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Dynamite

Medieval vs. Sci-Fi

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i would like to know why RPG''s tend to stick with medieval time periods as opposed to sci-fi. is it because everyone knows of knights and dragons and sci-fi characters are created by the designer? is it due to the fighting nature of the medieval times? what r your thoughts?
--I don''t judge, I just observe Stuck in the Bush''s, Florida

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It''s the legacy of tabletop RPGs - the majority of which are fantasy based.

I think the fighting factors in as well, easy to implement conflict-reward system.

Another question is why do we see sci-fi, medieval fantasy, but hardly any other settings? I can only name one pre-historic RPG (Savage Empire). What about Emperial England, the Bronze Age, the Twentieth (does Earthbound {SNES} count in some strange way???) Century, and other potentially interesting settings that we seem to completely ignore?

-pwd

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quote:
Original post by pwd
It''s the legacy of tabletop RPGs - the majority of which are fantasy based.

I think the fighting factors in as well, easy to implement conflict-reward system.

Another question is why do we see sci-fi, medieval fantasy, but hardly any other settings? I can only name one pre-historic RPG (Savage Empire). What about Emperial England, the Bronze Age, the Twentieth (does Earthbound {SNES} count in some strange way???) Century, and other potentially interesting settings that we seem to completely ignore?

-pwd


yeah, i agree. i was wondering about that too just yesterday. i looked at the tv guide cover of a western and i was like "why not make a western?" i don''t know why other time periods don''t get exposure. i guess the conflict-reward system is the safe way 2 go 4 designers.



--I don''t judge, I just observe

Stuck in the Bush''s, Florida

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IMHO, medieval and sci-fi are all that seem to sell....

what other non-medival-like settings or non-sci-fi-like settings have actually sold well? Not as many as those two... Maybe some developers are worried that if they do make one out of those bounds, that they will lose money... or they cant come up with a good enough gmae system or story....



Neo-Toshi - The City That Never Sleeps

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Well it seems that only sci-fi can claim to rival the medieval setting in terms of richness and complexity. Westerns are limited by their time period. By then people weren''t believing in monsters, the legends of dragons and goblins and stuff were dead. However, there wasn''t enuff technological variety yet to create an alternative to monsters. The caveman era, well, that could potentially be very interesting for an RPG, but once again there is a bit of a lack of weaponry.

Medeivel is sweet because of the huge and interesting variety of weapons avialable, the rich folklore, the belief in magic and all sorts of interesting potions, the castles and all the secrets they held, the way the royalty lived, there is a huge sense of awe and wonder in medievel times. There is much creative liberty that can be taken here.

Sci Fi has the advantage of tremendous technology, as well as also allowing monsters through aliens. There have been a tonne of sci fi stories written, and there''s plenty of interesting technology and development that can be explored. All sorts of topics such as cloning, chemical/biological warfare, guns, transportation technology, pollution/another holocaust/apocolypse, etc can be explored. And since this is the future and not the past, there is much potential to excite the player and maybe scare him psychologically in a way that is impossible with stories from the past.

Medievel and Sci Fi as i hope i showed, allow a lot of creative freedom that many other time periods just don''t. And with RPG being such a demanding genre in terms of the amount of variety u need in enemies/equipment/weaponry/exploration/etc, they are the ones that fit best with it.

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well its purely taste in that would u want to play an rpg during the roman empire? or french revolution? there is not much variety, if u make it hundreds of years in the past or future or an alternate world u have more creative freedom to make what would be more entertaining then being like an archer in the french revolution

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There are monsters and superstitions in these other time periods...

Lady Bathory
Ghost Trains (Western)
Whatever Caveman Superstitions would be
Conspiracy Theories/Psychic Phenomenon (Modern)
The natives during the Emperial England period (pygmies, etc)

And I stand corrected, there are a few Sci-Fi/Emperial England crossovers, Space 1889, The Worlds of Ultima games... Sort of a Jules Verne feel.

A Western could be good, you''ve got gunslinging, indians and their mythology, ghost trains, etc... I''m not saying to model reality 100%, go with some of the superstitions of the time. Break the mold, dig down and get a little more primal than just Dragons, orcs, and laser beams.

-pwd

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quote:
Original post by pwd

There are monsters and superstitions in these other time periods...

Lady Bathory
Ghost Trains (Western)
Whatever Caveman Superstitions would be
Conspiracy Theories/Psychic Phenomenon (Modern)
The natives during the Emperial England period (pygmies, etc)

And I stand corrected, there are a few Sci-Fi/Emperial England crossovers, Space 1889, The Worlds of Ultima games... Sort of a Jules Verne feel.

