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Role Playing (Games)

The Platinum Age of CRPGs 112

Matt Barton writes "I've just posted my third (and final) installment on CRPG history at GamaSutra: The Platinum and Modern Ages. This article covers the many classics released between 1994 and 2004, including Fallout, Planescape: Torment, Ultima Underworld, and of course Baldur's Gate, Diablo, and The Elder Scrolls. It also discusses why WoW and other MMORPGs aren't descended from these CRPGs (but rather MUDs). The Platinum Age produced the finest CRPGs ever made — but the future of the stand-alone, single-player CRPG looks grim."
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The Platinum Age of CRPGs

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  • Nethack (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mandelbr0t ( 1015855 ) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @12:09PM (#18703375) Journal
    Bah. The single-player CRPG is not dead, and it never will be. I've only ascended 3 of the total classes, now working on Monk :)
    • by Wylfing ( 144940 )

      I don't think know if nethack qualifies as an RPG, does it? I don't think Diablo does either, because Diablo is essentially graphical nethack (well, maybe not nethack, but rogue-alike anyway). Rogue and all its descendants are...something else.

      • Re:Nethack (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Cheapy ( 809643 ) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:05PM (#18704413)
        Nethack is what you make it. Most players choose the "homicidal kleptomaniac" role however. Play a Knight, and you have a code to follow. Same for Monks and Samurai (to a lesser extent).

        So there are some roles to play...but it'd be hard to justify it as a CRPG. However, RPGs have taken a different meaning from role-playing games. An RPG is more of a 'hack'n'slash' if anything else now.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          "An RPG is more of a 'hack'n'slash' if anything else now."

          Give me a break, RPG's were based on old war miniature board games and the like. Go look at one of the most famous games of all time, a text game - Legend of the red dragon from the BBS days, a text game based heavily on combat, stats and humorously written one liners. The thing is because of the lack of graphics the text was input for the hugest creativity engine in existence: Your brain. You fill in the gaps and imagine things while playing the
        • by mcvos ( 645701 )

          RPGs have taken a different meaning from role-playing games.

          Huh? RPGs are roleplaying games. I think you mean CRPGs here. They tend to be a completely different animal, focusing much more on combat and combat prowess than real RPGs. The only exception ofcourse being Torment.

      • The Diablo makers apparently cited nethack as their main inspiration, so you could call it that, but I suspect it has more in common with other roguelikes, with mostly random magical artifacts and so on, and of course it doesn't even come close to nethack on the attention to silly detail.
  • ..for Fallout 3.

    Bethesdasoft + original Fallout universe, atmosphere, and dark humor = cannot possibly fail.

    At least that's what I'm desperately hoping for.
    • Unfortunately, with Bethesda at the helm, Fallout 3 stands to have more bugs than Fallout 2 did.

      http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/04/11/ 1629209 [slashdot.org]

      Not trolling, I've just been burned too many times by stupid bugs that have slipped through QA.

      • Meh. Such a pedestrian bug, and easily fixable. Fallout II had a lot of bugs worse than that.
        • Oh, hell yeah! Anyone remember the disappearing car bug (that took MULTIPLE patch versions to actually *fix*)? Sure, folks: pack that trunk with all your inventory, and watch it magically disappear. Did you put a story-critical item in that trunk? You poor fuck, you're screwed! Just one of many major bugs.

          Nevermind that you had to restart the game from scratch if you wanted the new patches, because your old saves wouldn't work. You people are nuts if you think Oblivion is buggier than Fallout 2...they
    • but just think of the ESRB rating its gonna get - I mean it was cool enough (read: comically gory) in plain, isometric 2d - but to have that in full 3d? Jack Thompson sure ain't gonna be happy about this with peoples ribcages getting shot out...
      • Jacko's not going to care if it doesn't make the Top 10 Bestsellers list. Its not like he's gone after *any* of the really gory, exploitive games - just the ones that had extremely deep pockets and met his narrow view of "what's bad".
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      "Oblivion with guns" is what we'll get, and that is semantically equivalent to a steaming pile of bloody dog shit.

      Bethesda has made exactly nothing worth a damn since Daggerfall. Oblivion was the first game in a LONG time I uninstalled without beating it.

