Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Play it Again, Chet


Oh, how I long to be in this screen again.

One of the reasons I started this project was to end my slavish devotion to a small handful of RPGs that I tended to replay over and over. Between the dates of their initial releases and the fall of 2009, I played Might & Magic VI, Might & Magic VII, Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate II, Morrowind, and Icewind Dale at least once per year. Oblivion, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Icewind Dale II, Neverwinter Nights, and Jade Empire didn't show up quite as often on my replay list, but I played each of them at least three times.

The particularly absurd thing about my addiction was that each replay was generally followed by a sincere assertion that, having just won the game for the multipleth time, to ever spend any time on it again would be such a huge waste of time as to defy comprehension. Thus, I would delete it from my hard drive and throw away the disks. A year later, I'd get the itch again, and thus have to buy the game again. I won Baldur's Gate 10 times and probably purchased it 7 times.

Anyway, in this specific goal, my little project has been a resounding success: with the exception of a brief return to Oblivion in 2010, I haven't played any of these games for almost four years. I accomplished exactly what I intended: to put enough space between me and my favorite games so that when I finally returned to them, years later, they would feel fresh, and I wouldn't necessarily remember the solution to every quest, or the outcome to every dialogue option. It is, on the other hand, a little depressing that given my current pace, I won't play Baldur's Gate again for nearly a decade.

I'm approaching 100 games on this blog, meaning I've played more different games in the last three and a half years than I played in the 25 years leading up to the project. Now that it's been a couple years for many of them, I was curious to take a look at the list and see which of them I would add to my "replay rotation" if I was just playing what I felt like playing instead of marching through a chronological list. I looked over every game on my "Game Rankings" list and thought about whether I would truly desire to have another go at it.

The results were mostly unsurprising; they were almost all highly-ranked in the final score. This is what I came up with:

1. Rogue. When I finally won this game, I thought it was such an accomplishment that I shared the winning screen on Reddit and got the inspiration to start this blog. At the time, I'm sure I vowed never to play it again. Today, mired in a neverending battle against NetHack, I long for the relative simplicity of Rogue, and I think it would be fun to give it another try.

2. Wizardry I-III. There's something about my peculiar CRPG addiction that will always love wireframe hallways, mapping square-by-square, and the palpable sense of doom that accompanies every step. If I played again, I'd relax my rules and allow occasional backups of my saved games. I'd like to actually win II and III.

3. Might & Magic I: I still like it a little better than the sequel. It's as challenging as Wizardry but in different ways, and I still love the variety of encounters that I experienced. I'd like to play it again with some extreme party variation, like all mages or all archers. Its sequel oddly holds less interest for me in the replay department, but perhaps only because I played it more recently.

4. Phantasie. To be honest, I barely remember the game at this point, but I do remember enjoying the process of slowly revealing the automap, the combats, the special encounters in each dungeon, and the neat equipment and experience distribution systems.

5. Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds. I have a feeling that the entire Gold Box series would appear in my regular replay rotation. I could play them again right now. Just as with Might & Magic, now that I'm familiar enough with the plots again, I'd love to try the series with a challenging party combination, like no mages or all mages or something.

6. Dungeon Master. My recent playing of Chaos Strikes Back made me long for the original game. I'm always up for detailed level-mapping, moderately-challenging puzzles, and the game's rapid skill-based advancement. It was particularly surprising how much I'd like to replay this one since I don't remember loving it on my first pass.

7. The Dark Heart of Uukrul. It's been too recent for me to want to replay it right now, but I'd love to have another chance at it in a few years, once I've forgotten all the puzzles.

There was a subset of games that I have an odd compulsion to replay solely as speedruns. I suspect I could win Hero's Quest in less than an hour if I put my mind to it, and I have this idea that one could win Drakkhen in about the same amount of time--provided one started the game and left it running unattended for a few days, letting the characters fight random battles.

I also encountered a host of games that I wanted to replay not because I really enjoyed them, but simply because they deserved more of a chance than I originally gave them: Autoduel, Wizard's Crown, Swords of Glass, and Le Maitre des Ames.

I was surprised by the lack of any urge to play a handful of games that I loved the first time around, including the two Starflights, Ultimas IV and V, Wasteland, Hero's Quest, and The Magic Candle. My theory is that the fun of these games depends so much on finding clues and slowly revealing the plots that I don't really want to play them again until I've forgotten enough that it's like a new experience. I'll see how I feel about them in a few years.

Some of the games on my original replay list, like Morrowind and Baldur's Gate are also plot-heavy, but they offer addictive experiences aside from their plots, including a steady progression in character development and equipment. My replay sessions would invariably be prompted by the remembrance of some addictive game aspect: finding a chest containing an upgraded shield and mace in Might & Magic, running and jumping across plains and mountains in Morrowind, or role-playing the various NPC dialogues and stronghold quests in Baldur's Gate II.

Alas, time is too short to replay any of these games, no matter how strong the urge, so you will not see any "second time around" postings any time soon. But if not for this blog, I'd probably be elbows-deep in Rogue again right now.

What CRPGs do you find yourself playing over and over--and why?

***

A quick status update is necessary, since I haven't posted since April 16. Work got crushingly busy in the second half of April, and I still haven't quite emerged from the pile. I don't know what the rest of the week is going to look like, but I need to get back into Knights of Legend before I forget so much about the game I have to start over. Thanks for everyone's patience.

115 comments:

  1. Dear Chet,

    To this day, since I first purchased it in 1992, I play Wizardry VII. The game, although goofy and frustrating, offers many fun challenges. Right now I have a party of four facing death and resurrection in a giant cave. It has been a back breaking struggle, as befits a Wizardry game, but I like the logistics, planning and excitement of both victory and defeat. I plan to go back to VI one day. My DOS computer refuses to die.

    I also like to return to the Gold Box series though more the Krynn world. The Draconians are an excellent enemy to contend with as are the legions of undead in that gameworld.

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    1. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the Dragonlance games differ from the Forgotten Reams GB series.

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    2. It is really cool. There is one new race and a new class. The magic users and clerics also operate under different rules.

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  2. I play the gold box games over and over (though sometimes years pass between plays). I play Oblivion about once a year for a couple months. I play many Might & Magic and Wizardry games over and over too... I hit the Infinity Engine games quite often as well.

    Lately I've been trying to focus on playing games that I've never played (or at least never finished), so that has kept me away from replays for about 6 months.

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    1. Sounds like we have many of the same preferences, then!

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  3. I've never been one to revisit old favorites. I'd usually only give one pass to movies, books, and video games. As a kid I think the only game I replayed was Final Fantasy, purely for the challenge of beating it with a different party, but I'd often not finish as the draw to start a new party grew too great. I probably started over 20 characters in Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights, but never beat the latter and only once for the former.

