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Default Rampant Games - What Does "Old School RPG" Mean To You?

July 12th, 2011, 08:59
The Rampant Coyote asks What Does "Old School RPG" Mean To You?
I kinda tripped over this one working on the manual for Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon this weekend. Frayed Knights was inspired by favorite old-school RPGs, particularly games like the Wizardry, Ultima, and Bard’s Tale series. Oddly, when I first started I think I would have listed Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant was my biggest inspiration. It isn’t a game I actually ever played to completion (yet), nor my favorite of the series (that would be Wizardry 8). But I think I was entranced by the potential of the game even more than its actual implementation, and in many ways it epitomized this style of RPG for me. It represented a particular style of RPG at its height. […]
But as much as Wizardry VII acted as a representative for “old school RPG” for me, it’s hardly representative of even the games of its immediate era. It’s really hard for me to really put my finger on what characterizes an “old school RPG” because – seriously – the genre was a lot more diverse 20 years ago than it is today (unless you include indies, who are really bringing that back).
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July 12th, 2011, 08:59
RPG as a genre has never reached maturity. Evolution was stopped in its tracks around ten years ago. End result is known but progress towards it is stalling.

Old school RPG might refer to RPGs before the great stagnation.
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July 12th, 2011, 10:01
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
RPG as a genre has never reached maturity. Evolution was stopped in its tracks around ten years ago. End result is known but progress towards it is stalling.

Old school RPG might refer to RPGs before the great stagnation.
Isn't that what we said before Baldur's Gate as well?
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July 12th, 2011, 12:35
In our day every game that has a skill tree, many weapons/armors and a few "choices" is declared RPG. At this rate Dragon Age will be old-school in 10 years. The answer to the question differs from person to person, mostly due to preferences and the time when that person played the game.
Another important factor in giving the answer would be the nostalgia factor. Most of the "RPG's" today are so far from what they were 10-15 years ago that one immediatly compares them and brings into discussion the better quality of older games. Of course looking back at them, modern games have mostly the same ideea but poorly implemented.
When Dragon Age came out, a lot of people were pleased because it offered something the genre needed : a story that could be influenced by the player, interaction between you and the party members, moral choices, epic boss fights and high difficulty. Ofc it's still a shallow game and the only companions I actually cared for were Morrigan and the dog, but it was the best thing we had until then.

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July 12th, 2011, 12:36
"Old school" = a conservative approach
"New school" would be the ME-series approach, I guess.
Action-RPGs are still a sub-genre to me.

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July 12th, 2011, 14:00
It's about roleplaying some kid attending an old school.
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July 12th, 2011, 14:20
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
It's about roleplaying some kid attending an old school.
Ha! …

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July 12th, 2011, 14:40
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
It's about roleplaying some kid attending an old school.
Or hanging out with these guys:


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July 12th, 2011, 14:40
I would say "Designed without "accessability" being a primary design consideration"
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July 12th, 2011, 19:20
Playing through Wizardry 6, 7 and 8 with one party is "old school".

After that saying "this was easy" -> Wizardry 4 and Might & Magic 2 are more challenging is "ancient school".

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July 12th, 2011, 23:04
Dark Heart of Uukrul now that is old school.

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July 13th, 2011, 01:04
Planescape Torment. It's actually not particularly old (12/1999), but enbodies everything I like about RPGs from the past. A captivating story, interesting characters, well written dialogue, locations I wanted and had the chance to explore, choices that mattered, creative and distinct spells and so on.

The three years older Diablo, however, is already 'new school' in my eyes. Not a bad game, but it started a trend of simplification that is still predominant today.

I am sure there are many good reasons why some people consider Diablo 'old school', though, and 'Dragon Age' will certainly enter the 'old school' domain one day. It's not really a very helpful adjective…
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July 13th, 2011, 16:11
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
Isn't that what we said before Baldur's Gate as well?
Hard to see how it could be told before Baldur's gates.
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July 13th, 2011, 16:13
Originally Posted by coyote View Post
A captivating story, interesting characters, well written dialogue, locations I wanted and had the chance to explore, choices that mattered, creative and distinct spells and so on.
And how does it not apply to adventure games? Looks much more like the expectations to adventure games than to RPGs.
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July 13th, 2011, 18:17
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
And how does it not apply to adventure games? Looks much more like the expectations to adventure games than to RPGs.
Well, if you follow the "I fight, therefore I play a role" paradigm, then you are right.

To me, personally, role.playing games were just nothing but "extended adventure games" - and consequently I was frustrated by games with lots of combat and few riddles or interaction at all ("interaction" which consists of interactively chopping a monster's head off doesn't count here).

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July 13th, 2011, 18:30
Old school to me means party-based, top-down isometric. Easy to die, memorable characters & engaging story. Makes you go "wow, for being a game from (enter earlier date) this really kicks ass!" once and awhile.
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July 13th, 2011, 19:09
"old school" is a term that is so over used that it doesn't mean anything. "older" would be just as semantically descriptive.
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July 14th, 2011, 01:31
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
And how does it not apply to adventure games? Looks much more like the expectations to adventure games than to RPGs.
My list includes design aspects where I perceive a diminished focus in 'new school' RPGs compared to 'old school'. It was never my intention to list common aspects that classify any game as 'role playing'.

Like Alrik said, fighting is not an essential part of an RPG for me as well, although I do enjoy some challenging fights. Unfortunately, the pixel hunting and extremely linear advancement by randomly combining inventory items with the environment in order to recreate the weird chains of thought of some developer destroyed the adventure game genre for me. RPGs didn't have that even in the elder times.
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July 14th, 2011, 01:41
Imho "pixel hunting" became a fashion only some time through the last decade … It wasn't a thing that appeared (as such and under this name) earlier.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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July 14th, 2011, 14:29
Originally Posted by coyote View Post
Like Alrik said, fighting is not an essential part of an RPG for me as well, although I do enjoy some challenging fights. Unfortunately, the pixel hunting and extremely linear advancement by randomly combining inventory items with the environment in order to recreate the weird chains of thought of some developer destroyed the adventure game genre for me. RPGs didn't have that even in the elder times.
Fighting is brought through the role of the character. Non fighting roles leads to combat as an non essential feature. No limit to what kind of role one can play in a RPG.

this list
A captivating story, interesting characters, well written dialogue, locations I wanted and had the chance to explore, choices that mattered, creative and distinct spells and so on.
contains features RPGs can exist without.

A RPG does not require a story (no matter the quality) as what matters is the RP situations the player is provided with. A game world can generate RP situations without having any story.
Etc…

But they look as essential components for adventure games.
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