      Leonard Boyarsky isn't involved. Tim Cain isn't involved. Even Chris frigging Avellone isn't. It's like someone making Pulp Fiction II without Quentin Tarantino or any of the actors related to the first one. Pulp Fiction II would suck anyway, but it has zer
      • by zyl0x ( 987342 )
        Hey now, Morrowwind was a pretty in-depth and expansive game. But I agree with you about Oblivion: they went for shiny instead of interesting.
      • A-fucking-men. Oblivion is highly-polished garbage compared to the kind of potential Daggerfall hinted at. Granted, it's got some nice *content*, but it's bolted on top of the worst game system I've ever encountered in an RPG. Diablo II has more character customization depth. I don't know how anyone can trust Bethsoft to make a decent game. Expect another Monkey Island 4.
      • by afidel ( 530433 )
        Bethesda has made exactly nothing worth a damn since Daggerfall.

        I would disagree, I quite enjoyed Magic and Mayhem: The Art of Magic as well as the original Magic and Mayhem.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by crossmr ( 957846 )
      Are you kidding me?
      Do they let you on the internet with that kind of brain damage?
      I seriously hope you were being sarcastic, because Bethesda is going to bend Fallout over whatever piece of office furniture is close enough and violate it repeatedly while laughing all the way to the bank on the backs of those who did not learn last time.

      • But if Fallout 3 is based on the Oblivion engine then modders should be able to take the basic game and mod in all the dark humour from the original.
        • by crossmr ( 957846 )
          Wow... so you're going rely on the modders to provide a proper fall out game? That seems like a completely reasonable way to go about it.
  • by Bloke down the pub ( 861787 ) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @12:12PM (#18703425)
    The trouble with Platinum is, where do you go from there? It's like an amp that only goes up to 10.
  • Truth! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Friedrich Psitalon ( 777927 ) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @12:14PM (#18703481)
    Part of the reason for the rise and decline of these games can be traced to the computing power of the eras. RPGs were getting better and better because the ability to make them more appealing - graphically, sound (voice quality, etc) were improving. It became easier to develop a more immersive environment, and so more and more attention went to writing a story that could show off the quality that was possible.

    Unfortunately, with the rise of greater and easier connectivity, the ability to play RPG's with more friends came - and thus we saw the rise of the MMORPG. Although they might have first envisioned being more RPG than MUD, the popularity of the games erased Role-Playing very quickly. (Joe Sixpack likes killing monsters, but doesn't give a damn about "Thou and thee.")

    What would it take for a great single-player RPG now? A game so enjoyable that it overshadows the enjoyment factor of playing a similar game with hundreds of others. Humans are social creatures, by and large, so that will be very tough to do. It won't be a hack-and-slash dungeon crawler in any case; that genre is utterly oversaturated in MMORPGs.

    If another great RPG series is developed, my money is on a Fallout/Shadowrun-genre RPG; it's about the only genre not super-satured (ignoring the embarassing Matrix attempt at it) in the MMO world. (Though, in all honesty, the idea of playing a Shadowrun MMORPG....whew. I'm in, chummers.)
    • by SQLGuru ( 980662 )

      What would it take for a great single-player RPG now? A game so enjoyable that it overshadows the enjoyment factor of playing a similar game with hundreds of others.


      • Or Final Fantasy XII, if you count the occasional console game.

        Single player isn't dead, but the days of mediocre single player are gone. You need a kicking story, excellent voice talent (or writing talent), and a good interface. Otherwise it's just not going to cut it in a competitive market.
    • by pla ( 258480 )
      RPGs were getting better and better because the ability to make them more appealing - graphically, sound (voice quality, etc) were improving.

      Yes and no...