    There are a number of games I'm looking forward to playing again in the coming years: Suikoden, Wild Arms, Chrono Trigger, Arcana, and many more I enjoyed in the past. I think most of all I'm looking forward to playing games I missed. Then again, I'm really enjoying playing through the Star Saga games at the moment. Nearly done with my first time through.

    One thing I've noticed since speedrunning games is I'm much more open to playing through a game a second, third, hundredth time without getting tired of it. I can confirm Drakkhen can be beaten in less than an hour.

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    1. I'm going to feel bad for it, but I'm probably going to bail on Star Saga entirely. Aside from not really being much of an RPG, it's not really much of a COMPUTER game, fundamentally. And where I didn't finish the first one, I can't see spending much time with the second one. Since you're doing such a great job with those, I think I'll just refer to your postings.

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    2. No worries. I'm glad I could save you a bit of your time.

      I believe I'm nearing the end of the game (I've visited all planets at least once now), and my feeling is the first was a better experience. There's a lot more repetition in the writing and the new health system (for both ship and character) does nothing more than waste a bit of time since the nearest hospital or repair site is only a planet or two away. Also, the variety of planets and events feels smaller even though there are more planets. The plot is more obvious with little left to the imagination.

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  4. I replay Fallout 1 and 2 at least once a year. Both games offer almost endless roleplaying opportunities with all your choices reflected on the game's outcome, so every replay I have different (even if slightly so) ending. Though overall I like first more, second offers more variety in character development, combat and roleplaying, so often I find myself starting new playthrough right after I won it for the n-th time.

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  5. PetrusOctavianusMay 2, 2013 at 1:03 AM

    The first paragraphs of this blog entry is like I should have said it myself.

    The games I kept returning to was:
    Gold Box games.
    Infinity Enging games, trying different mods, and different alignments and companions.
    The Thief games, due to the many fan made missions.
    Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic - ditto.
    Oblivion. Wasting so much time modding and tweaking, trying to get that perfect 1st person sandbox game.

    In addition to the reasons you mentioned I started my own chronological project due to the dismal state of gaming after 2006 and before the Kickstarter fad.
    And of course I was inspired by your example. Since I started in early 2010 I've played about 50 games, plus lots of FRUA modules.

    The games I would like to replay are:
    Might&Magic 1 and 2. Especially 2 since it has so much random loot.
    Dungeon Master. I'd like to try a solo or duo run.
    Chaos Strikes Back. "A Dance with Dragons". No "dancing" allowed with other monsters.
    The Pool and Dragonlance series of the Gold Box games.
    Demon's Winter.

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    1. Hey, a fellow Age of Wonders fan! Did you hear about Age of Wonders 3 coming out?

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    2. PetrusOctavianusMay 3, 2013 at 2:50 AM

      Yes, it looks promising.
      It's good times for us fans of turn based CRPGs and strategy games again after a long drought.
      To me Age of Wonders is the perfect blend of (light) city building, character development and tactical combat. I don't know if it's on Chet's play list, but if not it should be there. The combat system is even better than in the God Box games IMO.

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  6. Wizardry II is quite fun. It has a lot of interesting gameplay things that #1 didn't have; I won't go into detail but I really enjoyed it.

    Might and Magic 1 is winnable with a solo Paladin. I haven't tried any other combinations, but I probably will eventually :)

    One of the guys at Speed Demos Archive has been playing Drakkhen SNES recently. It's winnable in a couple of hours using a bunch of glitches that may or may not be present on the DOS version. The first glitch is a specific dungeon room where you can gain massive amounts of EXP in minutes by just standing there. The other glitch involves using dead characters to kill monsters. I forget the details exactly, but there's a Twitch recording here - http://www.twitch.tv/pjdicesare/b/372855800

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  7. The ones I'd like to replay:
    Gold Box series(replaying PoR now)
    Might and Magic 4-8
    Wizardry 1-3, 6-8
    Dark Heart of Uukrul
    Baldur's Gate 1 & 2
    Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2 (with user created content too)
    Bard's Tale 1-3 (I cannot really explain why...)
    Ultima IV and V

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  8. Wizardry 8 is the only game that I replay every year.

    Lord Hienmitey

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  9. Like you, I go back and play the Baldur's Gates every couple of years, having just redone BG1 about 3 months ago. The first 2 Fallouts get regular reruns, I think I have played them both 3 times. The 2 new Fallouts I will probably have an urge to replay again in a couple of years as well, they were both thoroughly enjoyable. But for me my most replayed game is Gothic 2, my favourite RPG of all time. Gothic 3 I have also played three times, while not as good as it's predecessor, once you fully patch it up with the community patch it is thoroughly enjoyable. As for the Elder Scrolls games, I have only played each of them once, I often think about replaying them, but then thinking about the scale of the games puts me off, it is just too much investment for a completionist like myself. Oh, and MM6/7 are always great to bring out every few years! There are also games that I have never completed, but started several times in an attempt to finish before I lose interest, Icewind Dale falling into this category.

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  10. I played Ultima V many times back in the 80s and 90s, but that is at least partly because I was young and had a very limited number of games available to me at that point.

    Probably the CRPGs I've replayed the most are the original Deus Ex, System Shock 2 (at least, the first half of it -- in the Von Braun), and (if you want to count it as a CRPG) the original Bioshock. These ones stand up well to repeated replay because I really enjoy the in-game first-person combat mechanics, and because the levels are designed to support multiple possible ways to achieve the various goals (Deus Ex is particularly good at this).

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  11. I've completed Baldur's Gate 1 and Gothic 1 about 3-4 times, and Hero's Quest 1 about 7-8 times.

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  12. As an Ultima fan and collector who originally played the games out of order, I've decided to play them, and finish them, in the correct order. I've finished Ultima 5 about 10 years ago and haven't yet picked Ultima 6 to finish again :)

    The game I've completed the most is Hero's Quest. I think I've finished it with a mage, a thief, then a thief again with specific stats to bring into QfG2 and I've played a bit with a fighter (that never finished).

    I have countless playthroughs of Darklands, but that game isn't really "finishable"! :)

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  13. There are games I launch regularly because I could/would not finish them (Icewind Dale II, Divine Divinity - I'm in it right now), others I like to play regularly (the Elder Scrolls are often installed on my computer) and one in particular that I absolutely love: The Witcher! I'm surprised I don't see it discussed much here, surely I can't be the only fan? I love the music, the ambiance, the characters, the plot, and so on... It's like an excellent movie or book, to which you come back even if you already know it by heart. I have to say it dethroned Baldur's Gate for me! Also, the corresponding book series is quite nice.

