Wasteland (video game)

Last updated
Wasteland Coverart.png
Cover art by Barry E. Jackson [1]
Developer(s) Interplay Productions
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Director(s) Brian Fargo
Producer(s) David Albert
Designer(s) Ken St. Andre
Michael A. Stackpole
Liz Danforth
Programmer(s) Alan Pavlish
Artist(s) Todd J. Camasta
Bruce Schlickbernd
Charles H. H. Weidman III
Series Wasteland   OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Platform(s) Apple II (original)
Commodore 64
Microsoft Windows
ReleaseJanuary 2, 1988 [2] [3]
Genre(s) Role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player

Wasteland is a science fiction open world role-playing video game developed by Interplay and published by Electronic Arts in 1988. [4] The game is set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic America destroyed by nuclear holocaust generations before. Developers originally made the game for the Apple II and it was ported to the Commodore 64 and MS-DOS. It was re-released for Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux in 2013 via Steam and GOG.com, and in 2014 via Desura.

Science fiction Genre of speculative fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that has been called the "literature of ideas". It typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, time travel, parallel universes, fictional worlds, space exploration, and extraterrestrial life. It often explores the potential consequences of scientific innovations.

In video games, an open world is a virtual world in which the player can explore and approach objectives freely, as opposed to a world with more linear and structured gameplay. While games have used open-world designs since the 1980s, the implementation in Grand Theft Auto III (2001) set a standard that has been used since.

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.


Critically acclaimed and commercially successful, Wasteland was intended to be followed by two separate sequels, but Electronic Arts' Fountain of Dreams was turned into an unrelated game and Interplay's Meantime was cancelled. The game's general setting and concept became the basis for Interplay's 1997 role-playing video game Fallout , which would extend into the Fallout series. Game developer inXile Entertainment released a sequel, Wasteland 2 , in 2014. Wasteland 3 is planned for release in 2020.

<i>Fountain of Dreams</i> 1990 video game

Fountain of Dreams is a 1990 role-playing video game developed and published by Electronic Arts for MS-DOS as a successor to 1988's Wasteland.

Meantime is a cancelled role-playing video game originally intended for the Apple II and possibly for the Commodore 64. It was a follow-up to 1988's Wasteland, produced by Interplay, using the same engine as Wasteland. Brian Fargo halted development for this platform, in part due to the falling 8-bit computer market. Later attempts were made to finish the game for MS-DOS, but the project was canceled for good after the release of the competing Ultima VII, as it was felt they would be releasing a graphically inferior product.

<i>Fallout</i> (video game) 1997 video game

Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game is an open-world turn-based role-playing video game developed and published by Interplay Productions in 1997. The game has a post-apocalyptic and retro-futuristic setting, in the aftermath of a global nuclear war in an alternate history timeline mid-22nd century. The protagonist of Fallout is an inhabitant of a Vault, long-term shelters, who is tasked to find a replacement Water Chip and save their Vault.


A screenshot of an encounter in the DOS version of Wasteland Wasteland screenshot.jpg
A screenshot of an encounter in the DOS version of Wasteland

Wasteland's game mechanics are based on those used in the tabletop role-playing games, such as Tunnels and Trolls and Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes created by Wasteland designers Ken St. Andre and Michael Stackpole. [5] Characters in Wasteland have various statistics (strength, intelligence, luck, speed, agility, dexterity, and charisma) that allow the characters to use different skills and weapons. Experience is gained through battle and skill usage. The game generally lets players advance using a variety of tactics: to get through a locked gate, the characters could use their picklock skill, their climb skill, or their strength attribute; or they could force the gate with a crowbar or a LAW rocket.

Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes

Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes (MSPE) is a tabletop role-playing game designed and written by Michael A. Stackpole and first published in April 1983 by Blade, a division of Flying Buffalo, Inc. A second edition was later published by Sleuth Publications in 1986, but Flying Buffalo continues to distribute the game. In 2019 a new revised Combined Edition of MSPE was published by Flying Buffalo which brought the different material from the previous editions and included additional new rules and expansions to the original rpg. MSPE's mechanics are based on those of Tunnels and Trolls, with the addition of a skill system for characters. A few adventure modules were also released for MSPE.

Ken St. Andre American writer and game designer

Kenneth Eugene St. Andre is an American fantasy author and game designer, best known for his work with Tunnels & Trolls and Wasteland. He has been an active member of The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1989.

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.

