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December 8th, 2012, 20:20
This whole paragraph is so wrong, I don't quite know where to start. I have the feeling you read too many of these brain-dead editorials, where some guy with questionable background in gaming tries to redefine the definition of games. Your definition of RPG is called action adventure. Wrong genre.

An RPG is a game where you replace your own capabilities by those of one or several characters, the role(s) of which you take over. To make this possible, your own capabilities are replaced by sets of numbers that play out in conflict resolutions of any kind. This is a problem with many modern RPGs that implemented shooter mechanics, as they suddenly fall back on player skill for fighting, which is a loss of an RPG element (you use your own "stats", not those of the role you play). Story is secondary, though nice to have to keep you interested in playing. Actually, a good story is very difficult to reconcile with the idea of an RPG, as a good story tends to set you on rails, or it's not a good story. That becomes clear if you think of Planescape:Torment, which has an excellent story, but with very mediocre gameplay elements. The old Fallouts are the opposite case.

It's actually the same with PnP games. The good games are the ones where the DM recognizes when to abolish the story he had in mind and just let the players do their thing. A good DM accepts the deeds of the players as story and doesn't force the grand story he had in mind on them. All in all, story is a completely unimportant aspect of RPGs and often enough gets in the way. Of course, a computer can never replace a human being in this regard, so some railroading becomes necessary.

Really, the closest you get to real RPGs (like D&D) are all these old games that you try to redefine as strategy games, because it fits your agenda. A game like Baldur's Gate manages to capture the mood of a real life RPG session quite well. You don't even have to rely on me: Bioware made it very clear that the Mass Effect series isn't really pure RPG anymore, but an RPG/shooter hybrid.
I have no agenda, I make no money out of my views on role playing games. And I don't read many editorials about cRPGs. But…
I started playing role playing games (the P&P variety) in the early 90s, mostly as a game master, but many times as a player. I stopped playing them about a couple of years ago because life got in the middle. I played and game mastered a wide variety of games and genres, from horror, to cyberpunk, from fantasy, to hard sci fi. I can mention some of the games I played, among them Kult, Vampire, D&D, World of Darkness (and before that Vampire the Masquerade), Conspiracy X, Pendragon, Traveller, Trinity, Underground, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica. The list goes on and on…
I know that this doesn't make an expert out of me. But please, do not try to teach what a role playing game is. I know, I had the time to learn it, I guess. No matter how stupid I may be, almost 20 years of hobby are enough to grasp it's basic meaning.
I also know that cRPGs are not the same thing as P&P. But, in my opinion, the more recent games (even though they mix other genres with role play - shooter, as you mention about Mass Effect, and I agree) are much closer to my experience as a P&P gamer and GM than the good ole classics. There are exceptions, naturally. I like Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines, though it's a bit old by now, and I could like Morrowind if not for the motive that most people like it - the strange environment. But that's just a matter of taste. Deus Ex has rather bad voice acting, but in it's time was a great game nonetheless. Both KOTOR are great games. All these ones have nothing to do with strategy or tactical mentality. Baldur's Gate and all D&D inspired games have. And those I do not like.
Anyway…. Mostly, the good ole' classics were restricted by technical limitations, and it was easier to implement mechanics that emulated the rules of a P&P game than all the rest. And by all the rest I mean the creation of an environment that substitutes the players' imagination around the gaming table (this replacement is supposed to happen in a video game, even if the players imagination is still necessary), and that recreates the role of the game master - not just as a referee, but also as the one responsible for all the NPCs and the interaction of the gamers' characters with the imaginary space they are sharing. Good graphics, good music, good voice acting, are essential for all this - in my opinion. Good stories also, and those do not change because of technical issues. But it is my firm believe that the narratives and dialogues of the old school games were not better (I would even say they were normally much worse) than recent games. There are exception, of course.
Story is not secondary (though "story" is not the linear story which you seem to imply that it is the only one possible in RPGs), mechanics are not the most important thing in role playing. In fact, they are only tools for achieving a purpose. Role playing, as in "interpreting a character", is the most important thing, as the name "role playing game" implies. If you do not agree with this, then it is your agenda that is mixed up.
Last edited by MigRib; December 8th, 2012 at 20:37.
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