Coyote’s blog post today (along with our recent discussions of old CRPGS) got me thinking about stuff I don’t miss. As much as we may have loved those early games, they had “features” that wouldn’t go over too well now.

He wrote about the need for food, and well I remember how annoyed I was at needing to carry around supplies in many games. In particular, there was Ultima III, where I was so (heh) fed up with having to “feed up”, I went into the data and gave myself the maximum amount possible.

As Coyote points out, this attempt at “realism” was no more than a nuisance, and often detracted from the game play. I never had this problem in any face-to-face RPG I played. There were more important things to do than scurry around buying supplies all the time.

One game where it wasn’t quite as much a burden was Might & Magic. There, you needed the food only for camping out. Otherwise, it didn’t get used up. Even so, it was still something of a pain.

I do recall – rather vaguely – there were some games were eating regularly wasn’t necessary, but that chowing down on bread or whatnot could be used to heal you up.

Aside from that, there was mapping. I went into the details of that exercise in Cartography. There are probably few gamers today who could play those old Wizardry or Bard’s Tale RPGs without giving up in frustration over needing to make careful maps. Especially with all the nasty tricks those dungeons contained.

Note-taking was another “pastime” that couldn’t be avoided. Not only making notes on the (hand-drawn) maps, but writingd own the details of the information you picked up during play.

That was particularly true of the Ultima series. There were no handy journals back then to keep track of everything. You might have a “quest list” for reference, but anything else you learned about had better be committed to paper.

Combat in those early games was poorly balanced. Wizardry, Bard’s Tale, Might & Magic, Ultima – all suffered from this problem.

The first three especially were notorious for throwing multiple groups of monsters at your little party, right from the start. Staying alive was not easy, when you could be facing more than twice the number in your group.

No saving made it worse. In Wiz, you had to get out of the dungeon and into town to save. Bard’s had you running to the Adventurer’s Guild, and in M&M, you had to find an inn.

Fortunately, over time, these crudities of early design faded away. I don’t miss any of them. I wouldn’t want to see any of them back, either.

Hmmm…were those old games really as much fun as we remember….?

Feed Me, Seymour on Coyote’s blog