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    1. I share your love of the Witcher-series. That said I don't think I'll be replaying the first game much for the forseeable future - I find the combat much preferable in the second game, and the first also unfortunately borders on the tedious for too long parts of the 2nd/3rd chapters (with the swamp outside Vizima). The first game is still great though, no question.

      The series hasn't quite dethroned BG for me, I think probably the two series are too different for that to happen, and BG wins thanks to the second game, being an actual finished story (Witcher 3 might make a difference here!), just pure nostalgia.

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  14. According to Steam I have near 500hrs logged for both Dungeons of Dredmor and New Vegas. I also have 750hrs logged for Football Manager 11 + 12 combined and 220 for Civ V. A lot of that time is not active play but it gives an idea of what I have running often.

    I've probably played 150 ADOM characters, 100 WoW characters, 50-70 characters from Spiderweb software's Geneforge series.

    I'd have finished the first act in BG2 maybe 30 times but the whole game only once.

    I've played about 50 NWN characters, predominantly starting from level 1 in the second act of HOTU (you're supposed to start at level 16-18).

    I play hardcore religiously, often on the hardest difficulty, even when it makes absolutely no sense. Combine that with impatient play and refusal to use exploits and you can see why I see the opening scenes for games many, many times.

    Goldbox are absolutely dreadful to play hardcore. Eventually an enemy cleric will get a good initiative roll and hold person will see the monsters rejoice.

    Don't be a perfectionist, kids, or it'll lead to video game masochism.

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    1. You, sir, are a gaming machine! Those are crazy numbers :)

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    2. Sometimes I think if I'd spent all that time on violin, I'd be a virtuoso.

      But I'd have had less fun :)

      I think, should I end up a parent, I'll restrict my kids' computer use (as mine did), to ensure they develop a few offline interests as well.

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    3. Too true. I remember repeatedly trying to win ADOM with a mindcrafter, going for the Ultra ending from the start. My most successful character was level 33 and he resides on the computer still, as I'm scared stiff of playing further and losing all the progress.

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    4. My most-played character was a challenge I devised. I spent about an hour rolling Dark Elf Merchants until I got one with Toughness 4 (at which point you can't recover from poison). I dropped all my gear in the first wilderness square and saved the game, then duplicated the save file.

      Getting to Dwarftown felt like finishing the game. Your first weapon is usually a stick of wood gleaned from kicking a door down, and you don't wield it, you throw it.

      I played the character so many times that playing characters that actually started with items and more than 13hp felt like cheating.

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  15. Fallout2. I always find something new.

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    1. I feel the same about Wizardry VII.

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  16. I usually enjoy replaying one of the Fallouts for the mind boggling variety of builds or Icewind Dale because of the balance of combat.

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  17. I play through the Quest for Glory series, one through five, at least three times a year. There is just something about the games that keeps pulling me back.

    The two Baldur's Gates games are always on my hard drive, as is Morrowind, which I have beaten three times now and am still finding new things on my current play-through.

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  18. I rarely replay a game (then again I rarely even finish one). I would sooner play a new game in the same style. I'm playing - and enjoying - MM6 now which I skipped previously - but I'm hoping MMX will be worth waiting for when it comes out.

    Sometimes I'm tempted to play Dungeon Master and Chaos Strikes Back again - and I'd probably have another crack at Wizardry 8 if GOG gets hold of it. Torment and Morrowind are classics I am sure I will play again sometime. But then again maybe Grimrock 2 will provide a better modern-day experience. Just because I don't need great graphics doesn't mean I don't like them.

    Roguelikes are the exception, of course, because the randomisation makes them almost endlessly replayable. My favourite is Dungeon Crawl, which is all about tough combat and not so much about learning tricks like NetHack.



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    1. Roguelikes are my go to repeat offenders. The procedural generation provides a dynamism and randomness that keep me from getting bored.

      Also the difficultly level often found in these games keeps me engaged when in other RPG I would be bored with grinding. When the difficulty and cost of death are high enough nothing should feel like a grind and everything should require caution. It is when I lack caution and fall to hubris that I die in roguelikes, which is often. Well that and maybe alcohol, nah what am I saying alcohol is my friend and would never hurt me.

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  19. "I long for the relative simplicity of Rogue, and I think it would be fun to give it another try."

    Dammit man just fire up Moria already and play rogue with a town and some classes.

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    1. Or BRogue or any of the other simple RLs.

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    2. Brogue would come up later on his list right? He could fit in Moria anytime as he has passed its release date by a long time, thus he wouldn't have to break any of his rules.

      When is the next roguelike coming up anyway?

      To answer my question I looked at the list and see some way down in the 90's. Did it really take till the mid 90's for roguelikes to start getting over to DOS? I remember having more options back then but memory is a fuzzy thing.

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    3. MSDOS Rogue was around in the early 80s and I'm pretty sure I played Moria and others on DOS in the 80s too.

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    4. Gerry, I remember it that way too. I think the documentation of roguelikes may be lacking and that is why they seam to be off on the addicts list.

      That and the lost versions that are impossible or very hard to find. The open source nature of always improving and never finished is a big piece of roguelike history, even for the ones that were closed source there was always the next version coming up.

      I really am tempted to write a chronicle of this genre, but I fear I will spend so much time and see too little return. Maybe if I look at kickstarter instead of a publisher it might be feasible.

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    5. I was totally hooked on the original unix rogue and the Atari ST version (identical game play, but better graphics and UI. I think it was from Epyx.). Actually there were a few variations - Originally you would find one arrow at a time, and it was lost if you hit a monster with it. In later versions, you found several arrows or crossbow bolts at a time. It made a huge difference.

      But I have not been impressed by any of the more complicated Rogue-likes since. Hack was too complex, I kept catching fire and unable to do anything about it in Brogue, and several other Rogue-likes crash constantly on my system.

      Original Rogue was basically a Skinner Box, addiction fine-tuned to its core. Adding features to it takes away from game play, in my opinion.

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    6. I still play the version of Rogue that came with our 8088 DOS machine in the '80s. It has the better graphics and multiple arrows/bolts.

      I've still never managed to beat it, but I still try!

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    7. ADOM 1.1.1, people.

      I could write a book about it (in fact I started its TV Tropes page). I'd advise playing a Trollish Healer born in the month of Candle if you wanted it to feel like Nethack. It'd recount the nervousness of facing a closed door when you feel a certain tension. Advice would be provided on how to cultivate the herbs in the Big Room without being attacked by monsters.

