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History of first-person RPGs? How does King's Field fit in?

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Louis_Cypher, Jan 7, 2020.

  1. Louis_Cypher Learned

    Louis_Cypher
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    [​IMG]
    Akalabeth (1979)

    [​IMG]
    The Bard's Tale (1985)

    [​IMG]
    Dungeon Master (1987)

    [​IMG]
    Ultima Underworld (1992)

    [​IMG]
    The Elder Scrolls (1994)

    [​IMG]
    King's Field (1994)

    [​IMG]
    Arx Fatalis (2002)

    [​IMG]
    The Legend of Grimrock (2012)


    I was wondering about the history of the first person RPG. The main thing I don't really know, but which people here might know better, is what was the design lineage of them? Like did they influence FPSs? Did FPSs influence them? Is the so called immersive sim, with full 360-degree movement, a separate lineage of design to the grid-based blobber? What influence did stuff like Heretic, Hexen, Thief and Clive Barker's Undying give or receive, if any? If you discount the grid-based ones, the genre looks something like this (apologies for any obvious omissions):
    • Ultima Underworld 1
    • Ultima Underworld 2
    • The Elder Scrolls 1
    • The Elder Scrolls 2
    • The Elder Scrolls 3
    • The Elder Scrolls 4
    • The Elder Scrolls 5
    • King's Field 1
    • King's Field 2
    • King's Field 3
    • King's Field 4
    • Shadow Tower
    • Shadow Tower Abyss
    • Eternal Ring
    • Arx Fatalis
    • Dark Messiah of Might and Magic
    • Underworld Ascendant
    I noticed that the first RPG that From Software made was released the same year as the first Elder Scrolls. Is that notable, suggesting both a western and Japanese lineage from Ultima Underworld diverging seperately? Did Ultima Underworld thus influence Dark Souls? Or did From create their games straight outta Wizardry? I know grid blobbers (Wizardry spinoffs with anime sprites, Shin Megami Tensei and Etrian Odyssey) are really popular there. This made me wonder about the history of the sub-genre in Japan.

    For an interesting obscurity, check out the fan translation of From Software's atmospheric 'Shadow Tower Abyss':



    I think I enjoy the grid-based and non-grid-based genre for it's atmosphere, and sense of exploration, where you are just dropped into a mysterious world and asked to survive through experimentation.
     
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  2. octavius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    octavius
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    Unless someone can answer you now, the CRPG Addict will probably by able to answer the question within the next five years.
     
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  3. Werdna's Revenge Cipher Patron

    Werdna's Revenge
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    King's Field was supposed to be real time Wizardry. I'm sure they took some influence from UU, but the Japanese obsession with Wizardry is the driving force in first person blobbers there.
     
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  4. Louis_Cypher Learned

    Louis_Cypher
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    I hope CRPG Addict gets to some of my favorites soon :)

    A fuller list of the genre, including grid ones for reference:

