What role-playing games had the most impact on you?

Matt Barton's picture

I was browsing the excellent Tales of the Rampant Coyote blog and was pleasantly surprised to find a great mention of my book on a post called Game Design: How CRPGs Warped My Brain, Part 1. After complimenting my book, R.C. goes on to mention the role-playing games that made the most impact on his design philosophy. Here's a snippet from the Temple of Apshai blurb:

The thing that stuck with me from that game is that while a picture may be worth a thousand words, sometimes those words in text descriptions can evoke thoughts, feelings, and understanding that a picture alone cannot convey – even with the best of modern graphics.

How true! I also remember enjoying the entries in the printed journal that accompanied Pool of Radiance and other goldbox games. It was so much fun when the game referred to you an entry; it was always worth taking the time to read it and gave the game a more authentic D&D like feeling. What CRPGs have "warped your brain?" Here's a brief list of my personal favorites and what they taught me.

The Bard's Tale. This was the first CRPG I remember playing, and even though I never managed to complete it, I was still captivated by the gameplay. I had lots of fun exploring Skara Brae and fighting the roaming monsters. I also enjoyed creating parties and looking at the cool character graphics (I can still recall what the rogue looked like). My experience with this game as a kid was of course superficial, since I didn't have the manual (ah, the downsides of piracy).

Pool of Radiance. The first CRPG that really did it for me. I've beaten it three times, and still marvel at how well this game is put together. Everything fits together so nicely; no other game has really given me that sense of immersion and being on a campaign. It really felt like an adventure, and I never quite knew what to expect next. I remember having to go to church right after clearing some pirates or bandits out of a well and how hard it was to sit there--I couldn't wait to get back home and see what was in that well. I also felt as though the developers had put a lot of work into the system, and I trusted it. That's important.

Might & Magic VI: Mandate of Heaven. I was resistant to this game because I didn't think I'd like the first person view, but I soon found myself totally immersed in Erathia. Again, it's a huge, sprawling world, with lots of variety and an RPG system you can believe in. True, it was a lot of hack and slash, but that never bothered me.

Baldur's Gate. My girlfriend at the time was pushing this game on me, and again I was resistant because I didn't think I'd like the real-time battles or only creating one character (I preferred party-based games). But I quickly fell in love with the game, and the characters were awesome (Minsc remains a favorite). I also loved the intricate game world, though it felt much smaller somehow than those in POR and M&M VI. That's okay, because this game was more of "campaign module" than the sort of epic sprawl of the above games.

Fallout. Another RPG I couldn't be away from once I started. I've always loved the post-apocalyptic setting, and this game combined that with an awesome gameplay system. I didn't enjoy the combat quite as much as in the above games, but the story and setting made up for it. I also loved all the fun options for customizing your character--and again we had some interesting characters to team up with. In case you missed it, watch my video review.

Planescape: Torment. I didn't play this back in the day, but certainly enjoyed the heck out of it when I finally got around to playing it. Beautiful story, engrossing characters--it's just deep. I don't think any other CRPG has really made me think about life and death the way this game did.

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Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2006
If I do manage to get a copy

If I do manage to get a copy of Wizardry 8, I'll happily slog it here at AA. :)

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
All this talk, I ordered

All this talk, I ordered Wizardry 7 GOLD on ebay. Still may be one of my favorite all time for depth. I have the floppies still but no 3.5 floppy drive anymore.. anywhere (wow). I did some price looking and yes, can understand why some people dont have this, used prices are insane (err, they are as high as console game prices!). Recently I picked up Neverwinter nights 2, GuildWars Trio on D2D, great prices on the sales. I been smoking though NWN2 FOr a few hours every night (new motorcycle has kept me outside). I had played Guildwars in beta and for a few months at release. Am suprised at how ok it still looks. One of the reasons i quit playing was the quests ramped to fast (or there where not enough of them) and frustration set in on death. I dont like playing games i just kill randomely and non stop to level. Sad to say that mechanic is still in the game. But its knda fun to do the 2 class system and relive some of that.

Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Pen & paper RPGs

Pen & Paper RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons were my favorite most influential role playing games. I was exposed to them when I was about 13 years old and two friends of mine were very much interested in playing them. One had hemophilia and the other actually ended up with schizophrenia. Looking back on our RPG adventures the latter didn't surprise me as he had a hard time separating the game world from reality even back then. The other guy also had a very vivid imagination and I actually encountered him as chronic drug abuser/psychiatric patient a coupel of years ago.

We had some great times playing the game and it is so SO sad to see where those two guys are at right now. Still fond memories.

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
LOL, I still have a bunch of

LOL, I still have a bunch of old disk drives around in case I'm ever in need of one. I did see some external USB drives for sale for only $20. Probably worth picking up just to have on hand.

I really need to keep an eye open for one of those giveaways of an old 486 and early Pentium running 95 or 98. So much stuff just doesn't run properly on XP, much less Vista.

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Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Vintage PC Clones
Matt Barton wrote:

LOL, I still have a bunch of old disk drives around in case I'm ever in need of one. I did see some external USB drives for sale for only $20. Probably worth picking up just to have on hand.
I really need to keep an eye open for one of those giveaways of an old 486 and early Pentium running 95 or 98. So much stuff just doesn't run properly on XP, much less Vista.

I assume you're flying down for the conference, right? Otherwise I'd give you an old PC or two, since I"m swimming in them. They're not really practical to ship.

I too have a bunch of old PCs of various processor types and what-not with the intention of running old DOS games in an authentic manner. Honestly, though, since the invention of DOSbox, a lot of that utility has been replaced, particularly since it's such a chore getting certain titles to run (I'm looking at yours, Origin).

I have one of those external 3.5" USB drives. Never really used the thing, though, though it does have its utility for transferring old files more easily.

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Emrendil (not verified)
My first and my favorite RPG

My first and my favorite RPG game Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon. Played it on my Amiga in 1993-94.

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