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What IS the RPG to you?

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Ok I wanted to explore the minds of the western culture and find out exactly why so many of us classify the RPG with the typical "Dungeons & dragons/knights and goblins and elves/Lord of the Rings" style theme.. It seems to me like the majority of western RPGs ae based on this style and as a much greater fan to the japanese style RPG games i'm interested to find out exactly why this is so.. Is it because this theme is what people define the RPG to be? Is it because they lack the creativity to imagine their own fantasy world and so they use the stale, boring setting which seems to have been used so much in the past..? Is it because they actually prefer this theme to any other..? I just don't understand how RPG's from japan can come up with so many strange and unique worlds and stories (even in the same series, a la Final Fantasy) from FF, to pokemon, to Breath of fire and so on and so forth, and yet western developers show very very little variation in style and setting with only a select few deviating from the norm (fallout for example).. Heck even Morrowind (which I much prefer to Bethesda's latest offering btw) started to have its own distinct style and flavour which seemed to have got completely thrown out in favour of the "traditional" look and feel of the sequel.. I wonder how long it will take before western developers start getting bored with the whole knights, Orcs, goblins and dragons themes and actually decide to work there grey matter to prove that they can dream up original worlds, settings and themes as beautiful and as detailed (or even more so) than our eastern cousins.. On a side note: Here's a few other things i'd like to see get ditched from RPGs on the whole..: - The giant "rat" enemy - whats the point of fighting a giant diseased rodent? whats the point of having such an enemy on a game? nobody likes looking at it/fighting it or anything else to do with it for that matter so I hope we never see it again.. - The "spider" enemy - Again just as bad as the rat.. its cliche and boring and should be used in games in other, more interesting ways.. - The "Skeleton" enemy - Just as stupid as the last two.. and as boring.. - The "Health" potion - Can't we see some more original ways to heal a character from a life threatening wound..? - Poision - I swear its on EVERY damn game and every time it does the same thing.. you get it.. you loose health slowly.. until you die or you cure it.. Again a desperate cry for innovation please! And that's about it.. Sorry for the long rant.. Please don't flame me too hard..

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I have to disagree with you, I don't find Japanese RPGs that much more inspired than Western RPGS. The only difference I see between the two is that Japanese RPGs focus more on the story, while Western RPGs focus more on the role playing. I find that most Japanese RPGs are really cliched and don't really offer that much in innovation.

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- The giant "rat" enemy - whats the point of fighting a giant diseased rodent? whats the point of having such an enemy on a game? nobody likes looking at it/fighting it or anything else to do with it for that matter so I hope we never see it again..
- The "spider" enemy - Again just as bad as the rat.. its cliche and boring and should be used in games in other, more interesting ways..
- The "Skeleton" enemy - Just as stupid as the last two.. and as boring..
- The "Health" potion - Can't we see some more original ways to heal a character from a life threatening wound..?
- Poision - I swear its on EVERY damn game and every time it does the same thing.. you get it.. you loose health slowly.. until you die or you cure it.. Again a desperate cry for innovation please!


... People hate rats, and the more discusting they look the beter feeling people get for, 'Yuck, this place is nasty and plaqued with disease'

... One of the top fears within people are spiders. I hate spiders and the sounds they make. Everytime I come across them in an RPG I cringe at the sight and the sound.

... The skeleton is part of the Undead. No way should they go anywhere, nor are they 'boring'. Should we throw away the zombie too?

... Poison. Buff your poison resist and deal with it. Adapt to your environment, thats the challenge part of the RPG.

All these things are what bring in a real DnD feeling. I think they justify their purpose perfectly for the newb areas and even later in the game when they just get bigger/freaker.

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Is it because this theme is what people define the RPG to be?

A big part of it is focused on tradition of DnD. It worked and people loved it. Personally, I like western RPG's more so. Most recently, Oblivion. That rocked.

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Is it because they lack the creativity to imagine their own fantasy world and so they use the stale, boring setting which seems to have been used so much in the past..?

I think both side of the worlds do absolutely fine to attract an array of audiences. No side is going to pull 100% of the world.

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I wonder how long it will take before western developers start getting bored with the whole knights, Orcs, goblins and dragons themes and actually decide to work there grey matter to prove that they can dream up original worlds, settings and themes as beautiful and as detailed (or even more so) than our eastern cousins..

