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[Opinions lol] Whatever happened to the RPG?

Flippy_DFlippy_D Digital ConquistadorLondonRegistered User regular
edited May 2012 in Games and Technology
Hullo chaps,

I'm reflecting on the question in the title in order to put together a blogpost (sig links). Currently, my central posit is that RPGs in the classic mould are failing because they are no longer specialists in fulfilling a particular aesthetic need: chiefly, that of cinema. To put it another way, you used to NEED to play this:

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In order to get a taste of high production value: riveting plots, music, lavish cutscenes, and often the best graphics. Other genres just didn't offer this kind of deal.

Now, however, you have cinema built into most games as standard, and especially into FPS. You didn't need to play Final Fantasy to get an epic sweeping story; Halo did that too (even if it was rubbish - but hey, horses to water).

The reaction of the classic RPG, best demonstrated in the ongoing splutterings of Final Fantasy, is to get even grander, even bigger, even shinier. The WRPG split meanwhile learned from avant-garde titles like STALKER and focus more on involving the player, which is basically finding a different USP (unique selling point). Furthermore, these games blur genre boundaries so heavily that they start to defy labels (see: Mass Effect, Fallout, Borderlands, Bastion). I am currently musing on how MMORPGs probably contributed to the picture as well.

I'd be interested to hear what people think of the above, and also whether they think there are any other reasons why classic RPGs are struggling with irrelevance. Do we think that there would still be a place for Chrono Trigger today?

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  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Sorry, what? Other genres never had good plots, music, cutscenes, or graphics until Call of Duty or whatever came along and introduced them to the non RPG masses? And so now RPGs have nothing to do now that they're not the sole bastion of high production values? This seems like a fantasy world you are describing that I have never inhabited.

  • Salvation122Salvation122 Registered User regular
    Objectively, JRPG developers eschewed the 360 because it sold like shit in Japan and the Wii because it didn't have the horsepower for their shiny pre-rendered cutscenes. The PS3 had a very small install base in the US for quite a while, so they sold like crap over here, so they stopped being produced or localized.

    Subjectively, JRPG stories got kind of fucking retarded and counter to American tastes sometime around WoW's release, further lowering American demand outside of the weeaboo demographic.

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  • milk ducksmilk ducks Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Flippy_D wrote:
    Do we think that there would still be a place for Chrono Trigger today?

    I think there's certainly a market for Chrono Trigger today. It isn't a consumer-level issue, in my opinion. I'm sure there's plenty of interest. The issue, in my opinion, lies on the production / development side. When CT was re-released on the DS, it didn't need anything special, but they decided to throw in new dungeons, head-to-head monster battles, etc. Developers are convinced, for whatever reason, that they need to turn everything up a notch.

    Personally, my favorite games in the world are old-school RPGs: Chrono Trigger; Shadowrun for the SEGA; Phantasy Star IV; Shining Force; etc. Unfortunately, whenever games that look and feel like these games come out today, they're always indie titles or whatever. And they're often great, but God, I'd seriously love to play a game like that with some production value behind it.

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  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    If you don't think RPGs have a cinematic approach these days, you probably haven't played many modern RPGs. Games have changed a lot over the past decade as a result of extensive genre-blending (basically, take every genre and add RPG elements to it because gamers go crazy for numbers that increase and bars that fill), but you still get the epic RPG character's journey across an enormous land to topple a mighty empire, only now sometimes it's in first person.

    You don't see a lot of classical JRPGs being released these days for the same reason you don't see a lot of classical FPSs or classical racing games being released these days.

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  • Flippy_DFlippy_D Digital Conquistador LondonRegistered User regular
    Sorry, what? Other genres never had good plots, music, cutscenes, or graphics until Call of Duty or whatever came along and introduced them to the non RPG masses? And so now RPGs have nothing to do now that they're not the sole bastion of high production values? This seems like a fantasy world you are describing that I have never inhabited.

    Not what I meant to imply. However, I'd say that in the pre-PSX era, the 'big' shooters and racers and fighters and platformers were for, well, shooting or racing or fighting or platforming. RPG was an inherently narrative format and therefore was much more used for 'story' games than other genres. That in turn led to focusing on those elements above.

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    He's saying there has been a gradual shift over time, not that wham bang on tuesday two years ago this all happened out of the blue.
    He's also not saying that "RPGS now don't have cinematic production values". This is not what he is saying at all.
    He's saying "All the other games also have".
    So it's not an exclusive deal anymore.
    You can get an rpg level story in a shooter nowadays. Or an action game. Hell even Tekken 6 tried to do it. It wasn't very good but they had a go. Had full on cutscenes and plot and everything.

