Alternate Reality (AR) is an unfinished computer role-playing game (RPG) series that has achieved cult status among many fans of RPGs. It was created by Philip Price, who formed a development company called Paradise Programming. Published by Datasoft, AR: The City was released in 1985 and AR: The Dungeon was released in 1987. Price was unable to complete the second game in the series, so The Dungeon was actually finished by Ken Jordan and Dan Pinal. Gary Gilbertson created the music for both games.
The basic concept for the game is intriguing: aliens capture the player from Earth, and suddenly the player is in front of a gate with a slot-machine-like row of rotating numbers of statistics. Stepping through the gate freezes the numbers and turns the player into a new person, putting them into an "alternate reality", hence the name.
The end of the series was supposed to conclude with the player discovering everyone's true bodies on the ship cocooned and effectively frozen, and that the ship is really a "pleasure world" of some kind for the aliens, leading to the player's ultimate decision of what to do to the ship, to the aliens, or even whether to return to Earth. However, the series was never completed.
During the late 90s, Price intended to produce an MMORPG version of the game called Alternate Reality Online or ARO, and teamed with Monolith. The deal ended due to lack of funds to start serious development on the project. Monolith originally had funds, but needed the funds for existing games in the pipeline. Monolith tried to find an external publisher to fund the game, but the number of technical innovations, coupled with an unknown market for MMORPG's, made it difficult to find publishers willing to risk funding. The publication deal ended and the rights to the game were returned due to no funds. Monolith went on years later to create The Matrix Online.
The original outline for the game series included plans for 6 games:
- The City
- The Arena
- The Palace
- The Wilderness