So. They're not only re-releasing Disgaea, but they're giving out a free artbook with purchase. That's nifty. It's nifty enough that if I didn't already own the Japanese limited edition, I'd get the re-release of Disgaea for it, because I'm tired of Sony America being dicks about limited editions and not allowing package sizes to be any larger than the standard.
Screw you, Sony, I want gigantic packages with oodles of goodies! Gimme the Koei treasure boxes for the Dynasty Warrior games! Gimme ridiculous amounts of coasters and a parfait spoon! Gimme calendars and art! Hell, I don't care, give me that princess dress that came with Princess Concerto (warning: Japanese link). It doesn't matter to me, I just want SOMEthing. Yes, I'm a limited edition whore. I don't mind.
Sigh. Oh well. I'll just stick to Japanese games.
But speaking of American games, I just got an e-mail from Trebor himself (known to the mundanes as Robert Woodhead) that I'd like to relate, just to complete the whole Wizardry saga and give everyone an important gaming history lesson:
One of my many spies has informed me that in your May 19th column,you quote Robert Del Favero as saying:
"Woodhead was little more than a contract programmer"
Needless to say, my perspective is a little different.
Before Andy and I started working together on Wizardry, I had writtenand published a couple of Apple II programs (Infotree and GalacticAttack). I was looking for a new project to work on and came up withthe idea of doing a computer RPG.
I was well into the design of this game, which I called Paladin, whenI heard that Andy Greenberg was doing something similar. I knew Andybecause we were both heavy users of the PLATO computer assistededucation system.
We got together, compared notes, and realized that we could do abetter job as a team than we could apart. The final design forWizardry combined features in his original BASIC game and the Paladindesign.
I did almost all of the programming of the original Wizardry game andthe scenario editors that created that database it ran off. Andyused those editors to create the first few scenarios, and he and hisfriends, including RDF, playtested them. This was an obviousdivision of labor since I had a lot more time than he did, havingbeen kicked out of Cornell for a year for fooling around too much onthe computers and neglecting my grades. And finally, my companyreleased the program onto the market.Had Andy and I never gotten together, most likely his Wizardry wouldnever have evolved into a marketable product, because of all theother demands on his time, and my Paladin would probably have made itto market but would not have been nearly as good as Wizardry was,because of his story skills and the efforts of his playtesting team(who it would not be unfair to credit as the "third" author of thegame). Fortunately, it was one of those "right people in the rightplace at the right time" kind of things.
That said, RDF is entirely correct that your statement that "BrianFargo and Robert J Woodhead pretty much created the American RPG" iswrong. I assume you mean computer RPG, btw.
The Computer RPG had its real genesis on the PLATO system in themid-70s. By 1977 or so, PLATO was featuring real-time multiplayerdungeon games, not to mention real-time spacewar, IM, chat, email,netnews, and a host of other things we now take for granted. Allthis on high-resolution plasma panel terminals connected at 1200 baudto twin Cyber 6600 supercomputer. Now you understand why I waskicked out of Cornell for a year; PLATO was crack for computer nerds.
Wizardry (and Paladin and the original BASIC Wizardry) were ourattempts to see if we could do something similar on the puny personalcomputers of the day. For example, the idea of the 6-character partywas a way of simulating multiplayer interaction when in fact therewas usually only one person playing the game. But at the same time,the fact that only one person was playing the game allowed us to putin a story (and lots of cute ornaments) that raised Wizardry beyondthe "hack-hack-kill-kill-loot-loot-run home" style of game.
I consider myself educated. I seriously need to find a book about the early days of computer gaming like Game Over has the beginnings of Nintendo and The Ultimate History of Video Games has for the arcade and console industries. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm interested in hearing them.