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Rob Zacny

Episode 413: Myth

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Three Moves Ahead 413:

Three Moves Ahead 413


Myth
It's time for another patent-pending Three Moves Ahead Classic Game Analysis as Rob, Gamers with Jobs' Shawn Andrich, and Rock Paper Shotgun's Adam Smith discuss Bungie's Myth series. Myth holds a unique place in strategy's gaming pantheon: in an era of clones and remakes, there's still nothing quite like it out there. Its grim and dark (but not grimdark) fantasy setting and early physics engine set it apart from other games of its day. Take a trip down memory lane before Destiny, before Halo, and into the glory of Myth.

Myth: The Fallen Lords, Myth II: Soulblighter

 

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I will definetly check out these games after listening to this episode.

 

Mentioning the Black company books the names of some of the enemy leaders sound like they are taken from the names of enemy leaders in the first Black company trilogy. Reading about the game and it has a few references to  Irish mythology  beyond the usual - The Tain and Balor and the Fir bolg all make an appearance and Connacht is the name of an actual place. Also the importance of explosives reminds me of the Malazan series of books which is a direct descendant of the Black Company books.

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I always remember a 1v1v1 multi-player match I played with one of my friends. We genuinely competed with each other, we weren't entrapping a third person. But in one match the third went after me right off, with their army of Thrall, Wights and Soulless. It was soon after release and this person hadn't figured out the units yet. At one point I was typing "No, don't run away from archers with soulless, you won't be able to get away!" in to chat. I kited them as they describe in the podcast and ended up killing them all without a single casualty.

 

After, my friend immediately wiped the floor with me. Because, although I hadn't taken any casualties, my troops were all wounded, and strung along the wrong line of engagement. I remember it so vividly because it drove home to me that this was some weird, new game that we were all figuring out together. Not another Warcraft.

 

To the points they raise about the title 'Myth', I also remember clearly wondering if the ancient heroes who return as villains were every truly good. Myths are written by the victors, alongside histories?

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Very good show!

 

I used to like Myth 2 a lot, even if weirdly, most my memories are from frustration moments... maps such as the one where you chase the Baron or the Stairs of Grief and that D Day sytle map (this maps it the example of a nice idea, that simple make no sense in context, like, I got with all that explosive, they might have some cannons, but... no one talks about either before or after and how the monsters could use it? I remember this bothering me a lot when I first played), but maybe the blame was more in me, since I might, back there, I did not really catch one the whole "sometimes you should give ground" plus my attempts to not let a single soldier dies, might caused something like Rob had when he tried xcom 2 in Ironman Mode.

 

You guys talked about the narration, my version, however was localized for Brazil, so I didn´t got the original voices, but thankfully, in comparison to other localization of the period, Myth II had a pretty good on, at least the narrator was good, even if the rest of the voices was very weak or weird (the Dwarven units kind sound like a kid trying to imitate someone from Scotland, the Archers had one of the voices begin a local slang that made no sense in context of the game, but that said, the rest of the units/character had pretty good voices).

 

I think the reason we haven´t see a new Myth style game, its that put together a heavy physics simulation on top of modern graphics in that scale plus an AI and scripts, while not impossible, is very trick - the original games had the advantage that while for the period, their graphics where impressive, they might be simple enough to make the simulation not so heavy, but today - have several objects (maybe high detailed) running/clashing/bouncing around in a heavy dense mesh terrain and other objects might be very hard on performance.

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I seem to remember looking at the box cover for Myth countless times, but never picking it up. Not sure why these games never came to my attention, but my gaming was very spotty back in those days. So much I didn't play.

 

They sound fascinating though, and I personally love narrative twists like the ones you describe for the first game.

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Hey guys, great podcast!  You brought back so many memories about a game series that I loved, loved, loved.

I'd like to third or fourth the connection between the Myth series and the Black Company books. When Myth II came out I was deep into the Black Company books, and there are sooo many things that Myth draws from the Black Company books.  The narration style (e.g. written journal entries by an amateur historian/warrior), the city names (Tandem, Madrigal, etc.), the usage of True Names, the usage of an arrow tipped with the bone of its target, a chopped off head that keeps making trouble long after it should have died, calling the allied wizards "The Nine", the nature and names of the enemy wizards, how the enemy wizards are focused on fighting their own centuries old rivalries at least as much as on crushing human resistance, the way the enemy wizards are not just a threat because of their physical strength and magic but because they are the survivors of hundreds of years of warfare with all the trickery and cunning that implies, and how the ancient wizards are also all batshit insane due to the accumulated stress and trauma of years of brutal fighting and using abstruse magics.

Ok, and now this is where it gets interesting (in my opinion)!  Years later I found out that the author of the Black Company books, Glen Cook, had served in Vietnam, and in retrospect it makes sense of so many thing in the books.  In particular it explains why the author got magic so right; in his world magic is for the most part this alien, terrifying, and shockingly violent force.  Magic is basically what American air power would have been to a Vietnamese peasant.  I don't have the exact quote with me, but there are a few sentences in the Black Company where they are describing the aftermath of a battle that the Rebel fought against one of the Empire's undead-wizards.  The battlefield is dotted with these 10 meter wide circles of blackened turf, where everything inside the circle had just been utterly burned and melted.  Then like 30 years later, you have this reporter who writes a book (The Forever War by Dexter Filkins) about the war in Afghanistan, and he is describing the aftermath of a B-52 strike on a Taliban trench line. And the reporter's description of the aftermath is an almost word for word match for Cook's description. The only difference is that targeting technology has improved since Cook's time, and the circles of immolation on the Afghan battlefield are in a perfectly straight line rather than being speckled around the battlefield.  Anyway! I thought it was neat how these experiences were connected:   Vietnam -> Black Company -> Myth.  In some ways in Myth you are actually playing as the Viet Cong!  :)



 

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The worst part of Myth III, apart from it being bug-ridden and broken*, was how ham-fisted and cliched they were in trying to resolve parts of the story. I guess the problem was that they saw all those little mysteries, nods to the past, and hints at a greater mythology, and did not realize they were special because they were left a bit unexplained and to the imagination. The Head? Wonder who that is, and why it's annoyed? Get ready for a twist you're going to see coming immediately! The Deceiver? We'll tell you all about him in a poorly executed story that will play out exactly how you think it will. Everything that was a bit curious, or exciting, or shadowy, got dragged out into the a spot light and given uninspired and simplifying explanation.

 

* Though, given how long it has been since I played it, I can't remember specifically what did not work or the bugs. Only that they were a number of things.

 

 

 

 

 

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