What is the last great CRPG? Three names come to mind for this gamer: Fallout 1&2, Planescape Torment, and Baldur's Gate 2; the latest of these three being BG2. After thinking long and hard, I cannot think of a single CRPG to top those 3 (Or 4, if you're counting.) Why is that?

What is the last great CRPG? Three names come to mind for this gamer: Fallout 1&2, Planescape Torment, and Baldur's Gate 2; the latest of these three being BG2. After thinking long and hard, I cannot think of a single CRPG to top those 3 (Or 4, if you're counting.) Why is that?

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games

What a terrible, terrible title. Make me want to go leap in the shower and wash the filth. However, dear reader, I am not going to let myself give into personal whims. Oh no. I am going to rush head first into why MMORPGS are to blame.

'What exactly are they to be blamed for? You ask. 'The death and bastardization of CRPGS' I respond. With MMORPGS giving the PC market such a large possible revenue, player base, and shelf life, a good PC gamer like myself should love the concept. 'Stick it to the consoles!' I should scream, right? I'm not going to say MMORPGS are not one of the last real flotation devices of PC gaming. I'd be a blind fool if I said that.

I'm not blind, either.

The reason why CRPGS are dead is money. Games are getting more and more expensive to make, remaining longer in development time, and require larger teams. In fact, they require a lot more than they did 10 years ago. Thus with economics' in mind, the publishers are going to publish a game with one intention: to make money. It's not going to be to advance a genre, to further a franchise, or to search uncharted grounds. That isn't the case. They're being put out to make money. Now, not to say those three things just mentioned are not possible. They are. It's just that they are slapped on afterward.

MMORPGS are perhaps the same beast, but an evolved one. They require all of the things a CRPG does: Money, time, and large teams (larger teams at that.) They're still sold as normal CRPGS are as well. The kicker is the monthly fee. Considering they are anywhere from 10-15 dollars (American) this gives publishers quite the opportunity to make some cash. Now, don't scream and remind me of the fact that it's not pure revenue. Of course it isn't. Servers are expensive. So are in world moderators. As are the programmers who are going to be releasing new patches. However even with these costs, they give the chance to make a continuous stream of money from a continuous stream of players.

I'm sure all of you guys and gals know this, or can realize it.

This, however, does not stop me from griping, now does it? MMORPGS are killing CRPGS (Who, historically, have a smaller fan base and make less money. Duh). Which is a total bummer. Instead of the classics like Fallout, we are having CRPGS planted into other genres. Deus ex is a great example. A wonderful game, one of the best. However, it is nowhere NEAR the beauty Fallout is. Why is this? Because Fallout is a CRPG and Dues ex is a FPRPG (First person RPG.)

Give me turn based combat.

Give me stats I have to roll before I start the game.

Give me non-linear game play!

And, for the love of all that is good, keep it as it is meant to be. As a CRPG. Not as a MMORPG, or a (gasp!) console RPG.

Now, I could go on and mention how the world isn't totally dreary place. Take project Van Buren. Or the recently released Temple of Elemental Evil. Or the yet to be named fantasy CRPG project by Bioware.

But that would be lying to myself.

The TOEE is of course an old D&D module made by one of the best teams in the PC world today, Trokia. So strong sales are a given for that title. Project Van Buren is an obviously Fallout 3; a franchise with a large and loyal fan base, which makes it another cash given. Then there is the fantasy CRPG Bioware is making. Bioware being the company that has spawned Baldurs Gate, MDK, and Knights of the Old Republic. Again, they are essentially a golden goose. I know I will buy almost any game Troika or Bioware makes, and will strongly consider and Black Isle studio game.

However, with the death of CRPGS we will see new and wonderful things. Adventure games are all but dead, but that did not mean computer games were going down the hole. Some people might have thought that. Hell, someone probably wrote an article just as I am now, but about adventure games. Adventure games were replaced by FPS games (first person shooters) and I am of the opinion the evolution that took place was a good one.

