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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: What Makes a Role Playing Game?

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55 posts found
  Kevyne-Shandris

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/10/08
Posts: 1980

You can't † BURY † ¤¤ Holy Paladins ¤¤ As we will always __.- ASCEND -.__

1/11/14 6:32:56 AM#41

We draw the line when we don't compare character developing and role playing as faceless-pointmen (aka F.E.A.R. game style), or having very limited say in what we are and why in the world we're even there.

 

RPGs is suppose to be about long-term development of your character. That despite all the changes in a game, the player is what still matters.

 

There's too much overemphasis of combat and combat mechanics, that the RPG side in RPGs no longer resemble them. WoW's a good example of it, if they didn't have transmorg (which took pulling teeth in itself) WoW would resemble LoL more today, since they're nerfing stats every expansion. After the next expansion I won't be surprised it'll be down to 3 stats only, and even that seems a problem for Blizzard. Stats are there for character development and piecing together what you want your toon to play as -- faster caster? Love larger crits? Mastery your cup of tea? Things that give MEANING to what your character is in that RPG world.

 

So RPGs for me is solidly the character development, since I've seen what the class and content design has become -- a literal tar pit of "I know better than you"; "shut up n00b!"; and stacking Mortal Strikes as a cheap means to bork healing for "faster kills" (arenas are a joke now, if it's not finished in 2mins it's "boring", so Blizzard takes every heal that's possible out to hurry it up, and careless how any healer feels -- then asks even after that, "why would you want to DPS, as a healer?"). -_-

  jackie28

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/04/09
Posts: 107

1/11/14 7:35:02 AM#42

I understand where the OP is going with this, because we all have an idea what RPG means but really don't have a consensus definition.

For me, the genre starts with D&D and all games which harken back to D&D are RPGs.  Ultima is the quintessential RPG.

I realized a long time ago why I enjoyed Ultima, and it was because it was more like a BOOK than a MOVIE.  World of Warcraft is closer to a movie.  Old School RPGs are more like a book.  The game world isn't realistic, characters and monsters and terrain are all represented symbolically, and there is plenty of room to PROJECT onto the character the details of WHO he is.  So for me, an RPG is a game that primarily invokes a players imagination.  Movie-like games leave nothing to the imagination and don't require the player to construct the scenario in their mind.  And to that end I prefer these games be somewhat tactical and turn-based and have nothing to do with twitch.  Again, its about telling a story.  Yes, you are playing a role in ALL games but you aren't a "role-player" if there is no focus on WHO you are and WHERE you are and how your unique characteristics affect the outcome of the scenario.  Just my opinion.

  TheLizardbones

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10959

I think with my heart and move with my head.-Kongos

1/11/14 9:20:52 AM#43

It might make sense to eliminate things that definitely have nothing to do with a game being an RPG or not. For instance, starting with something obvious, the camera style doesn't determine whether or not a game is an RPG. A game can be an RPG whether it is using the first person perspective, third person perspective or an isometric camera style. Less obvious are the existence of quests. In Half Life, the player has quests through out the game, but Half Life is not an RPG. If quests or missions figure into RPGs, there must be something specific about how the quests are implemented that make quests an RPG element.

And so on.

I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  fistorm

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/05/08
Posts: 836

1/11/14 2:11:18 PM#44

Let me give you a example of what the MMORPG world is like today....

 

What makes a better computer?     Back in the old days, we strived for only high quality computers with as much processing power possible.   Now today I go into a store and I see a ton of DESKTOP computers for sale for the same price my 2.4ghz computer was on sale, the only difference is, they are all now 1.8ghz computers and less.   Laptops are selling by the millions at 1.2 ghz and less.    I ask myself, WHAT?   Who would pay 300 bucks for a laptop that is half the speed of a laptop I bought 5 years ago for 300.   

 

In other worse, what makes a better computer,  is knowledge....     When companies can go backwards with quality and make the same amount they did years ago.   That explains the MMORPG world today.    Why add housing?  Why add high quality graphics?  Why add RPG to the game anymore in some cases?   These are things companies are now doing, and its up to customers to keep those RPG game companies doing better and not give half quality and charge twice as much.  

 

If computers being sold 1.8ghz or less is any indication of the MMORPG market, its not going to survive...   After all what happens when all those 1.8ghz buyers try to play a game that requires 3.2ghz or higher?   They'll go right to F2P games which pander to 1.8ghz and less platforms, and then say to the rest of us that "GRAPHICS DONT MATTER",  storylines don't matter, RPG doesn't matter.  That's what!

  fistorm

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/05/08
Posts: 836

1/11/14 2:18:09 PM#45

Part 2

 

What if everyone from 2000 told every game company graphics don't matter and we should have games that are like EQ 1 and AC 1 only...   There's a reason why quality of games keeps getting better,  people want it.   Lets keep this going until one day we can live in a box in our houses and call it a hologram game.   Can we please not go backwards, but forward?

