Thursday, 5 April 2018

Game 95: Quest for Glory III: Wages of War (1992) - Introduction

by Alex



Is it an adventure game? Is it an RPG? Who put that peanut butter in my chocolate?

That’s right, it’s time for another Quest for Glory game to be featured on The Adventure Gamer. And I am humbled to be in the position of playing through one of my all-time favorite adventure games ever, Quest for Glory III: Wages of War.

The Quest for Glory series and its creators, Lori and Corey Cole, are familiar to readers of this blog. Corey is, in fact, a regular commenter here.(While you’re at it, check out their new forthcoming crowdfunded adventure game, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption.)




The Quest for Glory games, published by Sierra On-Line, combine the 3-D, puzzle-based adventure game stylings of Sierra’s other games like King’s Quest and Police Quest with RPG elements like character classes, the importance of conversation with NPCs, completing quests, statistics and attributes that can be increased through regular use, grinding for money to purchase equipment and spells, and combat.



Even better, depending on which character class one chooses--fighter, magic user, or thief, or a hybrid with elements of two or three classes--there are alternate solutions to various puzzles. For example, in Quest for Glory I, in order to get the seed of the Spore-Spitting Spirea, that the plants spit through the air, a fighter will throw rocks at it, while a magic user will cast the Fetch spell.



Oops. *SPOILER ALERT*

What's more, some puzzles in Quest for Glory games have different solutions even for the same character. Here’s another example from the same puzzle discussed above: the thief can either throw rocks at the seed to knock it out of the air or climb the rocks to catch the seed.

Dang it, I did it again.. *SPOILER ALERT*

Even cooler are actual role-playing choices that affect various story elements, and the ability to import your character from the completed game into the new one, sometimes with stat boosts and items you can’t get anywhere else. “Innovative” doesn’t begin to describe this series.

Quest for Glory III was the game that almost wasn’t. The Coles had planned the Quest for Glory series as a tetralogy (a pretentious word for “a series of four”) with each game representing a season, a cardinal direction, a specific type of mythology, and one of the four classical elements of antiquity: Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire.


“Heart” unavailable for comment.

Quest for Glory I: So You Want To Be A Hero? represents spring, north, Germanic mythology, and the element of Earth. Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire represents summer, south, Arabian mythology, and fire. Quest for Glory III was originally going to be called Shadows of Darkness, and was to represent fall, east, Slavic mythology, and air, with Quest for Glory IV: Dragon Fire rounding things out by representing winter, west, Greek mythology, and water.

The ending of Trial by Fire famously previewed Shadows of Darkness, which later became Quest for Glory IV for a variety of reasons.



According to interviews with the Coles--and Corey, please feel free to jump in if I’m misquoting or misunderstanding anything here--they felt that both the hero and players wouldn’t be ready for the dangers and atmosphere of Shadows of Darkness:

"In terms of role-playing aspects," said Corey, "Shadows of Darkness is going to be a very difficult game. You'll have very tough opposition from the very beginning of the game."

"Also," said Lori, "you'll be very much alone. In Trial by Fire you had a lot of friends to help you. You always had a place to go back to rest. You always had a place of safety until the very end of the game. Once you get into Shadows of Darkness, you're not going to have any sanctuary. You won't be able to trust anyone, because nobody will trust you.

"Wages of War is the bridge," she continues. "You start with people you know to help you along in the beginning. But when push comes to shove, you're the one who's on his own, who has to solve the ultimate mystery. As you go along, just when you think you're all alone, your allies come back to you, but you have to face the final challenge by yourself."

And so, Wages of War was slotted into the mix to serve as a bridge between Trial by Fire and Shadows of Darkness. Set in the kingdom of Tarna in the eastern part of the continent of Fricana, Wages of War gives players a fascinating, oft-unseen world to explore: One based on African mythology and folklore. From the Egypt-inspired city of Tarna, with a distinctly north African flavor, to the village of the nomadic, savannah-dwelling Simbani people and the deep-jungle shapeshifting Leopardmen, Quest for Glory III creates a world that you want to visit yourself.





