Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Game 44: Altered Destiny - Introduction


Seriously, I feel like I altered my destiny just trying to get this game to start!

After the joy that was The Secret of Monkey Island, it’s pretty hard for me to get too excited about Altered Destiny. I’ll try to go in with no preconceptions so as to judge the game fairly, but what I know about it doesn’t fill me with confidence. After all, it’s the second game released by Accolade, the company that made the nightmarish Les Manley. It uses the same engine as that travesty, and the majority of the team that worked on Les Manley were also involved in the making of Altered Destiny. Russell Shiffer once again handles the music, and out of the eight people that produced the animation and background art for that awful Elvis inspired Larry rip-off, seven of them came back to work on Altered Destiny (only Mike Nowak avoided it, but then he came back for the Les Manley sequel a year later). The two things that give me some hope that Altered Destiny might be ok are that Michael Berlyn (of Infocom and Tass Times in Tonetown fame) replaced Steve Cartwright as designer of the game, and that a couple of the new background artists previously worked on MechWarrior and Wing Commander (Caitlin and Peter Mitchell-Dayton). The new personnel at least suggest someone was involved that had some decent sci-fi chops.


The cover suggests an exciting science fiction journey. Let's see if the game lives up to it.

I've downloaded a copy that I’ll be running in DOSBox. As usual, I tried loading up the game before I started this post (to grab a screenshot of the title screen). It was a pain to get to run in DBGL, which is the interface I use to run games in DOSBox, but once I followed Glenn's Guide to run the game in its own DOSBox installation, I was eventually able to get things going. I suggest following Glen's instructions if you want to play along and run into any trouble. I read somewhere that it was difficult to get decent sound in the game, and so far I've only managed to get PC speaker quality audio. There are a few different options in the setup file, so I'll try a few before giving up. If anyone can assist, there are CAPs to be made! The manual, which I also had to hunt down, is pretty uninteresting, spending the vast majority of space describing how to play a third person parser based adventure game. There is one paragraph at the beginning that gives me some clue as to what I have ahead of me, but since the game's introduction covers it perfectly well, I'll withhold giving anything away at this point. I will say that it sounds a bit like Future Wars, albeit with space travel rather than time travel. Are there any companions brave enough to join me on this adventure!? Canageek, you know you really should be loading this one up. You paid for it after all!


Weird Woods, Boiling Pits, Canyons of Fear...nothing I haven't dealt with before!

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance (see below for an example bet). If you get it right I will reward you with 40 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

Example Bet:
Jura V njbxr gur erfg jrer qrnq
V'z abg fher ubj V fheivirq
V'yy unir gb svk guvf qnzntrq fuvc
Vs V'z gb fnir znaxvaq


Jurer nz V gelvat gb ernpu sbe 20 PNCf

Extra Note: We're extremely lucky to have a generous sponsor like Lars-Erik. The person who correctly predicts what score I will give the current game (or are closest) will get to choose one of the next five commercially available games on the playlist. Lars-Erik will donate the game once a choice is made. So, if you predict the right score (or are closest), you will get 10 CAPs and a copy of one of the following games:

The Quest for Glory 1-5 Collection from GOG
The King's Quest 4 + 5 + 6 Collection from GOG
The Hugo Trilogy
Space Quest 4 + 5 + 6 Collection from GOG
Leisure Suit Larry: Greatest Hits and Misses Collection from GOG

63 comments:

  1. I'll predict 40! The only other time I predicted something I nailed it, but didn't win because I did it at the third or fourth post. Let's see how long do I need to get lucky a second time!

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  2. Totally off-topic: I'm planning a trip with my wife and four year old daughter in the next few months. I have a stupid amount of annual leave saved up and am about to get a couple more months for long service. I may as well start using it and experience other parts of the world!

    Apart from the fact that this would mean I will likely be taking a couple of weeks off from blogging at some point between now and October, I also wanted to ask if anyone can give me any advice for the trip. We're thinking of going to Scandinavia, since it's somewhere I've always wanted to visit, and somewhere very different to where I live (Australia). I know quite a few of you live in that part of the world, and might be able to help me with a couple of queries.