    A really good example of what he is talking about is God of War. Bam epic story, production values, all that jazz. Other than upgrading your abilities the gameplay was pure action.

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  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    Personally, as someone who has liked the immersive storytelling aspects and character choices of RPGs but hate the mechanical aspects of it (fuck yo inventory management and level ups, man), I am quite happy to see other genres (shooters, for example) mug RPGs of all their good qualities and leave all that other junk behind.

    But then I was the one who applauded ME2's move away from RPG stuff and into being more of a third person shooter with dialogue trees and shit and some incredibly mild leveling up.

    I think RPGs having the monopoly on the things you are lauding is, quite frankly, fuckin' stupid. If people want to play RPGs because they like the game mechanics of them (all that fiddling around with stats and classes and levels and minor statistical gear upgrades and all that), then that's totally okay. Not really my thing, but obviously there's a market for that, as a genre of gameplay.

    However, I say that more genres need to get up on the developed characters and deeper storytelling train and loot all the good, non-mechanical aspects of RPGs and apply them to gameplay I actually like. Halo ODST is exactly the sort of thing that makes me "Now that's what I'm talkin' about!"

  • The Dude With HerpesThe Dude With Herpes Registered User regular
    I, for one, am perfectly fine with the movement toward various genres picking up the high points of other genres.

    The notion that genres need to stay in their own yard, or whatever, seems excessively silly and limiting to me.

    10-20 years ago when you could just easily label any given game by its genre and know exactly what you were going to get, while making it easy to know what type of games you could easily pass on, limited gaming to only the subsets of people who liked the very specific and narrow genre the game inhabited.

    If you liked engaging stories, but didn't like JRPG mechanics, you were SOL. If you liked (later) FPS games but didn't like mindless, pointless stories that existed purely to move you through a game, you were SOL. If you wanted a sports game with any real depth to your teams/players/leagues past what was shipped with the game based on arbitrary numbers before a given season, you were SOL.

    Thus, gaming remained a very closed form of entertainment, that only appealed to people those specific games appealed to.

    What we have now is just a sign that our pastime is evolving into something that everyone can enjoy, just like every other form of media (except maybe comic books; but that's another beast entirely). Now if I want an engaging story, but want to play an FPS or a 3rd person Shooter, my choices are many. If I want to play a game with the detailed statistical tracking that is inherent in RPG's but don't want to be put on rails following a strict predetermined narrative, got that too (though, the WRPG could be argued to have always been one of the most versatile of genres; but it has just expanded with Bethesdas take on the FPSWRPG, though that is mainly an evolution from your M&M games and such...anyway tangent). If I want to play a game of football but love fantasy football and like to manage my teams, players and interact with leagues, hey, lookey there!

    In fact it's gotten to the point that we view it as a bizarre oddity when games come out these days and stay "pure" to an old genre's restrictions (see: reaction to FFXIII, how critical people are of FPS's that don't have a driving narrative, etc). While I personally think that reaction is too overboard in the other direction; I think that we are in a better place with gaming, than gaming has every been in the past.

    I know it's common for people my age (30's+) to look back at, say, SNES era as the "golden age" of gaming; but I think the last bunch of years, and looking at releases down the road, not in danger of ending; we're truly in a golden age of gaming. Sure, we have your series that cant break out of the mold they set for themselves, like CoD or FF (even these are debatable on points); but just look at the options we have. I mean, our options are virtually unlimited at this point about what we play, and how we play it.

    I mean, my favorite games are typically those mixed genre games that would have been unheard of 10-15 years ago. Mass Effect games? Never would have happened (obviously, technologically, it wasn't viable; but I'm talking more about the industry attitude). Assassin's Creed? I mean a 3rd Person stealth action game that is a sci-fi historical fiction? Yeah, maybe in Hollywood but not in a video game. And it goes on.

    It's just the maturation of gaming. It happened with movies, music and other things. I mean, think about how obstinate people can be about music. How many times have you heard someone say something like "Man rock this day is derivative crap, it doesn't compare to the greats of <insert decade here>. That's not to say that they're wrong, since taste is subjective (though there is definitely some objectively "bad" music, but that is another topic entirely), but the attitude also limits the individual to a certain set of what is "best" and not really expand their taste or interests, which to me is depressing. And the same thing can be said about movies. Someone might look at Punch Drunk Love or Stranger than Fiction and bitch about having stupid comedy actors in thoughtful character pieces and get pissy about it. But the mixing of types, while sometimes failing, can bring about something that is more profound than would have been otherwise.

