but Tyrian seems to be better than Raptor in every way I can think of.
I just played Stargunner for a bit… also an interesting one to contrast with Raptor. Again an Apogee game (this time coming a bit later), and also with interesting similarities and differences.
The energy of this one is a lot more in line with traditional shmups – the power ups, types of enemies and their attack patterns etc. It’s also side-scrolling which is always fun to see.
But… it has a store, persistent power-ups and health bars, which is a lot more like Raptor again.
One more thing that’s worth mentioning is: don’t stop moving. Even with your fire button down for the whole level (as it should be), you should be spending at least as much time ducking and weaving around bullets as you are firing at baddies.
I feel like the enemies and levels were hard-coded with exactly one screen size in mind.
If you tried to increase your screen space or implement a vertical mode you would probably have enemies popping up out of nowhere where they’re programmed to appear.
I’m not 100% about this, but that’s just how it seems to me while playing.
I think the reason this game is so beloved is because it is so much more approachable than most top-down shmups. You can cop a lot of hits before dying and you can generally bumble your way through the whole game on the lower difficulties without having to memorise a whole lot of patterns or strategies.
Blowing stuff up in this game is also especially satisfying.
I like the look of this one! It looks like one of those hidden gems you would find in a 1001 shareware games CD.
It does a very good job of using a custom 16 colour palette for 1989, when VGA wasn’t quite the standard yet.
I just found a video on youtube, and the controls look hard as nails, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
So after playing the first three games, this is my general impression:
While the gameplay is definitely better in number 3, I like the story, atmosphere and “vibe” of the first two way better. I’ve always been a fan of star-wars-like, dirty, low-fi, lived-in space opera universes, and to me the chunkier graphics of the earlier games achieves this better. I do understand that this is totally my opinion, and I will admit I’m impressed by the quality of the EGA graphics in the 3rd game. I also appreciate that it now has proper music and sound (though I wish there could have been even more of it)
Now for the bad:
I’m probably on my own on this one, but I found the story, plot and setting of the 3rd game totally insufferable. The entire premise is based on a smug, self-referential in-joke, and we’re not given any actual in-game reason to care about the two dudes we’re supposed to rescue. It just feels completely un-earned that Wilco risks his life for two ungrateful strangers just because we as the audience know that they’re ham-fisted stand-ins for the game designers.
The first two games, despite the occasional postmodern joke thrown in, felt earnest and sincere. Pirates of Pestulon on the other hand was just about the epitome of insincere, self-satisfied, ironically ironic post-post-modernism.
(OK, re-reading that I realise I sound overly savage, hehe. But I stand by it. I do want to reiterate the gameplay was good and fresh with some great new ideas and there were some good locations and puzzles and sequences. It’s just the story and tone of the game taken as a whole that I don’t like.)
Evil Taco – has it always had flicker issues, or is it something that it’s developed recently? Apparently some all-in-one compaqs from that era have weird refresh rates that can cause flickering. It may be something you can fix or minimise with the right settings or drivers/software.
I’ve always loved adventure games, but I’ve never been good at them.
Back when I was a kid I would happily sit on a game for hours, restarting again and again or bashing my head against a wall until I made progress or gave up entirely. I didn’t mind dying, and save scumming was not only acceptable, it was mandatory.
In principle I actually like this approach – it’s got an almost zenlike quality, and feels incredibly satisfying when you make progress.
In practice though I have very little willpower and even less time, so the temptation of walkthroughs are just too great…
I’m still undecided as to what my opinion of these types of games are, with their evil puzzles and lots of ways to screw yourself over.
In some ways I’m reminded of a lot of old action games on console and arcade from the era.
You weren’t supposed to beat them on your first run, you were supposed to keep trying them over and over, finding new secrets and items along the way and getting a little further each time.
The main thing that bothers me is consistency and signalling. It’s when the game makes a point of teaching you the logic of its mechanics, then randomly expects you to discard that for a single case.
I’m sure there’s more examples, but the one that comes to my mind is after you crash land. I instinctively type “look around” on every new screen, but in this case you won’t see the survival kit unless you type “look at pod”.
There’s not even any puzzle justification for this. It just arbitrarily changes the rules for a single case.
That’s the main thing that bothers me – when you actually had the solution to a puzzle, but the game makes you feel like you’re on completely the wrong track just because you didn’t do some pointless thing exactly right.
