I have a lot of happy memories of playing LAN RPGs in the late 90s and early 2000s. Diablo, Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale (1 & 2), Neverwinter Nights, the list goes on. For me these games were always about playing them with my partner via a local network. We didn’t get into Planescape Torment because it was single player only. Much more recently I had the same issue with Dragon Age 1 and Mass Effect, why bother playing a single player RPG when I could play an MMO with friends? It’s sad that so few RPGS released other than MMOs actually have a decent multiplayer option now, I do wonder whether the move to consoles has something to do with this.
The old LAN RPG gaming days had a lot more depth to the gameplay though and generally some pretty fantastic storylines. Icewind Dale was the real standout game for me though and not (as most would say) Baldurs Gate. Why? Well Icewind Dale treated you the players just like any normal pen and paper RPG group. You created your own characters and the computer as GM brought the story. Other games were very heavily into the player as ‘unique super powerful hero’ type storylines, where your character is a very central figure in events going on in the game world. While this story style can work very well, it can also easily be overdone.
I really loved the two Icewind Dale games because you created your own characters and they went on adventurers, without the your character is really the developer’s character feel that even Baldur’s Gate had. What if you didn’t want your character to be the son/daughter of a god? Tough luck because you are!
If SWTOR can capture the joy of duoing, two player controlled heroes and their two companions would be a full flashpoint party of four, then that’s a big plus from my perspective.