    So yeah; I'm fine with it. And I don't want to go back to the days of strict genre rules that older games come out of. I can still play the games that adhere to those rules (both new and old), but I like to also have devs throw a bunch of shit at the wall and see what sticks. We've gotten some amazing games out of it.

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  • VariableVariable Weed and Masturbation Stroke Me Lady FameRegistered User regular
    i know even mentioning the jrpg cliches is cliche at this point but that's what sort of ruined them for me. I used to read a game summary, even a back of the box, and get excited to go on that journey. now I can't find one that doesn't sound like another game I've played ten times.

    not to say there are no special jrpgs being made at this point but they're few and far between.

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  • RonaldoTheGypsyRonaldoTheGypsy I'm da BEST! Registered User regular
    I don't need new rpgs, I just keep replaying SD3 with a slightly different party layout.

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  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    Variable wrote: »
    i know even mentioning the jrpg cliches is cliche at this point but that's what sort of ruined them for me. I used to read a game summary, even a back of the box, and get excited to go on that journey. now I can't find one that doesn't sound like another game I've played ten times.

    not to say there are no special jrpgs being made at this point but they're few and far between.

    I think the key is to be more of a connoisseur. Even if you know all the cliches, you can still appreciate how they interact.

  • xraydogxraydog Registered User regular
    I think the premise is fairly accurate. But as others have said it isn't necessarily a bad thing. Genre blending has been happening for a long time and it's the result of developers getting more able to execute their creative vision, whatever that may be.

    Personally, the number one reason I play games is immersion and escapism. Anything a game does to further that is a plus. Whether it's a cinematic story line, fun game play, rich atmosphere, or all of the above if it can pull me out of reality for a little while I'll play it. This puts less emphasis on the specific genre and more on the experience as a whole. Journey is a recent example of this.

    So yeah, games have changed. I bet we could write pages on this if we wanted. There's a lot to think about.



  • naengwennaengwen Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Classic RPGs, eh? As in, JRPGs and stuff like Ultima? All right.

    Disagree with your central posit. To get "riveting plots, music, lavish cutscenes, and graphics", you got a PC game. There was not a single JRPG made at the time that could even hold a candle to something like Another World, or the glut of adventure games. That lasted through Chrono Trigger, through FF6, and even through FF7. Admittedly, cinematics might have been a factor for FF7's sudden jolt into the mainstream, but how many cinematics do you see in a game like Pokemon, which still uses the classic JRPG formula to this day and continues to capture more than every other JRPG with each iteration? Or most of the PC CRPGs, which generally involved text dumps, text dumps and more text dumps until around the same time games that weren't adventure games started adapting those features?

    No, the reasons have more to do with what set them apart from those fully cinematic games. Those levels of interaction that PC adventure games didn't do. The customization, the development, the frequent action and combat. Yeah, that's right, just because they didn't have that active feedback from the badguys every time your dude swung a sword didn't mean you weren't fighting more turtle demons than Mario fought in a single game before you got to the boss. They didn't need any of that fancy blood and gore, or any cinematics in their fights whatsoever. They had fucking numbers, man, and the bigger the numbers got, the crazier shit got. Even if our imaginations weren't filling in the blanks, we knew that doing 9999 damage made our characters bad asses.

    On top of that, the games were fucking long. You couldn't play long ass games in an arcade unless you lived right next to one and had a fistful of quarters. You couldn't play those games on the PC either unless you got your parents to spend an extra thousand bucks for a new computer they weren't gonna use, along with some weird chip that the games needed to make the 3d and sound work. You were always a flip of the switch away from your time traveling odyssey.

    But yeah, a lot of that stuff was spread around as time went on. On top of that, I'll echo @Salvation122's sentiments. Publishers have done a shit job spreading the love this gen, and that's contributed in large part to the general stigma non-Japanese countries have towards JRPGs now. I'd say there's still a lot of relevance there, regardless; look at the whole Xenoblade drive. Look at the love games like Dark Souls/Demon's Souls get. Fuck, look at Pokemon after over a decade of the same damn thing. They just need to push the right buttons again; one big success is enough to revitalize the whole business. It probably won't be a Chrono Trigger remake, mind you, or the FF7 remake that everyone's been yearning for for so long. We'll just have to wait and see what sticks.

    EDIT: Odd, didn't mean to quote that.

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  • SkexisSkexis Tongue Firmly in CheekRegistered User regular
    One aspect of classic JRPGs and WRPGs is that they tended towards a bit of character building and statistics managing that always placed them in a niche genre, the same as sim or economy games. It was a way for gamers to immerse themselves in history and lore (and of course, battling statistics) without stressing about quick reaction times or boss pattern recognition you might see in other games in the same era. Essentially when people used to call themselves RPG players, it meant that they were more on the adventure side than the action side of the coin. So to some extent I think what you're saying about genre blending holds true, and we can't unring the bell that makes all the games use ideas from each other.

