2017-05-16 15:55:25

It's been 24 hours since I shifted servers and I haven't seen an outage message yet from Google. So I think things are looking good there. Please report any outages you experience.

supermalavox, thanks for the suggestions. Amazon just announced that they are doing a revenue share with developers of games for Alexa. This is incredibly important news for games on this device. There is now, finally, a financial reason for people to create interesting and compelling content for this device. My strategy up till now has been to create a system where I can get a return through in-app purchases, merchandise, or downloadable content. Now there is a shorter on-ramp for developers to get some return for their efforts and it should spur much more interest in developing games for this platform.

I have directed those in the Alexa development community to this board and suggested it as a great resource for ideas for new and better audio games. Now that Amazon have opened the checkbook I hope that we'll get more and better audio games. I welcome the competition!

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2017-05-16 17:05:38

Yeah I was playing Starlanes last night and it died 3 times within 5 minutes, I just sort of gave up. I don't know what the deal is, why it does that. I personally thing it times out too quickly, like it only really gives 2 or so seconds then just craps out on you, they should give it at least 5, but I think that's something on Amazon's end, and how you gonna convince a multi billion dollar corporation to make changes, tongue

I don't have problems using the tablet, I don't think its my net, or I'd be seeing random hangs and stuff while it tried to reconnect. Sometimes my wifi does go down, for like 2 minutes then comes back up, but that's not all the time, and the rest of my devices would go offline too, so I don't know what the deal is, same thing happens on the echo.io service. Also, my net doesn't go down when echosim.io drops me out of the skill, so the wifi's not to blame I don't think. I've not tried it with 6 swords only that once, the reason being that game seems more complex, and I can't really learn to play it if I keep dropping out.

This is also every time I play, its not like a specific time of day type of thing. I think last night it was like 10 at night, EDT, other times I've played in the afternoon.

I felt the wind of your passing
        is preferable to
I felt the passing of your wind

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2017-05-16 20:42:53

So after trying again today, I was able to stay connected to both Starlanes and 6 swords for a while, however I did eventually get dropped from 6 swords, and I couldn't really figure out what to do there, so I was just wandering around. I'm having a problem with starlanes, trying to go through the tutorial and even though I am saying next tutorial, it is often times backing up instead of going forward, even when I annunciate very clearly. Also, I haven't been able to make it through the tutorial because of getting dropped, so maybe could we have a system where we can jump to a specific section, then go from there, I don't really need to step through stuff I've already heard because I can't stay connected. I also tried playing like 5 feet in front of the router, and then starlanes just sort of stopped, no tone, didn't say couldn't access, it just kind of stopped.

I felt the wind of your passing
        is preferable to
I felt the passing of your wind

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2017-05-17 01:28:21

OK, another update, so, I am finding out that one thing that really makes it likely to get you kicked is if you say the wrong thing, for instance, what I was trying to do is see how many drones I could hold in my ship, and I forgot the command for that, I remember it in the tutorial, but I didn't want to hear all that stuff again just to get to that section in the tutorial, only to either be kicked, or the tutorial go back and not forward. I would say things like what is our capacity; capacity; how many drones can we hold. In each case, it was more likely that I would be kicked then rather than later. It seems like if you say a wrong thing, there's a higher likelihood you getting kicked. I played the game smoothly for 10-15 minutes about an hour ago until I started trying to find things, or twy things.

I think we really need a way to store progress in the tutorials, or, add a way to jump to a specific section. If I have to listen to the same stuff over and over again, it's just frustrating and makes me not really receptive to learning when the new stuff comes up.

I felt the wind of your passing
        is preferable to
I felt the passing of your wind

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2017-05-18 21:11:13

I had a talk with some people who know AWS better than me. Apparently I was running on a server that was the equivalent of a TRS-80 or something. So I've upgraded my production server. Let me know if that improves things.

