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The CRPG Addict
August 29, 2011 6:12 PM   Subscribe

The CRPG Addict is playing every PC role-playing came in chronological order. Currently, he's playing Ultima V.

The CRPG Addict is sort of like Chrontendo for Computer Roleplaying Games. It's a relatively new blog with a LOT of content. On the right side of the blog is a list of recent and upcoming games. Scroll down for lists of highest rated games, lowest rated and longest played, then popular posts and the author's favorites.

The playthroughs vary from a description of gameplay and a few screenshots for a minor, exasperating game, to extended series of posts with many screenshots, videos and scans of supplements. Some posts are overviews of big CRPG issues(Turn-based vs. Real-time combat) or thoughts on a specific genre (Roleplaying and Roguelikes).

The List and an explanation of The List.

Why? and some ground rules.

An explanation of his complicated reviewing criteria, the Game Innovation, Merriment, Likability and Engagement Test, or GIMLET.

Good posts on weird games: Swords of Glass, Scavenger's of the Mutant World, The Seven Spirits of Ra, Le Maitre des Ames, Alien Fires: 2199 AD.

Discussion of the Pools of Radiance review at Rpg Codex (like 4chan for RPGs, be warned) where the author drops in.

And finally a post linking CRPG tropes to TV tropes, in case you were worried about getting to sleep at a reasonable hour.
posted by kittensofthenight (58 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite

 
is he going to do the C64 version of Wasteland? Ooohhh... he's almost there.

I'm assuming he's not completing them because some of these games are like 80+ hour playtimes.
posted by GuyZero at 6:21 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow. I'm impressed he's already to 1988.
posted by asperity at 6:23 PM on August 29, 2011


Ultima V was a good one.

Man, I loved the Ultima games. Even IX.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:25 PM on August 29, 2011


Don't have time to look at this tonight (and I grew up with Macs and had few non-console games, so I don't have a lot of context anyway)--but can anyone report whether going back in a Steam/PS3/Xbox360 world and replaying these vintage games is easier than playing them was at the time?

I remember how hard Zelda seemed at the time, but now it seems so quaint compared to modern games. Does the datedness of those Ur-games make them easier for today's sophisticated audience?

I loved Phantasy Star on the Sega--but it seems so small compared to an Elder Scrolls...
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:31 PM on August 29, 2011


GuyZero - he's putting at least 6 hours into each game, to give it a fair shake.

That being said... jeez. There's almost 1000 games on that list. Even if he only does the minimum 6 hours for each game, that's almost 3 work years! Who has time for that?
posted by starvingartist at 6:41 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Admiral-
One thing I like about the blog is a chance to get a closer look at games I tried to play recently in dosbox but found impossible to even control, like Pools of Radiance- impossible because my laptop doesn't even have the same keys and I can't figure out key-mapping in boxer. Some of the games are, scale wise, just as immense as an elder scrolls game, plus you have 6 characters and their inventories to worry about, which does become pretty daunting without the icons and the paper-doll equipping.

Starving Artist- yeah, he writes about the time commitment quite frequently, I can't understand it either. I feel like I've wasted this whole month just playing Deus Ex a couple nights a week...
posted by kittensofthenight at 6:43 PM on August 29, 2011


X-Com, excellent
posted by Chekhovian at 6:44 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Am I correct in remembering that Ultima V did not have music on the 64 but did have music on the 128?
posted by Ad hominem at 6:49 PM on August 29, 2011


now it seems so quaint compared to modern games

Maybe, but modern games have auto-mapping, arrows pointing you in the direction of your target, quest logs, etc. You barely have to pay any attention to what is said in most RPGs anymore, as the game wants to make sure you always know what to do next.

This was not the case in the past, where you were frequently wandering around without a clue unless you had a hint book or a BBS or something.
posted by wildcrdj at 7:08 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Excellent! I still replay Might & Magic IV/V every couple years out of nostalgia, but I sincerely regret never really playing many other CRPGs when I was younger.

