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Adventures are closer to puzzles than to games. As discussed in One, puzzles are distinguished from games by the static nature of the obstacles they present to the player. Adventures present intricate obstacles that, once cracked, no longer provide challenge to the player. It is true that some adventures push closer to being games by incorporating obstacles such as hungry dragons that in some way react to the player. Nevertheless, they remain primarily puzzles.
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A completely independent thread of development comes from the D&D style games. Fantasy roleplaying was created by Gary Gygax with Dungeons and Dragons (trademark of TSR Hobbles), a complex noncomputer game of exploration, cooperation, and conflict set in a fairytale world of castles, dragons, sorcerers, and dwarves. in D&D, a group of players under the guidance of a "dungeonmaster" sets out to gather treasure. The game is played with a minimum of hardware; players gather around a table and use little more than a pad of paper. The dungeonmaster applies the rules of the game structure and referees the game. The dungeonmaster has authority to adjudicate all events; this allows very complex systems to be created without the frustrations of complex rules. The atmosphere is quite loose and informal. For these reasons, D&D has become a popular game, with endless variations and derivatives. D&D first appeared in the mid-70 s; it didn t take long for people to realize that it had two serious limitations. First, the game needed a group of players and a dungeonmaster, so it was impossible to play the game solitaire. Second, the game could sometimes become tedious when it required lengthy computations and throwing of dice. Many people recognized that these problems could be solved with a microcomputer. The first company to make a D&D style computer game available was Automated Simulations. Their TEMPLE OF APSHAI program has been very successful. They also market a number of other D&D-style games. So far, however, few games have been marketed that truly capture the spirit of D&D. There are several reasons for this. First, most D&D-players are young and don t have the money for such packages. Second, the adventure games have slowly absorbed many of the ideas of the D&D games. There was a time when we could easily distinguish an adventure from a D&D game with several factors.Adventures were pure text games, while D&D games used some graphics. Adventures were puzzles; D&D games were true games. Adventures were by and large nonviolent, while D&D games tended to be quite violent. Lately, we have seen adventures taking on many of the traits of D&D games, so that it is now harder to tell the difference between them. An ideal example of this phenomenon is ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES (trademark of Quality Software), a game with the basic elements of both adventures and D&D games. The player must search through a large maze to find and rescue a princess, but on the way he must fight monsters and thieves. The player, as Ali Baba, possesses personal characteristics (dexterity, speed, etc.) that are reminiscent of a D&D game, but he must explore the maze as in an adventure. For these reasons, I feel that this game cannot be classified as either an adventure or a D&D game, but
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The Art of Computer Game Design
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rather is a solid example of the merging of these two genres into a new class of games, the fantasy role-playing ("FRP") games. This suggests that we will see more such games combining the "search and discover" aspects of adventure games with the "defeat opponents" aspects of D&D games.
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A third class of strategy games is provided by the wargames. Noncomputer wargames as a gaming form have a long heritage. Commercial wargaming goes all the way back to the 1880 s with an American wargame design using wooden blocks. The British have long had a dedicated group of wargamers using miniature models of soldiers and very complex rules. Their games, called miniatures games, have grown in popularity and are now played in the USA. But the largest segment of wargamers in recent years has been the boardgamers. This hobby was founded in the late 1950 s by Charles Roberts, who founded the Avalon-Hill Game Company and created such classic games of the 60 s as BLITZKRIEG, WATERLOO, and AFRIKA KORPS (all trademarks of the Avalon-Hill Game Company). During the 1970 s a new company, Simulations Publications, Inc., turned board wargaming into the largest segment of wargaming. Wargames are easily the most complex and demanding of all games available to the public. Their rules books read like contracts for corporate mergers and their playing times often exceed three hours. Wargames have therefore proven to be very difficult to implement on the computer; we have, nevertheless, seen entries. The computer wargames available now fall into two distinct groups. The first group is composed of direct conversions of conventional boardgames. COMPUTER BISMARK, COMPUTER AMBUSH, and COMPUTER NAPOLEONICS (trademarks of Strategic Simulations, Inc.) are examples of this group of games. These games illustrate the folly of direct conversion of games of one form to another. They parrot successful and respected boardgames, but are themselves not as successful. Because they attempt to replicate boardgames, they are, like boardgames, slow and clumsy to play. The second group of computer wargames are less slavish in their copying of board wargames. My own EASTERN FRONT 1941 is generally considered to be the best of this lot, primarily because of its graphics and human engineering features. Many of the games in this category are experimental; hence the successes are outnumbered by the failures. Avalon-Hill s first entries into the computer wargaming arena were such experiments. My own TANKTICS game is an early experiment that once was the most advanced commercially available wargame (it was the ONLY commercially available wargame when I first released it in 1978). It is now generally regarded as a mediocre game. It can safely be said that computer wargaming is not a well-developed area of computer gaming. For the moment, computer wargaming is too closely associated with board wargaming in the minds of the public and most designers; until it can shake free from the constraints of boardgames and, establish its own identity, computer wargaming will evolve slowly.
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