Monday, February 15, 2010

Why We're Here

Hello, readers! Welcome to my blog, in which I play all computer role-playing games in roughly chronological order from the beginning of time to the modern age. As I write this paragraph, I'm currently in 1989 playing Starflight II.

I find that many people who stumble upon my blog start with this entry, since it was the first, so I wanted to give you a bit of an introduction before letting you go ahead and read it, as it was originally published, after the line break below.

When I first posted this, I was new to blogging and new to this particular project, and so it took a while for me to find my voice, figure out what I wanted to do, and mature as both a player and blogger.  I reflected on these topics--as well as my overall CRPG addiction--in a third anniversary posting called "Past, Present, and Future" that might be worth reading if you think you might want to stick with me for the long haul.

Beyond that, let me offer three things:

1. In my opinion, the blog doesn't get good for a while. My early entries are too short, they're poorly-formatted, and in all-too-many cases, I don't know what I'm talking about. As I started, I hadn't discovered excellent online sources like MobyGames yet, I didn't spend enough time talking about developers and companies, I didn't cover the games in enough detail, and I didn't have the same large base of excellent commenters who were helping  me find my voice. I don't really start getting proud of my postings until my April 2010 entry on "Ultima IV and Virtue." My point is, if you like the concept of this blog, stick with it and I promise that it improves.

2. Although I intended at the outset to play only DOS or PC games in chronological order, I began to relax my "DOS-only" rule as time went on, and I went through a time towards the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 where I picked up a lot of games earlier than the ones I started with here. Until I get a proper index of postings by date going, I recommend that you look at my list of games played with their rankings. By default, this list is sorted in the order in which I played, but you can re-sort it by release year and then look up those specific games by label or keyword. Yes, I know it's cumbersome. I'll get an index up eventually.

3. As you read the postings on my blog, do be sure to read the comments as well. I get fantastic commenters on this blog. Hardly anyone posts anything trite or juvenile or insulting. We have great discussions that elaborate on the postings, and many of my commenters offer context, clarification, and corroboration of the things I post. Also feel free to comment yourself on old postings. I get a notification on every comment, and I'll usually respond.

Thanks for reading this update. Below you'll find the posting I originally offered in February 2010.

Best,

Chester ("Chet") Bolingbroke
1 March 2013

************************************

I don't have time for this.

Honestly, in real life, I'm a busy guy. The average visitor to this blog will assume I'm a fat, 20s-something guy who lives with his mom in a dark basement apartment and, if he has a job at all, probably works at a 7-11, making just enough money to buy his geeky computer stuff.

It's an unfortunate stereotype that victimizes plenty of young men who are no more absurd in their interests than lummoxes who spend all weekend watching football or bobos who outfit themselves with $1,500 in "sportswear" to "get in touch with nature." In my case, in any event, it simply isn't true. I'm in my late 30s. I'm at the top of my field. I make a good living, work about 14 hours per day at several different jobs, and live in a nice house with my wife and pets. I exercise 8-10 hours per week and, for both work and fun, I travel a lot.

But I have, always have had, always will have a weakness for computer RPGs. I don't know why. This weakness does not extend to regular RPGs nor to other computer games (I've played my share of first-person shooters and whatnot, and they are occasionally enjoyable, but they don't occupy my attention the way CRPGs do). There is something about the immersiveness of the CRPG story coupled with the active participation and imagination it requires. And I must emphasize "imagination." When I play a CRPG, I visualize the setting. I narrate the scene to myself. I create conversations among my characters. I write parts of the story that don't exist, send my characters off on quests that the game doesn't provide, and otherwise act like a five-year-old playing with his "Star Wars" figures.

When I said, "weakness," though, I meant it literally, with all of the baggage that comes with it. Ever since I was a kid and got hold of my first RPG--Questron for my Commodore 64--I have indulged my addiction to my detriment. This was quite clear in my junior high and high school report cards, not to mention my social life. I knew every corridor of VARN but was weak in world geography; while other people my age took philosphy courses, I was learning how Ultima IV's Three Principles of Virtue combined to form the Eight Virtues, and while my schoolmates struggled through teen love, first dates, and losing their virginity, I was "dating" the clerk of New Phlan.

The RPG that hooked me on the genre.

Probably all that saved me was how much computers sucked back then. The C64 disk drive alone, which always seemed to be failing, cost more than I made in a month. One day, my computer died, and I simply couldn't afford a new one. Instead, I got some hobbies, got a girlfriend, and went to college, got my first job, and forgot about CRPGs for a while.

Then, in the late 1990s, I began to investigate how the field had progressed since I stopped playing a decade earlier. Oh, wow. Why hadn't anyone told me? I updated myself on the Might and Magic series and couldn't believe how good the sixth installment was. Then I discovered Baldur's Gate and its sequel--have two better CRPGs ever been developed? I spent hours exploring the dungeons and towns of Morrowind and was blown away, like everyone else, by Oblivion.

But with these new discoveries came the same old problems: tasks undone or done poorly, bleary-eyed confusion two out of three mornings a week at work, disapproving tuts from my wife. Fortunately, by the time I rediscovered CRPGs, I was far enough along in my career, with its attendant obligations, that a sense of professionalism keeps me from sliding completely into chaos and insolvency. At the same time, however, the truth is stark and undeniable: every hour I spend playing a CRPG is an hour that would have been better spent on any one of a hundred other tasks.

This came to a head in the fall of 2009. My wife went out of town for a three-day business meeting, and I had planned to use the time to finish editing a book that I'd promised to the publisher a couple of weeks prior. The first morning, I worked maybe an hour on it before deciding to take a break for a "little" bit of Oblivion. 72 hours later, when my wife returned, I had done essentially nothing else. I was disgusted with myself. I took the opportunity this feeling provided, grabbed a large trash bag, and before I could stop myself, I stuffed all of my games into it--including almost a dozen that were unopened inside their plastic wrappers. I promised myself I wouldn't waste any more time on such absurdities.

