Brief history of grid-based dungeon crawlers

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Few distractions have robbed me of more sleep than Dungeon Master.


WTH? No mention of the first real time, first person, dungeon crawlers like Maze War and Dungeons of Daggorath? C’mon now.

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Ishar didn’t have female characters?

Well that’s frustrating. I was sure the game I wasted so much time with, in the 90s, was called Rogue. But reading over the associated Wiki pages, I can’t find… anything like the game I remember. I’m quite sure I didn’t dream it.


90’s? do they not delve into the 80’s? Wizardry, Bards Tale, Might and Magic? those were the games that I grew up on and paved the way for pokemon and the like. Some day when I’m unemployed and have limitless free time I’d love to make a browser based engine for creating games like (even if it’s already been done which I’m sure it has).


It WAS called Rogue. I was playing a java-based online version of it up til about a year ago, when the damn thing stopped working. You might also find info about it by using “dungeon hack” as a search term.

Looks fun, but this was a top-down roguelike with those adorable 1-bit graphics. No NPCs, no quests, just a sword and loads of monsters.


This isn’t supported by the fact that all these things were being done on the PLATO Computer system long before anything you cite. Dungeon Master is more of a theft of other people’s ideas than anything.

Search for PLATO Computer system and pedit5, dnd, oubliette, avatar, moria, pits of baradur

The system is still being emulated and you can play the old games here:


Eye of the Beholder by SSI!

The second in the trilogy was my favorite. The skeletal knights were the scariest part of the whole adventure. They were nearly indestructible and hit hard. The only way to win the encounter was to hit-and-retreat at just the right pace so that they would miss most of the time. And they were smart enough to try and split up and flank your party around corners. If you retreated into an open room you were toast.


They needed another CDROM to hold the 90’s pixelated brassieres

Weren’t Oubliette and Moria turn and map based crawlers like the later Rogue instead of real time first person crawlers? And iirc, wasn’t Avatar was one of the first MUDs?

Dungeon Master was released end of 1987.

Was it this? Or this was the page you found that it was not?


Yeah, fabulous game. Remember the crawling giants?

(Although what are Caramon and Goldmoon doing in Waterdeep? Anomalous.)

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Oh, yeah! Punchy bastards! Dran Draggore must have piled up crazy electrical bills keeping that part of the dungeon air-conditioned enough to keep the frost giants comfortable. Then again, maybe not, and that’s why they were so grumpy?


Rogue spawned a whole genre of games… the rogue-likes. There are lots of them out there.

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I wasted about half of 1989 playing Moria on MicroVAX. I had a halfling that survived for months, when that letter d met its end, I experienced real grief.


No, I read that top to bottom. Maybe it’s like that Berenstain Bears thing.

I suppose you need to define real time. Maybe the graphics looked different, but I don’t understand what is so profoundly different aside from improved graphics, all the underlying mechanics are basically the same kind of thing.

You move with arrows, the screen updates the dungeon walls. You do or, do not run into things. You fight, or use magic.

I think once you hit oubliette it was multi player and you could make up a party of different real people because PLATO was networked.

Avatar is certainly a multi player game.

Get a sign on at Cyber1 and you can decide for yourself. And then you have to check out the first tank combat wire frame fame and Empire the first top down arena multi player game.

We still play battles in Empire sunday nights.