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Nazrix

Must RPGs have a story?

95 posts in this topic

Why is it almost everyone would say an RPG _must_ have a story to be an RPG, where an FPS does not have to have a story to be an FPS? People always compare the RPG experience to being like reading a book. Why must this be so? If you want an RPG to be like a book, you can read a book. You don't even to deal w/ the stupid battles impeding the precious narrative. I'm not even really talking about interactivity vs. linearity. I'm more talking about why _must_ RPGs contain a heavy overwhelming narrative that dictates what's happening? PnP RPGs (wouldn't this be where the term RPG was first coined? I may be wrong.) did have a history of the world and so on, but when it came to the actual player's experiencing the game I don't think many DMs had a sequential narrative laid out. If Quake had absolutely no story (meaning narrative) people would not notice, and people would still like it. Yes, I am using the tactic of the elusive Landfish. I just think this all has to do w/ our pre-conceived notions on what an RPG is. ""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator "All you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be." -Pink Floyd Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself. Edited by - Nazrix on 10/22/00 6:23:05 PM
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Hmmm, Landfish-style kung fu? Ah... Very powerful.

I think you''re right Nazrix. All that is required of a Role-playing Game is that the player Plays a Role. Now, story helps to define a role for the player, but it is by no means necessary.

However, all games without stories tend to bore me to tears. Maybe it''s just be, but I enjoy one, mebbe two matches of UT before I want to pass out from boredom. I can''t imagine the traditional RPG combat setup entertaining anyone for a minute flat without a driving story.

So, yeah, Naz. You''re right, but to what end?
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See, I don't know about that role thing either. I mean, it could be said that in any game you're playing a role. In Quake you're playing a role of some guy who blows away everything in sight.

I think what you said before, LF, was right. We don't know WTF an RPG is, yet we use the word so freely.

Personally, I'm thinking of never using the term RPG again. It has lost all meaning (assuming it ever had meaning).




""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator

"All you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be." -Pink Floyd

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


Edited by - Nazrix on October 22, 2000 7:39:55 PM
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You have some points, Nazrix. I actually have an example to prove you right and another to prove you wrong. Pokémon was a relatively good game despite its utter lack of a plot. On the other hand is Quest 64. It had really nice graphics, cool special effects but next to no real story. That game made me gag. I was seriously considering sending a letter to THQ (was it them who made it?) to let them know how big a bag of crap that game was.

Personally though, I prefer my RPGs to have plots. It''s what makes me want to finish the game.

-Goku
SANE Productions Homepage
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The fact is that there is no defining concept that makes one game fit in a particular genre.

I think genres are another name for just building on what other people have come up with. We all have said things like "it will be a [insert one of the many industry's genres] only it will [contain some concept that provides a slight twist on an already-created genre].

It seems that when we create a game using the concept of a genre, all that's happening is that we are saying "I'll use the basic premise of someone else's concept that has been given a name by the community then build on that."

There's a big difference between being inspired by someone's ideas, and using the basis of a genre as the heart of the game.

I was about to say FPS's and RTS's are more straightforward, but they are not. They're really in the same boat.




""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator

"All you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be." -Pink Floyd

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


Edited by - Nazrix on October 22, 2000 8:10:02 PM
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I think we should create games that evoke a certain emotion and forget about what the industry will call it. I know I am not the 1st to say this, but I just had to say it again

We should stop saying "This is what''s wrong w/ RPGs: blah blah" cause we don''t know what they are. We don''t know what makes an RPG an RPG or any other 3 letter initial for a genre.

We should just aim for a certain entitiy that our game will present to the audience and form everything toward that entity.



""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator

"All you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be." -Pink Floyd

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.
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quote:

So, yeah, Naz. You''re right, but to what end?



Ah ha! I used the elusive Landfish tecnique against you


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From experience, I would say a roleplaying game in its truest nature is a game in which you control the main character''s (or main characters'') personality(ies). And what is the point of playing a personality without having a story to back it up? Also, how can a game that relies solely on numbers (that is, one which is about playing the numbers to their utmost advantage) really be considered on a parallel to games that lead you into a character''s view of the world, community, or state of being?

By that definition, games like Diablo, Quake, Command & Conquer, Pong, and so on, are not even remotely considerable as RPGs, though some might argue otherwise. Fallout was almost an RPG, the old SSI games were medieval strategy games. Secret of Mana was almost close, the older Final Fantasies were way off (bring on the flames!). Maybe I''m being overly critical and overly analytical, but it just bugs me to hell to know that so many factors -- related to the fact that computers make it easy to create wargames and slap "RPG" labels on them -- have turned the most artistic variation of electronic entertainment into little more than mathematical strategy.

