1997-2000 was a glory era for PC gaming, I was right there playing all the latest games and loving the selection that we had. As that old computer became obsolete, my life became more hectic. Gone were the lazy Saturdays of playing an RPG until my butt got numb. In 2000, I quit playing PC games. In 2005, I picked up a new PC for some job related activity and began to regain interest in PC gaming.
It was fun to leaf through all the old reviews and forum posts of the old RPG's I missed. Gothic, Morrowind, NWN, new Pool of Radiance, Arx Fatalis, etc et al. Slowly, I began to collect these and play through most of them (as time and patience permitted).
While there were some quality RPG's in there ... I felt as if I had fell asleep in 2000 and woke up to find that nothing had changed. In fact, by reading the old reactions from users of these games .. PC Devs had actually REGRESSED in terms of making games that were playable and stable. But that is another issue altogether. One of the last games I played was BGII (in 2000) and nothing had even come close to eclipsing it since. As if CRPG evolution had fallen straight off the cliff.
The most disheartening thing for me, besides the sparse amount of titles that you could call AAA was the sheer monotony of the settings. I cut my teeth on C-64 games like Wasteland, Neuromancer, Buck Rogers. At the age of 14, I was just staggered at the sheer variety in types of CRPG's you could play. Sure there were 10 variants of the Wizardry/Bard's Tale games ... but there was SO MUCH PROMISE for this style of game to be introduced into different settings. I daydreamed of a Wild West RPG, a Police Quest (Sierra's old game) style RPG, a beefier Pirates! game with deep RPG elements. The possibilities were endless, once the devs got tired of making the same D&D clones surely they would move onto new settings!
Instead, I am mucking through Oblivion .. awed by the visuals but depressed by the combat, setting and lack of imagination.
Yet, here we are in 2007. The next "big RPG" I am looking forward to is imaginatively called 'Dragon Age'. Same as it ever was ...
So, what happened? Why haven't we seen more cyberpunk games? More
post-apocalyptic games, more space rpgs? Hell, I'd settle for more KOTOR's where they take a license and cram it into RPG shoes. The 'RPG mechanic' (dice rolls to determine possible outcomes) can be applied to just about any genre setting you can imagine .... yet nothing different is coming out.
Now that the 2D era is officially dead and PC RPG's are becoming more and more 'consolized" ... I am beginning to wonder if the ship has passed. If we are forever going to be looking for the "next big sword" or looting yet another goblin king of his pretty treasure. I will still play them all and even recommend many of them .. but will always be dreaming a different world I would rather be in.