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Default Diablo 3 - Not an Action RPG @ GameSpy

June 30th, 2012, 02:15
GameSpy's Dan Stapleton argues Diablo III is a straight-up action game, not an action/RPG:
Diablo 3 isn't an action-roleplaying game — it's simply an action game. This doesn't mean I don't like Diablo 3 (because I do) or that I think the lack of roleplaying elements means that it's by definition inferior to Diablo 2, Titan Quest, or Torchlight (because I don't). It just means that it's a different beast that doesn't fit the criteria of the term.
So where is the line drawn? As I see it, an RPG is defined as a game in which players make choices that have permanent effects. There are two ways that most RPGs do this. The first is a story or quests whose outcomes are determined by player choice. Does Wrex live or die in Mass Effect? Do you go Light Side or Dark Side in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic? Does Megaton go up in smoke in Fallout 3? All those are simple examples of events that may or may not happen because of actions we decide to take.
The second method is via a player character whose skills and stats progress according to the actions of the player. Is your character smart or strong? Is he good with a bow and arrow or magic? Is he charismatic or stealthy? Is he even a he? Those are means by which we make our unique marks on game worlds — while it's certainly possible for another player to replicate every step of your journey through Skyrim or Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, in practice everybody in a group of friends is likely to end up with at least a subtly different experience, even if they started with the same character.
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June 30th, 2012, 02:16
It just means that it's [Diablo 3] a different beast that doesn't fit the criteria of the term [Role-Playing].
Interesting article that I didn't necessarily disagree with.

However, while the author goes about defining notions of what 'role-playing' means, their effort doesn't mean that everyone everywhere agrees with it and even if you do chances are you would have a lot more to say about what defines a RPG.

Also, it's worth mentioning that I did experience that sort of euphoric sensation (a combination of horror and thrill), like the first large drop of a roller coaster ride, when the author starts to define role-playing games with a game like Diablo as the backdrop.

Still, a decent read for an internet article but one which the reader should take with a grain of salt.

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June 30th, 2012, 10:40
The more players dismiss role playing and invent new ways to claim they are playing RPGs while the games they are playing are not RPGs, the less they are likely to play RPGs as most games are going to fall under their characterization.

Making choices that makes permanent effects: it is too loose to mean anything.

Any game with branching (no matter if it is to support a story or not) has choices that makes permanent effects. You go through door A and not door B, it has a permanent effect.

Character developpment, character customization: role playing can happen without any of those. The demand of these features spoil role playing as it might be artificially introduced to satisfy a demand that should not be.

Anytime a seasoned character is given a character developpment tree, it is artificially introduced to satisfy the demand that a RPG must have a developpment system to be a RPG.

When this system was introduced to support the essential demand that something should be done to reflect that unexperienced people get better through practice, through the RPG elements comedy, it has now turned into a requirement, no RPG without a character developpment system, including for very experienced, at the apex characters.

Reversely, as the system was introduced to support the possibility that unexperienced characters get better through practice, it also included the possibility that very experienced character get worse through wear and tear, with the possibility of injuries permanently impacting the character downward.

From a means that was used to reflect a credible possible, the RPG element comedy has turned it into an end. And even better, it is stripped of one credible dimension as now it is only the way up, seldom the way up and down.

Unique developpment giving a unique experience: hard to see any difference with a 1980~1990s shoot'em up or beat'em up with characters customized through various power ups, very often randomly distributed, making it so that every game was different from the previous.

The last bit of the quotation is why I think players do not want to play RPGs other than through a label.

Roleplaying is a matter of constraints: roles are contextualized and the behaviour… going with it are determined. You do not choose as you want but as the role and its necessities demand.
If you want to roleplay a paladin, and you character discovers a chamber full of undead, it is not a matter of choice here, but a duty for a paladin to cleanse the evil, including at the risk of his life. You dont simply turn the heels and report to the order or wait for another person to do the clean up work. Or it has to come at a price regarding the paladin status.

