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Lord Moontram
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icon Your Old Experiences, Feelings and Thoughts When You Were Fresh-Faced? (+5)  
This forum has been around for a long time, so I know most every topic I think of will have been covered, but... I'm really new to this series. As I said in my other thread, I love it. However when I first saw the games (I use the GOG store) I was initially put off. I just couldn't really 'get to grips' with the screenshots or what was being offered (or so I thought), even as a fan of older games in general.

I think the series was basically in my Wishlist for three years, haha. Something (alcohol? :P) made me take the plunge recently and I bought them all at once there on GOG, at full price, to boot. Now I've played them and, whilst right now I'm pretty damn poor as a player (...seriously. Think even simple screens), I just can't get enough. And I totally think the graphics suit the game(s). Sometimes you need to experience something direct to realise, without just looking at a static image, or even watching a video. The graphics are simple and uncluttered and are exactly what's needed, whilst still having enough detail.

Anyway, long post short (too late), I suppose many of you are 'veteran' players of the series. Can any of you remember when you were first like me, and completely new to the series? Which was your first? Can any of you remember what your first thoughts were on various aspects? Good, bad, indifferent, etc. Were you already used to games like this (I note Tower of the Sorcerer, but haven't played it)?

I must admit since I bought the series I've dipped into all of them to a degree, which isn't so useful in regards to being focused. I was just so excited I got into a muddle, heh.

Final note; the music surprised me for this series. Really digging a whole lot of it, and I bought as many officially-produced soundtracks as I could find.
06-27-2019 at 11:35 AM
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icon Re: Your Old Experiences, Feelings and Thoughts When You Were Fresh-Faced? (+5)  
I'm so glad you're enjoying this series!

Many members of this community put their hearts and souls into bringing these games to light.

My first experience with DROD was in playing Webfoot DROD (v 1.03/1.11?), the original version available at the time on HotU. (I had been looking for a new puzzle game to clear my mind for a bit as I finished my master's thesis.)

There's a room in DROD:KDD on Level Eight called the "Three tar mother" room, which gave me fits without undo. With determination, I won the day and made it through the game in a couple of weeks.

I personally didn't mind the sparsely animated VGA graphics. I'd grown up on tile-based ASCII dungeon games like KROZ, which I'd written a few of my own spiritual successors to when I learned to program as a teen. (Also had experienced Daleks and ZZT.)
For me, DROD's gameplay was king and the music was great.

Within a couple weeks, if memory serves, Erik Hermansen put up a request for alpha testers for an open-source rebuild of the game engine on the game's site page, and the rest is history.

Looking back, it's interesting to think how so much of this franchise's evolution would have gone very, very differently if that conflux of events hadn't happened precisely as it did.

How would it have been different? Hard to say exactly, but DROD RPG (and now Twisty Little Passages) would not have been a thing for certain. It's likely that the level editor we use today (and consequently all the excellent, creative player content stemming therefrom) might not have been written. Maybe the titles beyond the Caravel DROD v1.5 remake in 2003 might have not been started up or completed. It's interesting to wonder what might have been in their place.

Either way, I'm glad we had a critical mass that has borne this wonderful franchise to enjoy.

Gandalf? Yes... That's what they used to call me.
Gandalf the Grey. That was my name.
I am Gandalf the White.
And I come back to you now at the turn of the tide.

[Last edited by mrimer at 06-27-2019 03:01 PM]
06-27-2019 at 02:58 PM
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Thanks for the topic! :thumbsup I know I've often shared parts of my DROD story, but I've never sat down to write up the whole thing.

I first discovered DROD thanks to a friend from another forum I used to frequent. At the time, I was studying for my MA and didn't have much money, so I had the attitude that it wasn't okay to spend money on games unless it was something really special (like the PC remakes of the Repton series).

So I got the JtRH demo and played KDD as my first hold. The 2.0 demo has only the Foundation room style, so for me, the Foundation music has always felt like the "main theme" of DROD. I got through KDD fairly easily, only needing help on a few rooms: the backswiping room in Level 3, 14:2E because it used not to have that checkpoint at the beginning, and 23:1N because manipulating two goblins at once was more than I could handle. (It was a severe disappointment when I looked up H&S and it said that you can just break the snake widget. More on that later.)

I was immediately drawn to the editor, because making new levels for games has been one of my biggest passions ever since Repton 3 when I was a kid. I didn't make puzzles at first; I played around with Beethro meeting NPCs, and I had rooms like a castle entrance where you have to fight guards. I may have started forming ideas for a grandiose story I could tell in the DROD medium, but nothing came of it.