I started doing this with point-and-click adventure games about two years ago, though certainly not 6 hours worth of every game (and I used strategy guides to speed up the process). I got through around ~100 before stopping. This is really making me want to revisit them and actually write up why each one aged well or aged poorly and highlight the really interesting deviations in the genre.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 7:14 PM on August 29, 2011


This is great, thank you!
posted by seventyfour at 7:23 PM on August 29, 2011


I started doing this with point-and-click adventure games

Write it up! You'd totally have an audience.
posted by asperity at 7:26 PM on August 29, 2011


Wow, this is good. I like this Wish List entry; I'm currently playing Fallout 3 and he covers almost every complaint I've had about that game. I guess that those are more universal tropes than I had realized.
posted by octothorpe at 7:35 PM on August 29, 2011


Agreed. I had a note book next to me when I was playing Ultima VII because it seemed like every other person you spoke to would speak in some bizarre riddle that might end up being an important quest or piece of knowledge.

I never finished that game. Tragedy.
posted by chunking express at 7:43 PM on August 29, 2011


Frankly I'm most impressed at the author's ability to maintain a livelihood while doing this. I mean, if I were to ever put 'playing video games' on my to-do list then most of my other responsibilities would go flying out the window.
posted by scrutiny at 7:54 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


What does he mean by "non-puzzle based inventory"?
posted by grog at 7:55 PM on August 29, 2011


Grog, he probably means not like adventure games where virtually all inventory items helped you solve puzzles in the environment, i.e. a wad of gum attached to a carrot.

CRPG inventory could contain literal keys or quest items, but they were generally built around tools for combat (armor, weapons, potions) and resources (gems, money, etc.).
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 8:05 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like this Wish List entry

X-COM from 1994:
1. "Adaptive end games based on how long the player takes...How much cooler would it be if every day that passed, you had to face more enemies, and more powerful enemies...I want games to punish me for dithering" And how, just wait until enough time passes and you have Ethereal Battle ships terrorizing every city and launching waves of attacks at your bases.
3. "Tactical use of the environment". When I realized that I could shoot through walls, collapse whole buildings (and even hills) with high explosives, and generally just destroy everything around me most of time rather than carefully explore every nook and cranny in a dangerous fashion, my game life changed.
4. "Crippling, disabling, and amputating in 3D CRPGs" Your soldiers do take locational damage, but it doesn't matter for the most part if they survive the initial hit.
5. "Temptation to evil." Maybe temptation to ethics violations is more correct. There are many ways you can play that adhere to the strict rules of the game, but really make it much easier for you to win. Hell you can just keep your troops in the loading zone when you attack alien bases for 20 turns and then wait for the aliens to come to you.
6. "Fire". Eventually I realized that night missions were much easier if I just set most of my surroundings ablaze, rather than throwing puny flares.
...the rest aren't terribly applicable.
posted by Chekhovian at 8:32 PM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hehe, I've been reading this blog since Christmas, you'll see a number of comments by myself comparing CRPGs to real RPGs (errr, Tabletop RPGs). I hope some of you will join our little community that posts to his blog.

The most popular post to comment on? Most annoying CRPG enemies. Everyone is commenting on it, adding what they hate to it.

Chekhovian: Read the comments: Several commentators on that post (myself included) pointed that out to him and that it needs to be on his list, as it has more RPG elements then several he has played so far.
posted by Canageek at 8:38 PM on August 29, 2011


GuyZero: He is doing the DOS/PC version for each one, to avoid emulator problems. There has been much discussion and debate on this, but he is sticking to his guns (for now).
posted by Canageek at 8:40 PM on August 29, 2011


I started reading the U5 post, then started looking through his other posts. (I'm disappointed that he hasn't played Bards Tale III nor Battletech, although they're on the list.)

Can't wait to read what he thinks about X-Com.

I used to play it from beginning to finish about once a year, it's been every other year for the last few though.

Who else named a soldier after themselves and made them a hands-on hero Commander?
posted by porpoise at 8:57 PM on August 29, 2011


Right there in the title to the third post: Rogue: the most difficult CRPG I've played

I like this guy.
posted by JHarris at 9:14 PM on August 29, 2011


I also like this guy. He's my kinda people

the thought of slicing wings off cliff racers excites me in ways I don't fully understand.

