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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Gamasutra - History of RPGs, Part 2, 1994-2004

Default Gamasutra - History of RPGs, Part 2, 1994-2004

April 12th, 2007, 14:42
Matt Barton's History of Computer Role-Playing Games at Gamasutra wraps up with 1994-2004 - 12 pages of what he dubs the Platinum and Modern eras:
To my mind, the games that really represent the best of the genre appeared during the period I've termed the "Platinum Age," which begins in 1996 with the publication of three very important games, Origin's Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (1992), Blizzard's Diablo, and Bethesda's Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall (both 1996). Other high points of the age include Interplay's Fallout (1997), Black Isle’s Planescape: Torment (1999), BioWare's Baldur's Gate (1998) and Baldur's Gate II (2000), Troika's Arcanum (2001) and Sir-Tech's Wizardy 8 (2001).
The single-player, standalone CRPG reached its zenith during this period, and I've begun to doubt if Baldur's Gate II will ever be surpassed. Even in many of these games, though, the presence of online, multi-player options signaled the impending doom of the old CRPG we knew and loved. At the end of the platinum age, the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, or the MMORPG, dominated the scene, and, at least to this critic, the future of the CRPG is grimmer than anything ever dreamed up by Lord British.
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April 12th, 2007, 14:43
I like that screenshot subtitle to "Arena" :

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Bethesda.
How true !

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April 12th, 2007, 15:29
A very good article, one of the best I've read in a long time. I agree with almost everything, although not quite the Elder Scrolls parts, simply because I've never been a fan (no, not even Daggerfall or Arena, I preferred Might & Magic myself). That's a matter of taste though.
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April 12th, 2007, 16:56
So true, if only we could get another platinum age. If we had more people like this in the big gaming publications I would probably read them.

Favourite RPGs of all time: Wizardry 6, Ultima 7/7.2, Fallout2, Planescape Torment, Baldurs Gate 2+TOB, Jagged Alliance 2, Ravenloft: The stone prophet, Gothic 2, Realms of Arkania:Blade of destiny (not the HD version!!) and Secret of the Silver Blades.
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April 12th, 2007, 17:02
No genre has taken such a gigantic shit like single player PC RPG's. The genre has devolved so badly that it is almost dead. All other genres — FPS, RTS, turn-based strategy, MMORPGs, racing games, fighting games, platformers — all of them have continued to evolve and improve over time. Games made in these genres are better than games five or six years ago. You can look at Half-Life 2 and see six years of FPS evolution and movement forward. You can look at a game like Rome: Total War and see how it's a huge step forward from what RTS's were like in the 1990's. These genres have added gameplay elements, not taken them away.

But single player RPG's do not follow this trend. The genre has seen gameplay get more dumbed down, more stripped down, and all around less satisfying. You can't look at any recent single player RPG and say that it's better than Deus Ex, System Shock, Fallout, Planescape: Torment, or the Baldurs Gate series. Some people say that hardcore RPG fans like myself are guilty of wanting the genre to remain stagnant and not evolve. I would give my left nut to see the RPG genre be stagnant right now. Running in place is much better than falling backwards. If somebody did nothing but reproduce Baldurs Gate 2 or Deus Ex in a modern 3D engine it would still be better than any RPG in at least the last five years.
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April 12th, 2007, 17:56
I'd simply like to see Ps:T as remake, in 3D and with full voice overs. Maybe some dialog puzzles could be transformed to direct interaction puzzles, to make it less heavy on dialogue and to vary gameplay. I think this could open that masterpiece to a broader audience. When it was released in 1999 graphics was simply outdated and this dialog masses… Reading from a display is not a pleasant thing.

Maybe someday I can play a good remake.

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April 12th, 2007, 18:04
Originally Posted by doctor_kaz View Post
No genre has taken such a gigantic shit like single player PC RPG's. The genre has devolved so badly that it is almost dead. All other genres — FPS, RTS, turn-based strategy, MMORPGs, racing games, fighting games, platformers — all of them have continued to evolve and improve over time.
Until just over a year ago, Adventure games were deader than dead … and 'simulation' games have been tweaked as well - I just played 'Whirlwind Over Vietnam' for review and it featured enough options that you could basically turn it into an arcade flight shooter!

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April 12th, 2007, 18:17
At least with adventure games you can say that the reason that the genre died was because the games that were coming out for them were starting to suck and become very stale. Gamers got sick of playing games with silly, illogical and contrived puzzles like what you found in most adventure games like Gabriel Knight 3. Especially when action games like Half-Life started to incorporate puzzles that surpassed the quality of puzzles in adventure games. RPG's have died simply because developers have abandoned them to make MMORGs or develop for the XBox, despite both critical and commercial success for many of them (I'm thinking mostly of Bioware's PC RPG's).
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April 12th, 2007, 19:39
Right. Adventures are ciurrently just emerging from the grave.

Sam & Max is a good beginning in that, and there have been quite some decent adventures in the recent past.

I'm looking forward to "A Vampire Story".
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April 12th, 2007, 22:43
I missed the first two parts of this series and had to do a lot of reading to catch up! What an accomplishment! I learned plenty. Thank you, Matt Barton!

So much ground was covered, and in so much detail, that the author would have lost me for sure if it weren’t for his obvious love of the genre (I love it too). It shined right through and gave me the feel-good boost I needed to make it through such a lengthy analysis.

I wonder, though…did the author really play all those games? I’m not sure I can even imagine that. It’s a great article either way, but I wouldn’t mind knowing.

Excuse the long post, but I have to quote this (it’s just so good):

However, I can’t emphasize enough that the best CRPGs of all time have been far more a matter of craft than revolution, of paradigms coming together rather than breaking apart. Like Pool of Radiance, Baldur’s Gate, or Fallout, the next big CRPG won’t be so much about doing something new, but doing something right.

Finally, and with deep respect, I have to disagree with the author on one crucial point. Computer RPG is, essentially, RPG. It’s important to keep that straight, because Computer RPG doesn’t need “the next big thing” right now. It needs to be reinvented, and it needs to be reinvented with Gygax’ original idea in mind.
Last edited by Squeek; April 12th, 2007 at 22:54.
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April 13th, 2007, 01:17
I thought he was saying just that: good RPGs succeed with the traditional fundamentals rather than trying to head in a new direction.

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April 13th, 2007, 02:22
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I thought he was saying just that: good RPGs succeed with the traditional fundamentals rather than trying to head in a new direction.
Yes, I think he did mean that. That's not exactly what he said though, is it? I agree with what he said.

Burton started out making the contention that D&D and CRPG "are as different as playing intramural basketball and college hoops 2K7." He concluded by saying he doesn't know what the future will bring but that he expects good things and urges good fundamentals.

I'm suggesting that Gygax' idea is the right one to keep in mind, because CRPG is an approach to RPG. The tools have all changed. It's time to reconsider. It's time to emphasize RPG more (and other genre less).

The next innovation should be about doing it fundamentally better.
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