Then, just over a month after I discovered DROD, TCB came out. Of course I grabbed the demo and was absolutely blown away: without having played JtRH, I didn't really know what was going on in the story, but it was clear that this was a whole world to explore, full of fascinating lore and quirks that set my imagination flowing. The new lighting effects were gorgeous, adding a new sense of atmosphere and mystery to the already gorgeous graphics. And the writing... I had never seen writing like this in a game before. It still sends shivers down my spine when I re-read it:

Pit Thing: Beethro Budkin.
Beethro: Eh? Who's there?
Pit Thing: Just an old friend.
Beethro: Oh, you. Yeah, it's been a while. So we're friends now?
Beethro: Mostly I remember you hissing at me a lot and trying to act scary.
Pit Thing: Always we were friends, Beethro. Like a child loves his toys.
Pit Thing: I sought only to deepen your ability to fear.
Pit Thing: There are very large things to fear. A brave man has only conquered smaller worries.

Sadly, I still didn't feel able to buy either game's full version. That was a huge mistake. Very soon, all the new holds coming out were using 3.0 elements that I didn't understand, and I felt left behind. It didn't help that I was going through a difficult stage in my life in other respects, which I won't go into. In any case, at some point I just gave up on DROD and quit the forum.

After a long time, I checked back in to see how things were ticking over, and there was a new game on the block. I loved DROD RPG straight off, and finally managed to talk myself into buying the full version. (I think I also bought JtRH at around this time, and played up to Level 18 before getting stuck.) For a long time, I was involved with the RPG but still felt I didn't really "get" DROD itself. The community's interest in RPG waned once the novelty had worn off, and after a while I took another hiatus.

Then a couple of years later, I happened to check back in again, and again there was a new game out. Seeing that GatEB was specially designed as an easier introduction to the series, I had to give it a go, and it was a huge confidence boost when I got through it without getting stuck, and then went back and finished off JtRH.

Then the biggest thing of all happened. I was chosen to be a beta tester for TSS. I wasn't just a bumbling idiot crashing the DROD party any more. I could give useful feedback on how the new game felt to someone who wasn't good at DROD. But I wanted to do more, and I pushed hard against the game until I made progress. Eye of the Storm nearly broke me, but I persisted. I completed Experiment of Ages by myself. (That felt so good that I still have a screenshot of the moment "Exit Level" came up as my wallpaper!)

I also, finally, got started with architecture. Indeed, I believe Bubble Wrap holds the distinction of being the first usermade hold started in 5.0. I knew that I couldn't make a really good puzzle hold, but I believed one thing I could do was make a hold that would appeal to beginners and be a step up from the usual "tutorial hold" fare.

The whole project of updating the official holds really started when I got stuck with Bubble Wrap. I'm not even sure which level or room I was on, but I was finding it difficult to put together a puzzle the way I saw it in my mind, or maybe I just wasn't coming up with good ideas, and I wanted to get something done, so I started adding challenges to KDD as a form of relaxation to take my mind off the feeling of frustration. Mike liked the idea, so I got permission to add scripted challenges to the official KDD2.0 release, and things took off from there.

As for Entry Point, that's another big story. At first, I saw it as a rival to Bubble Wrap and wasn't at all keen to involve myself in both. After a month, the founding members of EP had built the first three levels, but with no team leader, there was no mechanism for putting them together into a tier, calling that done, and moving on. One day in chat, 12th Archivist was talking about scrapping the project, and I didn't want it to fall apart, so I decided I had to step up. It's been a long journey, but I don't regret the time I've spent on it. It's helped me enormously with my confidence, and meant I have something to say at job interviews when I'm asked about working in a team. And I think we've made a really good hold, and I am really looking forward to getting it released.

50th Skywatcher
06-27-2019 at 05:28 PM
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icon Re: Your Old Experiences, Feelings and Thoughts When You Were Fresh-Faced? (+4)  
Well, let's first experience with DROD was back when flash was king, and the flash review site jayisgames pointed me toward some version or other of flash DROD. I think I played a little bit but didn't really "get" it? Like, if I'd ever played a 'stepping game' like this before I certainly didn't quite make the connection that that was what I was playing, anyway. I think I stopped before very long.

A bit later, the entire series was available on GOG for fairly cheap, and for some reason I decided to buy it, even though I didn't know or understand much about it. Then it sat in my library for a few months until I started playing. Obviously, I hadn't involved myself with the community and, I believe, didn't even know this forum existed at first, so I played the exe's that GOG provided, which meant playing KDD and JtRH in the 2.0 engine, TCB in 3.0, etc. I think it was in playing these that I became somewhat addicted and started going through the games voraciously.

The important thing about the fact that I was playing the 2.0 engine is that that only has single-undo. So I found the game perhaps a bit frustrating when I was in a roach horde and got into positions where only undoing twice or more could prevent me from going back some 200 turns. But I also around this time discovered that there was a level editor.

