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CRPG Book Released (crpgbook.wordpress.com)
292 points by felipepepe 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 61 comments

> This is the question I’m asked the most: “Will there be a physical edition?”. I would love to have one, but it’s something very complicated to produce – especially for a 528-page color book! Most on-demand printing services won’t do something this big, and even if I cut the book down to CreateSpace’s 480-page limit, it would be a VERY expensive book, costing over $60!

I think the author is severely underestimating just how much people will pay for a physical book on this kind of topic. I really hope that they find a way to get this printed. $60 isn't even nearing what many people interested in this kind of topic would consider "very expensive."

Also, they could just split the book in half at whatever is the most logical breaking point, and print two approximately 264 page volumes. It would probably make physically handling it easier too...

Edit: Just finished downloading and took a look at it. Splitting it into a "1975-2000" volume, and a "2000-2014" volume seems to make the most sense. That splits it almost exactly in half by page count, as well.

Two volumes are perfect, at that junction, between "classic" and "modern". I've also split the PDF into 2 smaller PDF files, to make it easier to load on low-end system.

    cpdf crpg_book_1-0.pdf 1-259 -o book1.pdf
    cpdf crpg_book_1-0.pdf 260-end -o book2.pdf

$60 is peanuts. I've no doubt plenty would pay well over $100.

Better still get a price, and minimum print run, for a quality hardback with premium paper. Then all or nothing kickstart it with whatever minimum and price is needed. Not forgetting enough profit in the deal for time!

Many many people who grew up with these now have decent earnings and a whole load of nostalgia. There's been countless successful Kickstarts in this niche - books, emulators, films, arcade cabinets etc.

But it would be $60 for a softcover CreateSpace version chopped down to 480 pages. Not exactly a premium product. :/

I would happily pay twice that price, or maybe more, for a good-looking version.

I agree with mathgeek, and would like to encourage you to at least do some kind of poll based on a quote from a decent printer. I think you would be pleasantly surprised.

I'm not rich and don't go around throwing $100+ at random whims, but man, we are talking about an impressive tribute and memory of the games I, and many of us, love. A good bunch of the games you cover were an enormous influence during many years in my life (and I still come back to them regularly). It would be one of the most cherished books in my library. Although I love books, these years I'm limiting my physical book purchases to three or so a year due to lack of space, but I would get this one without even a second thought.

I don't want to believe that I live in a world where this book can't get a physical edition to make it justice. One way or another, it must be done.

PS: in page 79, the caption of the last screenshot of Ultima IV seems wrong. I think it was miscopied from a screenshot of The Bard's Tale.

Like a few here, I'd gladly pay $120 or more for a two volume hard cover version. Do consider doing a kickstarter or other form of crowdfunding. I've been reading the book and it's a real trip down memory lane :)

And in term of taxes, as someone living in Japan on a temporary visa in Japan, you do not pay taxes in Japan on income from abroad that does not get sent to Japan. I'm not sure about the Brazilian side of things but you might qualify as non-resident and in that case not be on the hook there. Of course, consult with a professional or read the double taxation agreements (which is a dry reading) but it's likely to not be too complicated in your case.

Heh, I'm still remembering this line: "[...]but if all goes well we're talking of a colored 480-page paperback for about $25-30. And that's printed on-demand via Amazon." ^^

But really, it is as mathgeek says. You are underestimating how much people are willing to pay for this. Though, as you said in the blog post, it's all future-talk at this point.

I'd pay closer to $140 USD for something hardcover that would look good on the coffee table.

True. I was speaking to the quality of the content more than the paper it's printed on, but that does come into play as well.

Indeed, the target market especially is the type of market that will especially appreciate and pay for the type of work that goes into making this book. Someone tweet at that man.

Yeah, like seriously: https://readonlymemory.vg/shop/book/britsoft-an-oral-history... is a incredibly lovely book, 420 pages only a small smattering of colour plates it it is £30, around about $45 USD.

This CRPG book full colour book would be snapped up at $80.