Never. Because there are a tremendous amount of people like me that love this RPG feel. Come on. Orcs? Goblins? Dragons? Thats a fantasy world.

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Original post by JohnnyCasil
The only difference I see between the two is that Japanese RPGs focus more on the story, while Western RPGs focus more on the role playing.

how do westren or any games focus on roleplaying, is it role playing just becouse i can choose to be a fighter, mage or some class with the same abilitys but more diffrent looking, or becuse i can choose the order i want to crawl the dugeons in insted of a preset order.
this is where i wish westren games would just stop trying to be dnd, in dnd you have a gamemaster to make a gameworld where you can actually do something original or interact with the world and define your character, this just istn going to happen in computer games any time soon, becouse you limated to what the game desiner and programmer put in the game.

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Original post by Kaze
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Original post by JohnnyCasil
The only difference I see between the two is that Japanese RPGs focus more on the story, while Western RPGs focus more on the role playing.

how do westren or any games focus on roleplaying, is it role playing just becouse i can choose to be a fighter, mage or some class with the same abilitys but more diffrent looking, or becuse i can choose the order i want to crawl the dugeons in insted of a preset order.
this is where i wish westren games would just stop trying to be dnd, in dnd you have a gamemaster to make a gameworld where you can actually do something original or interact with the world and define your character, this just istn going to happen in computer games any time soon, becouse you limated to what the game desiner and programmer put in the game.


Western RPGs generally give you much more control over your characters. Think of all of the D&D franchise games, The Elder Scrolls, and Fable. You focus more on your character and what they can do, then some black clad figure with a big sword. Yes, this isn't the same as table top roleplaying, but comparatively, Western RPGs DO offer more roleplaying, where in Japanese RPGs you aren't playing a role so much as taking part in a story.

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My favorite games are the Final Fantasy series. Japanese "RPGs" are not role-playing games at all. I would classify them as an interactive story. On the other hand, I do not feel like I am playing a role in Lineage ][ or Guild Wars either. Both of them have merits and flaws.

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What the RPG is to me:

1) Dialogue with NPCs where the player may, at least occasionally, choose how to respond

2) Strategic equipment and inventory management

3) A complete plot structure including a definite climax and ending (many western RPGs flunk here)

4) The game world must model some portion of a world with at least one society (which supplies the NPCs mentioned above). If the setting is symbolic, abstract, or empty of life it cannot be a role playing game because you cannot truly play a role unless you have a society to play that role within.

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There are plenty of western RPGs that are not set in the traditional Tolkein inspired universe. There are some based on other pen-and-paper worlds (such as Fallout and the Vampire series). There are also a few sci-fi based ones (Deus Ex, System Shock). In my view I find the Western-style RPGs to be a lot more innovative in the gameplay area, and comparable in story to the Japanese-style RPG (obliquitory link to The Grand List of Console RPG Cliches).

As for "what is an RPG", my usual answer is "I know it when I see it". The RPG moniker is used on such a wide variety of gameplay types it is hard to classify them closely. I would not classify Diablo in the same group of games as Final Fantasy, but many people classify both as RPGs.

However, since the question is what is an RPG to me, here's my list:
  • The player must be able to choose aspects of the personality of the hero to a reasonable degree, i.e. choose their own role which is reflected in the gameplay. Since this has to be limited in computer games, this is usually done by choosing character types or skill choices. Since most Japanese RPGs fail this (the hero is fixed), I would classify them closer to adventure games. The "reasonable degree" of customisability is a fairly arbitrary factor which depends from person to person, but in my view it has to be higher than just choosing your path or weapons through a level, and has to do with how the hero reacts to the story.
  • The game provides an explicit or implicit plot (or plots) to a greater extent then other genres.


The level of how well a game achieves those two points describes how "RPG" a game is. An interesting thing is that I consider The Sims to be more of an RPG than Final Fantasy [grin].

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Guest Anonymous Poster
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- The "Health" potion - Can't we see some more original ways to heal a character from a life threatening wound..?


In Neverwinter Nights yopu have healing 'kits' that you can apply to other people as well as yourself and there are healing 'spells' in many games. Also some games require rest/sleep to heal damage completely.