This lasted about three weeks, but like all addictions, it proved impossible to fully shake. So I announced to myself a new plan--the epic opposite of what, by throwing a way all of my games, I had intended. Instead of dedicating myself to a life of CRPG abstinence, I would instead go the full distance. Assisted by DOSBox, abandonware web sites, and Wikipedia, I would play every CRPG that has ever existed for the PC. If my problem was that CRPGs were competing with my to do list, they would become part of my to do list. Stupid, I know, but that's why I'm here and that's why you're reading.

I hadn't intended to make a blog out of this, but it actually makes the project seem more legitimate somehow, more respectable, like the difference between being a movie watcher and a "film historian." Maybe people will read this and re-discover old gems from the past. And, frankly, I think it will be a lot of fun.

THE RULES

There must be rules. Otherwise we have chaos. These are my rules as I work my way through every PC CRPG ever published.

1. Wikipedia's list is my Bible. The titles on this list are heavily biased towards CRPGs commercially released through established publishers. I understand there are some really good freeware, browser-based, and otherwise noncommercial RPGs out there, but honestly this project is taking enough time as it is. I'm also going to work through the list based on initial publication date, even if the version I'm playing is a re-release or newer port. [Much later edit: This seemed like a good idea when I was just starting, but it soon turned out that Wikipedia's list was not remotely comprehensive. My list ended up being a combination of Wikipedia, MobyGames, and a few other sources.]

2. Only PC RPGs. To appear on my play list, the game has to have been released for DOS or the PC, if only as a port. I'm not going to frig around with C64 or Apple II emulators. [Much later edit: This rule also started to go out the window, although my primary list is still composed of DOS/PC games.]

3. No hints, no cheats, no walkthroughs. We didn't have these in the 1980s, and I don't need them now. If I make mistakes, or it takes me a little longer, well that's part of the fun of the game. I will only use the Internet to solve technical problems. I will allow myself one exception: if anyone reading this blog wants to post non-spoiler gameplay hints to problems I've posed, I'll use them.

4. I don't have to win every game, but I must at least make a sincere effort to play it. I'm writing this initial posting after already starting on my project. The second game I played (as you'll soon read) was an early version of Rogue. It took me four months of playing to beat it. It became almost an obsession. Four months is an acceptable time to beat some games if the world is big enough (think Daggerfall), but the reason it took so long to beat Rogue is that the game is punishingly difficult. After even a few days of playing it, there was really nothing new left to discover. I won't do this for every game. I will devote a minimum of six hours to each one, but if after that I'm having no fun or the play is repetitive, it's on to the next game.

4. If the game is still available commercially, I will buy it. I believe in rewarding game developers and publishers for their hard work. But if it is not avaiable commercially, I will have no compunction downloading it from abandonware sites or otherwise obtaining it illegally.

With these rules in mind, I embark on adventure!

114 comments:

  1. dammit man!
    i'll keep an eye on this one.
    hoho, want to see you performing in Chaos Strikes Back ;)
    best of luck!

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  2. Thanks! CSB is like #80 on my list, but I'll get there eventually.

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  3. Why only PC rpgs? You say you don't want to "frig" around with emulators but dosbox is an emulator too. Plus, you're missing out on playing the best version in some cases. The PC sucked compared to some other computers until VGA came out and it still sucked in the sound department for a while after that.

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  4. G., you make a good point and I don't have a great answer. Best I can do: I was already familiar with DOSBox and thus didn't have to learn how to use other emulators; most popular CRPGs got a DOS port and eventually, of course, it became the dominant platform; and there seem to be more abandonware sites with DOS versions of games. I nearly broke when I saw there was no DOS port of "Questron," though. Maybe after "The Bard's Tale," I'll reconsider.

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  5. Hi there.

    This is really thorough and entertaining. Good work, and I'll continue to follow your progress.

    Quite coincidentally (honest!) I seem to have had a very similar idea, although my experience of RPGs is a lot more limited. Why not come and take a look at http://anothermrlizard.wordpress.com?

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  6. Hey! I've read through your blog. Loved it! I'm fascinated by old school games; primarily adventure games and RPGs, so this is great stuff.
    Keep it coming! :-)

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  7. I've only played a handful of CRPGs, and I think the only one I solved was "Pool of Radiance".

    My favorite part of CRPGs is actually rolling and creating characters, to be honest.

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  8. Have you gotten to the Wizardry series yet? Talk about some tough game play.

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  9. The only CRPG I ever played was 'The Magic Candle II' which I found in the bargain bin of an outlet store in the mid 1990s. I never finished it, but I enjoyed it for a while, I'll look forward to when you get around to it.

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  10. Welcome, Pai. You should really try some of the other great CRPGs I'm reviewing! The original "Magic Candle" is 34th on my current list, and "The Magic Candle II" is 59th. I'll get to them, but don't hold your breath!

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  11. "Note: I realize a downloaded Excel spreadsheet is not the best way to do this"
    Correct, at least online Excel spreadsheet is better than downloaded ;)

    Ever wondered how far are you gonna get with the list? I used to create my own list of cRPGs which I was going to review for my website, but I gave it up. For me it's impossible to end them all - even just playing each cRPG for 1-2 days is a big challenge.

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  12. I don't know, folmi. I'm having fun and not looking to stop, but I agree there are an awful lot of them. In all probability, they're releasing them faster than I'm playing them. But I'm determined to get through the 90s, anyway, because I really want to play the Gold Box games, Might & Magic, and Baldur's Gate again.

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  13. Hi there

    I'm enjoing your entertaining and thorough posts!

    Don't worry about the number of games, take your time, this should be a pleasure, not a work (btw, you are playing them much faster than they're released at the moment, so... you are closing the gap :-) ).

    Just a note on rule 1: Wikipedia list is quite incomplete, you missed a few games already (The Wizard's Castle, StarQuest: Rescue at Rigel, Oubliette, Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony), nothing major at the moment but there are interesting games that are not in there (Amberstar, the Ishar Trilogy, Legend, and several others). I suggest you use MobyGames list instead (filtering by genre and platform). Sure, you will get many more games and some of them will be a blend of different genres rather than pure RPGs (most rpgs are actually a mix nowadays) but you can always look up their description on wikipedia or other sites to decide if they are worth playing.