It is hard to say; for a hard-cover that's at least as big as an octavo (larger would be better though), I'd pay up to $120, but that might completely eat their costs if they do print-on-demand.

They would have to do an actual print run to actually make any money on it, which means crowd-funding, and I'd only put the odds at 50-50 that it gets funded.

It's a finished product that just needs a physical release. Kickstarting it would make a lot of sense.

Why not just put it up on lulu.com or something?

Does that price even include any profits for the author though?

He should approach a relevant publisher with the completed manuscript. If all contributors sign off on it, they can print it.

Right now I'm playing Divinity: Original Sin 2, and I cannot help feeling that the timing between this book and the game is just unfortunate. It came out just too late (or the book just too early?) for it to have a worthy entry in and a worthy impact on the book, which is a shame. I genuinely consider it a benchmark achievement. Not only does it set the standard for turn-based systems and cooperative (or competitive, if you wish) cRPG gameplay, it oozes good game development which culminates in one of the finest RPGs of the 2010s, only really rivalled by The Witcher 3. I hope its quality and its mastery of its mechanics translates into becoming an influence for RPGs to come.

Does 2 have huge walls of text like the first one?

When I tried the first one, I was very impressed by the combat system as shown on the starting tutorial, but as soon as you get to the first city there is too much dialog. I realize that dialog is part of cRPGs, but when the ratio of gameplay to dialog is too low, I'd rather read a book.

Oh yeah Cyseal was so much conversation and so little doing. While there's still a lot of dialogue in DOS2, there's a lot less filler now and the balance has done a healthy shift toward action. Writing in general has been tightened up with conversations actually being interesting, funny, and a lot of the time helpful towards solving open quests. Heartily recommend the pet pal perk which will allow you to talk to animals, since a lot of the time they've got very clear-cut clues towards your objectives.

As other comments have pointed out, the book ends at 2014. D:OS2 is a milestone that came after that. Give it a decade and it can be in volume two of this history tome :)

Actually the book ends at 2015, and D:OS2 is mentioned on the D:OS1 review.

Absolutely amazing. I skimmed through the entire book, and the level of detail is insane. Now if only I had a 2nd lifetime or immortality to play all of these games.

I noticed World of Warcraft was missing, which seemed odd at first. But then I noticed:

> This is our first full release. We’re very proud of it, but we still couldn’t add all the games we wanted to cover, and sections on MMORPGs, old hardware and developers had to be cut, so hopefully there will be more versions in the future.

In case anyone else was wondering.

On Eye of the Beholder's incomplete use of the D&D Ruleset:

Looking back on that I can imagine that hardcore roleplayers would be miffed, but to a newcomer like myself it was perfect. I did as the manual suggested and created a mixed party of four characters that could deal with whatever dangers lay ahead, knowing that I could recruit two NPCs in-game if something went wrong.

I don't have the impression that D&D players were particularly miffed about this. At the time I think it was well-understood that implementing the full AD&D ruleset, technically and in spirit, presented insurmountable challenges given the state of technology in the early 90s.

It wans't until Baldur's Gate that any game really managed to blend the adventuring and combat elements of AD&D into a coherent whole. Don't get me wrong the Gold Box games are great and in some ways better even than Baldur's Gate, but the adventure and exploration elements of those games feel bolted on to the deep 2d tactical combat system. I think one of the reasons Baldur's Gate became so popular is because it seemed like the game AD&D fans had been waiting for.

PS congrats on the book release!

From the section on Japanese RPGs, Legend of Zelda entry:

Shigeru Miyamoto and his team at Nintendo mixed Hydlide with Xanadu, removed all the RPG elements and focused on the most important – the call for adventure.

They added an attack button, created a huge world full of secrets, designed clever dungeons, puzzles and boss battles, made magic items alter gameplay and got rid of all the time wasting grinding

Design decisions that resonate today with Breath of the Wild ;)

This book is a stunning achievement. A true labor of love. That I am sure will provide indelible inspiration for many years to come.

