TaskMaker

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TaskMaker
Taskmaker cover art.jpg
Developer(s) Storm Impact
Publisher(s) XOR Corporation (1989)
Storm Impact (1993)
Designer(s) David Cook, Tom Zehner
Platform(s) "Classic" Mac OS
Release date(s) 1989, 1993
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single player
Distribution 1989: Floppy disks
1993: Download, floppy disks

TaskMaker is a role-playing video game for the Macintosh developed by Storm Impact. The original black-and-white version was published by XOR Corporation in 1989.[1] In 1993, Storm Impact released an upgraded shareware version of TaskMaker featuring color graphics and compatibility with newer versions of Mac OS. Storm Impact also released a sequel, The Tomb of the Taskmaker, in 1997. With Storm Impact's closure that same year, both TaskMaker games are no longer supported. They are still covered by intellectual property rights, including copyrights.[2]

Plot[edit]

The player is a young hero who has arrived to be trained and eventually become the leader of the land. The TaskMaker, leader of the game's world, serves as the player's mentor.[3] The TaskMaker assigns the player ten tasks, which are quests to obtain an item from a different dungeon or town. In doing so, the player encounters game elements such as illusionary walls, teleports, traps, and switches, as well as monsters, and other non-playable characters with whom the player can interact.

In the game's next-to-last task, the TaskMaker asks the player to kill a prisoner on his island. Returning to the TaskMaker after killing the prisoner reveals the TaskMaker to be evil, and the game ends; not killing the prisoner results in a battle with the TaskMaker as the final task, and leads to the game's true ending. Once the TaskMaker is killed, the player is declared "master" of the land, and a special menu is unlocked in the game, allowing for the player to edit all the dungeons and villages.[4]

Gameplay[edit]

A screenshot from the Storm Impact version.

The player's overall status is measured by seven status bars. All stats save for food will replenish through time and resting.

  • Food: Food is the characters's appetite and requires food in order to fill. Although food does not affect combat, it allows the character to rest and heal. When depleted, the character will be unable to rest and continually lose health until he either receives more food or he dies.
  • Health: Health illustrates the character's wellbeing and how close to death they become. Health is lost by falling into traps and getting hit by enemies. Once it falls to or below zero, the player is transported to Hell. Hell is a maze lined with flaming walls containing 4 exits in each corner with a demon guard. Only one exit will be open and thus one demon to battle.
  • Spirit: Spirit is required for both battle, special commands and spellcasting.

Strength: Strength is important in battle and in some cases spellcasting.

  • Agility: Agility is need for battle, spellcasting and special commands such as stealing.
  • Intellect: Intellect is important for spellcasting and battle.
  • Stamina: Stamina reflects how long a character can sustain a battle until resting is required. While the other four stats are required for spellcasting, stamina is solely required for weapon based fighting and such can only be upgraded by leveling up, magical components and battle.

Each bar's length can be increased by leveling up (after a certain amount of fighting and/or spell casting) or by taking potions or reading scrolls to increase their strength. Money takes on the form of valuables such as copper pieces and gold bars which takes up room in the character's inventory. In this form, they can be traded and bestowed onto others although they can not be spent. When the player dies while holding these gems, they will be lost to scavengers. It is imperative they are deposited in "Auto Tellers" in order to convert them into currency and thus safe from looting. The world's currency can be spent at numerous stores around the world to purchase both weapons, armour, magical components and nourishment.

Gameplay items include magical potions, scrolls, and wands (which can help to replenish the status bars, increase the bars' lengths, or aid in fighting monsters) as well as useless items which can only be eliminated by depositing them in recycling bins. Miscellaneous items such as checkers can be bought, although they serve no purpose other than gifts.