The player's party begins with four characters. Through the course of the game the party can hold as many as seven characters by recruiting certain citizens and wasteland creatures. Unlike those of other computer RPGs of the time, these non-player characters (NPCs) might at times refuse to follow the player's commands, such as when the player orders the character to give up an item or perform an action. [6] The game is noted for its high and unforgiving difficulty level. [7] The prose appearing in the game's combat screens, such as phrases saying an enemy is "reduced to a thin red paste" and "explodes like a blood sausage", prompted an unofficial PG-13 sticker on the game packaging in the U.S. [6]

Party (role-playing games) group of characters adventuring together in a role-playing game

A party is a group of characters adventuring together in a role-playing game. In tabletop role-playing, a party is composed of a group of players, occasionally with the addition of non-player character allies controlled by those players or by the gamemaster. In computer games, the relationship between the party and the players varies considerably. Online role-playing games or MMORPG parties are often, in the above sense, of the same constituency as tabletop parties, except that the allies are always controlled to a lesser or greater extent by the computer AI. In single-player computer games, the player generally controls all party members to a varying degree.

A non-player character (NPC) is any character in a game which is not controlled by a player. The term originated in traditional tabletop role-playing games, where it applies to characters controlled by the gamemaster or referee, rather than another player. In video games, this usually means a character controlled by the computer via algorithmic, predetermined or responsive behavior, but not necessarily true artificial intelligence(A.I).

Wasteland was one of the first games featuring a persistent world, where changes to the game world were stored and kept. [7] Returning to an area later in the game, the player would find it in the state the player left it in, rather than being reset, as was common for games of the time. Since hard drives were still rare in home computers in 1988, this meant the original game disk had to be copied first, as the manual instructed one to do. [8]

A persistent world or persistent state world (PSW) is a virtual world which, by the definition by Richard Bartle, "continues to exist and develop internally even when there are no people interacting with it". The first virtual worlds were text-based and often called MUDs, but the term is frequently used in relation to massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) and pervasive games. Examples of persistent worlds that exist in video games include Battle Dawn, EVE Online, and Realms of Trinity.

Another feature of the game was the inclusion of a printed collection of paragraphs that the player would read at the appropriate times. [9] These paragraphs described encounters and conversations, contained clues, and added to the overall texture of the game. Because programming space was at a premium, it saved on resources to have most of the game's story printed out in a separate manual rather than stored within the game's code itself. The paragraph books also served as a rudimentary form of copy protection; someone playing a copied version of the game would miss out on much of the story and clues necessary to progress. The paragraphs included an unrelated story line [7] about a mission to Mars intended to mislead those who read the paragraphs when not instructed to, and a false set of passwords that would trip up cheaters.

Copy protection, also known as content protection, copy prevention and copy restriction, is any effort designed to prevent the reproduction of software, films, music, and other media, usually for copyright reasons. Various methods have been devised to prevent reproduction so that companies will gain benefit from each person who obtains an authorized copy of their product. Unauthorized copying and distribution accounted for $2.4 billion in lost revenue in the United States alone in the 1990s, and is assumed to be causing impact on revenues in the music and the game industry, leading to proposal of stricter copyright laws such as PIPA. Some methods of copy protection have also led to criticisms because it caused inconvenience for honest consumers, or it secretly installed additional or unwanted software to detect copying activities on the consumer's computer. Making copy protection effective while protecting consumer rights is still an ongoing problem with media publication.

Mars Fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury. In English, Mars carries a name of the Roman god of war and is often referred to as the 'Red Planet'.The latter refers to the effect of the iron oxide prevalent on Mars' surface, which gives it a reddish appearance distinctive among the astronomical bodies visible to the naked eye. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth.


In 2087 (a hundred years after the game's development), generations after the devastation of a global nuclear war in 1998, a distant remnant force of the United States Army called the Desert Rangers is based in the Southwestern United States. A team of Desert Rangers is assigned to investigate a series of disturbances in nearby areas. Throughout the game, the rangers explore the remaining enclaves of human civilization, including a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. [10]

As the group's investigation deepens, the rangers discover evidence of a larger menace threatening to exterminate what is left of humankind. A pre-war artificial intelligence computer operating from a surviving military facility, Base Cochise, is constructing armies of killer machines and cybernetically modified humans to attack settlements with the help of Irwin Finster, the deranged former commander of the base. Finster has transformed himself into a cyborg under the AI's control. The AI's ultimate goal is to complete Project Darwin, which Finster was in charge of, and replace the world's "flawed" population with genetically pure specimens. With the help from a pre-war android named Max, the player recovers the necessary technology and weapons in order to confront the computer at its base and stop it by making the base's nuclear reactor melt down.


Released after five years of development, [11] Wasteland was originally released for the Apple II, Commodore 64, and IBM compatibles. The IBM version added an additional skill called "Combat Shooting" which could be bought only when a character was first created.