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2017-05-19 14:08:54

iron is correct, when I was playing starlanes when it first came out, I was getting dropped from the server a lot, I will admit it doesn't really happen in 6swords to much tho

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2017-05-19 16:47:18

It seems to have made a difference, played for about 5 minutes last night showing to someone, today though it was saying something about having trouble understanding, that's probably more out of environment since its literally hotter than hell out here and I have loud fan on.

I felt the wind of your passing
        is preferable to
I felt the passing of your wind

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2017-05-20 03:33:38

I just pushed this week's update. They major part is the first (mini) module to be released: Batrachian City. It's located due north of Village of Achnasheen.

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2017-09-18 15:25:44

Just would like to revive the topic about 6 Swords and ask if it is still being developed. By the way, is its development for Google Assistant the same level as Alexa's version?


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2017-12-18 06:27:01

Okay just giving this a try as I've set up my echo dot.
One thing which seems really odd to me is there are no quests or anything.
I keep hearing about bounties, but I've not found any. Villages just contain inns or temples with nothing, and weapon, armour and potion shops which contain stuff I can't aford. Apparently there are some cities somewhere but I've not found any yet so basically I'm just walking around and whacking stuff, which is okay, though i wish there was a little more by way of description and things to do, unless I'm missing something, and yes, i do have the full version of the game.
I did find a castle, but the only thing in there was an aviary with no monsters, npcs or anything else.
Has the game been scaled down or something? right now it seems a wee bit empty which is a shame, since I love the principle.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

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2017-12-25 21:21:10

Sorry for not responding sooner. I couldn't get through to the forum for a few months.

Firstly, yes, 6 Swords is still in active development. We introduced a "news" feature to keep people abreast of the new things we've added. If people want me to start a thread here and post about the weekly new features I'm happy to do so. Current in addition to the news we also post to the Amazon Alexa games facebook group, and the game forum. But we're very appreciative of the support we've gotten from the visually impaired community and I'm happy to update things here as well (as long as the admins and patrons don't think that's too commercial).

Right now the only quests in the game are the bounties. If you find a non-ruined castle, tower or outpost, just to the left of the main entrance is where you can pick up a bounty. It will tell you how to get to a nearby ruin, and if you kill the boss monster there, you can return and get paid.

We have opened up a beta area, with a geography based on a series of fantasy books that I've written. The aim is to have much more structured quests there. In the time period there are two main factions in a big civil war. You will be able to undergo mission for either side, or build up their defenses, and actually affect how the war plays out. I had hoped to have the open in time for Christmas, but we didn't quite make it.

The castle you found is probably one that a player has built. You can find or purchase "deeds" in the game which you use to create and expand strongholds. Right now they are just of decorative value, but we hope to add more so you can fully flesh out interesting areas. Our original plan was to have a companion "game" that was essentially an editor, to let you build and share your own custom content for the game. Unfortunately in testing we worked out that the voice transcription in both Amazon Alexa and Google Home wasn't good enough for content creation. (That's some of the reason we missed our Christmas goal.) The land deeds (and permits we added last week) are our second attempt to allow users to create content.

I have my own content editor that I use, but it's graphical based. I'm not as keen on distributing that because I want to keep user content on par for both visually able and impaired people. I am super keen on that because I really, really want the visually impaired community to be able to contribute. I think that you guys will demonstrate an unique insight into creating these sort of audio only experiences, and I want to empower that. The land deeds and permits aren't great, but they are a start. I am very open to other suggestions you might have for adding to the game.

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2017-12-26 01:24:42

So, is the game actually available in the german alexa store or again just the american one? Because if so, I guess I have to create an american amazon account.

Hömma, willze watt von mir oder wie, weil wenn nich, dann lass dir mal sagen, laber mir kein Kottlett anne Wange und hömma, wo wir gerade dabei sind, dann iss hier hängen im Schacht, sonns klapp ich dir hier die Fingernägel auf links, datt kannze mir mal glaubn.

