Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Game 37: Loom - Won!

Bobbin Threadbare Journal Entry 6: "Who knew I could control so much power!? Today I raised Rusty and a bunch of Shepherds from the dead, did battle with the scariest Dead One you could possibly imagine, and eventually ripped the Pattern in two to thwart his plans! Unfortunately the Loom had to be destroyed in the process, but there appeared no other option. Sadly I am unable to feel as victorious as I should, for the loss of Dame Hetchel brings me more pain than I can bear. She sacrificed herself to save the world, and will forever be remembered as the true hero. For now, I have finally been reunited with my mother Cygna, and along with the Elders, we shall begin a new Pattern. Let a new age begin!"

Here's something you don't get to do every day.

The climax of Loom was clearly approaching, but recent events had made it pretty difficult to figure out what was going to occur there. My last post ended with me floating “outside” the pattern, which looked like space with patches of locations trying to break through. I floated towards the first of these locations, noting that it looked like the volcanic region the Guild of Blacksmiths occupied. That turned out to be correct, and clicking on it caused me to re-enter the pattern at the place of Rusty’s death. His bones were still lying on the ground, and I immediately wondered whether I might be able to weave a Healing draft on them. As I walked towards them, his none-too-happy spirit appeared and understandably got stuck into me. “I’m lying here, minding my own business, when this strange new kid shows up and decides he wants to switch clothes with me. The kid forgets to mention that he has a FORTY-FOOT DRAGON out to get him. And what happens when that very same dragon sees me lying here? Looking JUST LIKE YOU?” Bobbin apologised to Rusty for causing something so awful, but Rusty hadn’t finished relaying his hardships. “So I go Outside to wait for doomsday like a good little ghost. And what do you suppose happens then? Some idiot rips the universe apart and hails us all back Inside!” Well at least I couldn’t be blamed for that!

Do I sense a tinge of sarcasm?

Um...you become an insane, evil mofo?

OK, you can't blame me for that one!

Once Rusty and I had made our way back to his bones, I finally had the opportunity to try out Healing him. It worked, and Rusty now stood in front of me in full health! He was astonished that I could actually bring people back from the dead, but Bobbin’s response was simply “You were hurt. I healed you. That’s all.” Rusty then left to go find his family, and since the game informed me that I shouldn’t wander off too far, I re-entered Outside. I floated away from the Guild of Blacksmith region and entered the Guild of Shepherds. Appearing on a hill behind Fleece’s home, things didn’t look good! Her house was on fire, and there were animals and shepherds lying dead in the field. I thought I’d try Healing them too, and once again this turned out to be the solution (or at least A solution). The shepherds were extremely grateful: “Shepherds have long memories, wizard. I shall not forget your kindness.” Since I wasn’t able to leave the hill, the only thing to do was to re-enter Outside again and see where else my powers could be of use. Just as I’d expected, the next location was the Guild of Glassmakers, and once again they’d been attacked by the Dead. Master Goodmold lay on the floor with blood surrounding him, clearly close to death. Solving everything through the use of Healing was becoming a bit repetitive, but it once again seemed like the most obvious solution. I was almost grateful when it didn’t work!

Well, I wouldn't use the plural just yet.

The Sand Person roared with victory as another shepherd went down!

Actually, my powers are unlimited. Now stop being a martyr and let me help you!

“Save your magic for the Dead Ones, Weaver boy.” Like me, Bobbin wondered why the glassmakers hadn’t used the Great Scythe they’d been preparing, and Goodmold used his final breaths to explain the reason. “We never doubted that the Scythe could save us. Even the Dead would have fallen in the wake of its wrath! But to unleash such merciless evil would make us as cowardly as they. We wished not to become like our enemy. And so we stayed our hand. We knew the price. Tell the world we fought with courage, and chose death with clarity.” I’m not going to get too stuck into Loom for this, but this plot outcome is tough to pull off. I’ve read so many books and seen so many films where someone spends ages preparing to do something specific, only to decide against it at the very moment they’d been working towards. When done well, it’s very powerful (think Darth Vader saving Luke Skywalker), but can feel manipulative and unbelievable if done poorly. In this instance I didn’t buy that the guild would allow the Dead Ones to destroy everything when they had the power to stop it, but as I say, I’m not going to get picky on what is a minor plot point. Goodmold’s body disappeared when he finally passed away in front of my eyes, so I left Crystalgard and journeyed back Outside.