>They added an attack button, created a huge world full of secrets, designed clever dungeons, puzzles and boss battles, made magic items alter gameplay and got rid of all the time wasting grinding

As a huge Zelda fan, I think they created an amazing, interactive world for BOTW, but then slapped a bunch of shallow, generic, repetitive, FarCry 3-esque open-world gameplay on top of it and took out the most interesting part of previous Zelda games, the Dungeons. The shrines (the meat of the gameplay) are incredibly boring and unimaginative. The actual content of this game does a serious disservice to the intricate world and the elaborate, experimental gameplay mechanics.

There are no clever dungeons and the entire game is a time-wasting grind.

> even if I cut the book down to CreateSpace’s 480-page limit, it would be a VERY expensive book, costing over $60!

On Lulu, full-color, US Letter, 528 pages (they support up to 740) standard paperback with otherwise default options has a $30.39 printing cost, with no volume discount. Volume will drop that.

For something like this, you don't want paperback. You want a full-sized, hardcover coffee table book.

Or at least I do. And I'd be willing to drop good money for a copy one it's been through some proper copyediting.

The History of Computer RPGs | https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14145252 (Apr 2017)

>podiki: There's also albums on Flickr with 18,000+ images from the games: https://www.flickr.com/photos/crpgbook/albums

An EPUB version would be cool, too. PDF's are kind of a pain to read on tablets.

Also, if you guys would be willing to throw the "raw" source onto something like Github, it might be easier to get people to submit proofreading corrections.


The author of this blog is in the process of playing every CRPG created since 1975. They discuss strengths & weaknesses, its place in the history of RPGs, etc.

Was it too much to register crpgaddict.com ? :(

You realise that for some (if not most) people, even the idea of registering your own domain sounds like advanced, impossible to understand technical wizardry, right?

Reading about Ultima IV is the difference between generations.

Ultima I and II were a hot mess. Ultima III was remarkable. Ultima IV and V were mind blowing when I was a kid. If a 19 year old "CoD Player" can't figure out to RTFM, its their loss.

RPGs aren't easy for a reason, they're supposed to require effort to master and possibly win. And like life, you don't always win.

Kids today want everything handed to them it seems. I lost interest in games decades ago because I thought we'd get better versions of Ultima IV as time went on. Instead we got "interactive" movies for the most part.

Little Johnny wants to be a rock star, but learning guitar is hard. Try this 5 button fake guitar, now you've got talent! So of course mastering the up, down, left, and right arrows would be hard to figure out. </typical old man rant>


Oh buddy, there is so much laughably wrong with how to create usable products in this.

> If a 19 year old "CoD Player" can't figure out to RTFM, its their loss.

Mechanics in games, much like things in user interfaces should be discoverable without reading a manual. The actual act of creating a potion or weapon out of materials or managing your inventory or doing simple combat should not have to be looked up. The process for creating or doing something well can be experimental or based on skill, but the physical act of doing the thing should be easy to understand without reading. This extends beyond games to user interfaces, tools, or many other things. It's clear what a knife does when you look at it, getting good at preparing food takes practice.

> Kids today want everything handed to them it seems. I lost interest in games decades ago because I thought we'd get better versions of Ultima IV as time went on. Instead we got "interactive" movies for the most part.

The CRPG scene is going through a renaissance. Games like DotA and many fighting games make their objectives clear but take time and strategy and experimentation to master.

> Little Johnny wants to be a rock star, but learning guitar is hard. Try this 5 button fake guitar, now you've got talent! So of course mastering the up, down, left, and right arrows would be hard to figure out.

Playing guitar is a life long endeavor. Comparing it to learning the rules of a single game that you may play for 50 - 100 hours is insane. Nobody thinks someone playing guitar hero has talent, but they do know they are having fun.

"Back-in-my-day-ism" is a cancer in both the consequential and the inconsequential, please really think about what you're saying when you spout it.

> Mechanics in games, much like things in user interfaces should be discoverable without reading a manual.

I tend to believe this, too - and am amazed at how Minecraft knowledge spreads. I don't believe there is any documentation, it all seems to be peer-to-peer over the web.

I'd love to figure out how to generate the interest that drives the amount of time and effort kids spend reading and watching about playing the game, outside of actually playing the game.