Because fuck cliff racers for serious.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:23 PM on August 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


I loved Ultima III, but I burnt out on Ultima IV and didn't play any of these games for years afterwards. Too bad, it sounds like Ultima V was fun.
posted by homunculus at 9:31 PM on August 29, 2011


Mmmmmm, Ultima. When the 11 year old me first figured out that I had to fly to 9,9,9 he was fucking hooked.

U4 may have been my personal favorite, U5 was cleaner, and they ironed out some of the glaring problems in 4, and refined the party implementation. Also, the bad guys ruling the kingdom was a titch more novel then. Sudaj be damned.

All that being said, I still tell people that that's how I got "into the computer industry", 10 year old me hex edited Ultima saves.
posted by Sphinx at 9:34 PM on August 29, 2011


Doesn't Dungeons of Daggorath have a PC Port? Does it not count because it wasn't official?
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:47 PM on August 29, 2011


Nevermind, the site that had the port for DoD is down :(
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:56 PM on August 29, 2011


Frankly I'm most impressed at the author's ability to maintain a livelihood while doing this. I mean, if I were to ever put 'playing video games' on my to-do list then most of my other responsibilities would go flying out the window.

Me too, but I can picture a personality that would be more disciplined about it once it was on the to do list and felt a little more like work and less like play.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:06 PM on August 29, 2011


The most surpriging thing that ever happened to me in a CRPG was in Ultima VI. I camped for the night next to some mountains in a somewhat unfortunate way, for you see, Iolo the Bard could not find a good place to sleep because of the impassable terrain, and had to sleep in the campfire. He died during the night.

Or, wait, maybe it was how you could push Lord British into a basket and carry him around anywhere you meant, in order for him to provide healing for the group whenever needed. I can't decide. As I recall, that latter feature could lead to the game crashing, though, so you'd have to be careful with your basket king. But seeing how dangerous camping is in the world of Ultima, carrying one around with you seemed like rather a good idea.

That game sure had some memorable glitches. And I don't mean this in a bad way. It can add to the fun the game provides if there are elements that interact in various crazy and unforeseen ways. You could say that discovering the glitches in the game's universe is a whole another game in addition to the intended gameplay and story.
posted by tykky at 11:45 PM on August 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Clicked on link to most annoying critters, top of the page was screenshot of a Cliff Racer. Nodded to myself and said 'yup'.

Seriously though those guys really did suck. At first they were terrifying until you levelled up a bit, and then, bam, six would descend on you at once.

Even when you had absolutely ubered your character they were still annoying as fuck because of the sheer number of them made them like mosquitoes or flies buzzing making you feel like you just had to swat the bastards

(As an aside,had a game going back to mid 2004 when I wrote my honours thesis about Morrowind which I played on and off until the start of the year when I forgot to back it up during a routine format and reinstall = o. Can't remember the exact level number but was pretty much reduced to putting points into those pointless skills whenever he rarely levelled up)

I know getting there might present some issues, but I'm suggesting a meet up in Vvardenfell. Bring nets, fireball spells, dai Katanans, long bows, battle axes or whatever other weapon type floats your boat. Let's finish this thing.

Oh, and cure disease potions, heaps of cure disease potions...
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 1:41 AM on August 30, 2011


Oh god I've wanted to do this exact project for years. Curse you, job, family, life!!
posted by jet_manifesto at 2:01 AM on August 30, 2011


God, I had totally forgotten until seeing this - that Pavlovian thrill that ran up my spine upon seeing a wall block in Ultima with that tiny little dot in the center.
posted by jbickers at 3:48 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never installed a bunch of mods and/or plugins for my copy of Morrowind like a lot of people did, but the one that I always, always installed got rid of cliff racers entirely, because (as was said earlier) fuck cliff racers.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:48 AM on August 30, 2011


Wow, I thought I was the only person ever to have played Swords of Glass.

It was a long time ago, but I think I got it from one of those mail-order services that thrived in the early '90s by charging modem-deprived kids $6 for a 5 1/4" floppy with a single freeware or (unregistered) shareware game on it. I got PCHack and Moria (both awesome) that way but I also got a lot of trash Telengard clones and Hogbear and miserable CGA rip-offs of arcade games and loads of other crap. Swords of Glass was almost incomprehensible but it had a mysterious charm to it that kept me playing for hours. It was so difficult that even using save/reload cheating to avoid permadeath and give myself endlessly cloned "weapon baths" I couldn't beat it, but I tried.