      As a point of reference, I would guess that we can probably agree that FF7 represented the high-point of console RPGs, for which it owes an enormous debt to the graphics capabilities of the PSX. At the same time, though, it had quite a powerful story behind it that would have made it still turn out a huge success even if Square had made it for the SN
      • You forgot Star Ocean 2. Far better than anything Square ever made.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by servognome ( 738846 )

        Pretty graphics killed gameplay long before the first "M" in "MMORPG" became practical

        That argument has been used and reused since the introduction of graphics. Pretty graphics and a boring game were a problem almost 20 years ago. The landscape of games hasn't changed, there always has been 10 bad games for every great game, it's just our memories filter out the bad when we reflect on the past

        "When everything is put together, Legend of Blacksilver is
        somewhat disappointing. The game is fine on a tec

    • In my humble opinion, the best console RPGs were developed during the SNES and PSX eras. I actually think that with all this technological advancement since then, the typical game designer is focusing less and less on story and gameplay, and more on making their game a glorified multimedia presentation. It was with that thought in mind that I began developing my own RPG, reminiscent of "the old days" that I miss so dearly. I quickly learned that developing a game (especially in your spare time) is an incred
    • What would it take for a great single-player RPG now?

      Honestly, I think it just takes a highly driven creative team to sit down and go: "let's recapture the experience that Fallout/Diablo/Final Fantasy" brough to the table. Ya know, before cutscenes and poly counts became so important."

      Ultimately, it's just another form of narrative just like all other genres of gaming, but it's not equal to others. If anything it superceeds the requirements for action and puzzle titles by a landslide. It's a richer desi
  • the Palladium Age of CRPGS to come.

    That is a CRPG where the single player story is good with a good engine to go with it. And it has multiplayer that allows you to play the campaign with friends, and better of all you don't need to pay a monthly subscription.

    Sort of like Neverwinter Nights, but prettier, more flexible. Also ideally, I would like a game where you don't have to churn through combat to earn level advancements, sort of like some of the Ultima games (Ultima 7) but have enough activity to satisfy
  • Parts I and II (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mortanius ( 225192 ) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @12:16PM (#18703509) Homepage
    FYI, here's Part I (The Early Years 1980-1983) [gamasutra.com] and Part II (The Golden Age 1985-1993) [gamasutra.com].

    Might save you a little digging as for some reason part I doesn't show up on his bio.
    • So the Golden Age, a period of 8 years, is seperated from the Platinum Age, a period of 10 years, by a boundary of 0-1 years? Why no love for December 31st, 1993 to January 1st, 1994?
  • forgive my ignorance, but what does CRPG stand for? Is this some new phrase used instead of RPG?
    • by dave1g ( 680091 )
      computer or console RPG according to wikipedia. I had to look it up too. I've never heard that one before.
      • by penp ( 1072374 )
        The title of the article is "The History of Computer Role-Playing Games Part III: The Platinum and Modern Ages (1994-2004)."

        What's to miss?
        • by dave1g ( 680091 )
          You RTFA?????? It doesn't appear in the summary is the point.
        • pfft... Must be young-uns or something incomprehensible about thems peoples. I have been using the term CRPG since the 80s.
          • I have been using the term CRPG since the 80s.

            And rightly so, considering the huge difference between the media. I'm still hoping for a real single-player RPG for the computer, but I fear that'll never happen. So far, for roleplaying on the computer, email seems to work best (although some prefer IMs).

  • Ahh, the sole reason I was learning english at the age of 8, perhaps 9, I don't remember it quite well. My best gaming memories revolve around this game, the perfect mix of gameplay, graphics, sound (the intro music is literally burnt into my mind) and plot, and, considering not only games, but also computer hardware was quite hard to get where I live at that time, I'd say I'm quite lucky to know it. I even have my old notebook, where I wrote down all the mantras and runespells I've discovered. It's the lit
    • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
      and it brings up other memories too, of running special boot disks with custom configurations to squeeze out every ounce of potential non-performance from that creaking old system....
  • by kinglink ( 195330 ) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @12:39PM (#18703917)
    Ok Might and magic 6-8 are personal favorites, and morrowind is amazing, but when I want to really "RPG" I spent my time on different MUDs, because they gave the player freedom to do what they want and play in which world they wanted. It was a great and different experience every time you logged onto a different mud. Interconnected worlds where you could chat with people, unique monsters you could never find anywhere else. I worked on a mud and the best part is a week of code could create something radically different, versus working in the game industry where it will take at least a month of code + animators to even implement simple thoughts.

