Rampant Coyote has continued his Wizardry 8 retrospective once again, this time adding comments from designer Charles Miles on the Arnika Road section of the game.
I pulled out the graph paper.And, on to the designer commentary:
With the graph paper and pencil in hand, I started re-exploring the map, using those friendly grid-lines on the wall texture for their natural purpose. I found a couple of unexplored doors, some interesting magical items, and the final encounter with the Big Bad Boss (Baron Englund, an undead dude) and his hench-specters. He guarded the mushroom ring that was the exit back to the graveyard.
While I can't say the Easter Egg Dungeon was any kind of wonderful game-making experience, or even a high-caliber joke. But it was really cool that somebody took the time to throw this little nod to even older-school gameplay into the world (and, I hear, there are more). And it was actually worthwhile - besides running up my lock picking ability, there were a couple of unique items to be found there (although one, I later discovered, was a cursed item you REALLY don't want to use...), and I did level up most of my characters in my wanderings. I had fun.
People have screamed bloody murder about the Arnika road since Wizardry 8 was originally released. This is what the Arnika road was *supposed* to teach you:
* To avoid monsters by either using spells like Chameleon or by staying out of their line of sight. You could often sneak around the monsters if you were careful.
* To be smart about where you rested. If you rested in the middle of the road, monsters are much more likely to wander by see you, and ambush you while you sleep. If you rested in a hard-to-see place like behind a rock or behind the house at the T-intersection it was much easier to get a full rest in.
* To use the disposable items--potions, bombs, wands, etc.--we constantly gave you as loot.
None of this came across very clearly in the final game. There were hints buried in the manual, but Wizardry 8 came out just after people had gotten out of the habit of reading game manuals.