Jan. 12th, 2012 12:35 am
dalten_wolt: (Default)
ADOM and Masochism: A Love Letter To Myself, and the Papercut I Got Reading It

Sometimes I wonder about myself, and why I get more enjoyment out of games like ADOM than the high-budget, AAA titles of the year. Then I realize that almost no games out there right now can fuck with the player the way ADOM can. I should note quickly before I begin that, in ADOM:

1. Death is final.
2. Everything is subject to death.
3. Yes, that includes you.

I'm going to bring up an offhand list of things that just happen to me. In no particular order...

I kicked a door, was blinded, took three steps backward and blindly slaughtered an important NPC. He grants the Healing skill. It's kind of important.

I got a corrupted status in which my hands turn poison in the middle of a dead-heat battle. I didn't realize it in time, and drank a potion of poison instead of a potion of ultra healing. Died the next turn.

My most promising character in the first month rounded a corner and got insta-killed by a death ray. I checked online, and even with death ray resistance, it would have done more than enough damage to kill me at full health. Apparently, when ADOM lightly suggests that a place is out-of-depth, you should listen.

At this point, it occurs to me that nobody is going to read this. Oh well. To continue:

At one point, my two best characters died within 10 steps of each other in the first boss's room. I looked at those ten steps and thought: progress. One of them actually saw the boss.

As I absently held down the move button, I ran into a creature that curses you every time you attack it in melee. I spent the next twenty minutes running into unusually powerful monsters before finally succumbing to death. I tried praying to my god. It didn't work.

I've taken less than ten steps into the first dungeon before falling into a pit of vipers. Death at level one, no kills, no experience.

I've walked onto an altar and been sacrificed to an orc's god, which is something I usually do to orcs, but didn't expect them to do to me.

I've been disarmed by a master swordsman, after which his friend, a dwarven chaos knight, picked up my legendary artifact sword and skewered me with it.

I've pissed off my god once too often, and had my equipment turn to dust. I spent the last five minutes of life futilely boxing with ogres.

Even as I write these down, I sometimes feel they're outshined by the moments that keep me at this game. In ADOM, the player's deaths and failures only underline the triumphs. I've felt true achievement playing ADOM, even though it's effectively as meaningless as any other game.

I've pissed off my god after becoming his champion, and had a bolt of divine retribution thrown at me. I was immune to lightning, and humiliated him twice. I killed the army of spirits he sent after me to make it a good three times, with an army of the undead attacking me from behind. I was the only thing living before the fight, and the only thing moving after.

I killed several of the hardest bosses in the game on my first try using one of the non-beginner-friendly classes. Those same bosses would later go on to kill me with ease several times, but I never forgot those first struggles.

I've had my shield rusted and destroyed in the middle of a cavernous dungeon, and in order to escape alive, I took out my back-up sword and used two in tandem. Why I didn't think of doing that before, I'll never guess.

I've been poisoned and near death, with only two potions in my backpack. One was water, and the other was unidentified. I drank it in desperation. It was a cure for poison.

That last stroke of luck reminds me: I hate nothing more than dying with useful items unidentified in the inventory. That's seriously the most stressful thing. Walking around with a blessed potion of ultra healing and not knowing it is like straddling the line between life and death and not knowing your left from your right.


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January 2012

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