Modern RPG definition

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by symban, Jun 13, 2013.

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  1. symban

    symban New Member

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    I have been playing a (stupid) flash based online game where you purchase characters and fight using them. You lvl them they get 4 skills which is fixed. There is not really a character development or anything but there are so many characters to make combinations (in teams of 3) that PvP gets interesting.
    Anyhow in that game there is a linear (so called) story in the form of single sentence messages in between fights from certain characters and enemies, where you just can click to "next" or "done".

    Then in the game forums someone mentioned that this was the best RPG he played, when I mentioned that this game had nothing to do with RPGs, to my great surprise people all came back saying I was the one who didn't understand about RPGs. I was expecting some people not being accustomed with RPG concept, but I wasn't expecting people to have a completely wrong definition for it and being damn sure about that.

    The thread grew somewhat like that;
    - I said this is a turn based fight game, and have nothing to do with RPG
    - They said you are role playing as a hero
    - I pointed out, based on that logic in Mario you are role playing as a plumber and Mario should be a RPG too.
    - They said you lvl up characters and equip them so it is a RPG, and there is fighting.

    At that point I was totally blown out. Funny thing is game is kind of popular and have more than 40k players who mostly follow forums too. And only 1 person agreed that this game had nothing to do with RPG. Rest were saying that was a RPG.

    I wondered and asked them about what games they define as RPGs and listed mine (regular stuff; arcanum, torment, BG, fallout etc). And theirs were final fantasies, devil may cries and such. All games where you dont get to do anything but click next/done in dialogs.

    That made me realize why there are no more good RPGs, because the definition got lost and target market disappeared. Kind of sad so I wanted come here for ranting to you guys :/
     
  2. Jwrac

    Jwrac Member

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    All you can hope for is the indies and the kickstarters in this day, unfortunately.
    Half the indies also don't know of nor want to make 'real' RPGs, because of the sheer amount of work involved.

    Imagine trying to remake Arcanum as a Flash game.
    Albeit somewhat possible, the amount of work these RPGs had, that we fell in love with, is crazy.
    We're talking over 4 years of development with a team of skilled people, in a lot of cases.

    It's very unfortunate that modern games, that go under publishers in order to earn money, have a 'cartoony' feel and lack of true 'immersion'.
    But the reality is in this day and age, small games companies like that have no choice but to make these games, because they're guaranteed to make money from sponsors.

    I am only just learning this myself, with my development.
    But I do agree with you, you are right; most kids these days don't know what 'real' RPGs are/were... sadly I reckon we just look like a nasty bunch of uptight old codgers (I'm 19 and feel old.) that obsess over the same dozen games over and over.

    It is an unfortunate thing, and you are very right in what you believe to be an RPG. (it defines itself, role playing game)
    Before Kickstarter was around, or anything like that, most 'let's make an old school RPG' ideas quickly got shot down or went under and were never finished, due to lack of funding and perhaps enthusiasm to create such an immense thing.

    Who knows, maybe Project Eternity and the new Wasteland will be pretty good.
     
  3. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    I think RPG is quite a loose definition, as long as you develop your character in some way from its base and have a bit of control over certain elements of that character it can be classed as an RPG. For me, both mindless action RPGs where you have little control and the sort where you have a say in every dispute in the world have their charms - I don't particularly mind that they both get the label "RPG".

    As for Final Fantasy, some of the early ones where you picked jobs were more like a conventional RPG but the more recent ones don't tend to come close.
     
  4. Yuki

    Yuki Well-Known Member

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    Anything with perks is considered an RPG these days.
     
  5. Zanza

    Zanza Well-Known Member

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    Or has achievements. You entered your name, have a badge.
     
  6. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    I've always thought that the defining characteristic of an RPG is that the skill of the characters is independent of the skill of the player. i.e. in a Mario game, the player has to time Mario's jumps across moving platforms, and if the player is rubbish at timing jumps then they will fail. It is not an RPG. If it were an RPG then Mario would have a "jumping across moving platforms" skill, and the DM/computer would perform a dice roll to find out whether Mario succeeded in the task.