I suppose that Wages of War still represents south (Fricana is south of Shapier, after all) and late summer, or maybe early fall (it takes place three months after Trial by Fire). The idea is to ease the player into an unfriendly, paranoid situation by providing a world where there are old friends from previous games there to help the hero as he journeys towards complete mastery of this whole adventuring thing.
Wages of War was unique and blew my mind when I first played it as an eleven-year-old used to fantasy set in quasi-medieval Europe. As geeky as this sounds, when I went to South Africa in 2015, I couldn’t help but relate things to this game: the landscape and animals I saw while on a safari, the traditional clothing, the warrior culture . .

(Yes, I know, South Africa and the surrounding countries are very different from the north and east African regions that inspired Wages of War. So sue me.)

Further, Wages of War--nearly called Seekers of the Lost City due to another forthcoming game called Wages of War that had a trademark (flashbacks to the legal issues surrounding the Hero’s Quest/Quest for Glory naming controversy, and my goodness I’ve had enough of legal issues for one blog!) --is the first new Quest for Glory game designed using Sierra’s then-new 256-color, completely mouse-driven engine. As with most Sierra games of this era (and any era, really), the production values are top notch.



But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is the introduction. We’ll get into the actual game itself as these posts progress. First, I’d like to share a little personal history, as well as a fun surprise.

Quest for Glory III is the first adventure game I ever beat by myself. No fooling. I had played Sierra games with my grandfather, beating my head against Police Quest and King’s Quest III and Space Quest (and the original Larry, much to my parents’ chagrin) to no avail, though I had fun. It wasn’t until I finished Wages of War--and subsequently got my own copies of the first two Quest for Glorys and beat them--that my adventure-gaming acumen was honed to the point where I could figure out these games and beat them.



But this game’s setting, art, music, atmosphere, characters, and story really got to me. I know Wages of War is often derided as the weakest game in the series--too linear! (I disagree) too narrative and plot driven! (again, I dissent) nothing to do for the magic user! (wrong) the thief has nothing interesting to do! (okay, that one’s true)--but I don’t care. I love it anyway. As we go through this game, my hope is that you’ll understand my fondness for it a little better and perhaps reassess any negative opinions about Wages of War you might previously have held.

Or you might think I’m completely out to lunch. Either outcome is equally plausible.

As a fun bonus, I will be keeping Trickster’s grand tradition of playing through these games with Chet of The CRPG Addict fame alive by blogging through Wages of War concurrently with him! I’ll let Chet’s first post provide the details, so stay tuned at his blog (which you should be reading anyway) in the coming days for more on this. It’s going to be entertaining.

Lastly, I need to fill you in on which character class I’ll be playing. Quest for Glory II provided the opportunity to achieve the “hidden” paladin class. Now, Trickster played through as a mostly fighter hybrid, but was unable to become a paladin. In his last Trial by Fire post, Trickster wondered what he did wrong.

In light of this, I and The Adventure Gamer’s administers, decided it would be best for me to play a character through the first two games and become a paladin, highlighting what Trickster missed, and going through Wages of War as that class. Think of it as my homage to Trickster’s wishes.


Or you can just, you know, choose to be a paladin.

Strap on your adventuring gear, grab your mosquito repellent, and get ready to enter the exciting, wondrous world of East Fricana as we dig in to Quest for Glory III: Wages of War!

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: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 20 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.

48 comments:

  1. 52 (Same score as the VGA remake of 1)

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  2. Wow I have a lot of typos in here.

    Ilmari, I may send you a corrected version of this soon...

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  3. A game I actually have played and really enjoyed. Wizard all the way :) But I'm gonna go with 60.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Wizard gets better and better. By the time you get to QfG V, you’re a staff-wielding, death-dealing, one man whirlwind of destruction.

      I like the Wizard side-quests in QfG 3 a lot. Are you going to play along?

