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Default Joystiq - How RPGs colonised some of 2012s best games

October 20th, 2012, 09:44
In Joystiq's weekly RPG column, Rowan Kaiser writes how RPG elements have enhanced some of the year's best games, such as XCOM, The Walking Dead and FTL:
XCOM tweaks the initial game's form in ways that align with traditional role-playing games. The squad size is limited to 4-6 characters, traditional RPG numbers, and only having one base means you rarely need large numbers of squaddies – I never had more than 15 at once, and even that was high due to playing on "Classic" difficulty. It also slightly decreases the importance of the strategic decision-making level, putting the focus on the characters in the field.

It's the level of RPG-like character customization that makes XCOM different, and in many ways stronger, than its predecessor. Spending time customizing character face, voice, and hair is a hallmark of an RPG (although those options are too limited for my tastes). On the other hand, the ability to customize armor color and design gave instant differentiation and personality to the soldiers. But the RPG-style customization isn't simply cosmetic. XCOM assigns the soldiers into classes. As they complete missions, they gain promotions, which act as levels, and with those, they're given new skills, most of which are choices. A third-level Sniper gets to choose between the "Squadshot" skill and the "Snapshot" skill, letting you customize a character for accuracy or mobility. I'd still hesitate to call XCOM an RPG but I wouldn't hesitate at all to say that it's a better game for its similarities to RPGs.
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October 20th, 2012, 09:44
Woot ! Huge fan of FTL. I highly recommend it. And if anyone has played FTL and liked it I highly recommend Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space. Not as many RPG elements, but their there with the ship building and inventory. And super quick fast games.

Really don't have the system to play XCOM, but I am getting there!

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October 20th, 2012, 19:05
There's no doubt the author of this article's premise is corrext: RPG elements certainly have found their way into games of all types. This guy's article itself is an example of just how much the lines between genres have been blurred by so-called RPG elements. If I were writing this article, I would be using Mass Effect as an example of the change, not as a control-group baseline of an archetypical RPG. Mass Effect is a retarded cousin on this twisted family tree, not the patriarch.

I can't believe the author even considered calling the new Xcom an RPG. It certainly isn't. I was very skeptical about this game after reading about all the ways it's been dumbed down from the original. And it is. It's also a lot of fun. I've been enjoying it more than any other game recently. Haven't even gotten around to giving Dishonored a real go yet. Since the game appears to be such a success, hopefully they'll add some complexity through an expansion or sequel.

Oh, and I dig FTL, too.
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October 20th, 2012, 19:22
The RPG elements story keeps going on. As expected, instead of reviewing their position, RPG elementalists claim that those are not game features that can be added to most games but are to be RPG elements, no matter what.

Chosing avatar's face and all: early so called RPGs offered to choose among portraits.

Many games offer to choose among portraits. Voices the same. Does this guy think that Anno 1701 (and the rest) has RPG elements because you can choose a portrait?
Or that PES, FIFA soccer have RPG elements because you can customize your player's appearance and that players go through a progression system?

RPGs keep being about everything but role playing. It is all about mechanics that do not belong exclusively to RPG and worse, whose presence do not guarantee the game is a RPG. As games stabilize, especially the genres that had their priorities right, they will keep adding secondary features like voices, faces and all. Because they have their core gameplay right and resources can now be allocated to secondary features.

But for these genres, resources had to be spent first on what could improve the core of the genre gameplay.

Who cares to favour face making in a shooter when it would have come at the expense of localized shots?
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October 20th, 2012, 23:58
Don't have WWII shooters so-called "RPG elements" nowadays, too ?

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October 21st, 2012, 00:01
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Don't have WWII shooters so-called "RPG elements" nowadays, too ?
Some do for killing Germans I think….call of duty?

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October 21st, 2012, 00:50
Oh, Alrik… always a bit behind the times, aren't you?
I think WW2 shooters was "en vogue" like what… 5 years ago? We're currently in the modern warfare and zombie age.

But, yes, some shooters have (long) adopted RPG elements. As someone who likes shooters and RPGs I often wonder when reading comments like Alrik's (or other comments from RPG purists) whether those people seriously believe that shooters are still just like Doom or Quake where you just run and gun.
I would recommend to those people to actually play a modern shooter some time. Shooter gameplay has definitely become much more multi-faceted since the early days. There's still run and run games, of course, but a lot of so called shooters have much more to offer these days.
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October 21st, 2012, 05:27
Originally Posted by Moriendor View Post
Oh, Alrik… always a bit behind the times, aren't you?
I think WW2 shooters was "en vogue" like what… 5 years ago? We're currently in the modern warfare and zombie age.

