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glenrm

Definition of a Traditional CRPG

19 posts in this topic

The player must explore an overly huge world, rescue a princess from the grips of evil, save the crystals, prevent the RED (really evil dude) from taking over the Earth, find keys that go to doors, go into twenty-some dungeons and fight twenty-some RNDs (really nasty dudes), get newer and better weapons, armor, magic, whatever, until he has so many hit-points that it's basically pointless, then he has to go to the home of the RED and kick his butt.

That's a traditional CRPG, in my view.

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Perhaps the best way to define this genere is to cite examples to which everyone can agree is representivie of the group. Then we can note similarites within them and perhaps that will give us a good start on a defintion. Here are my examples:

Bard Tales series
Ultima series
Wasteland
Fallout series
Star Trails
EverQuest
Zork
Rogue
Nethack
Jagged Alliance Series

I feel all of these games have a significant role playing element in them to warrent a CRPG classifciation. Once we compile a list we can then dissect them.

-ddn

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To be horribly up front and possibly send this conversation scurrying down a dead-end rabbit burrow...I've never found a CRPG that was more than vaguely related to "role-playing." I completely resent the use of the acronym "RPG" in relation to any of the games that currently tout it.

There's as much "role playing" in Doom as there is in Heretic as there is in any Ultima game or even in any of the other games that were mistakenly labeld "RPG." "Playing a role" has less to do with role-playing than being able to CHOOOSE a role to play.

I enjoyed playing the SSI games of the 80s (Pool of Radience, Curse of the Azure Bonds, and so on), but even though they were loosely based on AD&D, they had little relation to RPGs. I played them as small-group tactical combat simulations and had a ball. =)

So...what does it take for a game to be labeled a "CRPG"? Not enough, that's for sure.

------------------
DavidRM
Samu Games
http://www.samugames.com

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There definitely is a big difference between the meaning of "role playing" and the meaning of "computer role playing game".

Unfortunately for those who are sticklers for definitions, the term is here to stay for those fantasy experience gathering games. To be absolutely fair though, that is the exact way most people played D&D.

-Geoff

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Of course there are a number of elements missing from the CRPG that are found in any good RPG. Human interaction and imagination is hard to replace. Perhaps there are ways to improve things.

For instance I have noticed that while playing Baldur's Gate (an excellent game) that the interaction with NPCs seem to have three basic responses:

1) I hate you lets fight
2) Pick me I am the right response
3) A silly answer

Really there should be many more possible choices including some which bring the personality of the character's into play.

------------------
Glen Martin
Dynamic Adventures Inc.
http://www.dynamicadventures.com

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Very true about NPC's.

In my opinion, a game is what you make of it... therefore perhaps before trying to define a roleplaying game, we should define what a roleplayer is. In Websters, the first definition of "role" is "a character assigned or assumed". From this I glean that yes, you need at least one character as was pointed out before. This furthermore indicates a responsibility on the part of the player to play the role.

This responsibility is more obvious when it comes to computer rpg's. In paper and pencil rpg's, the DM will generally yell or throw dice at you if you aren't roleplaying. The computer has no way of knowing whether or not you are actually roleplaying, therefore it is completely up to the player to fill the role properly. With this in mind, perhaps we should classify computer rpg's as "potential" rpg's, defining the game as one that one is capable of playing a role in if one so chooses. True, there are games that make it easier than others. Personally I find it more difficult to get into a role unless I have other actual players to interact with. One of the best roleplaying experiences I have had with computer rpg's so far was on Diablo.
*waits for screams of "DIABLO ISN'T AN RPG!!" to die down*
Perhaps Diablo isn't what some people classify as a true roleplaying game... but the fact that I, and my battle.net guildmates played roles quite well on it, makes it an rpg... to me. Granted much of the roleplaying involved the battle.net channels rather than the game itself, but the roles held regardless of location. Several of my friends went so far as to become "clerics", roleplayers that "worshipped" a certain element in the game (such as Thor, using only lightning items). Similarly, I have done a good deal of roleplaying on Ultima Online, which is probably considered a "true" rpg, however, I have found many people who do not roleplay in any sense of the word in that game. On the flip side, I have found Baldur's Gate, which is supposed to be a true RPG, to be extremely difficult to get into character with, due to the necessity to control multiple characters and the fact that it doesn't work well at all on a multiplayer basis.