    But if there's anything recent events have taught us, it's that people will buy the things that scratch their niche itch. Kickstarter is just one aspect of what I'm talking about, but an important one. The Wasteland project and Tim Schafer's game will probably affect production thinking in games for years to come. But we also have recent titles like Radiant Historia, Dungeons of Dredmor, or even the guys at Zeboyd Games to remind us that with a modest budget and a clear design goal, niche gaming can still amount to a significant amount of market share.

    In short, I think it's less a matter of dealing with irrelevance and more a matter of reaching the target audience once again.

  • Death of RatsDeath of Rats Registered User regular
    Grim Fandango did cinematic storytelling better than any JRPG. That's like... fact or something.

    JRPGs have tended to do poorly because the story and gameplay hasn't exactly progressed much in the last 20 or so years. This is especially true of the story, which is usually full of cliches, generally rather grimdark or overly cutesy, and doesn't work nearly as well with hi-res, fully realized graphics as opposed to tiny little pixel art. Myself, I can't take a FF story seriously when what's going on doesn't exactly match up to the characters I'm presented with. The same goes for the gameplay. The genre, which use to be pushing the medium forward, has fallen behind on the two things that use to make them stand out.

  • RaekreuRaekreu Registered User regular
    Objectively, JRPG developers eschewed the 360 because it sold like shit in Japan and the Wii because it didn't have the horsepower for their shiny pre-rendered cutscenes. The PS3 had a very small install base in the US for quite a while, so they sold like crap over here, so they stopped being produced or localized.

    Subjectively, JRPG stories got kind of fucking retarded and counter to American tastes sometime around WoW's release, further lowering American demand outside of the weeaboo demographic.

    The bolded part is something that I've thought about on and off for a while.

    I don't think that JRPGs run counter to American tastes. It's just that they're written and designed for their target audience -kids and teenagers, roughly ages 11-16. As we get older, the games appear more and more insipid because we're, y'know, not in that age bracket any longer.

    The whole lack of innovation in the genre...I'm gonna go out on a theoretical limb here and guess that Japanese developers can't conceive of a person in their 20s or older still playing video games. And if a person does, they're obviously some otaku weirdo, which isn't a demographic they want to target, unless they're one of those companies. So, basically, they crank out games meant for the 11-16 market and don't need to innovate for squat, because there will always be more 11-16 year olds that haven't played enough games to realize that they're playing heavily tarted up, well-marketed shovelware.

    Just my take, though.

  • ShadowhopeShadowhope Baa. Registered User regular

    It may be from coming into RPGs from a background in pen and paper RPG playing, but I don't really see a lot of standard RPG elements - or even games that most people consider to fall squarely in the RPG purview - to have anything to do with an RPG. Inventory management? That has nothing to do with roll playing. Leveling up? Nothing to do with roll playing. Combat? The system doesn't matter in the slightest. A FPS or RTS can just as easily be an RPG as a menu based combat system.

    Planescape: Torment, Baldur's Gate, Dragon Age and Mass Effect are the closest game series to being true RPGs that I've played, according to how I define RPGs. I admire the freedom of the Elder Scrolls games (and love them for what they are - I've easily put over 1,000 hours into Morrowind and Skyrim), but the minimal character interaction limits the extent to which I feel that I can role play. Or as I sometimes like to put it, "I can role play as anything I want in the Elder Scrolls series, as long as it's a solitary ax-crazy sociopath. Skyrim has added companions, so I feel slightly less solitary, but my relationships with them make me feel even more like a sociopath.

    What I want in an RPG game is to play a novel, where I can choose how my character goes through the novel. I don't need to pick out the actual dialog, I just want to be able to choose how the character reacts to the situation. If that makes sense. Ideally, I'd really want to be able to handle situations in all sorts of different ways, and it should feel to me like they're the same character handling a situation in different ways. Someone insults my character as I walk into a bar. I'd like to be able to try to be diplomatic, or punch them in the face, or make a sardonic quip of my own, or to threaten them, or to try to be charming, etc. The actual end result of the conversation might be only one of two or three options (or even inevitable in some cases) but how the character gets there and what's said along the way is important to me.

    Yes, I realize I can just pretend my character has awesome dialog in Skyrim. It's not the same. If my imagination alone was enough to fully entertain me, I wouldn't be playing video games, reading novels, or watching television and movies.

