the arcade dungeon adventure revisited ___________

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a study of Gauntlet

this is the introductory dialog for Gauntlet Sanctuary

why "sanctuary" ?
I didnt feel like calling it a "port"


lets go back to the past...

Gauntlet title scroller


the year was 1986
the month was May

the end of my 4th semester of college pursuing a degree in math _and_ computer science
(yes a dual degree in both subjects)
a degree I desired so that I might work on video games

that was my dream career. well not exactly
the dream career was being a wizard...or perhaps a green lantern
I cant be sure now which was first

a little thing called z80 assembler changed all that in 1982

I also wanted to be an explorer, or adventrurer
explore what or adventure where?

woods, ruins, catacombs...

by 1986 I had more ideas and dreams than I could easily handle - I read a lot of books
and the internet was a decade away

Imagine life without the net, I challenge you!
did you succeed? You are likely close to or over 40


so the discussion is Gauntlet

level 8 sample


I spent nearly every week of every year in college visiting the arcades
at near the rate of 3 - 4 nights a week

I studied the games
I studied the design
I played and mastered them

there were many games I could hold high scores on
there were many I could play for hours on a quarter

Gauntlet was very special
I could play for as long as my body could stand
at the time I was THE high score - no one could beat me
my longest game was 7 hours

if the arcade had cooperated I would have played a longer game

Special...

in 86 all I would have likely said was that it was an awesome game and you should play it

after decades of actually doing mods and games I will say this:

this dungeon style explorer for the time brought together a near perfect synthesis
of dungeon action, player character choice, maze elements, play mechanic
with much enjoyment

there was no story of note
you were a pretty generic warrior, wizard or...elf

it was amazingly foward thinking for the 80s by including a sword wielding female warrior

swords and spells
if you consider the "potion" - really a maze enemy clearing smart bomb - a spell

the 4 characters had different abilities providing different play styles
this was also advanced for the time, when most arcade games played exactly the same
or at most provided a shooter with varying weapons loads

Legend of a great game


the ability enhancing "hidden" potions could also be considered spells
and the enhancement was not permanent - a thief could spawn and steal your potion!
add to all this good sound effects and a digitized "announcer" voice
an announcer that mostly taunted you: "someone shot the food"

I have read a game design philosophy that well designed games contain no "fluff"
otherwise seen as pointless eye candy elements

Gauntlet fits this philosophy very well

now understand at the time there were many home computer games in this idiom
I played this one: En.wikipedia.org

Gauntlet had arcade machine power where home systems were just getting near with systems like the Amiga 500
the home games while possessing the same play elements had nowhere near the impact of the big "G"

this game was an andrenaline filled, dungeon clearing, adventure rush

what went wrong with such perfection?

well this is earth, not heaven...
all things come to an end as it were

Atari got reports of the stellar players for whom a single quarter represented endless play

at this point Atari was all corporate
no one was there to explain or even want to understand that a player that could do this on one
quarter had the benefit of attracting a lot more people that want to do the same thing

the hoard of people that swarmed the machine to watch this amazing play almost all wanted to try it!
would they not celebrate such success? no...

Atari responded by nerfing the near perfect design
the vital 100 pts of health per maze food element was monkeyed with

the game still looked great
all the vital elements were there
it just played like crap now

by some blessing (from my experience) this was short lived
Gauntlet II was soon on the scene

gauntlet II tutorial screen


While the sequel added some interesting elements that fit well - it still had bad play
how do you create one of the greatest dungeon adventure video games of all time then miss the boat with the sequel?

keep the nerfed food system, make 2 characters useless and add some very cool elements
that would be great except with the food nerfed, they were just annoying wastes of time

side quest dialog:
would you like to know why arcades died?

I've had some time to analyze this and I think I have it nailed down

instead of concentrating on making great games, which happened up to 84 or 85
the companies were focusing on play mechanics that required players to put in more quarters for one game
this was clearly not the way to duplicate the early 80s success - as seen when arcades died off through the 90s

most games had some continue feature
a lot were racers, gun games or fighting games
a "me too" slosh of generic quarter munchers

Gauntlet (up to rev. 7) did it right - you could play on one quarter with mastery
if your game was weak you could put in more quarters for health and continued play
with the balancing element that if you added quarters it divided your high score by coin count!

I will follow this introduction dialog with pieces establishing the basis for the mod and the enhancement design decisions

welcome!
( to Gauntlet sanctuary )

020 02 02 12 2627 957x919


Comments
numbersix Creator
numbersix

the forum is alive!

first update: Moddb.com

Reply Good karma+1 vote
TriciaByrd
TriciaByrd

Thanks for your sharing

Reply Good karma Bad karma+2 votes
numbersix Creator
numbersix

code and ops go very well - a playable demo is nearly ready!

an introductory article is ready, just waiting on some image selection

I plan to have a 3 part intro

1 - a gauntlet study; history
2 - game elements, ops and theory
3 - the modification preliminary .plan

Reply Good karma+1 vote
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