> Mechanics in games [...] should be discoverable without reading a manual

Well, there are a few times I'd like to have explanation on how the game work, especially on things that are not easily discoverable/understandable without a lot of experiments, like you know, mechanics that are common in CRPGs like sustained effects, criticals, effect of stats... That's the kind of things I'd want to have a manual for.

Where in the pdf does the author trash Ultima IV? In the first paragraph "Regardless, the achievements of Ultima IV are astonishing" and in the conclusion "Ultima IV is still one-of-a-kind, even after all these years."

The author doesn't trash Ultima IV, there's a section (pg 24-25) where a group of students attempt to play the game and get stuck. None of them thought to read the materials that came with the game

Where did I say the author was trashing Ultima IV?

There's a point, though, where the user interface gets in the way of enjoying the game. It's fine if the core mechanics are complex but they should be exposed to the player in an intuitive, accessible way.

I figured out most these old games between the ages of 8-12. If you can't figure out how to use arrow keys or read the quick start guide, I'm not sure you're in for a future of even flipping patties, much less doing anything other than mashing buttons on your console controller. I know Ultima using the entire keyboard is seemingly too much for a modern "gamer".

I mean, there are still plenty of folks playing games with obscure puzzle solutions and little design for accessibility. It's just that they've moved to different venues for them, like ARGs.

It is good to see a CRPG thread on first page, I wish this genre would get more attention amongst all those modern console games.

I am also glad to see Planescape: Torment as first, it was popular to spend time on the question "What can change the nature of a man?" for several pages in the forums back then.

Happy to see the full release of this. Thanks to everyone that contributed and a big "thank you" to you that pushed the project along over the years.

(And as I've said back then: If a physical version is possible, I'm highly interested.)

I'm happy to see it covers Legend, a game of which I have many fond memories, it was the first RPG I played and sadly highlighted the difference between my (parents') 386 with PC speaker beeping out the music in off-colour cga and my friend's 486 full music and good looking VGA.

The game itself is was fun, more than tricky (almost impossible for the 9 or 10 we were at the time) and there aren't many games which combine all it's best elements. As the book says, the custom spell rune system was a treat. Creating a spell which shot a missle which exploded and also fired other missles around it was really fun.

As a long time fan of CRPGs I look forward to reading your book. I don't mean to belittle the accomplishment but calling it, "The CRPG Book Project" is kind of like naming a pet, "The Dog Ownership Project". I mean, for all intents and purposes it seems like you've outright accomplished writing a book at this point and it deserves a sassier title than, "Book Project". Just sayin'.

I would definitely pay $60 or more for this. This looks well written and interesting for learning about games I never played back in the day. Bard's tale and Ultima 4 were my first crpg's as a teen in the 80's using my Commodore 64 and 1541 disk drive. I only wish I had the time I had as a teenager to devote to crpg's again.

Just a quick skim shows an incredible amount of work and dedication. Great job and sincere thanks - memories flooding back.

(Print copy - yes!)

I would love it as a big coffee table book. Would pay $120 no issues. I have read the blog for years.

One of the few good things to come out of the hive of scum and villainy that are the rpgcodex forums.

Thanks felipepepe!

Really cool. Definitely hope to see MMORPGs in the future - that's been the genre for me since my early days. Unfortunately, last 5 years have been somewhat stale on the front.

Cool book. I would be interested in knowing what software was used to make it.

InDesign :)

So how many years would it take to complete all of these games?

I have no answer to this question, but various people are revisiting old CRPGs in a more or less exhaustive manner. My favourite one is crpgaddict who plays a list of CRPGs in chronological order, with at least 6 hours spent on each one. He's been at it for a decade now, and his list still isn't finished...


Very slick. Is the source code available somewhere?

Doesn't look like it. Too bad, that would do a lot to help with the proofreading part he mentions (and from the comments under his blog it looks like there are a number of enthusiasts who would like to take a stab at translating too).

How can this be a serious list without dcss?

Check page 350 ;)

Kindle version please!

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