Tales of the Rampant Coyote's Jay Barnson continues to summarize the design lessons that he took away from several classic CRPGs, including The Bard's Tale, Pool of Radiance, Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon, Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, Ultima VI: The False Prophet, Ultima VII: The Black Gate, Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle, Twilight: 2000, and Menzoberranzan. Depending on what mood I'm in on a given day, this is the only game that I sometimes place above Planescape: Torment on my personal all-time favorites list:
Ultima VII- The Black Gate: Uh-oh. So my third experience of an RPG blowing my mind happened the same year as Ultima Underworld. I pretty much worshiped at the altar of Origin after this, until they went and blew it with Ultima VIII. But Ultima VII: The Black Gate (and expansion) remains to this day my all-time favorite RPG. From this game, my holy grail became this combination of open world design, extremely interactive environments, believable (simulated worlds) to explore, and beautiful storylines that were explored by the player rather than told to the player.