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Seattle, WA, USA
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Posted Sat Jun 11, 2022 10:22 am

I've written several times about a C64 childhood favorite game of mine, Legacy of the Ancients. And, in those previous posts I spent a fair amount of time expressing my admiration of the classic cover art, painted by Dave McMacken.
Five years ago in 2017 I actually found and contacted McMacken. Turns out he lived in Astoria, Oregon, which is a charming little town right on the northwestern tip of Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia river where it empties into the Pacific Ocean. If that town sounds a little familiar it is because it is where Goonies was filmed, as well as Short Circuit, Free Willy and quite a few other well-known movies.

Anyway, it was a total surprise and thrill when McMacken wrote me back. I soon bought a signed print of the original cover art, which I've had hanging in my retro-cave/office ever since.

Back in 2017 he had an actual storefront studio and shop in Astoria. I'd traveled down there previously not even realizing I could have gone there. I wish I had known. I would have loved to have met him in person and maybe snapped a photo with the artist who had such an impression on my imagination as a kid.

When he wrote me back he sent me a little advert of his store, which I saved.
Dave in front of his gallery shop in Astoria, OR.

Dave not only did a few video game box covers, but he had painted album covers for a wide range of artists, including Frank Zappa, Cat Stevens, The Beach Boys and many more. You know, back when albums and album art were a vital part of the entire experience of getting into the minds of your favorite bands.

A couple of weeks ago, as is often the case, I got to thinking about the Dougherty twins and their (often more fun and beautiful than the originals, IMO) "Ultima clone" series of games. This would include Questron, Questron II, Legacy of the Ancients and finally The Legend of Blacksilver. And, McMacken popped back into my head. I typed in his website and... the URL never resolved. A mild feeling of unease washed over me as I couldn't seem to find anything on Dave online anywhere.

Except for this. It is a posting of a gated (!) obituary for McMacken dated November 4, 2019. There is a very short audio file that lists his next of kin, and that was about it.

I was able to find a short introductory blurb outside of the walled site stating:
It is with deep regret that the family announces the death of David McMacken after a short fight with cancer. He leaves...
Dave McMacken and his wife of over 40 years, Judy.

Even though Dave had nothing to do with it as far as I know, I've decided to finally play the final installment in the series: The Legend of Blacksilver, for C64. I've often heard some say they felt it was the strongest of the entire batch of games, if a bit harder than LotA. I have an original boxed version that's just been collecting dust.
I wish I was able to find out who painted this cover art as well - but it isn't listed in the manual's credits.

In Dave's honor, I'm going to dust that box off and go all-in on playing the massive 8-bit adventure. It spans two continents with seemingly a gazillion towns, dungeons and multiple temples and "archives" or buildings that contain portals. It looks... impressive, if a bit intimidating. But it's well past time.

I'm sad to discover Mr. McMacken is gone, but his work will live on. His dynamic image will forever be a part of my childhood and my best gaming memories, and will live on in the hearts and minds of those of us who got sucked into his magical world.

For more on Dave, here is a lovely 6-minute video by Shady Pines Media, where he discusses things from his collaboration with Frank Zappa to working on Joe Camel and even Playgirl magazine. A truly gifted artist and wonderful snapshot into his work.

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Seattle, WA, USA
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Posted Mon Jun 20, 2022 9:44 am

After playing solidly for a week, I think I might be close to the half-way point, if not a touch beyond.

In Legend of Blacksilver there is an included paper map (it's big!) that shows two distinct continents. I've made it to a point in the game where I can now teleport from one continent to the other by entering a display within one of the temples. It's hard to explain unless you've played this game or Legacy of the Ancients before. But basically you find unique special gems in the game that you use to unlock exhibits found within temple "archives," which are small mazes below temples.

Anyway, I've finished all of the exhibits in one archive and have moved on to a 2nd one, which has opened the door to this new dungeon.

The dungeons in these games are typically quite small but a lot of fun to explore.

Let's goooo!
:commodore: <3

Really nice touch: the torches inside the archives that illuminate the halls audibly crackle, adding some nice atmosphere to the game. They did this in LotA, too. And yes - that map is huge! What you see is it folded in half.

