1. BEFORE WE BEGIN
In 1995, when we started this project and search engines were few and far between, there were two other mentions made of DARKLANDS on the net search tools. The first was an album and a tour by The Jesus and Mary Chain. The second was a "gothic" recording label in Finland. For those interested in pursuing either line of enquiry, I propose the following sites (although it is entirely possible that these are no longer valid):
The Jesus and Mary Chain Darklands Album
The Jesus and Mary Chain Darklands Tour
Darklands (a gothic Finnish recording label)
Please note that some of these links may be inactive at the time of release. They were all listed at InfoSeek during the summer of 1995.
Nowadays, there are a few sites devoted to the game of DARKLANDS, not the least of which is Matt Wirkkala's which I'm pleased to link to here.
Now that we've got these things out of the way, let's talk about the game DARKLANDS from MPS Labs.
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What do we know about Arnold Hendrick, the designer of DARKLANDS?
Before he designed games for Microprose, Arnold Hendrick worked in game design. Of note: GRAV ARMOR (DWARFSTAR), a tactical combat game, and BARBARIAN PRINCE (also DWARFSTAR), a paragraph adventure boardgame. He was also involved in TRIREME from Avalon Hill (Redesign and Development).
Arnold Hendrick has worked on a number of games for Microprose:
Silent Service II
Arnold works for I-Magic and is the designer of the recently released iM1A2 Abrams by that company. His e-mail address can be found on 411 Directory Services and is:
Arnold wrote an article which was published recently: "How to Hire a Phenomenal Game Designer", Game Designer magazine, February 1998.
Mark Kundinger <email@example.com> had the following correspondence with Arnold Hendrick which he shares with us:
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 1996 09:03:13 -0500 To: Mark Kundinger <firstname.lastname@example.org> From: Arnold Hendrick <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Random nostalgic moment At 11:19 PM 12/11/96 -0600, you wrote: > >Hello Arnold, > >Hate to intrude on your busy schedule, especially while you're >working on iM1A2, but I was just wondering... > >You remember Darklands? I sure do. I loved that game, it was so >different than your typical RPG (having a mob chase you into the monastery >was great fun). It also served as a handy quick-reference to saints. > >Had you had any plans (way, way on the back burner) to do a sort of >sequel to this? The RPG market is so barren right now I'm sure they're >slavering for a new game :) > >Anyway, sorry to butt in, and thanks for reading. > >Mark Mark, Sorry, but no plans for any such sequel. However, thanks for the appreciative comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the game. :) Arnold
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What did Microprose say about DARKLANDS?
Microprose issued the following press release:
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********** DARKLANDS **********
HUNT VALLEY, MD _ MicroProse Software, Inc., famous worldwide for its high-quality entertaining simulations of combat and adventure, will release DARKLANDS, its first true fantasy role-playing game, this fall.
Set in 15th Century Medieval Germany, DARKLANDS will be as realistic and challenging a simulation as previous MicroProse releases. "The common thread of all of our titles, from GUNSHIP to RAILROAD TYCOON, is that they have an intellectual core," said Arnold Hendrick, DARKLANDS' game designer. "DARKLANDS will be no different _ the problems and tasks the gamer will face are straight from the events and attitudes of Medieval Germany." 15th Century Germany was a time of violence and corruption and was an era with three Popes simultaneously in charge, powerless emperors, gangster nobles and venal clergymen. DARKLANDS recreates this period and emphasizes the beliefs of the time: witches worshipping the devil, people praying to saints to produce real miracles, alchemists turning lead into gold and dragons inhabiting caves.
Players will explore a vast map of Germany with a party of four adventurers created from the likes of nobles, swordsmen, mercenaries, thieves, alchemists, monks and several more. Millions of different character types will be possible by choosing from 26 attributes and skills. The ultimate goal of the game will be to achieve fame and immortality on multiple quests, many of them simultaneous. Quests will be created by an "adventure generator" for endless replayability.