Playing over and over again wouldn’t bother me so much if they did that better.
I played the VGA version years ago, so I’ve decided to go back and play the original AGI EGA version this time.
I might go on to play more in the series, but not sure if I’ll have much time for that this month…
Nice find, trumad!
I was going to add that George R R Martin uses WordStar… but the article beat me to it!
Psy,I have to agree with you that it’s relaxing. I use my various pieces of ancient hardware from time to time to do a bit of casual writing and I generally prefer it to my modern system. I would also add that there’s no facebook or other modern things tempting me. I like that old systems generally just do one thing at a time and you can dedicate the whole of your focus on that.
The only downside to my particularly purist way is that old systems are prone to dying. And if I don’t want to lose my work, it can be a major hassle to backup onto newer hardware.
Oooh, that’s interesting. Nice find!
Somebody else mentioned that Gray probably got a different artist to help on Jungle of Doom, and it looks very much like some of the artwork in Whodunit is digitised photos.
I guess he’s not much of an artist, but he is resourceful!
Right, I just did a test. You can just keep throwing the chop and picking it up over and over again, getting more and more points. It also makes the dog glitch and do the moonwalk sometimes.
Interestingly, I think the score maxes out at 255 or something before going back round to 0. Just now I did the chop trick until I got bored, then went on to finish the game and realised my final score is 25!
This one is probably my favourite of the three games.
A lot of this may come down to having played it to death as a kid because of having nothing else to play and heaps of spare time, but nothing in it really frustrated me.
Apart from maybe the chasm. That’s my biggest pet peeve in adventure games – when the solution to a problem seems to be the opposite of what the design is telling you.
(ie, the game seems to be explicitly telling you the solution to the chasm is NOT brute force… but then it is)
But I didn’t find anything else too annoying.
The venus flytraps are fine. Saving and reloading is quick and easy, and you can do it at any point, so I just save scummed every time I made a little progress.
The bridge is a little tedious, and admittedly makes you feel like you’re cheating by abusing the drop/pickup mechanics, but for me it’s no deal-breaker and you get passed it quickly enough. (I think I read somewhere you can make it across by moving VERY carefully, but I’ve never managed it so I dunno…)
The hedge-maze is fine too. You just need to take a little bit of time to draw a map. I actually like drawing maps for games – it’s satisfying and a little zen.
Maybe I’m just weird, but I still like the Hugo games, and even if I hadn’t played them before I think I’d find something to enjoy about them.
Out of the three games this is probably the one I had played the least when I was young. I probably only beat it once or twice before today.
The only puzzle that stumped me was finding the book. The game explicitly told me off for looking at trees and plants, but then this critical item is just hidden in a random piece of shrubbery!
Anyway, I would have to say it’s my least favourite of the three. The graphics may be better, but it lost some of its charm. Despite being set in such an exotic location, it has a lot less of the quirky, weird, unexpected and baffling elements that to me define the series.
It also strays a little too close to uncomfortably racist at times. (“Ullu wulla jumba”? Ugh…)
As for why this series is so beloved, I think it’s a combination of a few things, and it largely comes down to just how accessible the games are.
The games are short, (relatively) easy, and the shareware versions are basically complete. They are also full of very memorable and unique locations and set pieces. (Both for good and bad reasons. All publicity is good publicity!)
They were also very widely distributed – partly for the reasons above, but also because you can fit two of them on a single floppy if zipped.
If I hadn’t played this game as a kid and had all sorts of rose tinted glasses on for it I would probably agree with you, pix.
One mitigating factor, though, is that this is one of those shareware games where the registered version is practically identical to the free one, so if you wanted to pay $40 then that was entirely your fault haha!
After having played it for a while now (I’ve maxed out my car, but haven’t quite beaten it yet), I have to say there are a few things that bug me.
The game seems to be praised for the “realistic” physics, but I have to say for an over-the-top, absurd game like this they are perhaps a little *too* realistic.
As rnlf said, the cars are painfully hard to drive, mainly because you are supposed to do stupid things with them that real cars aren’t designed to do.
Insane top speeds and acceleration together with realistic handling is just a recipe for disaster.
Launching yourself into the air in an uncontrolled spin is always fun though 😉
That is probably my main criticism, although I have to say, without finding the right powerups, wiping out all the civilians on a map is next to impossible.
