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Default Kotaku - You Donít Need Combat to Have a Good RPG

April 19th, 2013, 14:35
Kotaku has seen the need to publish another article on combat in RPG's.
When it comes to gaming, RPGs represent the pinnacle of storytelling with games like Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Mass Effect, Skyrim, and Earthbound. While many games from many different genres do indeed have compelling stories, storytelling, more than any other facet, is what RPGs are known for.

But despite this, RPGs always seem to tell the same basic narrative: a group of heroes comes together to “save the world” from a powerful villain. Sure, sometimes it’s a fantasy setting and sometimes it’s a sci-fi one, but the basic story is almost always the same. Why?

What seems most likely is that this story framework allows for a fighting system, be that a shooting system like Mass Effect or a turn-based system like in most JRPGs.

But why must RPGs be centered around fighting? Is it not possible to have fun in an RPG without the mass murder of woodland creatures?

Why not have an RPG based around two people falling in love over the course of their lives? Or why not have an RPG about a group of friends traversing a planet to escape it, as the world itself dies around them.

Put another way, do RPGs need a fighting system to be RPGs? The answer is simply “no.” And as if to prove this, RPGs are slowly but surely breaking out of this narrow combat-necessary mindset.
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Last edited by Couchpotato; April 19th, 2013 at 15:07.
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April 19th, 2013, 14:35
Funny. What are we going to improve then? What are we going to have instead of Strength, Dexterity and Intellegence? What skills are coming in place of Smithing, Jumping, Mapping? What are we going to buy/forge instead of our swords and shields (no jokes please ). Or we don't need anything of it in the Love Me Do RPG? )))
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April 19th, 2013, 14:43
I agree that combat is unnecessary in theory - and there are RPGs where you don't actually have to kill anyone to succeed, though they're very rare.

But if you don't have combat - you're going to need another kind of gameplay to replace it - because doing nothing at all is very, very boring.

Arguably, games like Thief and Deus Ex are examples of RPGs (close enough, anyway) where combat doesn't have to take place. They use "stealth" gameplay as a viable alternative.

The thing about combat is that once a system is in place, it's relatively easy to develop content in the form of fights or encounters.

That's why so many games have so much combat - because it's entertaining and because it's easier to fill the game with combat than with other kinds of content.

So, I'd like to know what kind of gameplay carrier that can match combat in terms of entertainment AND be feasible to create in games centered around character progression that last for 30+ hours.

Stealth is great, definitely, but a lot of gamers don't like stealth. Almost everyone likes combat.

What kind of gameplay will be universally appealing like that?
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April 19th, 2013, 14:50
If it isnt violence, its gotta be sex. Maybe we'll see a new generation of Leisure Suit Larry RPGs.
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April 19th, 2013, 14:56
When it comes to gaming, RPGs represent the pinnacle of storytelling with games like Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Mass Effect, Skyrim, and Earthbound.
I stopped reading after that…
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April 19th, 2013, 14:57
Sex would bore me to tears in a computer game - but I'm probably not normal in that way. It's like strip clubs. If I can't have it myself - then I shut off and I don't engage myself

I'm thinking pure exploration/immersion might work - but it would take a level of content density which would most likely be prohibitively expensive in manhours to produce.

But I think I could go for a game like Bioshock Infinite / System Shock without combat - just as long as there were other interesting things I could do in terms of interacting with the environment.

If they expanded hacking, for instance, to include a sophisticated and semi-realistic OS - where you had to actually hack stuff to gain access to new systems. That might be cool.
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April 19th, 2013, 15:06
I think I'm not going out on a limp when I say that such games only work as an oddity - a diversion from other, combat-heavy games- , at least with the actual RPG crowd. Casual gamers from other genres might be more interested in this, especially if such games also get rid of the fantasy trappings.

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April 19th, 2013, 15:09
Originally Posted by CrazyIrish View Post
If it isnt violence, its gotta be sex. Maybe we'll see a new generation of Leisure Suit Larry RPGs.
There is the one from kickstarter. The writer sounds like he should play interactive movies or adventure games. If he doesn't want violence.

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April 19th, 2013, 15:13
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I stopped reading after thatÖ
Me too.

But to answer the title… In Diablo/Diablo2 and it's clones, combat is something you need. Since per Kotaku, Diablo1&2 are "Good RPG".

Toka Koka
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April 19th, 2013, 15:34
Since you dont need roleplaying to have a good RPG or even a RPG at all, every else can be deemed superflous.

Combat should be essential to a combat game as story should be essential to a narrative game.
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April 19th, 2013, 16:01
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I stopped reading after thatÖ
That initial sentence is indeed a sure indicator that you are about to read a moronic article.
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April 19th, 2013, 16:06
The writer doesn't work for Kotaku I don't think.


