Vintage Bits: How G.O.G. Rescued the Classic Forgotten Realms Computer Games

Vintage Bits: How G.O.G. Rescued the Classic Forgotten Realms Computer Games

Pool of Radiance SSI Gold Box-smallLast year I signed up at GOG.com, the digital video game distribution platform, because they had great deals on classic RPGs. I’m not kidding — this site requires some serious self control. I got Starflight & Starflight 2 for just $2.99, Planescape: Torment for $3.99, Wizardry 6 & 7 for $2.99, and Baldur’s Gate for $3.99. Best of all, they did all the hard work of converting the games to run on modern versions of Windows, so I could stop fussing around with DOSBox and my Amiga emulator. GOG is owned by CD Projekt, a Polish company that also owns CD Projekt RED, the developer behind the popular Witcher games.

A few weeks ago I was delighted to discover they were now offering a package deal on my all-time favorite computer role playing games — SSI’s Pool of Radiance and its various sequels, the so-called Gold Box games. I bought a package of eight games for $9.99 (and I swear I’m going to play them soon. All of ’em!) But I hadn’t realized the amazing story behind GOG’s new offering — that in order to secure these classic games, the company had to navigate a legal ownership maze to obtain the rights, before they could begin the hard work of converting them for modern platforms. Dan Griliopoulos at PC Gamer posted an excellent article yesterday exploring just what was involved:

With the trail running cold, GOG tracked down SSI’s original President and founder, Joel Billings. “As a huge fan of D&D he was willing to help walk us through a detailed history behind SSI mergers and narrow the search down to two potential candidates: Mattel, or Gores Technology Group (who had acquired The Learning Company). The latter was a hit. We had found the actual rights owners to the Forgotten Realms games, and after several more months of negotiations, they agreed to sell them to us outright.”

GOG managed to recover thirteen games this way. They are: the party-based RPG Pool of Radiance; its sequels Curse of the Azure Bonds, Secret of the Silver Blades and Pools of Darkness; C&C creators Westwood’s minigame RPG Hillsfar; the RPG construction kit Unlimited Adventures; Westwood’s first-person Eye of the Beholder Trilogy; the roguelike FPS Dungeon Hack; the two Savage Frontier games; and the Ultima Underworld-like Underdark exploration game Menzoberranzan.

Then they had the not-so-small matter of getting all thirteen running and bug-free for modern systems including Windows 10. Considering these were huge games — and not bug free in their release versions — that’s a massive task that the GOG team has been working on since April.

Read the complete article at PC Gamer — and check out the amazing and fast-growing library of old games at GOG.com.

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Bob Byrne

I loved those gold box games, but I can’t imagine playing them again.

I had a hard enough time trying to play Baldur’s Gate for the ipad.

Those games really did not age well at all.

ChristianLindke

Baldur’s Gate plays well on the PC in the updated version. I cannot imagine trying those controls on a tablet. Then again, I can’t see playing Company of Heroes on a tablet either, or Diablo III, or Witcher.

As for the Gold Box games, I’ve purchased them and will likely introduce them to my daughters this weekend. They like Sonic and Link, but wonder why old Atari games are so hard.

CMR

These games are still really playable. Hopefully GOG did away with having to check page x in the manual for stuff. That said, I think not having a print manual will still hurt when playing these games. I’m sure they included it digitally, but there’s nothing like having the book laid open beside you.

CMR

Ah, wait, I thought something was missing. Where are the Krynn games?

NOLAbert

Pool of Radiance was a favorite game for me on the Commodore 64. I’m tempted to buy these out of nostalgia, but I’m too busy playing Wasteland 2 and making a dent to my to-read pile.

Joe H.

I’d also be interested in Dark Sun and Al-Qadim — those were my two favorites TSR campaign settings, I think.

But I have many, many books, and probably another 50-60 hours of Witcher 3, so they don’t have to rush on my account.

Tiberius

Loved them on the old amber screen XT. Also keen to see how well they aged, and to actually finish them! I think I replayed COAB a number of times and never quite finished. Ha still remember a tip from dragon magazine on how to game the characters experience.

Jackson Kuhl

Points for name-dropping Temple of Apshai. If there’s any CRPG out there most deserving of a reboot, it’s the Apshai series — though like many games, I’m sure the rights are forever consigned to the vaults of the slaadi lords of Limbo.

Bob Byrne

Jackson – I mentioned ‘Temple’ and ‘Upper Reaches’ this week here at Black Gate. I still remember mapping out every single room of both games on graph paper as I literally crawled through the dungeon.

I even played Gateway to Apshai on my Atari. It was very different from the earlier games (sort of real time combat vs. turn based), but it was still fun. I think that’s the one that had the deadly mamba snake.

https://www.blackgate.com/2016/09/19/the-public-life-of-sherlock-holmes-rpging-is-story-telling/

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