    Keep up the good work!

    P.S. There is no DOS version of Phantasie II, which I see is in your list, so you can strike it out

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  14. Hi, Arcanum. I was prepared to argue with you about Phantasie II, but I did some research, and damned if you aren't right. WTF? They made DOS versions of I and III, but not II? Sounds like the gameplay was pretty identical to I anyway.

    But I'm aghast at your other revelation, that Wikipedia's list is so lacking in CRPG content. I'm going to check out MobyGames and decide what to do.

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  15. Yep for Phantasie II. You will not lose much, the three games were only loosely related story-wise (but for the nemesis).

    Wikipedia's list is really a mess, it's very difficult to extract information for a specific platform, many games are missing (but major ones are in there) and there are quite a bit of errors. However, it's a community effort, it will definitely improve in the future.

    If you'are interested, I'm currently compiling a list of CRPGs using Wikipedia, MobyGames, and Matt Barton's History of Computer Role-Playing Games. It will take a few more days before it is complete but, if you have an e-mail address you don't care to publish here, I will be more than happy to send it to you.

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  16. Arcanum, I started making my own new list after getting your last posting, but I'd love to see yours when it's done. If you want to send it to crpgaddict@gmail.com, that would be great. Even though it's going to cause me a little bit of extra effort, I appreciate you calling Wikipedia's deficiencies to my attention.

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  17. Dragon Wars! I'm playing through that in DOSBox now. It's by the folks who made Bard's Tale and Wasteland.

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  18. Amazing blog. Just started reading today after being tipped-off by my brother. I can't believe how closely your situation matches mine, if I were to start a blog, it would start off almost identically. Unfortunately, my situation is worse because I am addicted to more genres than just RPGs. Anyway, you will be an inspiration to me to play all of these games which I have just dreamed about. When do you find the time?

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  19. Thanks, Todd. I'm glad you like the blog. Unfortunately, I DON'T find the time very often, as evidenced by the lack of any postings in the last week.

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  20. ...It suddenly occurs to me that, despite how much I enjoy this blog, I really have not played that many CRPGs. The only two I can currently think of that I've put a lot of time into are Oblivion and Fallout 3 (if Fallout 3 even counts). I briefly played Morrowind, but only long enough to steal a two-handed steel sword, run out into the wilderness, realize the combat system completely sucks, and then get killed by the first monster I encounter. The only CRPG I've really put a LOT of time into is Oblivion (mostly thanks to this huge 'Let's Play' I've been doing), and that's really dissimilar to most other CRPGs. If I were to play most of the CRPGs you're playing, I'd probably find myself frustrated with the dated gameplay, incredibly generic stories, unforgiving difficulty, and lots of other things.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, thanks for playing all these CRPGs so I don't have to! You've managed to make this blog interesting even to people that aren't even all that interested in the genre. Great job.

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  21. Thanks, Zink! I really think you ought to give Morrowind another try, though; I don't see how you can enjoy Oblivion and not its predecessor. And get your hands on Baldur's Gate I and II! If you don't like them, you just don't like CRPGs.

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  22. I think the main reason I had trouble getting started in Morrowind is because 1. The combat is awful and 2. The menus are pretty much the exact opposite of user friendly. A lot of other things baffled me as well. Do they seriously have to include a button to "raise arms" before you are able to cast a spell? Why not just a button that casts a spell?

    One thing I DID like about it, however, is how my Player Character ran like he had just gotten kicked in the balls REALLY HARD. That game probably has the most hilarious run animation in history.

    I never really gave Morrowind a CHANCE, in all honesty. If I were to actually spend some time playing it, I'd admittedly probably end up enjoying it quite a bit.

    I've never played any of the main Baldur's Gate games, but I did play that action RPG "Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance". From what I remember, the only particularly notable thing about it was that it had a surprising amount of gore for a "T" rated game.

    IN OTHER NEWS, IT TURNS OUT THAT I AM ENTIRELY INCAPABLE OF WRITING BRIEF COMMENTS

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  23. The "Dark Alliance" games are utterly different from the original "Baldur's Gate" and "Baldur's Gate II." They have no similarities except the name. BG1 and BG2 are true CRPGs; you owe it to yourself to try them.

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  24. I found you blog last night and I just wanted to say that this is a wonderful idea and wish you well on your mission. I am looking forward to being a frequent reader and playing some of these game vicariously though you.

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  25. Thanks, Patrick. I hope you enjoy the blog!

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  26. i am 30, live in my own house and work as a lumberjack (workout part), being single again though, and i still turn on my old C64, Amiga, PC and Apple IIe and trudge some retro RPG's.

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  27. I just found your blog and although I've only read the first 4 posts, I love it already. I can't wait for you to get to Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday (among many others)!

    I am curious, do MMORPGs count as cRPGs by how you define them here? I'm guessing not but did not see it mentioned in your rules.

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  28. I'm glad you like it, Blumpy. As of the date of this posting, Buck Rogers is 64 games away.

    No, I'm not counting MMORPGs. Mostly because I'm afraid of them, but also because there's simply no way to play them historically. Once the servers go offline, the game is lost. Right? Or is there still some dedicated fanbase playing Legends of Future Past?

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  29. Well, you actually have one on your list right there: Gemstone II, on the GEnie service. It's only around now (but still around!) as Gemstone IV.

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  30. Really? That was a mistake, then. I thought I had weeded them off the list.

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  31. I love your blog. I'm the type of person who plays very few games an extreme amount of time. I've played DOTA for the past 4 years or so, I had an equally long stint with Counterstrike. I've played the same MUD for the past 15 years, and I've played much of the Civilization series over the past 15 years. In looking for my next game, I got all nostalgic and ended up downloading Bard's Tale 1. Its the first CRPG I ever remember playing and I have fond memories of getting owned by BT1, BT3, all the gold box games, wasteland, and MM1 before finally beating my first CRPG in MM2. I've always felt MM2 was the best CRPG of all time, its just such a huge world, everything paled in comparison to it.

