NEW GAME - The Fortress of Fear

My first-ever ADRIFT game “The Fortress of Fear” is now finished and available for download at: … advid=1366

Arriving at the vast Marienburg Fortress, headquarters of the Teutonic Knights, you find that that it has been captured by the mad sorceror-prince Wladyslaw. You volunteer to enter the fortress alone and find your way through it to a final showdown with Wladyslaw - winner take all! There are many obstacles to overcome including several ghosts who impede your progress with their demands.

The Fortress of Fear is a very big game with over 280 locations, 38 characters and a vast amount of gameplay - do not expect to solve this adventure in a few evening sessions! This game was first conceived more than 15 years ago and this ADRIFT version was nearly two years in the making.

A walkthrough is available if you wish to review the adventure, please send me a PM.

I hope you enjoy playing it!

NOTE: This adventure is very much an “old-fashioned, dungeon-crawler” type game, so please bear this in mind if you decide to give it a go - which I very much hope that you do!

Congrats with finishing FoF …
I know how much work you have put into it and I hope that it will be received well.
Job Well Done!

Thanks Finn,

It seems strange that the complete FoF has finally been unleased on the adventuring community more than 15 years after Part 1 of the original Spectrum version was played at the Adventurer’s Convention in Coventry. At least now I can concentrate on “The Axe of Kolt”!

I’ve explored 60 rooms, and my first impressions are:

  1. Vast and shallow
  2. Barely useful hints
  3. Blatant Get-X-Give-X puzzles (except I haven’t found any of the Xs)
  4. Lots of random searching of scenery
  5. Blatant lock and key puzzles (with no clue as to which of the many locked doors the key unlocks)

Is the whole game like this?

Try examining the keyholes. :smiley:

So many ppl complain about games before utilizing the commands at their disposal when playing. I guess they want a clown to pop out on the screen and play the game for them?

I’m tired of ppl giving critical reviews just because they think it makes them sound smart. I don’t think ppl should review IF unless they’ve released something (anything).

I got a “review” of my game that had nothing specific in it whatsoever and it does nothing more than scream “I want to sound smart and critical!”, leaving me with no constructive critiques whatsoever and a sneaking suspicion that the dude never even played my game. I’m sorry my simple dungeon-crawl left him at a “horizon of frustration”.

Being critical is fine, but so is being a supportive community. I’m sure Alaric did something right with his work being as how he’s hammered at it for a couple of years. Nothing good can be said except some frustration about lock-and-key puzzles? Learn to review, please, jeez.

I disagree. This is the old “Why don’t you write a novel yourself before you cirticize the Twilight books/50 Shades of Grey/other book” argument. That is wrong on so many levels that I don’t even want to get into them here. Suffice it to say that the skill set of writing IF and reviewing it share some traits, but one can be a great author and a poor reviewer as well as vice versa.

You’ve got a point there. ralphmerridew’s review (if one can call it that) struck me as unnecessarily cruel and he sure could’ve chosen his words more carefully (even if it seems to me that he raises some legitimate points). But one could as well argue that there are not only good & bad games, but good & bad reviews as well. Emily Short is trying to address this issue of getting more constructive reviews out there with her Sparkly IF review project.

If you publish something, you’ve got to be prepared for reactions. Most people will be nice, some will not. Some will raise legitimate points, some will complain ad nauseam about every tiny mistake and bug. Telling people to “learn to review” accomplishes nothing, it only makes you look petty and thin-skinned. Take the bad reviews in stride (or, at least, silently) and cherish the ones that help you hone your craft.

Scathing reviews can almost be an art form; you’ll rarely find that the subject will agree, but I’d for one would miss things like this.

Congratz on finishing a huge project, Alaric.

So is this game a port of a Spectrum title, or a new interpretation? What vintage is the title? I sort of had to read between the lines of what you posted here to work this much out. I think probably the main thing you could do to help it along is be clearer about the game’s (port’s?) provenance, both here and on your IFDB page and anywhere else you’re plugging it. Also this will help attract the kind of people who are likely to be interested and steer away people who don’t have any kind of interest in games/design of this vintage.

  • Wade

“You should have some people playtest your game” is a constructive critique. Post here for some folks to play through your game and send you a transcript saying what they think, and use their feedback to try and make your game nicer for your players.

(Having said this, I probably won’t be able to test your game for you, so I’m not exactly being a supportive community member here.)

Reviews are not just rewards for the author: they’re also useful information for other people considering playing a game.

Alaric’s goal was clearly to make a pretty specific kind of game: a straightforward old-school dungeon-crawler. Some people enjoy those; some really, really don’t. ralphmerridew’s review confirms that the game is, in fact, an old-school dungeon-crawler without much crossover appeal; this is a valuable function, since all is not always what it seems. That makes it easier for people to decide whether to play the game or not, according to their tastes.

I’m not sure I agree with you on this one. Reviews are not always useful information for other people. To me a review is the reviewers personal opinion of the piece s/he is reviewing and nothing more. If, in this case, ralphmerridew aren’t really into the old text adventure games he shouldn’t post a review. What he does is to maybe push people away from a game they may find entertaining. If I took movie reviewers seriously, I would never go to the cinema. :laughing:
I’m of the old school. I have been playing IF since the 80’s and I enjoy spending time trying to figure out a puzzle and reading a captivating scenery. I have spent quite a few hours playing FoF and have enjoyed every minute.
Maybe players are becoming too impatient? There are free games out there, so if one puzzle gets too hard, let’s just skip to the next. In the 80’s you paid for the game, and if you got stuck you wrote the “Spectrum” magazine or whatever they were called. Then you had to wait a week or so, and maybe, just maybe, someone would have given you a clue in the next issue.
Even today where most authors are only an e-mail away, (some) people still discard a game when it becomes too hard.
It’s actually a shame.

I agree that what I said wasn’t that logical (don’t review unless you publish), but my point was that creating IF is a lot different than just writing a novel. Yes, both are “writing” but one involves coding.

I don’t mind people being critical of my game, I’m not thin-skinned. I DO mind reviews that LOOK like the reviewer knows what he’s on about, but in the end, is just smoke-and-mirrors.

What bothers me about overly-negative, snobbish reviews is that it WILL turn potential players away from a game they might actually like. This is doubly a crime when the reviewer hasn’t even actually PLAYED the game.

I disagree with your disagreement. If you’re intending to play a game, reviews can be very helpful in deciding whether said game is worth your time or not. (Of course, I generally try to avoid reading reviews of games I’m planning to play myself so I don’t end up being influenced by the reviews, but that’s just me being awkward.)

As for ralphmerridew, I find he usually makes good points, but does so in such a way as to be as mean and hurtful as possible.

That’s incorrect. My brief review - based on my actual play of your game - makes it plain that I considered the game unfinished but promising, and offers specific reasons why I considered it unfinished (it specifically credits no testers). I wrote it in a tone that I meant to be encouraging. You, clearly, took no particular encouragement from it, but that was the intent.

Aye, and it’s not a reviewer’s responsibility to replace the absent testers :frowning:

Hi Wade,

Thanks for your thoughts on this. The game’s provenance is explained within the game if you type ABOUT and therefore I didn’t see the need to tell people in my announcement. However, here is the game’s history:

“Fortress of Fear” first appeared on the Sinclair Spectrum in the mid-1990’s. It was intended to be a three part game, the fifth in a series featuring Alaric Blackmoon that started with “The Axe of Kolt”. However, I only completed Part 1 (set in the Lower Castle of the fortress) - which was played as a “Megapoints” game at the Adventurer’s Convention in Coventry in 1996 (I think!) - and was never officially released on that platform. The end of the 8-bit era of computers and the advent of graphic adventures put paid to the “home-grown” text adventure scene in the UK at that time. I was also raising three children and my spare time was increasingly devoted to this.

Many years later in around 2008, after my family had grown up and flown the nest, I discovered that there was still a thriving community who played text adventures, but these sort of games were now known as Interactive Fiction. I also found that someone had produced a PC version of the old P.A.W. system I had used to produce my games for the Spectrum, so I resurrected “Fortress of Fear” with the intention of finally finishing it. After about a year of work, I upgraded my laptop to one that ran Windows 7 and it quickly became apparent that the game engine one had to use to run this new PC version of “FoF” was unstable under Win7 and the developer had no intention to upgrade it So I had to find another platform with which to program the game, and I found ADRIFT in March 2011. I spent the next year or so reprogramming and finally finishing FoF using ADRIFT, and it first went to the playtesters in March 2012. The last of the four playtesters completed the game just before Christmas and therefore I released the game yesterday.

I have now edited my description of the game accordingly so that those players who do not like “old-fashioned, dungeon-crawler” type games will steer clear of it. Hopefully there will be some player who like games of the “old-school” genre and give a decent go.

Best regards,

Larry Horsfield

I’m certainly looking forward to giving it a spin, as I enjoyed the chunk of “Axe of Kolt” I played a year or two ago :slight_smile:

Thanks for the elaborations, Alaric. I’ve put the game on my wishlist as I’m currently pretty crippled by life’s backlog.

  • Wade