A Western could be good, you''ve got gunslinging, indians and their mythology, ghost trains, etc... I''m not saying to model reality 100%, go with some of the superstitions of the time. Break the mold, dig down and get a little more primal than just Dragons, orcs, and laser beams.

-pwd


exactly, and there are pirates and the greeks w/ their mythologies, there are many eras to portray in an RPG. i honestly still believe that the medeival periods are simply the safest route 2 take. i''m not denying the great possibilities of medieval times, and the fact that EVERYONE already knows about the myths and magics(don''t need a lot of creativity to make a good game), i just think more people should test the waters. going w/ what Ferinorius said, i beleive it''s gonna take an independent programmer to take this gambe, someone with not as much 2 lose by trying.



--I don''t judge, I just observe

Stuck in the Bush''s, Florida

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quote:

well its purely taste in that would u want to play an rpg during the roman empire?


Actually, I would love to.

"Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time"
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
We are creating a Multi-player space strategy/shoot-em-up/RPG game.
Development is well under way and we do have a playable demo.
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Bah, who needs ''Monsters through aliens'' when you can have a 7 foot tall troll whose been cybered to the point of essence-oblivion!
Hehehehe...ignore the Shadowrun fan, everybody, just point and laugh....


-Ryan "Run_The_Shadows"
-Run_The_Shadows@excite.com
"Doubt Everything. Find your own light." -Dying words of Gautama

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Guest Anonymous Poster
(recycled from another thread - but this is an example of what I was talking about)

An Emperial England Setting:

You have heard legends of a lost civilisation on the island of [no-name yet]. You wish to find this lost city (for the glory of the crown, for science, for personal gain, etc), but the island is uncivilised and unexplored. There are rumors that the natives are cannibals, and that there are monstrous beasts on this island.

You gather a band of brave men (some porters, some able bodied men that know how to use a rifle, etc) and set sail for a nearby island. On this island you find some "civilised" natives and some englishmen that also know a little bit of the local language, who you can hire as translators...

The translators would be dynamic personalities, not just someone you add to your party to be able to speak to the natives...

Are they a native who has learned to speak English? Could they be a cannibal, trying to lure some fresh meat to their doom? Would they explain local customs to you? Are they accepted by every tribe, or might you get into a situation if you run into someone of a rival tribe? Do they know the lay of the land? Local legends?

Are they English, and have somehow learned to speak the native tongue? If so are they greedy, and going to charge you heavily? Will they rob you and desert you? Do they know the local customs, or just the language? Could they betray you for another reason (revenge like "The Lost World")?

You''ve been wandering in the jungle for weeks, you''re tired, your men are hungry and sick, you''re out of ammunition, and you see a village ahead. You get there, but noone speaks english, and they seem mysterious and threatening... If you had only hired that translator back at the port...

There could be a lot of situations to deal with. Tribal conflicts, myths, culture, traps, mysticism, language barriers... Disease, wild animals, the morale of your party. Paranoia, betrayal and primal terror. With the possibility of fulfilling your wildest dreams if you succeed.

Fantasy, yes, Medieval, no... Just one possibility for settings we haven''t explored in the RPG realm...

-pwd

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster

(recycled from another thread - but this is an example of what I was talking about)

An Emperial England Setting:

You have heard legends of a lost civilisation on the island of [no-name yet]. You wish to find this lost city (for the glory of the crown, for science, for personal gain, etc), but the island is uncivilised and unexplored. There are rumors that the natives are cannibals, and that there are monstrous beasts on this island.

You gather a band of brave men (some porters, some able bodied men that know how to use a rifle, etc) and set sail for a nearby island. On this island you find some "civilised" natives and some englishmen that also know a little bit of the local language, who you can hire as translators...

The translators would be dynamic personalities, not just someone you add to your party to be able to speak to the natives...

Are they a native who has learned to speak English? Could they be a cannibal, trying to lure some fresh meat to their doom? Would they explain local customs to you? Are they accepted by every tribe, or might you get into a situation if you run into someone of a rival tribe? Do they know the lay of the land? Local legends?

Are they English, and have somehow learned to speak the native tongue? If so are they greedy, and going to charge you heavily? Will they rob you and desert you? Do they know the local customs, or just the language? Could they betray you for another reason (revenge like "The Lost World")?

You''ve been wandering in the jungle for weeks, you''re tired, your men are hungry and sick, you''re out of ammunition, and you see a village ahead. You get there, but noone speaks english, and they seem mysterious and threatening... If you had only hired that translator back at the port...

There could be a lot of situations to deal with. Tribal conflicts, myths, culture, traps, mysticism, language barriers... Disease, wild animals, the morale of your party. Paranoia, betrayal and primal terror. With the possibility of fulfilling your wildest dreams if you succeed.