    So anyways this nostalgia led me to you. We're kinda similar. I'm 31, I spent all of college gaming and managed to graduate in 4 years despite only attending each class 4 times per semester in my last semester (each year I was able to lower my attendance!). I too do most of my gaming in the 4 hours between my wife's bed time and mine. And I too manage to love all things dorky without being a loser in my mom's basement.

    So! I've decided to follow along with you and play these games. I did cheat and use some maps and what not for bard's tale, mainly because I had no graph paper and never thought to use excel....I also don't have excel but I'll fix that. Onwards!

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  32. Thanks for commenting, Jonesy. Always nice to get a new reader!

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  33. Great idea, I think it would be interesting people who just starting to explore other worlds, like me.

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  34. Great blog. Will you play Crystals of Arborea (aka Ishar 0) and the Ishar trilogy? Or: Where can I find your list?

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    Replies
    1. And three years later:

      http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2014/10/game-166-crystals-of-arborea-1990.html

      :D

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  35. Thanks, Anon. I just posted my master list to the right sidebar. Looks like Crystals of Arborea is coming up in about 55 games, so...maybe eight months? The Ishar games are on my list, but far in the future.

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  36. Hi, i just signed in to read your epic efforts.

    This quest of yours is an excellent idea!
    I am also a gamer at heart but with far less time than i would like.
    Someday i want to visit all these old gems i have skipped.
    Maybe by reading your endeavors i'll find the determination i need to play some good games with horrible interface (no map system/unfriendly control beeing the most annoying)

    One of them is Bard's Tale which you've already played. I'll see if you convince me in trying this out.

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  37. Glad you like it, Stakon. But don't think of it as a "horrible interface"; think of it as a pure, unadulterated interface.

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  38. I am curious if I can find a crpg list mentioning which version was the superior one (Atari ST, Amiga or DOS). Also, I am interested in a list of CRPG that appeared only on one format (ie Sundog for Atari ST, etc).

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  39. MobyGames tells you what platforms different games appeared on, but I don't think there's any list that tells you want version is "superior"; you probably have to piece that together through careful research.

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  40. I was reading your Rules, and I think you forget that there WERE hints available in the 1980s, tho you usually had to call a pay-per-hint line (probably a real revenue generator scheme for Infocom games).

    Hope you don't go all "MK-Ultra" after you are done playing all these games. You know, like that 1980s role-playing made-for-tv movie where they play in a cave and then one of the guys goes skitzo and jumps off a building? Wot was the name of that movie?

    Retards,
    Atari XT Hacker 7C0

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  41. Mazes and Monsters, starring Tom Hanks.

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  42. Mr. Addict not only acknowledges that these limited sources for hints did exist back then, he even mentions having used them in at least one occasion that comes to mind.

    But this is neatly emulated in the project by the fact that occasionaly he does request vague hints from the readers' comments, so it's still a close enough simulation of the original playing conditions. :)

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  43. Atari ATL HackerJuly 1, 2011 at 3:33 AM

    I was reading the D&D Manual and found something that might help keep your focus on Page 52:
    "It's important to remember that the player and the character are two different persons. The more the two are kept apart, the better your games can be."
    "When the players remember the difference between themselves and their characters, everyone can have more fun in Role Playing."

    NOTE: This advice is for actual game playing, but I believe if that guy in "Mazes and Monsters" had read it, well, I guess he wouldn't have gone crazy and jumped off that building.

    Has anyone tried calling any of those hint lines to see if someone answers? That would be a fun project...or see who has similar phone numbers and then call those guys and ask for hints like you dialed it wrong.. Fun stuff!

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  44. Yeah, I shouldn't have said there were no hints available. But they were pretty hard to get. Now, you can spoil the whole game with 5 minutes on the Internet.

    Still, Atari's idea sounds fun. Next time I need a hint, I'll try calling one of the old lines and see who answers.

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  45. I found your blog from a link on RPGWATCH. Great Idea!! I am also a HUGE fan of CRPG's and actually have a collection of all the game boxes of all RPG/Adventure games I've ever played, want to play or solved since the VIC-20. I'm obsessed with these games too! I try to go back and solve older games in between the current ones and have very similar internal rules. I will be following your blog and will start it from the beginning. I intend to comment on the games I've played. My email address is even CRPGER (have had it for over 20 years) and everyone looks at me funny whenever I give it out. LOL Keep it going!

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  46. hey man, love the blog, keep up the awesome work :D, if I may I would like to mention a recent ish game that has been overlooked, namely Mount and Blade Warband, it offers a lot of the standard CRPG features in a way that is very unique, in my limited experience at least, would be great to one day see what you make of it" :)

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  47. I heard good things about Warband, but a CRPG similarities? Care to elaborate?

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  48. Tremendous stuff. You have another new reader. Keep up the great work.

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  49. |{P}|sez:
    I love RPGs because they always get me thinking. Not about what's actually in the RPG, but about other things. I look through all the tables and rules, I glance at campaigns, think about what it would be like to play an RPG (does the DM make a "girlie voice" when an NPC is female?), and then I really get to thinking: Like, "What IS a game?", "What makes a game FUN?", "What is the use of playing games?" This is why I like RPGs...

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  50. I'm glad to have all you new readers on the blog!

    {P}, you certainly have a Jack Handyish quality about you.

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  51. I love your blog. I share your devotion for old-time CRPG, although I have not undertaken the same huge project as yourself. I play literally all RPG:s I can come over. When the there is draught in the marked I go back to dosbox and play Ultima Underworld, Lands of Lore III or whatever.

    Keep up your devotion!
    Regards,
    Richard, Stockholm, Sweden

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  52. How exactly do you have time to do all of these things?

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  53. Look at my posting regularity lately, and you'll note that I don't really have time. But in a normal month, the answer is: have no kids, don't need much sleep, don't really have many other hobbies.

