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rojovision
May 13, 2015




Introduction
Arena is the game that began the iconic Elder Scrolls franchise, created by Bethesda Softworks and released in 1994 for MS-DOS. While it's still a first person open world RPG, it's quite different than its more popular successors such as Morrowind and Skyrim. The game relies heavily on procedurally generated content, though there are still some hand crafted elements to be found in towns and certain dungeons. It also features one of the largest explorable world spaces in video game history, though it is not connected like the majority of the lands in other Elder Scrolls games. The gameplay mostly consists of hacking and slashing monsters to bits in various dungeons, but there is a story to tie everything together as well as spells, thieving, and NPC interactions. The game begins with the current emperor being betrayed and locked away in an alternate dimension by one of his imperial battlemages, Jagar Tharn.

The dashing hero of our story:



About the Playthrough
I got into the Elder Scrolls games starting with Oblivion. I also played a little of Morrowind either a bit before or around the time of Oblivion's release. I can't quite recall. Like most other people I enjoyed Skyrim quite a bit, though usually with mods. However, I've never finished the main story in any Elder Scrolls game. Since I like retro games quite a bit, I've been wanting to go back and play through the older titles and actually finish the newer ones. I've done a fair bit of research about Arena and have played a little, but I haven't touched much of the main quest. I'll probably end up sticking mostly to the main story, though I do want to do some additional exploration here and there, just to see what I can find. Since there's no Arena playthrough in the master list, I figured I'd do a thread about it for people who are curious about the series' roots. If you've played the game before and have any tips on stuff to try or look for, I'm open to suggestions. Note that I'll probably be recording at least a couple episodes ahead usually, so I may not be able to act on advice immediately.

As a fun extra, the music in this playthrough will be generated by a real Yamaha MU50 MIDI device. The game itself will be emulated via DOSBOX.





Episodes

Series Playlist

It's video games. Every day...ish.
http://www.youtube.com/rojovision
http://www.twitch.tv/rojovision

rojovision fucked around with this message at 18:11 on May 11, 2019

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rojovision
May 13, 2015


Images
The game isn't completely hideous, but it hasn't aged spectacularly in the graphics department, in my opinion.



























rojovision fucked around with this message at 18:26 on May 11, 2019

rojovision
May 13, 2015


reserved

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 0 - Exordium

This is an introduction to the game, sort of going over some similar stuff from the main post. We also take a look at the game's intro sequences and make our character.






Episode 1 - A Dank Dungeon Indeed

With Ria's assistance we must make our escape from the imperial dungeon, now overrun with rats and goblins...but not before finding some treasures to equip ourself with.

THE BAR
Oct 20, 2011

You know what might look better on your nose?



Only played this once, got confused and never amounted to anything. Excited for more!

90s Cringe Rock
Nov 29, 2006



Ah yes, the noble high elves of Somerset.

Also, ESDF? I don't know how to feel about that.

rojovision
May 13, 2015


90s Cringe Rock posted:

Ah yes, the noble high elves of Somerset.

Also, ESDF? I don't know how to feel about that.

You should feel grateful . ESDF is where your fingers belong on a keyboard...WASD was just a setback.

Aegis Bear
Apr 27, 2007

Float like a butterfly, sting like a Beerus


Glad to see you doing this! Arena is one of those games where most of the Youtube LPs are either lovely or incomplete and I loved your Anvil of Dawn LP.

rojovision
May 13, 2015


extra row of teeth posted:

Glad to see you doing this! Arena is one of those games where most of the Youtube LPs are either lovely or incomplete and I loved your Anvil of Dawn LP.

Thanks. I miss Anvil of Dawn...that was a really fun game. Hopefully Arena has some cool things in store as well.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 2 - Making Preparations

Adventuring responsibly means being prepared, which in our case specifically means spending some quality time with the spell maker and buying some armor we can actually wear. Before returning to dungeoning, we begin to seek out an artifact that will greatly aid us in our future quests.

inscrutable horse
May 19, 2010

Parsing sage, rotating time





You mentioned Legends of Valour being an influence in the intro video, a game that I had almost completely forgotten. It's not a very good game. Some might even say it's a bad game. I'd say it's an awful game. It's that particular kind of awful, that even my remote home of the Faroe Islands, a tiny country that was about 10 years behind the rest of Europe electronics-wise, the game was relegated to the absolute-garbage-bargain bin almost upon release. My brother picked it up for me, when our family got our first computer (a 286) in early '93. Try as we might, we never understood what the hell we were supposed to do - the game and its mechanics were opaque, even by the standards of the day.

inscrutable horse fucked around with this message at 17:49 on Sep 18, 2018

Olesh
Aug 4, 2008

Why did the circus close?