    ----------------
    Wizardry (1981):
    ----------------
    - Wizardry
    - Wizardry II
    - Wizardry III
    - Wizardry IV
    - Wizardry V
    - Wizardry VI
    - Wizardry VII
    - Wizardry VIII
    -----------------------
    The Bard's Tale (1985):
    -----------------------
    - The Bard's Tale
    - The Bard's Tale II
    - The Bard's Tale III
    - The Bard's Tale IV
    -----------------------
    Might and Magic (1986):
    -----------------------
    - Might and Magic
    - Might and Magic II
    - Might and Magic III
    - Might and Magic IV
    - Might and Magic V
    - Might and Magic VI
    - Might and Magic VII
    - Might and Magic VIII
    - Might and Magic IX
    - Might and Magic X
    ----------------------
    Dungeon Master (1987):
    ----------------------
    - Dungeon Master
    - Dungeon Master: Chaos Strikes Back
    - Dungeon Master II: The Legend of Skullkeep
    ---------------------
    Megami Tensei (1987):
    ---------------------
    - Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei I
    - Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei II
    - Shin Megami Tensei I
    - Shin Megami Tensei II
    - Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
    - Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner - Soul Hackers
    ---------------------------
    Eye of the Beholder (1991):
    ---------------------------
    - Forgotton Realms: Eye of the Beholder
    - Forgotton Realms: Eye of the Beholder 2
    - Forgotton Realms: Eye of the Beholder 3
    ----------------
    Ancients (1991):
    ----------------
    - Ancients 1: Death Watch
    - Ancients 2: Approaching Evil
    -------------
    Ishar (1992):
    -------------
    - Ishar 1: Legend of the Fortress
    - Ishar 2: Messengers of Doom
    - Ishar 3: The Seven Gates of Infinity
    --------------------
    The Dark Eye (1992):
    --------------------
    - Realms of Arkania 1: Blade of Destiny
    - Realms of Arkania 2: Star Trail
    - Realms of Arkania 3: Shadows Over Riva
    ------------------------
    Ultima Underworld (1992):
    ------------------------
    - Ultima Underworld
    - Ultima Underworld 2
    ---------------------
    Lands of Lore (1993):
    ---------------------
    - Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos
    - Lands of Lore: Guardians of Destiny
    - Lands of Lore III
    --------------------
    Dungeon Hack (1993):
    --------------------
    - Forgotton Realms: Dungeon Hack
    ----------------------
    Menzoberranzan (1994):
    ----------------------
    - Forgotton Realms: Menzoberranzan
    -----------------
    Ravenloft (1994):
    -----------------
    - Ravenloft: Strahd's Possession
    - Ravenloft: Stone Prophet
    -------------------------
    The Elder Scrolls (1994):
    -------------------------
    - The Elder Scrolls: Arena
    - The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
    - The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
    - The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
    - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
    --------------------
    King's Field (1994):
    --------------------
    - King's Field I
    - King's Field II
    - King's Field III
    - King's Field IV
    ---------------------
    Anvil of Dawn (1995):
    ---------------------
    - Anvil of Dawn
    -----------------
    Stonekeep (1995):
    -----------------
    - Stonekeep
    --------------------
    Shadow Tower (1998):
    --------------------
    - Shadow Tower
    - Shadow Tower: Abyss
    -------------------
    Arx Fatalis (2002):
    -------------------
    - Arx Fatalis
    ----------------------
    Etrian Odyssey (2007):
    ----------------------
    - Etrian Odyssey 1: Labyrinth of Yggdrasill
    - Etrian Odyssey 2: Heroes of Lagaard
    - Etrian Odyssey 3: The Drowned City
    - Etrian Odyssey 4: Legend of the Giant God
    - Etrian Odyssey 5: Beyond the Myth
    --------------------------
    Legend of Grimrock (2012):
    --------------------------
    - Legend of Grimrock 1
    - Legend of Grimrock 2
    --------------------
    StarCrawlers (2017):
    --------------------
    - StarCrawlers
    ----------------------------
    Underworld Ascendant (2018):
    ----------------------------
    - Underworld Ascendant

    ....and a ton of Japanese Wizardry type games such as Shining in the Darkness (Megadrive), Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land (PS2), The Dark Spire (DS), Stranger of Sword City (360/Vita). I also think Gothic and Souls are pretty closely related to their ancestors, just third-person instead.

    Side note: Whenever I look at a list of Ultima (1981) and Wizardry (1981) kinda think it would be nice if they were still churning roman numerals out like an institution with a big fanfare every couple of years, akin to Dragon Quest (1986) and Final Fantasy (1987), elder statesmen of the genre in Japan.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
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  5. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    SSI Gold Box games are First Person exploration, from 1988 to 1992.

    [​IMG]

    The Realms of Arkania trilogy also belongs as part of the chronology.
     
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  6. Louis_Cypher Learned

    Louis_Cypher
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    Realms of Arcania added :)

    Interestingly, although they are known for FPS genre, Raven Software made a game with RPG elements called ShadowCaster in 1993:



    ....id Software even did one for the DS called Orcs & Elves that used the Doom RPG engine.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
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  7. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    grid-based blobbers and 360 degree free movement first person RPGs belong to different lineages, I'd say

    Ultima Underworld started the free movement first person RPGs. It was also released around the same time as Wolfenstein 3D so there was no direct FPS influence on it. It came out before the FPS was even a genre.

    Elder Scrolls Arena was inspired by UU. And from then on this is its own lineage.

    Meanwhile blobbers, both turn based and real time, were still a thing.
     