  • DisruptorX2DisruptorX2 Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    At some point, Japanese developers decided that instead of fast moving games with cool settings, we'd rather read/listen to books worth of insipid text and spend 10 minutes in each non-strategic turn based battle. That, or mash the X button constantly, ala Star Ocean.

    As far as Western style RPGs, they've been very dead for even longer. What passes for RPGs these days are barely that.

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  • Page-Page- Registered User regular
    I can't even remember the last time I bought an rpg for the story. Maybe something on the snes? Generally I play them for the gameplay, art, and characters. That's probably why I still enjoy Tales games but haven't cared much for anything Square has released in forever.

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  • JurgJurg In a TeacupRegistered User regular
    RPGs are weird and developers don't know how to make them accessible to newbies without making them insufferable for veterans. See: the "30 hour tutorial" for FFXIII. Even though that is largely overblown, the game doesn't ever get difficult until near the end, with the exception of Odin.

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  • CaptainNemoCaptainNemo Ascension. Ascension. Hallelujah. Registered User regular
    In order for me to like an RPG, it needs to have heart in it. A sense of spirit. It's why I prefer Fable III to Fallout: New Vegas.

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  • Ninja Snarl PNinja Snarl P ZOOOOOOOM! In spaaaace!Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    As far as Western style RPGs, they've been very dead for even longer. What passes for RPGs these days are barely that.

    I could do with a bit of expansion on that statement. Mass Effect franchise? Skyrim? Deus Ex: Human Revolution? RPGs with the quintessential Western focus of character building over just pumping up stat numbers or trying to drown the player in volumes of poor writing (well, except for Mass Effect, but even then it's only the really far end that's bad). If those aren't RPGs, even specifically Western ones, then RPGs just don't exist at all.

    Western RPG development is going plenty strong. Just because the genre isn't shackled to tedious gameplay any longer doesn't make the genre non-existent.

    EDIT: Just to throw in a bit on the original topic, I think what's moved JRPGs so far out of where they used to be is simply the cultural shift. Western cultures have been going one way and Japan went another. I have no doubt that the talent is still there, it's just not directed in a way that the Western world cares for any more.

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  • JurgJurg In a TeacupRegistered User regular
    In order for me to like an RPG, it needs to have heart in it. A sense of spirit. It's why I prefer Fable III to Fallout: New Vegas.

    I've never played either of these games but I like where you're going with this. It's why Gitarooman is my favorite game even though there are plenty of games that are more polished and "better." I always think the bests of anything got there halfway by brilliance, halfway by accident.

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  • CaptainNemoCaptainNemo Ascension. Ascension. Hallelujah. Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Jurg wrote: »
    In order for me to like an RPG, it needs to have heart in it. A sense of spirit. It's why I prefer Fable III to Fallout: New Vegas.

    I've never played either of these games but I like where you're going with this. It's why Gitarooman is my favorite game even though there are plenty of games that are more polished and "better." I always think the bests of anything got there halfway by brilliance, halfway by accident.

    Well, the Fable games are never as polished or smooth as other RPGs, but they do their own thing, and are willing to be silly and dorky in a way other RPGs would never be. They each try to do something new, and I love that.

    I'll always prefer something that tries to innovate over something that just remakes, even if it fails.

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  • DhalphirDhalphir don't you open that trapdoor you're a fool if you dareRegistered User regular
    the last RPG I played that I would really consider to be a "classic" Western RPG would be Neverwinter Nights.

    Maybe NWN2, but I didn't play that.

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  • JurgJurg In a TeacupRegistered User regular
    Jurg wrote: »
    In order for me to like an RPG, it needs to have heart in it. A sense of spirit. It's why I prefer Fable III to Fallout: New Vegas.

    I've never played either of these games but I like where you're going with this. It's why Gitarooman is my favorite game even though there are plenty of games that are more polished and "better." I always think the bests of anything got there halfway by brilliance, halfway by accident.

    Well, the Fable games are never as polished or smooth as other RPGs, but they do their own thing, and are willing to be silly and dorky in a way other RPGs would never be. They each try to do something new, and I love that.

    I'll always prefer something that tries to innovate over something that just remakes, even if it fails.

    Hell

    yeah.

    Ever play Contact? That's my #1 "weird RPG that would've been awesome if they had more time/money". Also my "if you could pick any game to get a sequel..." game.

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  • Salvation122Salvation122 Registered User regular
    Thinking back, the last JRPG that I got excited about was either Skies of Arcadia or Grandia 2 on Dreamcast.

    I played like two hours of FF10 and just kinda went "nope."

    There hasn't been a single one since that I really wanted to play, because it's "hey here's Final Fucking Fantasy Again, now with more exhaustive pointless grinding and ultra-androgyny."