Wasteland was re-released as part of Interplay's 10 Year Anthology: Classic Collection in 1995, [12] and also included in the 1998 Ultimate RPG Archives through Interplay's DragonPlay label. [13] These later bundled releases were missing the original setup program, which allowed the game's maps to be reset, while retaining the player's original team of Rangers. Jeremy Reaban wrote an unofficial (and unsupported) program that emulated this functionality. [14]

On November 12, 2013, the game was re-released for Microsoft Windows and OS X on GOG.com, re-branded as Wasteland 1 - The Original Classic. [15] The next day, the game was also re-released on Steam for the Windows, Mac and Linux. [16] As the game suffered in the re-released version still from a critical timing bug, [17] a fan developed an unofficial patch which was included November 2013 in the official patch 2. [18] [19] The patch from April 2014 fixed a Linux-specific bug and added another soundtrack. [20]


Computer Gaming World cited Wasteland's "ease of play, richness of plot, problem solving requirements, skill and task system, and graphic display" as elements of its excellence. [21] The magazine's Scorpia favorably reviewed the game in 1991 and 1993, calling it "really the only decently-designed post-nuke game on the market". [22] [23] In 1992 the magazine stated that the game's "classic mix of combat and problem-solving" was the favorite of its readers in 1988, and that "the way in which Wasteland's NPCs related to the player characters, the questions of dealing with moral dillemas, and the treatment of skills set this game apart." [24] In 1994 the magazine mentioned Wasteland as an example of how "older, less sophisticated engines can still play host to a great game". [25] Orson Scott Card gave Wasteland a mixed review in Compute! , commending the science fiction elements and setting, but stating that "mutant bunnies can get boring, too ... This is still a kill-the-monster-and-get-the-treasure game, without the overarching story that makes each Ultima installment meaningful." [26] Another writer for Compute! praised the game, however, citing its non-linear design and multiple puzzle solutions, the vague nature of the goal, and customizable player stats. [27]

Computer Gaming World awarded Wasteland the Adventure Game of the Year award in 1988. [28] The game received the fourth-highest number of votes in a 1990 survey of the magazine's readers' "All-Time Favorites". [29] In 1993 Computer Gaming World added Wasteland to its Hall of Fame, [30] and in 1996, rated it as the ninth best PC video game of all time for introducing the concept of the player's party "acting like the 'real' people." [31] In 2000, Wasteland was ranked as the 24th top PC game of all time by the staff of IGN, who called it "one of the best RPGs to ever grace the PC" and "a truly innovative RPG for its time." [10] According to a retrospective review by Richard Cobbett of Eurogamer in 2012, "even now, it offers a unique RPG world and experience ... a whole fallen civilisation full of puzzles and characters and things to twiddle with, all magically crammed into less than a megabyte of space." [9] In another retrospective article that same year, IGN's Kristan Reed wrote that "time has not been kind to Wasteland, but its core concepts stand firm." [7]


Sequels and spiritual successor

Wasteland was followed in 1990 by a less-successful intended sequel, Fountain of Dreams , set in post-war Florida. At the last moment, however, Electronic Arts decided to not advertise it as a sequel to Wasteland. None of the creative cast from Wasteland worked on Fountain of Dreams. Interplay themselves worked on Meantime , which was based on the Wasteland game engine and its universe but was not a continuation of the story. Coding of Meantime was nearly finished and a beta version was produced, but the game was canceled when the 8-bit computer game market went into decline.

Interplay has described its 1997 game Fallout as the spiritual successor to Wasteland. According to IGN, "Interplay's inability to prise the Wasteland brand name from EA's gnarled fingers actually led to it creating Fallout in the first place." [7] There are Wasteland homage elements in Fallout and Fallout 2 as well. [6] [7] All games in the Fallout series are set in the world described by its characters as "Wasteland" (for example, the "Midwest Wasteland" in Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel or the "Capital Wasteland" in Fallout 3 ). A recruitable character named Tycho in Fallout is described as a Desert Ranger who is a descendant of an original Desert Ranger, who had taught the previous survival skills. A major part of the Fallout universe is the military organization Brotherhood of Steel, whose origins are similar to the Desert Rangers and the Guardians of the Old Order of Wasteland; a group called the Desert Rangers actually appears in Fallout: New Vegas.

Wasteland 2 was developed by Brian Fargo's inXile Entertainment and published on September 19, 2014. The game's production team included the original Wasteland designers Alan Pavlish, Michael A. Stackpole, Ken St. Andre and Liz Danforth, and was crowdfunded through a highly successful Kickstarter campaign.[ citation needed ] InXile Entertainment announced on September 28, 2016, that it was crowdfunding on Fig to develop another sequel, Wasteland 3 . The game is expected to be released on Windows, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in 2020. [32] [33]

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Wasteland is an open world post apocalyptic RPG video game series, originally developed by Interplay in 1988, and the predecessor to Fallout. The game series is currently developed by inXile Entertainment. Which raised $2,933,252 in 2012 through the crowd funding platform, Kickstarter to create a sequel to the original Wasteland. The sequel was named Wasteland 2. The Third installment, Wasteland 3 is currently under development by inXile. The company used the crowd funding site Fig, to raise money for developing the game, it managed to raise 3 million dollars for development.


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