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2017-12-26 01:52:09

yes would be interesting to hear more about this regularly also what about starlanes

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2017-12-26 05:56:23

I adore this game and love to see that it gets weekly updates. what I'd like to ask is some way to examine items we have in our inventory. If I can't find something similar to what I have in a shop, I'm flying blind and often don't know how good stuff is or what I can use it for. Other things that aren't quite as clear such as what exactly some potions do mechanically would help as well.

Love the bardic colleges and am playing with the female high elven accent currently. .

Also some tips as to what certain magical prefixes or suffixes mean on weapons would be good too, for example, I'd like to know whether the flaming spear does extra fire damage or just does fire damage instead of physical? Also knowing the attack rate would be good or give us some way to figure out why some weapons that seem to do similar damage as others are more expensive in the store.

Another idea I think would be cool... human monsters. This would be things like evil priests, cultists, bandits, pirates, raiders, and evil druids or stuff like that. It seems a little odd that all humans are good.

Finally, when the world gets expanded enough, perhaps introducing other pantheons of gods in other regions or if procedural generation starts to happen, at random pepper in other gods like Mayan/Aztec deities, Norse ones, or Ancient Babylonian ones. I like the Roman stuff but I think gods ought to be expanded when that happens with the world.

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2017-12-26 06:24:57

Thank you for such positive comments!

Sadly the skill is currently not in the German store. I wish it was. And I've set it up so that it can be localized. So far all I've done is change the names to Indian names in the India geography. There's a lot of text in 6 Swords and we've yet to make money on it, so we don't have a budget for translation. Also it is a moving target. There is still content being added weekly, which means I'd have to have a translator on hand.

Starlanes is supported, but is in maintenance mode. I'd really like to get back to it. But it really needs to have the audio interface updated with a lot of stuff we've learned since we first did it. Right now we have limited resources and are devoting our time to 6 Swords. Your continued interest is good to hear, though. We're looking for funding and it helps us to point out that there is interest in it.

Inventory management is a problem. I've seen that some users have a ton of stuff in their inventory and I've been struggling with a good design to let you view it. I did change it recently so that it only tells you the top items in your inventory, and you can then use "more" to page through them. I know this isn't adequate. But I'm stuck for ideas to make it better.

I have to think of a way to let you call up information on objects and the like. Hmm. I just added a ticket based on some other feedback to add a "where" function, so you could say "where am I', or "where is the nearest village". Let me add a ticket for a "what" function. So you can say "what is a potion of speed" or "what is a goblin". That might also cover what the magical effects on weapons do. Hmm. I could also have it so if you have any of the object in question, it tells you how many you have. That gives a sort of inventory search idea.

The Bardic College is kind of fun, isn't it? I'm not sure how much longer it will be there. The fellow who created the service (the author of The Magic Door skill) very generously has let me use it for free for November and December. In January we're going to see what sort of price we can work out that covers his costs, and fits in my budget. My aim has been, when the game is good enough, to have certian features be "premium" features, and charge a small monthly fee. (There will always be a totally free version though!) That would cover stuff like this. Depending on what price model we come up with, the Bardic College might have to go away for a while.

Human monsters are a good idea. The mechanics for the game are based on OSRIC a sort of open source version of first edition Dungeons and Dragons. The monster list did have all sorts of human monsters in it, but I took them out for simplicity. But it's easy enough to add them in. I've created an issue to track this. I may even get it in this week's update.

As for other gods, I'm pleased to say they are already there! The beta world has a non-procedural geography based on a series of fantasy novels I have written. There are regions with distinct cultures and gods. In addition to Roman, historical religions represented area Aztec, Indian, Babylonia, American Indian, Celtic, Japanese, Norse, Finnish and Egyptian. Fantasy religinos represented are Lizard Man, Gnome, Dwarvish, Halfling, Elvish and one from my novels. For historical religions still worshiped, I have created gods inspired by the historical gods rather than the actual gods, so as to not give offense.

