As I've written before, I play through at least one Quest For Glory game every year, and this year's was QFG3, probably the most polarizing entry of the entire series. It certainly has its fans (especially those who love the African narrative), but it definitely has more than its share of detractors. I am most certainly in the latter category. I still like the game far more than many other games, but it is easily the weakest game in this particular series. To make things a little more interesting, I applied a recent fan-made patch of the game which fixes a number of issues and even adds an extra scene or two. Let's see how things fared.
- The art: The artistry of this game is quite superb, and the Sierra team knew how to take advantage of VGA graphics. The box art in particular is notable and stands out well against the other QFG games.
- Awari: This mini-game is my favorite addition to the game. Several months before I played QFG3, I had learned Mancala, a similar African board game.
- Characters: One of the defining features of QFG games are the unique and memorable characters, and QFG3 comes equipped with plenty of its own: Arne, Kalb, the junk merchants, plus the addition of a couple of gags like the Awful Waffle Walker and the French Legionnaires.
- Environment: The QFG series has not been immune from falling into the mountain village fantasy trope (QFG1 and 4 in particular), so QFG3 introduced a more unique environment which draws from numerous African settings (Egyptian, savanna, jungles).
- Way too short: Especially once the Leopardman has been caught, the rest of the game progresses very quickly. The first 250 points seem to move along pretty well, but the last 250 points progresses way too quickly.
- The Lost City is too small: There is very little to the Lost City, which is a squandered opportunity to have expanded the game. It is not much of a challenge, however the end battle is reminiscent of the end battle with Ad Avis in QFG2.
- The music: There is quite a bit of background music, but very little of it is overly memorable. I was listening to the QFG4 soundtrack, and it is amazing in comparison. Mark Seibert did an amazing job with the first two games, QFG4 is awesome, and Chance Thomas had an epic score with QFG5 which sounded like it belonged to a movie (which resulted in Chance leading a successful movement which brought game music into the Grammy Awards). The discordant chords after a battle are particularly annoying to me.
- The Thief got robbed: This game focused more on the new Paladin class, but at the expense of the other three classes, especially the Thief. Depending on how one approaches the game, he might only end up robbing a lonely, single place.
- Maxing stats: Trying to max out stats can be very difficult. There are not many places to practice climbing (however the patch does make it possible to practice climbing in the monkey village). Learning Lightning Ball so late in the game doesn't help to be a very useful skill.
- Paladin Ceremony: Even though I tried to be bad, I ended up becoming a Paladin. Rakeesh makes you a Paladin right before the peace conference. Didn't seem to gain any special new abilities, so probably more useful to carry over to the next game. Normally I come into the game as a particular character, or am already a Paladin at the beginning, so this was a new scene to me.
- When I went to visit the Simbani village, Uhura was waiting out there and could talk with her a bit and the mourning the Simbani had for their deceased Laibon. This is an addition from the patch. I'm assuming there might have been some unused content that was discovered hidden in the game that was added back into to the game.
- During the Warrior trial, I read a fighter with climbing can also climb the tree. I have not tried this, but it provides for an interesting alternative to win the contest.
- During the Warrior trial, there was a bug with the new patch where the log did not appear, but it is possible to light the thorns on fire to get through. I only tried this on whim, but was very glad to see that this was possible.
- With the new path, the "bong music" in the apothecary sounds different, much more like a Jimi Hendrix riff.
There feels like some great potential to this game, but it fell short. Perhaps if resources had been spent on this game instead of the VGA remake of QFG1 that Wages of War would have been more flushed out. When I made King's Quest 1 - Redux, I focused on ways to improve upon the original game. I do not expect a remake of QFG3 to ever happen, but it would be fun to speculate on how the game can be improved.
Ways to Improve the Game:
- Better fighting system: I enjoyed the combat in Hero's Quest, QFG1 VGA, and QFG2, so this was not a new process, but the fighting system in QFG3 looks and feels kludgy. With some of the fights, the monster will be a floating head and arms with the body faded into the background. In the game, one of the Simbani mentions the Hyenamen, which might have been a potential monster (perhaps similar to the Jackalmen of QFG2) that didn't make the cut.
- Add more content:
- Considering how few side quests the thief had, allow the thief to sneak into the Liontaur section of Tarna and rob a place or few.
- Expand upon the Lost City. It felt like the developers ran out of steam (or time) and threw together a minimal amount of screens and called it good.
- More quests. This is the shortest of the QFG games, and far more could have been done to flush out the game further, especially for the non-Paladin classes.
- Yet another dispel potion: It was pretty novel in the first game, but became a worn out concept by the third. Still, the dispel potions were used effectively in this game (but not nearly as much in the 2nd game). I'm glad that dispel potions stopped after this game.
- Pacing: By adding more content, whether it be more side quests or expanding upon the Lost City, this wouldn't make the game feel quite so rushed once the Leopardman is captured.
This isn't a criticism of the game based upon its age, because there were better games around the same time period, but QFG3 faltered in a number of ways. The Quest for Glory series was originally imagined to be comprised of four games, each one representing the four cardinal directions and seasons. QFG3 was the game which was never originally intended (as evidenced by the end of QFG2 which mentioned that QFG3 was going to be Shadows of Darkness). Ultimately, this feels like an expansion pack to the QFG series which was used as a stop gap between Trial By Fire and Shadows of Darkness to let the hero grow a little more and to introduce the new Paladin class.