  Antiquated

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/08/13
Posts: 603

1/11/14 3:04:08 PM#46

Depends on your decade.

Before computers, the definition of "role playing game" was not-at-all muddy. It meant roleplay.

Late 80s and beyond? A mixture, moving gradually away from immersive roleplay and towards 'character advancement' and graphic environments.

Now, not much roleplay (or roleplayers) left in the genre at all.

  jackie28

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/04/09
Posts: 107

1/11/14 7:01:19 PM#47
Originally posted by fistorm

Part 2

 

What if everyone from 2000 told every game company graphics don't matter and we should have games that are like EQ 1 and AC 1 only...   There's a reason why quality of games keeps getting better,  people want it.   Lets keep this going until one day we can live in a box in our houses and call it a hologram game.   Can we please not go backwards, but forward?

We can certainly do that AND still have things like books.  The two are not mutually exclusive, and the role-playing adventure need not be relegated to a single technological path or medium.  I believe there is still as much a market for an old school tile-based RPG as there was back in 1980 for the same reason I believe there is a place for a BOOK today the way there was 200 years ago.  Your market-share may not be phenomenal but I'll bet someone would enjoy the diversion.

  Scot

Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/10/03
Posts: 5693

1/12/14 5:37:23 AM#48
There are many elements to an RPG. It simply has to have enough of them to get the title 'RPG'. We tend to prefer different elements though, I have a love of story. That in turn has meant I am far happier with a themepark MMO which has good quests. It may be easymode and lack the flexibility of a sandbox but it still ticks the story box.
  Volgore

Tipster

Joined: 6/15/08
Posts: 2218

Posts deleted: 12589457

1/12/14 6:26:58 AM#49

"What makes a RPG?"

By definition of this site, a RPG likewise as an MMO can be any game coming from a studio that buys the big ad-space in the background and gives exclusive "interviews" (aka PR stunts) which generate clicks/visits. This package qualifies any game to get it's own forum and an overkill of features every other day, even if it is neither "massive" nor "roleplay".

You can as well ask "What makes an mmo?", since both terms RPG and MMO seem to have their own and often questionable definition to this site, which often times wasn't shared by the users and rightfully raised controversy.

What a role playing game makes got wonderfully explained in many ways over the years by dedicated gamers and visitors of this page. It never helped though, as you can see checking through the "game forums" to the left, finding many examples of what does NOT make an RPG.

 

  FinalFikus

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/01/13
Posts: 910

"We're up all night to get lucky"

1/12/14 7:09:04 PM#50

You are playing a role.

 

 

"If the Damned gave you a roadmap, then you'd know just where to go"

  lyinggod0

Novice Member

Joined: 9/05/11
Posts: 3

1/13/14 9:14:18 PM#51

A Roleplaying Game requires a level of imagination of a degree of imagination and flexability that has yet to be realized on a console or a computer. The closest that we see are the playing of power sets. A power set is basically set of predefined abilities that are brought together to represent a limited concept. This concept is given a name and a background, or perhaps one can be chosen from a limited choice of options, and then is allowed to travel in an "open" world that only allows for limited interaction choices.

 

This is not a failing of roleplaying games but the very nature of trying to use a computer to emulate a dungeon master. A cRPG (Computer Roleplaying), which is now called simple an RPG, can not and won't for many years, be able to be anything more then a poor immitation of a real RPG. 

 

What is a real Roleplaying Game? It involves people in the same room (i.e.: a living room), talking and interacting without a computer (or smartphone). An obvious example would be AD&D but there are hundreds (possibly thousands) to choose from.

 

At this point, many of you may be thinking I am bashing on computer RPGS (or MMORPGS). I am not. I enjoy a good cRPG, such as Skyrim or WOW, but they are limited, dumbed down versions the real (orginal, non-computerized) RPGs. If you don't believe me, go down to your local game store and check them out. You can find unlimited gaming options.

 

A short example of unlimited options: I am involved in a real RPG fantasy game that has no magic in the world. I declared that my figure is a wizard. The game master said "sorry, no magic". I said "I think I am a wizard". The character is insane and everything he does he attributes to his "magic" powers. He is an effective character that actively contributes to the game. This belief directly affects how he interacts with the world and NPCs around him and how NPCs interact with him. If this was a character in a cRPG, such a declaration would be meaningless unless the game programmer had included it as an option (unlikely).