As so many genres have now secured certain gameplay mechanics essential to their genre, allocating resources to expand on secondary mechanics like story and character customization is bound to happen. More and more games will provide what the author claims to be the hallmarks of RPGs and in the end, will be categorized as RPGs. Players call this on them.
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June 30th, 2012, 13:27
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
The more players dismiss role playing and invent new ways to claim they are playing RPGs while the games they are playing are not RPGs, the less they are likely to play RPGs as most games are going to fall under their characterization.
The imho REAL problem arises when they still claim "this is an RPG !" because it fits in with THEIR definition of an RPG - even if this new definition is quite incompatible with a/the "traditional" definition of what defines an RPG …

To put it cynically I'm just waiting for some moron insisting that Drakensang 2 is NOT an RPG because it is not like what Blizzard did …

Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
Character developpment, character customization: role playing can happen without any of those. The demand of these features spoil role playing as it might be artificially introduced to satisfy a demand that should not be.
Not in Pen & Paper role-playing (which is essentuially the basis of my own, personal definition of it) : You get so-called "archetypes" in some RPGs, but apart from that, character creation is almost essential. Because it simply defines your character - the character you play.

I must admit, however, that customization is not entirely necessary during an pen & paper campaign - apart from geting better gear to better survive the campaign, that it (see the NLT/Realms Of Arcania games for that, for example).

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June 30th, 2012, 13:55
Another article filled with irrelevant and redundant nothings.
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June 30th, 2012, 13:55
We discussed this particular question in some detail yesterday in the other Diablo thread.

There are some video games that provide a more rich and complex framework for role playing and others that may have some limited RP opportunities; however, we all know when we are roleplaying and when we are not.

Either you have at least a basic character concept and you can consider what would my character want to do now, how would my character respond to this NPC's question, etc., or you simply can't.

A roleplaying game with no roleplaying doesn't make any sense, any more than a shooter without guns, or a fighting game without fighting, etc.
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June 30th, 2012, 13:57
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Not in Pen & Paper role-playing (which is essentuially the basis of my own, personal definition of it) : You get so-called "archetypes" in some RPGs, but apart from that, character creation is almost essential. Because it simply defines your character - the character you play.

I must admit, however, that customization is not entirely necessary during an pen & paper campaign - apart from geting better gear to better survive the campaign, that it (see the NLT/Realms Of Arcania games for that, for example).
Usually, in order to follow a realistic path, earlier levels are quick to be acquired, while acquiring the later levels can take a full RPG week session.

If character customization/progress system is necessary to role play a character, what do you do between one later level and the next level? It can take 50 hours+ to move up from one level to another.

Character customization and progress system is not needed to roleplay.

What is needed is contextualization of the roles (what those roles mean in the game universe), situations to test against the expectations of a role and a feedback calibrated on the role expectations.

Roleplaying is about constraints. Not about a progression system.
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June 30th, 2012, 13:59
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
Roleplaying is about constraints. Not about a progression system.
I don't quite understand what you mean by constraints.
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June 30th, 2012, 14:08
Originally Posted by CountChocula View Post
A roleplaying game with no roleplaying doesn't make any sense, any more than a shooter without guns, or a fighting game without fighting, etc.
Following the definition given in the OP, it is harder to find a game with no roleplaying (in which players make choices that have permanent effects)

I see no turning back from the current situation.

The idea of progress is well accepted in most of the other genres. But for RPGs, it is not welcomed. From the start, the roleplaying experience provided by computers has to be the same as role playing experience provided by other role playing platforms.
Few for example would refuse that Outrun is a driving game because by today's game driving standards, it is very light.

Roleplaying is not perceived as existing outside computer games and to be translated to the computer platform.

From this point, it is over. The trend is set: trying to fit any kind of games into the RPG genre through various comparisons leading to common points.

His reference shows that: instead of assessing roleplaying qualities in a game, it considers them all equal and try to fit common points.

Mass Effect series is a decline in role playing from the start compared to previous games and probably a decline from within, that 1 features more RP than 3.