    By that definition, symban's Flash game is an RPG, albeit one with no ability for the player to influence which skills the characters develop, so a fairly primitive one more focused on battle tactics. Of course there is no hard boundary between RPG and non-RPG - there are degrees. Games like Deus Ex and Morrowind are kind of hybrids - the player's first person twitch reflexes AND the fighting skill levels of the character both contribute to the outcome of battles.
     
  7. werozzi

    werozzi Member

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    Yes, that's what makes a ACrpg, in most cases, developers search for a way to add action to the tedious (For casual players) dice throwing and action resolution of more pen&paper-like RPG's, as Arcanum.

    A trend i once found interesting, yet now i hate, is the addition of RPG elements to non-RPG games, so you have an inventory and stats, but that's almost irrelevant because you'll spend all of you tie killing stuff, wthout having to worry for the rest.

    I'd define an RPG as a game where you can take the role of your character and actually develop HIS skills (maybe in adittion to your gaming skills) further, following a non-linear story with interaction with/over the world.
     
  8. Jungle Japes

    Jungle Japes Well-Known Member

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  9. werozzi

    werozzi Member

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    I have to say that I'm amazed at the wondrous RPG that is Tetris.
     
  10. Arthgon

    Arthgon Well-Known Member

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    The most of my favorite RPGs are the more old-fashioned ones. You know, when the background story and playability were more important than the music and graphics. Something like Ultima IV, Ultima VII, Bards Tale, Net hack, Legacy of the Ancients, Legend of Blacksilver, (only for the C64) and some others.

    Oh. Yeah. I still remember Tetris when it came for the game boy for the first time around ‘89. The screen colors were still greenish. The funniest thing that actually happened is that someone at my school wondered where the blocks came from.
     
  11. symban

    symban New Member

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    Hmm.. seems like RPG definition is way looser than I thought. To me it was always the games where I could have a say in what to do next, and how to do it; rather than playing in the linear way the developers set for everyone.

    So what are games like Arcanum, Torment etc called in the market?
     
  12. Muro

    Muro Well-Known Member

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    We could use a distinction similar to hard and soft science fiction.

    The hard RPG category would contain games such as those which initially defined the genre and later ones cast in the same mold. Fallout, Arcanum and Planescape: Torment would be some examples.

    Soft RPGs would be games that approach the idea of role play more freely, selectively incorporating just some of the elements of the traditional genre while as a whole being visible far from it.
     
  13. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    I like Muro's idea. But I imagine that the market decides on the type of a game based on its superficial similarities to other games. So if symban's Flash game has a Final Fantasy feel to it, then it will be called an RPG because Final Fantasy games are called RPGs too.
     
  14. symban

    symban New Member

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    Having some time to waste, I checked out how RPG is defined in the game market and read something about RPGs from Japan, and the ones from Western developers. Japanese RPGs mostly rely on linear stories because their target market does not like being thrown into an open world not knowing what to do. Apparently it is a cultural situation and from personal experience I can tell Japanese like to depend on the directions given to them from their superiors, rather than taking initiative personally. Also that is expected from them in the society as well. That is the logic that shapes the Japanese RPGs which fits its target market.

    This approach of course does not fit with the RPG as we understand it, because it is the ability to use our initiative to alter the characters and story what makes a game a true role playing experience. However because of the simpler development process of the Japanese style RPGs, and for reaching out to player profile who likes action over story; western developers inherited mainly linear - seemingly role playing concepts.

    Business is business and developers want to reach out to everyone with the game, not to the hardcore small groups. So they make their games to appeal to button smashers and RPG lovers alike.. well they try that mostly displeasing both. I wish game developers went back to the mindset when they aimed their products to certain target markets, but seems like old days are gone and we have to deal with it.
     
  15. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    I was gobsmacked when I finally sat down to play FF for the first time.

    I took it back to the shop and double checked that 'this was the series which was really popular' because I couldn't believe how much it sucked.

    Also, for the record, I agree with all of Smuel's points on the definition of RPG computer games.