 
Some may say that in cRPGs you are playing a role. You aren't. Your not an actor, your not playing a role. Your moving a computer character and responding to limited, canned responses, such as:
A) Insult NPC
B) Ask about cult
C) Leave
 
These canned responses are the core difference between real RPGs and limited options of cRPGs.
 
My two senses, your dice may differ
  jesad

Advanced Member

Joined: 9/30/06
Posts: 759

Think of something witty and pretend that I typed it in this spot :)

1/14/14 1:34:48 AM#52

For me an RPG is a game that either allows me to create a character that I can identify with, or pulls me into the character that I have been given to play in a way that makes me feel as though I am, in fact, that character.

A good RPG can make you feel like you are anybody.  Games like the current Batman series for the console systems are a good example of this because even though you KNOW that you are not in fact "The Batman", the game forces you to think, act, and fight as though you were, and that in itself makes you feel like you could be the Batman even if you are in fact a 300 pound dude sitting in your underwear doing BH's in between saves.

MMO's provide you with the same feeling in a different way.  They do this by allowing you to pick a person within a certain setting and then explore how you are going to BE that person completely on your own.  The more an MMO allows you to do this, via customization, world size, and activities, the more engrossing it becomes.

Alternatively the more linear an MMO becomes with things like FLOTM's, Builds, required gear, etc....the less fun it becomes.

In either case it is choice that makes for a good RPG experience and so I would have to summarize my thoughts thusly, reserving of course the way in which that choice was delivered from game to game.  That and a genuine interest in suspending disbelief in one way why allowing it in an entirely different way.

Like the Architect said in the Matrix, "99.9% of all test subjects accepted the program, as long as they were given a choice, even if they were only aware of the choice at a near unconscious level."

I think that means that you have to also want it to be a good RPG.  In this fashion a flight sim is, in fact, an RPG as long as it makes the user, who wants to fly planes, feel as though they are flying planes.

  sunshadow21

Novice Member

Joined: 8/15/04
Posts: 355

1/14/14 2:07:56 AM#53
Originally posted by jesad

For me an RPG is a game that either allows me to create a character that I can identify with, or pulls me into the character that I have been given to play in a way that makes me feel as though I am, in fact, that character.

A good RPG can make you feel like you are anybody.  Games like the current Batman series for the console systems are a good example of this because even though you KNOW that you are not in fact "The Batman", the game forces you to think, act, and fight as though you were, and that in itself makes you feel like you could be the Batman even if you are in fact a 300 pound dude sitting in your underwear doing BH's in between saves.

MMO's provide you with the same feeling in a different way.  They do this by allowing you to pick a person within a certain setting and then explore how you are going to BE that person completely on your own.  The more an MMO allows you to do this, via customization, world size, and activities, the more engrossing it becomes.

Alternatively the more linear an MMO becomes with things like FLOTM's, Builds, required gear, etc....the less fun it becomes.

In either case it is choice that makes for a good RPG experience and so I would have to summarize my thoughts thusly, reserving of course the way in which that choice was delivered from game to game.  That and a genuine interest in suspending disbelief in one way why allowing it in an entirely different way.

Like the Architect said in the Matrix, "99.9% of all test subjects accepted the program, as long as they were given a choice, even if they were only aware of the choice at a near unconscious level."

I think that means that you have to also want it to be a good RPG.  In this fashion a flight sim is, in fact, an RPG as long as it makes the user, who wants to fly planes, feel as though they are flying planes.

That is actually the best definition I've seen. The suspension of disbelief and making you think and react like the character on the screen, rather than yourself, are really crucial elements. I think thats why I tend to not like most of the current crop of games. None of them really pull you in to the point you are that character; there's too many mechanics  that make it impossible to get that level of immersion, and often it's not even the mechanics themselves, but how they are implemented. Earlier games tried to make even the most necessary and obvious mechanics blend with the world as much as possible; now they simply create an interface window that while helpful often pulls you out of thinking as the character and forces you to think as the player. I also tend to dislike the action combat that so many find popular today because too often it forces the player, not the character, to be good at combat, losing a lot of the immersion factor.

These reasons are probably why games like Mario Bros don't get classified as RPGs; the focus was always on player skill and knowledge, not character skill and knowledge. The Tomb Raider games are similar; they have RPG elements, but ultimately, Lara Croft is still only as good as the player at the controls. Older console and computer RPGs, however, like their pen and paper counterparts, made you play and make decisions as the character. There were still interfaces and/or necessary behind the scenes number crunching, but metagaming, or thinking as the player instead of the character, was very rarely the focus until you got into a handful of key boss fights, or raiding; it still happened, but because it wasn't the focus, it didn't take over the entire game most of the time.