Quote:

- Poision - I swear its on EVERY damn game and every time it does the same thing.. you get it.. you loose health slowly.. until you die or you cure it.. Again a desperate cry for innovation please!


You must never have played Ultima Online, because the poisons at the higher levels (ie- Deadly) can kill you in about 6 seconds and you can be in a real panic while
you attempt to cure it (with 'cure' failure making it even more exciting).
In other games poisons are debilitating (effecting constitution and strength etc.. -- not just HP).

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Complaining about cliches in RPG's has become a cliche. At least, most complaints presented in now-cliched form.

I think Western RPG's have more emphasis on character creation and customization, which leads to more minimaxing. Japanese RPG's have less of this, which necessitates large, strange settings to make up for it. Western RPG's are more based in PnP heritage, while Japanese RPG's are more willing to give you preset characters in a world that doesn't look like anything you've seen before. Both of the approaches have their strengths and weaknesses... I can't play Japanese games that don't give me enough tactical flexibility, and the settings of Western RPG's often bore me.

My own bastardized definition of an RPG (as I don't come from a PnP tradition, and I don't really play RPG's to act as another entity)

1. Combat is non-realtime, or a significant portion of combat is determined by non-realtime choices

2. Combat abilities of specific characters increase dramatically over the course of the game, as does the enemies' combat abilities (eg, the level 1 char vs the level 99 char)



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My two cents on the subject of "Role-playing Games":

I never played pen & paper RPGs. I started RPGs with Final Fantasy 7, then eventually Diablo 2, World of Warcraft, and a few others here and there. But I've never considered myself 'role-playing'. I just have a character on the screen -- like any side-scroller, fighting game, or adventure game has -- that has certain spells or skills. And the longer I play, the better those abilities become. Moreover, all those genres I mentioned can have a story too (although not as much in fighting games).

So, if I take Street Fighter and let you pick who has what special moves, and after every victory you get 'experience' and spend a point in strength, stamina, or speed, would that change it from a fighting game to a role playing game?

Whenever I see a game labeled 'RPG', I take it with a grain of salt. RPG elements, as they've become known, spill over into many genres. For example in Warcraft 3 your heros can gain exp and have skill choices. In Battlefield 2 your playtime eventually leads to unlockables, which is essentially the same thing as leveling up and learning a new spell. In Psychonauts, a platformer, you can gain new spells and get stronger. One game you can truly role-play (in my opinion) is the Grand Theft Auto series, which is considered an 'Action' game. (And I am going to guess that many GTA fans shy away from titles in the RPG category.)

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When I think about Western and Japanese RPGs I think of Yin and Yang. Both of these are part of the same coin, but different faces (another anology for you people). You have Western on one side which consist of a more dircect storyline. I hate to say it, but we like to get to more of the gameplay instead of the storyline (this is ONLY retaining to most American RPG Devolpers in today's market). Japanese RPGs on the other hand are built to captivate, confuse, utterly disapoint, enrage, and make you cry (I never have cried from playing a RPG, but who knows it could happen :P). While the gameplay is nice (battles tend to revolve around the over usage of really flahsy magic) but not the major importance the storyline is what truley matters.

Now that that is out of the way I can tell you what I think a RPG should be and typically will be.

A good RPG is really both of these methods molded into one. That is what I BELIEVE (please don't qoute me). This will happen sooner or later (if not now) in America atleast due to the new generation of Game Designers (of which I am included). Upcoming generations have grown up playing both styles of RPGs and can generaly pick out the bad and good of both(hence the argument that started this topic) . When this is done RPGs will have its long over-due evolution (HORAY)! (sry if this is too long)

(TWO THUMBS UP FOR PARENTHISESE)

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Well, up until about a week ago, my only experience with "RPGs" has been stuff like the Final Fantasy or Pokemon series. These game mainly consist of working with stats and running through the proper hoops to move the story along.


I never played any DnD, though I might want to at some point.

However, just last week I found a role-playing chat room and I must say its rather interesting. Since it is just a chat-room (and has no real game code to speak of)it mainly uses the players imagination and communication skills to achieve the "role-playing" effect.

I suppose if I were to break an RPG down to its basic components, it would be.

