The CRPG Book Project
February 4, 2018 6:06 PM   Subscribe

For over four years Felipe Pepe has been working on a 500+ page book reviewing 400 CRPGs, going over their history from early PLATO amusements to the latest 100+ hour Bethesda open-world monstrosities. At last his efforts have reached a conclusion, and he's giving the ebook away free on his website.
posted by JHarris (30 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
1. Argh, his name is Felipe Pepe, sorry for misspelling it.
2. I contributed a bit on Nethack, but it didn't make it into the book. Fine by me, that means I can post about it!
posted by JHarris at 6:07 PM on February 4, 2018

“My God, it’s full of rpgs.”
posted by Beholder at 6:17 PM on February 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Well-deserved "awesome" tag.
posted by cgc373 at 6:44 PM on February 4, 2018

Temple of Fucking Apshai, wooooo0000o!

Ahem, sorry.
posted by aramaic at 7:11 PM on February 4, 2018 [7 favorites]

omg insta-download.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:17 PM on February 4, 2018

Just scrolling through before really diving in, but I am ashamed to admit that I believe I have played at least 90% of everything I've seen so far. Thankfully, time spent doing things you enjoy is time well-spent! I wish that argument worked as well on my parents back then as it does on me now.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:43 PM on February 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've never seen a more important resource to the hobby. The fact that it's free is mind blowing. I wonder how many of these titles are still legally available and patched for Win10?
posted by Beholder at 8:50 PM on February 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Proofreading – The book hasn’t been proofread... Since we have no money and it’s something I can’t do myself, we depend on the work of volunteers.

page 47 'overthrown' should be 'overthrow'
posted by adept256 at 8:51 PM on February 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Hey, it released! I was awful time-wise, but I contributed a review after the last post about the project. Someone go back in time and tell my younger self my words are next to the ones of Chris Avellone.

What I love most about the book is not only that it's a pretty comprehensive resource, but that many of the articles make me want to go back and play the games. Well done, Felipe.
posted by ersatz at 11:06 PM on February 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I meant to just flip through it quickly to see what's in there but now it's been like two and a half hours and I am quickly accumulating a list of games or mods I want to check out. This book has all the usual suspects but also stuff like Castle of the Winds and Mordor that I'd have assumed I was basically the only person to have ever played, and so far every review I've read for a game I've played has been fair, if not exactly what I'd say. (Nor is every review just glowing nostalgic praise: Gothic 3, for example, takes an even-handed but justly deserved beating.) It does need some serious proofreading, but wow, what a book.
posted by mstokes650 at 11:43 PM on February 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

> aramaic:
"Temple of Fucking Apshai, wooooo0000o!

Ahem, sorry."

Fellow ex-Aphshain. No wahala. Go nuts.
posted by Samizdata at 1:05 AM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

hehe, I'm glad that someone else thinks Quest For Glory IV was as charming and funny as I remember. Also that Ultima VIII, for all its problems, was quite disturbing... the game begins with a beheading, fer chrissakes!

That said, I wish it weren't littered with he/him pronouns.
posted by yaymukund at 2:24 AM on February 5, 2018

I loved Castle of the Winds. Gelatinous Cubes were my undoing but I could never resist them, they dropped such cool loot.

World of Xeen! Betrayal at Krondor! Dark Sun! Ultima VII! That’s as far as I got before it crashed Chrome on my iPad, but I am looking forward to revisiting many glorious hours.
posted by andraste at 2:34 AM on February 5, 2018

No mention of MMOs, though. Probably for the best considering how much a different beast they are.
posted by Beholder at 4:07 AM on February 5, 2018

CRPG Addict is also a must read. The guy is playing through all the RPG's he can in chronological order.

Why we're here.
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 5:59 AM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Arrrgh I don't NEED this kind of temptation.
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:43 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Slightly off-topic.

After many years away I briefly rejoined LustyMUD some time in 2001. One of the wizards mentioned MetaFilter to my stupidly overexperienced level 19 character. I can't remember who it was, but I figure if there is a Lusty wizard who is active on MeFi, they will be reading this thread. Who are you and what happened to LM?
posted by Index Librorum Prohibitorum at 9:09 AM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Glad to see Eamon in there.. This reads like a list of my childhood.. hah! (Had to search to see Legacy of the Ancients was mentioned as a sequel to Questron, but I only played LotA)
posted by k5.user at 11:28 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have been informed by the guy who made this that my review *did* make it in the book, he just forgot to credit me so a search for my name turned up false. So what should be done? Delete this post as an unknowing self-link? I like to think someone else would have posted it before long anyway.
posted by JHarris at 12:16 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

[I'ma leave it at gentle side-eye given your good intentions and the wee nature of the infraction. Carry on.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:02 PM on February 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

This is an amazing resource. Megatraveller 2 Quest for the Ancients holds very fond memories, and I was convinced everything had a use. I remember playing a lot on my friends PC in my formative years and thinking it was stunning. Of course I was jealous there was nothing like it on my Amiga, then I read this book and find out at least the first was available and contained patches. Patches? In 1990. Wow.