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  • -Tal-Tal I am Gabe Newell, creator of Penny Arcade PM me if you want an anime subforumRegistered User regular
    JRPGs remain alive and well on handhelds.

  • DisruptorX2DisruptorX2 Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Western RPG development is going plenty strong. Just because the genre isn't shackled to tedious gameplay any longer doesn't make the genre non-existent.

    I think shooters, like Mass Effect, are tedious. Gears of War, the game Mass Effect mimics, is one of the most boring games I've ever played.

    Deus Ex HR is not an RPG. I liked it, though.

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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    Western RPG development is going plenty strong. Just because the genre isn't shackled to tedious gameplay any longer doesn't make the genre non-existent.

    I think shooters, like Mass Effect, are tedious. Gears of War, the game Mass Effect mimics, is one of the most boring games I've ever played.

    Deus Ex HR is not an RPG. I liked it, though.

    As I think several people have pointed out already, this heavily depends on if you're defining RPG as "a game where you play a role" or "an inventory management/statistical number-crunching spreadsheet."

  • DhalphirDhalphir don't you open that trapdoor you're a fool if you dareRegistered User regular
    Its hard for me to mentally separate RPGs from elves, wizards, sorcerors, and warriors.

    That's all I'm saying.

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  • farbekriegfarbekrieg Registered User regular
    RPGs are still made and redonkulously profitable, the issue i think people are pointing to is the usurping of game mechanics from other genres. There was a time where games worked hard to maintain rigid boundries that game X is a strict FPS and game Y is a RPG, but mixing and matching game mechanics have vastly improved the gaming experience. Deus Ex as an example of a FPS/RPG blend.

    Problem 0> RPG is so wide a definition that everyone will have their own definition and qualifications of what makes it a true RPG, JRPG, WRPG, Action RPG, FPS/TBS/RTS with rpg elements.

    Problem 1> publishers view RPGs as being most profitable as MMOs, which is why you see the popular franchises moving (and for the most part failing) into the mmo arena. Publishers arent as bad as cancer or anything, but that polyp in the rectum that is close to cancerous activity. Basically money came between people who love to make games, and people who love to play games. Unfortunately a lot of people who know how to make fun games, arent good at staying profitable.

    Problem 2> audience : the audience of video games has grown exponentially, and their attitudes and tastes are being built into games, and for the most part they arent willing to put up with the shit that developers used to throw into games, terms like grinding, death trap, and unfair are all viewed with such a negative connotation these days. Making your audience work for something is going to shrink your target demo graphic which sells fewer games meaning publishers will shy away from the idea. One of my main draws for both TES and Everquest was all the optional lore you could read about if you worked at things. Now its seen as very niche market and if dont get 'bonuses' for reading something people wont do it.

    problem 3> Real time, Action oriented RPGS this is where all the money is being dumped in making the game frantic fast and 'epic' the mini boss or even stage boss doesnt need a story he just needs a gimmick you must employ to beat him. No one wants to drop money on a story, particularly one that branches, think of how many games promise an interactive story based on your choices, but your choices are so trivial as to be cosmetic at best and insulting at worst. Think of the best story you ever experienced in a video, and now ask yourself how long ago that was. Why arent we getting better stories?

    problem 4> Franchises. everyone wants to make an IP and cash in on it, this leads to stagnation, innovative people made the first game and they are tasked with making a sequel that is new and different, but follows the same formula as the last game. This leads to shinier graphics but dull and repetitive gameplay, and not just afflicting RPGS, basically trying different fun things costs money, and if they dont make money no one wants to take the risk involved of losing money. So in addition to pigeon holing creative people into revisiting old ideas, you have the shovelware market following the plan, so you have 87 generic title X clones.

    So basically its a combination of a lot of things, and Im saddened by RPGs fleeing the PC as a machine of choice, because i think lack of PC support is one stakes being driven into the corpse that is RPGs. Particularly if you want me to play your shitty MMO on pc but wont release your non mmo versions on pc *cough* *FF* *cough*.

    I do hope that kickstarter will usher in a new wave of RPGs and adventure games allowing devs and gamers a degree of freedom not seen since the 90s.



  • ZxerolZxerol The fullest, most luscious beard. Registered User regular
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Western RPG development is going plenty strong. Just because the genre isn't shackled to tedious gameplay any longer doesn't make the genre non-existent.

    I think shooters, like Mass Effect, are tedious. Gears of War, the game Mass Effect mimics, is one of the most boring games I've ever played.

    Deus Ex HR is not an RPG. I liked it, though.

    As I think several people have pointed out already, this heavily depends on if you're defining RPG as "a game where you play a role" or "an inventory management/statistical number-crunching spreadsheet."

