The Land

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The Land
Stable game
Developer Mike Riley
Theme Fantasy
Influences Rogue
Released 1985 (1.0)
Updated 2013 (5.0.2)
Licensing Originally shareware, now freeware
P. Language Turbo Pascal
Platforms DOS
Interface Graphic tileset, Keyboard
Game Length
Official site of The Land


The Land is a game based upon the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson.


Features

  • Graphic tileset to represent the player, monsters, and objects in the game.
  • 100x100 tile upland map containing half a dozen cities/towns and 16 dungeons.
  • Automapper showing everything that you have explored so far.
  • Message log recording anything the NPCs tell you or what you have read in scrolls.
  • 7 character classes.
  • 75 magical spells.
  • 86 item types.
  • 96 different monsters to fight.
  • Player parties consisting of up to 6 members, only 1 player controllable.
  • Monster parties consisting of up to 6 monsters.

History

I began writing The Land in 1984. I had been playing Rogue and greatly enjoyed this type of game. I had also this year finished reading The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and thought this would be a great setting for a rogue-like game, and so The Land was born.

During the design stages I wanted to make a few changes to what I saw in Rogue. First I wanted more than a single dungeon and therefore needed an upland area. Second, I wanted to use graphic symbols instead of text characters. Third, I wanted the game to be able to keep track of information for me so that I did not have to write anything down while playing.

The original version of the game was written on a Tandy 1000 computer with two floppy drives. The language of choice was Turbo Pascal 3.0. It took me about a year to write The Land and in mid 1985 released version 1.0 to a local (Sacramento, Ca) FIDO BBS. The game itself was so large that it required both floppy drives to play, the game binary and its overlay files were on drive A: and the data and save files were on drive B:.

Version 1.0 supported both CGA and TGA (Tandy, PCjr graphics). As its features it used a graphic tile set to represent the player, monsters, and objects on the screen. In the lower right corner it contained an auto-mapper showing everything the player had currently explored. It also contained a message log where any message the player had received could be reviewed. The upland map was a 100x100 tile map containing a half dozen cities/towns and 16 dungeons. The dungeons themselves were also 100x100 tile maps that were randomly generated when the player entered the dungeon or changed levels. Initially each dungeon had 10 levels.

Over the following months several versions were released fixing various bugs.

EGA support was added in version 1.9 and released sometime in late 1986 to early 1987.

Versions 2.0 through 2.2 were never publicly released.

Version 2.3 contained several gameplay improvements, consisting of bug fixes as well as re-balancing the game so that it was not so hard to start out. This version was picked up by PCSig at some point, since I found this version of The Land on the PCsig12 CD. This version was released in late 1988 or early 1989.

Versions 3.0 and 3.1 were never publicly released.

The next public release was 3.2, occurring around 1992 to 1993. It contained a huge number of gameplay enhancements, for example: Potions and scrolls could be used off the ground without having to pick them up first, items in either hand could be thrown at enemies, A random background was given to the character to help with immersion aspects, a mechanism for storing spell names into F-keys was added, and many shops were added to town and cities so that vendors were no longer the only source of goods. Also added in this version were "Bone" files, these files kept the layout of the levels as you moved up and down through the dungeons. With these files enabled if you went from level 1 down to level 2 and then back to level 1 then level 1 would be just like you left it rather than being re-randomized. An option was provided to restock monsters and treasures when moving between levels.

Version 4.0 was released around 1995. I had just gotten a newer version of Turbo Pascal (5.0 I think) and refactored the source to compile in this version. The net result was a smaller and faster executable that did not need all the extra overlay files.

Version 5.0 was the last public release of The Land, occurring in 1996. This version was released on one of my websites and remained there for several years. The main change in this version was to replace the graphics with more modern VGA graphics. I used a higher resolution mode and therefore could produce better graphics than the original blocky graphics from earlier versions. By the time this version was released, VGA was quite common and therefore I removed support for the CGA and EGA modes and made The Land VGA only.

Version 5.0.1 Exists but has not been publicly released. This version contains a number of bug fixes and other small game play enhancements. This version will most likely be released sometime in the near future.

9/3/2013 Version 5.0.2 has been released. This version is still in Turbo Pascal 5.0 and therefore requires DosBox to run.

Misconceptions

There are actually two very common misconceptions about the most popular verson of this game, 2.3.

The first misconception is that the game is CGA only, this is false. EGA existed in the game since version 1.9 and TGA existed in the game from 1.0. The default mode was however CGA. The reason for this was that at the time that I added EGA to the engine, EGA boards were not yet really popular and therefore in order to make the game playable on any system of the day I defaulted the game to CGA. The documentation for the game indicated that adding a /e to the command line would enable the EGA mode.

The second misconception was touted as a bug, using magic to kill a monster resulted in no item drops, this was believe to be a bug. This was actually by design. My original thought on this was that if you used magic to destroy a monster then it destroyed anything the monster was carrying as well. Version 5.0.1 removes this design feature and killing monsters with magic will now provide drops.

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