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Page 1:
Introduction

Page 2:
Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord

Page 3:
The Knight of Diamonds

Page 4:
Legacy of Llylgamyn

Page 5:
Llylgamyn Trilogy Version Comparison

Page 6:
The Return of Werdna

Page 7:
Heart of the Maelstrom

Page 8:
Bane of the Cosmic Forge

Page 9:
Crusaders of the Dark Savant

Page 10:
Nemesis

Page 11:
Stones of Arnhem
Wizards & Warriors

Page 12:
Wizardry 8

Page 13:
Japanese Franchise Outlook

Page 14:
Wizardry Online

Page 15:
Mobile Games
Other Media

Interview:
Robert Woodhead

Back to the Index


Wizardry: Stones of Arnhem - IBM PC (unreleased; ca. 1994)

A sketch supposedly made for the game

While working on Wizardry VII, D.W. Bradley got drawn into the lawsuit against Sir-Tech concerning Woodhead and Greenberg's royalties. During the proceedings, both Sir-Tech and D.W. Bradley argued that he had no business being sued along with the company and that the litigations were hampering his progress with Crusaders of the Dark Savant, which got delayed a whole year beyond the originally projected date. What exactly happened behind the scenes can only be guessed, but at the end of it all Bradley had a falling out with the Siroteks and left Sir-Tech, so the company found itself short of an author to continue its flagship series. Through correspondence with the Australian distributor Directsoft, a small team from down under was hired to create the next Wizardry. It seems like the team has been put together rather haphazardly; it included actor Max Phipps and filmmaker Phil Moore, only later more "conventional" game development staff like programmers Michael Shamgar and Cleveland Blakemore were brought on bord. After there was nothing but rumors and ramblings of embittered team members about the game for the longest time (there have been rumors that a demo was shown at a CES, but no solid proof of it), a huge stash of old Sir-Tech documents appeared on Ebay in 2012, including design documents, maps and sketches about Stones of Arnhem.

The files also included correspondence between Sir-Tech, Directsoft and the developers dated around Summer 1994, which suggest that the project was in deep trouble by then. According to Robert Sirotek, Sir-Tech had nothing to do with the actual development, and the company had remained somewhat reserved about the project that was driven mostly through initiative from Australia, until they finally pulled the plug when it became obvious that things wouldn't shape up anytime soon.

Cleveland Blakemore has become somewhat infamous among RPG fans in later years for (among other things) being very vocal with his personal evaluation of what went down at the time. Similarly infamous is his post-Wizardry project Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar, a throwback to old-school first person party RPGs, which has been in development for about two decades. Several crowdfunding campaigns seemed to have helped a bit to bring the legendary vaporware project on track, but as of the time of this writing, the game still wasn't released. Rather, the latest news involved a nasty trademark dispute with a Kickstarter project for a multiplayer FPS called Grimoire.

Location map

An early beta of Grimoire from the late 1990s


[Related Game] Wizards & Warriors - Windows (2000)

Early Advertisement

Cover

D.W. Bradley may have left behind the Wizardry series after Crusaders of the Dark Savant, but he wasn't done with the genre yet. In 1997, he returned with his own company Heuristic Park, and introduced his new project labeled Deep Six to be published as Virgin Entertainment's first big RPG. The game had almost as much trouble getting done as Wizardry 8, though. It took three more years, a name change to Swords & Sorcery: Come Devils, Come Darkness, then a publisher swap to Activision and yet another name change before the game would get done - and even then "done" comes with a caveat.

In many ways, Wizards & Warriors feels like Bradley's alternative Wizardry 8. As usual, the player creates a party of six, which Bradley-typical may include a variety of anthropomorphs, including rat and even elefant people. There are also some uncanny similarities in the game worlds, like both games include explorable underwater areas with a variety of fishy enemies. In early versions of the game, it also retained the UI that was so typical of Bradley's Wizardry titles, with three characters represented on either side. Later they were all moved to the right, though, to make room for the character commands on the left.

With the early presentations, Heuristic park promised players could switch between real time and turn-based modes at any time, but in the final game both were replaced for a weird hybrid system not entirely unlike Wizardry 8 where everything moves in real time, except when the characters clash directly together with an enemy which causes an automatic switch to the turn-based system. So to a degree it's possible to rake monsters with projectiles while constantly retreating and never changing into combat mode. On the other hand, enemies with ranged attacks are extremely dangerous if the party doesn't get close to them fast. Originally the game was also supposed to be geared towards competetive multiplayer, a feature that was eventually removed, but not without leaving its traces within the game design. Characters can join guilds according to their classes, and only the members of a guild receive missions there, which are entered in individual quest books for each character. When there is a global quest that applies to all characters, vital items often have to be picked up six times - once for each character, even though the text description implies that there is only one.

Wizards & Warriors (Windows)

There are also aspects that make Wizardrds & Warriors seem more old-fashioned than the official continuation of the Wizardry series. Towns are back to being represented in menu form, albeit visualized as 2D panoramas, with 3D character models greeting the party inside of the buildings. The campaign also has a very modular feel like the early Wizardry games, where characters can be imported and exported between different parties.

Gladly, the same sense of nostalgia is also true for the dungeons, which are just as tricky as they used to be, full of puzzles, traps and interesting encounters. Even the very first crypt at the beginning tops almost any dungeon in Wizardry 8 (minus the easter eggs) in terms of complexity and the number of secrets to discover.

Unfortunately, Wizards & Warriors is one of the hardest games to run properly without major errors on a modern Windows system. Usually it requires activating a bunch of compatibility options, installing two unofficial patches (ironically, the first of them is actually by Heuristic Park, but Activision never supported it with any QA) and recompressing FMVs and even then deal breakers like the game's failure to properly refresh the screen or missing textures are the norm rather than the exception.

In 2005, Bradley and Heuristic Park created another, more action-oriented RPG called Dungeon Lords, which was maligned by even more bugs and issues as Wizards & Warriors. Seven years later the developer managed to get an improved and expanded version called Dungeon Lords MMXII done, which solved many but not all of the problems. At one point Heuristic Park also worked on a sequel with the title The Orb and the Oracle, but that was cancelled eventually.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Heuristic Park

Publisher:

Designer:

  • David W. Bradley

Genre:

Themes:


Wizards & Warriors (Windows)

Wizards & Warriors (Windows)

Wizards & Warriors (Windows)

Wizards & Warriors (Windows)

Wizards & Warriors (Windows)


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Introduction

Page 2:
Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord

Page 3:
The Knight of Diamonds

Page 4:
Legacy of Llylgamyn

Page 5:
Llylgamyn Trilogy Version Comparison

Page 6:
The Return of Werdna

Page 7:
Heart of the Maelstrom

Page 8:
Bane of the Cosmic Forge

Page 9:
Crusaders of the Dark Savant

Page 10:
Nemesis

Page 11:
Stones of Arnhem
Wizards & Warriors

Page 12:
Wizardry 8

Page 13:
Japanese Franchise Outlook

Page 14:
Wizardry Online

Page 15:
Mobile Games
Other Media

Interview:
Robert Woodhead

Back to the Index