Tales of the Rampant Coyote's Jay Barnson once again summarizes what he's learned from several CRPGs, though this time most of the games he profiles are somewhat recent. Fallout, Fallout 2, Baldur's Gate II, Vampire: Redemption, Vampire: Bloodlines, Wizardry 8, EverQuest, Diablo, Diablo II, and The Elder Scrolls series are among the many titles mentioned:
Fallout 1 & 2: As a latecomer to these games, the lesson I learned was a hard one about the nature of the mainstream games business rather than game design. You see, I assumed that the critical and commercial success of Fallout would lead to more games of its kind, as publishers attempted to follow its success. More hardcore RPGs, more turn-based RPGs, more non-fantasy settings, more open-ended world design with pretty notable consequences for your meaningful decisions, all that awesome stuff.
I was wrong. Publishers don't generally follow just any success. They seek to follow and overtake the biggest dogs of the field. I don't know Fallout's sales numbers, but I am pretty sure they were in a whole different league than Diablo. Guess which game ended up representing the (evolution) of the genre in the minds of the guys in the suits?
Note since becoming an indie, I have become much more business-oriented. I understand the suits, and in theory might even agree with their decision for them. But as an indie, I say, (Why get into a massive, expensive battle royale over the biggest slice of the pie when there are these smaller but still substantial slices that almost nobody is calling dib's on?)