    But calling something the ______ age always makes me think that the people can't remember crap. You know how the NES was the "golden age of games" Heaven forbid we remember that most games used odd passwords (Willow, river city ransom) for saves, there was at least 10 games that were clones of the "classics" we cherish now. Games were unbelievably hard to the point that they made the game genie and so on. We can still play the "classics" but wishing us back into that hell where crap piled up faster then the gems would only make the masochist happy.

    I loved Diablo, I didn't love Nox, and the other 5 or 6 clones of Diablo that came out right after Diablo. We can complain about games now but then 10 years from now people will be talking about how great oblivion and World of Warcraft is compared to the "crap" they have then.

    It's great that this guy believes that the 1994 to 2004 is the "best time for RPGs" but hell, World of Warcraft is a fun game too. But bitching about the fact that games now are more similar to MUDs than CRPGs ignores the real fact of the industry.

    THE PC IS DYING! He approaches this thought but seems to miss it. PC game sales have decreased over the years to the point where the industry is writing it off. A great game on the PC sells less than half what it would if it is on a console. Hell a MODERATE game on the console still outsells the best games on the PC and the industry knows this. The reason is up to the reader to figure out but KOTOR was ported to the XBOX. There's many more CRPGs taking that path (morrowind, oblivion, fable). CRPGs are just appearing in different places than just the PC.

    I have been finding Gamasutra to be the rantings and whining of game industry's past heros. Guys who have been there, done that, but never got their name out there. There's good articles but this isn't changing my opinion that in general the articles there are either agenda pieces or rantings.
    • "THE PC IS DYING".... ...hmm. You uh, miss that whole "World of Warcraft" thing, amigo?
      • Except you seem to miss where 1 game means it's thriving. I said dying. It's far from dead. The world of Warcraft thing though is very different than 99 percent of other games out there.

        PC games are thriving in a couple areas, one of those being MMORPG, or games based on a pay to play style where the player is paying for the service rather then the game. I hardly think that means PC games are still viable as anyone who isn't doing a MMO will be selling the game. MMOs sell the service (of playing a game
    • The PC is dying? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fotbr ( 855184 )
      Show me ONE flight sim for consoles that sold as well as ANY of the MS Flight Simulator series. Hell, show me one flight sim for consoles, period. They don't exist. The closest you can come are arcade shoot-em-ups that involve shooting from a plane, but there's NO emphasis on accuracy of the flight models, or physics, or anything else except making the explosions look good.

      Same goes for racing simulations. Many arcade "racing" games, no real emphasis on being an accurate simulation. Sadly, in the case
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kinglink ( 195330 )
        Keep believing that because sales continue to drop, not rise.

        Flight Sim? MS Flight Sim sells VERY well, do you think we will never see a MS Flight Sim on the 360? There's a number of flight games that have combat in them (Ace combat has semi realism while maintaining a combat atmosphere) however at the same time the MS Flight Simulator is the ONLY Flight Simulator that sells pretty much anywhere. There's one for a Apple computer but that's about it. So claiming that consoles don't have a flight simulator
        • by Knara ( 9377 )
          I think that the PC will remain king for games that require a highly customizable/customized interface. MMOs and flight sims fall into that category. It's a weakness of the console world that any game control system that isn't able to be distilled down to 6-8 buttons and 2 analog joysticks will require some pretty clever contextual interfaces in order to be usable. And those that can't, better be appealing to a wide range of players or it'll flop (see Guitar Hero and Steel Battalion for opposite ends on
    • It's true. I have yet to see /any/ environment that provides the same role play environment that classic muds have to offer.

      I started mudding in the BBS days, and still actively play today. The immersion factor is surprising to many people who know roleplaying either only as a table-top thing, with a lot of Mountain Dew, or as something that involves graphics.

      [shameless plug] MudConnector (http://www.mudconnect.com/top10.html [mudconnect.com]) currently ranks Dark and Shattered Lands (DSL)(http://www.dsl-mud.org/ [dsl-mud.org] - telnet
    • KOTOR was ported to the PC from the XBox.

