Dungeon Master was the best selling product of all time on the Atari ST (and possibly on the Commodore Amiga as well) and won virtually every major award (see below) when it was first released in 1987, including the first ever Special Award for Artistic Achievement from Computer Gaming World. It established a new standard for Fantasy Role-Playing games. Dungeon Master was eventually released on over a dozen different platforms in six languages.
Dungeon Master was developed on Atari ST and released on December 15, 1987. It was then ported to many other platforms, starting with the Apple II GS and then the Amiga (see Don Jordan page at mobygames.com). Other ports were also made for PC, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, X68000, PC-9801 and FM-Towns. Dungeon Master on Atari ST was developed in Megamax C with much of the graphic code in assembly as mentioned in this Interview of Wayne Holder (February 1988).
The original game was in English. It was translated to German, French, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Chinese and Korean versions were available only on PC.
In Europe, the game was first released by Mirrorsoft and later re-released by Psygnosis.
I gathered the Dungeon Master reference information you will find on this site by playing with the PC version of Dungeon Master, and by using the DMute for PC v1.4 editor.
Here are some differences between the versions of the game:
In June 1986 a non-interactive Dungeon Master demo teaser disk for Atari ST was released to industry people and magazines during the summer CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Chicago. The demo is quite short and features the FTL swoosh animation, the opening of the dungeon doors, a scrolling teaser text and some movement in a dungeon with doors and pits.
Ah, so the Firestaff has called yet another band together.... Do you know the legends, gentles? Or have you stumbled in for destiny's sake? For listen: A comet's tail ago, the Dungeonmaster walked these worlds. A being of chaos, neither good nor evil, he ruled his kingdoms with fearsome antics, puzzles, and voids, and roamed far and wide to gather mysteries and treasures. One such was the Firestaff Itself. The Firestaff! Living, ancient thing, drawing to Itself a hero when It pleases. Some say the Dungeonmaster was the first to meet Its challenge--that fierce Lord but a pawn in the destiny of the Fire- staff, Its purpose cloaked in shadow. That the Firestaff compelled the Dungeonmaster to create these catacombs, and to lock up his treasure in fabled puzzle vaults. And that it is the Firestaff that bids you here, to test you in the Dungeonmaster's mazes. That if you succeed--if you live to gather treasure, to fight the horrors within that Chaos has sired--the Firestaff will make you more than you are now, something new and wondrous so that It may use you in other, grander, designs. The legend pleases you? You accept the challenge of the dreaded Firestaff? Then enter the vaults of the mighty Dungeonmaster!
It seems to be derived from version 2.0 of the full game: the string V2.0 can be found in the executable but is not visible anywhere while playing.
Main differences with the full game:
The post below may indicate that there was another version of the demo dungeon as it mentions fighting a Mummy and two skeletons (there is only one skeleton and no Mummy in the demo available above), there is no torch in the dungeon and there are no stairs.
From http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=16560 :
I am searching for the official Dungeon Master playable preview-version by FTL which must have been released in 1987/88.
The preview was on one floppydisk, and it started up like the full version. At the entrance of the dungeon there was a scroll lying on the ground including the message "dungeon master preview" (or something like that). When you opened the door and entered the dungeon, you were able to choose 4 characters (repertory of characters was not as big as in the full version). The preview showed some basic actions like opening doors, using torches, eating, drinking, and so on. A mummy appeared somewhere downstairs and later on you had to fight against two skeletons having swords and shields. Opening the last door, a scripture with "coming soon!" (or something similar) appeared.
I know for 100% that this preview existed, unfortunately I deleted it when I got the full version.
Here is an excerpt of 'The Definitive CDTV Retrospective: Part II' by Peter Olafson:
Dungeon Master (FTL): FTL president Wayne Holder reports the developer largely completed the CDTV conversion of this seminal dungeon crawl, only to be stymied by the inability to obtain reliable info from CBM on saving games to memory cards.
This was to be a moderately enhanced version with improved music and animation and a special animation player. It was never formally canceled; it just never surfaced. Some of the technology has surfaced in subsequent Amiga products (like Chaos Strikes Back), and for some time afterward, FTL continued to hold out hope it could complete the port.
"But things never came together at Commodore," Holder indicated. "So, I suppose, it ended with a whimper rather than a bang."
Dungeon Master was ported to Macintosh but never released.
Here are some differences in the dungeon between the Atari ST and the PC versions.
In the Atari ST version:
Object Index 61 = Weapon Type 38 Byte3 31 Object Type = 62 = STAFF OF IRRA
Object Index 62 = Weapon Type 39 Byte3 32 Object Type = 63 = CROSS OF NETA
Object Index 63 = Weapon Type 40 Byte3 33 Object Type = 64 = SERPENT STAFF
Object Index 64 = Weapon Type 41 Byte3 5 Object Type = 65 = DRAGON SPIT
Object Index 65 = Weapon Type 42 Byte3 35 Object Type = 66 = SCEPTRE OF LYF
Object Index 66 = Weapon Type 43 Byte3 36 Object Type = 135 = HORN OF FEAR
FTL created an official hint disk for Dungeon Master. But it was never released and instead the engine was used in Chaos Strikes Back for the Hint Oracle found on the Utility Disk.
Here is what Richard Alan Kaapke wrote on October 22, 1988 in a Post about the official Dungeon Master hint disk in comp.sys.atari.st:
"There will be little, if any, printed materials with the Dungeon Master Hint Disk. FTL is working hard to get release 1.0 out the door, and is stymied by the project's programmer who has gotten bogged down with college again....