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  54. This seemed like a good place to put a first comment. I love your blog... I'm quite a bit like you (based on this description)... only a little older :) Been playing CRPGs since the very early 80's... and still own every one I ever bought (which is just about every one ever made). I really enjoy your written experiences of all the games I've grown up with. I'm lucky enough to have a wife who understands my hobby and lets me keep my den filled with all my hundreds of game boxes... and my two boys are following in their dad's footsteps.

    Anyway... great reading... I really enjoy checking in on what your playing... and you've inspired me to dust off a few games that I haven't touched in years.

    cheers!

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  55. Glad you like it, Bandax. Keep commenting!

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  56. Count me as another new reader starting from the beginning!

    I love to hear peoples opinions and thoughts on games as they play through them, and equally love reading about classic 'not quite forgotten' games, so this blog is a wonderful thing. :D

    I always think about playing old CRPGs like these, but I'm too used to modern conveniences like automapping and 'set upgrade paths' as opposed to 'put your skill points in anything'... so they kind of intimidate me to play them myself!

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  57. Older CRPGs do often have a steep learning curve. Even I, with all my experience, run into that. But if you push past it, you generally find a rewarding experience by the end.

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  58. "After even a few days of playing [Rogue], there was really nothing new left to discover."

    I played Rogue for ages and won twice, and I never figured out how to use the scroll of Scare Monster, supposedly the best scroll in the game.

    I used to hear laughter in the distance when I read it, and I assumed that it must be a really scary laugh that intimidated monsters from being aggressive for a while...

    Probably I discovered most things. But there is something else I have read since about ur-vile behaviour that I didn't know either.

    [My favourite current roguelike is Dungeon Crawl, by the way. You don't have to learn a load of idiosyncrasies like NetHack, and it's tough but reasonably fair. Once you've gained a few levels, you have resources to deal with most situations.]

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  59. respect to you, adding to reader list

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  60. So, you're on indefinite hiatus and all, but I thought I'd drop by and comment on a pair of game series that may have been added to your list erroneously in case you ever return.

    1) Romance of the Three Kingdoms is questionable. It's a great series set in the eponymous warring states period in the final years of the Han Dynasty, you control a single character whose stats increase and there are plenty of roleplaying options. The game ends when all of China is reunified, however you can be anything from a wandering mercenary to a general under another warlord to a warlord yourself, and neither one is particularly the "correct" ending. All the action is purely in terms of politics and military campaigns. You never once go dungeon crawling or fight small scale party-based battles (in the later games, at least, I assume the same is true of earlier installments). You do have a series of characteristics, like War, Politics, and Charisma, which can be trained up, as well as a list of tactics and ploys that you can learn. Whether or not that qualifies as a CRPG is an exercise for the reader, I guess, but they're definitely cool games.

    2) Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim is an AMAZING game, but decisively NOT a CRPG. Instead of being a bold adventurer, you take the role of a fantasy king who assigns these quests. You have to build up your town and amass gold from tax collection, gold which can then be used to place bounties, hire new heroes, and build new buildings. The heroes act entirely of their own will, and will have different priorities based on their class. Rangers like to explore the wilderness, Warriors like to hunt monsters, Paladins will storm dungeons pro-bono because they're just that awesome, and so on and so forth. The heroes have all the statistics you'd expect a CRPG protagonist to have, but the actual protagonist of Majesty is the King, whose only relevant statistic is the gold in his treasury. It's a really awesome game and I definitely recommend you try it out just to see what it's like to play Ultima as Lord British (especially since you're not currently obligated to play CRPGs for the blog), but it's not a CRPG by ANY reasonable definition of the term.

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    1. I appreciate the warnings, Maldeus. I've added comments to my master list. Doubtless this is MobyGames being overly-inclusive again.

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    2. I agree with Maldeus, Magesty. It is howerever a great game. There is a sequel, which is technically superior, but tossed out the epic fantasy feel in favour of parody fantasy.

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    3. I whole heartily encourage you to play Majesty anyway, if you ever get to that year. Majesty is my "Pirates" if you will. I got so hooked on that game that I took screenshots of me winning every scenario without loosing a single hero, and that achievement took me over a year of off an on playing.

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  61. When I noticed a few days ago that Legend Of Grimrock was coming out I styarted to remember all teh good games on PC that I played when I was a kid. I'm 38 right now. And Decided to do something like you to play through some games from my childhood. Thank you because my GF thought i was crazy and now I can tell her I'm not the only one :-)

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    1. Trust me, you'll only get a "well he's crazy too" from your GF.

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    2. There are some real treasures from back in the day. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I have.

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  62. Just read your article in the new issue of Game Informer and was inspired. I'm 2 years late, but joining the party now!

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    1. Welcome! At least you'll have a lot of material to read during my slow periods.

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  63. Way cool! Also saw your article in GI...Wonder though how you deal with compatibility issues? I couldn't play RAMA...action game rather than RPG...because it was too old. Guess you know your way around computers. Thrilled to c-ya doing something you like AND still work and exercise.

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    1. I'm actually a bit of a computer idiot. But DOSBox is a pretty cool emulator and there's lots of online support for it. (Even so, some readers had to help me out with LOADFIX and a couple other commands.)

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  64. I've been a bit of a lurker for some time now but I thought I'd chime in and say that I've really enjoyed your blog and your insight of these games.

    I look forward to future posts!

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    1. Thanks, Daniel. I'm glad to have you as a reader!

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  65. This makes excellent reading.

    Have staked out some time over the next year to perfect some tactics for roguelikes (fortunately I married a gamer). Will be looking to some of your posts for guidance.

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    1. I hope my entries help. I only got introduced to roguelikes because of this blog, so I feel that I'm still a bit of a novice.

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  66. Wow. I stumbled onto this blog, thru a recommendation of the game Phantasie on the AtariAge website. This is an amazing mission statement. & it is kind of how I feel about game collecting (which I do) If I am going to buy them, I might as well do my damnedest to play them thru. I'll shall keep tabs on this my friend.

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  67. Drifting through your game list, I've noticed a couple of games that are questionable in their CRPG credentials.