But, yes, some shooters have (long) adopted RPG elements. As someone who likes shooters and RPGs I often wonder when reading comments like Alrik's (or other comments from RPG purists) whether those people seriously believe that shooters are still just like Doom or Quake where you just run and gun.
I would recommend to those people to actually play a modern shooter some time. Shooter gameplay has definitely become much more multi-faceted since the early days. There's still run and run games, of course, but a lot of so called shooters have much more to offer these days.
What do you recommend in the shooter genre?
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October 21st, 2012, 06:46
Eh… no… it's been near 20 years since I played it, but I'm pretty sure the original XCOM had more RPG elements than the new version. Things like actual inventory. Actual choices. It didn't have any of this unavoidable frantic "OMFG I'm is lozing!!!!" vibe shoehorning the player into doing the final mission before the doom tracker ticks gets him, either, and that chicken-with-its-head-cut-off playstyle is right out of action games.

My main beef with XCOM the younger is that success in the strategic layer is almost entirely based on being lucky and getting the missions you need when and where you need them most. Luck is not a strategy.
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October 21st, 2012, 07:00
Originally Posted by Moriendor View Post
I would recommend to those people to actually play a modern shooter some time. Shooter gameplay has definitely become much more multi-faceted since the early days. There's still run and run games, of course, but a lot of so called shooters have much more to offer these days.
I don't know if you'd call it a shooter, but I played me the hell out of some "World of Tanks". Worst part about it was the dumb name. I'd probably still be playing it if they'd pasted some strategic layer on top of it that had some depth and complexity, instead of just the garage/lobby.

But don't you find all this talk of "RPG elements" pretentious and misleading? The genres are so muddled now there's not even any such thing as an RPG anymore, so what are these hybrid games including "elements" of? Elements of an interactive movie that came out 10 years ago that had RPG elements?

I hereby propose all existing genres of computer games be combined into two, which I dub "sandbox" and "interactive movie", both of which are to be appealing to the average 12 year old or mentally disabled adult, but which must be marketed as incredibly challenging and difficult, a real test of skill, that nobody except the truly elite could master, as is self-evident by watching the mouth-breathing gurus strutting their button mashing skills on youtube.

(and seriously, people, stop uploading videos of yourself playing your favorite games to youtube… you ain't that good)
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October 21st, 2012, 08:41
Originally Posted by Moriendor View Post
Oh, Alrik… always a bit behind the times, aren't you?
I think WW2 shooters was "en vogue" like what… 5 years ago? We're currently in the modern warfare and zombie age.

But, yes, some shooters have (long) adopted RPG elements. As someone who likes shooters and RPGs I often wonder when reading comments like Alrik's (or other comments from RPG purists) whether those people seriously believe that shooters are still just like Doom or Quake where you just run and gun.
I would recommend to those people to actually play a modern shooter some time. Shooter gameplay has definitely become much more multi-faceted since the early days. There's still run and run games, of course, but a lot of so called shooters have much more to offer these days.
Oh you mean cover based combat and stealth. Lets not forget the interactive cutscenes. Sure they have evolved but not all for the best.

Look I play almost all genres of games but calling a squad based game or fps a rpg is utter nonsense. Most of those games only incorporate leveling up your character with abilities and stats.

We have the industry to thank for muddling the genres were no one can tell what a game is anymore.

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October 21st, 2012, 09:04
Originally Posted by Moriendor View Post
Oh, Alrik… always a bit behind the times, aren't you?
I think WW2 shooters was "en vogue" like what… 5 years ago? We're currently in the modern warfare and zombie age.

But, yes, some shooters have (long) adopted RPG elements. As someone who likes shooters and RPGs I often wonder when reading comments like Alrik's (or other comments from RPG purists) whether those people seriously believe that shooters are still just like Doom or Quake where you just run and gun.
I would recommend to those people to actually play a modern shooter some time. Shooter gameplay has definitely become much more multi-faceted since the early days. There's still run and run games, of course, but a lot of so called shooters have much more to offer these days.
I agree
Im finally giving myself the time to play far cry2, although not that modern, it is very far from quake or doom in gameplay.