MatrixCubed
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Yes, LF, it's been eating at me for quite some time, and I finally have come to realize why.

We have all become so presumptuous as to what an RPG must contain, and it's all so subjective. I know you brought this up before LF, but it's finally hitting me w/ the same power as it did to you some months ago


""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator

"All you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be." -Pink Floyd

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


Edited by - Nazrix on October 22, 2000 8:40:27 PM
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Matrix, fundamentally, I agree w/ you. This was sort of a loaded question (part of my LF tecnique ) to prove a point: Genres dictate way too much about what we as developers do and think. They give us a pre-conceived notion of what a game will be just by thinking of a particular genre.


Edited by - Nazrix on October 22, 2000 9:05:08 PM
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To me, an RPG no longer means story or role or anything of such. It is the way that the characters in the game are portrayed. I think the idea ''RPG'' should be scrapped and we could have CG (Characterisation games), EIG (Emotionally Involving Games), PUVG (Pointless Unprovoked Violenve Games). With these three I am sure that you can come up with some fairly strange mixtures. You may have EIG with or without it being a CG (I am not sure how - yet -, but it may not have to be a CG). You could have a PUVG with CG and possibly EIG, or just a PUVG (Diablo, it is so often WRONGLY classed as an RPG that it almost fits in this discussion).

Comments?

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          
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Yes, RPG has totally lost meaning.

That''s a pretty good start on genres though, dwarf.

I''m tired of genres altogether though.

I think when you create a game where people are not sure what genre to place it in, you''ve made a pretty original game...not nessessarily a good game but original at least.

Like Thief. It''s not really an FPS as we know it...although it is 1st person...


""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator

"All you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be." -Pink Floyd

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.
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Mine are not Genres as such but more of attributes. Instead of grouping games into specific genres, just point out their attributes. This way you can have games that are cross genre that still maintain an identifiable attribute. With attributes, they can be combined with other attributes to create different games. It would also help people understand what kind of a game they are getting into and if it is going to be worth their money. That is how I would like the new ratings system to work.

Any suggestions on other attributes? (Other than obvious FP and TP - First and Third Person respectively)

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          
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Interesting approach, but usually the major features are listed on the game's website or box anyway.

I think at least as developers it is limiting to have general attributes to pick and choose from to create an array of different aspects. I think if we have names for different attributes, then it limits us (even if it's just a little) to thinking we're limited to those attributes.

I think instead we should just try to achieve a certain emotion or feeling or whatever that the game will convey and bring everything to that.

(it's wierd...all these Landfish concepts are coming back to me with more meaning now )



""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator

"All you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be." -Pink Floyd

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


Edited by - Nazrix on October 22, 2000 9:58:13 PM
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I guess that you are right, being that it is for the reviewers to inform the gamers what to expect in a game. I can''t see the genres getting abolished though, because otherwise you have pointless killing of the current FPS listed along with Might and Magic and the like. It isn''t right and I can''t see any other way of keeping the attributes open. I think the attributes are as close as is possible to get at the moment with describing a game while keeping it generic.

Anyway - RPG''s don''t need a story, they just need gameplay and characterisation IMO.

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          
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Okay. Some people may shoot me for saying this, but this is how I approach the whole "genres" issue:

1.) If the game has a story, it is, in essence, an RPG. I came to this conclusion by drawing on the fact that if you partake in the story, you are playing a ROLE, as the genres name describes. "Role Playing Game." Now the game can be further classified as a FPS or a RTS or whatever, depending on the way the gameplay is set up. Some of these genres overlap in meaning, I believe.

2.) If the game has no story, I would just call it a simulation. Since you aren''t playing a role in some story, you would just be SIMULATING some action or sequence of actions. Like RPGs, these can come in all flavors also.

3.) Of course you could have RPGs in the form of a simulation game as well. I hope you are still with me, because I''m starting to really confuse myself

So to answer the original question, yes, I believe RPGs MUST, by definition, have a storyline. I have to argue with landfish that you can have a role without a story. Roles are dependant on stories, not the other way around. Well, feel free to tear my little theories apart. (=

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yeah, you''re right dwarfsoft. Genres won''t go away in any artistic medium. I just had to vent.

Attributes are better at least...