A long, chilling list of animal rights violations.

Keen eyed viewers might notice that the magical torc he picked up and equipped as his very first piece of loot gave him a -5 bonus to his armor rating everywhere. There are four "accessory" slots, that provide a passive effect - bracelets, belts, torcs, and amulets. These either provide an armor rating bonus (up to a maximum of -5) or a bonus to a stat. The sticker price on that Ebony Torc is 25000 GP, so the very first piece of random treasure rojo found is one of the most valuable and useful items in the game.

Some useful things to know if anyone is interested in playing the game themselves...
The other four magic item slots are marks, crystals, bracelets, and rings, and these always contain a spell. Anyone can use them, and while they aren't ever strictly mandatory, they can be incredibly helpful. These items can be recharged by repairing them at a blacksmith.
All magic armor is plate armor; there is no magical leather or chain armor at all.
If your class cannot use or wear an item, it will never appear on the buy menu in shops.
There are no classes that can cast spells that can also wear plate armor (and thus magic armor).
The three "base" classes in the game are thief, warrior, and mage. Most subclasses are superior to the base classes, but require 25% more experience points to level up in exchange. Experience points are rarely in short supply, and you'll never be more than a level behind at any given XP total, so the base classes are usually the worst option.

THE BAR
Oct 20, 2011

You know what might look better on your nose?



Olesh posted:

There are no classes that can cast spells that can also wear plate armor (and thus magic armor).

I like their explanation, but it still stops me from satisfying my paladin fetish.

rojovision
May 13, 2015


inscrutable horse posted:

You mentioned Legends of Valour being an influence in the intro video, a game that I had almost completely forgotten. It's not a very good game. Some might even say it's a bad game. I'd say it's an awful game. It's that particular kind of awful, that even my remote home of the Faroe Islands, a tiny country that was about 10 years behind the rest of Europe electronics-wise, the game was relegated to the absolute-garbage-bargain bin almost upon release. My brother picked it up for me, when our family got our first computer (a 286) in early '93. Try as we might, we never got understood what the hell we were supposed to do - the game and its mechanics were opaque, even by the standards of the day.

That's interesting. I'd like to at least try as many dungeon crawlers from around the DOS era of games as I can, but since LoV is perhaps pretty bad maybe I'll be able to find a physical copy on the cheap. I imagine I could download it for free from various websites as well since it wouldn't surprise me to find out that the game is basically abandonware at this point. Or maybe it'll show up randomly on GOG...who knows?



Olesh posted:

Keen eyed viewers might notice that the magical torc he picked up and equipped as his very first piece of loot gave him a -5 bonus to his armor rating everywhere. There are four "accessory" slots, that provide a passive effect - bracelets, belts, torcs, and amulets. These either provide an armor rating bonus (up to a maximum of -5) or a bonus to a stat. The sticker price on that Ebony Torc is 25000 GP, so the very first piece of random treasure rojo found is one of the most valuable and useful items in the game.
...
If your class cannot use or wear an item, it will never appear on the buy menu in shops.
...

I figured that torc was pretty good but I didn't realize how good. Quite a lucky find so early, and as my first piece of loot as well. In my testing I had found a bunch of dwarven / elven quality torcs I think. That bit about the shops is good to know. Next time I'm recording and have to do a little shopping it'll be easier knowing that anything I can buy, I can use, save weapons apparently.

rojovision fucked around with this message at 17:37 on Sep 18, 2018

Olesh
Aug 4, 2008

Why did the circus close?

A long, chilling list of animal rights violations.

rojogames posted:

I figured that torc was pretty good but I didn't realize how good. Quite a lucky find so early, and as my first piece of loot as well. In my testing I had found a bunch of dwarven / elven quality torcs I think. That bit about the shops is good to know. Next time I'm recording and have to do a little shopping it'll be easier knowing that anything I can buy, I can use, save weapons apparently.

