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Quote of the Week: "History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives." - Abba Eban, Israeli statesman (1915-2002)

The problem with RPGs

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Stark
PostPosted: 2011-12-12 10:36pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2002-07-03 09:56pm
Posts: 36168
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Gears 3 had more action less walking, but that is a pacing problem, and not 'infodumps'. Having to slowly walk around Hamburg would have been crap whether they were talking or not. They just tried to give a greater sense of place or position but got it wrong. These are the same idiots that thought the sub level was good, after all.
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aieeegrunt
PostPosted: 2011-12-14 09:40am 

Jedi Knight


Joined: 2009-12-23 11:14pm
Posts: 508
Ugh curse you for reminding me of that sub level. That was something you'd expect in a game like Red Faction 2. In fact the sub level in Red Faction 2 was far less annoying because at least you could steer the fucking sub, instead of Herp Derp SHOOT THE MINES BEFORE I RAM THEM.
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Jade Falcon
PostPosted: 2011-12-14 09:56am 

Jedi Council Member


Joined: 2004-07-27 06:22pm
Posts: 1705
Location: Jade Falcon HQ, Ayr, Scotland, UK
Stark wrote:
Yeah my post was more in reaction to the typical criticisms of JRPGs by people who don't understand what they're doing and expect all RPGs everywhere to be the same. I actually prefer games with named protaganists that already have a character.


To be fair not all JRPG's are the same, they're just a different style from Western RPG's, though games made in the West like Anachranox and The Third Age were more like JRPG in style, though if I remember right, Third Age used much the same engine as FFX.

Some of them were better than others, Grandia I enjoyed, Breath of Fire 3, Skies of Arcadia, even Azure Dreams. Others, I found not so enjoyable for one reason or another. For example I didn't mind Final Fantasy VIII's storyline, what I played, but I wasn't so thrilled with the game mechanics.
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Covenant
PostPosted: 2011-12-14 01:39pm 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2006-04-11 07:43am
Posts: 4316
Games are actually shrinking all over. This is partially good--they're compressing content to appeal to aging gamers who now want to juggle games and kids and jobs and starting to get tired at 10:00 instead of 2:00 and not being able to game all day means they want the fun without the fuss. They also want plot games, RPGs being the biggest example of that, to be shorter and more cinematic so you can remember who X character is and when Y event was if you can't play for a week and a half and come back cold to jump right back into a quest chain.

And then on the other hand... games are also being dumbed down. Content is being slashed from games to be placed in DLC packs, epic stories are being 'told' without being 'shown' because the game engines tend to vomit at the thought of having 50 people fighting on the screen at the same time, game designers are not necessarily very good writers and the concept of a "game writer" is still slow to be adopted in any real fashion. Plus, laziness kick in, so you get quest chains that just peter out into nothingness despite the fact that creating more quests is really only a matter of scripting in more events--except for the ever-present need to have every damnable line of dialogue spoken by some cruddy voice actor.

The departure from 2E D&D as the basis for your game mechanics (for most of the fantasy cRPGs) also means that you're not dying as often from random things, the world seems a little less threatening (since it was dangerous 'on accident' as a result of the mechanics) and that has an impact on the kind of gameplay you're experiencing. People do like to be challenged, but big-name game companies don't seem to realize that. The hardest RPG that I've played in recent memory is Dragon Age and that was only difficult because it let me to farther ahead in the story than it expected me to and encounter angry Dwarfs when I was still in the wee levels. It was a really welcome experience to get my ass handed to me, but the format it occurred in was unpleasant because now I had to either die die die repeatedly while doing what I thought was a purely social quest and chug potions constantly while running to escape the town and go back to safety.

This is also a result of narrowing the focus. By sucking a lot of the pointless side-errands out of the game you lose the capacity to have really nasty shit, since pointlessly difficult or needlessly lethal traps are the entire point of having abandoned crypts or decrepit ruins. You can't afford to make the main questline too difficult or else people will never finish it and be incredibly upset. If you're never required to go there then the developers aren't required to make it fair or fun, so you're free to throw in the glorious character-killing nasty bits. I firmly believe people enjoy dying--not pointlessly or arbitrarily--but as the result of a "Well, that's a flaming Ogre-Titan, I'll come back here later..." kind of obstacle. You have tastes of that nowadays but very little. Side-quests are usually one-offs, not entire other zones of useless dangerous content, whose only reward is money, powerful weaponry, and maybe a bit of satisfaction. When you look at older games it was usually not too difficult to 'beat' but often filled with a lot of dangerous stuff just because.

The real truth is that game makers have a few good reasons to make games shorter, especially plot-games, but they have no reason to make them dumb, easy, linear affairs. Those problems are just laziness disguised as "well that's what people are buying." They're buying it because they have no other options, jerks.
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HeadCreeps
PostPosted: 2011-12-14 09:47pm 

Padawan Learner


Joined: 2011-01-10 11:47pm
Posts: 197
Jade Falcon wrote:
Stark wrote:
Yeah my post was more in reaction to the typical criticisms of JRPGs by people who don't understand what they're doing and expect all RPGs everywhere to be the same. I actually prefer games with named protaganists that already have a character.


To be fair not all JRPG's are the same, they're just a different style from Western RPG's, though games made in the West like Anachranox and The Third Age were more like JRPG in style, though if I remember right, Third Age used much the same engine as FFX.

