Publisher New World Computing released Might and Magic Book I: Secret of the Inner Sanctum in 1986. Released during the early years of computer role-playing games (RPG), Might and Magic is considered a genre-defining title. Players begin by creating a party of up to six characters and assigning them a race, class, gender, alignment and a variety of statistics. Players guide their party through the Land of Varn, exploring and fulfilling various quests. At its release Might and Magic received critical acclaim for its open-world, non-linear style of gameplay. The Land of Varn is large and diverse, consisting of multiple towns, a desert, a forest, mountains, plains, rivers and a volcano. The story develops late in the game, leaving players free to explore the land at their own pace before beginning the ultimate quest. Might and Magic introduced an important innovation to the RPG genre by incorporating race, gender and alignment into gameplay. For instance, there are areas of the gameworld that can only be accessed by female characters and various items are restricted to certain races. Might and Magic also introduced side quests to the gaming world. These missions became a staple in later RPGs. Considered one of the prototypes of the RPG genre, Might and Magic culminated in nine installments and inspired multiple spin-offs. The most popular spin-off series, Heroes of Might and Magic, spawned six installments of its own, the most recent released in 2011.