RPGs might happen in a future but it will be through studios' offer, no by players'demand. Players are not interested in playing RPGs. They are interested in playing skirmish games or things like that.
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June 30th, 2012, 14:12
Originally Posted by CountChocula View Post
I don't quite understand what you mean by constraints.
The idea of a role is not free, as freely decided by a player. Roles are contextualized.

A role comes with a package of constraints. The police officer role has constraints. Actions that a player must take when facing a certain situation are known beforehand and dictated by the role. This is what a police officer is expected to do when facing a situation.
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June 30th, 2012, 14:33
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
Following the definition given in the OP, it is harder to find a game with no roleplaying (in which players make choices that have permanent effects).
The concept proposed by Dan Stapleton seems rather arbitrary. Every choice you make has some permanent effect, whether it's the choice to move left or right, or kill this monster before that monster. In the narrative of your playthrough, you will always have killed monster A before monster B, and it doesn't really have much to do with role playing vs playing a strategy or action game. Civ 5 is a game where players make many choices with permanent effects; however, it is obviously not an RPG.

He might as well have said "an RPG is a game where players make choices." I think he added the "permanent effect" part because he was trying to think of a way to include games that might have character progression but no role playing.

Selecting perks and skills out of a list when you level up can help you to define the concept of your character, but this is not role playing in itself. Perhaps you can perform some sort of mental gymnastics to pretend that when receive your +3 Fireball spell, you go off into the mountains and study with a master of the arcane arts. However, clearly this aspect of a game does not provide a framework for roleplaying unless someone is pretending to play a different sort of game entirely.

It's only when you have at least a basic character concept and you can choose in the actual gameplay to do things you think your character would want to do. This could mean choosing certain dialogue responses you think your character would want to say, joining a particular faction you think your character would want to join, saving or killing some important NPC, or even something simple, like traveling to some place you think your character would want to visit, etc.
Last edited by CountChocula; June 30th, 2012 at 14:52.
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June 30th, 2012, 14:38
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
The idea of a role is not free, as freely decided by a player. Roles are contextualized.

A role comes with a package of constraints. The police officer role has constraints. Actions that a player must take when facing a certain situation are known beforehand and dictated by the role. This is what a police officer is expected to do when facing a situation.
Yes, now I think I understand.

I believe when you are referring to constraints, you are talking about the necessity of having a clear concept of one's character, right?

So that when you are making decisions about what to do or say in the game, you can consider this concept (the constraints of your character's personality, history or goals, etc.) and better decide what your character would choose?
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June 30th, 2012, 14:39
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Another article filled with irrelevant and redundant nothings.
What ? Mine ?

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June 30th, 2012, 14:43
No Alrik, he was referring to the one this thread is about (I think!).

Anyway, I don't really agree with everything the author wrote, but I do agree with the conclusion: Diablo 3 is simply not an RPG in any shape or form. GTA contains more RPG elements than D3 does, and I have yet to see anyone trying to claim it was an RPG.

Still, I did enjoy D3 for the X weeks that I played it. I certainly consider it a good game overall.
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June 30th, 2012, 15:04
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
Usually, in order to follow a realistic path, earlier levels are quick to be acquired, while acquiring the later levels can take a full RPG week session.
I disagree. Because it imho very much depends on the used rules set.

TDE, for example is almost (or at least has been in the past) infamous for giving out very little amounts of experience points - at least in pen & paper.

Please remember that it is the rules set which defines how many experience points are given out to characters ! - Normally we don't talk about rules sets, because C-RPG developers hardly ever publish them - they would have to be deduced from real life game witness.

In D&D, for example, as I witnessed in DDO, the early levels level up feairly fast, simply because the requirement of experience points to get to a new level is fairly small - compared to higher levels.
In D&D, the higher the levels are, the also higher is the requirement of needed experience points to get to the next character's level.

This mechanism has more or less been copied by many other RPGs - but still the amounts are different.

