Shroud of the Avatar isn't the first game to propose the idea that one or more entries in a series should be playable as a contiguous experience.
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One of the concepts pitched for Shroud of the Avatar was the idea that its five planned episodes would share a world, with each successive episode adding new continents to explore (while still leaving lands from earlier games open to be explored). And, if you look at Shroud as being an MMORPG, this idea is not particularly surprising or novel; expansions to MMORPGs that add new lands and new quest chains have been commonplace since the days of Everquest.
However, this approach is rather novel if you look at Shroud as a single-player game, which it is also being designed as. But it isn't the first single-player game to attempt this sort of design. Back in the late 1980s, a short-lived attempt at creating a game series in which each successive title added to the story and world of the preceding game was designed: Alternate Reality. It was never finished, and didn't live up to the dream of its designer.
But, in 1993, New World Computing released the fourth and fifth entries in their Might & Magic series: Clouds of Xeen, followed soon by Darkside of Xeen. These two games, if co-installed on a PC, were playable simultaneously; you could transit between the two sides of the seed world of Xeen at various portals throughout the land, enabling you to explore the stories and quest chains of both games at the same time. And, when both of those quest chains were finished, the two games combined to offer players a third, shorter quest chain to unite the two sides of the world. Collectively, the two Xeen games were known as World of Xeen, and indeed are often found released together under this label today.
It was a very novel thing to do in the RPG space, and remains so to this day; the Xeen games didn't inspire any notable follow-ups. Why is that?
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