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Default Joystiq - The Game That Wasn't There

August 5th, 2010, 03:22
The Game That Wasn't There is an op-ed piece at Joystiq that laments the disappearance "Western RPG as they used to be, before Bioware and Bethesda took up the reins of Western RPGdom". Small party sizes, not enough character creation options and an emphasis on action combat are all addressed:
Compare that to the present, when the magical number for party size appears to be four or less, if there is any party at all. BioWare certainly seems to see things this way, with Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect using the trio as the party size of choice, and Dragon Age going for the quartet. Of course, these games aren't limited to three playable characters; they just let you collect party members and keep them sitting around back at camp/on a spaceship doing nothing while you select the two you wish to gallivant around with. In an assimilation of the JRPG method of party management, the rest just sit around, waiting for their chance to shine/be seduced.
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August 5th, 2010, 03:22
Oh ho! This article goes beyond the "grumpy old man" bit and actually suggests solutions! Always a good sign.

I really don't understand what happened to turn-based RPGs. Sure, more sales go to the clickNOWclickNOW games, but more games are going after that market, too. Meanwhile, the let-me-think-about-this-for-a-minute crowd is getting starved. Particularly the ones that want some decent graphics.
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August 5th, 2010, 04:33
I don't really agree with some of the points the author made. I play RPGs mostly for interesting story, side-quests, characters etc. Therefore I want my party members to have personality, IE be pre-defined. I don't want to imagine things; if I did I wouldn't be playing cRPGs in the first place.

Anyway, I'm glad western designers are looking up to Japanese, I like the gameplay formula, but I'm not a fan of the eastern style. It's kinda gay.

I feel like I could… like I could… TAKE ON THE WORLD!!!
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August 5th, 2010, 13:04
There has been a long tradition of party-based RPGs, which has been eroded - imho - the more RPGs were programmed in 3D. Because handling let's say 6 party members in 3D isn't that easy (collsion detection ! etc.).

I just see that there are fewer and fewer party-based RPGs out there.
There are exceptions of the rule, but ot many, imho.

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August 5th, 2010, 15:01
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
Oh ho! This article goes beyond the "grumpy old man" bit and actually suggests solutions! Always a good sign.

I really don't understand what happened to turn-based RPGs. Sure, more sales go to the clickNOWclickNOW games, but more games are going after that market, too. Meanwhile, the let-me-think-about-this-for-a-minute crowd is getting starved. Particularly the ones that want some decent graphics.
It's simple. Turn based is not as marketable as action. The last major turn based games (say, Final Fantasy X perhaps), what could marketing show? just parts of cutscenes, never gameplay (there's nothing exciting to show from selecting a menu of options), while action RPGs you can show all the swings and jumps from the 'button smashed' character and it looks 'cool'. Put a loud rock music in the background and you have a commercial.

I prefer my RPGs party based (4-6 my ideal size), because I like RPGs for the strategic gameplay, not the story, not the cutscenes, not characters, but for the gameplay, the strategic use of resources, the considerations for the party composition… classes, skills, stats, inventory. But that's not something you can show in a TV commercial and people go 'Ahhh, cool!'
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August 5th, 2010, 15:35
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
It's simple. Turn based is not as marketable as action.
I go even a step further: The publisher define - based on what, exactly ? - that ONLY "action games" are "cool".

I don't know where this comes from - either they just define it by themselves, or they base it on some kind of marketing studies.

An who know whether these marketing studies are corrctly assembled ? It's a little bit like those rating studios before the financial crisis. They just reated - based on what, exactly ? Sometimes they even rated regardless. And then everything collapsed.

Now, "action" is "full cool", but non-action is "lame".

Either these publishing companies want to make them believe that both "action = cool" & "non-action = lame" or … they believe so because they have some studies we don't have.

But - what no-one sees is that this "action" thing is ONLY outlined towards the targeted customer group - rather young people. NOT older ones of 40s on, for example.

Which means that ALL of their "action-oriented" marketing is scheduled acording to a single, limited (although relatively big) target group.

It's as if … I was making in my restaurant only kinds of food for a certain - the biggest ! - group of customers there - meanwhil totally neglecting other visitors.

Which means that other visitors might leave the restaurant - or ever. (Which might have happened with people migrating to consoles and away from the shooter-heavy PC platform, just as a thought.)
Which results in a drop of profits.
Which can be seen as "the increase of pirates", for example.

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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August 6th, 2010, 06:45
I think the WEGO simultaneous turns system (Frozen Synapse, Laser Squad Nemesis, Combat Mission), is a viable alternative to turn-based or real-time with pause combat that ought to be explored more by developers. This style of combat can resolve in only a few turns but still requires highly tactical planning, a bit of luck, and a bit of instinct. I think it's a great system that doesn't get enough love. If designed well and integrated in to the game with fluidity, this sort of combat would be a blast to use in a fantasy RPG or a more modern setting. Imagine a WEGO system incorporated into the tight combat situations of Temple of Elemental Evil. Don't get me wrong, that combat system was DEEP, but it was also very drawn out.

Then when the WEGO combat is all over, you play the whole thing back in real time and watch everything just flow so naturally.

just my two cents on the matter…

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August 6th, 2010, 07:15
While it's true that Bioware's games in recent years suffer from those issues, he conviently overlooks the Baldur's Gate series, which are some of the greatest party-based crpgs ever made.
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August 6th, 2010, 12:19
Yes, but they are quite old right now. About 10 years or so.

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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August 6th, 2010, 22:33
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Yes, but they are quite old right now. About 10 years or so.
Yes, I realize that, but he still ignores them completely with comments like: "Western RPG as they used to be, before Bioware and Bethesda took up the reins of Western RPGdom".

I'm pretty sure Bioware "took up the reins" starting with Baldurs Gate.

Also, he acts as if Bioware and Bethesda are preventing someone else from making an old-school crpg if they wanted.
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August 6th, 2010, 23:03
From the article:

More recently, Baldur's Gate kept the party going with a six-person team, though sadly lacking the mouse as an individually playable character.
Dude needs to give Boo more credit. I mean sure he wasn't playable, but how often do you come across a minature giant space hamster?

I'm on the fence about turn based play. Granted, I am no tactician (I had some awful times in BG2). I do however absolutely love Civilization (I celeberate the entire cataloge) which is turn based, but I didn't care for the combat in Escholon or ToEE (granted I didn't play far into either).

Maybe it can be done right in a modern RPG, I don't know. I still enjoy it when I crank up something like Ultima IV.

I think the fundamental problem is that most games are done graphics first, then a distant interface, story, etc. Bioware certainly puts far more effort into story than the other companies, but they are about it.

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Last edited by blatantninja; August 6th, 2010 at 23:17.
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August 6th, 2010, 23:18
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
While it's true that Bioware's games in recent years suffer from those issues, he conviently overlooks the Baldur's Gate series, which are some of the greatest party-based crpgs ever made.
No, he mentioned them, just not in specific detail. Plus we are closing in on 10 years since BG2 hit the shelves, so it doesn't really represent the current state of the industry.

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August 7th, 2010, 02:33
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
No, he mentioned them, just not in specific detail. Plus we are closing in on 10 years since BG2 hit the shelves, so it doesn't really represent the current state of the industry.
Yep, I missed that reference the first time I read the article. He still conviently leaves out the fact that BG was a Bioware game though.

I'm no Bioware apologist however, I've been complaining about the smaller party sizes since KotOR. I would love to see a new crpg that allows 6 or more characters in your active party.
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