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Default Confessions of an RPG Developer @ Atomic PC

May 24th, 2007, 02:57
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
Well, I'm having a little trouble understanding your conclusion, despite that distinction and those examples (sorry). Isn't simulation a tool that benefits thinking?

I don't get how using a computer means you're not doing what you're doing. We're really having this discussion, right? We're not just simulating it? Would this be more real if everyone were speaking face-to-face? Are these our real opinions or phonies?
The fact that it's a single player computer game makes all the difference in the world. Don't mistake an SP CRPG for some computer-aided roleplaying session. The latter is easily conceivable; imagine a chat room where people from different parts of the country play DnD together. They'd be playing an RPG, doing mostly the same thing they'd do in a regular PnP setting, but the computer would be allowing them to play together even though they're far apart. They would be roleplaying just as much as they would in a normal PnP RPG session. That's not simulation.

Contrast that with an SP CRPG. It's a completely different experience. First, the player controls everybody on his side, be it a lone adventurer or a party of 10. Second, and related, there's no interaction. Nobody (EXCEPT YOU!) cares if you "play" any particular "role" poorly or well. And that, now that I think about it, is the key distinction. A traditional RPG, and indeed any activity that can be called roleplaying, requires participants or players to play a role. That is the absolute definging characteristic of non-computer roleplaying and RPGs. I mean duh. But as has been pointed out countless times, a CRPG does not require this ANY MORE SO than any other type of SP computer game. Yeah, in Gothic I assume the role of that nameless guy, but no more so than in Halo I assume the role of Master Chief. In either game, you can "roleplay" EXTERNAL to the game to a lesser or greater extent, but in neither is it REQUIRED. That is the difference between RPGs and CRPGs.

"But that's not true", you counter, "when I play Gothic I always roleplay like so and so and I only have my character eat such and such and I always dance a sexy little dance after I win 3 combats in a row, or to put it more strongly, CRPGs give us 100X as many (and much better) ways to express this roleplaying side of us, and Halo just doesn't." Fine, no argument from me. But consider: I don't play Gothic* the way you do. Suppose, oh just for the sake of argument, that I don't give two bleeps about the various ways a game gives me to express my roleplaying side, and I just play the game like I would Diablo. That's right, Diablo. I just kill stuff until I'm powerful enough to kill more stuff and I click my way through all the dialogue, yelling "BORING!" every time I have to sit through a speech. And If I ever have to make a choice, I always pick the second one, no matter what the choice is. All I want to do is kill stuff an get fat lewt and grow mighty and rich.

Are we playing the game two different ways? Sure.

Are we playing two different games? No. Should your roleplaying-centered Gothic be classified in a different genre than my power-up my guy for fun Gothic? That would be kinda silly, what with us both playing the same game.

Can you classify the genre based on what's going on in the player's head? Doesn't it make more sense to base genre distinctions on the mechanics of gameplay, as opposed to an impossible to define holistic gameplay experience that is unique to each player?

And that's why this is a silly topic, because the devs, the publishers, the game stores, the review sites, and the players have already done this. A CRPG is a game with character advancement, through levels, attributes, skills, and/or equipment. A game that focuses on something else but includes those things is called a "XXXXX with RPG elements". I absolutely believe this classification for these games needs to exist, but I do wish it had ended up with a less misleading title.

If you don't believe me, consider: Monkey Island** would be a CRPG and not an Adventure game, if only you gained experience, level'd up, and improved your abilities. That's how you can tell that character advancement is our genre's defining characteristic.

*I haven't played Gothic at all, but I want to. I probably should have picked a different example. BTW, if you could only play one of them, I or II or III?

** OK I haven't played that one either. But I bet I'm right.
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