    Firstly, I want to make sure that there is stuff for my daughter to do. She absolutely loves being outside in nature, of which there is obviously abundance in Scandinavia, but if I were to choose two countries to spend over a week exploring (each), are there any standouts for children? From what I know, Denmark might be a winner, since there is Legoland and some sort of Fairy land too, but I really don’t know about Norway, Sweden or Finland (I highly doubt I would get to Iceland, as much as I’d like to).

    Secondly, a friend has recommended I use AirBNB to rent out people’s apartments rather than booking expensive hotels. It’s particularly of interest to us because we really need a kitchen (my daughter has severe allergies, so we would have to cook every meal for her). Have others done this? It’s not something I’ve heard of people doing in Australia, so not sure whether I should trust it or just pay more money to make sure we get somewhere nice.

    Any advice at all would be most welcome. Who knows...if I end up in Lars-Erik’s or Ilmari’s neck of the woods...

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    Replies
    1. I am Italian and live in Germany. I would recommend both countries for a nice trip --plenty of amazing natural environments and landscapes, nice weather, nice food, not so expensive if you know how to move. Regarding your daughter, if she's not claustrophobic I would recommend visiting the salt mines in Berchtesgaden (I enjoyed it terribly as a kid), but I cannot think of any other standouts right now. I'll try to think of something else if you're interested!

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    2. As a spaniard I have to recommend Spain for its almost perfect mix of urban and natural scenarios. Regarding Scandinavian countries and things for children, you can go to visit the "real" Santa Claus village in Finland (http://www.santaclausvillage.info/), and the Stockholm zoo is not bad either.

      Food is awful however, so be prepared :p

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    3. Quick rundown of Scandinavia:

      Denmark: Legoland's the obvious choice for families. Small enough so that the movement isn't a problem. Probably the one with the best weather. Not that much "wild" nature compared to the rest of Scandinavia, more of an agricultural setting.

      Norway: Probably the most expensive country in Scandinavia. Don't really know if there's any remarkable places for children, but the mountains are really spectacular.

      Sweden: Most variety in different environments: couple of larger cities, lakes and forests, agricultural areas, mountains. If your daughter likes zoos, Kolmården Park's the best in Scandinavia.

      Finland: Santa Claus stuff is obvious, but if your daughter knows Moomins, there's also the Moomin world (loved especially by Japanese). Lots of lakes and forests inland.

      And whichever countries you choose, I'd recommend taking a trip in Lapland (the northernmost part of Norway, Sweden and Finland), because that's really exotic (and if you plan the trip near Midsummer's eve, the sun stays up all day).

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    4. Ilmari has a pretty good rundown there.
      Considering you wanted one week each in two countries, I'd suggest doing Denmark and Norway.
      Denmark is the most obvious one and the one most tailored to family vacations. Amusement parks such as Legoland and Tivoli in Copenhagen are popular attractions, but there's also loads of opportunities to relax at the seaside.

      For the second choice there's Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Iceland you've already pretty much excluded, which leaves the last three.

      I'm excluding Sweden for variety's sake, as it's the country most similar to Denmark of the three. It's not at all identical of course, but if you want to get the most impressions of Scandinavia from just two countries, it's the first I'd skip. Finland is a beautiful country with friendly people, but I haven't traveled there too much so I don't know very much about it except for Ilmaris suggestions.

      I don't know what age your daughter is, but for nature experiences you can't really go wrong with Norway. From the fjords (for a country with only about 4% of the land area of Australia we got about the same length of coastline) to the mountains, lakes and forests, it's a rugged country but well worth visiting. Whale safaris, mountain hikes, farm holidays, midnight sun, riding trips, boat trips in the fjords, snorkeling in the arctic waters, there's plenty to do.

      All of the Scandinavian countries have websites put up for ideas and suggestions regarding travels and vacations. Take a look at www.visitnorway.com, www.visitdenmark.com, www.visitfinland.com or www.visitsweden.com.

