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Loom sequel speculation


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On 4/27/2022 at 11:48 PM, Huz said:

 

Haha. I played through Loom for the first time just last week, and I'm sorry to say I couldn't see why it's held in such high regard. But that was the Steam version, and the quote above might explain it! It sounds like I need to play it again in... shudder... EGA.

 

Since the thread has been bumped and I'm sure you're all dying to know - I did indeed play through the EGA version of Loom a little while after making this post. Moriarty - and you guys - are not wrong. The EGA version takes a massive dump all over the talkie edition.

 

Pretty sad that the version of Loom available on Steam is the bad one, especially because anyone who is put off by it being - shall we say, an historic artefact - isn't going to be made happy just because it has 256 colours and some ropey speech. Luckily I was able to acquire EGA Loom from archive.org, which I'm sure is 101% legitimate and above board. I see the appeal of the game a lot more now! It's amazing what they were able to wring out of 16 colours.

 

The video above on the previous page 😡 looks great - will have to watch at some point!

Edited by Huz
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42 minutes ago, s-island said:

The FM Towns version has the VGA graphics, but keeps the unabridged dialogue since it has not speech. It's an interesting middle ground.

 

With the caveat that I've only played it in ScummVM, not on real hardware, I don't like how that version handles music. It has two versions of each piece of music. First it plays one, then it loops the other (usually inferior) one it's time to play the next piece of music. It gets a bit grating, and it makes it harder to make out the notes of the drafts you have to learn.

 

There's also the TurboGrafx-16 version, which has graphics somewhere between the EGA and FM Towns version, but that one makes some inexplicable changes to the music as well. So all things considered, I still prefer the EGA version.

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Yeah, having two different arrangements of each piece was a really odd decision to make. You can "fix" it by messing with the rips of the CD audio tracks when playing in ScummVM, though. Just double up the good arrangements or make the second ones silent.

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50 minutes ago, s-island said:

Yeah, having two different arrangements of each piece was a really odd decision to make. You can "fix" it by messing with the rips of the CD audio tracks when playing in ScummVM, though. Just double up the good arrangements or make the second ones silent.

 

With the development version of ScummVM, you can also replace the music in the EGA version. It's still subject to the limitations of the original music, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out: https://wiki.scummvm.org/index.php/Loom#Audio_tracks

 

 

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4 hours ago, ThunderPeel2001 said:

Damn, this is getting complicated. Can someone explain to me what the best version is and how to get it? :)

 

That's the big question, isn't it? I haven't even played all versions. 😀

 

TL;DR - The EGA version is the one I find myself returning to. In some scenes, the VGA graphics look quite nice, but there are other scenes where I think something was lost in translation. I like that we have the VGA version, because it's almost as if two teams were given the same screenplay, sets and costumes, and were asked to make a game. I just dislike that it's the only available versions these days, because to me it's not the best one.

 

And now the long, rambly version...

 

Most of the Looms I've managed to track down, I've gotten from eBay. The only version available for purchase nowadays is the VGA talkie one. I got EGA Loom from the LucasArts Classic Adventures collection, and Mac Loom from the LucasArts Mac CD Game Pack and it remains my favorite. It's apparently a lot easier to find the German version, but I don't want that.

 

The English TurboGrafx-16 version used to be reasonably priced, but seems to have gone way up since I got mine. (The Japanese version was cheaper last time I checked. I don't speak Japanese.) Extracting the game from the CD so that ScummVM can play it is also a bit of work.

 

The FM Towns version has always been horrifyingly expensive, so don't ask me how an affordable one suddenly popped up in an auction one day. It didn't include the box (which probably made the more insane collectors turn up their noses), but it did have both the game and audio drama discs, and the instructions/hint books.

 

The only version that's easy to find is the VGA talkie one. The  one sold on GOG and Steam is packaged differently than the original CD, but should otherwise be identical.

 

The EGA version is, as far as I know, the only version that has the Overture that plays when using the Roland MT-32 music. But since this is just a black screen with the word "OVERTURE" and the Swan Lake theme playing, you're not missing that much if you don't see it.

 

The original 16 color Mac version is close to the EGA version, but uses a high-resolution font for the text and notes. The music sounds different too. The instruments are digitized, but not very fancy ones. I don't know how well ScummVM handles it, since the Mac emulator I'm using is having trouble with it. It sounds ok to me, though a bit shrill at times. The later 256 color version is a straight port of the VGA talkie version, as far as I know.

 

The FM Towns version is graphically very similar to the VGA talkie version, to the extent that they show the same scenes. I did notice some minor touch-up in one scene, but I don't know which is the original and which is the revised graphics. Scrolling is done pixel-by-pixel instead of eight pixels at a time. But as mentioned, it plays music pretty much non-stop without adding any new songs, which can get a bit annoying. It adds a few sound effects as well, e.g. a splash when Bobbin falling into the water. The notes you hear are often overlaid with sound effects too, making them even harder to make out.

 

The TurboGrafx-16 version is a bit of an odd bird. Some of the graphics look like the EGA version with a bit less dithering, while others look like the VGA version with less colors. In one scene, a tree has been removed from the foreground. Perhaps having an object you could walk behind like that slowed down the graphics too much? Unlike the EGA version sound effect don't always interrupt the music. The music sounds pretty much the same as the first arrangement of each tune from the FM Towns version. However, some noticeable changes is that when the dragon carries you off it plays the same music as during the final confrontation, and in the caves afterwards it plays the Swan Lake theme. Also, the blacksmith music starts playing while you're still on the plateau outside the Forge. It's weird. When playing in an emulator (not ScummVM), the picture is a bit wider than 320 pixels. This causes glitches at the very end of the game, since some graphics are then visibly cropped.