Many many games here to add to the list I'd like to play but may never. Heck I'm still trying to work my way through my GoG catalogue in roughly purchase order dating back some 7-8 years. Currently playing and enjoying In Cold Blood, being the one Revolution Software game I'd never played.
posted by diziet at 3:58 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Very few good RPGs on the horizon for this poor Xbox One gamer. Kingdom Come: Deliverance, maybe. No Divinity Original Sin 2 slated for that console. "Finished" Dragon's Dogma recently and man, that was a slog, quite an awful experience to be honest. I have been forsaken!
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:25 PM on February 5, 2018

definition of "labor of love".
I have fiona memories of champions of krynn as a kid and try to go back and play those gold box games and find I don't have the time or patience or something.
everytime i look at this guys blog, I'm amazed at how thorough and patient it is.

just awesome.
posted by lkc at 6:53 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

1) This is amazing and I shall be forwarding it to interested friends
2) That's a lot of licensed D&D games studded alongside the other gems. NWN2 makes it in 3 times!
3) This is still amazing and I may well be reading it all my life.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 8:10 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm glad Dark Heart of Uukrul made the cut. It was such a great game, with very inventive play-styles. My biggest gripe with it is that your weapons would break too often, necessitating repairs or repurchasing them at quite an expense. Maybe I was grinding too much but I would always get stuck in a spot where I had broken weapons and wasn't able to buy better weapons along with the food also required to progress.

I still can't remember the name of one of my favourite apple II RPG games, I'm not sure what levl of apple II was the minimum but I played it on a IIgs. It looked like Ultima I, but had a different attack method. You attacked by holding down control and pressing the direction you wanted to attack then pressing up, middle (right or left), or down to chose which part of the enemy to attack. There were birds that only took up the top part, and rats that took up only the bottom but most things took up all three slots but hitting the head did the fastest kill. You could also get a corsair and sail around and the corsair could shoot things on land. There were portals that would move you to a different island, and if you weren't careful you could get stuck on an island with no means of escape.
posted by koolkat at 1:24 AM on February 6, 2018

So I'm really into this book

but I also keep getting jarred by the references to the white supremacy infecting all of current gaming. I've counted 4 or 5 "Pepe" and we're still in the 80s. 😕
posted by aurynn at 12:30 PM on February 6, 2018

The more time passes the more impressive Ultima VII seems to me. It is beyond me why no one in this day and age has attempted to replicate their approach to making a believable society (in short by giving every non player character a daily routine that included sleeping, eating, work, hobbies and family/romance). People get really excited about its freedom to do whatever (i.e. bake bread from scratch, even harvesting the crops and grinding the grains) but the soul of the game was in the care spent on the society. I still reminisce fondly about traveling around that Britannia in a way that I don’t about any other computer game. It's unparalleled and came out nearly a quarter-century ago.

Anyway, that’s my old-fogey rant over.
posted by Kattullus at 2:51 PM on February 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

One that I remember from that era, but which was sadly absent from the index, was The Magic Candle. In it, you're supposed to save the titular object from burning out and Bad Things Happening. Instead, I often parked in a town for months on end, as my party put off the main quest* in favour of splitting up and:
- going to school (in, e.g., fighting, magic, charisma, or my favourite: learning to learn*),
- paying for this by working in town as jewellers, carpenters, etc, and
- running up the hotel bill by memorizing copies of spells to cast.

* - which, again, was stopping a candle from burning out
** - and thus gaining more skill points from other schooling
posted by The Outsider at 4:27 PM on February 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Magic Candle is in there, page 110. I, uh, may have contributed to open-sourcing the hint book in the pre-game-faqs internet era via mailing a CD of a scan of the pages with all my notes to someone.

(That said, I was amazed "Escape from Hell" made the list .. The game was awful.. It was bad bad bad bad, but did have plenty of joke/humor content .. just was an awful game.. )
posted by k5.user at 7:01 PM on February 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by JHarris at 9:31 PM on February 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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