Perhaps on the same leaf of evolution MMORPGS are the hope, not the dreadful reason I see them as. Who knows what wonders are possible with MMORPGS? I don't. I'm sure someone has some great ideas, but I have yet to see anything that has impressed me too much. Yet, still, perhaps there is some hope. Perhaps. Who knows what talented developers we will have in the future? Things might turn out to be great, and to usher out a new golden age of gaming.

Here's to hoping.

(sigh) More of this kinda thing? Sure, CRPGS are very weak right now, but they'll bounce back. It won't be the first time. You allways see these articles when one genre or another isn't getting much new or high-quality stuff. Everything evolves. The next great CRPGS could be something bigger and better than MMORPGS. Just wait and see.
Oh, and I'm tired of all fighting between PC gamers and console gamers. I swear, it's worse than RPGers and wargamers or Goths and, well, everyone. We're all gamers here, we're all misunderstood, can we at least peacefully co-exist?

Morrowind is a great recent CRPG. The only thing it really lacks is a powerful storyline, and that's because of a poor story engine. Everything else is there - huge landmass filled with content, tons of weapons, extremely customizable character, great cities, tons of sidequests, etc. etc.


Hear, hear! Morrowind is an *excellent* game. Does it top the Baldur's Gate or Fallout series? In some ways, yes; in others, no.

For the 'yes,' consider a seamless world where your character's position in space is unrestricted by the program at all times. If there's water, you can get in it and swim. If you have the right spells, you can fly or jump hundreds of feet into the air. And there's never a "travel map": when you leave town, you just keep going. It's HUGE. And it's breathtaking. This is a level of freedom that Fallout and Baldur's Gate, for all their complexity, just don't have. Gone are the "wilderness tiles" whose every crevice you can explore before moving on. Instead, you've got this entire continent to wander around on, over, under, and even around.

Morrowind is what you'd call a first-person RPG, but that's one part of your criticism I don't understand. Must a CRPG be turn-based to be any good? I don't think so, as long as the interface is simple enough for really uncoordinated people (like me) to be able to handle.

As for the 'no': the one thing I really missed in Morrowind was the level of interpersonal interaction that went on in games like Fallout and Baldur's Gate. The lack of fellow party members was a real bummer. One of the best things about Fallout was the smack-talk coming from your friends. The level of interparty interaction in Baldur's Gate 2 was truly amazing: I was impressed when Yoshimo gave me advice about what an NPC was telling me, but when Aerie and Jaheira started bickering I almost fell out of my chair. Morrowind seemed like a lonely world by contrast. Yeah, you get to become this great bad-ass, and you have these two god-swords, and a trio of artifact-level "tools," and all these cool trinkets, but you don't have a single friend. When Minsc starts babbling about Rangers and hamsters in the middle of a creepy Baldur's Gate dungeon, it can really lift your spirits. In Morrowind, you're in the dark all by yourself. Brrr!

I wasn't too impressed with Temple of Elemental Evil. Some encounter areas that would be immediately noticeable to a person standing there were very hard for me to see on some of the area maps. I walked right past an area that you can't miss if you want to win the game. Talk about a limitation of the interface! Baldur's Gate had this problem, especially in Durlag's Tower, but it wasn't nearly as severe: crucial encounter areas were not obscured by the shadows of the artwork.

Yeah, Morrowind was lacking in the character and story areas. The interaction engine it uses is really poor - doesn't let you talk to more than one person at a time, not conducive to character, etc.

That's something I hope is fixed in Elder Scrolls IV.

As far as I know Blackisle was dissolved by the evil empire of interplay. http://pc.ign.com/articles/445/445544p1.html http://pc.ign.com/articles/446/446379p1.html http://pc.ign.com/articles/446/446776p1.html

Fallout 3 and Baldur's Gate 3 were canceled in favor of baldurs gate: darkalliance and fallout: brotherhood of steel among other console games.

Other than that I absolutely agree with this article. But, I don't think that CRPG's should have to evolve. They all have the same formula. If a game breaks that formula its not a CRPG. What makes or breaks a game is how much detail and imagination a company is willing the put into that game. Stat adjustment, party interaction, can't see bad cause they're shadowed is all details. The only way that i can see the CRPG bounce back is if some company is really willing to devote themselves to such a game and make it creative and imaginative. Black Isle did that. Now, they're gone...