If you go due east from Veritas (the big city near the start) you can find a Tri-Form arch which will lead you to the beta area. There are some fun new features there, but some are still a little half baked.

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2017-12-26 15:07:38


With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

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2017-12-26 15:21:33

jjaquinta, feel free to post updates, we are all about games here and getting updates is nice,.
I'll hopefully be putting together db pages for six swords, and your other games soon (i've checked out a fair few  alexa games, you can find the list in the articles room).

As regards six swords, I have found the bounties and temples, and love exploring the game and seeing all the different monster types, but at the moment I'm afraid I'm still feeling a bit lost.
I can wander around and whack things, but when I eventually found a bounty it was something waaaaay too tough to kill, and I can't improve my party because I can't get enough gold for better weapons,   I also  am not sure whether my  party are using their current weapons   optimally, eg, it would make sense to have a couple of people on ranged attacks and a couple on physical, but I don't know how  much difference that makes in the game so far if any.

So a bit more info on tactics would be nice.

I'm also afraid I have two bugs. the news command doesn't work at all (another reason why posting updates might be nice). I've tried under updates, news, what is the   latest news and Tell me the news you bloody moron! butg  but none of them worked :(not that I expected the last one to but hay).

Likewise, neither rest, sleep, go to sleep nor any combination work, indeed I only know there is a rest mechanic in the game because Bookrage told me in another topic, at first I thoguht the messages about "your party  should rest" were just flavour text.
I'm in the Uk so speaking with an English accent, but even  when my wife (who is American), tried speaking  it didn't work, maybe it is the language, since obvious, obviously I have the game set to English Uk.
I didn't  notice any  similar issues in mind maze, sub war or  any of your other titles.

I'm looking forward to seeing more quests and content in the game, since currently as I said it probably feels more empty than it is.
One way to improve this which is quite simple is to make the game a bit  more descriptive. At the moment  there is no description of your surroundings other than it's basic terrain type, and no description of enemy creatures. I'd love to know what a fire beatle or a merlock looks like, and if the hills and mountains  and light  forests were more described, I'd personlly get much more of an explorer vibe from them and love to wander the world a bit more. 

One expantion class you could consider which would both have the ability to change the game and to act as player rewards would be  furniture, and similarly hazards in the wilderness or caves.
For example, if you sleep in a room with a bed you could recover more, while if you rest in a room with a magical book you could gain a little extra experience.

On the other hand, if you battle in an area with tangled bushes you might be damaged each round by the thorns, while travelling through the desert might take hp from your party, indeed looking into hunger and thirst and supplies, at least  to provide a bit of basic travelling and that lord of the rings feeling of journeying in the wild might be nice (you already have made a great start on this with the weather).

I'll look forward to seeing where this one goes, ditto with  starlanes, which I've also played and am ahving fun with.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

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2017-12-26 17:43:17

Hello, just letting you know that you've got a definite premium player in me on this one.  as it's quite the game and I can play it for hours on end. And for extra crud I'm willing to pay quite a bit.

Also, perhaps you could even have a cash shop of sorts with special, non-essential things, like cosmetic stuff for castles that serve no purpose, such as music or something to play while characters are in the castle, or perhaps a special hiring hall where the characters that you can hire are of non-standard races, such as lizardfolk, goblins, or other creatures more often considered monsters. They needn't be any stronger than normal characters, and to avoid the pay-to-proceed complaints you might get they shouldn't be. But I'd love to have a lizardfolk in my party.

I'm loving the game as I've said, but I need to make my own complaint about something in how the inventory works right now.

I haven't had the speech difficulties Dark has but I've had some real trouble in part of managing my inventory.

half of my party was using shortbows but as I got some good money off of some fire mephitis I found on the road I started to purchase some +1 shortbows. to improve their ability to fight. I took the shortbows away from my guys in preparing to fit them out with the new equipment. However, as it worked out, the non-magical shortbows were higher up in my inventory list. When I said, "equip with +1shortbow," all the system heard was "shortbow" and no matter what I did, I could not get them to equip the bows I wanted. I found a work-around where I equipped every regular shortbow I had and then added a +1 shorbow to who I wanted when there were no regular shortbows left, but it was frustrating and took me an hour to figure it out.