    If there's anything I've learned about videogame pedantry is that no one can come to consensus to what a "role-playing game" actually is. Is it stats and leveling up? COD MP must be an rpg of some sort. Must you play an actual role that you have created? Then games with per-defined characters straight up do not qualify, like The Witcher or pretty much all Final Fantasy games ever save for FF1 and 3 (a stance that some really hardcore do actually ascribe to). Then you have the smartasses that claim that pretty much all games ever made is a role-playing game because you play a character role of some sort by technical, letter-of-the-word definition, olols.

    Or maybe if you're ultra-orthodox, it's not an RPG unless you have a DM behind a divider plotting ways of making your life a living hell.

    Is DX:HR more of an RPG than Mass Effect? I think so. Would I disagree if someone argues otherwise? Fuck no, because that way lies madness.

  • DhalphirDhalphir don't you open that trapdoor you're a fool if you dareRegistered User regular
    Kickstarter isn't going to give us any great games.

    Even if a game gets a million bucks funding on Kickstarter, that only pays for about 10 man years of work, which isn't going to produce many quality games.

    Tube-san wrote:
    I apologise for my rudeness desu.
  • -Tal-Tal I am Gabe Newell, creator of Penny Arcade PM me if you want an anime subforumRegistered User regular
    COD Multiplayer is absolutely an RPG.

  • AegeriAegeri Registered User regular
    As far as Western style RPGs, they've been very dead for even longer. What passes for RPGs these days are barely that.

    Personally I think Witcher 2 is the best example of the genre in a long (and I mean long) time, Dragon Age: Origins was a great Baldurs Gate like RPG (albeit, the sequel was absolutely balls in every respect), Skyrim IMO managed to dump the mindless aspect of Oblivion (which I detested) but still isn't quite as unique as Morrowind (will give you that) and there are so many varied great fantasy RPGs at the moment as well. For example Dark Souls and Dragon's Dogma are really great fantasy RPGs with fantastic combat systems (even if developed in Japan, their design and development feels very western). As for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, that game was really good as well and certainly qualifies as an RPG (if we're going to count older JRPGs as "RPGs", then DE:HR is certainly one in every respect).

    The Mass Effect trilogy - except for its utterly insipid last 10 minutes - is arguably one of the best thought out RPG series ever made. There are significant impacts from choices in the first two games upon how the third will play out, being incredibly satisfying once you get that far. While the sequels did ditch a lot of the RPG aspects of the first game, they did so for the better. As gameplay wise ME2/ME3 are far superior to ME, which suffered a lot from crippling its combat with unreliable aiming, as your characters skills in relevant guns determined accuracy - a poor way of doing an RPG with 3rd person shooting at its core. While ME2 went too far in some ways, ME3 bought back the more relevant aspects to me such as upgrades for weapons, making a wider array of guns actually useful and some more options for how your powers worked. Ultimately remembered it was a third person shooter and should therefore have shooting mechanics that didn't suck. It's a shame Alpha Protocol didn't remember this, because it was a fantastic game with really interesting effects from its dialog system. But the really super shitty combat system just ruined the whole game.

    For more oldschool gameplay there are now hardly any worries in this department as well. Given that we've now got several 2D Isometric RPGs on the way (thank you kickstarter) with Wasteland 2, Shadowrun Returns and Banner Saga, I see the genre as better, more inclusive and with more options than it's ever had. I haven't felt this happy about the RPG genre since Fallout, Baldurs Gate 2, Icewind Dale and similar games were regularly being made. Given that Brian Fargo (as an example) was involved with some of my favourite older RPGs of all time, I am really looking forward to Wasteland 2.

    I will admit though that I find the JRPG genre in general to be getting pretty bad. FFXIII wasn't that great and FFXIII-2 I just didn't get the time to buy over other things when it came out (albeit I heard that was decent). Resonance of Fate was a terrific game though (But balls fucking hard). Um, can't really think of any other notable JRPGs I've played since the times I owned a PS2, where I played tons every year (given that Dark Souls/Dragon's Dogma are both very western like in design - not like typical JRPGs). I have however been collecting all the older games Square have put out on iPad. Chrono Trigger is still a fantastic game (it's aged so well) and so is Final Fantasy III - happily paid my monies again for those.

  • mntorankusumntorankusu Registered User regular
    I wish people still made good JRPGs with interesting turn-based battle systems.

    "Good" and "turn-based" seem to be mutually exclusive these days, and I just don't like JRPGs with faux-action-game battle systems because they always seem to mix all of the wrong elements (for my taste) from both genres together.

