Game-related ramblings.

Month: September 2013

History Lessons: Betrayal At Krondor (part 1)

New readers may wish to read the History Lessons Introduction first. The rest of the posts about Betrayal at Krondor are here: part 2, part 3, part 4. Previous History Lesson posts can be found here.

It’s been too long since my last History Lesson post. Nearly a year! Time to get back in the swing of it. This time I decided to tackle a game I’ve been meaning to play for some time: Betrayal at Krondor, originally released back in 1993. It is fondly remembered by fans as one of the earliest attempts at an open-world role-playing game, and for its strong ties to Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar novels (Feist later novelized the game, officially accepting its events as canon in his fantasy world of Midkemia). Given the huge popularity of Skyrim and the other games in the Elder Scrolls series, known for their open-world role-playing design, I thought it would be interesting to look back at one of the first attempts at this type of game.

I actually tried to play Betrayal at Krondor a couple of times in the early ’90s. My first attempt was foiled by an insufficiently powerful computer, which could barely even load the game before crashing. Later, I borrowed a copy of the game from a friend to try on a newer machine, and managed to get a little ways into the game before hitting a game-stopping bug, probably due to some hardware incompatibility. In 1994, the game was re-released on CD-ROM (instead of 3 1/2″ floppy disks), but I never had a chance to try that version. Now, it’s conveniently for sale on, bundled with its less popular semi-sequel, and pre-configured to run on modern machines using the DOSBox emulator. A good opportunity, then, to take another look.

Trenchcoat Time: X-Noir Demo

Diligent readers may remember that I quite liked the massive, free Japanese-style role-playing game Master of the Wind. Since it was completed, developers Solest have been working on two other games, the short puzzle game Labyrinthine Dreams (which recently had a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund an art overhaul), and the detective game X-Noir. X-Noir was announced first, and the news about Solest’s Kickstarter campaign reminded me to catch up on their catalog. So I decided to take X-Noir for a spin.

Very, Very Fast: Race The Sun

Why do humans enjoy moving at high speeds? Apparently it is because the speed triggers a neurological response to danger, and the brain releases a mixture of adrenaline and endorphins to help cope with the perceived threat. This mixture is responsible for the “rush” that many people find so pleasurable. The problem with this is that moving at high speeds is, in fact, dangerous, which is why we’ve developed ways to simulate the same feelings while minimizing risk. Riding a rollercoaster, skiing down a mountain, and more mundane activities like going down a playground slide or swinging on a swing set are all ways to mimic the feeling of moving fast while staying relatively safe. But the only way to be completely safe while feeling like you’re moving at high velocity is to not move at all, and mimic the feeling in some other way. Like in a game, perhaps.

There are many games that involve moving really fast, but few of them are as pure as Race the Sun. It’s a game about steering a solar-powered craft as it chases the sunset, dodging obstacles and trying to keep moving for as long as possible. Because when the sun goes down, your ride is over.

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