Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
02 February 2006
How not to repackage classics
My Forgotten Realms collection came in and I've started in on Pools of Darkness. Manuals for all of the games are slapped into two gigantic PDFs measuring 82Mb and 17Mb each. They're that big because they're a couple hundred pages of dithered scans of the original manuals. I guess they were going for "kwality" over "quality". Check out this map that fans should recognize from the Pools of Radiance manual:"Oh, that's not bad," you say. Right, right. Just click on it. You cannot read the words, for crying out loud!

For the love of all that's good and wholesome, people. How about you act like you actually care just once?
--Matt Matthews at 22:05
Comment [ 8 ]

Comments on this post:

How bad is it really? I was considering buying this package, since it's basically my childhood in one big box with crappy layout on the front.

But those games without proper manuals... that plain sucks.

How about the games themselves, are they still intact, or have they some issues as well (like bad transfer from floppy-disk to CD installation or something like that)?

By Anonymous Aulbath, at 03 February, 2006 15:03  

The games seem perfect copies of the originals, but I've only installed Pool of Darkness. There are shortcuts for trying to run under the DOS that comes with Windows, but I'm using DOSBox with no worries.

I will say this: the installer is Windows-based. So these aren't just ZIPs you can unpack into a directory somewhere. On GNU/Linux you might be able to use WINE, and on MacOS ...Virtual PC?

When they're installed they're just self-contained directories of files. Right after installing Pools of Darkness, I ZIPped up the directory and put it somewhere safe in case I need it again on another machine. I carry the version I'm playing around on my USB flash drive, along with a self-contained DOSBox.

Yes, the manuals are bad. The worst part about it is that the PDF is all manuals sequentially, so finding the page you want in the manual you want for the game you're playing is annoying. Don't forget: many of these game ask "find word N on page M after keyword FOO", so the manuals are REQUIRED to start a game every time.

I'm going to take some command-line tools to the PDFs to cut them up into individual manauals. Then I won't be as angry about them, but I'll still be bitter.

By Blogger jvm, at 03 February, 2006 15:19  

dcc get jvm pool_of_radiance.iso

-- the Curmudgeon Curmudgeon

By Anonymous the Curmudgeon Curmudgeon, at 04 February, 2006 01:09  

Hmm... I will go for the Box then. I think, over at they might have at least some of the manuals already (even in better quality), so, no need for splitting them all up by yourself.

It's quite a shame what they did to these classics though, I recall the old Forgotten Realms archives with that big blueish-stone textured envelope housing the CDs, plenty of artwork everywhere, and at least some printed stuff... those games just deserve some very elegant and noble packaging.

By the way, do you know wether or not the games are patched up to their latest version?

By Anonymous Aulbath, at 04 February, 2006 05:36  

No idea on latest versions. How would I know if a DOS game is patched up to the latest version? I've only played Pool of Radiance and Pools of Darkness so far, even though I have others installed.

By Blogger jvm, at 04 February, 2006 15:47  

Well, somewhere in the startmenu of those games is a version number, if I recall correctly. V1.something.

By Anonymous Aulbath, at 04 February, 2006 17:57  

Some of these collections have had real production values, to a degree.

I've a 2CD set that relied on PDF manuals. It does have real code wheels, but anything else (like word look-ups) requires checking the files.

A friend has an earlier collection that has a paperback manual compiling all the information for every game. Much more readable than PDFs, and much more handy. In the back, it has a section with all the required look-ups for each game. You don't even have to fiddle with a code wheel.

The paperback manual was a good touch. Yet if you are going to try to put some real production value into a classics collection, why not take the bit of extra effort to just disable the manual/wheel-based copy protections outright?

Then again, I've got a copy of Alpha Centauri that didn't even bother with a real tech-tree poster...

By Anonymous Baines, at 04 February, 2006 20:29  

Ok, two I believe I've checked versions on: Pool of Radiance is v1.3 and Eye of the Beholder is 1.7.

By Blogger jvm, at 04 February, 2006 21:02  

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