DARKLANDS will be released for IBM-compatibles and will require 640K of RAM. The game will support AdLib, Roland, Tandy and IBM sounds, and EGA, MCGA/VGA and Tandy 16-color graphics. A hard disk will be required and a mouse recommended.
Where do I find DARKLANDS now?
I received this note from Daniel Hall, when I asked him to give me the information on where he had been able to find DARKLANDS on a CD. Please note that all quoted email has been edited for the purposes of this FAQ.
Date: Tue Aug 1 03:36:26 1995 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Daniel Hall) Subject: Re: darklands To: email@example.com Gold Medal 12 CD Pack Mediaquest (found at Electronics Boutique at the price of $30 American) It includes: Darklands, Blue Force, Jet Fighter 2, Maelstrom, Microcosm, Shadow President, Dune II, CyberRace, Casino Master Gold Edition, The Selfish Giant, The Complete House, The Peter Norton Productivity Pak
I also found DARKLANDS available in a CD five-pack with other games. It was on sale at Electronics Boutique for $24.99 CDN, plus GST and PST (where applicable):
Recently (summer 1997), I was told that this Action 5 Pak no longer had DARKLANDS, but rather a demo disk. This has not been verified.
From: Bunannoyer@aol.com Date: Sun, 27 Jul 1997 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Darklands availability... I have checked all area Wal-Marts and software stores for the 5-pack & Darklands separately. The closest that I have come is the same 5-pack with a demo CD in place of Darklands
Scot Sawyer wrote us on 16 Jul 1996 (although I suspect Scot's system is off by about a year, as I received it in 1997 :-)) about where to find copies of DARKLANDS:
In regards to "where can I find Darklands now" if you go to WALMART they sell it for $1.96 American. Its the newest version, and there are no problems with it.
Not in Canada, Scot...I checked :-(
Alternate sources include the following in a note from Microprose itself (thanks to David and Ally Stallard for this bit of info):
From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Darklands Date: Tuesday, July 29, 1997 5:02 PM Dear customer, The product you are asking about has been discontinued from our production & inventory and is now considered obsolete. We apologize for this situation, we no longer have older products in stock. Alternately you can contact any of the vendors listed below as they may have a copy of the product you seek. Chips & Bits 1-800-699-4263 Computer Express 1-800-228-7449 Used game sellers: Gamer's Gold 1-800-377-8578 R&G Games 1-800-525-4263 Best, MicroProse customer support
Norma Howell (Nor84@ridgecrest.ca.us) wrote on Aug. 3, 1997:
Really liked your Darklands FAQ. I found Darklands today on CD at Walmart. It is in the "bargain" CD section -- Darklands by itself on one CD. Published by Goodtimes Entertainment, 16 East 40th St., New York, NY 10016. Item #30-102731TC.
Unfortunately for those of you who have bought CD versions of DARKLANDS, you have found out by now that the information that comes with the company's package is not included in the CD's documentation. We have read complaints about this on the net, specifically that the look-up codes, simple as they are, are not included. In one of the later updates, AvL uploaded a code sheet to the DARKLANDS site. This code sheet was produced on the grounds that Microprose was obviously not supporting the CD release of the game.
And finally, a note from Gary E. Bloom (email@example.com):
"Inside the 'Action CD-ROM Pack' by, I believe GT Interactive, is a tiny (4 inches square, 3 fold-out pages) 'Quick Start' manual which includes the copy protection sheet. If you accidently threw it out with the box call their support number - 410.771.1151. BTW, I bought the CD version a few weeks ago and a used copy of the boxed version a few days ago. I compared and found that the on CD manual is identical to the printed version. All you miss is the printed map of Germany. There is a map file but I don't have an app that will open it.
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What was the big deal with Jojo's list?
