Computer RPGs and I have a long history, since I was a computer nerd from way back. I played Telengard and Zork and a bunch that no one has ever heard of. Today I am going to talk about D&D CRPGs.
The first one I played was "Pool of Radiance", which I have to admit I watched my friend Darryl play a lot more than I played myself. The entire "Gold Box" line from SSI was pretty much the same. They were essentially fairly long D&D modules, set in either the Forgotten Realms or Krynn. They were menu driven and the later ones had some mouse control options. I forget how many there were ultimately. I think the best ones were the first two, "Pool of Radiance" and "Curse of the Azure Bonds". I never finished any of them. They had a hard time holding my interest after a while because of the limitations of the format and the fact that I had plenty of opportunities to play actual live D&D with people.
The things I liked about them were the lessons I learned about D&D tactical combat and the house rules I picked up from them for my real D&D games, like holding your action. That was a big one. Holding your action may seem like an obvious rule now, but no one I ever played with had ever considered the benefit of going later than their initiative previous to then. Mind you we were teen-agers, but still. Even wargaming hadn't made us think of it because they pretty much all work on an I-go-you-go system too, with occasional breaks for opportunity fire. I may lament the fact that D&D has become a tactical miniatures combat game now, but tactics are real and were always important.
The other thing I liked was that the "Gold Box" format made my transition to online gaming easier via "Neverwinter Nights", the first one, that only was available on AOL, not the later one that everyone has heard of or played. "Neverwinter Nights" was a "Gold Box" game and the only one using that engine that was designed for multiplayer use. We used to get a couple of hundred people playing at a time. We had guilds and quests and special events more than a decade before WoW arrived on the scene. I founded a guild- The Steppe Warriors- with Darryl, who at the time was living in Utah. We figured it was the only way we could play together. I could go on at great length about the community and what an awesome time was had by all or the Steppe Warriors (I miss you guys) but I'll save that for another time.