Edit: I'm also not getting the contempt. Those games the guy listed are good ones, some even story-telling classics. In fact, I'd say Skyrim is the only debatable one but I give it a pass on depth-of-lore. The response from several of you sounds really over-the-top.
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April 19th, 2013, 17:29
but the basic story is almost always the same. Why?
Never understod this as well.

The only exception from this rule is "SIM's Mediavel", which I truly consider to be an RPG of some sorts.

Sure, its story is nearly non-existent - but so it is with many modern so-called "Action-RPGs" as well.

Too often, an RPG of now is developed with combat in mind being "the main thing".

The result is that any story is merely tacked on - and it often feels as such as well.

Are developers really so … "unintelligent" … that they can't think of any other way ?

And the opposite is true as well . Is the sheer mass of buyers so … "unintelligent" so that they can't think of any other way ?

Originally Posted by CrazyIrish View Post
If it isnt violence, its gotta be sex. Maybe we'll see a new generation of Leisure Suit Larry RPGs.
With this remark you just show yourself as being conservative - too conservative to take any other approach than combat seriously.

It's time that the RPG genre makes an evolution - in this respact [combat] onto another tier, imho.

ď Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius Ė and a lot of courage Ė to move in the opposite direction.ď (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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April 19th, 2013, 17:39
Originally Posted by Sacred_Path View Post
I think I'm not going out on a limp when I say that such games only work as an oddity - a diversion from other, combat-heavy games- , at least with the actual RPG crowd. Casual gamers from other genres might be more interested in this, especially if such games also get rid of the fantasy trappings.
I agree with you. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a game like he's describing, but it won't likely be the norm.

If you take the combat away, you are left with a major gameplay hole that needs to be filled. How do you make a game about falling in love that doesn't become a dating sim? His 'escaping the world' idea could be interesting, but what sort of gameplay will drive that plot forward, if there is no combat? Puzzles? Is it still an RPG then?

I think his premise is good - that many RPGs recycle the same basic plot. It would be interesting to see some variety, but making it work can be risky.
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April 19th, 2013, 17:39
A threat of death is a great motivator. It's dramatic. It stings emotions and makes things more exiting.

That's why death is always around the corner in RPG's. Even in stealth games, where you don't need to kill anyone, the danger of death is strongly present.

And of course battle scenes have both tactical thinking and adrenalin rushes, both of which are fun.

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April 19th, 2013, 17:49
I really am getting tired of the classic "save the world" story. Doesn't mean I want RPGs that don't have combat at all, but it could be toned down a bit. I recently posted about the Harmondale part of MM7 - I really liked it. Playing a lord who is out to protect his lands through diplomacy (which, admittedly, often leads to combat in MM7) is a very nice change from the standard "kill Big Evil".
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April 19th, 2013, 18:19
Originally Posted by tuukka View Post
A threat of death is a great motivator. It's dramatic. It stings emotions and makes things more exiting.

That's why death is always around the corner in RPG's. Even in stealth games, where you don't need to kill anyone, the danger of death is strongly present.

And of course battle scenes have both tactical thinking and adrenalin rushes, both of which are fun.

We play games for fun.
And sometimes we wish to play games to enlighten us and deepen our understanding of the world. Both are fine.
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April 19th, 2013, 19:02
What a strange article.

What are these stupid games? JRPGs are universally awful. Skyrim has no storytelling in it. What are they even talking about?

Kotaku really has devolved into a sad joke.
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April 19th, 2013, 19:39
Originally Posted by darkling View Post
What a strange article.

What are these stupid games? JRPGs are universally awful. Skyrim has no storytelling in it. What are they even talking about?

Kotaku really has devolved into a sad joke.
Kotaku does have a bit of an JRPG fanbase. I know Jason Schreier does a weekly column that covers JRPGS and has its share of fans.

I disagree with you that JRPGs are universally awful. I prefer PC RPGs because I enjoy the complexity, strategy and more mature themes that they provide. But JRPGs are still a lot of fun in their own way. I grew up playing Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior alongside Might & Magic and Ultima, and still enjoy the games to this day. In fact, Final Fantasy VI is probably one of my favorite games of all time.

I do agree with you that Skyrim is a very awkward example of a game that shines in storytelling. The Elder Scrolls games are great in many ways, but storytelling has always been the series' greatest weakness.

Also, this article was clearly written from the perspective of a console gamer. Otherwise Planescape Torment would have probably come up, since that's an obvious example of a game where story/dialogue trumps combat.
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April 19th, 2013, 20:54
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
It's time that the RPG genre makes an evolution - in this respact [combat] onto another tier, imho.
So RPGs need to evolve into games with no combat?

Juxtapose that with this, and you can see where the future of RPGs lies. Games wherein no one dies (except of cardiac arrest), and you get to make totally grey moral choices, such as whose cookie to steal.

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