(thanks for taking the time to make this an excellent post, by the way)
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:57 AM on August 30, 2011


This is really making me want to revisit them and actually write up why each one aged well or aged poorly and highlight the really interesting deviations in the genre.

HG101 just released a 700+ page book detailing exactly that. As of last night I am almost done with it. Although don't let this encourage you as I can assure you the sort of people who would buy and read a 700+ book on adventure games would love to have another one.
posted by griphus at 6:06 AM on August 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


BrotherCaine: It probably isn't on the list he is using, which started as Wikipedia's list of CRPGs, but then that was found to be lacking, so some people hacked him together one from a number of sources. But if it wasn't officially released it won't be on the list, which is fair, as he is trying to experience them as they would have been on the original, not add in more modern stuff.
posted by Canageek at 6:43 AM on August 30, 2011


Oh, jesus, don't let this discourage you.
posted by griphus at 7:25 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Starflight! Oh man, I love that game. Well-thought out alien races, exploration of a huge galaxy, a plot with an interesting twist. It's by far my favorite space exploration game--Star Control 2 was fun, but somehow there I felt more like I was following a single breadcrumb trail. Other games prominently featuring space travel are way too hung up on "trading", for some reason... all the romance of space exploration reduced to trying to find a better price for grain. Ugh. Anyway, I urge everyone to give it a try--I first completed it about six years ago, it's held up marvelously.
posted by IjonTichy at 7:50 AM on August 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Good stuff.

If you don't have three or four friends who like D&D, you end up playing with strangers. If you do have three or four friends who like D&D, you start to wonder about the choices you've made.
posted by exogenous at 8:17 AM on August 30, 2011


Exogenous: Yeah, we kinda too him to task for that, and he admitted his very limited contact with D&D. He has found my insights into the history of CRPGs via Tabletop RPGs to be useful though.
posted by Canageek at 8:24 AM on August 30, 2011


Grog, he probably means not like adventure games where virtually all inventory items helped you solve puzzles in the environment, i.e. a wad of gum attached to a carrot.

I don't know of the context in which he's using it, but when I hear "puzzle-based inventory" I think of something like Resident Evil 4 where you don't just have encumberance or slots, you actually have to make the variously shaped and sized items fit into your suitcase.
posted by kmz at 8:45 AM on August 30, 2011


kmz: subject_verb_remainder is correct on puzzle based inventory. You mean like Dungeonsiege where you have the grid and the shaped items? Don't think that occurs until the late, late 90s, and thus I expect to be very old by the time we get his opinion on it.
posted by Canageek at 8:50 AM on August 30, 2011


Ultima 4 was the first game I cheated at. If you put the wrong floppy in it got all glitchy and chests started appearing. I continued this trend with Bards Tale 1, you could use a hex editor to edit your inventory, I actually wrote into a C64 magazine with all the hex values for all the items, and Bards Tale 3, there was a way to simply buy the item you needed to end the game, beat that sucker in 10 minutes, shortest RPG evar.

Turned out I liked figuring out how to cheat more than I liked playing the game. I continued this for a long time, I would attach SoftICE to the game and step through the code, then patch the binaries. Eventually game developers started somehow detecting SoftICE on game startup, that was a sad day when Age Of Empires refused to start until I terminated SoftICE.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:05 AM on August 30, 2011


The day I discovered I could hex-edit the store inventory in Bard's Tale as well as my bank balance was the greatest day EVAR. And yes, Bard's Tale 3 was a pretty short game if you did the right stuff.

I never had SoftICE, I had to make do with the hex editor in Epyx's Fastload cartridge. But I did manage to learn how the C64 filesystem linked disk sectors to form files, create a directory, etc.
posted by GuyZero at 11:34 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Wasteland was the first thing I searched his master list for as well... DAMN but I love that game. Ran through 3 separate c64s just playing that game over and over in my youth, and then the Interplay 10 Year Anniversary collection came out for the PC. Still gotta run MoSlo or something to choke down the processor speed to the point that the game is playable, but I run through it every year or so. That and Ultima VII, which is still the best IM(NS)HO. I had been playing them since III or so, and was so amazed at the jump between V and VI... and then VII came out. The abstract 'morality' of Avatarhood introduced in IV suddenly stood out in stark relief, when faced with real moral choices. The venom addicts... the towns full of racial flashpoints between the humans and gargoyles... the main game thread has you following the trail of a ritualistic serial killer, and the first crime scene you bump up against right in the opening was such an 'oh shit!' moment, I can still picture the barn and body perfectly.

