Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dnd (computer game)
dnd was a computer role playing game written for the PLATO System by Gary Whisenhunt and Ray Wood at Southern Illinois University in the mid-1970's. Dirk Pellett of Iowa State University and Flint Pellett of University of Illinois made substantial enhancements to the game from 1976 to 1985.
dnd was probably the third dungeon crawl game written for PLATO. The first such game, known as pedit5, was deleted just a few months after it was created. The second game, m199h, was created in a lesson space for foreign language instruction, and it was similarly deleted as soon as its illicit purpose was discovered.
In dnd, a player would create a character and then venture into the multi-level Whisenwood Dungeon in search of treasure and the famous 'orb'. The dungeon was populated by an assortment of monsters and treasures. The orb itself was kept in a treasure room deep within the dungeon. Protecting the orb in the treasure room was a powerful Golden Dragon and a number of lesser monsters. If the character defeated the Golden Dragon, retrieved the orb and made it out of the dungeon, the character would be retired to the Elysian Fields. The characters name would then be inscribed for all to see when others visited dnd.
Subsequent revisions of the game added more dungeons, such as The Caverns and The Tomb, with different creatures guarding different treasures (such as the Grim Reaper guarding The Fountain), and the player had to obtain both The Orb and The Grail to win. Also, many different types of miscellaneous treasures were added over the years.
dnd was the first video game that placed the player within a story with a beginning, a middle, a climax, a denoument and an end. dnd also was the first video game to attempt humor and irony within the game. Later PLATO games, such as Rogue, were patterned upon dnd.
dnd had several innovations that have since become staples in modern computer role playing games. The game used a complex battle structure where different weapons inflicted different damage on different monsters, thus requiring a player to learn the best weapon to use against each monster. Also, the game used teleporters to move characters between levels (especially the Excelsior Transporter, which first appeared in dnd on PLATO), thus eliminating the need to have stairs in the dungeon. dnd was the first role playing game to have a store where the player could buy magic items: Aumakua's Alchemy sold potions, and Korona's Armory sold hardware such as magic swords and rings.
dnd also tied the "level of the game" to the "difficulty." The strength of the monsters encountered by a player increased as he/she ventured deeper into the dungeon. For example, monsters on Level 1 were generally weaker (i.e., easier to kill) than those on Level 2, and monsters on Level 2 were weaker than those on Level 3, and so on.
Additionally, dnd was the first video game to use a boss enemy—a special monster with powers far beyond those of the other monsters which had to be defeated in order to finish the game. With a different boss for each dungeon, dnd established the framework for the modern video game.
As to "why" a boss was created, Ray Wood explains, "People played the other dungeon crawl game, but, after exploring the entire dungeon, there was really nothing else to do. So, we thought, why don't we give them a goal? We put in the orb at a deep level of the dungeon, but it wasn't fun. You just walked up to it and got it. To make it more interesting, we then had a monster pop up at the same location as the orb. But, that proved too easy for someone who had gone through 7 or 8 levels of the dungeon. So, we wrote a special module just to handle the 'finding of the orb', and put a super monster (the golden dragon) and lots of 'regular' monsters at the same spot as the orb"
"We argued about whether to retire the character or not, but we finally decided, 'Hey, if someone actually got the orb, certainly there can't be anything more he would want to do.' It turned out people would beat it with one character, and then beat it with different character. Neither Gary nor I could get close to winning the darn game, so we put in a 'cheat mode' for testing purposes."
Thus, by combining these elements, dnd pioneered the creation of a self-contained, internally consistent computer universe where players could interactively immerse themselves in the story line.
The game proved enormously popular on PLATO and continued to be played until PLATO was finally deactivated. Even with its elementary graphics, the game's playability and popularity continued well into the era of the Nintendo Entertainment System.
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