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May 22nd, 2013, 19:18
Based on this News-thread
The RPG Podcast - What Is The True Definition of a Role-Playing Game?

I'm starting a new discussion "What is a CRPG ?"

We identified three main categories for CRPGs: (thank you Wulf)

Story
Character Development
Exploration

in which all CRPG elements can be sorted (see Venn diagram)

See newest version: The CRPG Analyzer version 1.00

Definition of a CRPG (V0.3)

A crpg is a computer game that fulfills these criterions:
(in other words: has the following CRPG elements)

Character Development
C1) you can control 1 or more characters (Role-Playing!)
C2) you get experience or skill points by questing (= using your skills)
Examples: solving quests, win battles, solving riddles, bribe someone …
C3) by getting more experience you can level up your characters (skills or talents or stats,…)
C4) you can equip your characters with items you find or loot or shop for
C5) opt.: gain ranks, achievements, society status
C6) opt.: choose profession, race
C7) opt.: build Equipment, Alchemie

Exploration
E1) you can explore the gameworld, find new loacations, opt.: secrets
E2) you can manipulate the gameworld in some way
E3) you can find Items
E4) you can find NPCs or factions
E5) opt.: you can find and recruit new party members

Story
S1) you can interact with NPCs or factions (-> quest givers)
S2) a story is told, that is more or less influenced by your actions
(opt. ideally your choices have consequences, when the story advances)
S3) Game goals exist (at least one major quest)
S4) opt.: Riddles are implemented
S5) opt.: you can choose allies, enemies
S6) opt.: predefined context, faction rules, laws, history… is written

Elements can be in more than 1 category - see diagram
opt. = optional = nice to have, but not necessary

Goal of this discussion:
Find a CRPG definition, that identifies CRPGs as good as possible.
If you think this is futile - stay out or make your own thread



PS:
There's no need for a category Battle, because it's simply one way to use your skills.

PS:
The CRPG-Meter tries to measure the CRPG-elements against a virtual perfect hardcore CRPG - related, but a different thing.
Attached Images
File Type: png CRPG_elements.png (50.2 KB, 251 views)

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Last edited by HiddenX; May 27th, 2014 at 08:33. Reason: CRPG Analyzer
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May 22nd, 2013, 20:46
Looks good. Ken Rolston made this very simple. He says there are 4 main pillars of RPG gaming.

1. Narrative
2. Advancement
3. Exploration
4. Combat

If a game has those 4 elements, then it's an RPG. Easy enough.
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May 22nd, 2013, 21:01
I thought long about the category Battle = Combat. Nearly all CRPGs have some kind of combat mechanics in them.

But think of a CRPG about a computer Hacker. He learns only skills related to hacking and he uses these skills to solve quests and gain XP.

Battle is only a way to use combat skills, very popular indeed, but nothing more.

It would be nice to see more non combat CRPGs - could be interesting.

If we decide to make Battle a category in our definition, it should be optional or we should it name more general like Skill Using.

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May 22nd, 2013, 21:23
If we just say a game with Exploration, Story, Character Development and Combat elements is a CRPG then we have to label many adventures, strategy games, linear Hack&Slays, Rogue Likes … as CRPG, too.

So we have to be a little more specific.

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May 22nd, 2013, 21:30
Excellent work HiddenX - and more refined now.

Even though a RPG will contain sub elements, they must not be confused with the three core elements. (a very common mistake)

The definition test:-

Select an aparrent RPG , determine if there are any sub elements that can be associated with each of the three core elements. As long as there is one or more associated sub elements that fit into the three core elements groups, then the game is, however variable, a Role Playing Game.

Combat cannot be core, combat is a floating sub-element as it can overlap the core elements in varying degrees depending on the individual game. eg: a shooter RPG still needs to have the three core elements.
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May 22nd, 2013, 21:40
CRPG:
Just one sub-element of each category is sufficient or should we define some must have and some optional nice to have sub-elements in each category ?

PS:
I marked some elements as optional (=opt.) already.

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May 22nd, 2013, 21:45
Nice job, HiddenX!
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May 22nd, 2013, 23:08
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
CRPG:
Just one sub-element of each category is sufficient or should we define some must have and some optional nice to have sub-elements in each category ?
We could simply try it out with some games and see where it gets us. Skyrim, Might & Magic, PS:T, Diablo, King's Bounty, JA2, Puzzle Quest, Dreamfall, Final Fantasy, Doom, …

Regarding those sub-elements from the original post — as is, we're getting closer to the original CRPG-meter and one of its drawbacks: we'd be creating a system where our subjective visions of games we know define the sub-elements. It should be the other way around: sub-elements are named and then we can see how games fit in there.