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  8. octavius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    octavius
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    Before that they made the Amiga only Black Crypt in 1992, IMO the third best (with possible exception of the Grimrock games) real time blobber after Chaos Strikes Back and Dungeon Master.
    So it's quite easy to see Raven's influnence; first from Dungeon Master and/or Eye of the Beholder, and later from Doom.
     
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  9. Funposter Savant

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    This is it. King's Field was directly inspired by the seeing one of the Wizardry ports on Japanese PCs. As pointed out in Louis Cypher's post, probably the most relevant modern series which was birthed from this obession was the Shin Megami Tensei series, starting with 1987's Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    SMT would later introduce its spin-off series Persona, which is what most people in the west have played.
     
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  10. Old Hans Arbiter

    Old Hans
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    I would say Kings Field was influanced by Ultima Underworld. im almost positive thats what FROM said about it
     
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  11. V_K Arcane

    V_K
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    This is not technically true. UUW started 3D first person RPGs - i.e. with the possibility of moving up and down in addition to 360 degree movement. There were RPGs that allowed 360 degree movement on flat surface before that (e.g. Drakkhen).



    I would also point out that 1) historically both the move from Wizardry-likes to Dungeon Master and from DM-likes to UUW were a part of the same process - increasing the immersion and environment's interactivity; and 2) that UUW had an influence on blobber genre as well, resulting, on the one hand, in free movement blobbers (Ravenloft, Might&Magic 6-8), and on the other hand, in single-character "blobbers" (Legacy, Anvil of Dawn).
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
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  12. ManaJunkie Learned

    ManaJunkie
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    What about:

    Dungeons of Daggorath (1982)
    [​IMG]

    Alien Fires 2199 AD (1987)
    [​IMG]

    Menzoberranzan, Ravenloft 1+2 (1994-1995)
    [​IMG]
     
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  13. Ashigara Literate

    Ashigara
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    Really interesting. I find first person super immersive and FromSoft games have a lot of atmospheric tension
     
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  14. RatTower Arcane Developer

    RatTower
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    King's Field is essentially a console derivate of UU minus the simulative aspects. While both Wizardry and Ultima were extremely popular in Japan (UU actually got a japan-only console release) and KF was probably directly influenced by both in one way or the other, KF's gameplay is much closer to the free-form exploration of Underworld than the resource-management focused formula of classic Wizardry.

    The thing that King's Field lacks in comparison to Underworld is the simulation part. Simulation meaning mostly "realistic" ways to interact with the world, like throwing and combining objects, giving the player some agency when it comes to conversations, etc etc.
    Even the combat system in UU has a "simulation" aspect - it's not just whacking enemies with the same attack over and over again, but it allows you to "realistically" do attacks from different directions.
    KF also it lacks a deep quest system with factions and the like, but that's really more about interweaving quest structures (so it's less of a technical and more of a design decision).

    So take that simulation stuff out of UU and you'll pretty much end up with something between KF1 (JP) and KF2 (KF1 in the US).

    Instead of really building additional systems on the foundation that KF was, FromSoftware then tried to polish their little formula (which is an understandable move from a business perspective - KF1-3 all use the same engine - meaning not much of an extra expense there and FS profited from those games until the mid-2000s). They progressively expanded player freedom throughout the Verdite Trilogy and then eventually cut it down a bit in KF4. KF4 is a bit like a "Best of" for the series, with slightly more linear exploration (which was later developed into the gauntlets that Souls levels are). Even the circle-strafing combat system became fairly charming at that point, because FS noticed that players would easily backstab their AI - so enemy movement was adapted to spice things up a bit (snakemen run really fast, zombies and skeletons almost always come in groups, there is a mushroom that can paralyze you and so on). So while KF was strongly influenced by UU, anything following KF1 (JP) really just tries to streamline aspects of its formula.

    About the further lineage:
    If I remember correctly Paul Neurath once cited Dungeon Master as one of the main inspirations for UU.
    DM itself obviously builds a lot on Wizardry.

    So in a sense you can trace elements from Dark Souls back to Wizardry - but you'll pass Underworld at some point.

    Besides that, I'd even go so far and say you can actually recognize the wizardry formula in DS (gather your resources and venture into the dungeon as far as possible - explore as much as you can and don't get killed to make it back). Whether that was a conscious decision is another question. It could also be that it goes back to Miyazakis obsession with pen & paper dungeon crawlers, which actually inspired Wizardry.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
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  15. Molina Learned

    Molina
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    I have a real question I don't have the answer to: Why don't we have more FPS-RPG even though there is an RPG mode and the FPS is pretty mainstream.

