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Default Mass Effect 2 - On RPGs and Genre Classification

March 26th, 2010, 08:18
This topic just keeps coming back, doesn't it? You may recall that Scars of War developer Gareth Fouche wrote an enthusiastic defence of Mass Effect 2 a little while back; Part 2 is now online and Gareth continues the topic by tackling the entire genre classification issue:
What is an RPG?
(Are you ready for it?)
Answer : ‘RPG’ is a communication shorthand term for a game which shares common features with the other games classified as ‘RPGs’.
At this point you’re probably thinking “Well, no shit Gareth, we understand what a game genre is, don’t be a smart arse”.
Except I think that this is one of those things which is so obvious, so familiar, that people don’t really think about what that means and the implications of it.
More information.
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March 26th, 2010, 08:18
So an ‘RPG’ is a game which plays mostly like all the other games which have been called RPGs, and it may or may not contain actual roleplaying. Hoo-fucking-ray for clarity.

So, I promised to answer the question : Is ME2 an ‘RPG’?

If you go by ‘how similar its feature set is to the feature sets of other games in the genre’, probably not. The feature set in ME2 is closer to the third person shooter genre feature set than the commonly understood RPG feature set.

But what it is, is a roleplaying game. It has more roleplaying than BG2, than Icewind Dale. Scene to scene, you do more of that improvisation I discussed earlier than most games in the RPG genre ever allowed you.
I agree with this part, at least with very little knowledge of ME2. To me sandbox games will always be the most roleplaying I can do, because I can create a role and play it pretty much how I want (of course the world usually doesn't react much, making the game seem… well, not alive after a while). For me it comes down to choices.
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March 26th, 2010, 09:12
How long will it be before people give up trying to define, objectively, what a roleplaying game is?

It's INCREDIBLE how often I hear people being confident their definition is "right" - and pretend to be certain of something you can't be certain of.

Sure, there are games that most everyone considers "true" roleplaying games - like Fallout, but there will always be a group of people somewhere for which the game doesn't have what THEY consider vital to the genre.

ME2 might be an RPG to some, but in my world it has very few of they key features that I, personally, consider vital. Can it count as one? Sure, whatever - but so can Doom 3.
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March 26th, 2010, 10:20
Blogger alter-egoists do not an rpg define, it is by default the responsibility of the game creator, the gamewriter, the developer, to portray the definition of genre style and backdrop themic setting of their products.
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March 26th, 2010, 10:28
Originally Posted by Wulf View Post
Blogger alter-egoists do not an rpg define, it is by default the responsibility of the game creator, the gamewriter, the developer, to portray the definition of genre style and backdrop themic setting of their products.
In an attempt at translation, are you saying the developers can decide what genre their game is - regardless of how it actually fits into "accepted" standards?
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March 26th, 2010, 13:42
Good read. As someone who's still trying to sort this out, I found it insightful. I liked where he arrived, which was not at a clear definition at all, but saying that the effort is futile. The preferred hardcore definition isn't really workable, and the common usage (or rather composite usage?) encompasses a hodge-podge of qualities which also exist in other games. At least that's what I heard him say.
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March 26th, 2010, 16:57
Good read. As someone who's still trying to sort this out, I found it insightful. I liked where he arrived, which was not at a clear definition at all, but saying that the effort is futile. The preferred hardcore definition isn't really workable, and the common usage (or rather composite usage?) encompasses a hodge-podge of qualities which also exist in other games. At least that's what I heard him say.
Thanks and yes, that is what I was getting at. I think it is why some people are proclaiming ME2 as a new form of RPG while others go 'WTF, are you crazy? It's little more than a shooter'.

While I don't think my article will help resolve the disputes, it may be helpful just in understanding why people can't seem to agree on the matter.

How long will it be before people give up trying to define, objectively, what a roleplaying game is?
About as long as it takes for people to give up trying to find common ground and context to discuss gaming passions with their peers. Ie : Never.

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March 26th, 2010, 17:03
Originally Posted by Naked Ninja View Post
About as long as it takes for people to give up trying to find common ground and context to discuss gaming passions with their peers. Ie : Never.
If you want to establish a common ground, the wise thing to do would be to accept that your own personal definition of a genre as rich as this one, can never be the only one.

That's my point about giving up on it.
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March 26th, 2010, 17:53
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
If you want to establish a common ground, the wise thing to do would be to accept that your own personal definition of a genre as rich as this one, can never be the only one.

That's my point about giving up on it.
Exactly. Way too many people are all "It's an RPG only if I say it is!"
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March 26th, 2010, 18:59
[devil's advocate]Could one not make the argument that it is not really role playing if you're forced to play as a specific character? To name a couple: ME = Shepard; Witcher = Geralt. In ME's defense at least you have some control over Shepard(you can choose a first name, backgrounds and tailor his/her appearance).

Ultimately my interpretation of a good role playing experience has more to do with freedom to explore a role as you wish. Playing as Geralt and to a lesser extent Cmdr Shepard is more along the lines of predetermined specific character/individual exploration. Which I would imagine is easier to construct from a game developers POV, but is no different than pretending you're the protagonist in any given movie… While I guess it could be argued that all games have some semblance of predestination, that gets to the heart of the argument in the source article. Which is that all games can be characterized as role playing depending on ones perception -> interpretation. IMO such a position boils down to pure semantics.

RPGs are typically in the shape of an hour glass… What I mean, from a plot/game construction POV, is that it's easy to have nearly unlimited variability at the beginning or end of a game. Which gives the illusion of choice. Now you might wonder, what does any of this have to do with RPGs and genre classification? IMO, character playing games also give the illusion of role playing or choice. But any pre-generated protagonist where you have to assume their individual identity is too confining and ignores the freedom of role playing.