But we thought it would be more fun to watch the living be slaughtered by the Dead.

I guess he had to disappear, otherwise I would have Healed him anyway.

The next location I floated into was one I was unfamiliar with. There I discovered shining trees overhanging a cosmic pond, within which a ballet of swans congregated. One of them spoke to me: “We’ve been expecting you, Bobbin. Welcome!” Bobbin asked where he was, and the swan explained that this place was Outside the Pattern. It described it as “Home of the Dead, and of those Transcended.” Bobbin then recognised it as the Shore of Wonder, and the swan confirmed that was true. “Yes, Bobbin! And you are the first to behold it with mortal eyes.” I’d already assumed that this swan was likely to be my mother Cygna, and our conversation soon confirmed this also. “The Elders forbade me to set foot on Loom island. But they said nothing about flying over it! Once a year, I managed to gain enough strength to pass Inside for a few brief moments. Those are the times that you saw me. In life, I was Lady Cygna Threadbare. Banished by the Elders for drawing an unforeseen infant out of the Loom. Seventeen long years ago. I’ve missed you... my son.” I knew this to be true, having listened to the audio tape that accompanied the game, but Bobbin was not so sure. Cygna explained that Dame Hetchel had no doubt hidden the truth from Bobbin to protect him, just as she was still trying to protect him even now.

OK, you simply must be a villain! No sane person says that!

While I didn't tear up, this scene was quite moving.

Bobbin put his disbelief aside momentarily, suddenly concerned for the safety of the woman that had raised him. Cygna’s response would not have put him at ease. “She has set off for the island, and the Loom Sanctuary. The Dead Ones are right behind her! Their leader knows of the Loom’s power. If he learns its secrets, the Pattern itself will be his to manipulate. Who knows what havoc he might wreak? Hetchel hopes to reach the Loom before him. She intends to destroy it! If Chaos doesn’t consume her first.” Distressed, Bobbin set off to save Hetchel, but Cygna told him not to be too hasty. “The Dead Ones move between the holes your Bishop friend made in the Pattern. If you repair those holes, it will make it harder for them to follow you.” Cygna gave me no instructions for “repairing” the holes, yet since Healing had been so successful of late, I set out to try weaving it on each of the rips in the Pattern. It worked, with each of the holes closing up as I weaved the draft on them. I was rewarded for this work with the note B beneath my distaff. This didn’t put any previously unavailable drafts at my disposal, since I knew of none that contained the B thread, but it did bring me just one step away from being able to weave a Transcendence draft! With all the holes patched up, I returned to the Shore of Wonder and beyond the pond, as suggested by Cygna.

My Healing draft was seriously overused by now. Was I just ignoring the alternatives?

"...it's over now, the music of the night..."

Just past the pond I found another rip in the pattern, and this one took me to the cemetery where I’d scared the rabbit way back in session one. When I left the screen I was shown the anvil shaped storm front, now very close to the island of Loom. The Dead Ones were arriving! Suddenly I was inside the guild hall, standing in front of the Loom. When I clicked on it, the Transcendence draft was played, and then Dame Hetchel (still in swan form) flew into the room. Chaos was right behind her, and chased her around, swinging the Great Scythe over and over. “Bobbin! Get your distaff ready! There’s not a moment to lose! You must unmake the Loom. NOW, Bobbin. Before the Dead Ones take control!” I didn’t know how I was supposed to “unmake” the loom, and neither did Bobbin. When he said as much, Chaos spoke: “It is just as well, young Weaver. Birds and children have no business wielding such power. My informants told me that all of the Weavers had fled. I see they were mistaken. Destiny has been kind, my young friend. You will live to pass on your Guild’s secrets to others more worthy of the knowledge. In return, you will be allowed to serve my new empire as advisor. Naturally, I expect your full cooperation in this historic exchange of goodwill. Anything less will risk harm to our relationship.”

Excuse me!

Yep! We're all screwed now!

What exactly do you want me to do to this guy? Actually, this would have been a good time to reverse the Sharpening draft...