Perhaps it would be easier to just say that computer rpg's are potential rpg's, and make the final decision on a player-by-player basis.

-fel

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Heres my extremely general definition: A CRPG is a game in which the main emphasis is put on developing your character.

Thoughts?
--TheGoop

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I can see where the intended point of a CRPG might be to "develop" your character. But, how does collecting items, fighting, and talking to people have anything to do with character development?

Often times, when the player first selects a charcter they are allowed to pick a set of attributes. Thereafter, character development stems from what is already there. There is no altering, no guidance.

Instead, all that the player has is a formulaic growth pattern that he/she can't control, which was based on their selection.

This, in my mind, makes CRPG's games that are not truly based on development of characters. There may be a complex story line, and different things may happen based on the player's choices during the game. But, the player's character is the same no matter what.

-Chris

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Well, not to be too obtuse, but in real life you dont get to develop your character either, you just deal with problems as they come up.

Although there are usually more choices than in the average (or best) CRPG Ive seen.

-Geoff

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I think CRPGs and RPGs in general are just interactive adventure stories. Characterization is one of many elements that are part of these. Usually, the two big ones are character (ROLE) and plot, which shapes character.

I have found that this is where many CRPGs fail. Too much emphasis goes on the battle system and too little goes on the dialog. Even if designers concede that the story matters, they seldom do anything about it, as is evidenced by the horde of CRPGs with complicated but absolutely lame plots, entirely stereotyped NPCs, and next to no real structure.

Now, a good writer should make you well aware of what's going to happen far in advance of it actually happening. This is to be distinguished from total transparency. Murder mysteries wouldn't be very interesting if the Great Detective told you everything he observed and who the killer was before he revealed it at that final meeting.

I can play CRPGs, and after a while I know exactly what's going to happen next, at the middle, and at the very end. I suppose most people can. The goals and phases of the plots are just too obvious. About the best and most surprising that I have ever seen is on par with "Luke, I am your father."

There's one more rant for the pile.

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most CRPGs are little more than shooters. Some are real time, others are turn based, but they are still mostly shooters.

the ONE thing that differentiates CRPGs from others in this genre is that there is an experience point system. (which means nothing more than a non-item based powerup)

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I won't (read: can't) disagree with the degree of linearity and constraint in CRPGs around the place, but I have to say that some of the best storylines I've seen in games has been in CRPGs... perhaps to make up for the fact that you have to follow the story?

From a coding point of view, creating a nonlinear system would be an immense task, even if created with player-player interaction as the staple, such as Ultima Online. From a marketing point of view (for a single-player CRPG), I'm willing to stick my head out and say that some degree of linearity is necessary for the game to sell (to a viable market)...

How many people will play a game that gives you 20 choices of direction right from the start, with only hints of a story until hours of play into the game? (Well, lots ... but perhaps not enough)

If there wasn't a story, then your game is akin to SimCity, with no definite goal... but as soon as you include hard-coded goals, you restrict the game's replayability. Where should the compromise be struck?

And the ball is passed on...

White Fire

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Well, there's one way of making games with linear storylines replayable that has worked for me... the method used by both Diablo and Darkstone. In both games, there is a main quest and a large number of subquests. The subquests have something in general to do with the main quest, but every time you play through you randomly get another set of subquests to work through. In addition to this, in Diablo at least (unsure about Darkstone because I haven't played it enough yet) the level maps and the characters on the levels change every time you go into a game. This impressed me a great deal thinking about it because Blizzard had to have come up with a really good level-editor AI to make viable but different levels every single time you make a game. Not knowing the map or the creature you will face (general difficulty stays the same for a given level but type changes drastically) makes a game extremely replayable, without interfering with the story line.