    Beside you forget : grimoire, The outer world, Vermintide.
     
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  16. JDR13 Prophet

    JDR13
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    To a degree, yes, but I think it's also fair to mention that King's Field features both an overworld and underworld while UU was only the latter.
     
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  17. JDR13 Prophet

    JDR13
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    Fond memories there. That was the first RPG I ever played.
     
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  18. zapotec Learned

    zapotec
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    I am trying to recall the name of a first-person RPG, i played the demo around 1998-1999.

    The only i things i remember in the demo are:
    1. The character was wielding a sword, and you could swing with it.
    2. The first monster you met was a sort of mummy/walking corpse.
    3. It has a "Ravenloft" atmosphere.
     
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  19. Louis_Cypher Learned

    Louis_Cypher
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    Thanks, that was exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping for. Recently someone on YouTube made a video essay about how immersive sim type games like System Shock are a genre separate from the FPS. They didn't mention blobbers but did talk about how Ultima Underworld was perhaps the first. It seems that people like that guy perhaps regard them as being closer to the FPS genre. I dunno about that as like you say, I think UU was born out of Wizardry followed by stuff like Dungeon Master.

    I love the feel of both branches of the genre. I play all RPGs but there is something very visceral and immediate about looking out of someone's eyes as you are inside a dungeon, being unable to see around corners, and hearing sounds in the distance. The blobber type dungeon crawler is interesting, but the non-grid 3D sim perhaps makes you feel even more like you are experimenting and observing the world directly.

    I love the look of Monomyth too - Arx Fatalis, Ultima Underworld and King's Field as your inspirations.... very exciting :)

    Yes, I totally agree. I wish there were more. Japan puts out some good blobbers, but I also want there to be UU and Arx Fatalis type games. I guess you can list Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines and Fallout 3/4 as first person but I was kinda thinking of ones that are also largely about dungeon exploration rather than cities. I love The Legend of Grimrock and played the hell out of both.
     
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  20. Bad Sector Arbiter Patron

    Bad Sector
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    There are some indie games, but they are of the very low budget variety. Some time ago i played the demo of Dungeons & Darkness which i found interesting enough to put it in my isthereanydeal waitlist (the game is too rough for the asking price IMO). Looking on Steam, there seems to be a bunch of "first person dungeon crawlers" (though several of them are grid-based - there is even a bundle with those :-P - instead of free form).

    (also looking at the search results above reminded me that Elminage Original is available on Steam but not on GOG :-/)

    As a sidenote, i really like the look of that PSX version of Ultima Underworld. Though i guess that isn't how the real game looked since PSX doesn't have texture filtering and it probably looked closer to this video. I wonder if there is a N64 version too (or a N64 dungeon crawler at all, i was never into consoles so i don't know what was released there, but AFAIK N64 was very light on RPGs/JRPGs).
     
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  21. Nifft Batuff Savant

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    Shadow Tower? Another first-person rpg by From for the PS1.

    Edit: gameplay
     
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  22. ValeVelKal Arcane

    ValeVelKal
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    The CRPG Addict "rediscovered" the games on the PLATO system, some of which are first person multiplayer blobbers, like Camelot
    http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2019/10/game-343-camelot-1982.html

    In France, we had access in the late 80ies to, well, French RPG, in my case TERA and Le Maître des Ames. The later in particular was fairly innovative with a capacity to talk to (almost) all enemies, but on some other aspects it was several years late versus Dungeon Master, released the same year.
    https://www.genesis8bit.fr/images/frontend/M/Maitre des Ames (F), Le_4.png
     
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  23. North Gibraltarian Dog Learned

    North Gibraltarian Dog
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    No, first person perspective don't mark general lineages and influences between crpgs. First person perspective isn't a sub-type of crpgs (and less "a genre" as you stated).

