Original Darklands Cover Art Goes Up on eBay

Original Darklands Cover Art Goes Up on eBay

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The original Darklands cover painting is a unique treasure, but it sure ain't cheap.

Darklands was a great fantasy RPG from the early 90s that you probably never played, but that's okay because that's not actually what we're here to talk about. We're here to talk about the cover art, which, if not exactly iconic, is at least immediately recognizable to a certain subset of aged gamers. And I don't mean just the front of the box, either; I'm talking about the cover art.

The original painting that served as the cover art (or at least what purports to be the original - buyer beware and all that) is now up for sale on eBay. The owner, Daniel Perkin, says he's "refocusing" his fantasy art collection and is thus looking to unload the famous (to some of us) Darklands painting by Larry M. Jones. "Darklands regularly makes it into lists of the best PC games of all time, and I think it is fair to say that the heroine in this painting helped sell more than a few copies of this game!" Perkin wrote on the eBay listing.

She certainly is well-armed, but even so, I wouldn't say this is really a great piece of cover art. Despite the action poses there's no flow to it, and that bow-legged battle stance is beyond unnatural. I've never particularly cared for the cover, to be blunt about it, even when the game was new - although that's not to say I wouldn't have this thing hanging on my wall in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself.

Alas, it's not likely to. Perkin is asking $1750 for the painting plus shipping, and my wallet just can't take that kind of hit for some interior decor, no matter how cool it may be. The good news is, that leaves the door open for one of you guys! The original Darklands painting will be on sale until May 7.

Source: eBay, thanks to dan for the tip.

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Oh man I totally remember playing this game and not knowing what the hell was going on.

Andy Chalk:

She certainly is well-armed, but even so, I wouldn't say this is really a great piece of cover art. Despite the action poses there's no flow to it, and that bow-legged battle stance is beyond unnatural.

Among those issues...

That pic would probably look better if the axe was held at a higher angle. As it stands, the guy looks like he has an arrow through his head at first glance.

Never played the game, was it a classic or a relic best left alone in a gaming museum?

-Dragmire-:

Never played the game, was it a classic or a relic best left alone in a gaming museum?

It was an old school RPG where you created characters from scratch (from childhood no less), you were given semi-randomized story book decision to make that would involve stat-based resolution that could end up with top down, real-time combat (shocking and innovative at the time). It's depth was pretty much unprecedented and it was the only open world RPGs available on the market at the time. I'd say it probably wouldn't hold up well today though. The graphics were either static screens for the town / story portions or heavily pixelated in the combat sequences.

Better left to the hard core old-school gamer or the historian.

-Dragmire-:
Never played the game, was it a classic or a relic best left alone in a gaming museum?

There is what I would consider an excellent overview of the game right here:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_300/8761-Adventuring-in-the-World-of-Mundane-Magic

;)

aeric90:

-Dragmire-:

Never played the game, was it a classic or a relic best left alone in a gaming museum?

It was an old school RPG where you created characters from scratch (from childhood no less), you were given semi-randomized story book decision to make that would involve stat-based resolution that could end up with top down, real-time combat (shocking and innovative at the time). It's depth was pretty much unprecedented and it was the only open world RPGs available on the market at the time. I'd say it probably wouldn't hold up well today though. The graphics were either static screens for the town / story portions or heavily pixelated in the combat sequences.

Better left to the hard core old-school gamer or the historian.

Yeah, I go back to my nes from time to time but I imagine Darklands, from your description, is a giant time sink of a game to get the most out of it. Recent life hasn't been kind to such pleasures.

Andy Chalk:

-Dragmire-:
Never played the game, was it a classic or a relic best left alone in a gaming museum?

There is what I would consider an excellent overview of the game right here:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_300/8761-Adventuring-in-the-World-of-Mundane-Magic

;)

Thanks for that!

Andy Chalk:
"Darklands regularly makes it into lists of the best PC games of all time, and I think it is fair to say that the heroine in this painting helped sell more than a few copies of this game!" Perkin wrote on the eBay listing.