Some of them were better than others, Grandia I enjoyed, Breath of Fire 3, Skies of Arcadia, even Azure Dreams. Others, I found not so enjoyable for one reason or another. For example I didn't mind Final Fantasy VIII's storyline, what I played, but I wasn't so thrilled with the game mechanics.



Your tense shifted a bit in that post. Not all JRPGs are the same, but back when I played these games, these were what I liked. Those are all games from the NWN/Baldur's Gate time period. The current world of JRPGs is saturated with remakes, attempts to make an aging series into an MMO, and not bothering to try too hard because it's just a handheld game so who cares. Square Enix as usual tries to make their games cinematic, and Atlus continues to be largely ignored by all the old farts who still think Square is the only company who makes JRPGs. Unlike WRPGs, there are quite a few popular developers for JRPGs who, like WRPG developers, tend to have their own distinctive signature, but also like WRPG devs, they don't move much beyond their distinctive style. Companies tend to burst onto the stage with a quirky new game style only to end up pumping out more and more of their original game but with a new storyline and small innovations. And fuck innovation, that's not a problem as long as it's still entertaining.

There are action/RPGs, SRPGs, 'cinematic` RPGs, traditional RPGs, platformer RPGs, etc., and the Japanese really pioneered adding RPG elements to every genre long before we started to here in western markets.
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edaw1982
PostPosted: 2012-01-11 07:06am 

Youngling


Joined: 2011-09-23 03:53am
Posts: 138
Location: Orkland, New Zealand
Speaking on maile bikinis...yes I get that it's a fantasy staple, but it makes me roll my eyes in gameplay.

One thing I liked about, Morrowind was how you could layer clothing. I mean it's just logical afterall.

But when you see, Male Character Model with 'perfectly acceptable and logical maile coat' and then your 'Saucy Female Elf' puts on the same maile coat, WHAMMO, it's turned into a bikini top and bottom...and knee-high fuck-me boots.

...what the hell!?

Yes, I get that it's fanservice but if I want my character to wear slutty armour, then I'll take my maile coat to the smithy and get him to make me some +1 Slutty Armour.
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Netko
PostPosted: 2012-01-11 02:14pm 

Jedi Council Member


Joined: 2005-03-30 07:14am
Posts: 1921
Location: Croatia, "Mediterranean as it once was"
On the topic of morality bars - I do think Bioware has perfected that mechanism, as flawed as it is do principally to its binary nature, in SWTOR; while the consequences are, at best, an in-game mail message, the decisions have become interesting a lot of the times, compared to KOTOR and other Bioware games.

Yes, there are still some stupid or outright obvious choices, but the game tries to be a bit subversive. For example, on the Republic side, and particularly on a Jedi Knight character (each class has its own character story), light side is, as it always was, fluffy kittens, helping altruistically and all that jazz. However, it also represents order and rigid obedience to the Jedi code (note: not loyality to the Republic), which basically means you should uphold laws always and be emotionally dead inside and be a selfless zealot. The dark side, again, on the Republic side, does represent violence, dickishness etc. but it also represents pragmatism, sometimes compassion for the emotions of others, free will and not being a zealot.

For example, just last night I had a pivotal scene where there was a bombed out planet and there were a few survivors left on it who would die without help. There was a medical frigate in orbit that could render aid, however it would become permanently trapped on the planet if it did do to technobable for which a solution would have to be found for anyone to come and render aid to them, and despite all protestations of certain characters the probable result is that they die along with the survivors in five years after their supplies run out. Five years surviving on a planet that doesn't support life anymore. The captain, a family man, doesn't want to do it and offers you (someone he had just seen kill heavily armed troops single-handedly), in private, medical supplies to leave and tell the firebrand first officer to accept the deaths of the survivors. Your options? <Light-side>Force them to go in, <Light-side>Tell the first officer the captain is a crook (reveal his offer) which leads to her taking command, <Dark-side>Lie to the first officer and tell her that the force is showing you the survivors are really dead and the sensors are wrong.

Now, sure, you can come up with plenty of other options that should be implemented, you can very plausibly argue that there should have been deep consequences for the decision and all that, but on just the basis of the morality system decisions one way or the other, I think the above example shows that Bioware has grown a lot over the course of some of its titles - the actual story quality and the dilemma of the decisions has become quite a bit better then in some of their earlier titles as well as what the sides represent having a bit more intelligence to it (that the Light side is represented as rigid and basically naive has very interesting implications). This wasn't a isolated example, just the most recent one for me - but I've been running into very interesting decisions (among a lot more not very interesting, admittedly) a lot, which I find rewarding and stimulating, especially because that one aspect which I actually dreaded with the MMO (permanence of decisions) is actually turning out to be very appealing combined with interesting decisions. I've found myself thinking about some of the decisions even days after I made them, which is a first...

This might have been a slightly more specific post game-wise then the rest of the thread, but I wanted to point out that even if some of the systems are simplistic and probably too restrictive, they still have evolution over the course of games, and if they are implemented well can be a good and interesting mechanism.
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Drooling Iguana
PostPosted: 2012-01-11 03:38pm 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2003-05-13 01:07am
Posts: 4974
Location: Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha
aieeegrunt wrote:
I'm not sure whether the "cut scene" or "in game (Half Life 2)" methods are better; the in game method is pretty damn clunky, the Half Life 2 lab expository dump was extremely painful and kind of SOD ruining.

Why not do the Half Life 1 method and have a story that's actually suited to the gameplay ("You're trapped in a place where bad shit is happening. Survive and try to escape") so that you don't need to do either?
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