Fantasy, yes, Medieval, no... Just one possibility for settings we haven''t explored in the RPG realm...

-pwd


i c u have been thinking about this for some time pwd. i think what drives people away from these also is that there''s not blood all over the place. there aren''t hundreds of weapons to choose from. it''s simply a game w/ substance, not a mock of pre-existing games or just wax ur opponent. i wonder what else u have hidden up ur sleeve!




--I don''t judge, I just observe

Stuck in the Bush''s, Florida

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quote:
Original post by Dynamite
i would like to know why RPG''s tend to stick with medieval time periods as opposed to sci-fi. is it because everyone knows of knights and dragons and sci-fi characters are created by the designer? is it due to the fighting nature of the medieval times? what r your thoughts?



In one word (and yes I am sorry MadKeith, you dont like one liners) : LAZINESS.

I think question should go into the FAQ of this forum

There are plenty of alternative out there, in the wonderful world of Pen & Paper RPG. It''s up to you the player to go and find them. As for Game Developpers, well ... it''s even more a shame that they don''t go and try some new concepts, I guess Money is part of the problem, as usual. But Laziness, mainly.

youpla :-P

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Creative laziness is the only answer.

Which is easier: Rip off Tolkein and D&D, or develop your own?

The folks who cry that there''s not enough material in the other eras need to exercise their atrophied creative muscles!! But you can only do this if you bother to study history and the mythologies of different cultures.


The mythology of Japan, or China, or India, or Egypt, or Meso-America rivals Western Europe in richness, wonder, and complexity. So do other time periods. But I''d wager that most of us are ignorant of other cultures and histories, so we get the same regurgitated crap time after time.


I used to think that science fiction at least broadened the cultural horizons, but I was wrong: The number of Babylon 5/Star Trek/Star Wars ripoffs are staggering. Either that, or lazy designers simply project the 20th century into the year two thousand - fill in the blank.


Creativity is the exception, lazy copy-catting the rule.

(Just went on an RPG history & future release search, so I''m pretty #*$&! grumpy!)

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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I just read "The Crook Factory" by Dan Simmons. It''s about WWII espionage in Cuba. This was great stuff about clandestine meetings in abandoned shacks, code breaking, tailing other spies, secret encounters in cemetaries, disguises, etc. Majot food for thought.

I don''t think is just laziness or fear of not selling. I think it is the designer''s lack of exposure to other subject matter. Seriously, don''t believe these designers are the most balanced or mature people around.

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well there is a game in development its a diabloesque type game set during one of the japanese eras and you are samurais. btw i wish there was a game that took the tinkering ability in everquest to greated dimensions and scale. like a game set during any technological time period or cross bread 2 eras. htey should just make jurassic park online

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quote:
Original post by omegasyphon
well there is a game in development its a diabloesque type game set during one of the japanese eras and you are samurais.


Not to be mean or anything, but do you know how many games seem to be based in the medieval Japan era those days ???
It's so unoriginal it's becoming awfully boring (And God knows I love this era of Japan).
It's becoming so "trendy" I am starting to worry about the amount of research that actually go into those games

quote:
Original post by bishop_pass
I think it is the designer's lack of exposure to other subject matter.



YEah, well, THAT is laziness, for a game designer. I dont know everything because I have been exposed to it, rather because I have an inner quality called curiosity that pushes me to wander in libraries to look for odd books, to surf for hours following links and discovering little perls of wisdom, to watch tons of various TV programs on topics I don't really know, but that for some reason give me ideas for later... it's called research, or simply trying to keep your mind open.
Not doing this kind of looking around for new ideas is pure laziness. "How, well, I have read Tolkien, so that should be enough research, let's make a Tolkien game !".

Naaaaaaaaww

Even History itself is passionating and rich with opportunities for excellent scenarios, and context to play in.

Laziness. And Money pressure. Period.

youpla :-P





Edited by - ahw on January 30, 2001 6:00:26 AM

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Personally I think comic book material is seriously overlooked in RPG''s. There is a huge variety of superheros,supervillians,superpowers. I would love an RPG where you could create a hero and complete various heroic tasks, defeat supervillians, etc. There has been no RPG of any value in this area in my opinion.

Anyway, just my .02

Marcus

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Superhero League of Hoboken? Not sure if it qualifies as being of value, though.

But there is a good bit of potential there, whether you go for the gritty, "Dark Knight"/vigilante feel, or take the superpower angle. Or even tongue in cheeck (but that''s already been done)

Take a setting, make a little story, throw in some conflict, some reward, and some divergence, and you''ve got a solid foundation for a CRPG. Give the player a reason to play "in character", and you''ve got an actual "Role-Playing" game.