Apart from those points, yes there are some frustrating and unbalanced design choices, but somehow I feel I wouldn’t change any of them. They’re what give the game its charm!
Funny – it seems everybody’s evaluation of this game is along the lines of “here’s a huge list of everything wrong with this game. Verdict: it’s great!”
I’m still not sure if the dead-ends and save-ruining moves are deliberate or just oversights by the developer!
As a kid I thought this game was really long and difficult, but I was surprised to find on a recent replay that it took me less than an hour to beat.
Still, I have a huge soft spot for it. Probably the first adventure game I ever played, and it’s charming as heck.
You know I’m interested! I’m sure I could think of something to say about any topic, but I guess I’m most interested in the early 90s 386 period. I also know a little bit about the early graphics adapters (MDA, CGA, EGA, Hercules), and sound blaster cards.
I think it would be useful to have a general DOS episode – what it is, a (short) history, how it works “under the hood”, what autoexec.bat and config.sys are etc.
Since this is “DOS Game club”, this would be a good way to really show how the hardware and the OS work with and influence each other.
I would definitely be interested in a special hardware episode or mini-series! Count me in!
As for the keyboard, it’s definitely not nicotine, it’s just 30ish years of sun (it’s been used on and off that whole time). I did retrobrite it a while ago and it looked good for a little while, but the uv has obviously penetrated pretty deeply and the yellow just bubbled back to the surface. I think it’s going to need numerous, repeated treatments.
I’m not as fussed about the monitor on the right – it’s just my backup CRT.
And as promised, here it is. “Chip”, my 386 DX-33 (on the left)
I mentioned earlier that it’s my pride and joy. That’s because I built it as a tribute to the computer I had as a kid. It’s the same (or as close as possible) as the original in all the important ways, but upgraded in all the ways I wished it had been back in the day.
The only original component is the keyboard (that’s why it’s so yellow!)
* 8MB Ram
* 120MB HDD
* Maths Co-Processor (I don’t need it, but it always bothered my that the POST screen said I didn’t have one!)
* Tseng Labs 1MB graphics card
* Creative Sound Blaster 2.0
* MS-DOS 5.0 & Windows 3.0
Yeah, I found software mode surprisingly respectable, and runs quite smoothly too. It honestly doesn’t take much away from the experience.
However, I skipped over the early 3D accelerated era back in the day, and I haven’t given the Voodoo card in this machine much of a workout, so I’m using this game as a good way to experience what I missed out on! (And isn’t that what this club is all about?)
The game ran flawlessly for me straight away with no tweaking or anything. (Pentium I 166, Voodoo 1 card, pure DOS)
Well, apart from the MIDI music that is, but I think that has something to do with my system because it’s not the first game I’ve had problems with.
Thanks rnlf! I’m pretty sure I found out about DOS Game Club from watching one of your youtube videos, so I’ve already seen a bit of your hardware. I hope you get a chance to show it off again some time!
(BTW, the “new” case for my 386 arrived today. I should have some more pics soon…)
Wow! Quite a complex setup you have there. I like it! The Tandy is pretty special as you say. And I’ve heard about FM-Towns, but never really seen one and didn’t know much about them. It’s a pretty cute little machine actually.
I’m quite envious of the older hardware you have. I’ve only started collecting again in the last few years after having got rid of most of my stuff, and I’m finding anything older than a Pentium I is absurdly hard to get my hands on at a reasonable price. (The Atari PC3 was a once-in-a-lifetime find I think…)
I too live in a bigger house than I really need, and also got it at a surprisingly low price, but still feel constrained for all my vintage stuff!
Nice setup pix! Cable salads tend to be unavoidable don’t they? Looking forward to seeing some of your other gear.
Here’s a bit more of my stuff:
Picture 1, living on top of each other you see “The Beige Baron”, a Pentium II 333mhz, and the same Pentium I from the last photo. Under the blue cover on the left is the Atari computer.
Picture 2 shows a (still unnamed) Compaq Deskpro 486. I’m still on the lookout for a matching monitor. Covered up is my pride and joy – a 386DX 33 called “Chip”. I’ve recently ordered a new case for it, so when that arrives I’ll post a photo of that too. (Sorry about the cat litter. I only just realised it was in the photo!)
I’m lucky I have the space for all this stuff, but as you can see I still need to get creative with how I set them up!