I am a sucker for games with level editors. I built levels for every SHIFT-series game I could, Warcraft 2 and 3, game (language warning), the whole creeper world series, and numerous others, especially portal 2.
Click here to view the secret text

Anyway, I worked steadily on a hold as I played through all the games, and discovered the forum while looking for hints and demos to get me through the rooms I absolutely couldn't handle. No joke, there's one particular element I first discovered in the editor and literally couldn't figure out what it was for because TSS hadn't taught me the controls for it. And I also started playing the engine versions that have UU and never looked back.

I think it was around the time I was playing through TSS that I actually joined this forum and started posting that hold for feedback and eventual publication. It's not a terribly good hold, but it got my feet wet with how architecture can/should work, and I think more people have probably seen it than the number who've seen all my portal 2 maps combined.

109th Skywatcher

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 06-27-2019 07:19 PM]
06-27-2019 at 07:18 PM
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icon Re: Your Old Experiences, Feelings and Thoughts When You Were Fresh-Faced? (+5)  
I was an avid consumer of the Puzzle Tag thread back when I was a fresh-faced young'un on this forum. This post was particularly impactful on my life.

Shortly after college, I was doing my first-ever phone interview for my first adult job at a tech company. Deep into the call, the interviewer says, "Two people are having a conversation and one of them starts describing the ages of their children..."

Of course, I knew exactly what puzzle I was about to be asked, where the puzzle was going, the exact nature of the puzzle's twist, and the intended path of reasoning one would walk to get to the solution. I didn't just blurt out the answer that I already knew - I walked the interviewer through the solving process, feigned an "a-ha" moment, and drew the puzzle to its resolution. The interviewer was astonished and I ultimately got the job, which proved to be the starting point of the career path that I still follow today. Thanks, DROD!

Edit - see also:


[Last edited by RoboBob3000 at 06-28-2019 12:27 AM]
06-28-2019 at 12:25 AM
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I new about Drod through Jayisgames, the most praising reviews !
But it took me 3 years to finally get to play it, initially was completely and totally put off with the idea of killing roaches for fun ( roaches !! ), at that time was doing sculpture and art and meditation...
Also, i did read about turned based game, but it was a concept that had no meaning until i actually played and really understood it.
Luckily, one bored day, tried the flash version, and ever since i love this game, think it is the very best puzzle game ever. I feel we are so lucky , many have not found it yet . Google will not give it to you, and Steam, you may have to search hours to find it,and then you may not recognize what you found, the amazing depth and intelligence and creativite of this game !
06-28-2019 at 02:28 AM
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Lord Moontram
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icon Re: Your Old Experiences, Feelings and Thoughts When You Were Fresh-Faced? (0)  
Oooh, thanks for all the detailed replies! I only have a few minutes for now (and have a stinking migraine on top, ugh), so I wanted to ask a different, technical question in a new thread, but I'll try and reply here when I can!
06-28-2019 at 05:48 PM
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I first found DROD when I was given a DROD: AE CD by my aunt for my birthday. May I just say - best birthday present ever! I was in junior high at the time, and I loved it. My brother and I took several months to play through KDD. When we finally beat it, we found these forums (then the forums) and we were super excited to discover that not only were there user-made holds, there was a whole new game out (JtRH)!

I proceeded to load DROD on a flash drive so I could play it at school and introduce my friends to it, introducing the guy who would play Halph in TCB and later to DROD. He got on the TCB beta test team and I was very jealous. When he was beta testing it, he'd sometimes let me get sneak peeks at the beautiful new graphics and the new elements. Not that he let me know what anything did, just that they were there.

I credit the scripting in the level editor with teaching me to program - or at least, inspiring and helping me to learn.

And... that's about the extent of my DROD story. I've stuck around here ever since. And I'm a few years away from introducing my son to DROD (he's got to master crawling first, and probably walking too), but I'm looking forward to that.
07-04-2019 at 05:20 PM
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Some 12 years ago or so I believe, my dad introduced me to KDD 2.0. He'd finished the game and I was only around 7 at the time and so with his help I started playing through the game. I'd not played a whole lot of video games at the time but I know I loved (and still do) the music of the series and looking back, the complete predictability of the game meant that it was easy for a young mind to understand. King Dugan's Dungeon is, for the most part, very easy to parse I think in that it is literally just 'Kill all the monsters and leave the room'. Some of the more arcane rooms I've been exposed to since would have crushed my young mind, but from that respect, KDD was a great first game for someone of my age at the time. With my dad's help I got to around level 18 or 19 I think? I also played JtRH around the same time and got less far, maybe to level 12 or 13.