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October 21st, 2012, 10:01
Originally Posted by Crilloan View Post
Im finally giving myself the time to play far cry2, although not that modern, it is very far from quake or doom in gameplay.
Bad choice imo. Far Cry 2 was hugely disappointing. There are a lot of better shooters you could be playing.
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October 21st, 2012, 10:13
I don't really like shooters, in general, but I do enjoy ARMA II, though I haven't played it in some time. Though Bohemia Interactive doesn't call it a shooter. What do they call it? A combat simulator?
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October 21st, 2012, 12:35
I missed that bit the last time. The Walking dead series has included RPG elements. Has the author played any other games from tell tales company?

It is a post apocalyptic game and players will expect making tough choices. Always the confusion between the means and the end. Any designer that would like to designer a narrative game based on post apocalyptic periods will have to find ways to include inputs that allows tough decisions.

The prediction is being checked: the more time goes by, the more RPG elements supporters will see them everywhere because all those secondary features can be implemented in many games.

Certain genres had their priorities right.

A couple of decades ago, when given the choice between a character progression system, a compelling, involving, intricated story, or localized hits (like head shots), shooters went for what the priority to better a gameplay based on shooting: that is localized hits. This is where they spent their resources.

Today, localized hits are a given. Not much room to progress on this stage. So all the secondary features like a story, a character progression system can be added since the resources are available for that.

It is only for so called RPGers that role playing should not be given the priority in a RPG. Other genre players had their priority right: shooting for shooters, driving for driving games etc And maybe, shooters are going to end the same way. Maybe in ten years, shooter players will no longer play shooters for the shooting part, but for secondary features like the story, the character progression system. Coming up with their own failed story on shooter elements.

Nevertheless, it is coming as predicted: so called RPGers are to find more and more of their elements into the other genres, with in the end, the possibility to call any game a RPG, since roleplaying does not have to be the central priority for the socalled RPGers.
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October 21st, 2012, 12:37
Originally Posted by CraigCWB View Post
Eh… no… it's been near 20 years since I played it, but I'm pretty sure the original XCOM had more RPG elements than the new version. Things like actual inventory.
How could that be? That would mean that all the so called RPG elements were already abundant in wargaming. Oh, they might have been.

RPG elements might even be renamed as wargaming elements…
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October 21st, 2012, 13:46
Best 'thinking person's' shooter imho - Battlefield Bad Company 2. Rewards for thinking outside the box. Multiple ways to beat a map. Weapon stats. I like any game that's easy to learn and difficult to master. Bad Company 2 is not 'difficult' to master, but when you do and play smart (right tactic, weapon, timing), even without the reflexes of a twelve year old you'll beat it like a pro without breaking a sweat. Runner up prize - Modern Warfare 1 (ie CoD4).
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October 21st, 2012, 15:27
Usually, in video games, thinking outside the box translates into cheating to lead to things like exploits…

The rest is thinking within the box because of the lack of flexibility of video games and that rules to resolve events are hard coded.
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October 21st, 2012, 15:28
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
It is only for so called RPGers that role playing should not be given the priority in a RPG. Other genre players had their priority right: shooting for shooters, driving for driving games etc And maybe, shooters are going to end the same way. Maybe in ten years, shooter players will no longer play shooters for the shooting part, but for secondary features like the story, the character progression system. Coming up with their own failed story on shooter elements.

Nevertheless, it is coming as predicted: so called RPGers are to find more and more of their elements into the other genres, with in the end, the possibility to call any game a RPG, since roleplaying does not have to be the central priority for the socalled RPGers.
I disagreed with you in the past about cRPGs, but this time there's no doubt you are right. No matter if the so-called "RPG elements" exist or not, there's nothing like that in X-COM, just character customization and evolution and a "not-really-an-inventory". The Walking Dead is, in my opinion, a very good adventure game, that went for tough choices and dialogues that have purposes beyond uncovering clues, but that doesn't make an RPG out of it.
Anyway, as you have very strong opinions about RPGs and the use of the term in the computer gaming industry, I still would like to know some particular cases of computer/ console games that you consider to be true RPGs (or, at least, that come close to the definition). I asked you this on another thread, but I don't think you cited any examples. Still curious to know - not to pick an argument, but because there are so few cRPGs that I know of, that I'm sure there are others out there that I never heard about…
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October 21st, 2012, 19:09
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
How could that be? That would mean that all the so called RPG elements were already abundant in wargaming. Oh, they might have been.

RPG elements might even be renamed as wargaming elements…
I've been saying for years that the Jagged Alliance games were better RPGs than many games that styled themselves RPGs first and foremost. I wouldn't go that far with original XCOM, but it felt more like an RPG to me than the new version does.
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