Nah, they used the art in most of the ads so I already had several copies of it from the gaming mags I read. Besides, that wasn't where the real fun was. Ah, the glory days of ads for Spellcasting 101 and Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.

... what? I was twelve.

I still have the box sitting on my shelf! I bought this game from a bargain bin couple years after it came out for $10 and I played the heck out of it. It was pretty unforgiving and buggy as heck but it was one of only a few open world type games at the time.

I haven't tried to play it in many years, but I think it has aged pretty terribly and would not recommend trying it. I think it was great for its time, but games have dramatically improved in so many ways since it was released that it would be pretty painful to go back now.

Oh, and the art is kind of awkward and always bugged me.

He's dreaming if he think's anything like that is worth that kind of money without some sort of documentation. Not an art conisour but doubt it's worth that much even with documentation.

I did a search for Larry M. Jones on wikipedia and on google and I had little luck finding much about the artist of this painting, though I did find a little, and to be honest a couple of the hits simply mentioned the Darklands painting. He seems to be fairly unknown, so the big claim to fame for this painting is that it was used as a cover for a pretty popular, vintage, video game. To be honest I'll be surprised if he'll get the $1750 he's asking for it, unless he happens to find an uber-Darklands fan who happens to have a ton of money out there. That might happen given some of the donators who have come out of the woodwork with huge piles of cash for certain video game kickstarters. I think there was one guy matching donations with the new "Torment" for example.

As far as the game itself goes, I doubt many current gamers, including new-generation RPG gamers, would have the patience for it (Darklands). It's very old, fairly deep, and pretty unforgiving. It's a game where you create a party of adventurers with the general goal of becoming rich, famous, and powerful, and no real set objective other than to go adventuring. As a result you wind up banging around the world looking for trouble and seeing what you can make happen (you know, general adventuring). There are like three or four major events (busting a Black Mass, locating and destroying the remnants of The Knights Templar, Slaying a Dragon, and perhaps some others) that can be tricky just to locate since the game is fairly random but basically if you can do all four you've basically "beaten" the game by seeing al the major plotlines it has to offer, and probably the minor ones as well.

Darklands was brutal because it virtually required a multi-generational attitude towards the game, as time passes "realistically" as you travel at a low tech level, and your characters age, get old, lose attributes, and die. The odds of "finishing" the game with exactly the same party you began with are fairly minimal (though it can be done, especially if you know what your doing and have a bit of luck).

Darklands also set out to be a bit differant from other fantasy games by going with a more "historical" setting. That is to say you really don't have any wizards or anything, "Magic" as we know it comes from The Devil and is evil (and part of some of the stuff you fight). Instead as a player you have alchemy where your alchemist can make exploding potions and such (if your lucky), and the abillity to invoke saints based on your faith attributes. In short there is no real easy path to "I pay spell points and nuke the monsters", or efficent mystical healing after battles for the most part. Getting some dude in your party stabbed could take a while to recover from, though you can have your other chartacters pursue trades and stuff (usually) while they heal. A seriously mauled party might take months or even a year to recover back to fighting shape. You also can have Oregon-trail style fun where you might say clear out the castle of a Raubritter (Robber Baron) and be hauling the lewt back to a town, only to have your injured fighter's wounds get badly infected, and your frail alchemist die from pnemonia as the seasons change en-route. :)

It's been a long time, but even when this one was new it had it's lovers and it's haters. This was pretty much the game you used to mention playing to make fun of "sissies" playing Ultima and Wizardry (though at that time, it was all in fun because those kinds of game divisions didn't really exist, and you probably played all of them at one time or another).

Great overview there Andy, there is so much gold in the old archives.

Darklands was the closest thing to a PnP RPG I have tried, or maybe a tie with "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines".

I never really got truly into it, even though I tried a few times. It's an incredibly detailed and complex game, but also very flawed.

The cover art is so last-last-last decade. Iconic in it's failed attempt to recreate a something of Conan style. At least they are wearing somewhat sensible armor and use weapons that are realistic. But it was a time when the budget went into making the games, not the covers or the marketing.

-Dragmire-:

Among those issues...