1. Defining who the characters are, what they can do, what they want, where they plan to be.

2. define the setting and the rules.

3. Judge the results of actions during combat or whatever else happens.

4. Determine how the game "ends" and how the adventure can be continued later.


Personally, I think something like a text adventure interface would be nice to have in an RPG. ie type "/me cast fireball on the monster" or "say "Shopkeep, How much is that sword?"" would be good for immersion.

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I started RPGs with Final Fantasy 7, then eventually Diablo 2, World of Warcraft, and a few others here and there. But I've never considered myself 'role-playing'. I just have a character on the screen -- like any side-scroller, fighting game, or adventure game has -- that has certain spells or skills. And the longer I play, the better those abilities become. Moreover, all those genres I mentioned can have a story too (although not as much in fighting games).

this is why I don't think that the current set of games that call themselves RPGs are not truely RPGs. If you look at other genras and try to clasify these so called RPGs then they fall into the Action/Adventure games. Hideing stats does not eleiminate them and players will either hack or spend time figguring out those stats and how to best min/max them (which if that is what you are wanting the player to do then you have succeeded).

I don't have a big problem with the current lot of "Action/Adventure" games and do enjoy them. But when I want a Role Playing Game experence then there is sadly nothing out that I have played that gives this experence.

But what is the Role Playing Experence?

I don't nessesarily think it can be put down to one single mechanic, or even group of mechanics. It is not just story/plot or character stat building. All of these contribut to is in some way but an RPG does not need all of them and they are not the only contributors needed.

Story/Plot: A good story is helpful to an RPG, but is it nessesary? Most times that someone uses the term "Story" in relation to a game it is the preset path (and giving the player a choice of several preset pthas is still having preset paths) through the game that the designers have created. But can a story be entierly created through the player in collaberation with the game mechanics?

I think the answer to this is a definite: Yes! Take for example the game "The Sims". This is in some way similar to an RPG but instead of a single character you are controling multiple characters (some of the earlier RPGs had this like in Eye of the Beholder), known in the RPG circle as a "Party". In The Sims the player, through the mechanics, makes a story about the people that they control.

So this shows that a story can be created by the player and does not need to be dictated by the designer.

Character Stats: Character Stats are a staple of many RPGs, but are they nessesary. Some games hide the stats from the player to give the illusion that there are no stats. Due to the nature of computers and the constraints of technology (getting a real language parser is not feasable for a game - yet), there will be some nessesary stats. So yes Stats are nessesary, but they can be minimised.

In an old game called "Sword of the Samurai", you were only given a few stats. These were: Land, Number of Troops, Honour, Melee Skill, Command Skill and Health. Many of these would not even be considdered a "Stat" in a normal RPG, but in the context of this game they can be treated as such as it was by your players actions that you could increase (or even decrease) these, and it was based on these that your character (the Samurai) would be judged by others and used to resolve encounter in the game.

Even Health was not a single Hit Point kind of stat either, Health could be different depending on the situation. In the sword fighting subgame health was alwayse 4. Each hit would do between 1 to 2 damage (depending on the attack you used). In the adventureing subgame you only had 2 health. The first hit would make your character move and attack slower and the second would kiill them. So Health could be droped as a stat and grouped with just the mechanics.

Dialogue: Is the ability to have complex comunication between the player and NPCs nessesary. In many game they list features of the amount of dialogue as if it is a good thing. I find that this is a big turn off for me. If I wanted to read lots of text I would read a book (and I am an avid reader and hame quite an extensive library of book that I own and read, so I am not adverse to reading)

The comunication between the characters in the sims is completely symbolic and natural language has been eliminated, and in Sword of the Samurai the only dialogue between character is when other NPCs either threaten you or you choose to either insult them or invite them for a tea ceremony (make peace) and even then it is just a stock line of text that is essentillay a menu item.


I would considder both "The Sims" and "Sword of the Samurai" to be more RPG like than many of the Action/Adventure games out (like World of Warcraft for instance), simply because they give the player more freedom to take on the role given to them (or in the case of The Sims to define that role to some degree as well).

The main reson that I think that the stock of RPGs we have are more of an action/Adventure game is that most non RPers will not understand the experence of a good roleplaying game but will be able to understand the mechanics of them instead. They will be need to link it with what they have already experenced, which is that of board games and other types of computer games. In both of these the mechanics and stats (eg in monopoly you have money and the properties that you have bought which are like stats and equipment).