      But I don't need to - it already has a guidebook: http://www.adomgb.info/

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  20. I think the fact most of our replay lists contain several identical names stands testament to their classic status.
    FR/Dragonlance gold box I replay often
    Icewind dale 1+2,baldurs gate 1+2 (just finished bg1 and transfered to 2 on tuesday in fact)
    neverwinter nights 1 (I try 2 now and then but the camera bugs me)
    chronotrigger
    daggerfall/morrowind
    dark sun: shattered lands
    nethack/Zangband/ADOM
    dwarf fortress (if that counts)
    There are dozens more I plan to play again but either don't have the time or its a lot of hassle (amiga ones for example)

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  21. Darklands for me!
    It's a real pity there isn't any modern remake (and possibly an expanded one, with Italy, France, etc.). Let's hope in Kickstarter!

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  22. Fallout 1 (not so much 2), Morrowind, Might and Magic 1-7, the Gold Box games, Dungeon siege 1 and 2.

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  23. The one game I often feel the urge to play again is Heimdall 2. Even though it is rather lightweight as a RPG, the cartoonish isometric graphics and its characters really capture me.

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    1. How does the first game compare? I have it on my list, but looking at it doesn't convince me it's much of an RPG.

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    2. I only played the first game for a few minutes some weeks ago but it didn't attract me enough to explore it further. From what I saw, it seems more like an action adventure than a RPG. Basically what I did was avoiding traps, fighting monsters (the battle system is horrible) and collecting treasure in random one-room levels. The second game is very cool though, if perhaps too easy.

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  24. Working through the Gold Box games right now; I never managed to make it past Curse as a kid, but I'm about to finish Blades at the moment.

    Except I got sidetracked on Escape Velocity.

    Also, if you liked Dungeon Master at all, I *highly* recommend picking up a copy of Legend of Grimrock, assuming you have the hardware to play a modern 3D game. It's really, really good; faithful to the genre but with a few innovations that make it fun to replay as well.

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    1. EV: Nova is loads of fun if you restrict the amount of trading you're allowed to make. Otherwise it takes about 10 minutes before you can afford a fleet of friendly frigates.

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  25. There's only a few CRPGs that I've replayed. Ultima 4-7, Wizardry 6-8, The Summoning, Bloodstone, Quest for Glory (whole series), and some of the Might & Magic games. Also NOMAD, Superhero League of Hoboken and Star Control II, if you count those as CRPGs.

    There are some that I consider unfinished business and would like to play again, but haven't got around to it. Dragonflight, Albion, Nahlakh, and Challenge of the Five Realms. Those were too tough for me the first time around.

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    1. Nahlakh is fun :) It can be very tough too, at some points (like the beginning) you almost have to resolve combats in exactly the right order. If it really is too tough, well, um the saved games are not too hard to edit *cough*

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    2. I reached the endgame in Nahlakh, but couldn't figure out how to survive there.

      As for the other three? Challenge of the Five Realms had a ridiculously strict time limit and far too many ways to make the game unwinnable. I should've kept backups.

      Dragonflight is one of my favorite RPGs. I played it for dozens of hours, but eventually got stumped by a riddle. Turns out that it had been mistranslated from the German version.
      In case that The Addict is reading this...make a note of the phrase "liqueur of raisins".

      And Albion? Also a good game, but I remember getting stuck in some mountain and never found my way out of there.

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  26. Although it's not a rpg I have played Civilization 1 over and over, if you added the hours I've spent on that game the past 20 or so years it would probably amount to more than a whole year. I finally posted a video on youtube of a game where I managed to get Robotics before 1AD, I've never managed to do this before, and that felt like such an achievement that I finally felt like I had some closure and could move on with my life. I've had a few relapses since, but I haven't played Civilization at all this whole year, so I'm doing alright. As for rpgs I think I would have another go at Princess Maker, my daughter only became a general the first time I played, and I would like her to be either queen or princess.

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    1. When we were teens, my friends would try to nuke Jerusalem at 1AD *rolls eyes*

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  27. Over the years I've replayed the following things which seem to be on your list:
    1) Ultima Underworld I + II (2-3 times each)
    2) Adom (3 legitimate victories, countless deaths)
    3) Star Control 2 (3 times?)

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    1. Ah yes, I forgot about the ultima underworlds, I have played them both many times! Classic games!

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  28. I only replay the Quest for Glory series in terms of crpgs. I replay adventure games, especially ones I couldn't wrap my head around or finish as a child. I... I guess I've played through Baldur's Gate 1 two times, now finishing up on Baldur's Gate 2 (solo run) but I think I might be done with solo runs when there's a level cap. It's just no fun to hit ceiling. What a base desire, to see numbers climb. I already obliterate everything in BG2 with a solo character, it's not like I long for challenge, there.

    Perhaps I should play Icewind Dale 2 for the first time with a small party.

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    1. Icewind Dale 2, in Heart of Fury mode, starting with one single character. (no, you can't solo IWD2 in HoF mode, but starting with one char speeds things up)

      I have another personal rule: I add a new char every time my lowest level char in the party reaches level 5.

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  29. Probably the game I have returned the most to, and for the longest time, is Chronicles of Aethra: Celystra's Bane. My dad originally introduced me to the shareware version back in the mid-late nineties or so, and since then I have returned to the game many times. I have always loved its party-based, turnbased combat system (I have never played the Gold Box games (I want to though), but they seem quite similar in style), its colourful graphics, and the HUGE number of classes. It's a wonderful game, and it fills me with sadness that it never had any sequels and its creator has apparently dropped off the face of the Earth (as much as anything game-related can fill me with sadness). I truly think that if it had become an actual series, held to the same standard of quality, and had had better exposure it would have been worthy of similar "classic" status as many of the other games mentioned here.

    Apart from Aethra, like many here I often return to the Baldur's Gate games, though I've only finished them 2-3 times.

    I think Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim have all been pretty much permanently installed on my computer since their respective release dates. I go without playing them for many months, but I've returned to all of them several times - especially Morrowind which I still think is the pinnacle of the series in many ways (my dream Elder Scrolls game would probably be something like Morrowind world design, Skyrim gameplay, and a graphics engine which isn't any prettier than Skyrim, but could handle more stuff on the screen at once).,

    The Witcher series is also one where I've played both games 2-3 times so far, and I expect to play them (especially the second one) more times in the future. Fantastic games.

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    1. Forgot a detail: That my father introduced to Aethra at that time means that I was probably barely 10 years old when I first tried the game (and didn't speak a word of English, but had to have him help me play the game, we often played together). That should say something about how nostalgic I get about that game :)

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    2. Aethra Chronicles was amazing! Very good quality bird's eye view and nice combat system.

      I loved the popup messages when an enemy casts a spell: "Oh no! The Assault of Stones spell!"