      Delete
    2. Best part of the wizards are the MAGIC DUELS OF DEATH (as I call them), but I feel that in at least QfG IV the (I would assume) the stressed development cycle unfortunately hampered the wizard due to the specific bugs that seems to be associated with the class. Sadly I haven't played QfG V, but maybe I will be set up when the blog comes there. But III worked up to the end with only minor problems.

      And I unfortunately don't have the time to play along at this moment due to going out of town.

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    3. Well I hope you have a safe trip and vicariously enjoy my and Chet’s journeys through Tarna.

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  4. Replies
    1. And will likely be more accurate than weathermen, stock analysts, sports prognosticators, and professional pollsters combined!

      Delete
  5. I'm more optimistic than all of you. I'm going to say 70.

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  6. Great opening, Alex! You made me realize that I assumed to much about my readers' prior knowledge of QFG1 and QFG2; I forgot to stop and explain the hybrid nature and why it fits both of our categories.

    I look forward to your next one. Hey, as a paladin do you start with that flaming sword?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, never mind. I just remembered that you have to give that back.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Chet!

      Voluntarily giving Rakeesh his sword back, as agreed, is actually a precondition to becoming a paladin.

      Delete
  7. I'm gonna guess 62 for the score, I love this game and even enjoy playing it as a thief, I think the criticism of the thief route is only partially valid but I'm sure we'll get to that as we continue.

    I'll be playing through, and importing my QFG2 character to see if I can get all those maxed out points, but will mostly be playing as a magic user because I think the best two ways to play QFG3 are either as Paladin or Wizard.

    I hope everyone playing along enjoys their journey, including the wonderful art and music which add so much to this great game.

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    Replies
    1. Right on Andy!

      Re: the thief, I just think there was a lot left on the table that he could’ve done. Ah well. The thief is pretty rockin’ in IV and V.

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    2. I've always preferred the thief in QFG - who wouldn't enjoy playing a stealthy, conniving burglar? Plotwise, I had not that much to complain - sure there weren't that many fiscal opportunities, but the thief solution to one plot point was just awesome. The problem was more that my usual "sneak, throw some daggers and run, if it isn't dead" -strategy didn't work that well in the desert.

      I'll guess 69.

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    3. Ilmari,

      I agree. Throwing daggers at enemies in QfG II was a bit wonky. And there aren’t many places to hide in the desert...

      Delete
  8. That will be interesting. Paladin also! My guess is... 59 !

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    Replies
    1. Always great when people play along!

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  9. Oh , everyone guessed all my numbers, I'll go for 63

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  10. I'll guess 66. I think Alex's optimism will result in a score slightly higher than QFG2. I'm very much looking forward to reading these dual accounts.

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    Replies
    1. Hmm we’ll see! I’m sure in some categories it’ll rank higher...but I shall try to be as objective as possible.

      Delete
  11. I've long felt that the QfG games are more than the sum of their parts. A commenter on Chet's site mentioned the "heart" of these games, and I agree with his sentiment that the games make you care about the characters and want to help them ( at least in a way that maybe RPG's usually don't ). Maybe we should introduce a "Heart" score as well. PISSHED, anyone?

    Counting on Alex's nostalgia to come through here. 74

    PS: Regarding the elements, everyone knows that the fifth element is pizza ( http://questforglory.wikia.com/wiki/Pizza )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As awesome as PISSHED sounds (is it slurred, or are we calling someone a “piss hed”?) I’m not changing a thing. Maybe we can roll it into another factor?

      Re: my nostalgia—I will be objective and in-line with past precedent, as I try to do with all my ratings. Fear not! (Famous last words).

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    2. I've always felt "the heart" or the X factor of an adventure game should be placed in the E category, but others might disagree with me.

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  12. I'm going to go with 72, QfG was my favourite Sierra series as a kid and #3 was my favourite of the bunch, for pretty much the same reason as Alex, because it was the first Sierra game I finished without outside help.

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    Replies
    1. Awesome Ziggi! It’s a game that really sticks with you, isn’t it?

      (I’ll be objective, I swear.)

      Delete
    2. Let those feelings of nostalgia wash over you Alex, come over to the dark...err... subjective side.