      As for AirBnB, I've never tried it for myself. But as a concept it's really booming here, and I've just heard good things about it as long as you choose accommodations with recommendations on them.

      Feel free to ask if there's anything in particular you want to know.

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    5. Thanks to everyone that responded here. I really appreciate it! :)

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  3. Even though I know nothing of this game, I will make a slightly bolder prediction and go with 46. I'm interested to find out about this game's story. It looks mysterious enough!

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  4. >I read somewhere that it was difficult to get decent sound in the game, and so far I've only managed to
    >get PC speaker quality audio. There are a few different options in the setup file, so I'll try a few before
    >giving up. If anyone can assist, there are CAPs to be made!

    I'll see what I can manage.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, but I've sorted it now. :)

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  5. Trick, I'm using DBGL as well (I intend to play through this one) but I had no issues with the game. I'm getting good Adlib sound. I can email you the game's exported profile if it helps!

    Based on its questionable pedigree, its relative obscurity and the fact that Canageed backed it, I'm predicting 43 for this game.

    I have to say I'm happy but very envious of your trip, Trick. Let me know whenever you decide to head southwards (although in your case, that would be eastward). :-P

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    Replies
    1. I've got it working with Adlib now too! I have no idea why I had so much trouble running the game to start with. It just wouldn't start at all, and then would ignore whatever settings I put in the setup.

      All good now!

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    2. I took a look at it, and (just like Les Manley) the setup changes settings by modifying the .bat file, which you then have to run instead of the .exe. The setup even tells you what to do (type "AD") after completing it. I don't use any frontends, these things were designed to be interacted with the command line.

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    3. I'm going to be known at 'that guy that backed Emanuelle' forever, aren't I?

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    4. There's always the chance to back a worse game, but I'm not sure what could outdo Emanuelle.

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  6. Replies
    1. That's also incorrect, and you might want to have another read of my riddle. I'm not looking for a name. ;)

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    2. Lbh'er gelvat gb ernpu Rnegu (Rneguevfr).

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    3. Oh, shoot. Could it be... na rfpncr cbq? (V'z guvaxvat bs Fcnpr Dhrfg, ogj)

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  7. Well using my rolling 6D10 and dividing by 60 to make my score for a game I know nothing about here we go..............3+8+2+2+2+5=22/60+36.7 rounded up to 37. Alright 37 it is from me.

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  8. Replies
    1. That is to say Ryyra Evcyrl

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    2. No, but that's a very interesting attempt!

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  9. Yeah, not a great game from memory. I'll toss in a 39

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  10. Yay, new game ...?

    I know nothing about this one, but I'll guess it's slightly better than Les Manley. 35.

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  11. I'll go with 36. Never played it but doesn't look too good...

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  12. OK. I'm going to guess, Rnegu

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    Replies
    1. And for a score, I confidently predict it will score somewhere between Les Manley and Secret of Monkey Island.

      But I suppose I'll have to be more specific, so I'll go 38.

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    2. Nope, it's not Earth, but I'm glad someone finally chose a destination rather than a name.

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    3. Curses! It's too broad! Could be anything from Space Quest to Crosstime Salon to Hitchhiker's Guide to god knows how many other Sci-Fi games!

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    4. You're right, which is why this one is so much fun!

      I'll give you a few more lines to stew over shortly...

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    5. Gur fcnpr znevar sebz Qbbz. (Bx, bx, ur qvqa'g unir n fuvc gb svk).

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    6. Sorry, that answer should be Znef.

      That or Nhfgenyvn. Orarngu n Fgrry Fxl.

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  13. Spent about an hour with it and made some good progress. I'm worried about deadends, though. Has anyone else taken the challenge?

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    Replies
    1. I may dive into it this weekend. I'm still on the fence about it. I've just started what promises to be a lengthy RPG, and I'm not sure about splitting my time and thoughts between two games.

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  14. 42 is mine!

    Have fun with your trip!

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  15. I've played it before and don't particularly want to play it again. It's definitely better than Les Manley, as it has an actual plot and the setting is atmospheric: slightly psychedelic, like in Tass Times, but this is meant to be an alien place. Some puzzles I thought were a bit too difficult, but they are not cruel like in Les.