That pic would probably look better if the axe was held at a higher angle. As it stands, the guy looks like he has an arrow through his head at first glance.

I imagine the artist may have tried to create a cross with the the sword and axe intersecting, but all those right angles makes it all look very static. As you say if the axe had a different angle, it would look more like a swing in progress and give it a better sense of movement.

Therumancer:

It's been a long time, but even when this one was new it had it's lovers and it's haters. This was pretty much the game you used to mention playing to make fun of "sissies" playing Ultima and Wizardry (though at that time, it was all in fun because those kinds of game divisions didn't really exist, and you probably played all of them at one time or another).

With the use of 2013 language, Darklands was for hardcore gamers while the casuals played Pool of Radiance or Wizardry. ;-) But in reality people who liked RPGs would play anything that got released no matter the style or the quality.

Seems to me the the free flowing structure has some things in common with Sid Meiers Pirates!, I imagine they got some inspiration from that.

If anyone would like to check it out, you can buy the game on GOG.com.

Therumancer:

As far as the game itself goes, I doubt many current gamers, including new-generation RPG gamers, would have the patience for it (Darklands). It's very old, fairly deep, and pretty unforgiving. It's a game where you create a party of adventurers with the general goal of becoming rich, famous, and powerful, and no real set objective other than to go adventuring. As a result you wind up banging around the world looking for trouble and seeing what you can make happen (you know, general adventuring). There are like three or four major events (busting a Black Mass, locating and destroying the remnants of The Knights Templar, Slaying a Dragon, and perhaps some others) that can be tricky just to locate since the game is fairly random but basically if you can do all four you've basically "beaten" the game by seeing al the major plotlines it has to offer, and probably the minor ones as well.

Darklands was brutal because it virtually required a multi-generational attitude towards the game, as time passes "realistically" as you travel at a low tech level, and your characters age, get old, lose attributes, and die. The odds of "finishing" the game with exactly the same party you began with are fairly minimal (though it can be done, especially if you know what your doing and have a bit of luck).

Darklands also set out to be a bit differant from other fantasy games by going with a more "historical" setting. That is to say you really don't have any wizards or anything, "Magic" as we know it comes from The Devil and is evil (and part of some of the stuff you fight). Instead as a player you have alchemy where your alchemist can make exploding potions and such (if your lucky), and the abillity to invoke saints based on your faith attributes. In short there is no real easy path to "I pay spell points and nuke the monsters", or efficent mystical healing after battles for the most part. Getting some dude in your party stabbed could take a while to recover from, though you can have your other chartacters pursue trades and stuff (usually) while they heal. A seriously mauled party might take months or even a year to recover back to fighting shape. You also can have Oregon-trail style fun where you might say clear out the castle of a Raubritter (Robber Baron) and be hauling the lewt back to a town, only to have your injured fighter's wounds get badly infected, and your frail alchemist die from pnemonia as the seasons change en-route. :)

Imagining that accurately put forward in a modern game done properly sounds AMAZING, but also like a game like theat would never get made today :( I don't tend to have much patience with old games, get fed up with the graphics and things, been spoiled with the amazing graphics of today.

It was, and still remains, an amazing game that had a tremendous amount of depth to it. I think I've owned two or three boxed copies over the years, and finally a copy of it on GOG.

I'm not exactly sure where all the criticism of the picture comes from, I've always felt it was a classic piece of fantasy art, and one of the better ones to grace boxes of that era.

And oh, look, it's already sold.

I didn't check (obviously) but I was actually under the impression that GOG couldn't get Darklands because of licensing issues. For $6, I'm tempted to grab it just for the soundtrack - and I'd want to know more about the bug situation in the GOG release before I really committed (the original was incredibly buggy, as others have mentioned) but at that price, it actually might be worth picking up, even just as a curiosity. Not that I'm wholeheartedly recommending it to everyone, but if you're curious, there are worse ways to spend six bucks.

mattaui:
And oh, look, it's already sold.

Daaaaaaaaaamn. (Maybe somebody bought me a surprise birthday present?)

 

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