      Delete
    3. Don’t tempt me Ziggi...

      Delete
  13. Because I don't have time to give a considered guess due to using all my adventure-gaming-concentration into giving a considered rating to another game, I'll give the unconsidered guess of 58!

    And I still plan on playing along, despite not getting around to playing QFG2 yet.

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  14. I'll guess 65 as I see in the sidebar that many games have ended up there. :-) This is the only Quest for Glory I experienced mostly as a player. I worked with Lori on the initial concept, but then Sierra hid me away in a room to work on Sega Genesis CD conversions, so I didn't get back onto Quest for Glory III until very late in the project. Anyway, I loved the game. :-)

    As for why we were "concerned" about a dark, high-paranoia game right after Quest for Glory II, it's because we did educational games (Castle of Dr. Brain and Mixed-Up Fairy Tales) between them. We thought two years would be a very long time for players to wait. In hindsight, that was a silly consideration and we could have gone straight into Shadows of Darkness.

    However, our friend Ellen Guon Beeman, whom we respected as a writer, explained to us why a game set in Rakeesh's homeland made sense based on clues we had inadvertently planted in Quest for Glory II. Her reasons were compelling and convinced us to make Wages of War / Seekers of the Lost City.

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    Replies
    1. Corey,

      Thanks for the input! I also read what you wrote at Chet’s blog; very interesting.

      I find that’s Wages of War slots in perfectly. Good call by Ms. Beeman! The concern for the player and the story actually doesn’t seem silly to me. You followed the storu thread where it took you, and I think the series is better for it. QfGs 4 and 5 wouldn’t be the same if there was no 4.

      Delete
    2. Sega CD conversions? I remember seeing Willy Beamish, what else came out?

      Delete
  15. That cover is clearly inspired by a Frazetta painting (lightning even strikes the sword in the title screen version):

    http://animeonly.org/Fantasy/Mix/Frank-Frazetta-Lightning-Sword-HD-29876p.html

    BTW, the painting also inspired a TV commercial, animated by a certain Richard Williams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OALIUJ-yie0

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    Replies
    1. Awesome painting, and awesome cover art! Thanks for the find.

      Delete
    2. That isn't the only Frazetta painting that inspired QFG3's art, btw: the composition of the scene in King Rajah's throne room is based on Frazetta's cover art for Lance Horner's novel Rogue Roman.

      http://www.museumsyndicate.com/images/3/25074.jpg

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    3. If you’re gonna rip someone off, might as well rip off the best.

      Delete
  16. 61 for me, I think no one has chosen it yet.

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  17. Once again Antonakis steals my initial choice of 59, so I have to go a bit lower for a 57. I checked and I only found "57" on the timestamp, so it's mine. OK? MINE

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  18. One thing to note is that, as far as I'm aware, this is the first game in the list to be specifically composed for General MIDI. As such, the sound quality is greatly dependent on the synth used and can be enhanced by using soundfonts.

    A tutorial for setting up MIDI in DOSBox (The tutorial is wrong about needing separate .conf files for different midiconfig settings - you can change it on-the-fly by entering "midiconfig X" in the DOSBox command prompt, where X is the MIDI device's number)

    For a soundfont to use, I recommend mine. :-)

    But if you're concerned for period accuracy, there exist soundfonts that mimic devices from the 90s:

    https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=45600
    https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=55060

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  19. I'll go with 64. Having played through it as a mage, I have to say I loved the mage duels and even the combat was a tad more interesting than in previous games.

    Also, the game is gorgeous :D

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    Replies
    1. Isn’t it?

      And I find it interesting that you liked the combat in III more than in II. What about it do you find superior?

      Delete
    2. Well, I don't recall much about it, which is a very good thing. Combat in one was tedious and not very rewarding as a mage (I recall I ended up fighting with the dagger.

      On the other hand, my memories of QfG2 are more concerned with how boring combat was.

      And finally, I don't have many memories of combat in QfG3, which given my previous experiences with the series is a good thing :)

      Delete