You will either have a release 1.3 of Dungeon Master that has a HINT or HELP button at the front gate, or the disk will boot up and read your saved game file and comment on it. It is context sensitive, cleverly scripted ;-), and very informative. No graphical information is scheduled to be shown. The rendering method for text, background art, other effects, user interface, etc., is quite nice. No price presently."
In this Post from Richard Kaapke in comp.sys.atari.st, his signature explains his role within FTL Games:
Richard Kaapke, voice of the Running Giggler "Heh-HEE-ha-ha!"
Consultant to, NOT spokesman for, FTL games
Creative writer for FTL games' Dungeon Master Hint disk (RSN)
The following table is a list of awards that Dungeon Master won. It was taken from Daniel Durgan's web site (The Un-Official Dungeon Master Web Site, now disappeared). Daniel got it from the FTL homepage.
|Computer Play Magazine||Game of the Year 1988|
|Computer Play Magazine||Best Atari ST Game 1988|
|France's 4th Generation Magazine||Game of the Year 1988|
|UK Software Industry Awards||Adventure Game of the Year 1988|
|UK Software Industry Awards||Best Selling Atari ST title 1988|
|Tilt Magazine||Best Role Playing Game 1988|
|Tilt Magazine||Best Sound effects 1988|
|PowerPlay Magazine (Germany)||Best Role Playing Game 1988|
|The Adventureer's Club of the UK||"Golden Sword" Award 1988|
|The Adventureer's Club of the UK||Best Role Playing Game 1988|
|Dragon Magazine||"Beastie Award"|
|Dragon Magazine||Best Atari ST title 1988|
|Computer Gaming World Magazine||Special Artistic Achievement Award 1988|
|Game Player's Magazine||Best Amiga Game 1989|
|Datormagazin||Best Amiga Game 1989|
|Amiga World Magazine||Best Game 1989|
|Amiga World Magazine||Best Role Playing Game 1989|
|Computer Gaming World||Retired to the "Hall of Fame" Nov. 1989 after nearly a year
in the number one position on their charts.
|Dragon Magazine||Best Apple IIGS title 1989|
|Info Magazine||Best Game 1989|
|Compute Magazine||Best of the Amiga 1989|
|Power Play magazine||100 Best Games|
When released in Japan in 1990, Dungeon Master went on to win additional awards and set new sales records.
[Source: Abandonware Magazines]
[Source: Abandonware Magazines]
[Source: Computer Gaming World Museum]
[Source: Amiga Magazine Rack]
The original cover painting for the Dungeon Master box was made by artist David Darrow.
It illustrates a scene described in the prologue found in the game's manual (written by Nancy Holder). It represents the doors opening to Lord Chaos (not represented) while Halk prepares for fight, Alex trying to pull a torch out of a sconce and Syra holding a candelabra and her staff in the direction of the door.
Note that for some unknown reason, the word 'master' is missing (it was not painted on the original).
[Supplied by David R. Darrow]
It was exposed at the London Science Museum during an exhibition called 'Game On' that ran from October 21, 2006 to February 25, 2007. Here is a photo:
[Supplied by Ingmar]
This very nice article about How the cover art of Dungeon Master was made contains an interview of David Darrow and some photos he used to prepare his work.
Below are comments made by the author himself:
From the article titled 'Mastering Chaos', printed in issue #10 of 'Retro Gamer' and written by Richard Hewison (full article available on The games series)
Following his work on Sundog, David Darrow was asked to create the cover artwork for DM, and he decided to use local people as models. "In the foreground is my now ex-wife, who had to hold a very heavy candelabra for the photos I shot for reference," revealed David. "The guy grabbing the torch was programmer Andy Jaros, and the muscle-dude in the background was some guy I found at a gym. I walked into a fitness centre and asked the receptionist if there was a really huge guy there who she thought might like to pose for pictures for a 'hero video game cover' and she went and got him. I paid him to come to my home and pose for the pictures with a fluorescent bulb in his hands as a sword.
"The woman's costume was really a modified night gown, the muscle man's stuff was invented, and Andy Jaros brought his own costume. Yeah, he owned all that stuff!
"I painted the cover about four of five times the size of the retail box on a gessoed masonite panel. I used airbrushed liquitex acrylic and coloured pencils to render it. It took about three weeks, because the technique was all new to me, and I felt under tremendous pressure. That was my own doing. FTL was very patient with me."
David took his inspiration from artist Drew Struzan who has painted a large number of famous film posters over the last 25 years, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner, Back to the Future I, II and III and more recently Star Wars Episode I and Hellboy, to name but a few.
From an email sent to Cowsmaunaut:
"To be honest, I was a huge fan of Drew Struzan at the time, and surrounded myself with posters of his. You are right: airbrush, painting, and Prismacolor (no ink). Art School taught me what I was capable of, but really, I learned just like you: by analyzing the work of more experienced, better artists. I used photos of various people I knew for the models. Hired the muscle man from a local gym. The woman with the (very heavy) candelabra was my first wife. And the guy pulling on the torch was Andy, the art-man for the game. The rest is entirely invented. I worked on a piece of masonite, about 25 - 30 inches tall, gessoed with a very heavy brush strokes to give it inherent texture (I still use this from time to time on my Fine Art paintings). Really, not much was cropped out, since it was designed to fit specific proportions. The bleed was pre-determined, and planned for."