  • AegeriAegeri Registered User regular
    There is Resonance of Fate if you haven't played it, which has an excellent turn based style combat system (albeit, enemies can move while you are doing stuff, but you have all the time in the world to decide what to do on your turn). It's story is fairly clumsily put across and not that well directed until the end of the game, but it's a very fun and very satisfying game. I recommend giving it a look if you haven't played it.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    Zxerol wrote: »
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Western RPG development is going plenty strong. Just because the genre isn't shackled to tedious gameplay any longer doesn't make the genre non-existent.

    I think shooters, like Mass Effect, are tedious. Gears of War, the game Mass Effect mimics, is one of the most boring games I've ever played.

    Deus Ex HR is not an RPG. I liked it, though.

    As I think several people have pointed out already, this heavily depends on if you're defining RPG as "a game where you play a role" or "an inventory management/statistical number-crunching spreadsheet."

    If there's anything I've learned about videogame pedantry is that no one can come to consensus to what a "role-playing game" actually is. Is it stats and leveling up? COD MP must be an rpg of some sort. Must you play an actual role that you have created? Then games with per-defined characters straight up do not qualify, like The Witcher or pretty much all Final Fantasy games ever save for FF1 and 3 (a stance that some really hardcore do actually ascribe to). Then you have the smartasses that claim that pretty much all games ever made is a role-playing game because you play a character role of some sort by technical, letter-of-the-word definition, olols.

    Or maybe if you're ultra-orthodox, it's not an RPG unless you have a DM behind a divider plotting ways of making your life a living hell.

    Is DX:HR more of an RPG than Mass Effect? I think so. Would I disagree if someone argues otherwise? Fuck no, because that way lies madness.

    Well, as a tabletop roleplayer, the most useful definition for me is "a story-heavy game where you make choices of significance while pretending to be someone else." This largely leaves out the JRPG, but I'm okay with that; JRPGs evolved from games that copied the one aspect of tabletop roleplay that computers of the era could reasonably reproduce, eg the dungeon crawl, and nearly every evolution of the JRPG since has added more complexity and sophistication to that basic model (increasingly intricate tactical systems or leveling systems or inventory systems, increasingly lavish presentation and story) without adding a whole lot of in-character choice-making.

    Witcher, Skyrim, Fallout, Deus Ex, Mass Effect - all the rest of them have large amounts of in-character, story-significant choice. That is the thread that connects them despite their wildly varying gameplay. The scope of those choices is always necessarily curtailed and defined somewhat by the game design - you can't have in-depth conversations in Skyrim, and you can't be an elderly cat-person in Mass Effect - but that's true of tabletop gaming as well.

  • Ninja Snarl PNinja Snarl P ZOOOOOOOM! In spaaaace!Registered User regular
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Western RPG development is going plenty strong. Just because the genre isn't shackled to tedious gameplay any longer doesn't make the genre non-existent.

    I think shooters, like Mass Effect, are tedious. Gears of War, the game Mass Effect mimics, is one of the most boring games I've ever played.

    Deus Ex HR is not an RPG. I liked it, though.

    As I think several people have pointed out already, this heavily depends on if you're defining RPG as "a game where you play a role" or "an inventory management/statistical number-crunching spreadsheet."

    Those two roles are basically how I see the JRPG/Western RPG dichotomy. Western RPGs favor the approach of letting you shape the character and story you want while JRPGs favor giving you a defined role you experience the way the developers set up for you. It's not set in stone, but there's a definite trend.

    And to refine what I said about gameplay, just because you don't like the gameplay doesn't mean the genre is dead. The biggest stumbling block for me right now for playing Planescape Torment is that I just have no desire to deal with a wholly outdated and tedious gameplay style. I had the same problem with the Witcher; even if the story behind it is great, I just don't have the time to spend hours on sub-standard gameplay to get to the fun parts of the game. On the other hand, I have no problem playing Fallout 1/2 because that gameplay was actually good and enjoyable.

    In general, RPGs are doing better than ever because so many games utilize RPG elements. To me, it's a good thing that there are no "pure" RPG experiences because the idea is now more of an industry staple than a genre. It's something like the topic of FPS games. Used to be that "FPS" pretty much meant something like Quake; nowadays, "FPS" pretty much just means an element of the game is that you play from a first-person perspective and shoot things but does very little to describe what the game is like. Borderlands, Fallout:New Vegas, the Halo games, the CoD series, and the STALKER series are all FPS games, but that doesn't do anything to describe how they actually play even though they're all completely different. Similarly, describing a game as an "RPG" just doesn't give enough info any more because there are so many different ways that those elements are implemented now.

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