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    3. LOL

      I am playing now Aethra Chronicles :)

      Lord Hienmitey

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    4. Nice to see others liking Aethra :)

      The messages are good, yeah. I also really liked how people of different classes have to get training from guilds suitable to their professions.

      And how you create your initial party of three, but then have to supplement them with various sell-swords or temporary or permanent allies.

      The game even has a plot and side missions! It's hardly a perfect game, but I expect Chet will like it. Really looking forward to reading about you playing it, mr. Addict - although it looks to be many years in the future :/

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    5. Really looking forward to reading about you playing it, mr. Addict as well, this game had so much potential, turn based tactical combat, lots of spells but in reality it became to total boredom, so unbalanced, every battle is the same and super easy. So when I saw "you met an orc war band" message I was saying "not this again please". This game has 2 useful spells and many many more useless. I mean why bother the other spells when you can win any battle using one basic spell?

      Lord Hienmitey

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  30. The games I have replayed most are M&M 3 & Dungeon Master. Probably near 15 times each, if not more...

    A special fondness for Rings of Zilfin, which went down quickly on this blog, but the horrible dos graphics didn't help. On Atari it looked amazing and had a peculiar charm (the guy made The Magic Candle later, which had more coverage here, being more complex). I probably played RoZ over 10 times too.

    A few passes on MM4-5, EOB2, Baldur's Gate, Ultima Underworld every once in a while.

    But I agree that replayment is a strange addiction. There's nothing, then suddenly I remember a music, or a cool text, or a monster, and then I "need" to get to play that game again even if I know it by heart.

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  31. I very seldom go back and replay old games. My backlog of more recent games is too large to justify it. (My PC 'to play' stack currently contains Risen, The Witcher, The Witcher 2, Skyrim and Dishonored. I've got Kickstarter pledges out on Wasteland 2, Project Eternity, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Divinity: Original Sin, Hero-U: Rogue To Redemption and The Banner Saga. I've also got my eye on Avedon (and its sequel, due before the end of the year) and Frayed Knights. And I'm probably missing a few.

    And with all that, I'm currently about 40 hours into my virgin playthrough of Final Fantasy VII on my PS3, and I'm considering following that up with FFVI.

    Even in the days when I had more time I didn't usually replay stuff since I could find enough new to keep my interest. I think the main exceptions are Deus Ex and System Shock. I think I played the original System Shock at least a half-dozen times. Almost everything about that game was utterly brilliant. It isn't really an RPG, though, unlike its sequel.

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  32. My addictive games were Rogue, Dungeonmaster, and Heroes of Might & Magic (esp. 2 and 3). Oh, and the original Magic the Gathering computer game (Microprose 1997) - crashed all the time, but so much fun I fought through the bugs. More recently, I was hooked on World of Warcraft for eight years before breaking free. I feel surprisingly little urge to return to it now, fortunately. SWTOR was fun, but less addictive.

    True fact - At one point, I put all of my Heroes of Might & Magic games in a box, sealed it, labelled it "Pure Evil - Do Not Touch!" and had a friend put the box in his storage space so that I wouldn't see the box and be tempted. A few years ago I retrieved the box, but fortunately the games didn't run well under Windows XP.

    Unfortunately, my favorite Rogue version was the one on the Atari ST, so I can no longer play it. I had a PC version on my laptop, but it won't run on a modern Windows 7 PC. I bought the gog.com version of HoMM and played some of the HoMM3 campaigns, but it's no longer an all-encompassing addiction (I spent a few days on it, then haven't gone back.)

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    1. I've put a lot of hours into HoMM I-IV. V never grabbed me. I think it was the voice acting.

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    2. Ahh bad memories there! HOMM V is for me the worst voice acting I have heard in a game, perhaps tied with Two Worlds II. It can really put you off a game.

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    3. Another contended is the Joan of Arc campaign in Empire Earth.

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  33. I hope you will give Hero's Quest (or perhaps Quest for Glory II) a try with a different character type; I think you will find the game plays differently each time.

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    1. Neat, Corey Cole reads this blog!

      I loved the ending of QfGII back in the day. As I recall it did a great job of showing the impact that my actions had on the various NPCs in the game, which really made the world feel alive compared to other games of the time. I always wondered why more games didn't do that.

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    2. I sometimes wonder why *we* didn't do that with more of our games. :-) That ending worked pretty well, and it wasn't really that difficult to implement. We already had walking animation for all the characters, and "bit flags" for each possible accomplishment. It was a "simple matter of writing", trying to get the right cadences and so on. It took time, but not as much as new animation; Lori is quick.

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    3. Well, how about you do it in Hero-U and we'll call it even? :-)

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    4. I suspect that when I get to QfGII, I'll quickly run through the first one with a different character first. I'll probably have some questions for you when that game starts to appear on the horizon.

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  34. Buck Rogers RPG is great, played that one twice.

    MM6 is like crack cocaine, also played that twice.

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  35. The only RPG I replayed more than 3 times was Arcanum. It's still my favourite CRPG of all time, edging even ahead of Fallout 2. Sure, its combat system is horribly broken, it lacks any balance, but... It's Arcanum. The pain and pleasure of character building in this game is incredible. Every point counts (unlike Fallout), and there are so little of them to spend! Also, playing as Diplomat character gives you so much funny dialogues it's like reading a good book.

    Aside from Arcanum, I finished Fallout 2 3 or 4 times, probably (and started it about twice that time, but got distracted or bored).

    There is also Witcher (the first one), which I completed 3 times, playing pirated version on the first try, then buying it and completing it to see two other endings.

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    1. I played Arcanum as a gnome in a suit.

      It has a cool feel and setting but the interface is appalling. I remember having to do things like fill both my ogre's backpacks to the brim with items they couldn't wield, because otherwise they'd unequip their punch daggers whenever they strolled over an iron spike lying on the ground. As long as they weren't holding items they'd pummel enemies to death before you could blink.

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    2. Arcanum is great. I only played through it once, and then with a long break which meant I had basically completely lost track of the plot. But man I have started many characters in that game and just messed around. Horrible combat, but GREAT setting and atmosphere.

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  36. I don´t Think I´ve replayed a single RPG on the Amiga or PC. At least not anyone that I have completed. I choose to find new RPGs instead.

    The RPGs with which I have put most time into are - amongst others - Morrowind, Oblivion, Gothic 3, Legends of Faerghail, Faery Tale Adventure and Might and Magic III.

