Strategic Simulations, Inc., 1984
C64, Apple II 和 Atari 8-bit
Strategic Simulations, Inc., 1984
C64, Apple II and Atari 8-bit
早年 CRPG 历史呈现出多种多样的游戏风格，它们的画面风格和游戏体验都大相径庭。这是一个全新的领域，人们仍在探索 RPG 在电脑上的表现形式。有的人从 PLATO RPG 中寻获灵感，但更多的程序员们买来 Apple II，以自己所喜欢的桌游、书籍、电影作为参考来制作电脑上的 RPG 游戏。
《魔界神兵》（Questron）是不一样的，它的灵感来自于查尔斯・多尔蒂（Charles Dougherty）所沉迷的游戏《创世纪 1（Ultima I）》。查尔斯在那之前并未接触过 RPG 游戏，他是一名熟练的程序员，因此他决定看看是否可以制作自己的游戏——基于他所知道的唯一一款 RPG 游戏。
游戏完成后，查尔斯将其送到发行商 Brøderbunds 那里并希望能够发行到市面上。Brøderbunds 按惯例在展会上做游戏演示时，《创世纪》的设计师理查德・加里奥特（ Richard Garriott）碰巧路过，他抱怨说这款游戏与《创世纪》实在太像了。Brøderbunds 因此放弃了发行这款游戏的想法，但是另一家发行商 Strategic Simulations Inc.（SSI）正考虑如何开拓 CRPG 市场，因此他们决定同加里奥特做一笔交易。
The early years of CRPG history show a wide variety of game styles. They all look and play quite differently. It was a new frontier; people where still trying to figure out how an RPG should play on the computer. Some brought ideas from the PLATO RPGs, but most stories are about programmers who bought an Apple II and tried to make a game on it, using their favourite tabletop RPGs, books and movies as reference.
Questron is different. It was born when Charles Dougherty played Ultima I and fell in love with it. He had never played an RPG before, but he was a skilled programmer, so he decided to see if he could make his own game – based on the only RPG he knew.
When the game was done, he sent it to publishers, hoping for a deal. Brøderbund began displaying the game at conventions, and in one of those Richard Garriott happened to pass by and complained about how similar the game was to Ultima. Brøderbund gave up on publishing it, but Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI) wanted to get into the CRPG market and decided to strike a deal with Garriott.
于是，在经过几番修改后，《魔界神兵》于 1984 年发行，并附有免责声明：“游戏结构和风格由 Richard Garriott 授权使用”。
当时对创世纪的抄袭在今天看来可能有些卑劣，但创世纪确实启发了接下来数年间众多 RPG 游戏的设计思路，如《春之碎片（Shards of Spring）》，《公元 2400（2400 A.D）》，《魔法之烛（Magic Candle）》，《死亡领主（Deathlord）》；《勇者斗恶龙（Dragon Quest）》，《放逐（Exile）》等。但《魔界神兵》是这当中的第一款，它确实与《创世纪》1 代和 2 代极为相似。
这段旅途没什么太新奇的地方，但是《魔界神兵》的结尾是革命性的。时下的游戏往往会在游戏的结局处做一段 CG 动画，可是在魔界神兵之前，游戏只会在结尾处显示一行字——“你赢了！”，随后就会关闭。《魔界神兵》是第一款 CRPG——可能也是第一款电子视频游戏，会在结尾处提供给玩家一段结局胜利动画：喇叭手宣布你的到来，国王任命你为男爵，随后还有续集的预告彩蛋。
And so, after a few changes, Questron was released in 1984, featuring a disclaimer: “Game structure and style used under licence of Richard Garriott”.
It sounds a bit mean today, considering how often popular titles are copied, and that the following years saw dozens of RPGs heavily inspired by Ultima, like Shards of Spring, 2400 A.D., Magic Candle, Deathlord, Dragon Quest, Exile, etc. But Questron was the first, and it's indeed extremely similar to Ultima I and II.
There's no character creation, you simply type a name and spawn on the game's massive open world. Your first goal is to gather gold and grow stronger, buying weapons and armour in the various towns, and visiting cathedrals to increase your HP.
Questron has no XP system; to improve your stats you must pay to play mini-games, e.g. skeet-shooting will slowly increase your Dexterity. While quite original, this means that fighting monsters is mostly pointless – it wields little gold, no XP and will drain your HP. You're better off gambling in town, playing blackjack or roulette. Not very heroic.
Once you're rich and powerful enough, the king will summon you. You'll be tasked with travelling to the Land of Evil, where you must defeat the evil wizard. This new land is another large continent, but it features more dangerous enemies, a few first-person dungeons and a giant eagle you can mount to fly around.
While the journey has few innovations, Questron's ending was revolutionary. Today we expect extensive cutscenes that will bring closure to our adventures, but, back in the day, games would just say “You Won!” and shut down. Questron was the first CRPG – and possibly the first video game – that rewarded you with a long animated victory ceremony, with trumpeters announcing your arrival, the king appointing you Baron and even some sequel-teasing.