I got around to watching the second video, and I can't help myself. There are a few ways to spend money in this game, and the choice. Is. Yours.

When making anything in the spellmaker, per-level effects are tremendously more efficient than fixed effects. Due to the way cost scales, you can eventually make spells whose costs scale down to 0 and are completely free to cast. Some spells just aren't worth making until you're higher level and can take advantage of level scaling/cost reduction. Spells with an AOE centered on you can't hit you, but you can hit yourself with any AOE spell you launch, so ranged AOE spells tend to be a liability on top of being very expensive. Create Shield spells don't expire over time, only as you absorb damage.

As a caster, you will want to maintain an incredibly healthy supply of Potions of Restore Power for dungeon dives, as resting is generally unsafe. Each restores 25 magicka at the cost of 75 gold pieces

rojovision
May 13, 2015


Olesh posted:

I got around to watching the second video, and I can't help myself. There are a few ways to spend money in this game, and the choice. Is. Yours.

When making anything in the spellmaker, per-level effects are tremendously more efficient than fixed effects. Due to the way cost scales, you can eventually make spells whose costs scale down to 0 and are completely free to cast. Some spells just aren't worth making until you're higher level and can take advantage of level scaling/cost reduction. Spells with an AOE centered on you can't hit you, but you can hit yourself with any AOE spell you launch, so ranged AOE spells tend to be a liability on top of being very expensive. Create Shield spells don't expire over time, only as you absorb damage.

As a caster, you will want to maintain an incredibly healthy supply of Potions of Restore Power for dungeon dives, as resting is generally unsafe. Each restores 25 magicka at the cost of 75 gold pieces

Cool, I do want to revisit the spell maker, but I might not do so immediately. I know I can get some offensive magic via marks, etc, but I also want a couple spells in my book just in case, even though they're twice as expensive for a healer. Those pots really don't give much magicka considering my theoretical cap of 200. Still, I agree I should get more, and probably will before the next dungeon.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 3 - Parchment Leads to Parchment

We put some of the new spells we made to use, and continue exploring the depths of the Dungeon of Noruvor in search of the map that leads to the Oghma Infinium.

Olesh
Aug 4, 2008

Why did the circus close?

A long, chilling list of animal rights violations.

rojogames posted:

Cool, I do want to revisit the spell maker, but I might not do so immediately. I know I can get some offensive magic via marks, etc, but I also want a couple spells in my book just in case, even though they're twice as expensive for a healer. Those pots really don't give much magicka considering my theoretical cap of 200. Still, I agree I should get more, and probably will before the next dungeon.

I'm not trying to steer you too hard, just provide some useful information. This game really hasn't aged well, and was built in an era where the idea of running around doing fetch quests for pocket change and random enemies constantly spawning in dungeons behind you were standard expected game features. That ebony torc is an amazing find early on, but the faster you can find and invest in other AC boosting accessories, the easier the rest of the game will be - even as a spellcaster, you spend a lot of time with enemies in melee hitting you, frequently from behind. The Create Shield spell is nearly mandatory in my opinion, it's that important a QOL spell.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 4 - Knowledge Is Power

Using the map we found previously, we enter the dungeon containing the Oghma Infinium.

THE BAR
Oct 20, 2011

You know what might look better on your nose?



With all of these usable magic items, it seems that the plate classes aren't at such a disadvantage... Until you remember the wildly exploitable magic creation system. They probably shouldn't have known spells reduce in cost every level-up.

E:

I also dig the "DIE" and skull-emblazoned shield.

THE BAR fucked around with this message at 19:46 on Sep 20, 2018

Olesh
Aug 4, 2008

Why did the circus close?

A long, chilling list of animal rights violations.

THE BAR posted:

With all of these usable magic items, it seems that the plate classes aren't at such a disadvantage... Until you remember the wildly exploitable magic creation system. They probably shouldn't have known spells reduce in cost every level-up.

