Tales of the Rampant Coyote

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Matt Chat Asks if Wizardry was a “Rip-Off” of Oubliette

Posted by Rampant Coyote on May 28, 2015

Wiz1_Chars“Rip off” is a pretty strong term, as is “plagiarism” suggested by the Chester “the CRPG Addict” Bolingbroke based on his experiences playing Oubliette on a PLATO system.  Chester makes a pretty compelling argument and lays out evidence that Greenberg and Woodhead perhaps drew a bit more than just “inspiration” from the game. However, Oubliette remained under development even after Wizardry’s release, so it can be a little questionable as to which game borrowed more liberally from the other (especially when Oubliette made the conversion to home computers).

Matt Barton managed to contact one of Oubliette’s original creators, and got some straight talk on Oubliette‘s design and development and the comparisons with Wizardry. It’s worth reading, if you enjoy devouring this ancient history stuff as much as I do:

Matt Chat: Was Sir-Tech’s Wizardry A Rip-Off of Oubliette?

There’s no question that Wizardry added a great deal to the formula, making it very much its own game. The question is really more of how and how much they “borrowed” that foundation from Oubliette – and should they have given credit (or even royalties?) to the makers of that previous game. Of course, at this point, the question is long moot. And it was an era where everyone was borrowing liberally from Dungeons & Dragons and Lord of the Rings (and in Oubliette‘s case, Thomas Covenant).

What isn’t moot is the continuing question of how much is “too much” when we take inspiration in game development today. We all borrow from each other, and we are all inspired by each other, and we all learn from each other and try to build on what we’ve loved. That’s a good thing. But there’s a certain point where a “clone” is directly competing against its inspiration, or inspiration and out-and-out copying replace creativity, and that becomes a problem. It’s also a problem when customers get deluged with what is effectively the same game over and over. Customers getting bored and disillusioned is not a formula for the long-term success of the industry.

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