    First off, Warcraft III, Battle for Middle-Earth I and II, Dominions III (and possibly its predecessors, which I have never heard of and did not see on your list), Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War and its sequel, and Majesty (which I've mentioned before) all have characters who level up in them, but you do not play as these characters, you play as their commanders. The core gameplay is looking down on your base and troops from a birds-eye view and sending them to go smash the other team's base. Whether or not that counts as a CRPG is entirely your call, but it's worth noting that if having a character advancement system is the only requirement to be a CRPG, then practically non-shooter game made after 2008 or so would qualify, and even the shooters get in on it starting around 2011.

    Black and White is not a CRPG, it's a god game. You play as a deity who can use his divine powers to lead his personal civilization to dominance over various lands either by blessing your village and your opponents' village until the followers of other gods convert to you out of gratitude, or else you terrify them into submission by hurling meteors and summoning packs of wolves. It's a very cool idea with a mediocre execution (everything Peter Molyneaux has done is like this), but I don't see how you could possibly qualify it as a CRPG. Nothing even levels up. You do unlock new powers as time goes on, but unlocking new features based on game progress happens in every RTS game with an upgrade tree (which is most of them).

    Character limit reached, will continue

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    1. An unsourced quote in the notes section claims it is possible to play the 1991 version of Neverwinter Nights offline. I tried very hard to find such a playable version of this game and was unable to, but I'm not entrenched in any relevant communities so maybe it's just deep magic not shared with the uninitated. Either way, the 1991 version was an MMORPG, which I thought was excluded from your list.

      Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates is an online game. If it's on the list, World of Warcraft should be too (note: for God's sake, do not put World of Warcraft on your list).

      Fable is another Peter Molyneux game. It's definitely a CRPG, I just thought you might want a heads up that the spectacular promises of the game's premise will never be delivered on. Same goes for the sequel.

      Super Columbine Massacre RPG! is a particularly well-known amateur effort. Well-known purely because of its shock value. It is a short and mechanically dull game, though the MIDI renditions of a bunch of 90s rock are kind of catchy and you can yank those right out of the game files. Point of this, however, is that if you add SCMRPG! there's no reason not to add every other amateur game ever made, in which case your games list will balloon out to an absurd level. Kongregate.com alone has hundreds, if not thousands, of flash-based CRPGs of approximately the same level of quality as SCMRPG and it's only been around since 2006. If you want your already Herculean task to remain even remotely doable, I recommend you rule out amateur efforts entirely, and take SCMRPG! with it. You don't need the controversy and its credentials are non-existent.

      I'll throw another voice behind LelqTian: Spore is not an RPG. That said, it may have RPG content on the end if you get the one space adventure expansion. On the gripping hand, this content is entirely user-generated and hypothetically infinite.

      Note on Deathspank: Deathspank is an indie game. This has the same problem of amateur games of being way more common than mainstream games, however amateur games are effectively infinite (a new one crops up literally every few hours) and indie games are not. On the other hand, there are a huge number of indie games not on your list and no easy way to keep track of them. It would be perfectly justifiable to eliminate indie games entirely. On the gripping hand, you've already reviewed plenty of games that could be considered indie at best, and several of the ones from the 70s or early 80s are clearly amateur efforts, albeit from a time where being an amateur game developer was the only way to be a CRPG developer at all.

      Huh. I had heard Two Worlds was an MMORPG, but it looks like I was misinformed.

      Oh, God, I can't wait to relive the Mass Effect 3 ending clustercuss in 2030.

      Also, a general note: You've been going through games slower than they came out, i.e. taking longer than a year to get through 1988, but that's actually okay. The CRPG market is going to dry up a LOT once shooters hit their stride in the mid-90s. You can, in fact, catch up (so long as you don't try and hunt down every amateur effort produced).

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    2. Online games and MMORPGs are indeed excluded; I just deleted Yohoho for that reason, thanks. But I was given to understand that the 1991 Neverwinter Nights had an offline, single-player mode. (The quote you reference came from MobyGames.) If I can't find it when I get to it, I'll just have to move on.

      You make a good point about amateur and indie games, but I don't want to eliminate them entirely. My lame answer to your point that there are hundreds not on my list is simply that no one cared enough about them to make a MobyGames entry. Yes, I should have better criteria than that. It's a decision I'll have to make later.

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  68. Hi there.

    I realy enjoy your blog. I have started to play Ultima IV. It is fantastic game. I never played a game from the Ultima series before. I'm realy enyoing when you starts with my first CRPG series and read your meaning abaout this.
    I have started with the Realms of Arkania series (german version) and later I played the older Amberstar.

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    1. Thanks, Marius! It's good to have you here. I hope you enjoy the ending of U4 and it launches you on a journey through a lot more classics.

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  69. You just got a new reader, curretly playing Ultima IV also, well, not exactly, i just cant finish it, basically im not that patient to go after the 8 dungeons and the abyss, getting the eight virtues and the diverse objects was amusing, but the combat is just so tiresome for me, after grinding a lot to have money for reagents, food and gear, starting Deceit was a pain, and even with the Y and Z spells (and the map gems) i almost got sick finding the stone, just cant keep going. I see why the game is good, but i cant do the rest after getting started with the first Ultima underworld, or having played games like Fallout or Arcanum before.
    Oh, well. Great blog also, hahaha.
    I wanted to know if some games were worth playing, some hidden of forgotten gems from the past to try, and your blog is a really good reference, its informative, its funny, even addictive, i salute you good sir.

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    1. Glad to have you with us, Vianen. I can imagine that if you didn't grow up in the era of U4, the combats might become a dealbreaker.

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    2. Yeah, was born in the middle of the 90´s, and i grow up with games like DOOM, the NES classics and Monkey island, older games than those sometimes requires some effort for me.

