Dungeon Master creators FTL Games are the subject of the latest installment to Bitmob's ongoing "Forgotten Ruins: The Roots of CRPGs" series. A series that was definitely ahead of its time:
With the leading CRPGs of the time being turn-based affairs, Dungeon Master's real-time experience was a bold and refreshing change of pace (literally). It also boasted a surprisingly realistic skill system. Instead of abilities improving on a level-by-level basis, there were no levels. Characters grew more experienced in the use of their abilities by simply using them -- something that would be echoed years later by CRPGs such as the aforementioned Elder Scrolls series.
It also boasted strong writing as a part of its storied backdrop (at least within its manual) thanks to novelist Nancy Holder (wife of Wayne Holder, FTL's producer). Even Dragonlance author and co-creator Tracy Hickman, who had also been a tester for the game, would go on to write the hint book.
On the technical side, FTL had also developed a set of tools that would enable them to reduce the turnaround time for future games based on Dungeon Master's engine and open the door to using it with other genres. In the same way that SSI had reused the technology developed for their Gold Box games, FTL had the same hope for Dungeon Master and the stream of potential new titles that could be based on its engine. It would also be a model emulated later by the FPS market with licensed engines fueling their own excitement from Doom to Unreal.