At high levels, it's pretty reasonable for a spellcaster to solve all of their problems by just casting spells - killing enemies via spells is doable because at high levels damaging spells are cheap enough and effective enough that you can just spam efficient spells at targets to kill them, or even just cast area spells centered on the caster rather than bothering to aim, and don't have to rely on melee weapons anymore, but there are pretty big jumps in enemy HP totals, and high level enemies can end up absorbing a lot of efficient spells before they go down

For the most part, plate classes' advantage stems from the fact that there's only so many ways you can boost your armor rating - armor provides -3/-6/-9 bonuses from leather, chain, and plate respectively. Magic plate can additionally provide up to a -5 bonus on top, and magic armor can provide stat boosts in lieu of further armor bonuses, though I find raw stats aren't really all that valuable. By comparison, there are only five non-armor ways of boosting your armor rating - the four "passive" magic item slots (bracelet, belt, torc, and amulet) can give a maximum of -5 each, for a -20 combined, and your agility also provides a boost at high stats.

Warrior-types thus have an easier time dealing with random enemies by hitting them, have more HP to survive tough encounters, and spend fewer resources (HP, potions, magic item charges) in the process. You solve most of your enemy monster problems this way. Mages, on the other hand, aren't as good at hitting enemies, get worse weapons, and take more damage in the process, but get spellpoints as an additional resource pool to use to mitigate this - spell healing is incredibly efficient, the Create Shield spell far outstrips the HP bonuses from playing any warrior class, and mages have an easier time dealing with the most dangerous enemies in the game (spellcasters) through easy access to Spell Absorption and Spell Reflection. Because of this, while I've beaten the game multiple times, I only did it with a non-magic user once, and that's because the Ranger damage bonus is really strong.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 5 - Fang Lair Where?

Now that we've gained what we can from the Oghma Infinium, we experience the seedier side of city life, and turn our attention to rescuing the emperor.

rojovision fucked around with this message at 21:15 on Sep 22, 2018

AltaBrown
Sep 8, 2011


link leads to episode 4

rojovision
May 13, 2015


AltaBrown posted:

link leads to episode 4

Whoops sorry about that. Should be fixed now.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 6 - Remnants of Stonekeep

We begin to explore Stonekeep, and the game quickly shows us that it's done pulling punches.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 7 - Fang Lair Revealed

We explore further into Stonekeep and discover the location of our next target - Fang Lair.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 8 - Searching for a Staff Piece

With a few new spells in tow, we finally make it to Fang Lair, which happens to be an abandoned dwarven ruin that once housed some sort of vast mining operation.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 9 - The Guessing Game

I am not good at riddles, and this is proof.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 10 - Hammerfell Wilds

We take a bit of time to explore the world outside the cities of Hammerfell.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 11 - A Frosty Reception

We seek out the Labyrinthian and are directed, somewhat under prepared, to the Fortress of Ice, which is held by some dastardly knights.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 12 - Fortress Barracks

We return to the Fortress of Ice better prepared for the challenges ahead.

inscrutable horse
May 19, 2010

Parsing sage, rotating time





According to the wiki, you can press shift+c to cast the previous spell.

rojovision
May 13, 2015


inscrutable horse posted:

According to the wiki, you can press shift+c to cast the previous spell.

Ah, cool. I probably rebound it when I was dicking around with all the other keybinds so I'll check it out next time I record.

Poil
Mar 17, 2007



Just dropping plate armor on the ground? Give a boot, don't pollute.

rojovision
May 13, 2015


Poil posted:

Just dropping plate armor on the ground? Give a boot, don't pollute.

It's fine...Nilliven's got a crew of unpaid interns just off screen that make sure all his spare loot piles get donated to Chosen Ones Without Borders once he leaves the area.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 13 - Locating Labyrinthian

Our inventory overflowing with loot, we delve deeper into the Fortress of Ice to acquire the stolen tablet piece for Thelen Kaarn.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 14 - Tale of Two Brothers

We do a bit of shopping in the nearby towns and then enter Labyrinthian, only to be greeted with an unexpected story.

rojovision
May 13, 2015




Episode 15 - Riddles, Three

We make an effort to solve the riddles of Labyrinthian in order to acquire the second piece of the Staff of Chaos.

BattleCattle
May 11, 2014



I caught up! Iíve wanted to play this ever since I got out of college, but I donít have a computer. Thanks for showiní this off, bub! Itís improved my quality of life!

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rojovision
May 13, 2015


BattleCattle posted:

I caught up! Iíve wanted to play this ever since I got out of college, but I donít have a computer. Thanks for showiní this off, bub! Itís improved my quality of life!

Sure thing. Glad you're enjoying it.

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