Can you identify this 80s-era CRPG?
January 24, 2011 9:43 PM   Subscribe

Please help me identify a computer game I played in 1986.

It was an adventure / roleplaying / dungeon hack affair - wander around, kill the various beasties, take their gold, and so on.

The closest thing I've found online is dnd for the old PLATO network. The amber screen, the whole Orb thing, $ for gold are very familiar.

However, I don't remember the character looking like that - it was more a simple vectory stick figure. Further, it was extremely unlikely, given that I was in a rural suburb of Townsville, Australia that my friend had access to PLATO. If he'd had a modem I'd have certainly remembered, earnestly believing as I did that War Games was a documentary. Descriptions online of dnd also seem to indicate that it's fiendishly difficult, but I'm inclined to give up on anything remotely difficult very quickly, yet I played this game for hours.

What else could it have been? Or did dnd end up getting ported to floppies for local play and I'm just misremembering the details? I'm having a lot of trouble tracking down screenshots of the other titles Wikipedia says were heaviliy influenced by dnd, such as bnd and oubliette.

It was probably on an IBM 5155 Portable, if that helps.
posted by obiwanwasabi to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Was it Rogue? Or maybe some other Roguelike game?
posted by joan_holloway at 9:57 PM on January 24, 2011

dnd is clearly a variant of the roguelike computer game, typified on the IBM/MS-DOS platform by Adventure. But there were dozens of these out there because they were essentially open-source, and lots of BASIC programming guides would have a starter version of a roguelike (which might run to hundreds of lines of code, but quite satisfying at the end to have a playable game). What you played could have been commercial, shareware, or just something laboriously typed in by a friend of a friend of your friend. Without more information it's impossible to tell, but there wasn't much that was special about any one version, either (except perhaps the depth of play in commercial Adventure).
posted by dhartung at 9:58 PM on January 24, 2011

I'm not an expert, but could it have been Hunt the Wumpus? I played it on a variety of machines from media such as cassette and floppy. There was a graphical version as well.
posted by michswiss at 9:59 PM on January 24, 2011

Response by poster: Nope. Very familiar with Rogue and its descendants, and this was very definitely graphical rather than ASCII-based.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:59 PM on January 24, 2011

Response by poster: Sorry, should have previewed - not Wumpus either.

(I'm going to go away now and stop hitting 'refresh'. ;>)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:04 PM on January 24, 2011

Wizardry maybe?
posted by smcameron at 10:06 PM on January 24, 2011

I thought Wizardry too. And if not, maybe Gateway to Apshai.
posted by iconomy at 10:24 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do any of these games ring a bell?
posted by sarastro at 10:28 PM on January 24, 2011

posted by bardic at 10:29 PM on January 24, 2011

There were a bunch of dungeon games on PLATO: dnd, oubliette, moria, baradur, etc. The best one was/is avatar (still played). Robert Woodhead ripped off oubliette for his Apple 2 game Wizardry. That's probably what you saw.

Your friend might have had a PLATO account -- there was a PLATO system in Australia -- I think it was at ANU. But the standard PLATO terminal was 512x512 and you needed a pretty good graphics card to have your computer work well as a PLATO terminal emulator. (There were some freaks who would play Avatar and Empire using Atari home computers as their terminals but it wasn't pretty.)

Also -- dnd and descendents had nothing to do with rogue on Unix. They came out of an independent tradition.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:29 PM on January 24, 2011

posted by bardic at 10:30 PM on January 24, 2011

Response by poster: Not Wizardry, avatar or Telengard. No parties, no 3D view of the dungeon. Think vector(esque? I can't be sure) / line graphics, not sprites or ASCII. Dungeon top-down a la a Roguelike, but character / monsters front on - large, not the size of a single character. There were orbs and rings. If dnd had a stick dude with a stick sword instead of a guy with a helmet and wasn't (only?) on PLATO I'd say 'yep, that's it'.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:46 PM on January 24, 2011

Dungeons of Daggorath?
posted by zippy at 12:03 AM on January 25, 2011

Response by poster: Nope - top down, no perspective.

I'm starting to have more than a sneaking suspicion that it was actually Cavequest, and I've been mixing in elements of other games to make false memories, e.g. amber screen + dnd screenshot with nice straight walls makes me think Cavequest had nice straight walls.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:09 AM on January 25, 2011

Response by poster: This screenshot pretty much confirmed for me that it was Cavequest - I attempted to draw the bug / spider thing using slashes in an earlier comment, but gave up.

Thanks all for your help, and apologies for the red herrings. If it's any consolation, it was leaping around from Google searches on the games you suggested that led me to Cavequest - I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have found it without you.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:26 AM on January 25, 2011

Thank you for posting this! I've been trying to remember the name for years! I played the hell out of Cavequest as a kid, though I dumped it when Wizard's Crown came out (the graphics were so awesome!)
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 4:38 AM on January 25, 2011

Sword of Fargoal?
posted by ilona at 2:26 PM on January 25, 2011

Response by poster: ilona - damn, that brings back some memories. Just bought it for iPhone - looks a bit snazzier these days ;)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:27 PM on January 25, 2011

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