Glad I could help! I appreciate your scans too, as always.
I was surprised by the low score in PCF too, especially because the description the review gives actually has me quite hyped, and so many other reviewers give it much better scores. I was getting the feeling the reviewer chose the score out of some opaque “principle” or something rather than the quality of the game itself.
But I’ll reserve my judgement until I’ve actually played it. I’m not a massive trekkie, so I’ll be curious to see how well it works for me!
I’m currently on the TRDR level (level 30 I think?), and I’m definitely feeling the same thing I did last time I played this 10 or 15 years ago – the game feels too long by about 1/4.
I feel ready to fight the boss and be satisfied finishing the game, but there’s still 8 or 10 levels left!
I think it is in part because there is only a password system and no saves, so you get only limited sense of progress and achievement.
I also think we’re so trained to be used to threes – three episodes in games, three acts in a play or movie etc.
Lost Vikings has – what – 4 or 5 worlds? And then you even go back to the first one the last stretch.
I dunno. Maybe I’m the only one that feels this way. Does anybody else think it’s too long?
My opinion of the first game is that it is gorgeous with heart achingly beautiful atmosphere and music, but some pretty repetitive puzzles.
The second game is really creative and has some cool locations, but it’s not as atmospheric as the first one. The puzzles and game progression are way better though.
I couldn’t get into the third game. I just can’t stand pre-rendered 3D graphics of that era!
I’d love to do an episode on this!
The game definitely has some rough patches.
It doesn’t feel slow to me per se, but it is a little tedious in some ways. Most of this comes directly or indirectly from the password system carried over from the consoles.
One of the biggest annoyances, for example, is having to redo levels right from the start if you mess up. It also makes secrets less satisfying to find, as you don’t carry anything over to the next level.
To me it also feels a tad too long by about 1/4 and the controls seem a bit weird. Ctrl and ins to switch back and forth between vikings? (Not sure if they can be remapped)
That being said, none of those complaints are too fatal for me. I still enjoy it – the mechanics and game loop are imaginative without trying too hard, the puzzles are clever but not too fiendish, and it’s really nice that they make an effort to keep us engaged with the characters through regular dialogue. (Even if their banter is a bit lame at times!)
I would agree with all of that, and add… pixel hunting.
All those tiny twigs and pebbles that just look like part of the background but are actually vital to finishing the game can go take a long walk off a short pier.
On the pro side, I really like the graphics. The artists really knew how to make the best of the VGA limitations and came up with some really stunning screens.
So I was looking through my small collection of magazines in case I have a Simon the Sorcerer review somewhere (I do!), and came across this Syndicate: American Revolt one I missed earlier.
Sorry for the poor quality. Couldn’t get my scanner working so I had to use the camera on my phone.
You’re right, it’s not possible to be truly apolitical. I guess what I meant is it’s not the goal of the club to explicitly discuss/inform on political issues. The comment was more about why I didn’t want to get into too many details.
But I’ll get my thinking hat on and see if I can come up with a modern DOS game to suggest!
I’m playing the CD version on hardware. I can’t say the lack of subtitles bothers me too much. Maybe I’m just used to hearing british accents, but I don’t find anybody hard to understand at all.
Simon himself seems to be the best actor, but it’s clear he wasn’t given enough direction or context. Some characters just sound bored, and others… well, they get an A for effort at least!
I wouldn’t want Dos Game Club to start getting political, so let’s just say David Murray said some… unfortunate things, and has acted at times a little less than professionally.
For the record, while I certainly don’t agree with David Murray on those issues, they’re not a dealbreaker for me personally. I’m still happy to watch him on youtube and play PX3.
That being said, I think it’s fair enough that DGC steers clear of him. As I said, we’re into DOS gaming here, not politics, and we wouldn’t want to get caught up in that stuff.
HOWEVER… I think it’s about time we consider some other “new” DOS game. Retro city rampage maybe? There’s enough coming out these days that we should be able to find something.
I’ll jump on the bandwagon too, hehe.
For what it’s worth, here’s an article from PC Format issue 27, December 1993, about the Syndicate add-on they bundled with their coverdisk that month:
Edit: Re-uploaded second page because the bottom was cut off.