    The parser is as "good" as in Les Manley, and it will definitely be able to spoil things in the same way as with the infamous resurrection card. Movement control is at times frustrating: you need to stand in a particular spot to make commands work, there's difficult to navigate cliffs with a possibility to fall to your death etc. Oh, and the inventory limit was frustrating.

    And I think there were some dead ends...

    Let's say 39.

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  16. My score guess: 45

    Haven't heard much about this game, but since it's related to Les Manley my expectations are very low.

    Don't think I'll be playing along, my limited gaming time will be spent elsewhere!

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  17. I'll throw a 43 into the fray. I downloaded and managed to finagle the game into running under Dosbox.. And already almost wish I hadn't. At least it can't be as bad as That Which May Not Be Named, right?

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  18. The game got mixed feelings upon release back in the days. My guess will be as low as 35.

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  19. Am I Gur Cneebg sebz Fgnefuvc Gvgnavp?

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    Replies
    1. No, I am not travelling to the Parrot from Starship Titanic.

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    2. Yeah, didn't read the last sentence, it has always said who am I before. How dare you live up to your name Trickster.

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  20. I'm not throwing a guess out until I've even got a palpable guess to speak of, so just to annoy Canageek: Indie Royale's latest bundle has adventure games! ( http://www.indieroyale.com ). It's focused around Phoenix Online - I think their most noteworthy product of late has been Moebius, but they also did a remake of KQ3 amongst other things. Get em while they're cheap!

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  21. Replies
    1. Damn you Ilmari! ;) I was literally just about to expand the riddle, only to come back and find that you'd solved it. I would have accepted either Deneb Kaitos or Persephone, from the game Mission Critical.

      Here's what I was about to post (might as well post it anyway, since I bothered to come up with it)

      When I awoke the rest were dead
      I'm not sure how I survived
      I'll have to fix this damaged ship
      If I'm to save mankind

      Blast! It’s hard to patch things up
      With an enemy on the attack
      The clock is ticking, time is short
      But I’ll have to fire back!

      Where am I trying to reach for 30 CAPs

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    2. And my next guess would still have been wrong. I was going to guess The Moon, more specifically...

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journey_to_the_Moon

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    3. Well, that was fast.

      Anyway, I've yet to guess the score for this game and I thi-

      Y-O-U W-I-L-L A-L-L S-U-R-E-L-Y B-E S-H-O-V-E-L-L-I-N-G S-H-I-T S-H-O-R-T-L-Y A-N-D T-H-E S-C-O-R-E S-H-A-L-L B-E 2-2!

      -nk the score would be around... I dunno... 22?

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    4. What can I say... I am just so much of a Legend fan that none of their games can pass by me ;)

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  22. I'll guess 40 - haven't played it, but both contemporary reviews and ones a decade later were quite positive.

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  23. (Outta curiosity, what exactly were the problems with sound? My default setup didn't work, so I just went with general midi and a generic device.. the music isn't god awful, at least. Even if the intro did make me want to puke so badly that the first time I ran it up, I closed it immediately in favour of a better game.. and the second time I just typed 'look resurrection card', found that didn't exist, and have already discovered it has the same god awful parser as our friend Les did.

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  24. I think I might have been too optimistic with my score.

    You know what's worse than having to traverse several screens riddled with Sierra-style, insta-death traps?
    Having to traverse several screens riddled with Sierra-style, insta-death traps that are HIDDEN BEHIND SCENERY.
    Unskippable animations do not help. Do not help at all. *grumble*

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    Replies
    1. Having played Accolade's whole repertoire of adventure games, it appears that they tried to outdo Sierra - and in case of irritating deaths they certainly succeeded.

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  25. Dammit, I forgot to guess a number! Ah well, I always give away the prize anyway.

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  26. If you want to play along, Altered Destiny can be streamed from Archive.org at: https://archive.org/details/msdos_Altered_Destiny_1990

    Note that you can't save in the streaming version of DOSBOX they use, but if you want to give it a go with zero set up, give it a try.

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