I consider ME/ME2 to be good/decent games(what can I say I love scifi). That does not mean that they are automatically good RPGs too. If everything is relative why even bother with classifications in the first place?[/end devil's advocate]
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March 26th, 2010, 19:47
MasterKromm, choosing to play your "own" character obviously doesn't define an RPG. Otherwise neither PS:T (you *have* to be TNO and a fighter at that) nor the Gothics (all of them) would be RPGs.
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March 27th, 2010, 11:19
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
If you want to establish a common ground, the wise thing to do would be to accept that your own personal definition of a genre as rich as this one, can never be the only one.
Which is pretty much the absolutely best way of never getting anywhere.

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March 27th, 2010, 13:58
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
Which is pretty much the absolutely best way of never getting anywhere.
How is that?
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March 27th, 2010, 20:12
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
How is that?
Because there either is one correct definition, in which case there has to be someone that has got it right, but if we refuse it, or view it as insufficient for the sake of objectivity we will simply keep going in circles - or there is no correct definition, in which case we are simply throwing meaningless words at each other.
(I also understand that the expression 'never getting anywhere' doesn't contradict your post: how can we get anywhere if there's nowhere to get to?)

I personally think that there is one sufficient subjective definition… and I actually think most people here know it because there's a lot of clarity in arguments about the core elements of any game - unlike other more 'mainstream' forums where people's arguments revolve around appearances.

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March 27th, 2010, 20:42
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
Because there either is one correct definition, in which case there has to be someone that has got it right, but if we refuse it, or view it as insufficient for the sake of objectivity we will simply keep going in circles - or there is no correct definition, in which case we are simply throwing meaningless words at each other.
(I also understand that the expression 'never getting anywhere' doesn't contradict your post: how can we get anywhere if there's nowhere to get to?)

I personally think that there is one sufficient subjective definition… and I actually think most people here know it because there's a lot of clarity in arguments about the core elements of any game - unlike other more 'mainstream' forums where people's arguments revolve around appearances.
There's no reason to go in circles.

It's simple. We all have our own view of what a true CRPG should be, and that being the case doesn't prevent interesting or fruitful discussion.

Rather, it discourages pointless circular arguments trying to prove what you can't prove.

So, in fact, I think realising the futility of the idea - we'd be facing a clear path to somewhere - rather than one of endless conflict leading nowhere.

So, I don't agree.
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March 27th, 2010, 21:17
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
There's no reason to go in circles.

It's simple. We all have our own view of what a true CRPG should be, and that being the case doesn't prevent interesting or fruitful discussion.

Rather, it discourages pointless circular arguments trying to prove what you can't prove.

So, in fact, I think realising the futility of the idea - we'd be facing a clear path to somewhere - rather than one of endless conflict leading nowhere.

So, I don't agree.
But if your view is as valid as my view then as far as I'm concerned I'm always right and you're always wrong so there's no reason to listen to anything you have to say and therefore no chance for me to learn anything from you.

(I find that the idea of absolute objectivity, that is so popular on the internet, is in fact harmful as it prevents any self-improvement - especially when subjects more 'critical' than the definition of RPGs are concerned of course)

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March 28th, 2010, 14:53
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
But if your view is as valid as my view then as far as I'm concerned I'm always right and you're always wrong so there's no reason to listen to anything you have to say and therefore no chance for me to learn anything from you.
You don't seem to understand. There's no way to prove which view is the most valid, so that's why it's futile to try.

If your conclusion based on that is that I'm always wrong and you're always right, then you have a strange point of view - but I leave that to you.

Obviously, people who're not willing to listen won't help in getting anywhere - and that's more about them than our approach to objectivity, I think.

(I find that the idea of absolute objectivity, that is so popular on the internet, is in fact harmful as it prevents any self-improvement - especially when subjects more 'critical' than the definition of RPGs are concerned of course)
There's a difference between having faith in your opinions, and being convinced they're flawless.

No one is arguing against presenting your standpoint and backing it up with reason.

What I think is unhealthy is the idea that you're right about that which you can't be right - because it represents an obstacle to sound debate. As long as you can argue your case, and you can use phrases like "To me, an RPG must have…" - then I see no problem. I see a problem with "An RPG must have X to be an RPG at all" in an objective sense, because that would be denying other people the right to have a different view.

Besides, because you think you know what's right and what would be an improvement, it doesn't mean you would actually improve by following it - because you could be wrong
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March 30th, 2010, 18:49
To paraphrase Justice Stewart: I don't know how to define it, but I'll know it when I see it.

How about we convince the publishers to switch to a nutritional guide on the side of game boxes and break out each piece.

Mass Effect 2
% of your recommended daily amount
Shooter - 55%
Inventory - 0%
Character Stats - 10%
Endless Talking - 100%
Time Consuming Minigames - 500%
Cheesy Video Game Sex - 87%
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March 30th, 2010, 20:51
ME2 is an Adventure game. It has strong FPS elements and mild RPG elements.
Why has the world forgotten the term Adventure game? That is what they are selling, like soap operas, a 'slice' or an adventure in their 'storyline' , and you're not going to change the beginnings or outcomes very much if at all.
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March 30th, 2010, 22:17
I think LuckyCarbons idea is valid in concept, yet in practice some publishers might shun the idea because the guide data could influence a potential game purchaser *not* to buy the game. It would be better to remain fuzzy and sell rather than be clear yeilding not-so-good sales - but that would be initially, in time they would have to conform if a *certified* detailed guide system was agreed - there are too many game variables, i doubt it will ever happen.
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