"The History of Computer Role-Playing Games Part I: The Early Years (1980-1983)"


A customer had forwarded this to me. I found it interesting, the images bring back memories for this old schooler.

I had Strat-O-Matic Baseball and football! I forgotten completely about thoses.

Mmmm. I loved my C64 back in the day. Between the Microprose titles, the Ultima series, Archon, M.U.L.E., Elite, Wizardry, the D&D gold box series, and several others. I had a blast. Not to mention that era launched several of the big game development houses, a few of which are still in place today.

I look back at it as the golden years of my PC gaming despite the writer there referring to it as the Bronze Age.

I was going to say they left off Questron which was one of my favorite series but it wasn’t released until 1984.

A lot of what you mention is after the period he covers (post 1983). For instance Ultima IV was 1985 and that’s when the series really took off, and IIRC Elite was 1985 as well. He really is covering the first technological period there so bronze age seems appropriate, even if reading it makes me feel really old ;)

You know, having actually tried recently to play some of these old games, I am 100% convinced there was no “golden age” of games. If there was, people would still be playing them today, and in more numbers than just those who do the Abandonware thing.

There’s no substitute for the better interfaces, great graphics, and great gameplay of today’s hits imo. :)

In the future, just insult our mothers if you want to get a rise out of this community. Or change your name to something that’s a play on Sony. We have an opening…

Seriously, I hear what you’re saying and for the most I do agree. Games, on the whole, have gotten better. They look better, are more interactive and generally have better interfaces.

But there are always exceptions - and I’d say X-Com and Deus Ex qualify.

I agree, there are exceptions. And I agree with your picks, and from what I hear PST and Fallout both should be included on the list.

But then again, if games weren’t improving, that’d be quite the statement of something wrong with the industry!

I remember all of these games so well.

Anyone ever play ALi Baba?

Oh god, the theme music from that was murder to my ears. I had Return of Heracles too, as part of a double-pack.

What was really fun was cranking up some sort of ‘spawn rate’ control, summoning a bunch of other NPCs, and watching the huge fights that would break out. Though the ‘wah wah wah wah wah…’ of combat got annoying fast…

I probably still have the manuals and discs for a bunch of these around here somewhere, though the cases are long gone. Lost my cloth map from Ultima III, though. :(

Yep, that and the Heracles game that improved on it. “Calydonian Boar becomes food for worms.”

There are certainly old games that are still playable because even with great graphics and whatnot people have been unable to provide a better experience. Game mechanics that are fun can surpass glitz easily. I still play Master of Orion. Until the new Sid Meier’s Pirates came out I still played the original. I played Warlords II on occasion until a few years ago, same goes for HoMM2 (and through gametap I’m playing 3 recently). I’ll even fire up the really old “Decisive Battles of the American Civil War” games from time to time because there simply is nothing modern to replace their excellent turn based simultaneous execution system.

Now granted, I usually only play these types of games when I bored with the latest crop of games, but they offer experiences that have yet to be surpassed despite attempts with nicer graphics. There’s no substitute for good gameplay, without that nothing else matters. And sure, if you compare the hits of today with the hits of yesteryear they will pale in comparison. However not all games are hits. We still have plenty of games with great graphics and crap game mechanics. Just look at the never ending glut of craptacular RTS titles. It wasn’t too long ago that people still considered Starcraft to be the best RTS ever despite it’s age and all the games with better graphics and better interfaces.

I still do, although I just started Company of Heroes.

I really dig COH. It’s the first RTS in a long time that I really enjoyed. And it’s not because of any real innovation in the genre, it’s just well put together and has that unquantifiable “fun” quality. However I still lament the glut of standard formula RTS games and the dearth of other paradigms in the strategy genre (which is why I pull out DBACW every few years).

A friend had that; as I recall it had “trade the keyboard” multiplayer. I only got to play a few times though, but the nostalgia almost makes me want to find it on underdogs or something and play it again. Doubtlessly it would be a disappointment…