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What makes RPGs good or bad?


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#1 Runuin   Members   -  Reputation: 106

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 10:50 PM

Hi, I am a student currently working on my masters in Game Design at Full Sail University. For my thesis, I hope to create a list of guidelines for Role-playing games (RPG). I’m seeking feedback from players on what makes RPGs good or bad. If you’re interested in helping me please click the link below and take my survey.

https://www.surveymo.../rpg_guidelines

Sponsor:

#2 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 966

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 07:20 AM

How do you define "good" and "bad"? By using a survey, I suppose you are defining "good" features as those which are the most popular, which could be contrary to the usual meaning of "good". E.g. A lot more people watched and like the movie "Transformers 2" than the oscar winning movie "The Artist". Does that mean that the elements that make up "Transformers 2" are good?

Perhaps it might be more useful to see it as developing a product for a specific audience, instead of finding "good" features to incorporate into a game in order to make it "good". E.g. If you're considering the "Transformer 2" movie market segment, then knowing how to write great dialogue won't help you much.

Also, people play RPGs for different reasons: some like massive amount of customization, some like story, some like open-world, some prefer action etc. It might be useful to identify the broad reasons that people play RPGs instead of trying to find key features that appeals to everyone.

Best of luck in your research. :)

#3 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7149

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 08:51 AM

This is an extremely subjective topic as Legendre stated.
I would personally focus on causes of frustration. It is hard to define what people like and why, but its generally easier to measure frustration than fun.
In some occurences, the RIGHT contrary to something that causes frustration won't necessarily be fun, but it may be "good" design.

I would definitely specify what good or bad means before going any further with this as your results may be erroneous otherwise...

#4 Waterlimon   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2443

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:07 AM

I dont like rpgs that have a ton of magic related stuff... I just feel the creators like naming everything "The epic axe of magical ancient wizards of doom" and you use that to kill "The dragon-demon of ash and fire and death and doom"

o.e

o3o


#5 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7149

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:42 AM

I just feel the creators like naming everything

Did you know that human beings liked to name things to give it a unique meaning? If you look back in history, you'll see a lot of swords and villains gain unique names (Morholt, Durandale, Tyrfing, Mjolnir, Excalibur).
Sometimes, when you look more closely, "unique" names come from actual phrases: Lucifer actually is a construct from Lux Ferre, which is latin for Light Bearer (a clear reference to the greek Prometheus, who was a traitor to the gods for bringing fire to mankind).

The truth is that that's what we do, so why not do it in rpgs too? Or are you concerned about the lack of flavor to support these names? (i.e. Diablo naming conventions which make a lot of generic, soul-less magical items)

#6 Waterlimon   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2443

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:50 AM

Sorry i didnt put much thought in my post, but i just generally dislike fantasy/magic themed rpg's because they feel too unreal (even if magic itself was real) and kind of boring. A huge powerful monster isnt interesting because in a unrealistic magical world anything is possible. There could be a 10 times bigger one somewhere else. Theres a lot of cool things but everything exist because magic.

Not sure about the higher quality rpg's but all the rpg's i find all look like a fantasy world full of random magic items and magic creatures with no structure behind it all.

o3o


#7 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7149

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 10:43 AM

I've seen great examples of games that didn't use magic as an excuse but as an ingredient.
Magic should have its own limitations. In fantasy worlds, its part of the lore, but it can and can't do certain things.
The problem that you underline (which I fully agree on) is when certain developers take magic as an incoherent excuse to bring about impressive things.
This generally leads to strange situations where a player, which can clearly use magic, is said to not have enough magical might to perform the same thing as a villain, which apparently can destroy the entire world.

I like Skyrim because it puts magic as a subset of rules that are available to all. You can create fire out of thin air, but so can everybody else, and everyone has learned to adapt to that. Guards will say "destruction magic is fine, a slong as you don't set the village on fire". This is a very nice one-liner as it helps you understand that magic is part of their lore, it has always been there, and people are ok with it. Yet, never in Skyrim will you see someone destroying the whole world using magic alone. Otherwise, Ulfric could've conducted his revolution war with but a few mages, but he actually needs a lot of capable warriors to take forts and advance through the lands.
There is only one creature above this, and it is the dragon, from which magic may originate.

What I have problems with is a system like what you see in the Harry Potter's movies. There are fickle words attached to strange meanings, and you can pretty much do anything if you know the words and incantation. This does not let you grasp the meaning of magic, define its borders, and any given enemy could surprise you by knowing a spell you don't know could even exist. It is a cheap trick the author can use to summon additionnal content at a moment's notice and this isn't fun. You need to be able to have that suspension of disbelief, be part of the world, assume the extent of magic, what its for, how it works, and what are its limitations, otherwise, the designer can always pull a rabbit out of his hat.

#8 ZeroBeat   Members   -  Reputation: 519

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 11:52 AM

Like people above have stated, what makes a game good or bad is very subjective.
Minimising frustration is probably what will make a game in broad sence good rather than bad.

Things such as Good Project Management and Consistent Game Rules Design can lead to a good game. This way at least the game hopefully represents what the developers wanted to accomplish to a suitable level. But then again this is hard to do in the real world due to budget, time, priorities......

Like Legendre says, there are different genres (reasons why people play ) of RPGs. Depending upon the gameplay whats good and bad would differ. In Mass Effect having good/highly responsive controls would be more important than in Final Fantasy I.

