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Dungeons of Daggorath

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

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



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]

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]


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]

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 Radio Shack. He released the game under a freeware-like license to the public, also offering the source code for a small fee.[7][8] Due to the source code availability it has been ported by the fan community to recent platforms such as PC/Windows,[9] Linux,[10] RISC OS[11] and PSP[12] via the SDL library.


After Dungeons of Daggorath became one of the most popular Color Computer games, Tandy produced a sequel, Castle of Tharoggad,[13][14] which was made without the participation of the Daggorath team. It did not sell well, and received poor reviews from fans of the original.[15]

Reception and impactEdit

Dungeons of Daggorath was featured in the book Ready Player One, where the protagonist has to solve the game, emulated within a simulated universe. 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. Despite what are now outdated graphics and sound, the game still enjoys a cult following in the retrogaming community for its challenging and engaging gameplay.


  1. ^ Hirsch Electronics Expands Board of Directors, June 2007, News Release,
  2. ^ Grant of license to reproduce Dungeons of Daggorath Archived 11 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Dungeons of Daggorath, Tandy (TRS-80) Color Computer Games, A set of Coco 1/2/3 web pages by L. Curtis Boyle, NitrOS9. LCURTISBOYLE.COM (archived)
  4. ^ Barton, Matt (2008). Dungeons & Desktops: The History of Computer Role-Playing Games. A K Peters, Ltd. pp. 80–1. ISBN 1-56881-411-9. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  5. ^ Bill Loguidice & Matt Barton (2009), Vintage games: an insider look at the history of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the most influential games of all time, Focal Press, p. 232, ISBN 0-240-81146-1, retrieved 2011-05-01
  6. ^ A Review of DynaMicro's The Dungeons of Daggorath (1982), 13 October 2006, By Matt Barton, Armchair Arcade
  7. ^ Grant of license to reproduce Dungeons of Daggorath by Douglas J. Morgan "I hereby grant a non-exclusive permanent world-wide license to any and all Color Computer site administrators, emulator developers, programmers or any other person or persons who wish to develop, produce, duplicate, emulate, or distribute the game on the sole condition that they exercise every effort to preserve the game insofar as possible in its original and unaltered form. ... Anyone willing to pay for the copying of the listing (at Kinko's) and shipment to them, who intends to use it to enhance or improve the emulator versions of the game is welcome to it."
  8. ^ Matt Barton (13 October 2006). "A Review of DynaMicro's The Dungeons of Daggorath (1982)". Armchair Arcade. Programmers and coders may also be interested in the source code should email Louis Jordan. Before doing so, check out the License Grant offered by Doug Morgan, former president of Dyna Micro. Apparently he's willing to give the code to anyone willing to cover the costs of shipping and copying (at Kinko's) the listing.
  9. ^ Project Page for Dungeons of Daggorath PC-Port by Richard Hunerlach (August 28, 2002, archived)
  10. ^ DoD for Linux 0.51 Linux version with source code (2012)
  11. ^[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ psp-homebrew-dungeons-of-daggorath
  13. ^ Castle of Tharoggad Archived 12 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Tandy (TRS-80) Color Computer Games, A set of Coco 1/2/3 web pages by L. Curtis Boyle, NitrOS9.LCURTISBOYLE.COM
  14. ^ Castle of Tharoggad, Color Computer Documentation Website
  15. ^ Castle of Tharoggad, Retrogaming Times Monthly 69, Feb 2010

External linksEdit