Dungeons of Daggorath

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Dungeons of Daggorath
Dungeons of Daggorath cover.png
Cover artwork
Developer(s) DynaMicro [1]
Publisher(s) Tandy Corporation
Designer(s) Douglas J. Morgan [2]
Platform(s) TRS-80 Color Computer, Dragon computer
Release 1982
Genre(s) Dungeon crawl
Mode(s) Single-player

Dungeons of Daggorath is one of the first real-time, first-person perspective role-playing video games. It was produced by DynaMicro for the TRS-80 Color Computer in 1982. This game is mentioned in the novel Ready Player One , but does not appear in its film adaptation.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

TRS-80 Color Computer line of home computers

The RadioShack TRS-80 Color Computer is a line of home computers based on the Motorola 6809 processor. The Tandy Color Computer line started in 1980 with what is now called the CoCo 1 and ended in 1991 with the more powerful CoCo 3. All three CoCo models maintained a high level of software and hardware compatibility, with few programs written for the older model being unable to run on the newer ones.

<i>Ready Player One</i> science fiction novel by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is a 2011 science fiction novel, and the debut novel of American author Ernest Cline. The story, set in a dystopia in 2044, follows protagonist Wade Watts on his search for an Easter egg in a worldwide virtual reality game, the discovery of which will lead him to inherit the game creator's fortune. Cline sold the rights to publish the novel in June 2010, in a bidding war to the Crown Publishing Group. The book was published on August 16, 2011. An audiobook was released the same day; it was narrated by Wil Wheaton, who was mentioned briefly in one of the chapters. In 2012, the book received an Alex Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association division of the American Library Association and won the 2012 Prometheus Award.



Dungeons of Daggorath was one of the first games that attempted to portray three-dimensional space in a real-time environment, using angled lines to give the illusion of depth. It followed the 1974 games Maze War and Spasim , written for research computers, and the first 3D maze game for home computers, 3D Monster Maze , released in 1981. The game Phantom Slayer , which like Daggorath was released in 1982 for the Color Computer, also featured monsters lurking in a maze. While Daggorath was visually similar to these games, it added several elements of strategy, such as different kinds of monsters, complex mazes, different levels of visibility, and the use of different objects and weapons. [3]

<i>Maze War</i> 1974 video game

Maze War is a 1973 computer game which originated or disseminated a number of concepts used in thousands of games to follow, and is considered one of the earliest examples of, or progenitor of, a first-person shooter. Uncertainty exists over its exact release date, with some accounts placing it before Spasim, the earliest first-person shooter with a known time of publication.

Spasim is a 32-player 3D networked space flight simulation game and first-person space shooter developed by Jim Bowery for the PLATO computer network and released in March 1974. The game features four teams of eight players, each controlling a planetary system, where each player controls a spaceship in 3D space in first-person view. Two versions of the game were released: in the first, gameplay is limited to flight and space combat, and in the second systems of resource management and strategy were added as players cooperate or compete to reach a distant planet with extensive resources while managing their own systems to prevent destructive revolts. Spasim is considered, along with Maze War, to be one of the "joint ancestors" of the first-person shooter genre, due to uncertainty over which game was created first.

<i>3D Monster Maze</i> video game

3D Monster Maze is a computer game developed from an idea by J.K.Greye and programmed by Malcolm Evans in 1981 for the Sinclair ZX81 platform with the 16 KB memory expansion. The game was initially released by J. K. Greye Software in early 1982 and re-released later the same year by Evans' own startup, New Generation Software. Rendered using low-resolution character block "graphics", it was one of the first 3D games for a home computer, and one of the first games incorporating typical elements of the genre that would later be termed survival horror.

Exploring the dungeons and battling creatures by typing commands into the text area at the bottom. The white bar shows a leather shield in the left hand and a wooden sword in the right hand, and indicates the player's heartbeat. Note the sword on the floor, which can be picked up by the player or other creatures. Dungeons of Daggorath screenshot.png
Exploring the dungeons and battling creatures by typing commands into the text area at the bottom. The white bar shows a leather shield in the left hand and a wooden sword in the right hand, and indicates the player's heartbeat. Note the sword on the floor, which can be picked up by the player or other creatures.

The player moves around a dungeon, issuing commands by means of typing – for example, typing "GET LEFT SHIELD" or "USE RIGHT TORCH" (or abbreviations such as "G L SH" and "U R T"), gathering strength and ever more powerful weapons as the game progresses. Various creatures appear, and can often be heard when they are nearby, even when not visible. The object of the game is to defeat the second of two wizards, who is on the fifth and last level of the dungeon.

A unique feature of the game is a heartbeat which rises as the player moves and takes actions within the virtual environment. The heartbeat is a direct predecessor of the "health" indicator in later games; the higher the heart rate, the more vulnerable the player is to attack. The player can faint from overexertion, in which case there is the risk of being attacked while defenseless. This heartbeat system was used instead of numerical statistics such as hit points or vitality, and was inspired by arcade games, [4] specifically 1978's Space Invaders where a heartbeat-like sound gradually increases pace as enemies advance towards the player. [5]

Statistic (role-playing games) piece of data representing a particular aspect of a fictional character

A statistic in role-playing games is a piece of data that represents a particular aspect of a fictional character. That piece of data is usually a (unitless) integer or, in some cases, a set of dice.

