Saturday, June 30, 2012

Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary - Introduction

It's hard to tell, but the triangles were foil. (Source: What is the Apple IIGS?)

Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary is a combination computer game and board game. Leveraging physical books to hold the majority of the text, the computer game is focused on maintaining the rules, combat, several interactions where choices are necessary, and random encounters.

The story starts at the year 2815 A.D. (will people laugh at this in 800 years?) where humans 300 years prior had been at the height of space exploration when stricken with an alien disease that wiped out half the population. In the intervening years, humans closed their borders where they've remained isolated from much of the far reaches. The new borders include 9 habitable planets: Atlantis, Earth, Endaur, Frontier, Harvard, Heaven, Leucothea, Monument, and Norstar. Each planet has some defining features that I'll get to as I play through the characters.

There are six characters, each with different motivations to leave the Nine Worlds area. Departure from the boundary is never impeded; however, returning is met with the full force of the border patrol. Summarized from the player introduction sheet, this is what it says about each character:
  • Laran Darkwatch - Disciple of the Final Church of Man located on Leucothea. Darkwatch leaves in search of a holy relic.
  • Jean G. Clerc - Attempting to build the ultimate spaceship, Clerc seeks technology far beyond what is available in the Nine Worlds.
  • Valentine Stewart - Raised outside the Nine Worlds, Valentine is to inherit a wealthy smuggling business. Before settling down, Valentine decides to go for a joy ride and sow some wild oats.
  • Corin Stoneseeker - A quest--spanning since the time before the boundary--for a rare lost Stone is the purpose of the family Stoneseeker. Corin decides it's time to fulfill this quest by leaving the safety of the Nine Worlds.
  • M. J. Turner - Space Patrol Boundary enforcer, Turner got on the wrong side of the admiral, and has been reassigned on the wrong side of the boundary.
  • Professor Lee Dambroke - A xenobiologist from the university planet of Harvard, Lee's purpose is to expand the knowledge base of his subject through first hand investigations into alien intelligence.
Along with ship names, this is about the only information we have on each character before deciding which one to play. In fact, the descriptions are written to avoid defining gender. This was meant to increase the role-play aspect by allowing either a male or female to play the character. I didn't get this as a kid though. My impression was always Laran and Jean were female, and all the rest were male.

I'll be playing each of them eventually, so it really doesn't matter too much. For this first time, I'm going to pick up Professor Lee Dambroke. This was the character CRPG Addict had wanted to explore, and hopefully I can report on a good portion of the game before he gets into Star Saga Two.
Once a character is chosen, you get to read their individual manual, which expands on their story.

My History with the Game:

This was an outstanding game from my childhood. My brother and I found this and the second game in our den turned storage room. It'd hardly been touched.

As soon as we opened it up, we knew that our weekend was lost. We played many times over, but I actually don't remember much of the game. I do remember I would always play as Corin Stoneseeker since his booklet was green. My brother made his way through all the other characters.

Being older, my brother did things like stay up all night, while I could hardly hold my head up past 10. By the second night, the last turn count I remember was ~130. The next morning M.J. Turner had over 480 turns racked up.

We would play in quick succession, plan out multiple turns so as not to hog the computer and jot down passages (to be read later) after our turn was over. It worked well, and I don't remember waiting long before being able to take my turn or vice versa.

After a while, we moved on to Star Saga Two, but it was less memorable for me. I remember it being more difficult to progress and harder to understand the next steps. My brother says he finished it, and eventually we moved on to other games before I had the chance.

I always kept it around because I had intended to play it again. The box was in shambles, but everything else was in great condition. Then the fateful day came when I moved out from home, and left it behind. My mom recalls possibly throwing it out.

Later on, I found the disks, but couldn't find any way to play them. Without the books I figured they'd be useless anyway. The only apple II emulation site I knew of was I figured this would be the perfect place to send the disks (and about 60 others that weren't listed on that site) in order to enjoy them again. Nearly 5 years later, and Star Saga (along with the majority of games sent) have not been added to the site. I also never got them back. I gave up on that venture years ago, but maybe one day they'll appear. Creating this blog reminded me of this, so I decided to post on their forums to get an update instead of continuing to rely on email. Should anything happen I'll comment about it later.
Luckily I scanned them before sending them off (Source: MobyGames)
Thankfully, someone has reproduced the game in a playable state. If you're interested, you can find it at Home of the Underdogs. I needed to find cncs32.dll on my own in order to run the map program, but the documents can be browsed without it, so it's only really necessary to use the map program.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A New Journey

I'm currently on a quest to play through every console RPG. But, what's a main quest without some side quests?

There are many great games that I've either never played or never completed that don't fit on the console RPG blog, so I will from time to time suffer through getting a computer game to work in order to play through it.

With CRPG Addict and The Adventure Gamer showcasing games it's a great time to dive into one of these with them. I already had the idea of playing along when the Quest for Glory series come up. Taking this idea and expanding on it into a separate blog seems only natural.

I don't have a set list of games in any order. I know three things at this point: I'm starting with Star Saga One, will do Star Saga Two next, and will follow up with the Quest For Glory when Trickster gets to it. I made a short list and came up with about 50 games I'd like to get to, but it's not as set in stone as my other list (which is still priority number one to get through).

I may not have a lot of time to do this, but there are many times when a computer game is easier to play than a console that requires taking over the living room. Also, playing along, being a part of gaming history, is too tempting. I'm not limiting myself to any one platform, so any suggestions for games are welcomed. I may even play some import games here, but for now I'm focused on computer games.

My goals for a game may often go beyond completing it. For Star Saga as an example, my hope is to create a comprehensive guide, which will take playing multiple times through. In the course of that, I'll blog about each session only if something new happens (which will for at least the first six times as I play each character).

Edit: I didn't quite get through Star Saga Two (or One for that matter) before Quest for Glory came up, so my posting on QfG is out of sync with Trickster and Chet.

I decided to post my list in the side bar. It's in alphabetical order by genre, and aside from wanting to play games at the same time as Trickster and Chet, I don't have a particular order (Star Saga Two is very soon).