There’s also a download of the disk itself here:
Apparently the full PC Format review is in issue #20, may 1993, but I don’t have a copy of that 🙁
I played some variant of this game when I was younger. It seems to be one of those weird games with very confusing different versions/releases with varying names for maybe/maybe not the same product.
But anyway, it is a pretty neat soccer game from memory, and dos game club hasn’t done a whole lot of sports games.
I can see what you mean tijn.
I haven’t quite finished it myself yet, but it feels like the developers thought as long as they got great music, great (for the time) graphics, an interesting setting, a decent engine and a bunch of voice actors, the game would just automatically turn out awesome. No need to put effort into writing or making the gameplay engaging – if we just tie all these other elements together in the laziest way we can think of the game can’t help but be great!
I’m just pretending like it’s an interactive movie, and despite the awkward writing and threadbare and contrived gameplay constantly trying their hardest to break my immersion, I am finding myself enjoying it. Mainly for the music and atmosphere.
My first impressions:
I settled down with a tasty beer as promised and gave this game a good hour or so on my Pentium I machine.
So, I think I’m glad I’ve gone in with the expectations I did. I’m approaching it more as an interactive movie, and I’m finding myself quite immersed.
There were a couple of spots so far where the writing was so bad I nearly quit, but I pushed through and I’m glad I did. (I’ve just finished the first section in the citadel)
The music, as mentioned, is absolutely awesome. Although I’m hoping there will be more than the three or four tracks I’ve heard so far in the rest of the game.
The setting and story are intriguing, and I appreciate the experimentation the developers have done with the mechanics. There’s some great ideas in there, albeit a bit rough around the edges.
I’m giving it a rest for tonight, but I’ll definitely give it another go tomorrow.
My Mum played a text-mode tetris game on our old XT clone computer, and solitaire on later computers. That is it.
BTW Tijn, I’m a little floored by that super tetris. I made a game that was almost exactly that in qbasic when I was 16 or 17! I thought I had come up with the idea myself! (Of course it looked way worse and was super buggy)
I’ve actually been trawling through the games on doshaven.eu recently.
There’s heaps of new(ish) games for DOS there, and a lot of them are made in some form of basic, so if we ever do this topic that would be a great place to find inspiration!
My better half is heading away for a week later this month, so I think I’m going to take a couple of nights off, and settle down to this game with a few tasty beers and the volume turned up!
As long as I’m prepared for the fact that it’s light on gameplay, I don’t think that will bother me. I can happily immerse myself in it if the music and story are as good as they’re supposed to be!
It took me until about half-way through the shareware episode to figure out why the FM chip on my soundblaster wasn’t working, so unfortunately I didn’t get to experience all the music.
But what I did hear, I will agree, was pretty good!
(I don’t think I’ll go on to play the full game though.)
I think your description of the levels is spot on!
You mention Wolf3D, and I will bring it up again because, despite it being probably even more maze-like and with a less advanced version of the engine, every level still managed to feel unique and distinct, unlike in ROTT.
If they had just done a better job of “theming” the levels (with the help of more colourful textures, and maybe more sprites for decoration) I could look past all the other flaws.
Honestly, despite some rough patches with hit-scanners and aiming and the like, the core mechanics are pretty fun and satisfying.
Claw: weird coincidence: my dad brought home a second-hand olivetti M24 in about 1990 as well! (Give or take a year)
The only difference is mine had a CGA monitor.
I believe it was almost exactly the model shown on this page:
Except that it had to floppy drives and no hard drive.
This is another game I played most of the way through and fizzled out near the end.
I remember enjoying the controls and how satisfying and intuitive it was to play. But after what felt like about 3000 levels it started to get a bit repetitive and I gave up.
I had only played a few minutes of this game before this month, and watched friends play it a bit, so this is my first *proper* experience of it, and I have to say…
Meh. (So far)
The guns are all fun and satisfying, and in some cases creative and ridiculous. I appreciate the slight nuances in enemy behaviour/ai as well. The weird powerups are funny.
But I’m having a hard time getting excited about the game as a whole, mainly because of the level design.
It’s just a bunch of bland brown and grey textures plastered on vague, unspecified “Areas” (calling them rooms would be giving them too much credit).
I’ve only played two levels so far as well, but first impressions are that the levels almost feel procedurally generated, by a very uncreative algorithm. I’m just not getting any sense of overall theme or logic or personality to them, and it doesn’t draw me in.