Medieval fantasy has just been done too much. You''d really need to take a fresh angle on the setting to make your game not be just another cookie-cutter Tolkien/D&D/whatever rip-off. It can be done, but you''d have to put some definate creative effort into it.

Stop copying, change, do something different. You''ll find less competition at the end of the road.

mini-rant over.

-pwd

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quote:
Original post by pwd
Stop copying, change, do something different. You''ll find less competition at the end of the road.
-pwd



once people start to accept this(mainly big time developers) we''ll be better off. but i know another thing is the pressure from big-wigs who probably have never played a game, they just know that last game that sold well and want to copy it, but make it "different somehow"(?) my original ? was about why not use more sci-fi, but i have taken a lot from this discussion. i''ve always liked pirates(don''t know why???) so i just might take that up! much thx 2 all.

p.s. please feel free 2 keep posting(this ISN"T the end! )



--I don''t judge, I just observe

Stuck in the Bush''s, Florida

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Well, I''m working on an SF RPG right now. What I''d like to know is: What does any non-fantasy RPG need to have to compete in terms of quality?

I''d say

1) Character building system has to be imaginitive, rich, easy to understand, and have lots of rewards

2) Setting / story should have mystery and mysterious elements (probably one of the most important)

3) Deep history (Tolkein CRPGs seem to be big on this)

4) Combat, if present, should be diverse with lots of interesting tradeoffs (this is what magic does)


...?

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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A few of things I''ve always enjoyed are:

1. A variety of environments in which to adventure. If every quest/mission/whatever leads you to the interior of a squeaky clean starship or starbase it would get pretty boring. Spice it up with variety planetary environments (snow,forest,swamp,etc), crashed starships, old freighter interiors, etc.

2. A variety of item/weapon types. I hate it when sci-fi weapons are all just a variation of a laser gun (laser pistol, laser rifle, heavy laser pistol, etc).

3. Non-combat skills/abilities that are useful during adventuring. Ability to bypass sucurity systems, hack into computers, repair weapons, etc.

Anyway, all of this opinion of course. Just my ramblings...

Marcus

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I dare say simplicity:

In a medieval setting you can pick up a sword and go kill things, generally ignoring the local ruler.

In a futuristic setting, you have banks & technology, and government, not to mention Police with big-ass guns. Plus you''re likely to have some sort of Big Brother in place.

Also, the Medieval setting is easier to explain : ''Magick'' or ''The Gods will it''. Whereas in a Sci-Fi, you have all your interlocking technology, and a lot of people pick at that (waaaay too much), so you have to be quite detailed and careful.

And as mentioned above, medieval usually allows for monsters, mainly (IMO) because of the large unexplored areas where such species could survive. In the future, humans have wiped out pretty much everything (and nearly themselves), so you don''t have that much left in the way of conflict save for other humans & machinery/AI.

I would personally like to see an RPG set in Ancient Egypt, with the Pharoahs, and all their little customs. You could be a scribe, warrior, priest, eunuch (ouch) or get cast into slavery and forced to work on the pyramids.

Well, that''s me out of ideas.



"NPCs will be inherited from the basic Entity class. They will be fully independent, and carry out their own lives oblivious to the world around them ... that is, until you set them on fire ..."

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quote:
Original post by MarcusLM

A few of things I''ve always enjoyed are:

1. A variety of environments in which to adventure. If every quest/mission/whatever leads you to the interior of a squeaky clean starship or starbase it would get pretty boring. Spice it up with variety planetary environments (snow,forest,swamp,etc), crashed starships, old freighter interiors, etc.



YES...
quote:

2. A variety of item/weapon types. I hate it when sci-fi weapons are all just a variation of a laser gun (laser pistol, laser rifle, heavy laser pistol, etc).


YES...
quote:

3. Non-combat skills/abilities that are useful during adventuring. Ability to bypass sucurity systems, hack into computers, repair weapons, etc.

Anyway, all of this opinion of course. Just my ramblings...

Marcus

Yes!!!

i agree with u all the way. sci-fi is open 2 the imagination since the future is unknown. weapons should definately have "character", not just a laser or a gun. also, a planet is full of different climates, and using different planets allows for even more climates. yes, too many games keep u in the same environment ALL THE TIME. and ur skills/hacks are also good. we had a discussion about alternate ways to solve a problem(besides outright fighting) on another forum. i''ve been piecing 2gether an rpg containing these exact elements. i think we''re off topic, but maybe not???




--I don''t judge, I just observe

Stuck in the Bush''s, Florida

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