In the end, it comes down to how much are you interacting with the game primarily through the thoughts and capabilities of the character vs the character very obviously being a puppet with all the skill and knowledge being provided by the player with the specifics of the avatar being largely superficial. Modern MMOs tend to skew more and more toward being a player driven game whereas older games, even older computer games, still relied on approaching the game as that character.

  eindinbloch

Novice Member

Joined: 6/05/08
Posts: 60

1/15/14 1:07:18 AM#54

For me, rpg games are all about immersion.  Why do you play Pencil and Paper?  It's because you are able to experience this other world and live as another entity in that world.  Why do I play video games?  For the same reason.

I don't care what kind of mechanics are in the game.  If the game is immersive and interesting, it will be fun.  Now I say that, the mechanics have to add to and not detract from that immersion.  It isn't immersive for me to grind unless that adds to the game's immersion.

So for me this mainly entails having a great environment, great sounds, good story (although the story isn't crucial as long as the world feels real and interesting), good AI or interaction with other entities in the world...  If the world feels empty, it isn't worth playing.  If the developers made no effort to make the world feel "alive", it isn't worth playing.

  GrandYith

Novice Member

Joined: 1/30/14
Posts: 1

1/30/14 5:30:47 PM#55
As for electronic RPGs, I've been on an argue about what defines them a few years ago. Ppl claimed the character customization (as in stats and gear) defines an electronic RPG. That said, "an elecctronic RPG is all about how strong you can make your character". I disagree. Tabletop RPGs aren't only abut numbers and dice rolling. They're about you diving into a world as your persona (the character you create from scratch, either you want it or not, is your persona in that game). Some electronic so called RPG titles have the name change option for that matter (so even if slightly, you can feel that the immersion into the game is somewhat deeper if you put on the char a name you like, or why not, your own name). That's mostly why TLoZ series is considered RPG. The name Link means, in the game's context itself, "the hero who links the storyline and happenings". Without Link, TLoZ wouldn't probably be the same (if you look at the entire game chronolgy). Ofc, there would be Zelda, but that's also a name somewhat like Link, but with less meaning on that matter. So, when you give Link another name, it actually makes sense and the immersion (for those who care about it) can be better appreciated, because there weren't only one Hero of Time, but plenty of them. Myself, I just leave as Link because I'm way too lazy to come up with a name that fits the Hyrule universe. Now, as for MMOs, I think they can define way better what an electronic RPG is. Most MMOs are about immersion. Those vanity items and in depth avatar customization aren't for nothing. There are those ppl wh don't give two shits for those things, but there are those who care a lot about diving into the MMO's world. For me, a good MMORPG (and rmb, that's ~for me~) has to have an in depth character creation, so I can create the shell of my persona as I see fit. It's exactly like in the tabletop paper&pen RPG: you have the choice to be whoever you want, not just some pre set options that look awful most of the time. So that would make The Sims an RPG? Well, no... You don't really play as a single character and live like him, you just control a bunch of characters. You're a god on The Sims, so it's entirely different. The gear progression is also an important part of RPG, OFC! I didn't forget about that! But let's forget the boing linear gear progression, like in RuneScape and PSO2 (and well, most MMOs out there, not to mention some other offline RPGs such as other Final Fantasies, TLoZ and so on). Take the free progression of FFXI, Dark Souls and Kingdom Hearts in which you can't say that every single gear is useless if compared to others. In FFXI, different from other FF titles, pro players walk around with more than one piece or complete set of armor and they change them in combat. The different combos of status that each armor on FFXI gives makes them all useful (well, not including the really low level ones in this argument, please take that in mind), not to mention certain weapons. High level red mages are often required to set black mage or white mage as their subclasses, requiring some gear changing such as the elemental staves (recommended to every RDM starting lvl50). I started to play Dark Sols recently and I've been guided by a friend who finished it on PS3. I asked about gear and stuff and he said "well, every gear in Dark Souls is useful in some way, you can't really say any of them are useless". My point with the gear part is that, just like in real life, our personas also have to be improved. The gear progression and skill trees make part of the hcaracter creation, but it's a long term creation since you remodel it through the game. That's one other reason why TLoZ is considered an RPG, bc every gear you find is useful (gods, there is absolutely no useless gear in TLoZ) and this progression takes part on how you will deal with situations (the choices are not only those the NPCs or cutscenes give us, but also those we do in combat or while travelling. TLoZ fans should know that the storyline of thefranchise have a path in which Link dies trying to save Hyrule from Ganondorf, and that death is considered to be any kind of possible death in any part of Ocarina of Time), thus taking part in the immersion. Now, as for the plot... That's not really what defines an RPG. There are great RPG titles with lame plots, but they're still RPGs because of the gameplay features. In the end, I would say that what makes an electronic RPG is the immersion on how you can feel you're part of that world by not just controlling your character, but also deciding how he will be.
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