Health (gaming) gaming-related attribute

Health or vitality is an attribute assigned to entities such as characters or objects within role-playing games and video games, that indicates their continued ability to function. Health is usually measured in hit points or health points, shortened to HP which lowers by set amounts when the entity is attacked or injured. When the HP of a player character or non-player character reaches zero, that character is incapacitated and barred from taking further action. In some games, such as those with cooperative multiplayer and party based role playing games, it may be possible for an ally to revive a character who has reached 0 hit points and let them return to action. In single player games, running out of health usually equates to "dying" and losing a life or receiving a Game Over.

Arcade game coin-operated entertainment machine

An arcade game or coin-op game is a coin-operated entertainment machine typically installed in public businesses such as restaurants, bars and amusement arcades. Most arcade games are video games, pinball machines, electro-mechanical games, redemption games or merchandisers. While exact dates are debated, the golden age of arcade video games is usually defined as a period beginning sometime in the late 1970s and ending sometime in the mid-1980s. Excluding a brief resurgence in the early 1990s, the arcade industry subsequently declined in the Western hemisphere as competing home video game consoles such as the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox increased in their graphics and game-play capability and decreased in cost.


The game was developed by Douglas J. Morgan and Keith S. Kiyohara, with sounds by Phil Landmeier, in 1980–81 for the Tandy (RadioShack) TRS-80 Color Computer. Produced by DynaMicro, it was released in 1982 as an eight kilobyte ROMpak cartridge for the Color Computer, which took several months of recoding to achieve. Despite this, the game features a multi-level maze and has what for the time were advanced sound effects that provide important clues to the locations of monsters. [6]

Tandy Corporation trading company

Tandy Corporation was an American family-owned leather goods company based in Fort Worth, Texas, United States. Tandy Leather was founded in 1919 as a leather supply store and acquired a number of craft retail companies, including RadioShack in 1963. In 2000, the Tandy Corporation name was dropped and the entity became the RadioShack Corporation.

RadioShack American electronics store chain

RadioShack, formerly RadioShack Corporation, is the trade name of an American retailer founded in 1921. Since 2017, General Wireless Operations, Inc. has leased the name from Kensington Capital Holdings and operates primarily as an e-commerce website, a network of approximately 425 independently owned authorized dealer stores, and as a supplier of parts for HobbyTown. All stores are located in the United States.

The kilobyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information.


Around 2001, Douglas J. Morgan noticed that the exclusive copyright had fallen back to him since for years there was no production and selling by the publisher RadioShack. He released the game under a freeware-like license to the public, also offering the source code for a small fee. [6] [7] It has been ported by fans to Microsoft Windows, [8] Linux, [9] RISC OS [10] and PSP [11] via the SDL library.

Abandonware is a product, typically software, ignored by its owner and manufacturer, and for which no support is available. Although such software is usually still under copyright, the owner may not be tracking copyright violations.

Freeware is software, most often proprietary, that is distributed at no monetary cost to the end user. There is no agreed-upon set of rights, license, or EULA that defines freeware unambiguously; every publisher defines its own rules for the freeware it offers. For instance, modification, redistribution by third parties, and reverse engineering without the author's permission are permitted by some publishers but prohibited by others. Unlike with free and open-source software, which are also often distributed free of charge, the source code for freeware is typically not made available. Freeware may be intended to benefit its producer by, for example, encouraging sales of a more capable version, as in the freemium and shareware business models.

In computing, source code is any collection of code, possibly with comments, written using a human-readable programming language, usually as plain text. The source code of a program is specially designed to facilitate the work of computer programmers, who specify the actions to be performed by a computer mostly by writing source code. The source code is often transformed by an assembler or compiler into binary machine code understood by the computer. The machine code might then be stored for execution at a later time. Alternatively, source code may be interpreted and thus immediately executed.


After Dungeons of Daggorath became one of the most popular Color Computer games,[ citation needed ] Tandy produced a sequel, Castle of Tharoggad, [12] [13] which was made without the participation of the Daggorath team. It was poorly received. [14]

Dungeons of Daggorath was featured in the book Ready Player One , where the protagonist has to solve the game, emulated within a simulated universe. [15]

The game's artwork was used also for the Oneohtrix Point Never album Garden of Delete , which is an edit from a screenshot of the game.

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  1. Hirsch Electronics Expands Board of Directors, June 2007, News Release, AutomatedBuildings.com
  2. Grant of license to reproduce Dungeons of Daggorath Archived 11 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
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  8. Hunerlach, Richard. "Project Page for Dungeons of Daggorath PC-Port". Archived from the original on 28 February 2015.
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  13. Castle of Tharoggad, Color Computer Documentation Website
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