    PnP and LARP are different again. For me, RPGs are always about collaborative story-telling, a kind of impromptu theatre. I've known story-tellers who allow no freedom to the players and, in that event, the fun lies in making a character and expressing its individuality in between plot events. In FF, the characters and the plot and even the combat run on rails. Painfully cutesy-poo rails, at a tedious pace.

    tl;dr - rpg = creative story telling. Final fantasy, one star.
     
  16. TheDavisChanger

    TheDavisChanger Well-Known Member

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    Re:

    For the longest time, I felt that RPGs were synonymous with turn-based games in a medieval fantasy setting. Such a disservice to words this was!

    I think that this aspect is part of the key of being an RPG. Having control over one's character's development is probably the easiest way of simulating fulfilling some sort of role.

    This is an interesting view that I hadn't considered, but it seems pretty consistent. This is probably why I enjoyed RPGs so much, I didn't have to practice or anything to succeed at them. I just had to play and enjoy.

    I'd say giving a player the freedom to define his role in an open, non-linear story/world is probably the most important to qualify as an RPG.

    W00t! It's not often I get to quibble with Muro on a topic. He usually just wins. I would never claim that Arcanum defined the RPG genre. To me, Final Fantasy has defined the genre, despite how much it defies my understanding of what it means to play a role. I would go so far as to say that Fallout redefined the genre, helping developers and players alike realize that an RPG could be.

    I can relate. My favorite Final Fantasy to date is IV because of its linear story and reasonable variety of characters. While I acknowledge Final Finatasy VI as superior, having to make more decisions about the characters' advancement was too overwhelming for me. I had too much control. "I can fuck this up? No thank you. Where's my Final Fantasy II cartridge?" This was somewhat of a tangent, but Final Fantasy IV is my favorite of the series for how much it defies what I think it means to be a role playing game.
     
  17. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Did anyone ever play the medieval/rennaisance game which uses the fallout s.p.e.c.i.a.l system?

    I think it was called Lionheart maybe? It featured da Vinci and it was pretty cool.
     
  18. symban

    symban New Member

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    Re:

    Is that the game where the protagonist is revived after 1000 years? Or am I mistaking it with some game with a similar name maybe..
     
  19. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    Re: Re:

    That reminds me of the first time I tried a Real Time Strategy game. I'd played things like Civilization, which suit my slow paced mental processes. Then I had a go at StarCraft, I think it was. It was horrifying - my guys were running off all over the place, and I'd be attacked without even realising it, and then trying to get them to go where I wanted, and, no, not you, look, you guys go over there, and you stay h... no, not that way, Jesus... look, line up so you can all shoot at once, no, not like that, Argh, WHY DO YOU KEEP RUNNING AT THEM ONE AT A TIME?

    Took me a week to calm down.
     
  20. werozzi

    werozzi Member

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    Re:

    I agree of this, but more than applying it for just FF, i think most modern games fail on letting you develop the story, either by extremely linear plots and gameplay (FF), or by having no way to change/ leave your mark on the game world, no matter how many times and characters you beat the game with, the outcome is always the same, you can't fail (Skyrim).

    Then modern cRPGs are failing to give the feel of a P&P, some of them justifying the RPG part by adding a "Character creation" aka "player customization with little to no gameplay effect" .

    Whenever i play the newer RPGs, i feel limited, both by what i can do and by what can i receive; high resolution textures and models are nothing compared to a well narrated game and a bit of imagination, and no matter the amount of gameplay options, they will never be equal to what an experienced GM can provide to any player.

    But i'm digressing; now with modern RPGs.

    While i agree with that, there are some games that take this point to the ridiculousness byjust letting you make your character's face and etc, and then you just follow a linear story, gaining a perk point that you'll spend in a list that, at the end will always have all perks, probably earning an achievement on the way, and that's it, a full fledged RPG, that young gamers will call the best of this era's.

    I agree, and while it is present in some of the big titles, developers feel each time more in the need of complementing character skills with player skills. I'm ambiguous with my opinions on this subject, in some cases i like it, but in others i don't.

    No way i can disagree with this point.
     
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