Because of this lack of understanding of Non RPer, and the fact that not all developers of an CRPG would be RPers then this lack of understanding translates into a design that the developers are able to understand (and so be able to create it).

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Nice post Edtharan (and thnx for all the replies people! its good to hear other's views on a topic which I hold so close to my heart..) however i'd like to disagree with you in classifiying the sims as a "true" role playing game..

The reason I say this is because the essence of a role playing game in my oppinion is "a game whereby you take on a particular role within a particular world with very clear goals defined by the story.." Therefore its up you you as a player to fulfill your role as much or as little as you can until ultimately you succeed (or fail) in acomplishing the goals defined by the game..

I don't agree with the sims being an RPG because of a number of reasons..:

mainly the fact that you don't actually take on any particular well-defined "role" as you kind-of manage the lives of a group/family of pseudo-intellectual people.. As you play there's no direct Avatar you control, nor any kind of specific character will distinct properties/characteristics you can be.. You create each sim (of which they differ only in sex and look without any real distinction between each..) and don't do anything else besides babysit them and make sure they don't pee all over the house, burn it down or die of starvation because they are rather stupid..

Personally I disagree with the views expressed in this thread that western RPGs focus more on gameplay than eastern RPGs..
I think this is ludacris since you only have to look at the depth of some of the most successful eastern RPGs (FF, Xenogears, Pokemon, Dragon quest, Tales of series etc..) to see that a great degree of attention has been paid to EVERY area of these titles and not just a focus on telling a story.. Heck most Japanese RPGs work so well BECAUSE of there gameplay systems since sometimes the story they tell are so strange and wierd (a la Manga) that they make so little sense, very little enjoyment can be drawn from trying to follow it alone..
One of the reason why I personally admire eastern RPGs so much is purely because they tend to start by wanting to tell a very deep and engaging story and through that, develop a very rich and engaging gameplay system which is used to drive the player through the story, flesh it out and add the expansion of the originally created world into the mix giving the player the opportunity to digress at most points through the game to go off and explore, develop there characters and find rare and useful/interesting items and equipment.. In this vein eastern and western RPGs both have this in common whereby they both try as much as possible to reduce the linearity of the gaming experience by opening up a world before the player to explore as freely as the current position in the plot can allow..

Now granted eastern RPGs tend to use many cliched gameplay mechanics which originated in the old 2D RPGs of the SNES and Sega Mega Drive days but the most successful nowadays build on these ideas, still utilising the same paradigms (i.e. having separate combat and exploration worlds, turn-based battles etc..) but putting together very richly detailed and interesting gameplay systems to really switch things up keep the whole experience fresh.. Also its true that such games are more often than not heavily stat-based and overall very abstract in terms of the gameplay systems in use but who says having stats in RPGs is necessarily a bad thing? I'm sure if your used to the more westernised RPGs then it probably wont be your cup of tea but in my oppinion i'm yet to see a western RPG which can compete against some of the best eastern RPGs and tactical RPGs in terms of giving the play a much more involving strategic and tactical experience.. I'm sorry to see that most western RPGs try to rely to much on the "real-time" battle system but fail to realise that "real-time" doesn't necessarily negate the possibility of providing an equally strategic experience as it's counterpart.. Even some of the biggest games like the Elder Scrolls series and nearly every MMORPG to date have battle systems which are based more around constantly hacking at your opponent (and casting the odd spell) until either someone dies or your weapon breaks..

I just find it kinda sad when western developed action games can provide very rich and detailed battle/combat systems/mechanics and yet the real-time-combat-based RPGs suffer from lackluster battles with the "RPG elements" providing the depth in many other areas of the game..

But I guess maybe some people like it that way and its just me..

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I think many of the Western Rpg's to be a lot like MMORPG's where you can customize your character and you go do quests and stuffs. I like the customization and all but the main reason I like RPG's is the plot. I sometimes find myself cheating through the game just to finish the story. It's what captures me even as I stopped playing those games. If I played a Western style RPG, I'd probably finish it and dump it.