The close-ups of Chaos were both horrifying and awe-inspiring! The first thing that came to mind was Maleficent, the witch from The Sleeping Beauty, which isn’t surprising given the game designers' love of the movie. Hetchel began to tell me the threads required to unmake the Loom, but just as she was about to begin, Chaos weaved a Silence draft on her. The little black swan continued to talk to me, but I couldn’t hear anything she said. I paused to open the Book of Patterns: “Silence was hailed as a welcome relief for first-time parents and dwellers in college dormitories. Unfortunately, our Guildmembers are too often hired to spin these threads in situations of doubtful appropriateness. The worst offender is the Guild of Conductors whose members frequently impose a draft of Silence over their audience before a concert.” While Chaos instructed me to teach him how to use the Loom, I tried to figure out how to give Hetchel back her voice. I realised that I should be able to reverse the Silence draft, but I’d not recorded the threads as Chaos had weaved them! Then I remembered that the Loom records the last draft weaved, so clicking on it repeated the draft. I selected Hetchel and reversed it, giving her back her voice! She immediately demanded I unmake the Loom quickly, but still wouldn’t tell me the threads I needed to do so. Chaos spoke: “Ducks are meant to be eaten. Not heard.” He weaved another draft, and Hetchel was seemingly cooked on the spot.

It would take a brave man to mess with this dude!

I'm so going to use this at work tomorrow!

I couldn't find a KFC draft anywhere in the Book of Patterns.

I’m not actually certain which draft this was. Nothing in the Book of Patterns stands out as a likely candidate. Regardless, I once again reversed Chaos’ draft, and successfully turned Hetchel back into a swan. She then spoke to Chaos: “Begone from this chamber, Evil one. The Loom shall never be yours! This boy holds the power to destroy it!” When Bobbin expressed his doubt, Hetchel told him to be quiet. “Ssh! Close your eyes now, little Bobbin. But keep your ears open!” What did that mean? I found out soon enough. Chaos had finally had enough of the little bird and weaved a draft that appeared to destroy her utterly. All that was left was a single feather, which drifted slowly to the floor. All of this matched the visions I’d seen earlier in the game, with a swan, followed by a cooked bird, followed by a single feather, so I knew this had always been destined to occur. Had Hetchel sacrificed herself so that Chaos would weave the Unmaking draft? I looked up the draft to see what the Book of Patterns had to say. “Novices are often impatient to acquire the undeniably dramatic ability to Unmake physical objects. Luckily, these volatile threads lie well beyond the grasp of all but the most mature spellweavers. Entire armies can and have been disembodied by the transawesome power of Unmaking. Let us hope we are never again called upon to demonstrate our craft in this manner.”

Oh crap! This is like that scene in The Exorcist where she floats off the bed!

Clearly I had been, and it was now time to utilise my transawesome power to Unmake the Loom. I did so, ripping the pattern apart in the process! My mother Cygna flew Inside, proclaiming my victory. “Bobbin! Bobbin, you did it! The Loom is unmade, beyond Evil’s reach!” Chaos was none too happy of course, going on a lengthy rant: “Ignorant fools! What have you done? None of us can pass across this rift your Weaver mischief has so blindly created! Your pious meddling has foiled my dream of an eternal empire, bound together under One Rule... Mine!” Cygna affirmed that those on the Outside will always remain trapped there now that the pattern had been torn in half. This both saddened her and filled her with hope, as there was now a chance to begin a new Pattern. One that has been cleansed of wickedness! She asked me to take my place among them, and I noticed that I now had the final note that I needed to weave Transcendence. I stepped out into the void, and once on the other side, I did what I’d assumed would need to be done. I cast Transcendence on myself, and was transformed into a swan. Chaos called out as I flew away: “Fly away while you can, Weaver boy. One day we will meet again!” The game closed with my mother, the Elders and I flying away from Loom, seemingly carrying the beginnings of the new pattern with us. My feelings about all this!? I’ll let you know in the Final Rating post.

This was so transawesome, you could see it from space!

I'm always a sucker for good symmetry, and this game is full of it. Beautiful!


Game 37: Complete!

Session Time: 0 hours 45 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes


  1. >My Healing draft was seriously overused by now. Was I just ignoring the alternatives?