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  37. I could have overlooked some comments, but I'm curious if nobody replayed Planescape: Torment? I have 3 times, the last time with max WIS/INT and the walkthrough on standby to check every nook and cranny that I may had missed in earlier playthroughs. That worked out like a veritable goldmine, I couldn't believe how much more there was even though I'm a bit of a completist and grinder at heart where it concerns cRPG's. Besides Torment, I have played M&M1 3 times, the first time when the game was out on Apple II, the last time when the Addict was playing the game. That's about it though, I also tend to spend my time exploring new (old) games. Nice article Chet, good reading!

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    1. I've finished PST once or twice and ALMOST another time - in the opposite order. I got almost to the end in one game, and I think (that's how I recall it) that I got stuck in a room with no exit and with too low stats to continue, even though there are "stat challenges" for multiple stats there.

      So I replayed it and realized how much high Wis adds to the game. A good game became truly great. I think I did pretty much what you described on that playthrough, by often checking with a walkthrough to see if I missed anything before.
      I find, however, that it is slightly slow starting out, which can kill the replay for me. Especially since I still think I remember the story pretty well.

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  38. I a) RARELY finish any computer/console games EVER, so replaying them isn't really an issue b) HATE re-doing/re-following my footsteps... if I, for some reason, lose several hours in a game due to a crash, it takes DAYS before I can go back and restart, as I hate redoing stuff so much. On the other hand, I have started the game ARENA about 500 times and replaying THAT game doesn't bother me. Weird.

    So to all of you that can go back and replay games- ah, I so envy you. You all sicken me.

    :)

    The Gadfly Buzzes!

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    1. I usually find I like the start of CRPGs more than then end which is often grindy and in any case loses the aspect of a magical unknown new world. So they usually have to be great for me to finish them.

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    2. You said it with far fewer words than I do when I try to express the same thing. Thanks for summing it up in a more concise way Gerry.

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    3. I definitely agree with hating replaying the same thing. If I lose an hour's worth of progress, like you do, I typically go away for a day or so.

      This extends well beyond gameplay for me. Back when I was in college, if I lost a term paper due to a disk corruption or something, I couldn't under any circumstances bring myself to rewrite it. I'd do a different topic or just take a 0.

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  39. Damnit! 1 full day to get the Casablanca reference in the tittle.

    You are indeed pretty addicted! I didnt think it was that bad.
    The only RPG I ever finished was Fallout 2. I did it twice, and I dont like apo or even futuristic setting. The game is that good. But I never get past the first town in Fallout 1.

    For any other RPG I do a lot of "testing": Trying any class, skill set, companion selection, then doing the first few quest and then getting bored and doint it again with another build.

    In BGII I played any class and dual classing combo but never get past the chapter II.

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    1. Technically, it's a Casablanca MISQUOTE reference, but I'm glad you noticed.

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  40. Bioware seems to own my soul. I replay Baldur's Gate I&II maybe once a year. I've played through Dragon Age 1 & 2 a couple of times each. The Mass Effect series 5 times now, I think.

    I 'replay' Oblivion and Skyrim, although to be fair I almost never reach the end, I just get halfway and reroll. Partially, I think I enjoy the low-level gameplay a lot more. High-tension fights against groups of bandits or pouncing lions and scrounging for arrows is more fun to me than just whomping everything. Each time I play through, I tweak the XP curve to take longer to level up (because I need *some* candy), but still haven't found the magic spot.

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  41. "Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."
    Think about it this way - playing old games is a more efficient way to enjoy yourself than having a hobby that requires both lots of time and lots of money.

    Games I've played over and over again are Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, and (the 2000s version) Neverwinter Nights. Oh, and planescape torment, although that's so well done I feel like I'm re-experiencing and re-savoring some great work of art, and getting all cultured and refined, therefore I don't feel guilty about it.

    However, my biggest sin with crpgs is starting games I always meant to have finished, playing them for a day or two, then forgetting about them, remembering a year later and starting from the beginning again, repeat ad naseum. Year after year.

    The games I've really had addictive behaviour with aren't crpgs, but world conquering strategy games like civ and europa universalis, where after wasting yet another weekend on world domination, I've broken up the cd into little pieces and thrown it away...only to end up getting another copy a few months later.

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    1. I play the opening few years of paradox games and then restart with a different person/nation. Crusader Kings 2 is pretty fantastic.

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  42. I seldom replay RPG:s. I usually have difficulty to keep being interested in a single RPG to play it through to the end for long RPG:s.

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  43. I'm curious whether you have played Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition yet and what your thoughts may be?

    Baldur's Gate series is my favorite CRPG of all time. I recently discovered the Icewind Dale series (had heard of them, but I was somewhat disappointed in NWN 1 so I just discounted them...until recently when GoG had them on sale...IWD is more like BG than NWN, for sure. The combats are more interesting, and more central, so IWD will never be what BG is to me, but IWD is pretty darn awesome. I also like IWD 2, but not if you powergame it...I want to pick a single class -- or two but permanently pick when to switch -- but I *love* spontaneous casting of healing spells...makes clerics infinitely more fun IMHO. For that reason, I give IWD 2 a slight advantage...but I haven't gone all the way through either of them yet.

    The Might & Magic series holds a special place in my heart as the first memorable CRPG I played; in particular, M&M2 was the one I started with. I find myself occasionally going back to it. One of these days I want to go back to M&M 1 and do the whole thing, but I find that M&M2 to me is more memorable...probably just because of the nostalgia...and the Cartography skill :) I enjoy making maps, but I don't enjoy messing up something silly on the map, and Cartography helps with that. I also REALLY like having HPs listed on the main screen in M&M2. The time travel adds another dimension as well that IMHO makes M&M 2 a bit more interesting (even if it is underdeveloped)...but I can see why you feel the reverse -- they do have a lot in common.

    I actually haven't played much of any of the Elder Scrolls series games, and I really need to. I also need to play more of Planescape: Torment, which I have only started, but not gotten very far on. I liked it, but it was certainly different; I hear it gets much better in a hurry, though. Again, I don't think it will unseat Baldur's Gate 2 (my favorite all-time, even over the original which is my #2 favorite all-time), but it is fun.

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    1. Also, I can't believe I forgot to mention Darklands!!!! That game changes from one play to another in some ways, but it still works! (The randomness doesn't make it feel tacky...there is still quite an immersion feeling.) I remember a friend of mine having that when I was young, and we'd play it quite a bit! What a game! That one is pretty darn amazing...almost definitely my favorite RPG that is not D&D-based or M&M-based...I'd have a hard time placing it if I include all CRPGs...but top 10 for sure.

      Also enjoyed Windwalker, even though it is short. Never really could get into Moebius; I am hoping you have more patience with Windwalker. It's not deep, but it is quite different from other CRPGs.