Those Japanese are so creative, but I'd chalk it up to how media driven they are. Also they have many colorful legends that they can go ahead and butcher for their own needs. They also practically lived the post apocolyptic age.

Ya D&D nerds. Heck, I did that too, cept I had a very good yet crazy friend who made him his own crazy world where you can go ahead and do whatever the hell you pleased. Right now, I nailed a random pedestrian's arm to the shopkeep's door cause he kicked me out for smelling like a peasent. I made a dead squirrel puppet to confuse monsters and my other friend is being stalked by killer tater tots. No dice required. I cannot take the D&D world seriously anymore, not like I actually did in the first place.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
My idea of a video game rpg is basically what games have gone away from. Linnear story, uses experiance points to get to heigher strength levels, a small hand full of very developed characters, hundreds of npcs, top-down or some varriation of birds eye view, and of course dungeons!. Personally, I don't consider morrowind, Deus Ex, and alike to be RPGs- to me they are FPSs.

Just my 2cents though.
-Linolium

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Truthfully, I'm sick of people trying to classify "what is role playing". If Final Fantasy is role-playing, then under the same definition Super Mario World is as well (a predetermined path following a story while exploring worlds and battling monsters). If Morrowind is role-playing, then under the same definition so is Grand Theft Auto : San Andreas (a customizable character that gains levels throughout the game, a large open landscape and a semi-linear story told through a series of parallel stories).

You play a role in nearly every game. Why do we need to classify whether this game is role playing or not?

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I'm not sure I agree with your pemise, that Western RPGs are more typically in the vein of traditional fantasy than Eastern RPGs, but if they are it would probably have to do with the overwhelming popularity and influence of Dungeons & Dragons (as well as Lord of the Rings) among computer gamers. I'm not sure what influence (if any) D&D has had in Asian gaming culture.

Q: Why is traditional fantasy such a popular theme?
A: Because it's really popular! (and what many people consider "traditional")

Regarding the ongoing discussion of genre and what constitutes an RPG, I don't understand the argument that "in an RPG you take on a role," since every computer game, console game, or board game requires you to take an avatar, or a role that you assume. Seriously, Arkanoid give you a role to play and a kind of story to follow, but everybody knows it's a Breakout-style game, because that's how you play it.

I'm beginning to think that genre names are only useful in describing gameplay in a general way. In a very general way, adventure games involve exploring and puzzle-solving. RPGs involve exploring, puzzle-solving, and resource-management. There may or may not be an action element. Some other genres (puzzle games, shooters, gambling) pretty clearly define how you play.

Look at some of the sub-genres: Action/Adventure (an adventure game with a heavier focus on action elements), Strategy/RPG (an RPG with a heavier focus on strategic combat rather than real-time combat), Side-scrolling Shooter (describes the motion of the screen, as opposed to vertical-scrolling).

To say conclusively that "RPGs must include dragons" may or may not be true, and how useful is it to determine that?

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I've come to consider that an RPG is a game in which you are presented with a situation you may solve through a range of different solutions, from brute force to discussion and negociation. I do not consider that choosing between close combat, long-range combat and damage magic to really be a choice, and therefore, seriously limit the believability of any situation, since you have almost no option.

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Provisionally I'll have to agree with JBourrie and hunterb: people will probably never agree on what role playing is (because it can really mean anything you want) and basically you can roleplay in any game. However, there are still games that are called "role playing games", and even though that name is vague (and in some cases even a bit of a misnomer), I don't think it will be so easy to persuade people not to use it. Therefore, "role playing" doesn't always correlate with a "role playing game", just as "laughter" doesn't correlate with "manslaughter".

Besides, game design shouldn't really begin with the idea "I'm gonna make an RPG!". The classification of a game should only begin after the game is made. Sure, deciding on some general guidelines is not a bad idea (e.g. deciding on whether to make the game player-oriented or character-oriented or how much will there be character development or whatever), but these decisions should be based on the vision of the designer; the elements of the game should be originally added because they contribute to the game, not because they are commonly associated with the infamous combination of the letters R, P, and G. The only good reason to start with the stereotype of a RPG is to make a RPG satire.