Bestowing gifts onto others will increase their happiness and lower their hostility to the player. Low level non-playable characters and enemies only require cheap items to make them happy, while the higher level ones demand pricier gifts. The player also can cast one of several spells, including both built-in and hidden spells.[4]

Reception[edit]

The original XOR version of TaskMaker was reviewed negatively in MacWEEK, which compared it unfavorably to contemporary Macintosh role-playing video games The Bard's Tale, Might and Magic and Pool of Radiance. MacWEEK noted the game's quick and controllable fun, but claimed that it lacked richness and had less enticing graphics compared to the other titles.[5] The Macintosh IIx version of the game got 4 out of 5 stars in Dragon; the reviewers gave the game 4 out of 5 stars, saying that it was "not hard" but adding, "it is proven that those who write game code specifically for one computer system and don’t rely on a port of another system’s code usually publish a better-than-average game."[6] The Lessers also noted that the game's graphics were reminiscent of the Mac game OrbQuest, in that "[y]ou have a top-down view of your area, in black and white and shades of gray."[6] Allgame critic Lisa Karen Savignano gave the Storm Impact version of the game four-and-a-half stars out of five. She said that although it did not have a very strong replay value, it had solid graphics and sound, as well as complex puzzles and a well-detailed manual to aid in gameplay.[7]

The Tomb of the TaskMaker[edit]

Storm Impact released a sequel entitled The Tomb of the TaskMaker in 1997. This sequel was set after the end of the first game's storyline. In The Tomb of the Taskmaker, the protagonist is now the leader of the land, and is informed of various tasks that he has to perform to restore peace. As with TaskMaker, the tasks in the sequel involve retrieving artifacts that must be brought back to the throne, but unlike in the predecessor, said artifacts are destroyed afterward. During the course of the game, the player is told by a messenger that the TaskMaker has come back to life in his tomb and that he is the one depositing these evil artifacts around the world. The final task involves entering the tomb, where the player discovers that the TaskMaker is dead, and a captain guard who has been protecting the TaskMaker's bones states that he is the true mastermind and attempts to kill the player with his cohort of guards.[8] The player then has to defeat the captain guard and his assistants to win the game; as in the first game, defeating the final villain unlocks a Master menu.

The Tomb of the TaskMaker features additional gameplay aspects, while retaining many elements of the first game such as the use of weapons, potions, spells and wands, and most of the monster designs. New options include the ability to choose a male or female character, as well as the role of magician, fighter or thief. A fighter can use every form of weapon and armor, a magician can cast certain spells that other players cannot, and a thief can pick locks and steal objects. Although only the fighter can wield and wear every piece of weapon and armour in the game, the most powerful ones can be wielded and worn by all three classes. Hell has been redesigned to involve doing a deplorable task such as bestowing gifts to demons, killing bunnies, throwing random switches or binning a large number of gold bars. After doing one of these tasks, the exit will be open.

The game was released just before Storm Impact closed, and never made it past version 1.0 until Cook posted an updated test version (which fixed several bugs from the original version and added two new dungeons) on his personal website in July 2008.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "TaskMaker". Allgame. Retrieved 2007-06-09. 
  2. ^ a b Cook, David. "Storm Impact". Robot Room. Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  3. ^ Storm Impact (1997). "TaskMaker". Mac OS. Level/area: Opening sequence. You've been on a long voyage from your homeland. You have come to rid this land of its terrors, and grow to become leader of the world. The elders and citizens are expecting a mighty warrior to attend to their cries. Unfortunately, you are young and inexperienced. However, a powerful man named the TaskMaker has agreed to help you to grow stronger. 
  4. ^ a b Savignano, Lisa Karen. "TaskMaker Color". Allgame. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  5. ^ Howard, Stephen (1988-11-21). "Adventure Fantastic". MacWEEK. 
  6. ^ a b Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (March 1990). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (155): 95–101. 
  7. ^ Savignano, Lisa Karen. "TaskMaker review". Allgame. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  8. ^ Storm Impact (1997). "The Tomb of the TaskMaker". Mac OS. Level/area: The Tomb. The coffin opens, revealing the dried bones of the TaskMaker. Suddenly, the Captain of the Castle Hall guards appears, saying… 'So, you've discovered that the TaskMaker is still dead! I served faithfully beside him for many years, and it was my turn to rule the kingdom, not yours! Did you even suspect that I was really behind his rebirth??? Now that you know the truth, I cannot let you live. Soon, I shall be the iron fist of Outer Terra.' And with that, the sides to the tomb open…