      Finally, for console games, let me throw a bone to Zelda II: The Adventures of Link. Most Zelda games, despite their awesomeness, probably don't meet your definition of RPG...but Zelda II does. Unlike most people, I don't think it is a bad game; I really enjoy it. I even beat it once, and it is probably the hardest NES game I have actually beaten. It's doable until the last palace, but the last palace is brutal. Whenever I replay it now, I call it good once I get to the last palace and remind myself how hard it is a couple of times.

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    2. BG is definitely one of my top 5 of all time, but I haven't had a chance to try the enhanced edition yet. Too busy with these games. I'm toying with the idea of giving myself permission to jump the queue for my 100th.

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  44. Too many new games to replay much now, but I did manage to replay Dragon Age and Mass Effect 1+2 once.

    In the past, it was Star Control 2, Fallout 1+2, KOTOR, Torment, BG2, and a few of the gold box/Buck Rogers ones. Nothing too original.

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  45. After reading so many thoughtful replies, I think I will augment my simple "+1" to Wizardry 8 with a longer reply.

    I am a habitual and serial replayer of old games, dating back to my early years when it was done out of necessity - I simply didn't own many games. The first I can remember replaying was the demo for The Secret of Monkey Island - as short and limited as it was, I replayed it about a dozen times before my dad got the hint and purchased the boxed version.

    Over the years, the games I have replayed the most are, without doubt or exception, the Quest for Glory games. I have played the fourth game the most (sections of it at least 20-25 times, and the entire playthrough maybe six or seven), and the fifth game the least (once).

    For "purer" CRPGs, Wizardry 8 and the modern Neverwinter Nights are the only two to draw me back repeatedly. I have replayed Wiz8 about six or seven times also over the years, with various external challenges given (all-fighter party... all mage party... etc). Neverwinter Nights only a couple times, but it's very long and my free time grows short these days.

    I replay adventure games more than any other type. I am thinking of running another run-through of The Longest Journey one of these days, and I am mid-way through my third playthrough of Grim Fandango as I type. In a good game, like a good song or movie, there is much to discover each time through.

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  46. Sorry for not being around lately; I started a new job, and find myself doing other things in the evenings (Shopping, playing GURPS, driving 5 hours to a chemistry convention with 5 other guys in a subcompact car...)

    Anyway, I'd say the only time you should replay a game is if either A) You, in retrospect, didn't give it a fair shake the first time: Ex: playing Autoduel without a joystick. or B) Are going to do something substantially different: Playing as a wizard when you played through as a fighter in a lot of games could count, or playing an evil party in Baldur's Gate or Renegade in Mass Effect.

    A lot of the games you've mentioned, while cool, we've read about, and you are going to find plenty of similar ones in the years coming up.

    I've played most of Baldur's Gate a few times, as I never quite finish it. I played Mass Effect twice, as I left my save file on my brother's Xbox which he took back to uni with him. I've also played countless games of Master Of Orion II and various forms of Civilization.

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    1. I share the love for the MOO series.

      Is GURPS any good? I remember dismissing it back in the 90's but I no longer remember why I was so dismissive.

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    2. It is very detailed, and tries to model the real world as best it can. This leads to some problems, but with a DM who really knows the rules, works very fast in play, though it can be very lethal.

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    3. I prefer lethal, which is why we play WFRP (2nd ed) to dnd. I tell my players to be prepared with a story and background for more than one character so they have something to use when the first one dies.

      You convinced me I will look into it now.

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  47. Evil in BG and renegade in ME aren't substantially different sadly. Off the top of my head I can't think of any games that would be worth reviewing twice.

    Possibly KotOR, although the only real difference is dialogue and force powers. You don't really get much additional quest content.

    Some games offer you enough different ways to achieve objectives that drastically different builds might be interesting enough for a second series of posts. Maybe deus ex fits that bill.

    I like to see a redo of BT 2 & 3, and a single post on original Hack.

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  48. I'm not sure everyone commenting--especially those saying things like "why in the world would you REPLAY a game you've already played?"--fully understands the psychology here. While I agree that the replay attraction of some games lies in the ability to try different things, play different characters, and experience different outcomes, the primary reason that *I* replay games is to re-experience the same gaming "high" that I experienced before. I am a CRPG ADDICT, after all. Changing characters and choices is nice, but mostly I find myself replaying the games in the same ways, just like I tend to order the same drink every time I belly up to the bar.

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  49. The game I replay endlessly is World of Warcraft, just by its nature as an addictive MMO. You're right to stay away from MMO's, Addict; they are literally designed from the ground up to hook you into eternal replay. WoW is carefully crafted to induce players to log in every day, through "daily quests", or profession-based "daily cooldowns", amassing "reputation" and "valor points" to buy more powerful equipment, or goodies that you can try for once a day with a 1% drop rate ("Maybe today's the day I'll win a black panther I can ride around on!").

    With the timesink that is WoW in my life, I can't afford to replay other games if I'm ever going to see anything new. I rarely replayed games before WoW, and now that's become "never". It's an issue for me with certain RPGs that almost require replay for 100% completion (see: Persona 3 and 4 for the PS2), since I want to see the whole game the first time around, but to do that I'd have to play with my nose in a strategy guide. Lately I've avoided playing such games.

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    1. You've nicely encapsulated why I've never wanted to even try MMORPGs. Not that I'm doing anything more valuable with my time by playing hundreds of single-player RPGs, though.

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    2. My friend played a bunch of Korean MMOs, mostly betas he could play for free. Anyway, he got me to try one with him. We walked out of town with our starting weapons and killed slimes. Then we went back to heal, killed another slime and so on. After that we killed...giant bees? Then deer? Then it had been an hour and I got very bored. Combat was me clicking on each monster then waiting for it to die.

      I fail to see why I'd WANT to play an MMO, and am going to stay that way as I like having a job, playing tabletop games, etc, and fear I'd go into the MMO hole and never, ever come out.

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  50. My mosr replayed CRPG is without a doubt Fallout 2. A fair number of viable buildings, interesting places, and characters to revisit, quests with multiple outcomes, meaning full character progression, and entertaining violence.

    I think it is one of the best CRPG of all time, though I think you will find it a little goofy for you.

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    1. Well, it's certainly made by people whose work I enjoy. I hope I like it when I get there.

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    2. Well... seeing that you're not a fan of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you might find some of the pop-culture references in this series a little... grating.