For the sake of discussion, I'll make an observation. The concepts of gameplay and story have been juxtaposed for comparison of their relevance in role playing in this thread several times, and unsurprisingly enough, the opinions are divided. In a sense, you could identify two different kind of ways to roleplay here: role playing the gameplay or role playing the story (cheesy terminology, but I'll use it anyway for the remainder of the post).

When I say you roleplay the gameplay I mean that you have an idea of a character and you try to play according to that idea. If that idea includes the personality trait that the character never uses any weapons, you won't, even though the game didn't force that decision. In essence, you enforce that character personality using self-discipline whenever the game mechanics aren't enough. However, the game should somehow be able to recognize the role you are trying to play (in order to respond in an coherent manner) and this would require an in-game character development mechanic of some sort, which would imply concepts possibly including, but not limited to stats, skills, character classes, equipment, or alignment (these are just examples).

At best, this kind of role playing is much like exploration; you don't play to win as such, but to somehow examine the game world from the unique perspective of the role you have chosen to play. Having a convoluted, fixed, pre-written plot can really hinder this kind of role playing (*), but an emergent story can greatly enhance the experience. With an emergent story I mean that the story of the game is defined by the player's decisions in the game and the decisions' consequences rather than what has been written in the script; obviously this requires more complex game world dynamics than just a combat system. As for the ultimate storyline, that's where the player's imagination comes in, to fill in the blanks...

(*) If the game forces me to save the world, cure the plague, and kill the big bad chaotic evil dude — again — before the end of the game, what choices have I made? Not really much, considering that saving worlds, curing plagues and killing big bad chaotic evil dudes are rather epic accomplishments that make all other activities pale in comparison.

Role playing the story, on the other hand, would mean that you just want to know what will happen in the pre-written plot; that is, you play to win. I don't really have much to say about this, as I don't personally consider this the kind of "role playing" I enjoy particularly. Not that I wouldn't enjoy a good story; I just prefer to read a book or watch a movie if I'm in the mood for a story.

These are the extremes. Most people probably like something in between; a bit of gameplay role playing and a bit of story role playing. The important thing to note here is that some RPGs are good for the former and some RPGs for the latter. Games with a lot of replayability and emergent gameplay, such as many roguelikes, are good for gameplay role playing. Games that railroad you along a good story are good for story role playing.

And obviously this is not the end-all of role playing. There are more elements in role playing than this, but the juxtaposition of gameplay and story seemed to be a main theme of the thread.

Don't simply include a story in your game because "you must have a story in an RPG", but rather consider whether you want to tell your story to the players or to rather give them an environment in which they can "tell" their own stories. Now, personally I've heard too many messianic stories of lawful good amnesiacs curing plagues in RPG form already, so I want to start telling my own stories for a change.

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Quote:
Original post by ArchangelMorph
Personally I disagree with the views expressed in this thread that western RPGs focus more on gameplay than eastern RPGs..
I think this is ludacris since you only have to look at the depth of some of the most successful eastern RPGs (FF, Xenogears, Pokemon, Dragon quest, Tales of series etc..) to see that a great degree of attention has been paid to EVERY area of these titles and not just a focus on telling a story.. Heck most Japanese RPGs work so well BECAUSE of there gameplay systems since sometimes the story they tell are so strange and wierd (a la Manga) that they make so little sense, very little enjoyment can be drawn from trying to follow it alone..


I really have to take issue with this. I really see no form of innovation in eastern RPGs when it comes to the gameplay. The best example of this is Dragon Quest. I've played all of the Dragon Quest games, heck, Dragon Warrior was the first RPG I ever played. There is no change in gameplay from me leaving Tantagel castle to stop the Dragon Lord, to me entering Farebury to find Dhoulmagus. The game consists of the following. You walk around town, talk to NPCs, fight very traditional turn based battles, level up, rinse repeat. The game play has never changed. Everyone always quotes Final Fantasy as having some of the most unique game play features or what have you, but I find this to not be the case as well. Final Fantasy is the same as Dragon Warrior at it's core, but Square DID try to innovate gameplay a bit, but not by any extreme. In Final Fantasy 6, Square made it so you can draw magic from the Magicite, now every Final Fantasy has that concept, which in and of itself isn't that innovative. Don't get me wrong, I love Eastern RPGs, I love them more than Western ones, but I fail to see any significant change in gameplay from my NES days to now.

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