That being said, I hope it gets better and it will change my mind. The combat really is satisfying and cathartic.
[Edit:] I also can’t get the music to work for some reason (playing on a Pentium I with SB Vibra 16 card). It keeps saying it can’t detect the FM chip. What the heck? If anything should work on the card, it’s the OPL chip! (Which works in other programs btw…) Grumble grumble.
Quick question to everyone:
I went ahead and bought Maniac Mansion from GOG, but there’s no executable for the original 1987 version, and I want to play that on my 386 (instead of through ScummVM).
Does anybody have the original executable they can send to me?
Or does anybody know where the file is hidden?
(I think it’s OK to ask for this? I mean, I do own the game…)
I probably had more time on my hands when I first played it as a teenager, but I never felt fully stuck for long. With enough of rubbing everything against everything else, eventually something always gave.
(Since then I’ve played it so much I could finish it in my sleep)
I’ve slowly come to the realisation that while some people can treat adventure games like puzzle games where you can logically figure out the solutions, I can’t. I’ve sort of shifted my thinking so that it’s more like a “secret finding” game where you just have to slow down, be patient and slowly comb through all your options until you stumble on the way forward.
The “Ted is red” line is a reference to a series of kids books from the 30s called Dick and Jane which were filled with simplistic lines like that. “This is Spot. See spot run.” That sort of thing.
Honestly, I thought it was a reference to Dr. Seuss until I looked it up just now!
Too many to mention!
My favourite “one-liner” is when Hoagie says a statue of him would have a seam in it. Bernard has some good ones too, I can’t remember them off the top of my head.
But I think my funniest moments are not the one-liners, but the physical comedy, and the situational comedy. Like the cow in the intro that nearly comes along, or that one tentacle that thinks Laverne is ugly, but when she’s disguised as a tentacle she’s beautiful, or just everything about the beauty contest.
The humour is a bit of a sign of how things have changed though. There’s some jokes that come at the expense of mental illness (Dwayne and Ed Edison in particular) that you couldn’t do these days, but you can’t deny the writers had some great comedic skills!
I definitely agree that the commentary is great. I’m playing through that version now! (Just finished a “straight” playthrough with the new graphics)
To be clear, I can see how a lot of people would prefer the remastered graphics, especially if they’re not a fan of low-res, chunky pixels. I just can’t help but be bothered by some of the small details that are a bit messy.
I think Dos game club could stand to do a few more flight sims. It seems to have been forgotten now, but flight sims were absolutely huge on PCs back in the day. Their heyday might have been waning by the time of fleet defender, but it does look impressive.
My approach so far has been, each time I start a new game I choose as different starting conditions as possible to my last game, so that I get exposed to as much of the game’s variety as I can. (Never played this game before)
My first game was OK – I played as Merlin with Halflings, intro difficulty. I had no idea what I was doing or what spells to research or how to use them, but I easily bumbled my way to victory anyway.
My second game is… interesting. I decided to go with easy and create my own wizard – Myrran, Draconian with equal number of chaos and sorcery. (No real strategy behind this – I just wanted a game totally different to my last)
I’ve learned that I like the “small land” setting. It has a better sense of exploration for me – it feels more satisfying to discover new islands than opening up a continent.
Magic power of the world is high, which I think was a mistake.
I basically have the world of Myrror all to myself, but I can’t capture any nodes, towers, caves etc. because they are too well guarded, and I don’t seem to have the right kinds of spells or troops to counter them! (Any tips there?)
Anyway, I’ll keep fumbling around with this. Hopefully I’ll figure something out. If not, I’ve learned a valuable lesson!
That would be cool if you got some info from Seravy!
I don’t have anything to ask him though as I’m pretty sure I’m just going to stick with vanilla MoM. I don’t play these games for balance or difficulty – I just like exploring the world and then flattening everybody with overpowered tactics!
I played Master of Orion I and II before playing this, and both of them I just sort of picked up through trial and error by playing them. For this game I thought I’d try the same as you and read the manual first, but now I realise that it’s more useful just as a reference. You just have to sort of dive into the game, mess up a lot and slowly figure it out.
You can definitely see the same DNA in this game as the two MoO games, especially number 2. And I will admit, for the first few hours I actually just found myself wishing I was playing that instead. I’ve gotten past that now and I’m enjoying the game for what it is, but I would still say I like Orion better. I think I mainly just like the sci-fi setting more!
