We know that new tech constantly pushes forward the games industry and changes how developers create RPGs. But aside from those kind of tangible improvements, where and how did the RPG genre improve, change, and mature? And what have been some of the more important reasons as to why the genre did move in the direction it has? – By Goatrek
Ken: I could probably write a couple doctoral theses on that topic.
Off the top of my head, I can think of four major developments in CRPGs (Computer Role Playing Games). About two of them—MMORPGs and BioWare narrative games—I can't speak as a developer.
About the other two—freeform-open-world RPGs and action-combat RPGs—I have some insight.
The freeform aspect of CRPGs was prefigured in tabletop and LARP gaming, and followed a logical evolution into CRPGs. The open-world aspect of CRPGs was the result of Bethsoft's [Bethesda Software] development of engines that could produce vast, procedural worlds, and the tools to make the titanic boatloads of content to fill those worlds (relatively) easily.
The long-neglected and somewhat underdeveloped state of RPG combat looked like an opportunity—in particular, on consoles, which already had lots of models of compelling action combat—which Reckoning was designed to exploit.
Why does the RPG genre move in certain directions? Because the genre moves in the direction of underserved player fantasies and desires. First, someone has to identify an underserved player fantasy or desire; then, someone has to figure out how to make systems, engines, and tools that can create the CRPGs. And then someone has to figure out how to get the message and product into the minds and hands of the gamers.