 

The VGA talkie version is... well, it was the first version I played, so I still have a soft spot for it. Most of the text has been modified in some way (usually made shorter, but sometimes longer). Maybe some of it sounded better when read aloud that way, but I don't know. All of the sound, speech and music was mixed together into one long audio track, which put an upper limit on how much they could fit. (I've seen one game that tried to get around this by putting half of the sound in the right channel and half in the left, but Loom did not use that trick.) Almost all of the ambient music is gone. Most of the distinctive close-up portraits are also gone, though a few new close-ups have been added. There is a bit more character animation as well. Some of it is good, while others is straight from the "Milking the Giant Cow" school of acting. Particularly the Elders and bishop Mandible.

 

I don't have the remaining versions, but I understand that they're graphically like the EGA version. So the main difference is the audio. Since ScummVM can now replace the music, it should be fairly easy to make e.g. the EGA version sound like the Amiga version, if that's what you prefer. Though the sound effects will still be different. The palette may be slightly different, too?

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By the way, some time ago I made some comparisons between the graphics of the different versions, that some may find amusing. First the three different graphics styles. I don't remember if I used the VGA or FM Towns version for the rightmost column but for these scenes it shouldn't make much of a difference. (The FM Towns version runs at 320x240 pixels rather than 320x200 pixels, though it's mostly just more wasted black space at the bottom of the screen.) The middle column is the TurboGrafx-16 version, showing both EGA and VGA style graphics, as well as the missing tree in the foreground of one scene.

 

loom-ega-pce-fm.png

Another comparision, this time of one particular scene. The VGA talkie version really... stands out?

 

loom-montage.png

And finally one where I added the CGA and Macintosh black-and-white modes. I think the CGA mode is auto-generated from the 16-color graphics. I know the black-and-white mode (only available for the 16-color Mac version) is.

 

loom-modes.png

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On 5/11/2022 at 9:36 AM, Thrik said:

Christ alive! I’m glad I’m not into this game, because if I were I’d be paralysed by all these choices. Excellent detective work.

 

Maybe you just haven't played the right version yet :)

 

On 5/11/2022 at 6:35 AM, Torbjörn Andersson said:

So the main difference is the audio. Since ScummVM can now replace the music, it should be fairly easy to make e.g. the EGA version sound like the Amiga version, if that's what you prefer. Though the sound effects will still be different. The palette may be slightly different, too?

 

So which is the best match of audio and graphics? :)

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On 5/12/2022 at 12:32 PM, ThunderPeel2001 said:

So which is the best match of audio and graphics? :)

 

That's a matter of taste. If you have 2.5 hours to spare, you can listen to two guys comparing the EGA and VGA versions here:

 

 

Me, I'm on "Team EGA". I don't care about the minor palette differences, but I think the DOS version sounds better than the Mac version.

 

The only replacement music I've used is the Seiji Ozawa recording with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It seemed appropriate, since apparently that was used as tempo reference when adapting the music for the game.

 

Though after all the replaying I had to do to get that, and other things, working properly in ScummVM, it'll probably be a while before I want to play through the game from start to finish again. 😛

 

loom-end.png

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On 5/10/2022 at 10:47 PM, Torbjörn Andersson said:

By the way, some time ago I made some comparisons between the graphics of the different versions, that some may find amusing. First the three different graphics styles. I don't remember if I used the VGA or FM Towns version for the rightmost column but for these scenes it shouldn't make much of a difference. (The FM Towns version runs at 320x240 pixels rather than 320x200 pixels, though it's mostly just more wasted black space at the bottom of the screen.) The middle column is the TurboGrafx-16 version, showing both EGA and VGA style graphics, as well as the missing tree in the foreground of one scene.

 

loom-ega-pce-fm.png

Another comparision, this time of one particular scene. The VGA talkie version really... stands out?

 

loom-montage.png

And finally one where I added the CGA and Macintosh black-and-white modes. I think the CGA mode is auto-generated from the 16-color graphics. I know the black-and-white mode (only available for the 16-color Mac version) is.

 

loom-modes.png

Seeing all the various versions reminds me of my earliest Loom experience. I don't know how or why, but when I first played Loom on floppy as part of the "Classic Adventures" collection on my Windows 3.11 PC, it showed up in a bizarre 3-color presentation--yellow, black and white. In some parts of the game this rendered the dialogue totally illegible--I remember not knowing that Stoke had any lines, assuming that for some reason it just kept showing me his glowering face to let me know he was upset with me. Same with Cob. By complete accident I eventually realized that this was apparently happening because I was playing without the disk in the drive--putting it in caused the game to boot in full 16-color mode. None of the other games in that collection played any differently without the disk in the drive, and I've never heard anyone else mention this happening, so I've sometimes wondered over the years if I imagined it--but my memories of it are so clear and specific that I can't quite make myself believe it. (I remember being shocked on seeing Master Goodmold in EGA because I'd assumed he was wearing a full-face black mask with lenses over the eye-holes, and on seeing Fleece because I'd thought she was supposed to be quite elderly.) Clearly the game was never MEANT to be played like that, but I've always wondered what the deal was and if it ever happened to anyone else.

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