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Monday, April 1, 2002
GameSpy Studies the History of RPGs
12:08 PM | Richard Porcher | Comment on this story

Gaming super-site GameSpy is running a week-long series of articles devoted to exploring the history of computer role playing games. Part one focuses on the earliest days of RPGs, from their inception as tabletop, pen-and-paper dice games, to their inevitable move to the digital realm where we play many of them today. Early pioneer games that are mentioned specifically include Wizardry, Bard's Tale, Might & Magic, and, of course, Ultima.

Also given mention are their direct ancestors, the tabletop games Chainmail, Dungeons & Dragons, and Call of Cthulhu.

Role playing games were among the very first games to make the leap to home computers, and helped to popularize the early PC as a viable platform for games.

Here is an excerpt from part one of the article:

"Wizardry was the game I bought my first Apple [computer] for," says Bethesda's Todd Howard. A sentiment echoed by almost everyone I spoke to, including myself. We all cited Wizardry as a seminal influence. Not just because it was first, but because it contained a gem of a story surrounded by a confounding maze of corridors. It had a book full of spells with strange names like Mahalito (a basic fireball), a surprisingly deep character-generation system, lots of variety and characters that could even change class at high level. It had hordes of monsters and an innovative interface that put a 3D corridor in a small window. As you moved the bar graphics, walls would simulate movement. A static (and very crude) drawing would pop up to indicate an encounter. It featured hours and hours of play and influenced almost every CRPG that followed...

"The Ultima series fundamentally reinvented itself with each game. The graphics, sound, and gameplay improved significantly with each installment, but what remained consistent was the focus on creating as immersive, as 'realistic,' a gaming world as technology permitted at the time," says Desslock. "The gaming worlds of the Ultima games were richer, and seemed more alive, as they weren't just fleshed out to the minimum extent required to tell a story, which is the case in many inferior RPGs."

This really is a fascinating article, and should be of interest to all computer gamers, whether they like RPGs or not. Follow the link below to read all of part one, and be looking for the rest of the series all this week at GameSpy.

GameSpy- History of CRPGs: Part One

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