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October 24th, 2006, 16:47
This is a fairly interesting discussion.

Despite the recent twitch and jerk title, Dungeon Lords, released by D. W. Bradley I quite agree with him when he says,

“The sense something is missing is quite right, and so, despite the glorious technological advances, you wonder what happened to the captivating edge, that enticing allure of being magically transported into distant lands and kingdoms. It's because these places lived in your imagination. And the games of yesteryear aimed to ignite your imagination to transport the experience from the screen into your soul, where all magic kingdoms exist, always have and always will. Today's games have crossed a threshold. They no longer depend upon stirring your imagination (in fact, anything left to the imagination is often perceived as a critical flaw); the majority aim to stimulate areas of the cortex and nervous system directly associated with your perceptions of external reality, not your internal realms.”

That said, I feel there are still “golden age” CRPGs being made that are every bit as good as the old ones: games like the Geneforge series, Prelude to Darkness, Grimoire (I continue to hope) and, I hope as well, Dragon Age and NWN2 (as well as some other niche CRPG brands). Nor should one omit U5 Lazarus, the upcoming U6 remake. In fact, my impression – and it is just an impression – is that the number of huge open ended CRPGs is less, but not drastically less than it was during the golden years. I mean, it was not like Ultima and Wizardry and Might and Magic were coming out every week.

I remember vividly the desperate search for a new CRPG that my friend and I would undertake after finishing a Wizardry or Wasteland.

Now this said, I think that Mr. Baudoin is smoking the crack pipe with its tubes taped to his mouth and nose when he says,

“when people talk of the RPGs of yesteryear that fools them into remembering a more idealized version of the old classics. I fairly regularly brush off old games and play them. I get cravings for games like Fallout, Baldur's Gate, Ultima and Martian Dreams. Playing them is three parts fun and one part annoyance… for me, at least. Mainly, I feel that way because RPGs have been evolving steadily over the years.”

And

“I get annoyed at old games because the RPG genre has in many respects just gotten better over the years.”

I don’t know what his definition of “evolving” is, but for me it is certainly not the direction in which games like Morrowind and Oblivion have gone. They are CRPG in name only. The only thing that “CRPGs” like this don’t do is wipe up after you. I don’t want to sound like the moaners at the Codex, but I just don’t see how one can argue that, overall, CRPGs have not been substantially simplified and made undemanding. I would like to see what Mr. Baudoin’s list of evolved CRPGs really are.

I think that he really gives away the reality of the matter despite himself (and his avowed feelings that CRPGs have advanced) when he says,

“Many old RPGs stand the test of time admirably - well, as long as you have a tolerance for dated graphics. They sometimes had a scope you just don't see any more. There was a lot more exploration, side quests, and things could be huge (perhaps too huge, honestly).”
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