Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

The Golden Age of Computer RPGs… 2014-Present?

Posted by Rampant Coyote on April 2, 2015

PoA_1It’s my birthday today. If I had a birthday wish it would be… hmm…. you know what? How about a return to that “golden age” of computer RPGs that I like talking about? You know, that wonderful 5-year period or so between 1988(ish) and 1993 where we just had a ton of classic RPGs released, and a ton of not-so-classic ones as well. I mean, it was THE genre (along with adventure games) back then on the PC. The era of the Ultimas (and Ultima Underworlds), the Gold Box D&D games, Might & Magic, Wizardry, Darklands, Lands of Lore, Eye of the Beholder, Realms of Arkania, Magic Candle, and lots more.

More than I could possibly play, even if I could have afforded them all. Actually, a few of ’em I still haven’t played – or played more than an hour or two. It was a time of bounty for the RPG fan. If anything, it felt like too many games (as if that could be a bad thing), and it felt like it would never end.

Yeah, good times, good times. I wish we could do that again.


DOS_0006Yeah, I’m not able to put nearly as many hours into Pillars of Eternity as I would like, but I’m still enjoying it a LOT. Because I was doing “research” I got sucked into Legend of Grimrock 2 for way too long earlier this week. And over the last couple of years, we’ve seen some excellent “big indie” RPGs hit the market like Divity: Original Sin, Wasteland 2, Shadowrun, The Banner Saga, Dead State, Lords of Xulima, etc. We’ve had smaller indie releases like Season of the Wolf, Heroes of a Broken Land, Steam Marines, a reboot of the Avernum series, the conclusion of the Eschalon series, Paper Sorcerer, and many others. And on the mainstream side, we’ve had big budget successes like Dragon Age: Inquisition, Risen 3, and Dark Souls 2, as well as smaller but cool productions like Might & Magic X: Legacy. And then there’s a couple of remakes / special editions, like the Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale ‘enhanced’ games.

And they keep coming. I guess they are already talking about a sequel to Pillars of Eternity (YES, PLEASE!), Torment: Tides of Numenera, Richard Garriott’s Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues,  Telepath Tactics, The Banner Saga 2, and the hopefully not-too-distant releases of the next Frayed Knights (PLUG!), Age of Decadence, and Zombacite… to say nothing of the somewhat more distant releases of newly-funded or hopefully soon-to-be-funded games like Underworld Ascendant or Seven Dragon Saga… sadly probably a good deal over the horizon, but still exciting.

Seriously, I can’t keep track. I didn’t even try to list everything here (skipping the jRPGs entirely, I note, which used to make up the bulk of the indie RPGs for PC of the year…) Especially when you include the smaller indie titles, I really have a tough time imagining that 1990 was better than this. Yeah, we have our stinkers… but we did back then, too.

WL2_dialogSo yeah. I’m taking the opportunity to wax optimistic. You know, I spent too many frickin’ years bemoaning the state of role-playing games (outside of MMORPGs) and wishing things would get better. My own efforts as an indie was in part because I wanted to do something to make things better. I screamed, unheard outside of my own little bubble, that these “old school” sensibilities were not obsolete, not old bathwater, and that I’d bet real money (I should have bet more!) that a competent, quality, low-to-medium-budget game would still find a receptive market by taking a few steps back and embracing those old design ideas, like turn-based combat.

And finally, my wish came true. No, I’ll never be satisfied, and no, there’s no such thing as perfect. But now I’m finding games to point to and say, “THIS!!!! This is exactly what I was talking about!” We’ve got our old games back, after a fashion.

Bottom line… I may have to quit referring the the late 80s / early 90s as the “Golden Age” of PC Role-Playing Games. I think the time is now.

Filed Under: General - Comments: 4 Comments to Read

  • FallenAngel said,

    Happy Birthday dude =)
    It does look like RPGs are on the up and coming again. Definitely not gonna complain about that xD

  • Xenovore said,

    Happy Birthday!

  • McTeddy said,

    It’s so weird. I remember complaining on THIS site that modern devs had completely abandoned making games that appealed to me. I strongly considered stopping gaming altogether and then… now.

    So many games that appeal to me have popping up everywhere. I don’t have the money or time to play everything and I’m actually excited.

    I know it’s just a matter of time until this fad gets overdone and we fall back to the old ways… but I’m excited for right now. At least I have years of new “Classics” that can tie me over.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Yeah, we do have this point where we’ve got more RPGs than many fans will reasonably be able to consume… which means they are back into competition with each other (to a degree). That’s an issue. I dunno about you, but an 80-hour RPG like Pillars of Eternity is not something I’m going to be able to binge-play over a couple of weekends.

    So that part is scary, but by the same token, I expect that audience is also *growing* with each popular release. Maybe not growing as fast as the number / quality of RPGs, but it means more opportunity as a whole.

    And THAT is exciting. At least I’m not hurting for something fun to play… 🙂