New readers may wish to read my History Lessons Introduction first. Also be sure to read part 1 before continuing. Later entries are here: part 3, part 4. Other History Lessons posts can be found here.
At the end of part 1, I was marveling at Betrayal at Krondor’s open world, which left me free to wander the length of the Kingdom instead of attending to my rather pressing business. This is certainly not an unfamiliar concept; most recently, Skyrim embraced the same philosophy, and I’ve written about it at length. But in 1993, when Betrayal at Krondor was released, it was a more novel notion. Or at least, providing a world that feels like a real place populated by real people was. Other role-playing games, like Might and Magic: Book One, gave the player a world to wander freely, but these were abstractions — Might and Magic’s tile-based world was a symbolic representation rather than a realistic one, full of random battles with strange beasts and a lot of other things that didn’t really make sense. Today’s games, like Skyrim, instead try to offer a believable place to explore, with a recognizable landscape and culture. I was quite impressed with Skyrim’s achievement in this regard. So playing Betrayal at Krondor, which was one of the first games to try it, has been fascinating.