      I fist wanted to play Ultima IV-VII after watching a youtube restrospective of the series, but they are a bit more focused on the humor than in a deep analysis, then i discovered your blog and got even more interested,if you want to take a look at the videos, here is a link:
      (attetion with the games you havent played yet, spoilers)
      https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpaNqz1vDmSixriNnNTD3FKXJ5D_y9wKS

      Yesterday i just left U4 and started with U5, i find it more interesting, specially the responses of the NPCS, those were improved a lot, and the combat is a bit more flexible, i like it; my original plan was playing the two Underworld games first, but then realized that Laberinth of Worlds is a sequel to ultima VII, so i decided to play the games in order after all.It seems like i will not regret it.

      At last, sorry if my english is filled with some fuckups, i can understand it with no effort, but you probaly noticed that my grammar is pretty weak and rushed, tell me if you have difficulties trying to decode it ^_^!









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    3. Someone younger then me on this blog! GASP AND SHOCK!

      I'm surprised you grew up with those if you were born in the mid-90s though. I was born at the very end of the 80s and those were before my time. I remember watching Dad play DOOM when I was very young, but the first shooter I played was Goldeneye in the late 90s.

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    4. I´m 18, so, i guess the rookie here gets special treatment... rigth?... hahaha!

      That was because my awesome cousin gave me his games when i was a child, a bunch of CDs, some floppys... and even his game boy color! good old times.
      I never had a big console until the PS2, but i had friends who owned things like the NES, the Sega, and the PS1 with the time.

      Also i never changed the PC, some things where replaced, we changed the screen to a modern one when the old broke, and the motherboard is not the original, but its still my crappy pentium 4.
      My gaming experience was always kind of inconsistent, i never had enough money to afford the latest console, or another PC, so it forced me to play in another way, when others where playing Halo or GTA san andreas, i was playing GBA emulators or something else, the only title i played along with the rest of the world was resident evil 4, LOL.




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    5. 18? Damn.... Ok, william, we have a kid with us, on your best behaviour!

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    6. Hey! i´m older enough to go to jail!...wait...

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  70. Great Blog you have going, Chet. I'm only surprised I haven't found it before now. Came across it while trying to figure out hit points in Ultima I (the formula - no luck yet). I have just started on a similar journey (though I do not blog), going through all of the RPG's I have played before, only a few decades down the road (I still have my original Starflight floppies).
    I plan on doing a series until I need a change of scenery, and then going back and forth until I complete them all (Ultima, Wizardry, M&M, Most of the D&D's). I had intended on doing only games I had completed before, but I may try out some of your more highly rated ones to see what I missed. As it is, I had completely forgotten about Apshai trilogy, and look forward to remembering some other lost games as I continue through your blog.
    I spend most of my gaming time these days simracing (iRacing, mostly) but am enjoying getting back into the RPG's as I wait for a Skyrim successor.
    Cheers.

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    1. Glad to have you with us. Your plan sounds much more accomplishable than mine. Good luck!

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  71. What a great idea and affort! This is kind of cultural archeology ... I'm already fascinated and hooked.

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  72. Hey Chet,

    Hope you are well.
    Man, let me just start by writing that I wish I had read these words in 1994.

    “If my problem was that CRPGs were competing with my to do list, they would become part of my to do list.”
    Quoted from Chet's Initial Blog Post.

    You haven't by any chance run across any time travel devices in the course of your play yet, have you?

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    1. You gotta elaborate, man. How would my spectacularly poor logic have helped you in 1994?

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    2. It sure helped me!

      By quoting someone else to justify my lousy actions, it somehow made it sound more legit.

      "If my problem was that killing people repeatedly was competing with my efforts to fill up my trophy shelf, those dead people would become part of that shelf's decorations."

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    3. Sry, I am new to blogs + actually your blog is the first I have ever read more than a few pages of. Basically exiting "social online networking/media" a few years back.

      Well, your logic could have helped me by introducing the idea of discipline in regards to gaming, something which I don't think I ever learned. I don't think this is the correct medium for me to try to explain more than this as it would basically boil down to some personal history which would most likely not be very interesting other than to myself and a person I visit once a week that listens to me because I pay them money, and their interest is dubious at best.

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  73. Thanks a lot for your blog! I don't even remember how I got here in the first place, but the fact is that I've just found myself reading post after post, at half past two in the morning., despite having some urgent work to do... Ugh... Gotta try to close the browser and actually work a bit.

    It's so refreshing to see a blog with such detailed and thorough descriptions of both classic and obscure games and with such honest opinions - without both mindless worshipping of "everything retro" and criticising any older games for being outdated.

    Thanks again. I've just found a new favorite place in the internet and you've just found another dedicated reader (who is also a crpg addict, a family man and a big lover of jazz music). Maybe I'll even sign up for Blogspot.

    Good luck with your quest and don't be eaten by a grue.

    ---- Paul Chaliapin, Moscow, Russia

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  74. You have a new reader. I discovered your blog some days ago looking for sites dedicated to old games and I have started reading all your posts. So far I am loving it.

    I have not played many CPRGs myself, I think the first one was Eye of the beholder, and later on I played Ishar 2, Ultima IV, VII and VIII, Waxworks, Lands of Lore and Wizardy 7 as far I can remember. Last years I started also some Roguelikes like DoomRL, Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup and Brogue. And recently I started Dark heart of Uukrul. I was fascinated reading about it on magazines when it appeard but I had an MSX at that time so I couldn´t play it.

    Keep the great work, I am really anjoying it. I think I am already a CRPG addict addict.

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  75. First glance at your blog. Looks definitely interesting, I hope you'll be doing this for many years, still, and enjoy doing it. I hope you'll reach Nahlakh eventually!

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  76. Just found your blog through a search for, believe it or not, War in Middle Earth!

    My first game of this type was Bard's Tale I think, ZX Spectrum port, back in the late 80's! You've worked your way through many of the games I never got to play as a kid, and for that, I thank you sir!

    Carry on brave knight!

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  77. Found your blog after Googling for Wizadry 6.