    The alternative solution for should be obvious: Pnfg gur Bcravat qensg va erirefr.

    >I’m not actually certain which draft this was.

    Probably the Shaping draft.

    The Glassmakers' reasoning for not using the scythe was another of the only genuine improvements in the talkie version IMO. There they talked about becoming as feared as them, not "cowardly", and there was an attempt to defend the scythe that failed because "we were not warriors".

    When I and my family played this, it was in expert mode, so Chaos weaving Unmaking on Mandible didn't seem any different (in easier modes, you don't get the usual visual aid on that moment). We wrote it down, figured out it was the Unmaking draft, and tried it on the Loom as soon as we got there. Bobbin claimed he didn't know that draft. Thus Hetchel sacrificing herself to give a draft we already knew seemed contrived.

    1. The talkie version also expounds a bit on Bobbin being able to simply 'Heal' Rusty back alive. Stating that essentially, healing his body was the super easy part, but he could only be resurrected fully because his soul was present to be reunited with the body on the physical plane. I'd definitely consider that an improvement over 'You were hurt. I healed you. That's all.'

    2. I don't think ROT13 is needed, man. The game's over.

    3. Kenny: Others might be playing along and want to find it for themselves.

    4. Jarikith: Ehh, to me that felt that the talkie writers wanted to downplay and rationalise what is essentially a miracle. The exchange reads like a fan explanation. Bobbin is the Loom-child after all, who knows what the limits of his powers may be. Just like I said earlier, it's unnecessarily explaining things (I generally like it better when things are left somewhat mysterious). But that's just my opinion.

      Kenny: Just as Canageek said. Also, I don't post any solutions in plaintext, just in case.

  2. "I realised that I should be able to reverse the Silence draft, but I’d not recorded the threads as Chaos had weaved them! Then I remembered that the Loom records the last draft weaved, so clicking on it repeated the draft."

    This is where I was stuck all the way back in the first post and thought I'd hit a dead-end. I'd forgotten (or not realised) that the Loom remembers the last draft weaved.

    I also used 'close' on the rifts instead of 'heal"

  3. That moment when ghost Rusty changes his expression to that terrifying face always freaked me the hell out. I guess there's just so many things that keep you from expecting it. Rusty's been a very nice character up till now and you wouldn't expect becoming a ghost to have that much of an effect on him. Also while the close-ups generally do have some animation it's very limited, full expression changes are rare. The change itself is relatively subtle, it's not a screamer or an over the top horror movie moment, just a regular face turning into a face that's still human, but one step closer toward monster. Makes it feel like it would get much worse in a moment if you didn't make things right.

    Definitely one of my favorite moments in Loom.

  4. Now I just feel like your taunting me with these continual Star Wars references. Like the Phantom of the Opera one.
    I must say I really enjoyed this game and its unique way of playing, but found the end of the story completely rushed and thrown in from left field. It was almost like "oh no we've spent so much time setting this up we've run out of time and only have ten minutes left. Oh well, let's just kill the big bad with a new one from nowhere (possibly literally) and give the whole story a Pandora's Box element."
    I went from full enjoyment to quite a bit of disappointment, even though many people had said it finished suddenly, I was really only expecting a bit of a cliff hanger, which we unfortunately got quite significantly as well.

    1. Star Wars is just so easy to reference. I'm really not doing it intentionally!

      Did you figure out why I chose the Phantom reference when I did?

    2. Because you've "passed the point of no return", or because the whole game has music by Tchaikovsky giving it a classical feel, and Phantom of the Opera is one of the most classical style operas from the current time, or because in 1990 when Loom was released there was (at least as I remember it) a really bad Phantom of the Opera mini series released staring Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) as the Phantom. Or possibly you just have good taste in musical theatre

    3. Or perhaps it's because Bobbin had just learned the "B" thread at that point, and the highest note in Music of the Night is "A". (Heh, not likely a real reason, but a bit of trivia I happen to know that because I did a solo of it in our choral group's last concert.)

      But really... Bobbin is a bit like the Phantom. Here he is in a robe, floating outside the Pattern. And when Cobb looked at him, it reminded me of the line, "Those who have seen your face draw back in fear..."