      I find it amusing that the article makes no mention of Final Fantasy, ChronoTrigger or the Mana series to name a few. Actually nothing except 'western-developed' PC games. Just a little myopic.
  • Maybe you don't know but there's a Free Open Source project to revive the wonderful RPG game Fallout under modern OS's:
    http://www.fifengine.de/ [fifengine.de]
    and they need your help too.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )
      There are so many great open source ports of old games. The Ur-Quan Masters, lots of stuff for ScummVM, source ports of doom, I wonder if there's a list compiled somewhere?
    • by pNutz ( 45478 )
      Eh? Fallout and Fallout2 run fine under WinXP, dontchaknow? Fallout 1 only takes a little .ini file meddling to get it to install properly. The map editor was even released before interplay when into cryogenic stasis. This project looks stagnant as well, so what's the point?
  • Grim for us all as well as the games. I've played most of the MMOG's, and even when I'm playing them, I still miss the experience of games like PlanetScape: Torment and Icewind Dale. Elder Scrolls is decent, but I think the best hope for CRPG's is in the console market. Some excellent titles have been released.

    My prediction is that we will see a resurgence of the genre after the MMOG furor subsides and virtual economies work themselves out. Then stand-alone RPG's will be seen as a pleasant retro or

    • by Xtense ( 1075847 )
      It is a grim future, with lots of explosions and partial nudity.
    • "In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war", so screw computer games anyhow.

      I have to disagree with you though. The industry is pushing deeper and deeper into online play and there's no evidence that it's going to let up. Part of the problem is that the MMO genre attracts a lot of players that are playing the game for purposes other than roleplaying. There's nothing really wrong with that, but if you pick up World of Warcraft expecting to bring glory and honor to the Horde, expect to play
    • by pNutz ( 45478 )
      NO! Do not tarry into the forbidden desert of Console! All ways look alike, and you will die without dialog!

      Seriously there's several RPGs on the PC worth looking forward to, several of which should come out within the next year (clipped from one of my earlier posts):

      The Black Hound [googlepages.com] - Originally was in production at Black Isle as Baldur's Gate 3 (though it has nothing to do with BG1 or BG2) but was canned when it was nearly complete. Josh Sawyer, the original game's Lead Designer who's now working at Obsidi
  • and he'll come back with all his friends demanding a bigger, sweeter, better cookie each time.

    Most CRPG developer simply couldn't keep up or implement user made content. Ultima, Wizardry and basically any Sierra adventure game all failed in this manner. Games like Nethack, Neverwinter Nights 1 (2 is a buggy mess) and the Elder Scrolls succeeded and continue to enjoy success as traditional CRPGs.

    There was a point in gaming history when the CRPG was viewed as the "hard" genre; the genre that required the la

    • Last time I checked, Nethack was still offering a silent, static screen of text as an ending with nothing else to do but play again as a different class.
      Yeah, but there's a certain sense of accomplishment in knowing that you're now the nerdiest person in a 100-mile radius.
    • Nethack has source avaliable, but isn't really extensible. Most things in the game, from monster stats to T-shirt messages are hard-coded in C, and not very pretty C either. There are some attempts at scripting dungeon layout, but if you change the dungeon.des script, don't count on things to work just because they should.

      If you try to modify the hard-coded stuff, you're very likely to get a buggy mess. All of the spin-offs are much, much buggier than vanilla because of the monstrously entangled complexity
  • Of all the games I played back then (and i played a LOT), the one i have a great fondness for was Autoduel.

    Not because the game was great (it was merely good) but because the game came with a packet of small tools.

    Which were very useful in doing computer repairs. I cursed when I lost that tool packet a few years ago during a move.
  • Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines was great though, despite requiring an unofficial mod at times to get around the occasional bug. It's just too bad that the plot fizzled out at the very end. Troika obviously didn't have enough time (or resources, considering their abrupt bankruptcy shortly after) to properly polish the game, or even branch out the later parts of the story. It's sad to know that true roleplaying experiences are getting rarer and rarer (from already having been rather rare), and all beca
  • by eviloverlordx ( 99809 ) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:44PM (#18705099)
    Apparently, he thinks that Dante wrote Paradise Lost. While I think that he meant The Divine Comedy, he really needs someone to check his work.
  • by kalirion ( 728907 ) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:27PM (#18705823)

    To my mind, the games that really represent the best of the genre appeared during the period I've termed the "Platinum Age," which begins in 1996 with the publication of three very important games, Origin's Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (1992), Blizzard's Diablo, and Bethesda's Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall (both 1996)....