Although, just because the game community as a whole won''t give up genres, it doesn''t mean that we can''t give them up in our little social circle



""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator

"All you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be." -Pink Floyd

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.
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spyder,
you just proved one of my main points. Our definitions of RPGs are subjective. Each person has their own categories, so genres are limiting and pointless. The least we can do is forget about genres at the time of making a game, then let the public call your game whatever they choose...just so long as your game is good of course


""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator

"All you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be." -Pink Floyd

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.
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sypher7 - According to you, recently, I have been playing an absolutely brilliant RPG recently where I basically have to save the world from these freaky germans. My role is a POW and I break out of my cell, get weapons and basically kill any Nazis that come around the corner. It is an absolutly brilliant game, you may have heard of it: Wolfenstein3D!

Seriously - This game is not an RPG. If it was, then most games are classed as an RPG.

If we now take the role of a commander in ''Command and Conquer'' then we are also in RPG according to you. But what genre does Final Fantasy and Might and Magic come under? They are not FPS or RTS. So you are saying that the genre that is currently defining these games also include other games (the FPS and the RTS) but then branches into three sections, the three sections that you just brought together. It seems simpler if you leave FPS, RTS and RPG seperate. It makes no difference.

It is all to our own opinions, but that opinion didn''t really make much sense.

Naz - yeah.... f*** the genres.... I am going for attributes until we can find something better. Do we have to worry about the different degrees of attributes in the game. I am also wondering how we guage Depth of a game and how you can determine the details of the game

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          
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quote:
Original post by dwarfsoft

Naz - yeah.... f*** the genres.... I am going for attributes until we can find something better. Do we have to worry about the different degrees of attributes in the game. I am also wondering how we guage Depth of a game and how you can determine the details of the game



Yeah attributes are a good alternative. Hmmm...Depth is pretty subjective too, isn''t it?


""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator

"All you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be." -Pink Floyd

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.
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Okay. I see what you''re saying.

Whenever I say RPG, Final Fantasy 3, Chrono Trigger, those kind of games come to mind, because there is no other classification that they fall within.

Those, I think, are pure RPGs, where the main focus of the game is to play the role of a character within a story AND they have a unique style to them.

I was mistaken when I just threw 75% of all games into the category "RPG" hehe. I was more or less trying to support the fact that rpg''s revolve around a storyline. But I was mistaken by turning it around and saying that because there is a story, it is a RPG. My bad. (=

But I know what you mean: when System Shock 2 won PC Gamer''s RPG of the year, I was utterly confused. I thought to myself, "What happened to little tile-based characters and completely unique battle systems? this looks to me like a FPS..." The line that once defined RPGs has been quite smeared.
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Yeah, that shocked me too. I never really understood what an RPG was though and so I managed to grasp this fairly quickly. (Hell, I used to call Diablo an RPG... *shudder*... A LONG time ago). The difference is in the depth (subjective it may be) and the way that it... bah! I can''t even explain it. It comes down to what you believe in it. I think though that I prefer tile based worlds for RPG''s. It puts the game back on the correct side of the old line...

Naz - when I was talking about depth, I was talking about how much history is put into the game so that holes aren''t discovered in the plot and the story as well as the characters. It is about having consistency throughout the game

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          
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quote:
Original post by sypher7

Okay. I see what you're saying.

Whenever I say RPG, Final Fantasy 3, Chrono Trigger, those kind of games come to mind, because there is no other classification that they fall within.

Those, I think, are pure RPGs, where the main focus of the game is to play the role of a character within a story AND they have a unique style to them.

I was mistaken when I just threw 75% of all games into the category "RPG" hehe. I was more or less trying to support the fact that rpg's revolve around a storyline. But I was mistaken by turning it around and saying that because there is a story, it is a RPG. My bad. (=

But I know what you mean: when System Shock 2 won PC Gamer's RPG of the year, I was utterly confused. I thought to myself, "What happened to little tile-based characters and completely unique battle systems? this looks to me like a FPS..." The line that once defined RPGs has been quite smeared.



Don't feel bad, man
The whole point of this is so whoever reads it will go through the same thing you did. They'll say "an RPG is [whatever]" then realize that there are no clear lines.
I've got to check out System Shock 2...Looking Glass just did so many things right w/ Thief that it must be good



""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator

"All you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be." -Pink Floyd

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


Edited by - Nazrix on October 22, 2000 10:58:39 PM
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Well maybe we can abandon the old "roleplaying game" title, leaving it for any game that has the run-of-the-mill magic, strategic combat, adventurers, and (optionally) a plot ... instead, we can create a new category for those games that actually take the above to a higher level in which personalities, deeper meaningful plots, relationships, and histories are formed.

Welcome to the Fictional Life Simulation! ;P

(I know, it''s late; I''m going to bed now.)



MatrixCubed
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