      Draconius: My voice teacher loves the Charles Dance version of Phantom and made me watch it. It's a bit overblown, but actually tells the story very well and is arguably better than the most recent film. Not as good as the theatrical version by Andrew Lloyd Webber, but it's really the music that makes that one so good. If you haven't seen it, check out the 25th Anniversary version of Phantom - The stage sets and effects are amazing.

    4. Doh! Sand person... shepherd... I bounced these back and forth several times but I never got the reference. :-( The "sand person" was so scary to me as a little kid. And it was my first action figure from the original run!

      Also lol @ the line to use at work. Sounds like classic Dilbert.

    5. Corey: I sang a solo of it too at a wedding. I couldn't stand the recent film, I don't know why it fell so flat, but I do love the 25th anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall. By the way, now we know you can sing, you have to voice a singing character in your next game

  5. And going back to the Loom/7th Guest 3 kickstarter connection, George Sanger (The Fat Man) who did music for Loom has agreed to have his iconic 7th Guest and 11th Hour music in the 7th Guest 3!


    Unfortunately the kickstarter isn't doing too well at the moment. Hopefully an article on one of the big gaming sites will come soon and bring with it a lot of funds.

  6. By the way, adventure game fans should also take a look at the Bolt Riley campaign on Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/soundguy/bolt-riley-a-reggae-adventure-game). It is having a very tough time, and it is a labor of love for Oded Sharon's Adventure Mob in Israel; Oded says they will have to shut down if the campaign fails. Lori and I contributed to the design (although not as much as you'd think from reading the description :-)). We helped work out the overall story and came up with puzzles and dialogue for about one-third of the game.

  7. Aaaand I finished Loom today. Been so busy over the last few weeks that it's not even funny.

    I love how the game keeps giving you opportunities for solving puzzles with different solutions. Instead of having to play step by step how the designers thought, there's plenty of places where different stuff works. Adding to that the atmosphere, the background story, the feeling of distinctly separate locations between the different guilds and it ends up as one of my favorite adventure games, despite the short length and somewhat rushed ending. It won't be the last time I play it, even though it was the first.

    I finished it in Expert mode as well. It added another layer of difficulty to figuring out the different weaves and threads, but due to the general low difficulty of the game it was a welcome one. I never got stuck, but came close once because I forgot you could look at objects and sometimes get new drafts. And so I spent a fair bit of time trying to locate the Twisting weave before I remembered and just looked at the waterspout. :|

    Is it just me, or does anybody else find the number of similarities to Doctor Who really odd? You have the central tent that's bigger on the inside (TARDIS), the fixes-all-problems sonic tool (distaff/sonic screwdriver), the rifts in space and time, and not to forget that the Time Lords are not born but woven on Looms to create new life, just like Bobbin himself.

    1. Now that you mention it, Brian Moriarty does look a bit like Tom Baker ;)

      Seriously, space-time rifts occur in other scifi than just Doctor Who, and I'd suppose mythological tales combining singing/music and magic were probably more important source for Loom's music/magic-system. The use of Loom in creating Time Lords is the most important similarity, but wasn't the concept introduced only in the novels after the original show was cancelled (in the nineties)? Well, perhaps the writers had played Loom...

    2. Yeah, the earliest mention I can find was in a novel in 1992, two years after the release of Loom.

      Of course you can find examples of all these elements in many different stories, sagas and universes, it's just the number of similarities that struck me.

    3. Loom came up with it first. 'Nuff said.

    4. The Looms were in the final Further Adventures novel Lungbarrow, however the story of Lungbarrow, including the Looms, was originally submitted for what ended up being the final season of the original series in 1989. The story was reworked into the story Ghostlight which didn't include the looms. So yes, wasn't published until after Loom but was in existence

    5. In fact (and this is a subject I'm passionate about) the Fourth Doctor makes several references to having been born. I don't buy the looming thing; it always seemed contrived.

  8. There's a new adventure game on GOG!

    Dragon Lore: The Legend Begins

    Anyone played it?

  9. Yeah, I bet I still have the box somewhere. Odd combination of adventure and RPG. As you traveled, you encountered other Dragon Knights. You're trying to win their votes to become part of the Dragon Knights or something. You had a meter that kind of represented your alignment as to how you solved puzzles. One way leaned towards brute force and the other toward intuition. By trying to stay balanced, you had a better chance of winning the votes of the Dragon Knights.

