Let’s take a little retro gaming trip back to 1979, specifically to Dunjonquest: Temple of Apshai. Most gamers with an interest in the history of their hobby have at least heard of Wizardry. Ultima will ring a bell, too. Even though both franchises’ main series are long discontinued, their legacy is kept alive. Japan consistently churns out new spin-offs to Wizardry almost every year, while Ultima Online is still the oldest commercially used MMO, with most remaining subscribers once again based in Japan.
Namedropping Dunjonquest, on the other hand, is more likely to cause people to turn on their browser’s spell check. Only the most old school will remember that label adorning the box of the first commercial hit RPG ever. Automated Simulations – later renamed much more familiarly Epyx – created and published Temple of Apshai in 1979, predating both Wizardry and Ultima (although we’ll likely never know for sure if the DIY-version of Akalabeth was released earlier). The game was such a huge success that it entailed more than 10 sequels, mission packs and spin-offs within only a few years. How come that this series has all but vanished from gamers’ collective memory while its competitors can be sensed in most electronic RPGs until today, both in western and far eastern tradition? Before trying to answer that question, a brief look at the roots of computer RPG gaming and the early history of Epyx is in order… read more >