However, if this helps your coding, I'll tell you it doesn't have that problem in reverse. If I give specifics on what I want to take from a hero, it will recognize the specifics I add to designate the item, and do what I want so to be brief, If I say "take +2 small shield" it recognizes the +2 and takes what I want, but if I say "equip +2 small shield." all the game hears is "Small shield" and picks the first one in my inventory, regardless of its magical properties or lack thereof.

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2017-12-26 19:25:52

Quick response. (I used all my vacation on a big summer trip, so I actually have to day-job work between Christmas and new year's, but still get the kids sorted and host a party today!)
Dark, you're not crazy, you're just British. You are hitting a bug I only found out about last week. They rejected my Canadian and Australian English submissions because they were out of sync with the American English ones. Looking at it now, it looks like my British and Indian English models are also out of sync. So you are right, it just isn't hearing "news" or "rest". I'm VERY sorry about that. If you can be a little more patient, I'm going to try to quick a quick implementation of "what" and "where" as suggested on the StarLanes forum. Amazon have to approve audio model changes, so it can take a few weeks. So I try to squeeze in as many as I can.
I'll do a full reply either later today or tomorrow, depending on how day-job goes...

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2017-12-26 22:37:31

Hi jjaquinta,

I just wanted to state how much I appreciate the afford you put into this Project. It really seems as if the visually impaired community is important to you. It's a great Thing to know that there are game developers out there who care.
The most interessting Thing is that you found that niche where Audio only games could actually be of interesst even to sighted Players. Hopefully your creativity will turn out to be lucrative for you as well.

To bad I don't own an alexa device and won't buy one either. But maybe I'll try out the browser mode of it sometime. The genre totally fits me at least. But if it has Problems even with british english, my german Accent would probably kill it smile

Wish you the best of luck with your Project and a happy new year.

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2017-12-27 06:27:51

Time for the long response.

Combat. As far as optimal choice of weapons, your characters will chose what makes the most sense for the combat they face. I couldn't really come up with a good interface that let you make tactical decisions that wasn't painfully awkward to use. So, instead, the computers makes the best decision possible. Monsters are paired off against characters based on size. Up to six small creatures can fight one character, 4 medium sized, and two large sized. Engaged characters use hand to hand weapons, unengated use missile weapons.

So your best bet is to make your toughtest character your active character, and to equip all characters with one good hand to hand weapon, and one good missile weapon. The computer will make the best tactical decision after that.

Descriptiveness. The problem here is that if it is too verbose, it gets tedious. Some of you guys play this for hours. Once you've heard a line of description, you are going to hear it over and over again. So I've tried to make what is there short and sweet so it does not get tedious. I do try to have at least three different ways of reporting the same information, so that it isn't too boring. But I do try to keep them all short.

One thing I am trying to put into the audio model is the "what" function. That will let you say "what is a goblin" or "what is a bastard sword", and it will give you a longer description of the item or creature. It will take me a little time to add those descriptions in. (I think there are 400 monsters!)

I like your idea of more description of the surroundings. I've put a task into the tracker to create geographical distribution of plants to add to descriptions. That will be another way to track what region you are in.

Money. You have given me some interesting food for thought about monetization. What I have been struggling with is the point in time to throw the switch and charge for premium features. That's hard because there is no firm boundary between "no enough there to pay for" and when there is. Subscriptions are the easiest thing to do, but I always thought it was kind of slimy to charge a recurring subscriptoin and make your money off of hoping that people forget to stop renewing. I kicked around an idea with my managing partner today about having people buy a premium currency. This could be used to buy perks and novelties, as you suggest, but also could be incrementally used for, say, specific premium features like Bardic College voices, play in the premium geography, and stuff like that. It has the advantage that you only pay for what you choose to experience. If, say, you take a week off, it's no loss to you. There are a lot of kinks to it. But we'll keep thikning about it.

