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Early RPGs--who copied whom?
08/11/2021, 18:37:19

    The Elf writes:

    Got to thinking about my personal favorite early RPG series and how similar yet different they were. The three are of course, Jon van Canegham's Might & Magic series, Richard Garriot's Ultima series, and D. W. Bradley's continuation of the old Wizardry series. (For those of you who weren't into computer games in the earliest days, the Wizardry series began with extremely primitive games with extremely primitive graphics. I don't remember who designed them, but the first one had nothing but blobs and line drawings for graphics. It featured a black background, with rectangular white lines representing dungeons. No lines appeared until you had moved a space or two, when areas you had "explored" began to appear. I think there may have been some cyan and magenta lines, but I can't swear to it. Worse yet, you couldn't play the second game in the series unless you continued with the characters you created in game one. It died with the third game.) After a few years, D. W. Bradley revived the series in full color with "three dimensional" graphics.

    Meanwhile, Richard Garriot was busy with Lord British and the Ultima series. Garriot probably qualifies as the first CRPG designer. His father was quite literally a rocket scientist in Austin, Texas, while his mother held a doctorate in something or other. Richard was in a rather progressive high school, which allowed him and some buddies to study computer programming and designing as a science project. He got an "A" for his project, a little RPG called Aklabeth. (Richard was a big fan of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and named the characters after himself and some friends who were also members, thus "Lord British," "Iolo", etc.) The game wasn't commercialized until many years later, when it was included in an Ultima album of games.

    Of course, we all know about JVC's Might and Magic. It was actually based on the original King's Bounty, the prototype for Heroes of Might and Magic.

    Funny thing, though: all three series had one thing in common: a medieval, Tolkien-esque land with fantasy characters and creatures wielding swords, bows, axes, and the like. Yet all three had been visited many years before by humans (or humanoids) in spacecraft. What triggered it? We'd long since flown to the moon, and people were no longer gaga about all things NASA.

    So: who started it? Who was first to have aliens in spacecraft? Whatever, I loved all three series.

    P. S. And who first had houses the hero could buy or build? I remember Being able to buy an abandoned castle in either MM1 or 2, but I don't remember the Elder Scrolls having them until Morrowind. I don't remember them in Arena, at all. Nor in Bane of the Cosmic Forge.





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The first volume of Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" was published, IIRC, in 1954, . . .
08/11/2021, 21:18:16

    Peter2 writes:

    . . . and quickly became a "sleeper" best-seller. I came across the book in either late 1961 or late 1962, and was surprised when the tiny bookshop in the town where I then lived had a copy in stock. I said this to the proprietor, and he said "Oh yes. We sell a copy a month pretty regularly and have done for years." The point I'm making is that a reasonably popular mediaeval scenario well predates computer gaming.

    If you're looking for actual aliens in spaceships, I suspect you'll find occasional examples in Munsey's Magazine and Argosy from about 1890 onwards, and you'll certainly find them after 1926 when Hugo Gernsback started publishing Amazing.

    So plentiful examples were there when personal computing developed to the point at which it became profitable to sell games to the public.





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Wow! Thanks--I had no idea.
08/12/2021, 10:57:40

    The Elf writes:

    I thought Tolkien had written it for his soldier son, presumably in WW1.




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Tolkein did start writing in the WW1, but . . .
08/12/2021, 12:18:56

    Peter2 writes:

    . . . those were the writings that culminated in the Silmarillion and those quite definitely were not for children. Also, It was Tolkein himself who fought in the First World War.

    His writings for his children included the Father Christmas Letters, and The Hobbit, although The Hobbit wasn't published until 1936.





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