Wikipedia:WikiProject Video games/D&D/History
This is an informal, unsourced history of D&D video games, originally written by BOZ. It can be used as a starting point/reference for articles, but make sure you find reliable sources if you want to include any of it in an article. Feel free to modify this essay if you have more information.
History of D&D video games
OK, using the articles we have available here on Wikipedia, I compiled a little history of how the D&D game has been released on the computer format. :) My apologies for any inaccuracies; I'm sure there are more than a few, but that's why we use sources on actual articles. ;)
Early on there were apparently no officially licensed computer adaptations of D&D, although there were numerous unofficial knock-offs which were mostly written by college students, including dnd and Dungeon. Probably the first licensed D&D computer game was a handheld portable game manufactured in 1981, the Dungeons & Dragons Computer Fantasy Game. With the advent of the home video game console, TSR tried to get in on the act with a couple of games for Intellivision (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in 1982, later known as Cloudy Mountain, and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin in 1983); however, TSR must not have felt these were catching on and just stuck with the good old fashioned tabletop RPG for a few years.
Then, with the growing popularity of home computer gaming in the mid 1980s, TSR decided to license out their AD&D line to Strategic Simulations Inc (SSI), who went on to publish a few dozen games for their product line. Some of the SSI D&D games were developed by other companies, but for several years SSI seems to have had the exclusive publishing rights. The first game they produced was the first game using the highly popular "Gold Box engine", Pool of Radiance for the Forgotten Realms setting in 1988. The Forgotten Realms Gold Box series followed with Curse of the Azure Bonds (1989), Secret of the Silver Blades (1990), and Pools of Darkness (1991), and with a second series of Gold Box games comprised of Gateway to the Savage Frontier (1991) and Treasures of the Savage Frontier (1992). Hillsfar (1989) was not technically a Gold Box game, but it was designed to be compatible with Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds. Other Gold Box D&D games published by SSI include the Dragonlance series Champions of Krynn (1990), Death Knights of Krynn (1991), andThe Dark Queen of Krynn (1992), as well as Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace (1992). While the original Neverwinter Nights game (1991), purportedly the first graphical MMORPG and played exclusively on AOL, was not technically a Gold Box game, it clearly used the same engine. Forgotten Realms: Unlimited Adventures (1993), was likewise not truly a Gold Box game, but it was a tool that allowed enterprising amateur designers to create their own D&D scenarios using the Gold Box engine.
SSI released more than just the Gold Box games for D&D, though. In 1988, SSI released the Dragonlance game Heroes of the Lance, and its sequel Dragons of Flame in 1989 and Shadow Sorcerer in 1991. Also in 1989 came the Dragonlance computer game War of the Lance and then DragonStrike in 1990. SSI published the first Eye of the Beholder game in 1990, with two sequels following. The Gold Box engine was discontinued by 1993, allowing SSI to publish a number of additional games using different engines, including Fantasy Empires, Dark Sun: Shattered Lands, Stronghold, and Dungeon Hack in 1993, and Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager, Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse, and Menzoberranzan in 1994. SSI also produced a MMORPG named Dark Sun Online: Crimson Sands in 1996; its sequel Dark Sun Online: The Age of Heroes remains unreleased. Many of the most popular Forgotten Realms games produced up to that point were collected in The Forgotten Realms Archives, released in 1996.
TSR also began to branch out into other gaming systems in the early 1990s besides home computers, beginning by producing versions of several SSI games for the NES and other systems, such as Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Pool of Radiance in 1991. Westwood Studios, who had developed several games produced by SSI, developed two original games based on the Mystara setting for home consoles in 1992: Order of the Griffon for the TurboGrafx-16, andDungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun for the Sega Mega Drive. Capcom produced two beat-em-up style arcade games for the Mystara setting,Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom in 1993 and Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara in 1996; these two games would later be released on the Sega Saturn in 1999's Dungeons & Dragons Collection.
In 1996, TSR began licensing to other companies besides SSI. Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance (1996), was published by Sierra On-Line, and Blood & Magic(1996), and the first 3-D D&D computer game Descent to Undermountain (1997) were published by Interplay. (There were also a few Ravenloft games in there, but we don't have any articles on these.) Around this time, TSR had gotten itself into some serious financial trouble, and was purchased by Wizards of the Coast, who maintained the licensing agreement with Interplay initially.
Wizards began working with developers BioWare on what would become the most successful computer RPG for the D&D line in its first ten years: Baldur's Gatein 1998. The Baldur's Gate series proved quite popular, and the line was expanded (see the Category for Baldur's Gate). An expansion pack, Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast, was released in 1999. Interplay also released Black Isle Studios' Planescape: Torment in 1999, and Icewind Dale in 2000, both based on the same engine as Baldur's Gate. The Icewind Dale series included the expansion pack Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter (2001) and sequel Icewind Dale II(2002). The popularity of the original Baldur's Gate allowed it to spawn a sequel, Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn in 2000, with an expansion Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal in 2001. Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor, released by Ubisoft in 2001, was purported to be a sequel to the original Gold Box series. Atari published The Temple of Elemental Evil in 2003, Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone in 2004, Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard in 2005, and Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach in 2006.
Meanwhile, Wizards continued to expand the D&D video game line into other gaming console formats. The popularity of the Baldur's Gate series spawned theBaldur's Gate: Dark Alliance series for the PS2 and other gaming systems; Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance was released in 2001, and its sequel Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II was released in 2004. The Greyhawk setting's Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes was released in 2003 for the Xbox. Dungeons & Dragons Tacticswas released for the PSP in 2007.
BioWare released Neverwinter Nights in 2002, which began the extremely popular Neverwinter Nights series (see the Category for Neverwinter Nights). Expansion packs were released for the game, including Shadows of Undrentide (2003), Hordes of the Underdark (2003), and Kingmaker (2004). While users could produce their own modules for this game, a few official modules were released including Kingmaker (2004) and Pirates of the Sword Coast (2005). The original game's sequel, Neverwinter Nights 2, was released in 2006, along with expansion packs Mask of the Betrayer (2007), Storm of Zehir (2008), and the yet-to be releasedMysteries of Westgate.