Since I'm not a number cryncher and even worse I even have a slight dyscalculia, I can't compute everything, but as far as I know the amount of experience points given out in TDE has always been small.From the 4th edition, however, there are no more levels (as you might perhaps have witnessed in both Drakensang games), at least not in the sense of levels in (A)D&D.
Unlike in (A)D&D, you can distribute points into different areas [i]every time/i] you get them, and an explicite level-up is no more.

The Realms Of Arcania games, by the way, are said to most likely have been adapted by SirTech to an more international (read : D&D-following) gaming base, so, that they give out much higher amounts of experience points like D&D does, unlike in the German-language originals of the games.

To cut things short : Yes, even a low-level pen & paper RPG session can take weeks in TDE. Especially of what's called "method acting" and "storytelling" is heavily involved. The group I'm in needed 3 or 4 times (each one from ca. 3 in the afternoon until 8-9 in the evening) to live through an relatively short adventure. And we had fun with it !

I can't say, however, in how far "my" group is "typical" of "common" pen & paper players. Especially since we have our focus very clearly on the story and on the acting. Really. We have no powergames among us, no min-maxers, no number-crunchers (at least most of us, I don't know about the game master and the wizard player, since magic IS very much number-heavy in TDE nowadays - as if combat, too !).

I have had a lot of good luck in so far that even on conventions I have met and played with groups that had heavily reduced combat. And the focus rather on storytelling-acting.


Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
Following the definition given in the OP, it is harder to find a game with no roleplaying (in which players make choices that have permanent effects)
You can basically call EVERY game Baseball or Soccer or Cricket if it involves balls.

What makes these games stand apart from each other are the RULES.

So, in my opinion : Game has no RULES = no role-playing game in the traditional definition based on pen & paper role playing.

And each game has DIFFERENT rules, too.

Baseball = Ball + "ball beating device"
Cricket = Ball + "ball beating device"
Golf = ball + "ball beating device"
Polo = Ball + "ball beating device"


So, all of these games can be called "Baseball", no ?

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June 30th, 2012, 15:05
Another author completely missing the point. It's an RPG because that's where you'd expect to find it in a shop.

Doesn't matter what academic criteria you want to apply, market categorisations are the only ones that count.
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June 30th, 2012, 15:10
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
Another author completely missing the point. It's an RPG because that's where you'd expect to find it in a shop.

Doesn't matter what academic criteria you want to apply, market categorisations are the only ones that count.
Regardless of what it says on the box, or how a game is marketed, if there is no role playing at all in the game, it is certainly not a role playing game.
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June 30th, 2012, 15:31
Originally Posted by CountChocula View Post
Regardless of what it says on the box, or how a game is marketed, if there is no role playing at all in the game, it is certainly not a role playing game.
If the marketers refer to it as a RPG, and the consumers refer to it as a RPG, it's an RPG.

The academic criteria of a particular word etc. is quite interesting, but language is defined by usage, nothing else. If I say something is crap I am no longer referring to a Victorian ceramic cistern, despite that being the original and 'correct' definition.
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June 30th, 2012, 15:34
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
Another author completely missing the point.
What ? Me ?



This is slowly but steadily getting on my nerves …

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June 30th, 2012, 15:35
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
If the marketers refer to it as a RPG, and the consumers refer to it as a RPG, it's an RPG.

The academic criteria of a particular word etc. is quite interesting, but language is defined by usage, nothing else. If I say something is crap I am no longer referring to a Victorian ceramic cistern, despite that being the original and 'correct' definition.
I don't know if you're talking about Diablo 3, or what specific games you are referring to. Do you have some game in mind that you say is marketed as an RPG, but has no roleplaying at all in the game?

Diablo 3 is not labeled a roleplaying game by Blizzard. They even have a home page, What Is Diablo 3?, with a video explaining what the game is about, and a detailed written description. They don't call it an RPG or even mention "RPG elements," etc.

Forget about "academic criteria of a certain word," this is common sense. Is there such a thing as a racing game without racing, a zombie game with no zombies, or a basketball game without basketball? Certainly there are no role playing games without role playing.
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