I can see I’m not going to really experience all this game has to offer in just one month! It’s half way through the month already, and I’m still in my first game (at least the first where I didn’t completely screw up and have to start again!). I see all the veterans here talking about OP strategies and such, and it’s all going way over my head.
But then again, I think I’ll mainly be playing this the same way I play the Orions: I don’t go in for challenge much. I just set the skill level low, focus on building my empire, and fend off and ignore my opponents until I’m ready to steamroll them in one fell swoop! I guess I just treat these games as more of a management sim because I love that feeling of exploring a universe/world and creating an empire.
As for Dosbox: you’re right. It does seem to be a quite picky game in that regard. The default settings were way too sluggish on my system, but with cputype=auto and cycles=max it works fine.
(I actually wanted to play this on proper harware, but my 386 is underpowered, I’m waiting on components for my 486, and my pentium I and II are currently packed up!)
I had no idea it was on the Saturn first! I was also surprised the first time I learned that it runs under DOS.
I got it running (poorly) a few years ago on a 100mhz 486. I played it until I was probably near the end, but I got bored when the levels all started to feel the same and then I never finished it. It probably didn’t help that I was getting single digit framerates a lot of the time!
Jazz was Mario or Sonic for MS-DOS? Them’s fighting words haha!
In my circle of friends and acquaintances, that title definitely belonged to Commander Keen, even if a lot of people now feel like the CK games didn’t age as well as Jazz… I disagree because I am a diehard Keen fan, but that’s just me.
Jazz is definitely an important game though, and I think it would make a great podcast episode.
I’ve never played this game before, so I’d be interested in some beginners tips as well.
I’ve played a lot of Master of Orion I and II, and basically figured them out by trial and error back in the day. Not sure if I’ve got that kind of patience these days though…
I played a clone of this from a bit later. I think it was just called 3Dtris or something?
Mine had the gimmick where you could turn on an option that would make it work with 3D glasses! (Like the old cardboard and cellophane style ones)
I would also have a bunch of suggestions for tetris alikes and clones!
OK, nope. Just gave this game another decent shot, and it’s pretty disappointing for 1994. You see the actually quite nice graphics and then expect something good, and it turns out to be worse from a technical and gameplay perspective than Winter Challenge from 2 or 3 years earlier.
The downhill games all use exactly the same controls and physics (winter challenge changes slightly depending on the event), and the engine is really very basic.
No curves or dips or bowls or much in the way topography in the terrain like Winter Challenge has – just like a slightly wavy ribbon you have to ski down.
And then the skier with his tight buttocks are taking up too much of the screen, especially given the low angle, and it was way too hard to see the oncoming flags.
The tournament mode feels undercooked after playing Winter Challenge, the controls in all of the events feel flat and unsatisfying, and the menus are horrible to navigate.
The only good thing about it is the 3D graphics in the luge/bobsled events, but even there it could have been better for 1994.December 15, 2020 at 2:04 am in reply to: The Games: Winter Challenge (1991, Ballistic / Accolade) #4007
Edit: whoops, posted in the wrong thread! See my reply in LillehammerDecember 14, 2020 at 3:11 am in reply to: The Games: Winter Challenge (1991, Ballistic / Accolade) #4006
This is definitely my favourite of the tournament-style multi event “serious” simulations. I played it a bit when I was a kid too.
The controls feel fairly realistic and intuitive. Some of the events are a bit difficult, but never feel unfair. I even managed to earn a few golds on my first tournament.
There’s a lot of versatility on the tournament mode too. You can assign as many human players as you like, there’s lots of portraits and flags to choose from (but no Australia. Boo!), and a good choice of difficulties.December 14, 2020 at 3:07 am in reply to: Winter Challenge: World Class Competition (1988, Tynesoft) #4005
This is very similar to Epyx’s “Winter Games” from 2 years earlier. The biathlon in particular seems to be an almost direct clone.
The graphics in this one may be a couple of degrees better, but I think Epyx did a better job on gameplay.
Exactly my thoughts. Just such a weird combination of some really good graphics and presentation with terrible choices and bad gameplay.
The menus are incredibly tedious, having to wait for the little girl to press the button on the remote control etc.
Was it just me, or did the combination of the low camera angle and huge character sprite in some of the events make it really hard to actually see the course and what is in front of you?
