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[PATV] Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - Extra Credits Season 4, Ep. 3: Western & Japanese RPGs (pa

DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
edited September 2012 in The Penny Arcade Hub

image[PATV] Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - Extra Credits Season 4, Ep. 3: Western & Japanese RPGs (part 1)

This week, we begin a three-part series discussing (and defining) Western RPGs and JRPGs.
Come discuss this topic in the forums!

Read the full story here


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    GuiltyLightGuiltyLight Registered User regular
    Calling them RPGs at all is part of the problem. There's very little roleplaying to be had in almost any RPG, western or eastern. This becomes especially bad with any game that incorporates a morality system, and even worse when rewards or powerups of any kind are tied to leaning heavily in one direction or the other. In most "RPGs" there is no choice. You really just pick "good protag" or "bad protag" at the start and most people seem to stick to one or the other the vaaaaaaaaaast majority of the time with rare exceptions.

    And this is not just an argument about how video games can't really offer the unlimited options you would have in tabletop. Because that's obvious and we all know that. This is about something else.

    Even in games like Baldur's Gate your answers were generally guided by the fact that if you picked the wrong choices with the wrong party members present, you were penalized by possibly losing those party members, being cut out of romance quests, or not being able to achieve specific rewards. You weren't roleplaying... you were doing mental math to figure out how to maximize your benefits, whether the benefit was keeping a party member happy or unlocking new powers.

    And therein is the complete difference between actually roleplaying and "video game RPGs." You aren't roleplaying in the vast majority of vRPGs. You're just picking dialogue options for benefits, not because you're actually roleplaying a character's personality. Now I'm sure there are some die-hards out there who actually do pick widely varying answers as they play, but most don't, because almost every game actively penalizes you for doing so, including locking you out of a ton of the game's story and content!

    And most importantly, a ton of real roleplaying isn't good vs neutral vs evil choices. It's about HOW you want to go about achieving a goal. It's about creating a personal style and way of behaving and tackling problems. And VERY few so-called RPGs actually even scratch the surface of that. Partly for technical limitations and partly because vRPG creators just don't understand what roleplaying is.

    It's -not- choosing whether to save the cat from the tree or torching it with a flamethrower to unlock a bland sex scene with the good girl (or guy) or bad girl (or guy).

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    lordhobanlordhoban Registered User regular
    I disagree wholeheartedly with GuiltyLight. People have the option to delve further into roleplaying a character or not. And it is true, you have far more open endedness with an actual tabletop rpg, but that doesn't make the computer rpg not an rpg.

    I have fond memories of characters I played in the first two fallouts, Kotor 1/2, Mass Effect, Arcanum, and to a lesser degree, Baldur's Gate 1/2.

    Maybe you just went for how best to maximize your benefits, but please don't presume to know the rest of us or dismiss us outright as 'die-hards'... That's insulting. I prefer RPGs on computer because you can get lost in a role, you can play how moral or immoral your character is. I remember at the end of Fallout during one playthrough, my character decided to deliver towns from the post apocalyse by wiping them out. Other times, I had an extremely moral character. But I'm considering how to play not usually because of perceived benefits, though that can factor in depending on the circumstances/quest/character. And I know not everyone who plays a CRPG is going to delve into the character, but so what? Everyone finds their own enjoyment from it, getting their own experience.

    A good CRPG gives you choices for how to play your character. Obviously, there are limitations, as the creators can't think of everything, but still, gives as many varied choices as possible.

    For me, an rpg is defining a character, that you are building as you go, and interacting with the world(s), by talking with npcs and taking on quests/missions. An RPG is about choice and interaction and development.

    So yes. They are very much RPGs. Many of the original games, no, because they didn't have much in the way of choice and their systems were rather limited... but the genre has advanced to the point where there are many good examples of well done CRPGs.

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    WUAWUA Registered User regular
    Look, if the player's choices in a CRPG have consequences then some people are obviously going to min/max those choices. Except for the relative ease with which spoilers can be looked up, this isn't really any different than how lots of people choose to play tabletop RPGs.

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    SigvulcanasSigvulcanas Registered User new member
    You can think of a label like JRPG like terms like Scotch and Campaign. The product derives it's unique characteristics and methods from the place it originated.

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    Twenty SidedTwenty Sided Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    The thing is that a lot of games have you play some kind of role, however limited. People associate RPG's with a bundle of generic fantasy settings, level-up mechanics, character customization and the like. But those mechanics are not roleplaying, they're relics of tabletop RPG's. And they're frequently divorced from their initial design goals.

    Does it make sense that your high fantasy good guy is a kleptomaniac who randomly robs some peasant's home? Well no, but it's a sacred cow of RPG's.

    In Master of Orion 2, you are playing a megalomanical Emperor trying to conquer the galaxy. In Portal, you're a woman trying to escape the Aperture labs.

    Neither are examples of "pure" roleplaying per se, but if there's any amount of immersion in the game's narrative, that's where you are roleplaying. Whether you are cackling evilly because you went all Death Star on an enemy homeworld or because you've come to a catharsis about the unhinged computer AI.

    A great example of "roleplaying" in games are Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain. The games work primarily by motivating the player to make a decision based on the events of the plot.

    Twenty Sided on
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