    I'm paraphrasing; it's been a long time since I've played this game and I probably have some of the stuff slightly wrong. It was also famous for taking up 590k of conventional memory. I had a custom boot disk that loaded necessary drivers into upper memory just to play this game.

    I also did a 2nd play through where I tried to kill all the Dragon Knights. It was going well until I put down a needed item and it kinda slingshotted across the room. I never found it again.

    Not the greatest game in the world. It was a neat attempt at first person, 3D graphics, and digital sound. It was a CD title. Still, the sum total was pretty lackluster.

    1. Your description fits the sequel. I don't think the 1st title in the series is so expanded. In my personal rating they are one of the worst adventure games I've ever played.

  10. Finally took the time to catch up! I've not been wanting to even look at Firefox as I've got so many papers open that I should really read.

    Anyway, here we go, based on that link I was given:
    A screen by screen walkthrough of the non-talky, but beautiful FM-Towns version: If you thought looked looked good on DOS, be prepared to be blown away. http://home.comcast.net/~ervind/loomscreens1.html Apparently this version also has CD quality music tracks.

    There is also a fair bit of unused Loom stuff on the PC version: http://home.comcast.net/~ervind/loomcdalt.html

    There were also some differences between the demo put out, the version shown in a TV show about technology, and a screenshots in the Lucasarts catalog: http://home.comcast.net/~ervind/loommisc.html

    The cut content has also been hosted at The Cutting Room Floor, a wiki dedicated to such things. Probably a good decision, given that the other address is someones personal comcast site. http://tcrf.net/Loom

    1. I don't actually think the FM-Towns version looks that good. A lot of the shading is really blurry and ugly, and there's a lot of gross gradients and dirty artifacts. Some parts fare better than others, but overall I think it looks bad. The original is really crisp and the flat colors really work for the Sleeping Beauty style they were going for. I think this was a problem with a lot of early VGA games, everybody got all excited about the extra colors and didn't exercise restraint. It's also a port, and it looks like the people tracing the original graphics were mostly just doing a very workmanlike job and ended up with stuff like this lifeless Shore of "Wonder" scene: http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b241/ATMachine/loomfmt/loomtowns98.png

      More colors and higher resolution doesn't automatically mean better graphics, just look at the Secret of Monkey Island remake.

    2. Canageek: Same person, ATMachine, posted also info about a removed room and early background art (along with stuff from other games than Loom), in the Aventure Gamers forum.

      Tymoguin: Agreed. To a lesser extent, I also think Monkey Island 1's VGA update lost some of the EGA's art direction in the translation. And I didn't even play the EGA version until a couple years ago.

    3. I've never played the EGA version of Monkey Island, but I saw you talking about how nice it looked in a previous comment thread and now I'm thinking once Trickster gets there I'm going to play the EGA version along with him, regardless of the version he ends up playing. I've played Monkey Island so many times and that seems like a way to add some more novelty to the experience, even though I know I'll have tons of fun replaying it either way.

    4. Tymoguin: I'm going to have to disagree: Compare what Trickster posted here: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-4zYsjPFKGFA/UoIGUI-j16I/AAAAAAAAJAA/LzfxNjZ303U/s1600/scummvm00670.png with the VGA version: http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b241/ATMachine/loomcd/loomcdpic45.png

      The swan is coloured much more nicely, the removed the hideous purple-pink from the columns and made them much nicer looking, chaos looks much more subtle and scary, and doesn't blend into the background nearly as much, and they changed the floor to a nice gradiant rather then an eye-bleedingly ugly purple checker-board pattern.

      Also what is wrong with the shore of wonder you posted? It looks a hell of a lot better then the original;

      I agree, the blue colour scheme was a bit nicer, but I see why they changed it (To make Bobbin stand out from the background more). The circles also improve, from the horrible, pixel-tastic bleh rings they were, to a nice, diffuse nebula like set of rings. The stars also gain a sense of being far away, rather then the nonsense they were, which looked like they were scattered around the rings, which would make Bobbin and the Swans have more mass then the entire planet they were just on. The trees could have been better, I agree; in the original they look like crystal weeping willows, in the newer one they just look dead.