Do not be too gloomy. We still have Trokia. When Troika finally will get it right is the question, however. Arcanum was good, but it was seriously flawed. TOEE was better, but it still was not perfect. Then we have Larian Studios, who created Divine Divinity. Perhaps not a pure CRPG, but it still had the elements that make one great. The ability to play a role, a deep world, and a compelling story. They are creating Divine Divinity 2, and Troika has posted some concept art for a post apoc looking game. So there is some hope.

I too agree that CRPGs should stay as they are.

Now, I myself am not up to date on the whole video-game buisness, but that's beside the point.

It's just that, in my own humble opinion, there's a plethora of good console RPG's out there. Thing is...they're for consoles. You know, those funny looking boxes with the controllers hanging out of 'em. I mean, Squaresoft's still going strong (Though, admittedly, they have their own MMORPG now) and I'm sure there are other hardworking companies out there that I'm totally unaware of. Like whoever made Disgea- there's a hell of a game, right there.

If nothing else, you can always play the old stuff- The old Final Fantasies (FF3/6, in particular. as it's arguably the best game EVER), Chrono Trigger, Wild Arms, Xenogears, Zelda- or hell, even Zork.

If you've played 'em before, relive the old memories. If not, make new ones. I'm currently working my way through FF7 in my rapidly dwindling free time, as I never got the chance to play it all those years ago.

(This is not a troll, so if you disagree, fine.. if you feel the need to refute it, be polite...)

There is no such thing as an MMORPG... They're all Massively Multiplayer Online Arcade Games. Dozens of thirteen year olds powering up the level ladders. These people get "Gaming" confused with "Role Playing."

Now, not to be elitist, if you want competitive gaming, go ahead. I simply don't find it enjoyable. I don't think there ever will be anything comparable to table-top role playing in the computer world, at least anything that's described by the term "Massive." There is no sufficiently advanced AI to act as well as a human GM, and in any sufficiently large group of people, there will always be the "leet" and "uber" kids seeking far better equipment than everybody else to prove how "leet" and "uber" they are. Yay for you.

The lack of an engaging storyline is the biggest drawback to any game, in my opinion. The biggest market for disposable income games is the brat market, so that's what the game companies cater to. If they all want guns, gibs, and the ability to outlevel their brat buddies, they'll get it.

We get these kids in table top games too, they're invariably barbarians with greatswords.

If that's what you enjoy, more power to you. I just wish there were more people with the same interests as myself, so that game companies might feel the urge to indulge us once in a while.

I feel your pain...

There is actually an MMORPG - Armageddon MUD...

It just doesn't have pretty graphics.

The term RPG has really lost it's meaning. RPG is usually associated with stats, levels, and classes (And not all three have to be used). I dont know about you folks, but that doesnt make and RPG to me. Heck, I even saw the "America's Army" game being called an RPG.

My personal favorite Online Rpg of all time was the bbs doors games. Somewhere between ten and a hundred nerds and tabletoppers just playing around having fun, slaying dragons, building nations, and the like.

As for a good, not too-linear console game, I reccomend
fianl fantasy tactics. The graphics are poor, the combat is limited, but you do have some grand character/ability development.

Final Saga(or Frontier Saga? something like that) is also good if you have a PS2. You can teach your characters to not only kill monsters, but get past obstacles and better communication skills.

I truly believe that we can thank Pokemon, Digimon, and the other "Monster" games for breeding this generation, of uber levelling scrubs on the 'net. Of course, that's just me, and there's been some interesting repercussions, both good and bad. Of course, in all fairness, it's probably the fault of marketing execs, who only in the end want the highest profit possible, and thusly don't give a chicken's headlock about customers.

That was rather long-winded. I'm goign to go catch my breath now.

Gaspingly yours,

Ogre Battle 64 is another good console RPG that is non-linear. The Harvest Moon games, while more of a sim than an RPG are good too.