-fel

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I say to all you sticklers for the "traditional" use of the term role playing game that it is you who have it wrong! :p Of course, this is a fairly subjective matter, and as I see it there are two exqually correct interpretations of what an RPG is.

1) The player simply plays a role within the gaming world. Whether or not that role is pre-defined is irrelevant.

2) The cration of the role to be played is implicit in the playing of the role. A bit too confining a definition for my taste...

If we must come up with a form of computer game development semantics, I think the first definition of the two would be a much better one to use. It's is not as constraining to a particular type of game as the second and is just as correct an interpretation of RPG.

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Well, a traditional RPG and a traditional
CRPG can be two very different things.
The majority of CRPGS which are considered
the "traditional" fare do include numbers
and statistics and whatnot. These,
however, do not necessarily a CRPG make.

Personally I feel it's one of those things
that can only be really defined by
comparison.

And if Zork is classified as a CRPG
(the emphasis on the C), then what is
an adventure game?

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I dont remember anyone ever classifying Zork as a CRPG, its always been an adventure as long as I can remember it.

"Traditional CRPGs" would be Ultima, Wizardry and Bards Tale, if we go by just what "RPG"s have historically been.

The point of the conversation is really dealing with RPG being a misnomer as you dont really play a role. Its been quite well sumamrized as a shooter with experience points.

IMO, the term CRPG is here to stay for exactly what it means now and will just remain a misnomer.

-Geoff

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Shinkage actually makes a pretty good point, though I disagree with his assertion about *who* is misusing the term... ;-)

I know this thread didn't start as a comparison of RPGs and CRPGs, but I figure I'll continue the digression...

Though a CRPG may have most of the trappings of a "True" RPG, most players of dice-and-paper RPGs resent the CRPGs because they are experientially VERY different. Sure, when playing a CRPG you're "playing a role" and even "gaining experience" to "develop your character", maybe even "making your own decisions" as you progress through the game...but it doesn't "feel" like an RPG.

And it's this "feel" I think that is the distinction. In a dice-and-paper RPG, the player is usually part of a small group with a dynamic that has evolved over time. Plus they are following a storyline that they have helped shape. Sure, the GM might have laid out the basic plot, but the players generate the story, the excitement.

In a CRPG, however, none of this is present. The player is either the only character, or has to keep track of 4-6 "player characters" that he rolled up for the game. There is no group dynamic. He controls the entire party. While there may be several plotlines available, he can only choose among them, not mix-and-match or even improvise his own. He can't accidentally stumble into the climax of the adventure and win through luck, clever use of skills, and sheer chutzpah.

And when there *are* multiple players, then it's usually the opposite extreme: The player is simply one of the "herd" of Great Warriors, Powerful Mages, and Infamous Thieves. Now he has interaction with other players, though it's on a very superficial level, but he's lost any semblance of a plot or story.

So, while it maybe be possible for a CRPG to match the "dictionary definition" of a traditional RPG, will there *ever* be a CRPG that can supply the "feel" of a traditional RPG? I doubt it.

------------------
DavidRM
Samu Games
http://www.samugames.com

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While we are seeking to define various abstract concepts such as a game, let us also
try define more specific concepts suchs as
games that fit in a specific class such as
CRPGs. I would suggest the following as
required for a game to call itself a CRPG:

1) The player must control at least one Alter Ego, Avatar, Character, etc.

2) The Character must advance in experience and aquire additional items or treasure.

3) There must be "Quests" to complete.

Any other ideas?

------------------
Glen Martin
Dynamic Adventures Inc.
http://www.dynamicadventures.com

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Not to nitpick, but:


::ddnguyen wrote:
::Perhaps the best way to define this genere
::is to cite examples to which everyone can
::agree is representivie of the group. Then
::we can note similarites within them and
::perhaps that will give us a good start
: n a defintion. Here are my examples:
[snip]
::Zork
[snip]
:ghowland wrote:
:I dont remember anyone ever classifying
:Zork as a CRPG, its always been an
:adventure as long as I can remember it.

Which is what I was replying to.

--foo :P

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