      That said, I hear these were rather work-in-progress vs the PC version that eventually came out.

      I really don't get how you guys look at EGA graphics. To me they just look horrible, like a colour-blind kid decided to try and draw everything in MacPaint or whatever that thing I used on my elementary schools Macs was. VGA is the first time you have enough colours to actually make things look pretty, though I still maintain there wasn't a truly good looking game until, hmmm, late 90s? Myst amazed me at the time, but Baldur's Gate is the first game I remember thinking looked good, and the oldest game I can look at and still not think looks ugly (Of course, I'm replaying it right now, so it is being brought to mind).

    5. I played the FM-Towns version and I have to say, compared to the screenshots I've seen here that version definitely looked better to me. I'm still amazed at how well they did the art within the limits of EGA, but IMO the VGA ones are an order of magnitude better. The closeups of Fleece and Rusty are obvious examples to me.

  11. I'll join the EGA playthrough group. Although I always preferred the VGA remakes (due to my age, release timing coinciding with purchase power, and general availability in stores), I think the Monkey Island EGA is particularly beautiful.

    1. I love the VGA age of the early painted adventure games. But the EGA ones has a ageless quality over them when done properly that just hits me right in the nostalgia. And Loom is definitely one of them, even if I've never played it until now.

    2. If by ageless you mean 'terrible', sure. I really think you guy's nostalgia is giving you some very, VERY rose-coloured glasses here. I mean, sure, it looks better then anything we've seen so far, but it looks far from good. You've got some excellent art direction here, but you can see it being shackled by a limited colour pallet and pixel size.

    3. Some example screenshots:

      Baldur's Gate (The first one; You can tell by the grey stone UI; BGII had a wood one, and BG:EE has a blue one.) http://moarpowah.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Baldurs-Gate-dialogue.png and http://gamereviewgroup.com/scrImages/baldurs-gate_2_orig.jpg
      The windmill LOOKS like a windmill. The water actually flows. The rain...ok, the rain looks terrible today. But the furniture looks like something I could actually sit in, not a bunch of vaugly chair-shaped pixels.

      Myst....HOLY COW. I mean, look at it! http://www.mystjourney.com/img/main-myst.jpg I was *blown* away when it came out. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d0/Myst-library_and_ship.jpg Look! It is a ship in a fountain! That looks like a ship! When I went into the power station it felt creepy and real. Anything EGA just looks fake and primitive.

      That said the best looking game ever made is still Baten Kaitos due to the painted backgrounds: http://cubemedia.ign.com/cube/image/article/730/730644/baten-kaitos-origins-20060905052706571.jpg http://www.abload.de/img/563b5959a2ab4afbb242eflxik.jpg (It looks a lot better on TV: These all seem to be either run through an emulator or taken with bad screenshot software (Or a lot of them have been taken with a camera, so you can see the TV refreshing, bleh), but you can see the excellent art direction and painted backgrounds.

    4. I say we play in CGA! Just four colors in glorious low-res and we'll experience it like real men did back then! Who's with me??

      Er... guys?

    5. Well, for me back then meant an Amiga, which had 4096 colours. :)

    6. Charles: And one of those has to be magenta. Because the decision to include that as one of the colours computers could do easily was a GREAT one.

    7. @Canageek: of course! You had two 4-color modes to choose from. Cyan+Magenta was the preferred one as it was more "pleasant" than Bright Green+Bright Red. Few games dared with the latter, it was so grating on the eye. Other games tried combining them to varied effect (Alley Cat comes to mind).

      @TBD: Oh you were one of *those* guys. How I envied your kind! First time I saw Monkey Island on an Amiga I just couldn't believe my eyes (nor my ears). And then I had to go back to silent Magenta-land. *shakes fist* :-D

    8. Charles: I meant, why did the people writing the CGA standard pick Cyan+Magenta, rather then say Red+Green or Red+Blue? Or you know, anything BUT magenta.