Anyway, I’ve only played a little bit of this game. In the spirit of fairness I think I’ll revisit it and give it a bit more of a chance.
There’s a lot I like about this game. Well, OK, mainly the charm. This game is charming as heck. There’s a lot of creativity there in the types of events they went with, and each one has heaps of cheeky, whimsical touches.
But yes, the controls in the downhill event in particular are absolute balls to get used to. I imagine when I get a feel for them it would be fine though.
Out of all of the multi-event simulation games on my list, I have to say this one might be my least favourite so far. Probably a large part of that is that pre-rendered 3D sprites from this era almost never look good. They are at the same time too smooth and untextured, but still end up looking weirdly … crunchy? dirty? I dunno, but I think it’s from the compression. And then to me it feels like there are too few frames of animation for the size of the sprites, and it kind of moves too jerky.
But mostly I didn’t like the controls and the physics. A lot of the other games of this type really do a good effort of making you “feel” the snow and the landscape and the weight of your skier, but I really wasn’t getting much of that here. Also for some reason my copy defaulted to mouse control, which was HIDEOUS!
But take all that with a grain of salt. With so many games on my list, I really haven’t given this one enough time yet.
I love these kinds of wonky freeware/shareware games made in somebody’s basement. They just ooze charm, and you can tell somebody put love into them. (Even if in number one it looks like you’re skiing over sand!)
One thing I noticed in Ski King 2 is the controls are surprisingly intuitive. They feel a bit heavy, but I just thought something as simple as having the down button pull you back to dead centre, regardless of if you were currently facing left or right, worked really well.
In Ski or Die there’s a downhill minigame with very similar controls, except you only have left and right (or clockwise and anti-clockwise). That game I found alomst impossible to control, but Ski King 2 is just completely fluid and natural.December 9, 2020 at 2:11 am in reply to: Vardit BeHarpatka Hadasha BeAlifut HaGlisha (1996, Multimedia KID) #3990
Google translate tells me the title means “Vardit on a new adventure in the surfing championship”
Yeah, entirely mouse as far as I can tell. And I think that’s a good thing because of the really fine grained control you need when you’re in the air.
The ragdoll physics kind of remind me of that game “Stair Dismount”…
Wow, even on an actual 4.77Mhz machine it’s fast?
And yeah, I haven’t figured out what the real difference between most of the events is either.
I’m using a keyboard, but I’ll see if I can translate what you did for the jump to keyboard controls.
One other quirk of the controls I noticed: to stop moving altogether (so you don’t crash into the barrier at the end of a run for example), you have to be very specific with your movements.
For starters, the manual is simply wrong about the buttons you have to press (not sure if it’s the same for joystick). The manual says “down” + “left” + “shift” to stop. It’s actually “down” + “RIGHT” + “shift”.
They all have to be held together, and it matters which order you push them down in. Pretty sure it’s the order I wrote.
The manual was a bit threadbare for some details. Has anybody worked out how to land a jump?
I’ve worked out hitting shift just as you jump puts your guy into the jump position which gives you heaps of distance, but if you’re in that position when you land then you just crumple into a heap. I have no idea how to get out of that position though. I managed it once by accident (and got a pretty good score too!), but I haven’t managed to replicate it.
I’m having trouble getting a manageable speed too. Even on my 386 using a slowdown utility which I’ve supposedly set to emulate a 4.77mhz 8088 it still feels too fast.
I found some youtube videos. They’re for different systems, but they all play much slower.
There’s a version of this floating about called “Quader’s release”.
It seems to be just the same thing but bundled with DOSBox, and probably some tweaks to get it working well.
Can anybody confirm this? Or are there other differences?
Hi! I just recently found out about this forum/podcast and it’s totally up my alley! (I was hoping there would be an newbies introduction section to the forum, but I guess it’s not that kind of message board)
Anyway, I really hope to get involved here regularly. (I have 3 vintage PCs and in the process of building 2 more – more details for anyone who’s interested!)
So I’m just wondering about this month’s topic. Firstly, is the idea just to play the three skiing themed games Tijn has made topics about (winter games, downhill challenge and ski or die), or just to find as many of my own as I can and play those?
Also, is there an “official” source people get their copies from, or is it just a matter of sourcing it from wherever?
Thanks for the info!