From my experience, the people that play pokemon are a bit younger than those that play MMORPGS. I think every person, when they first see an RPG, have some form of a desire to max out their character. In an environment when that is encouraged, it creates a beast that will never go hungry. Not to say there isn't some players/servers who MMORPG are different. They're the exception, not the rule.

For what it's worth, pokemon isn't that bad either.

Ya know why single-player games are so pfft? Graphics. Who needs graphics? I'll take a sprite game any day.

There was a game called "Body Harvest" on N64. Does anyone remember this game?

I happen to own a copy of Body Harvest. I think I stopped playing on the second map because it was just plain ugly and hard to control. The sheer variety of vehicles available and intense big-cheesy-bug-alien killing were what kept me going, but in the end the game isn't all that great.

It was touted as an RPG too, wasn't it? I guess stale dialogue and generic characters qualify as roleplaying.

You know, I've re-written this post about three times.

I've realized that the biggest problem with "1337 hax0rs" is the materialism of Western Culture, not any product that's been made to help feed it. If you look outside the gaming community (yes, I know it's frightening) you can see the same type of behavior in all areas of life.

EVERYONE wants to have better stuff than everyone else. Even you. Even me. Some people just want it more than others.

...And that's the state of America today.

To say petty materialism is an American only problem is a bit too easy. It's human nature to want bigger and better things. Other societies express the desire in different ways, but it is still there.

>>I've realized that the biggest problem with "1337 hax0rs" is the materialism of Western Culture, not any product that's been made to help feed it. If you look outside the gaming community (yes, I know it's frightening) you can see the same type of behavior in all areas of life.

EVERYONE wants to have better stuff than everyone else. Even you. Even me. Some people just want it more than others.

...And that's the state of America today.<<

As Rider stated, that is every country in the world. To call it the state of America today is simply ignorant. I don't want to get too political, but people have too easy a time criticizing the great country we live in while thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the world. Human nature is to want better than what we have. To think America is a greedy, slefish nation while others in the world live in peace and contentment is ludicrous. The true state of America today is that we are able to discuss our hobby on a forum like this, freely, while others in the world live under tyranny and terror, afraid to walk the streets...if they have any.

Gaming is a business, period. Sure, when Gygax & Arneson created D&D, they did it our of love for the game. But, that love didn't stop them from building an empire from their humble beginnings and making a fortune off the game they loved. Console RPGs, CRPGs, & MMORPGs are in the same boat. They must evolve & change, or go belly up. Idealism is a great fantasy to have, but it doesn't make money. Ideally, one company would make the ultimate computer or console or multiplayer RPG and we'd be set for life. It doesn't work that way. Company A makes a great CRPG, it sells well, and they're happy. Compnay B maks a MMORPG that gets everyone hooked and they abandon that great CRPG. What does Company A do? They make their own MMORPG, hoping to get those sales back up. Ditto for Companies C, D, E, and so on. Copycatting is the way of business today. Look at Hollywood and all these garbage reality shows. Sure, they're brainless and shameless, but you can't turn on a channel today without seeing commercials ad naseum for some new reality show.

Games follow the same formula. Bungie releases Halo, a huge hit, and the market suddenly becomes flooded with the "next Halo" or "better than Halo" FPS game. Halo's success is based on Doom's concept, which was based on Wolfenstein's concpet, etc. Everything we see is derivative of something else. Games, music, movies...they all come from another idea already put out there. The catch is, companies need a hook or gimmick to sell their products.

Take D&D 3E, for example. The D&D system has been around since the '70s, so why twould anybody need to spend money on a new version? Why, new rules, prestige classes, new game mechanics...in other words, a bunch of gimmicks. To further the point, why release v3.5? To make money & stay in business. It holds true for computer gaming as well.