DROD has always been on and off for me in terms of my playing, but a couple of years later my dad purchased TCB and DROD RPG, I believe they hadn't been out for long. I fell in love with the series and the story then and being a little bit older I was able to reason a bit better and tackle some of the trickier puzzles that TCB presented itself (although it wasn't until I was 12 or 13 that I finished that game). DROD RPG was amazing, having the old music back for Foundation, Deep Spaces and Iceworks was great and learning about Tendry's story was also very cool. I've truly played that levelset to death and I'm quite happy to be 3rd place for the TT hold.

I joined the forum around the time I was finishing up TCB and despite being young and stupid everyone here was really accommodating. DROD 4 came out just after I joined the forum I think(?) and I really enjoyed that game too, and it's the only classic DROD game I've post-mastered. I got more involved in the community and really got into architecture around that time, publishing my first hold in 2013.

The Second Sky was something I was really really excited for and I played it as soon as it was released. The race through the levels was awesome (until Shattered Mine!!!!) and it's definitely my favourite instalment in the classic DROD series IMO, showcasing some awesome puzzles and a brilliant conclusion to Beethro's story. I've released 4 more holds since then (and a 5th is on the way this year).

There are few things which are constants in life, but DROD has always been there, even after a year out and when I'm busy, I find myself thinking about DROD and keeping up with LPs and stuff. The community here has been and still is, great and no game have I devoted more of my life to than DROD. I don't know how many thousands of hours I've spent over the year on the game but however long it is, it's certainly not a waste. It's a little sad that Beethro's story is over but it's always nice when new members pop up and hopefully you enjoy the DROD series as much as I have over the years. Kudos to Mike and Erik and everyone involved in the development of this amazing game!

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[Last edited by navithmastero at 07-05-2019 06:18 PM]
07-05-2019 at 02:54 PM
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My first experience with DROD was in 1996, yes, you read that correctly. 1996, not 1997

I've played some beta version of a shareware version of the drod as a kid. Back then my cousin had an access to bootleg versions of many popular games (back then piracy was much much easier, you could get everything without being vip, you just had to go to certain places), and he shared it with me (and hundred other games). I don't think that version was different from the shareware demo of DROD

One thing that should be said - DROD was really a recommended game, and the press promoted it really hard, literally everywhere I went the game magazines were like "Have you played DROD? It's really good" - the game had a really good press, despite its obvious flaws. I don't remember seeing any negative review of DROD. And yes, even back then, there was a massive cult of people who worshipped this game, something I didn't understand, but then again, ask me the other day about the cult of the games like Catacomb 3D.

IMO, The reason that DROD didn't take off was because the game looked like it was made for windows 3.x (personally I thought that the game was from 1990) rather than windows 1998. Keep in mind that back then you already had Mortal Kombat, Heroes of Might and Magic, Diablo, and many other games that just reeked of modernity. DROD looked already retro in a bad way. Frankly, had DROD stayed that way, I don't think I would like it, the way I do nowadays.

I was resisting DROD for a very long time, because I had bad memories with the version I've played. It wasn't until the flash version of DROD debuted, I gave it a try, because it was hosted on Newgrounds and it had medals, and I started playing it, and I got all medals from this game, and thought, let's give a try for the next episode. And from then, I was hooked, I just didn't know it.

I was still laughing at the idea of getting into this game. Looking back, it was a laugh of a fool about to be hanged. Little I knew, that this game would be something of a revelation to me.

People say that the artstyle might be offputting to some - and there's some truth to that. But the real reason that people don't play DROD - and trust me, this game is not niche - everyone KNOWS about this game, they just decide to not play it - is because the game requires to put some effort into playing it - you can't go into mindless slaugher, or exploration (my mistake that I assumed the first time I've played this game, that this is an exploration game in vein of Metroid).

Each room is a puzzle for better and for worse, and for some people, that's a meh.

What worked for me? Unironically challenges and achievements - it was that that made me appreciate the mechanics and the gameplay. Before I knew, I've became an addict. Good job, Caravelteam. There is something funny in a fact that I was having a normal, boring life all this time, without being active in DROD. Lol. How silly.

My favorite game will probably always be Journey, albeit the rest are no slouch, and Second Sky might be the biggest game in the existence - not many games tell you that you've finished 40% of the game during the credits.

The amount of care and dedication from all people involved is probably the reason that this game survived everything, and frankly, the game still didn't reach the greatness it could. With proper marketing and making a mobile DROD version, this game could easily become a Mario, or Sonic in people's minds. It's just that it requires perseverance, and it's not going to be quick, but it will eventually happen.

For me it only took 23 years

[Last edited by Illusionist at 09-21-2020 12:38 PM]
09-13-2020 at 03:57 PM
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