That's why I tried to introduce the three properties degree of freedom, level of interactivity and choice and/or consequence. We have three main elements, which constitute certain criteria. E.g. character development requires there to be one or more playable characters and that those characters progress — which can mean experience points. Like this:

Character Development
You can control 1 or more characters (Role-Playing!). Characters progress.
  • degree of freedom: you can be or become whatever you want
  • level of interactivity: you can control aspects of your character (e.g. stats, skills, looks, equipment, professions)
  • choice and/or consequence: your character development choices have an impact on gameplay
Exploration:
You can explore the locations of the game (gameworld)
  • degree of freedom: you can reasonably go where you want
  • level of interactivity: you can manipulate items, the game world, interact with NPCs or factions (-> quest givers)
  • choice and/or consequence: you can follow different paths to reach a goal
Story:
A story is told, that is more or less influenced by your actions
  • degree of freedom: you can do what you want when you want to do it
  • level of interactivity: you can talk with NPCs about different topics
  • choice and/or consequence: you can make choices in dialogues or in the story as such, which may influence the story

I'd argue that all of your points are in one way or another covered by those three attributes.

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
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May 22nd, 2013, 23:13
A game that I, crpgnut, have played. That makes it a crpg

Oops, now Ruzzle is a crpg. How did that happen?!
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May 22nd, 2013, 23:43
It needs to be better explained,

inevitably and ideally there will be a whole bunch of sub-elements that link each core element, but, in a situation where one of the core elements is deficient in sub-elements, provided that the deficient core element is linked/associated with at least one defining sub-element then it is a RPG, however light.

A defining sub-element would have to show a definite and clear core element link - grey, unclear or questionable links cannot be used to define. eg: must have's to define, nice to have's are grey area - unless there is a better explanation?
………………

An example for to demonstrate:-

Legend of Grimrock RPG:- my conclusion after three play throughs.

*Character* - game start creation and progressive development = qualifies.

*Exploration* traveling through passageways and dungeons, killing various opponents gaining exp' and also looting weapons/armour, hidden switches, puzzles, etc' = qualifies.

*Story* No npc character interaction, no dialogue, no major quests, no given quests, no storyline or defining story sub-elements = Failed.

Only two core element qualify out of the three = not a RPG.
………….

Yes, not an easy task but a full comprehensive sub-element list would make reference easier, some gamers might find it hard to categorise otherwise.

@Arhu, i think some of the properties you mention are 'like to haves' rather than 'must haves' and might confuse for definition purposes, even though they are great ideally.
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May 23rd, 2013, 00:06
I'm actually pretty impressed with this system, at the moment. It would be interesting to see, as Arhu said, how a group of games are assessed by this system. However, I think the real problem will be getting people to agree on the score (even if only true/false) given to certain games for the various criteria.

You should try to find games that we clearly do not call RPGs and see if they fit the criteria.
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May 23rd, 2013, 00:57
@Arhu
Like Wulf said, your 3 groups for CRPG elements

degree of freedom
level of interactivity
choice and/or consequence

for each of the categories Story, Character, Development and Exploration
are ideally usable to measure a perfect CRPG, but we want to identify if a given game is a CRPG at all.

You have a point that we should be more general/abstract.
I used some more concrete elements to be understandable. Maybe I should list some elements only as examples for your groups. I will add the prefix opt. for all optional elements.

@Korplem
We don't have to agree all 100% - the journey is the reward. The discussion about CRPG elements with CRPG enthusiasts sharpens the knowlege about CRPGs.


@Wulf
If there's no story element in Grimrock then it is in fact a rogue like dungeon crawler and not a true CRPG (see second diagram).

______________
PS: V0.3 is online

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
Last edited by HiddenX; May 23rd, 2013 at 02:11.
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May 23rd, 2013, 02:01
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
@Korplem
We don't have to agree all 100% - the journey is the reward. The discussion about CRPG elements with CRPG enthusiasts sharpens the knowlege about CRPGs.
I'm impressed as well and I think you/someone should write an article about it somewhere down the road, it deserves attention on the front page. Perhaps it could be helpful when writing reviews too.
Very good initiative, HiddenX.

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May 23rd, 2013, 02:12
sorry newbie here and probably a stupid question,but I thought relevant to this thread with the scope of the project involved.

Where do I post a new thread about a project in development,Indie, but also capable of mass appeal?
Yes I am aware of the Indie forum,but is that the best and most proper place?

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May 23rd, 2013, 02:38
Doctor Psitronix - Welcome at RPGWatch - take a look in your Private Message Folder!

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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May 23rd, 2013, 04:33
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
It would be nice to see more non combat CRPGs - could be interesting.
Gonna say I only ever played one proper non-combat RPG, Magical Diary:



It's somewhat a RPG/Visual Novel hybrid with dungeon-crawling, but focused on using magic instead of regular combat skills. That means that you study different schools of magic and use the spells to solve dungeons, by teleporting a monster into a different part of the dungeons instead of killing him.

very nice and interesting game, masterfully uses differen magic spells and provides a nice fresh air… of course, you still play as a young witch in Magic College searching for love, but that is the challenge of it.