This is a weekly voting list which produces the top 100 games. Almost 1000 people vote on this list and it is checked by game companies to see how well their product is doing. To check out Jojo's list, find it on comp.sys.ibm.games.announce. DARKLANDS was on almost since the beginning and at one point around the time of the release of the FAQ was climbing from the mid-eighties to the mid-sixties. DARKLANDS players were invited to add their vote to Jojo's list. At some point however, DARKLANDS fell off the bottom of the list. Sic transit gloria mundi.
NOTE (AvL): Following is an excerpt of mail FF sent to the maintainer of JOJO's list and a synopsis of the resulting discussion. The complete mail was not included as it was felt they were out of the scope of this FAQ.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [FF], Mon Jun 17 [...] 1996 Subject: darklands off the chart Darklands has fallen off the top 100. Part of the reason is you can't vote for it anymore. I've written a couple of letters to Jojo about how they've screwed up the voting.[...] What I was complaining about is that you CAN'T vote for Darklands via the web page. The 'list' I refer to is not the Top100, but rather the list of votable games.[...]
FF sent a complaint to Jojo that, he thinks the list is biased towards newer games and older games are arbitrarily removed. FF maintains the list "[bows] to game-mfg pressure". Jojo replied that Darklands would be no longer voted for, thus doesn't appear on the list anymore. He states that there aren't that many people playing Darklands anymore, and the game is not admired any longer. Jojo rejects the notion of a biased list w/o however giving any detailed clarification, i.e. he simply says "That is not true." In a subsequent mail, FF points out, that Jojo "DISCOURAGE[S] people for voting for them [the older games]."
Jojo didn't reply to this, so it appears we have to take the list of his at his terms.
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What's that again about a sequel?
In the manual for DARKLANDS, it says that the designers were planning a number of sequels to expand the game throughout medieval Europe, including Russia and other locations. This never materialized, but gamers are a persistent bunch and every now and then, the questions re-emerge.
This is what was said about a sequel (straight from the horse's mouth, as it were):
From: email@example.com (B. Power) Newsgroups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg Subject: Darklands: Dead. *sigh* Date: 3 Sep 1995 17:26:41 GMT Several weeks ago, I sent Microprose mail about a possible sequel to Darklands. Here's what I received: ----------------- Date: Wed, 26 Jul 1995 11:05:12 -0400 From: MPS/SH On-Line To: Brendan Power Subject: Re: Darklands: Dead in the water? Hi Brendan, There are no plans for a newer version of Darklands, or to license out the source code. Regards, Tim/Spectrum HoloByte-MicroProse
The following message, from Erik Novales, also reinforces the notion that Microprose does not wish to get involved with DARKLANDS.
Subject: Darklands Author: Erik Novales at Gateway Date: 10/25/95 11:20 PM To whom it may concern, At the behest of the authors of the DARKLANDS FAQ, and also partly out of my love for that game of old, I'm writing to express my support for the effort to either a) produce Darklands sequels, as was stated in the game manual, or b) release/license the source code to concerned net.citizens to produce themselves what is so evidently desired--a good RPG using an engine whose quality is unequalled today. I urge whomever happens to be in control of these matters to give serious consideration to these two proposals, as I see a great deal of potential in the Darklands engine, especially in the light of recent, 'AVI-based' games that push bells and whistles over subtance. Thank for your attention. Erik Novales ------------------ Date: Thu, 26 Oct 1995 14:02:34 -0400 From: MPS/SH On-Line To: Erik Novales Subject: Re: Darklands Hi Erik, Thank you for your interest, however, there are no plans for a sequel (as the game's lead designer and programmer no longer is with the company) and we do not release our code into the general net community. Regards, Tim/Spectrum Holobyte-Microprose
We here at FAQ Central have come to believe, over the last two years, that this is Microprose's unwavering position. We will, however, not discourage anyone who enjoyed the game DARKLANDS to write to Microprose to suggest they reconsider reopening the DARKLANDS dossier. As far as I know, the e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a web page at http://www.microprose.com.
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On to section 2: Technobabble