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  51. Outside of strategy games I think I've never played through any game more than twice. Those strategy games are the civilization series and chess. Chess is a real addiction of mine and I just had to de-install the playchess server after the World Championship sucked me in again...I was in a foul mood the whole week because everything else that kept me from playing annoyed me.
    Anyway... I think I played Fallout 2 twice, Morrowind as well - mostly because I my aim is always to get the most out of the game so that I DONT have to play again. And with these two games I felt as if I had missed too much on my first playthrough (the second time I joined House Telvanni). I am actually not trying to re-experience the game again, but to get new content in the old context. I am tempted to play Torment again, just so that I can pretend to be Adahn and see him in-game, and I wonder if the dialogues change if I am evil (what would Morte say then?). I actually think that the second playthrough would go quite fast. But to play Oblivion or Skyrim again...no...there would be too many familiar quests and not enough surprises.
    However, I did play WoW for many years and there was tons of repetition. Hmm... I think the social interaction made it worth it. There is a sick mechanism that makes you pay the fee to keep the social interaction intact, it's a vicious circle...
    I'm happy to see the love for Fallout here. Those games are indeed very replayable. I was very happy by what I got out of my second Fallout 2 playthrough. In contrast to Fallout 3, the earlier Fallout games don't show you the statistics you need to unlock certain dialogue paths. So you inevitably miss out on lots of options that you can follow later. And there's the reputation system and the perks...

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  52. For me the joy of books, movies, and crpgs is the discovery. My wife will re-watch Harry Potter every weekend while I can't stand watching the same movie twice within the same decade. Once I know what's going to happen I have no interest in it anymore. Spoilers make it impossible for me to enjoy something up until the point where the spoiled thing occurs. So I haven't replayed any crpgs except bard's tale 1 which I did early on when I found your blog which I had originally played when I was like 6 and couldn't even get through the first dungeon.

    I also have a hard time finishing crpgs because I'm very sensitive to your BOTHR scale. I love em in the beginning but once the character progression slows and things get tedious I'm bored. I think that's why I like DOTA so much. In a single hour you go from level 1 to up to 25, gain all your skills, go from naked to fully stacked, while competing against people instead of AI that simply requires you memorize its patterns (also find that boring). It's like a fun sized rpg, start to finish in an hour, and infinitely replayable because of all the variations. I've put thousands of hours into that.

    D3 was similar, once I'd spent a couple weeks in inferno I couldn't BOTHR with it. It's the same story for the fourth time in a row only this time I'm max level and it takes 20 hours to drop an item thats a minor improvement over what I already have. That's just not viable replayability for me.

    I've also continued to return to the same MUD over and over for the last nearly 20 years. I get bored of MMO's where at high levels you reach a point where the progression is ridiculously slow and tedious. The MUD I play features full PVP where you lose all your equipment so there are constant resets of progression and when that gets boring theres a full wipe of all player files once a year or so so everyone starts over from scratch (in an ever changing, albeit sometimes slightly, wold).

    I've also played a ridiculous amount of Civ2 and Civ4 (and resumably Civ6 in the future). However my Civ playing was ruined by visiting forums and learning exactly how the AI worked, I find that visiting forums for games ruins them.

    So no replaying crpgs for me, theres just not enough that changes from game to game and I need things to be different! I haven't even played a single game of Rogue after I beat it, heh.

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    1. Ha. I came up with that BOTHR thing for one post and never referenced it again. I'm glad it made an impression!

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  53. I replayed most crpgs which I liked (and that's a lot) at least once, but one game stands out: I finished Dungeon Master (including CSB and custom dungeons, mainly my own ones) over 100 times! :-) I had every kind of game: single char, 2 chars, speed run, ... It started when I wanted to complete the game with every available char.

    Runner up is Amberstar, which I completed 6-8 times, but I found myself using some decent hex editing to change the game - in my current game, I made the dog a fighter so I could keep it in my group. I tried changing bits for NPCs so I could invite them in my group, but had no success with that.

    I also played really a lot of Diablo 1-3, but that doesn't count, since I didn't replay it, but always played on, grinding for better items.

    I would totally play BG 1+2 again if there was a version based on the 3rd edition. NWN 1+2 with their awesome character creation spoiled me for the 2nd generation.

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  54. If I narrow it down on only CRPGS, games like Might and Magic VII or Dungeon Siege II (and its add-on, Broken World) are the ones I'll probably restart once a year for some fun. Then there is Baldurs Gate I and II, including the add-ons and Dragon Age: Origins.

    Sadly, my interest in other, even more time consuming games is large enough I often don't have the time to finish them before I lose interest again.

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  55. As a mostly Mac player until recent years, I've always had a more limited selection of games, but I'm definitely the type to find something I like and stick with it. The top replay has probably been the HOMM series, of which I've played campaigns and scenarios of 2, 3, and 4 repeatedly. Likewise with Civilization in all its forms, though that one expects you to replay frequently. Master of Orion, as well (and before that a game called Spaceward Ho! that I'm convinced was as spiritual prequel to MOO, though I've not really tried to verify the history.)

    On the RPG side Bard's Tale is the one I've played the most, though I never solved it until using a walkthrough a few years ago, so I was just restarting new parties now and then. In retrospect it seems an iffy obsession, but it was my first and I guess always stuck with me. I know I replayed the first three from the Pool of Radiance series when I had them in high school but lost them in college and never thought to go back. I'll probably go back one of these days but now that I'm cracking open DOS emulators there are too many new (to me) games I feel I should try first.

    I've gotten a lot of mileage out of Diablo 1 and 2, trying each of the classes and then experimenting with a few different builds. And in modern days I've done the same by replaying Dragon Age: Origins 6 or 7 times, to see all the variants.

    Probably the most replays goes to a brilliantly goofy stick-figure MMORPG called Kingdom of Loathing, which has a very robust new game + system, somewhat borrowed from Nethack (and also called ascension) that allows for speed runs, restricted runs, themed runs, as well as a broad range of solo and cooperative play. I think I completed the main quest a couple hundred times during the 5 years I was playing regularly, while also taking large chunks of time off from that to engage in other parts of the game. Then I decided I liked it so much that I created a superhero-themed knockoff of the game called Twilight Heroes (I no longer own it, but it still exists; it's free to play, so I hope it's okay to mention). As these things often go, I found I didn't have enough time to both work on the new one and play the old one, so that kind of trickled away.

    Though it mostly doesn't apply to the games featured on your blog, by far the greatest "itch" I get is for the old Nintendo games. Particularly Metroid, Legend of Zelda, Castlevania 2, Super Mario 2 and 3, Kid Icarus, and a handful of others. (It's March, so I'm currently feeling compelled to dust off the oddly RPG-ish Baseball Stars, building up a team from rookie schlubs to an all-star cast.) Dragon Warrior 1 was on this list, and I played through it at least 4 times as a kid, but as an adult I see what a terrible grind it was past the first few levels, so I don't think I could play it again.

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