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Posted Thu Jun 23, 2022 9:16 am

Those games are so fantastic...

I am pretty sure Legacy of the Ancients was the first CRPG that I played and won. Sure, there were others after that, but that one was the first and always will hold a special place in my heart.

The cover art for BOTH games sucked me in, but Legacy really called out to me as a kid in the computer store.

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Wales, United Kingdom

Posted Tue Jun 28, 2022 1:38 pm

Such incredibly detailed artwork. I'm in awe of his talents. Did you spot the Amiga Ball :boing: at 4:18 in the YouTube video? :)

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Seattle, WA, USA
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Posted Wed Jun 29, 2022 10:34 am

Did you spot the Amiga Ball :boing: at 4:18 in the YouTube video?
Hah!! Not sure that was an intentional nod to Amiga... LOL

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Wales, United Kingdom

Posted Sat Jul 02, 2022 12:41 pm

The Force works in mysterious ways! ; )

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Posted Sun Jul 03, 2022 6:58 pm

Been playing Legend of Blacksilver going on 3 weeks solid now. Tons of hours in the past week alone as I took the week off and have spent most of my down time either working out, hanging out with my kids (TV, canoeing, badminton) or playing this awesome game.

I got to this part where I'd gone deep down into a particular dungeon. The dungeons are not hard, but this one was surprisingly tricky with lots of going up and down and up and down to access different places.

Anyway, I got all the way down to Level 6 and all of the lights went out. I cast another light spell and it instantly went out. "WTF?" I thought. That had never happened to me before. Must be telling me I'm not ready for this level yet. Weird way to go about it.

So, I go all the way back out and go to the only other place I can think of - the Baron Taragas' 2-level "labyrinth" castle. I'd cleared out the first level once already but whenever you leave a place and go back everything respawns. However, I'd specifically avoided the 2nd level because the first time I tried to go there I got my ass handed to me. Fast.

Out of ideas I went back there - stocking up to the max on healing potions and every magic spell I could "carry" (whatever that means).

These levels are brutal, because each room contains one or two teleporters. And there are a LOT of rooms. So it's a ton of trial and error and it gets kind of confusing fast. And there are trip wires... or something... that make the guards pissed off when you cross them. And you have to cross them. And these guards suuuuuuck. Super tough and they hand out mega damage.

Anyway, I spend at least 2 days of solid effort trying to learn this new level and how to get through it. I wind up getting to a point where there is this door I need go through - must go through - I've gone everywhere else.


It requires a key I don't have!

Baffled, out of ideas, I went back to the original continent and got moved up a level. Nice! I go all the way back to the dungeon I failed in earlier - the lights work! Wait, why? Nevermind, I keep looking around. And on the level I fled from, I now find... A KEY! Does this dungeon go deeper? I can't tell. Doesn't look like it. But I go back to that damned other castle and FINALLY get through the locked door!

I clear out that bleeping castle. And now, ripped to shreds and bleeding and standing outside it I can't help but assume I have to go back to the dungeon.

One. More. Time.

If not, it must be just a ton of wandering until I trip over something because I feel like this must be getting close to winding down.

This game is WAY bigger and a bit meatier than my beloved Legacy of the Ancients. My right hand is sore from disk flipping. But I've not had this much fun in a while.

:commodore: :joystick: <3

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Posted Sun Jul 10, 2022 5:12 pm

Almost exactly one month to the day since I started playing, I beat Legend of Blacksilver today.

What an awesome game, and really impressive final chapter built on an excellent 8-bit engine. Getting that game behind me after all of these years... I feel bad I waited decades to do it, but at the same time a real sense of accomplishment I did in fact play it all the way through.

Interestingly... I discovered along the way that someone based in Oregon has been in contact with one of the original creators - John Dougherty - and is trying to create a brand new 3rd installment.

There was Questron and Questron II, but they were really their own thing using the very earliest version of the engine.

Then there was Legacy of the Ancients (LoA). Then...
Legend of Blacksilver (LoB). And now...
LoC, although the name has not yet been revealed. We just know the title will follow this path of naming.

Pretty cool, and I hope they are able to realize bringing this dream to reality. We shall see!

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