#9 Densoro   Members   -  Reputation: 196

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 06:23 PM

Personally, what can make or break a game for me is how much I feel like my character fits their role. So many games say "Oh my god this dude is the best fighter ever, respect!" but his amazing skill is just spinning around until people fall over dead. The master swordsman archetype is so heavily ingrained in fiction that people feel they can skimp on showing what makes one, but that just makes the title -- and the character as a result -- empty. It's gotten to the point where fistfights end with one hit while you need to hit a dude with a sword 70 times to make him fall over, which is exactly opposite of how it works. Maybe that was interesting at one point when somebody used it perfectly in their story, but now it's the go-to cliche that leaves everything flat and unexplained.

The one saving grace of Legend of Legaia -- a game with an otherwise laughable plot -- was the combat system. Even though you were putting on the usual (incredibly well-designed) weapons and armor, your fight command was a series of brutal combos designed to flow together wonderfully, carrying impact and making you feel that you really were playing a feral child, a martial arts student, and a Buddhist monk. Similarly, Resonance of Fate's Hero Gauge-based battle system actually makes you feel like one of those important people that Storm Troopers can't draw bead on. It literally quantifies plot armor and lets you be an action hero while still rewarding tactical thinking.

Compare this to the tidal wave of games about a funny-haired kid with a sword most bodybuilders couldn't use, beating up giant robots. So many RPGs flop because there's just no personality, no attachment to your character, your role.

#10 aattss   Members   -  Reputation: 383

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 07:25 PM

Generally, there are two types of RPGs. There's the JRPG and the Western RPG. JRPGs are (traditionally) defined with a good narrative, and Western RPGs are known for expressionism. However, what they share in common is abnegation, which essentially means that you can play it to progress when you aren't feeling like doing something that takes adrenaline or difficult tactics, even if you're encouraged to do so. You can always just go grind on something, which is unique as most games don't reward you for doing the same thing over and over again. As such, an RPG should give the player the option to strongly express who they want to be, give an interesting narrative with interesting characters, and let the player make improvements by doing relatively simple tasks.

#11 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7149

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 12:05 AM

Compare this to the tidal wave of games about a funny-haired kid with a sword most bodybuilders couldn't use, beating up giant robots. So many RPGs flop because there's just no personality, no attachment to your character, your role.


Interestingly enough, I was very much attached to Chrono in Chrono Trigger, despite the fact this is the exact depiction you could make of that game. Chrono is awesome because he has, yes, only a single line of text in the entire game. He's meant to be a reflexion of your inner self onto the game and to some degree it helps. Rather than break the fourth wall, characters speak to someone that is there, an extent of who you are. He is not a conventional character by any stretch, but his hair style can be forgiven by his awesomeness to kill alien super-baddies with LIGHT alone...

Generally, there are two types of RPGs. There's the JRPG and the Western RPG. JRPGs are (traditionally) defined with a good narrative, and Western RPGs are known for expressionism. However, what they share in common is abnegation, which essentially means that you can play it to progress when you aren't feeling like doing something that takes adrenaline or difficult tactics, even if you're encouraged to do so. You can always just go grind on something, which is unique as most games don't reward you for doing the same thing over and over again. As such, an RPG should give the player the option to strongly express who they want to be, give an interesting narrative with interesting characters, and let the player make improvements by doing relatively simple tasks.


Hey, I've read that exact post somewhere else...
Was it wikipedia or some other article? It was a nice read, but you should say its a quote out of professionnal humility...

#12 aattss   Members   -  Reputation: 383

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 06:48 AM


Compare this to the tidal wave of games about a funny-haired kid with a sword most bodybuilders couldn't use, beating up giant robots. So many RPGs flop because there's just no personality, no attachment to your character, your role.


Interestingly enough, I was very much attached to Chrono in Chrono Trigger, despite the fact this is the exact depiction you could make of that game. Chrono is awesome because he has, yes, only a single line of text in the entire game. He's meant to be a reflexion of your inner self onto the game and to some degree it helps. Rather than break the fourth wall, characters speak to someone that is there, an extent of who you are. He is not a conventional character by any stretch, but his hair style can be forgiven by his awesomeness to kill alien super-baddies with LIGHT alone...

Generally, there are two types of RPGs. There's the JRPG and the Western RPG. JRPGs are (traditionally) defined with a good narrative, and Western RPGs are known for expressionism. However, what they share in common is abnegation, which essentially means that you can play it to progress when you aren't feeling like doing something that takes adrenaline or difficult tactics, even if you're encouraged to do so. You can always just go grind on something, which is unique as most games don't reward you for doing the same thing over and over again. As such, an RPG should give the player the option to strongly express who they want to be, give an interesting narrative with interesting characters, and let the player make improvements by doing relatively simple tasks.


Hey, I've read that exact post somewhere else...
Was it wikipedia or some other article? It was a nice read, but you should say its a quote out of professionnal humility...


It isn't an actual quote, although I can give some credit to http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/western-japanese-rpgs-part-1.

#13 Platinum314   Members   -  Reputation: 206

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 10:49 AM

What I think makes an RPG good is when it provides meaningful choices. Although this can be argued for all types of games.

I get bored very quickly once I realize that the characters are leveling up in a fashion I have little control over, its just one long script where I just progress from one point to the next with lots of grinding in between. I usually don't care much for the Final Fantasy games for this reason, however I did take an interest to FF5 for it's job system.

The ability to make your own choices in character progression and exploration are key to me. If there is no room for experimentation I don't see much of a point.

There is an interesting exception though, sometimes I am playing a game that has a storyline so gripping I must continue playing just to see what comes next. However at that point it is no longer primarily a game then a book.

Taking a look at my Good Old Games Account I have all of the Ultima Games from 1 to 8, including Underworld 1 and 2, The Black Isle RPGs (Baldur's Gate, Planescape torment, etc) and Fallout 1, 2. So I suppose this is what I consider good RPGs.
The sentence below is true.The sentence above is false.And by the way, this sentence only exists when you are reading it.




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