    To cite some other crpgs with first person perspective use that you didn't include

    -PLATO first examples, Moria, Oubliette, Futurewar, Avatar (1975-1979)

    - Ultima I-V (1981-1988)

    - Gold Box series (1988-1992)

    -The Dark Heart of Uukrul (1988)

    - Bloodwych (1989), Circuit's Edge (1990)

    - Fate: Gates of Dawn (1991)

    - Disciples of Steel (1991)

    - Ambermoon, Amberstar, Albion thrilogy (1992-1995)

    - Betrayal at Krondor (1993)

    - Stonekeep (1995)

    - Birthright (1996)

    - Betrayal in Antara (1997)

    ...

    - Lords of Xulima (2015)

    - Kingdom Come: Deliverance (2018)

    There are two conclussions from that list:

    1. First person perspective is only a minor feature among what defines those games, lineages differ greatly in different contexts of the design. You can study the story of the perspective in the genre if you want, but the games that used this perspective differ in focus, restriction to FP or multi-perspective in different combinations between 1P, 3P, top-down and isometric in combat, exploration, travel or even strategic mode, combat and exploration "timing" (real time, phase & turn based), world/experience openness, party based vs single player, simulationism level, puzzles/c&c/npcs/quests/factions relevance or absencer or even unusual exclusive features as two players split-screen in Bloodwych e.g.

    2. There is a clear gap since late 90s to 2015 aprox (more strictly between Wizardry 8 and Legends of Grimrock, 2001-2012), in which first person perspective use in crpgs declined with the notable exception of worst Elder Scrolls and Bethesda nu-Fallouts (not in exclusive but with a new consolecentric 3D third person option) and very few other examples. That's the first reason behind the absurd idea but too much popular in neo-gamerz, about "First person shooter perspective is not for crpgs" vs. "isometric is for hardcore rpgs", when the truth is that first person perspective is probably the most used through crpgs History and one of the original perspectives of the genre with top-down.





    The oldest first person perspective virtual games were some japanese electro-mechanical games by Sega in 1969 (a racing game and a static-hunting one), however I doubt of those games influence outside a very reduced circle in Japan. Maze War (1973) was a pseudo-shooter dungeon crawler in first person designed and only accessible in NASA "ARC" in California first, but since 1974 was possible also to access on MIT terminal servers from different USA Universities through Arpanet, however we don't know if it was available in Illinois University in 1974 and if developers of the first proto-crpg with fp perspective played it. Moria (1975) is that original first person perspective proto-crpg, a first person dungeon crawler with multiplayer capabilities, designed in the University of Illinois PLATO system.

    I think both genres birth at the same period and that none influence the other in regard "first person perspective" but the use of that perspective came naturally in both contexts by some, more powerful influence: It's our perspective in real life
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2020
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  24. North Gibraltarian Dog Learned

    North Gibraltarian Dog
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    I can't resist the opportunity to answer this:

    "Immersive sims" is a fake category, insistently promoted by Warren Spector (as "genre creation" life legacy?) and annoyingly extended recently by Dishonored fans. The name is one of the less focused/consistent ever used to define a supossed video games genre. Most games usually described as "immersive sims" are more clearly defined by the traditional "stealth", "rpg" or "action-adventures" categories.

    Ok, simply judge by yourselves. This is the supposed list of immersive sims according Warren Spector, some "game journalist" in PC gamer and Dishonored neo-gamerz fans who created Wikipedia article:

    - Ultima VI: According Warren Spector the first with "immersive sim mentality" in regard world simulationism more than strict specific activity simulations (as simulators do), but, Why not previous Ultimas nor other crpgs, 80s adventures and action-adventures with world simulationism? It's a mistery... But probably because spector didn't play those.

    - Ultima Underworld I & II

    - System Shock I & II

    - Thief series

    - Deus Ex

    - Arx Fatalis

    - Vampire: The masquerade-Bloodlines

    - Motherfucking The Elder Scrolls: OBLIVION: And the game journalist that promoted this, specifically cited Oblivion as a departure from previous Elder Scrolls stats and dice-rolls "to something better resembling an immersive sim", "more realist"...

    - Dark Messiah of Might and Magic

    - Bioshock

    - Stalker

    - Fallout 3

    - Dishonored

    - Prey

    :hmmm:


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immersive_sim

    https://www.pcgamer.com/history-of-the-best-immersive-sims/
     
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  25. zwanzig_zwoelf Graverobber Foundation Developer

    zwanzig_zwoelf
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    Meanwhile in 1988.


    (or 1989, with higher resolution graphics and less choppy movement)
     
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