I'm no fan of MMORPGs or CRPGs. I have a few console rpgs that are a nice departure from heavy roleplaying, but they aren't true rpgs. You can't roleplay on a console. You are nothing more than a puppeteer. Sure, I have fun playing games like Xbox's Enclave, Sega's Shining Force series, or Dragon Warrior, or the original NES Final Fantasy. They are a nice break from serious table-top gaming, but they are more along the lines of action/arcade or strategy games. Hey, whatever makes you happy is what you should do. Everything has a place in the RPG realm, but nothing will EVER replace face-to-face table roleplaying.

If Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic isn't good enough for you to be on that best list then I would say you're probably too biased in tastes to fairly compile a list. Honestly, it's just that good and I think anyone would be extremely hard pressed to give a good reason otherwise.


I think I understand the fervor of your column. The proliferation of standard fare console games and the luring of young folks to them is sad. Its a rare day indeed when 6 people sit around a table and spin a yarn of high adventure. However, Bioware did indeed launch Neverwinter Nights and has done a huge service for the gaming community in general. They have created the closest possible facsimile to Visual DnD that I have ever seen. The fact that you can program any module you'd like with scarcely no limitations aside from your own C+ programming skills is a feat in and of itself. Also, the ability to reach out and role-play with folks from way beyond your current local area is also incredible. I'm sure old die-hards will always throw stones, but I appreciate that Bioware was daring enough to launch a game development tool for under $50.


stareater said:

"Take D&D 3E, for example. The D&D system has been around since the '70s, so why twould anybody need to spend money on a new version? Why, new rules, prestige classes, new game mechanics...in other words, a bunch of gimmicks."

Well, the new version sure does work a whole lot better than the old one.

Cocytus said:
Well, the new version sure does work a whole lot better than the old one.


BCgone said:
...I appreciate that Bioware was daring enough to launch a game development tool for under $50.

Yay!! Me too. Wish I had more time to actually play with the damn thing.

My biggest issues with MMORPGs:
1.) Pay 50 smackers just to get the damn game, then pay another 10-15 more just to keep playing it. Somehow, this doesn't work in my mind.
2.) You are at a serious disadvantage as a "n00b" in any established MMORPG - I don't know about anyone else, but having to learn a gazillion shortcuts and read 3 fan sites just to get my way around in a world is not my definition of "fun."
3.) No game released yet can match even an inkling of what I can dish out to my players every week.

Long live pen & paper rpgs.

You forgot the best CRPG of all time--Star Control 2! No, it doesn't look like most other RPGs... but it is one, all the same!

And yeah, what Lilith said was exactly right. It's the "massively" part that's the real problem! RPGs, by their nature, make the player a hero. MMORPGs, by THEIR nature, make EVERYONE a superhero. (...everyone's a Captain Kirk...)
It just plain strains the viability of the world. If leveling up didn't give you such an advantage it would make more sense--I mean, take a trained army private, say level 1, and a battle-hardened sargeant who's around level 10. In a straight duel, they're still about evenly matched; that experience doesn't count for much. But in an RPG, the sarge will be blowing away privates all day. Of course, of COURSE, leveling up is one of the fun parts of an RPG, but it does make for a strangely unbalanced universe--things don't work the way real life tells you it should. In an ordinary CRPG that's not a problem--there's only one group of heroes!

Aubri said:

"You forgot the best CRPG of all time--Star Control 2!"

One would also hope that we did not forget to *enjoy the sauce*.

See 'Fable'

If this RPG is all it's hype say's it is then it could be th next big CRPG.

Fallout (both of them). Greatest CRPG of all time (in my opinion). Torment. Great game.

I'll admit that I play MMORPGs. And they are fun. But I miss the days of Fallout. If I don't have the money for an item, why shouldn't I be able to obliterate the shopkeeper? Non-linear game-play. So wonderful.

thats a actully a half truth u dont allways have to pay for a mmorpg runescape u can pay but u can also play free (u just dont have as much to do Ie quest citys

Remember that Runescape is not an MMORPG. It's not even an RPG. Yes, you have a character. Yes, you tell him to do things. No, that does not mean that you're playing an RPG. Tell me, what roleplaying goes on in a game of Runescape? None. And that is why Runescape is not an RPG.