D&D a popular series of tabletop RPG’s has been around for a while… since 1974 to be exact. Early video game adaptions were products of their time to say the least. Archaic by what we have today they were ground breaking back then. The first official video game adaption appears in the late 80’s. Pool of radiance(circa 1988) is the first official game that was licensed officially as a D&D video game.
Pool of Radiance’s was designed by Jim Ward, David Cook, Steve Winter, and Mike Breault. Many of these people were very influential in the development of AD&D and the further development of tabletops and and writing for other Intellectual properties over the years. Several sequels were released over the next few years for Poole of Radiance. Curse of the Azure Bonds (1989), Secret of the Silver Blades (1990), and Pools of Darkness (1991) most of these are referred to
as goldbox games and continue into the late 90’s. it should be noted you were able to port your party to next game in the series generally easing your initial gameplay difficulties.
“First person view for pool of radiance pictured above”
In the early 90’s we got Eye of the Beholder(circa 1990) and Eye of the Beholder II: The legend of Darkmoon (circa 1991) these were the first D&D video games I played personally. The first person view with maze like dungeons was a common element in Video Games during the 90’s. Ultima, Elderscrolls, and even DOOM had this all in common. While I can say the level designs in Eye of the beholder were less chaotic than the more random design of the Elderscrolls series. Where as in most of the Gold Box D&D games display a first person maze for exploration and shifted to a basic isometric view for combat with some exceptions.
“Eye of the beholder first person view pictured bellow”
Combat was complicated not being experienced in the AD&D tabletop I had trouble with my early attempts at creating a sufficient party to traverse these games. The advent of FAQ’s and walkthroughs eased this pain significantly in my latter playthroughs.
At the same time we also had Pools of Darkness and Neverwinter Nights release in 1991. Pools of Darkness is not to be confused with the 1988 game Pools of Radiance. It sported a level cap of 40 and featured some of the toughest monsters from AD&D. Moving down the line we had Gateway to the Savage frontier(1991), treasures of the Savage Frontier(1992), Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmscape(1992) Eye of the Beholder III: assault on Myth Drannor (1993), Forgotten Realms: Unlimited Adventures, Dungeon Hack (1993) Menzoberranzan(1994) Blood& Magic(1996) Descent to Undermountain(1998)
“spelljammer’s isometric view pictured bellow”
The games mentioned above general all had a similar feel and gameplay. Except for Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmscape which featured ship combat and isometric gameplay. Also Blood & Magic was an RTS playing similar to Dune II and Warcraft. Another item of note was that Neverwinter Nights was an MMORPG and the first to feature graphics as opposed to being purely text based.
“Bauldr’s Gate’s Isometric 2.5/3d view pictured bellow”
And finally in 1998 we had Bauldr’s Gate which played as a Top-down Isometric third-person RPG. This broke the tradition of mainly exploring first person. While the first Game in the catalogue of D&D Video Games to play in this fashion. It set the standard for tabletop RPG adaptions for over 20 years.