    9. AFAIK, it's a matter of economy. CGA had a full 16 color palette available for text modes, but RAM limitations dictated only 4 colors for graphics. The two official 4-color palettes were extracted from the full-color palette using simple operations on the bit value of the original 16 colors. As to why magenta EXISTS at all in the main palette, well CGA was RGB-based and magenta is created by combining equal amounts of blue and red.

      So I guess it all comes down to an unfortunate series of circumstances rather than choice :-)

    10. You're correct Charles. It all comes down to technical limitations and the amount of memory it would cost to actually have a full palette mapping for each pixel.

      If you want to know the particulars of the technical shizzle wizzle this is a good read: http://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?p=72267&highlight=shl#72267

      @Charles, palette 1 on the CGA mode (palette 0 is the default cyan/magenta) is the green/red one. If I remember correctly games like Frogger and Bubble Bobble used the red/green one, and honestly I'd prefer the cyan/magenta mode. :p

    11. Eh, the last paragraph was a reply to Canageek, not Charles. ;)

    12. Charles: It was noted that you could get other colours by using right bitwise shift instead....but that is really cool to know. I always wondered why you would pick those colours.

    13. As a person who is often willing to "stick the graphics where sun don't shine", as they said in Infocom, I find this discussion rather amusing. And especially as I am not really into realist painting, windmill looking like a windmill is just not enough.

      As for gaming purposes, EGA is in some turn-based strategy and CRPG games just right. It doesn't hurt your eyes, like CGA. It has colours and details enough, so that the characters, different types of environment etc. can be distinguished - and indeed, more colours and more details would often just distract from the game play. A game like Ultima IV is just perfect in its graphical simplicity in this account. I see a game screen and I can instantly say a) where I am, b) what monsters there are roaming about, c) what obstacles of movement there are, d) what's the best escape route etc. Land me in some modern equivalent and I am completely lost in a land full of all sorts of pretty details, which just hinder my sense of direction, like a map too fancy to be of any use,

    14. Ilmari: Have a look at Battle Fro Wesnoth. That is what I think modern games should look like.

    15. I looked at couple of screenshots. Hard to make informative judgement, when I don't know what all the terrains and units are meant to be, but here's just few remarks. Personally, I'd prefer a more "flat" perspective, at least for the terrain squares (units and prominent land marks, like towns, can stand out). Especially the more forested areas were a bit difficult for my eyes, which were constantly engaged with bluish trees that stood out of the otherwise green background. Furthermore, the trees made it a bit difficult to distinguish individual hexes - some versions had hexes marked, so I assume this problem can be circumvented.

      As for units, I'd really have to familiarize myself with the game, but if a dwarf with a woolly hat is a different unit from a dwarf with a horned hat, I'd say that goes into too small details. I'd probably learn to distinguish them in time, but there would be a steep learning curve.

      Of course, this is all just my preferences- I can see that the producers have made some great effort, so I definitely don't want to say that it's absolutely horrible. My point has been all the time, that these things are quite subjective - what pleases one person is bland or even ugly for another.

    16. Really, I find that old games have more of this problem, as all the sprites look so similar. Oh, that guy has a pink hat, while that one has a red one. There are so few pixels to work with it gets hard to tell them apart. Whereas in more modern games (Battle for Wesnoth, Fire Emblem, etc) you can use larger sprites or models and thus change them more.

  12. I didn't scroll down far enough! There was also Mac and Tubogrphics16 versions!

    Mac: http://home.comcast.net/~ervind/loommac.html
    This one looks a little worse then the EGA version I think: they've made things look more purple, though I think they smoothed thing out a tiny bit? It is hard to tell since the screenshots are different sizes. Overall this version is pretty ugly, though the text is much high resolution, which is nice.

    PC Engine (AKA the TurboGrafx-16): http://home.comcast.net/~ervind/loompce.html
    This is a middle version; It is only 64 colours, which means while they fixed some things (No checkerboard textures in the opening scene, less janky purple columns in the weaving room) but not to the point of the FM-TOWNS version (Which had actual gradiants instead of lines of giant pixels, and removed all the damn purple from the columns in the weaving room.) It's Shore of Wonder screen is the blue of the original, not the purple of the FM-TOWNS. Though, some of the dialog screens are butt-ugly, with the person blending into the background due to poor colour choices. (Don't put a red person in front of a red screen! How hard is this?)