In this latest playthrough I encountered a couple of frustrating bugs with the Fighter class, and here are the work arounds I performed to fix them.
Trying to give the Laibon the dinosaur horn to start the Warrior initiation
When I would go visit the Laibon, he would not accept the dinosaur horn, nor could I talk about it. The workaround I found was to drop (or place any existing dino horns in a trunk), then visit the Laibon to talk about about the initiation, and then go fight another dinosaur to get its horn, then the hero had a dialog option (click the mouth on ego) to tell about the dinosaur horn.
Trying to visit the Laibon after becoming a Warrior
After the initiation to become a Simbani Warrior, I could no longer visit the Laibon. One suggestion I read was right after the Initiation when the Laibon asks what favor you request, first ask about bride price so the Leopardwoman can be purchased.
No log in the second Warrior initiation rite
I believe this might be a bug due to the new 1.3.1a patch where the log does not appear. I tested the initiation with the pre-patch version and the log appeared. Fortunately, using your tinderbox on the ring of thorns also works as another option to get past this trial.
The 1.3.1a patch corrects a number of behind-the-scenes issues with this game, but there are a couple of other areas which could further improve the game.
Wages of War vs. Seekers of the Lost City
The subtitle on the QFG3 box reads Wages of War, but there are other references (such as in the About section of QFG4) to this game which say Seekers of the Lost City. Why the two subtitles? According to the series co-founder Corey Cole, QFG3 underwent a similar legal naming dispute as the first game did, which resulted in Hero's Quest being renamed to Quest For Glory. However, QFG3 was already out, so even though Sierra came up with an alternate subtitle of Seekers of the Lost City, it never ended up on any official game covers or documentation. If there had been another release of the game (in the manner that QFG4 was released with a follow up CD version), then perhaps the alternate title would have been used.
QFG3 Fan Patch
I was excited to see how the new QFG3 fan patch (version 1.3.1a as of this writing) worked with the game. The patch's GitHub web page describes the patch:
An unofficial update for Quest for Glory III: Wages of War that builds on Sierra's anthology release and NewRisingSun's speed fixes. Fixes crashes, lockups, dead ends, glitches, sprites/animations, sounds/music loops, and text. Restores cut content. Written in SCI programming language using the SCI Companion 3.0 tool. Please use the latest version!
New and Improved:
- This patch fixes a whole host of minor issues in the game (similar to what I did with King's Quest 1 - Redux).
- The biggest addition I found was the ability to talk with Uhura at the edge of the Simbani village right after the not-so-peaceful Peace Conference.
- The "bong music" in the apothecary sounds different, much more like a Jimi Hendrix guitar riff.
- Speed issues appear to be corrected. Trying to hit the moving target during the spear competition is actually feasible now.
- As I mentioned above, there are still a couple of tricky bugs in the game when it comes to visiting and interacting with the Laibon.
- A new bug seems to have been introduced with the missing log in the second Warrior Initiation rite.
- I also never encountered any random Demon Worms when exploring the Tarna jungle and only found a single Ape Man battle. I'm not sure if this is related to the patch or just bad luck.
- Fighting is more difficult. Hero often dodges or parries when those commands were not used. Seems glitchy. The fighting system still sucks and is the worst of the entire series, but that is more of a gameplay issue outside of the realm of a patch.
Decoding the SAV files
One of the more unique features in the Quest for Glory games is the ability to transfer a character from one game to another game in the series. The only other games I can think of which had a similar feature were the gold box SSI games (Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms). This feature generally encourages the player to develop their skills as much as possible in one game so they will be better prepared at the start of the next game.
Unfortunately, QFG3 does not always give ample opportunities to properly develop all abilities (such as climbing or practicing the Lightning Ball spell). This then tickled my curiosity on learning how one might go about reverse engineering the exported character file. The exported
SAV file is quite small, only a couple hundred bytes in size, which makes it an ideal candidate to reverse engineer (far more feasible than trying to dig through a game's save file which is relatively much larger.
After doing some initial research, it appears that there had been some slight variations between the different QFG export files, but like reverse engineering the AGI files, some interesting encoding trickery was used to make the
SAV file's contents look like a random set of numbers which could not be easily gleaned of their true meaning. A couple of years ago, several others had dug deep into figuring out how to read and modify these files. The following are several resources of apps and web pages which can be used for viewing and altering Quest For Glory
- Quest for Glory Character File Editor
- QFG Character Editor
- QFG Importer
- Quest for Glory Character Creators/Editors
- QFG3 Fan Patch
- Quest for Glory 3: Enhanced Edition
- QFG Importer
- QFG3 - Simbani chief won't accept the Dino horn
- QFG3 bug
- QfG3 - Laibon Hut Woes
- Decoding QFG SAV Import files
- Quest for Glory Character Creators/Editors
- The Quest for Glory Character Files
- QFG Character Editor setup file and QFG2 characters supported
- Quest for Glory Character File Editor
- QFG Character Editor
- Decoding the Character SAV Import files (starting with QFG3)
- Hacking Quest For Glory III