    So the Platinum Age began in 1996 with the publication of a game from 1992?
  • by Etyenne ( 4915 ) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:31PM (#18705889)
    The guy completely miss the point of Neverwinter Nights. He talked only about the original campaign (OC), the scenario that came "in the box", which is IMHO pretty average. The real genius of NWN is that it's more than a game, it's a platform for CRPG development. It created a development community around the game that is not entirely different than what you would find around an Open-Source development platform such as PHP or Ruby on Rail. From modules to custom content (such as artwork, monster, etc) to hackpak that modified the game engine behavior, everything was open to the community. I cannot think of a single game that had as much fan content made and distributed. You could play NWN for years using just the highest rated modules from the community, all distributed for free. Not only that, but Bioware embraced the community, incorporated community developed material back into the product and still actively encourage development to this day.

    Forget the OC. Go buy NWN Planitinium from the nearest bargain bin, and play the Dreamcatcher, Shadowlord, Kosigan and Penultimate series of modules. There are hundreds of hours of gameplay to be had from what the community developed, with some of the most engrossing storyline in the CRPG genre. Neglecting to acknowledge this is the the most glaring overlook from this Gamasutra article.

    Did I mention it have a native Linux port ?
    • by Etyenne ( 4915 )
      I got carried away and totally forgot to mention the great networked multiplayer capabilities of NWN. Basically, with NWN, anybody could start a so-called "persistent world" and run its very own MMORPG. And many did.

      Also, AFAIK, this is the only CRPG that integrate the notion of a game master, which make it the closest you can get to the real pen-and-paper RPG.

      Again, the Gamasutra article completely failed to acknowledge these.
  • For me, it's too much eye candy today. The driving force behind RPG's was to use one's imagination. You couldn't see the six foot flaming sword in the iron golem's hand. And this was true of the CRPG's that we reminisce about. Ultima series, TSR's Gold box series, Wizardry series and the likes. You only saw a static low res pic of what was going on. You had to imagine that the pitiful sound comming out of the PC speaker was the crack of a high-powered round. And they usually had a good story line that kept
    • I recently cranked up the C64 emulator and played my favs Wizard's Crown, Eternal Dagger, and Wasteland. Still great fun after 15 years. Nowdays, there is very little to imagine. Just eye candy in 'real time'.
      Note the games you decided to play, CRPG classics. 15 years ago people made the same complaint you do because the majority of games then were boring eye candy.
  • FTA:

    Better known Diablo clones include Gathering's Darkstone (1999), Electronic Art's Nox (2001), Irrational Games' Freedom Force (2002) ...|snip|... Freedom Force introduced comic book style superheroes and is probably the best of the bunch. It offered a viable alternative to the "dark" fantasy of Diablo and more tactical combat. Vivendi published the sequel in 2005, Freedom Force vs The 3rd Reich.

    Seriously, since when has Freedom Force been considered a Diablo clone?
  • Still reading TFA, but I thought I'd throw this thought out.

    So many games have made major steps forward or backward in the genre of CRPGs. The Ultima series stands out on both of those counts (F U EA!). What I find truly interesting is that some games are so good or at least make such an impression on someone that it gets resurrected in some form or fashion.

    At some point Ultima IV was re-written for Windows and released on a PC Gamer (?) CD.

    Dedicated fans of Ultima V have released an excellent Dungeon S

    • There may still be hope. There was a guy at fundable.org who solicted funds for developing a clone of an old CRPG which I never had heard of. Apparently he did raise the money and publish the game. Perhaps it can be scaled up?
  • I don't think the article does Planescape:Torment justice. I mean, it does call it a cult hit and a work of art, and I realise it didn't sell as well as Baldur's Gate 2 or Falout, but to many die-hard pen-and-paper roleplaying purists who, like me, don't really think most CRPGs deserve to be called Roleplaying games, Torment is the only game that deserves that title, or at least comes close to it. Torment holds a very special place in the CRPG pantheon, and I think that deserved a bit more emphasis.

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein