The Making of
The web version of Murkon's Refuge is close to a direct port of the
original game, but with a few differences, which are listed here:
- The dungeon maps were redone. The content of each level and their
interconnectivity is mostly preserved, but the levels are much
smaller. The levels in the original game were 80x23. In the web
version, they're 30x20. Because the web version requires a delay
between moves, smaller maps were used to minimize the movement
required to navigate the dungeon.
- The original game had a MELTWALL spell that would destroy a wall in
the dungeon at the cost of having the caster forget the spell (it
could be relearned the next time the character gained a level). This
allowed some flexibility in how the dungeon was navigated, and it also
made it possible to put secret areas in that could only be reached by
destroying a wall first. Critical areas that shouldn't be
bypassed with a MELTWALL spell were simply surrounded by enough layers
of walls so that you couldn't get through. (The dungeon regenerated
when you left the level, so you couldn't melt a wall, go back, relearn
the spell, return, and melt through the next layer.) This spell was
removed because the smaller dungeon dimensions made it impractical
to surround critical areas with vast layers of walls.
- In the original game, identifying the trap on a chest and disarming it
was a two step process. You could have a thief examine the chest
as many times as you wanted (risking it being set off each time, of
course). When you went to disarm it, you had to type in the correct
trap type. This process was too tedious, especially for a web port.
- The original game did not specify the genders of the characters.
Consequently, the initial attributes values of each character were
exactly the initial attribute values for the character's race.
- In the original game, equipment could only modify the IQ, wisdom, fire
resistance, and speed stats. In this web port, equipment can modify
any ability attributes, resistance values, and/or speed. Objects that
do so were added.
- Usually items found in the labyrinth were unidentified, so instead of
finding a "Long Sword +1," you'd find a "?Sword" and had to get the
item identified before you could tell what it was, although you could
wield it without knowing. (There were never any cursed items in the
game, so there was no risk in wielding an unidentified item.) You
could identify an item by paying some cash at the equipment shop, or
you could just have your rogue (called a "thief" in the original
game) do it. Identifying items was a special skill that only thieves
had. So periodically you'd trade all your equipment to the party's
thief and identify all the items. There was never any reason to pay
money at the shop to identify items. A low level thief would often
take several tries before he could identify each item, but he would
still get the job done for free. That whole aspect of the game didn't
particularly add anything, however, and while it wasn't quite so much
of a hassle without the delay of a page load between each move, it
would have been horribly frustrating in the web version.
- The original game only had one town, right at the beginning. There was
never any charge for resting at the inn, but resting there did not heal
hit points; you had to go to the clinic (then, the temple) and pay for
hit point healing -- or have one of your wizards do it, which is
always what happened. Extra towns were added to minimize dungeon
movement -- you don't have to climb all the way back out of the dungeon
every time you want to return to town and recuperate -- and a charge
was added for the inns in deeper towns to resolve the issue of gold
being essentially useless once you've advanced your characters beyond
a certain point.
- Charisma was used in a completely different way. In the original game,
there were never any price adjustments based on charisma; all services
cost the same amount per character level, regardless of charisma.
Instead, the party's average charisma was used to determine how often
certain monsters in the labyrinth would be friendly. Occasionally
you would encounter a group of monsters that would hail you in
welcome, and you could choose to greet them back and part company
or attack them anyway. This was the only use of charisma in the
original game; it wasn't used to benefit the individual in any way,
just the party. Friendly monsters was a silly feature anyway, and I
didn't want to implement it in the web port.
- Initial hit points were tied to the race of the character, not the
class, and you could use extra points to gain hits as well as ability
attributes. (Two hit points per 'point left.') This silliness was
removed, since it is never a good idea to use extra points on hits,
because the change is only temporary. When you gain a level, your
hit point increase is based on a static function of your class,
vitality, and current level (and a random factor), so any initial
increase you make would not be carried over after you gained a level.
- You could never fight more than one monster in hand-to-hand combat per
round. This made fighter classes less and less useful as the party
advanced until the spellcasters were doing all the work. By allowing
hand-to-hand combat against multiple targets in a single round once
a character's speed is sufficiently advanced, it evened things out a
- In the original game, invokable objects were far less powerful than they
are now. The code only allowed invokable objects to cast one of the
regular sorcerer or wizard spells -- there was no provision for an
invokable object to perform even a small variation on an existing
spell. Consequently, the items were less interesting and also less
useful; usually by the time you found a particular magic object, you
would have no need of it. To amend this, items were written so as to
be able to perform magic other than the pre-defined sorcerer and wizard
spells, and the power of the items was drastically increased. Carrying
a few invokable items around is now a lot more appealing.
- In the original game, you could do anything in an ambush round.
Consequently, if you ambushed some monsters, you could usually wipe
them out right then with a couple of strategically chosen spells.
That wasn't so much of a problem. The problem was that monsters could
do anything they wanted when they ambushed you. So, far too
frequently, entire parties of characters would be wiped out by a
group of ambushing dragons. Not fun. Taking away all use of spells
(and, in the case of monsters, elemental breath) did the trick.
Furthermore, allowing the invocation of objects in ambush rounds helps
a bit on the previous point by making magic objects more valuable.
- Poison couldn't be breathed or used as a magic attack. There were no
monsters that could cast spells to poison or breathe poison, and
wizards (who can now wield poison spells against monsters in combat)
wielded cold spells instead.
Back to The Making of Murkon's Refuge.