First thing I do after finishing the new Deus Ex is reload U7 and Wasteland. Just when I thought I was out....
posted by FatherDagon at 11:36 AM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I prefer Ultima II myself. Gotta make sure your experience points don't rollover that 16-bit int value.
posted by GuyZero at 11:59 AM on August 30, 2011


Ultimas V and VI were high points of my childhood gaming. Exploring these deep, morally complex, bizarre universes with a surprise around every corner. I keep hearing Ultima VII is the best. I couldn't run it on my computer at the time, but I'm definitely looking forward to playing it in the near future.
posted by naju at 12:24 PM on August 30, 2011


I loved this little story, which partly explains why he does this:

Today, I did part of my playing on an airplane, and the guy next to me--he seemed about 20--was utterly baffled as to why I would play a game so old. I tried to suggest that it was no different than watching old movies, or listening to old songs, but he clearly didn't do that sort of thing, either, so I had to give up.
posted by ignignokt at 12:53 PM on August 30, 2011


I hope he explained it by saying that games today suck and for all their visual effects have mostly crap gameplay.

Also, it's amazing how much of my lawn fits in an airplane.
posted by GuyZero at 1:22 PM on August 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I enjoyed this quite a bit. Thanks for posting.
posted by honkeoki at 2:56 PM on August 30, 2011


This was not the case in the past, where you were frequently wandering around without a clue unless you had a hint book or a BBS or something.

It baffles kids when I tell them that I used to draw my own maps for Zelda and Mario and that was half the fun.

I hope he explained it by saying that games today suck and for all their visual effects have mostly crap gameplay.

I was playing the new Deus Ex, and while I'm definitely enjoying it, I was thinking how much it's just that -- a new Deus Ex. It seems to do very little that couldn't have been done 5 or 10 years ago (albeit less-prettily), and when I come across games like that -- even if they're very polished -- I can't help but wonder what the point is.
posted by Amanojaku at 5:25 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know. When you could be playing Paradroid.
posted by GuyZero at 5:39 PM on August 30, 2011


It baffles kids when I tell them that I used to draw my own maps for Zelda and Mario and that was half the fun.

I was the same way with Bard's Tale II, I still have my maps for that gigantic, 25-level game around here somewhere. If you aren't mapping it, I think, you aren't really playing it. Figuring out ways to make games less vulnerable to FAQs and walkthroughs that give it all away is a large part of my thinking about games. Random and other forms of algorithmic content generation are the answers I tend to favor.
posted by JHarris at 1:16 AM on August 31, 2011


The love for Might & Magic at the blog is encouraging. It's a pity it isn't practical to use old saves for games like MMVI because between remembering where the (grand)master trainers live and the location of the stat-enhancing obelisk/shrines, you are looking at a few good hours lost.
posted by ersatz at 5:08 AM on August 31, 2011


It baffles kids when I tell them that I used to draw my own maps for Zelda and Mario and that was half the fun.

Let me just correct this, because my inner nerd winced when I reread it in JHarris's quote:

I used to draw my own maps for Zelda and Metroid.

Who needs a map for Mario? Sheesh.

If you aren't mapping it, I think, you aren't really playing it.

Have you played the Etrian Odyssey games for the DS? All about the mapping.
posted by Amanojaku at 9:03 AM on August 31, 2011


This is just awesome. Right now I'm reading through it from the beginning but just skipping all the games I haven't played, and it's still taking me days and days to get through.

After I've done that, I'm going to go read all the articles on the games I haven't played.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:53 AM on August 31, 2011


I know. When you could be playing Paradroid.

Damn it, I just wasted an hour playing freedroid.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:53 PM on August 31, 2011


GOG is giving away Ultima IV for free!
posted by griphus at 7:53 AM on September 1, 2011


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