    There are a few titles from Spiderweb Software missing from your list:

    Avadon: The Black Fortress
    Avadon 2: The Corruption
    Avernum 4
    Avernum 5
    Avernum 6
    Blades of Avernum (update of Blades of Exile)
    Avernum: Escape from the Pit (update of Avernum)
    Geneforge 3, Geneforge 4: Rebellion & Geneforge 5: Overthrow
    Nethergate: Resurrection (update of Nethergate)

    Avernum 1, 2,and 3 are updates of Exile 1, 2 and 3 so you might want to skip those. Spiderweb are updating these titles again (so far, only Avernum 1 has been released as Avernum: Escape from the Pit) so it might be worth waiting for the new versions, unless you want to compare them to the originals.

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    1. Thanks for joining us, Andrew! My list is only meant to be complete through 2003. I'm deliberately giving the databases a decade to shake out what is and what isn't an RPG and to create comprehensive catalogs, so I don't have to re-check the lists all the time. I think all the games you mention are post-2003.

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    2. Yes I think all those games are later then 2003.

      Really enjoying the blog so far (I'm starting right from the beginning)

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  78. I also noticed that you have Lords of Midnight and it's sequel on your list. These are great games but I'm not sure I'd class them as RPGs - they are a blend of wargame, adventure game with a few RPG elements mixed in. Unofficial PC conversions are available from http://www.icemark.com if you do decide to play them.

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    1. There are a lot of games on the list that are questionable. The key issue is whether they have 1) character development; 2) probability-based combats; and 3) flexible non-puzzle-based inventories. I evaluate each title when I get to it, but for the master list, I err on the side of inclusion. Given the number of games I have, I'll certainly be glad to pass by LoM if it doesn't meet my criteria.

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    2. Lords of Midnight fails both 1 and 3, and the combats are usually between armies commanded by your characters instead of individuals. It's probably closer to the Heroes of Might and Magic series than a genuine RPG.

      I can't comment on the third game in the series as I've never played it

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  79. That's really amazing stuff, thanks a lot for it! I have two passions- travel and games, and really if we consider games a kind of virtual travelling, there is no genre more similar to travel than crpg. So your blog is kind of "Lonely planet"guidebook to these virtual worlds:)

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  80. Well! I was supposed to be finishing Avernum (or, more sensibly, sleeping at 2:30 AM), but instead I'm stuck reading your blog. It is impossible to stop. It's all your fault. I'll sue!

    Kidding aside, though, I'm really glad to have stumbled upon it. It makes me very happy that such a worthwile and incredibly ambitious project is underway and still progressing smoothly. The thing with me is, I enjoy CRPG games a lot, and I have a tendency to play old games for the first time decades after their release, but anything pre-1992 has so far been too much for me. I'm hoping that your blog will inspire me to try again and approach those games with a new perspective and determination. The topic is fascinating and makes for a riveting read -- and I still haven't reached the "Ultima IV and beyond" part of the blog where it's supposed to get even better. It makes me look like the cat from the "(heavy breathing)" meme.

    Here's one interesting coincidence. You certainly seem to approach CRPGs very seriously and thoroughly. I used to simply rush headlong into the game, usually trying to explore as much as possible, but my playing was plagued with savescumming, impatience and resorting to online guides. A short while before discovering your blog, I resolved to change that, and reading your posts only inspires me to pursue my resolution. So far, my attempts consist of dilligently taking notes during my playthrough of Avernum. And not just notes like "go to X to finish quest Y" -- I have filled a small notebook outlining my entire progress and game world. The result is a jumbled mess, but I'll be able to make heads or tails of it eventually, and perhaps write a proper guide. Or at least make maps.

    I'm touching the topic of maps on purpose, since your early posts mention it a lot. I have to say you make it sound very appealing. I tried drawing some maps for Avernum (well, I could just printscreen the ingame map, but I just... don't want to) by pencil and paper, but didn't like the result and decided to use the computer after all. While I think using Excel was a very creative idea, I wanted something even better and discovered that Inkscape can be easily turned into a very flexible, interactive graph paper sheet. Not sure if you still map nowadays, but telling you just in case.

    So, thanks for sharing your valuable gaming experiences. The blog is a real treasure trove. Keep it up!

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  81. I'm guessing your first post is the best place to put this due to general nature of the thing, so here goes:

    Due to my constant paranoia reminding me that it is somehow possible for my own blog to completely disappear one day I copied all of my posts into a Word file. Just in case.

    Then I was curious as to how many words exist on the CRPGAddict blog. So I copied ALL your posts into another Word file.

    Your first blog post is on February 15, 2010 and up to July 27th, 2014 you've written 1,087,657 words. You're just shy of L. Ron Hubbard's Mission Earth, which clocks in at roughly 1.2 million words and may be the longest non-translated English novel. The blog is also twice as long as Atlas Shrugged as if that somehow matters.

    After doing all of that, which took a good week and a half, I learned that you can simply export a blog as an XML file for backup purposes. So the time spent copying my own blog to Word was wasted (I only have 166,372 words), but at least I can re-read your blog whenever I want to.

    If you would rather I not do this, please let me know and I'll delete the file.

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    1. I've often wondered how my production stacks up against the great works of literature, so thanks. I do occasionally save the XML backup, but the format isn't very conducive to reading off-line.

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    2. I don't even know if Mission Earth could be considered a "great" work of literature (oh shit, better hide from them Scientologists especially Tom).

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  82. I guess I'm a CRPG Addict addict as well. I've read through this blog twice after the Pelit magazine interview and here I find myself starting over for the third time...

    A BIG thank you to Chet and to all the commenters also. This truly is an awesome blog.

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    1. I really appreciate your support, Morblot, but there are so many cooler things to read than my blog for the third time!

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    2. Haha, well, that may be true, but this blog is the perfect choice when I have just a few minutes to spare, for example when I'm riding the bus home after work.

      Also, I just finished reading the Thomas Covenant series and I feel like charging my batteries a bit before taking on another book. I wasn't aware of Stephen Donaldson before reading about the game The Land here, so I guess I have you to thank for that; I know you didn't like his writing, but I found I enjoyed quite a bit!

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I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these two rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) THIS ALSO INCLUDES USER NAMES THAT LINK TO ADVERTISING.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.