Inventory. It's a mess. Audio apps are terrible at lists. I know what we have is inadequate, and I'm really trying to work to make it better. Things work a little better on Google Home, because there are some intrinsic features there that make it better at recognizing minor differences such as "short bow" and "+1 short bow".

I'll look at my audio model again and see if I can support something like "inventory weapons" to, at least, filter the list. I will also try to see if I can improve my fuzzy matching so that if instead of matching a single item, it can say that there are multiple items that match. Then the program can do a followup question to ask which one you meant. It's a hard problem to solve.

And to Honk. Thanks for your words of appreciation. I've been a professional programmer ever since I left college. But I've only ever been an amateur games programmer. My hard drive is a graveyard of countless games I've written over the years that no one has ever played. (Star Lanes actually has code in it that is a direct descendent of some of my programming projects in college 30 years ago, and elements of 6 Swords use concepts I first explored then!) This is really the first time that I've created games that people have really played and enjoyed. The visually impaired community has been extremely supportive of this and that means an awful lot to me.

I was very taken by the movie Tomorrowland. It didn't do that well in the theaters. But having grown up in Florida, been a frequent vistor to Disney World, and a great fan of the US space program, it hit a very strong chord with me. One of the biggest parts was the idea of people being selected and praised for using their gifts and skills for the betterment of humanity. It's always challenged me and made me feel I could do more than just write stupid games that no one plays. But one day I got an e-mail from a mom about 6 swords and her son. He is blind and has two older brothers who are very into computer games, and that this gave him a chance to participate and play in a computer game like his older brothers. It still brings a tear to my eye and makes me feel like I'm achieving something and might someday deserve a pin like the characters in that movie.

I do hope it turns out to be, at least, revenue neutral, if not lucrative. Not just for my time invested, but if I can make money at it, then others can. And that will give an incentive for other substantive audio games to be produced.

Anyway, one last thought. Look into the Google Mini and see if it is out in Germany. The price point is pretty low in the US. Or, if you have an Android phone, you can invoke many Google Assistant apps via that. I've had some problems getting my stuff to run right on it. But if you see problems, let me know and I'll work to get those bugs fixed.

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2017-12-28 15:37:43

Hey, Jjauinta.
I was wondering would you be willing to import some Windows games to the Echo?
Rich DeSteno has some text base games that are very popular in the blind world.
He has mention to me that he would love to import his games to other platforms.
With the way you play his games they would be perfect for the Echo.

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2017-12-28 15:39:06

Hey, Jjaquinta.
There are some games on the Echo that has background souds and music on them.
I get more into games that has these things.

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2017-12-28 16:14:16

Ah, Rich DeSteno games.

I would love those to be ported to both one day!

I noticed with Google Home's TTS model, you are able to hear one voice reading the story, vs the other voice speaking dialog from characters.

2017-12-28 17:18:06

there ar actually a few sound effects in Six Swords, there's a little echoing dying sound when you kill something, there is music in the bardic colleges, and also there are special fanfares for doing things like clearing a dungeon, collecting a bounty at a fort or something after clearing a dungeon and returning for your reward, little things for getting a quarter of the way to the next level, and of course a big dramatic something for leveling up. The killing an enemy sound is pretty quiet but you can hear it if you listen well.

There also are sounds that sometimes come up before a fight starts, sometimes there is a marching drum sound, a sword-clashing sound, a weird tone, or  a bugle sound. Joquinta, I don't know what all these pre-battle sounds mean and would appreciate knowing what they mean because they probably have some purpose but it just doesn't seem to relate to the individual kind of monsters vs party strength as I sometimes still hear it with giant rats which go down easy even when they aren't attacking me in enormous groups.

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