When it comes to famous RPG series, the first game many people think about is Final Fantasy, but there’s another series that started life half a decade earlier and is one of the most influential games in the genre’s history, despite how important it was in getting the genre off the ground, not that many people have actually heard of it. Throughout the history of video games, the developers had came up with a lot of different genres, and one of the oldest among them is role playing games, or RPG in short.
The history of RPG can be traced back to the era before the popularize of video games. A famous example would be Dungeons & Dragons, a tabletop RPG which is still quite popular in the gaming community nowadays. The fun buried in this kind of game is really about the player role playing as someone else they can never become, and most importantly, the game can be enjoyed by multiple players where they can interact with each other and adventure in a mysterious world. Still, although there were a lot of video games currently on the market, there wasn’t any digital entertainment that really fulfills the needs of these RPG fans. It was until 1975 that the first RPG, or “Computer Adventure Game” at that time, called “Adventure” really come out to the gaming world. “Adventure” is a quite unique and great game at its time but it still lacks an important feature as it is only a single player game, it has a great immersive experience of role playing but lacks the experience of player interaction with other players.
In 1978, the first multiplayer, RPG game was created. It was created by Roy Trubshaw, a student at Essex University in England. (“RPG Evolution — Home” 2005) This game was known by many as the original Multi-User Dungeons (MUD) also the ancestor of MMORPG. Unlike most of the RPGs nowadays, MUD is more like an online tabletop RPG, which means most of the gameplay are based on text and weighs a lot on the plot writing.
This is mainly because of the restriction of technology at that time, the poor computer hardware couldn’t process that much data. Still, having players playing traditional role playing games online with others they never met before is quite a unique experience. At this point, the main audience of this genre is still those players who were already playing RPG prior to the digital era.
The Rise of RPG: Ultima
While it was the early Ultima titles that went on to inspire the entire RPG genre, it was the second trilogy of Ultima games that cemented Garriott, and his company Origin Systems, into the minds of an entire generation of gamers. Ultima IV, released in 1985, begins one of the grandest plots in early RPG history. Unlike pretty much every game of its era, Ultima IV doesn’t feature an ultimate evil that needs destroying. Instead, you’re tasked with embodying eight virtues and journeying across the land to unify everyone under a unique philosophy.
The best part about the second Ultima trilogy is how Garriott twisted his own creation to make an incredibly dark and adult storyline. it’s very exited to see these great philosophical and moral ideas turned into state-mandated laws that have made the entire population fiercely loyal to the system for fear of losing their lives or families. Even more interesting is the fact that the player is an outcast. As part of the quest, you have to break open sealed dungeons, steal items from Lord Blackthorn’s castle, and avoid arousing the suspicion of the people.
The Fall of RPG
A genre wouldn’t last long if this genre never receive any new blood into it. This is quite the current state of MMORPG. There are only a few titles that are being considered great in the current market, while a lot of new games aren’t consider to be as successful as those titles and slowly lose the hype and died overtime due to different reasons.
The most important factor that caused this situation, probably, would be the complexity needed while creating MMORPG, this genre isn’t something that can be created by a small amount of people. In order to make a good MMORPG, a development team with a decent amount of developers is needed. With that being said, the money going into it would be huge. The large amount of investment needed, again, prevents small indie developers from touching this genre. This is another reason that lesser and lesser games coming into this genre. At this current state of MMORPG, the only thing can be done is to have more successful titles coming into this genre. And the only thing that can be done towards that would be having developers and publishers who work together on a good and viable business model, learning all the old mistakes people made before them.
Across its years, MMORPGs had a lot of great games like Everquest, Ragnarok Online, Risk Your Life, Seal Online and World of Warcraft. Still, at current times, due to a lot of other more fast-paced multiplayer games hitting the shelf and the lack of good games in this genre, it is started to fall, just like a lot of other genres.
Sources: Medium, Tech Raptor