Sword of Fargoal was a computer game written in 1982 by Jeff McCord. The November 1996 anniversary issue of Computer Gaming World listed Sword of Fargoal as #147 on the "Top 150 Best Video Games of All Time."
Sword of Fargoal was created by author and programmer Jeff McCord and based on his original dungeon adventure, Gammaquest II, which was programmed in BASIC for the Commodore PET computer and written while he was still in high-school in Lexington, KY. Gammaquest II created randomly generated dungeons which were revealed piece-by-piece as the character explored the map, and stayed "lit" behind the character as it moved, emulating the "mapping" of a dungeon level. The game graphics however, were limited to the character set of the computer.
McCord accepted an offer to publish the game from the software company Epyx Inc. in 1982 on the Commodore VIC-20. His original name for the new version was Sword of Fargaol, deriving the name from the Old English spelling of jail (gaol), but his producer at Epyx, Susan Lee-Merrow, convinced him to change it to its present form.
The following year, with the release of the Commodore 64, McCord was asked to release a version of Sword of Fargoal for that machine as well. Jeff was unable to implement the conversion as it was written in BASIC and the sprite-based graphics required Machine Language programming. Jeff's friend, Scott Corsaire (then Carter) and Steve Lepisto wrote all the machine language code that was needed so that game would perform fast enough for the C-64 version of the game (including the main redrawing of the dungeon levels, clearing of the screen in a spiral pattern effect, monster AI, collision detects, and joystick controls).
Sword of Fargoal is a roguelike game, with the player controlling an adventurous warrior attempting to reclaim the "Sword of Fargoal" from the depths of a monster-infested, treasure-stocked, randomly generated dungeon. The Sword is placed randomly somewhere between the fifteenth and twentieth dungeon level. This so-called "Sword Level" also had the unique characteristic of being a randomly generated, twisty maze of single tile-width passages, rather than a conventional dungeon level like the others. This helped make reaching the "Sword Level" an exciting event in the game-play; once the player sees this maze design, he or she knows the Sword is nearby.
Sword of Fargoal is noteworthy for being one of the first microcomputer games to introduce elements later used by so-called Roguelike games, such as dungeons which are randomly generated for each session of play, and gave a nod to earlier games such as Colossal Cave Adventure which was played without graphics on mainframe computers of the day using TTY terminals.