フエフエ。
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May 23rd, 2013, 15:03
Originally Posted by Wulf View Post
@Arhu, i think some of the properties you mention are 'like to haves' rather than 'must haves' and might confuse for definition purposes, even though they are great ideally.
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
degree of freedom, level of interactivity,
choice and/or consequence for each of the categories Story, Character Development and Exploration are ideally usable to measure a perfect CRPG, but we want to identify if a given game is a CRPG at all.
Ah, I was one step ahead then. Those are indeed not required. I'd like to ultimately have a system that can be used to grade the different categories for a given game and thereby give at-a-glance info on them, similar to the CRPG meter weights we had. The categorization of games in this sense is then a simple matter of reaching certain thresholds in all three categories, which is what you are trying to do at the moment.

So, tracking back a bit. Assuming that we have already established three main categories, my approach was to generalize those of HiddenX' sub-elements that can be considered the minimum. Here are my thoughts on the first main category:

Character Development:
C1) you can control 1 or more characters (Role-Playing!)
C2) you get experience or skill points by questing (= using your skills)
Examples: solving quests, win battles, solving riddles, bribe someone …
C3) by getting more experience you can level up your characters (skills or talents or stats,…)
C4) you can equip your characters with items you find or loot or shop for
Those become:
"You can control 1 or more characters (Role-Playing!). Characters progress."

Applying that to Half-Life, for example: You control 1 character, you (arguably) progress by getting better weapons. Intuitively I'd say Half-Life has no character development at all, so how about:

Character Development
You can control 1 or more characters (Role-Playing!). Characters progress, or can be customized, in several ways.

Half-Life doesn't have that and thereby doesn't qualify in this main category (and thus can't be a CRPG). We can still list examples for explanation purposes, but otherwise I think this short definition for Character Development in CRPGs suffices in general.

Exploration
E1) you can explore the gameworld, find new loacations, opt.: secrets
E2) you can manipulate the gameworld in some way
E3) you can find Items
E4) you can find NPCs or factions
Trying to condensing the above:
"You can explore the gameworld." — which is probably too broad. Did Half-Life offer meaningful exploration? Probably not. Deus Ex and Bloodlines did IMHO, so how can we make the definition more specific? How about "non-linear" as a requirement?

Exploration
You can explore the gameworld by following non-linear paths.

Finding items and NPCs or factions hints at an underlying interdependence requirement between the different main categories, as mentioned by Wulf. I'll get to that later.


Story
S1) you can interact with NPCs or factions (-> quest givers)
S2) a story is told, that is more or less influenced by your actions
(opt. ideally your choices have consequences, when the story advances)
S3) Game goals exist (at least one major quest)
"You progress through a story that is created through or influenced by your actions."

This requires the story to be interactive in some way. Is this enough to differentiate Diablo ("no story") and Final Fantasy ("big story")? Arguably Diablo has a story, too. It's just not very interactive. Maybe conversation as an interaction element is a good requirement:

Story
You progress through an interactive story. You can have meaningful conversations with other characters.


Originally Posted by Wulf View Post
1. Character progression relies on storyline and exploration.
2. Storyline advances with exploration and character advancement.
3. Exploration progresses storyline and character.
These interedependencies do make sense. Exploration can directly lead to items and equipment (Character Development) or NPCs (Story). NPCs can give you items (Character Development) or open up new areas (Exploration). Character Development choices can open up new paths (Exploration) or conversation options (Story).
I'm not sure, however, that these need to be requirements. I would use them as a fourth sub-element for each main category, in addition to the ones I mentioned already:

- degree of freedom
- level of interactivity
- choice and/or consequence
- interdependency

These are all not required, but nice to have. They give an indication as to the depth of a category. That is to say, a game that is strong in all those areas for Story is consequently very strong in Story. How these elements are to be measured is up for debate. Personally I liked the approach in the old CRPG meter.


Ok, in conclusion, I propose the following requirements to determine if a game is a CRPG or not. Sub-elements that give more weight to one category or the other can be devised later on.

Character Development
You can control 1 or more characters (Role-Playing!). Characters progress, or can be customized, in several ways.
Exploration
You can explore the gameworld by following non-linear paths.
Story
You progress through an interactive story. You can have meaningful conversations with other characters.

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
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May 23rd, 2013, 15:12
Hmm. One of my main concept of a real rpg is "growth" and "decisions" that you make affecting that characters growth. Now many rpgs have that in some form but the more areas that "growth" is applicable to is what makes ti more of an rpg.
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May 23rd, 2013, 17:04
Back on the topic, while this surely defines a RPG, it gives no knowledge on how deep or important the mechanics are in the game…

For instance, Dark Souls has everything in that list, except for party & recruiting, since is a solo game. However the focus lies so heavily on combat that is only fair to call it a Action-RPG.

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May 23rd, 2013, 17:11
I may be missing something obvious but given the definition of exploration presented I can't quite imagine a game with no exploration (as defined) whatsoever. The linear-RPG label in the otherwise impressive 2nd diagramm is qualitative and thus seems to suit Arhu's groups better.
Are we talking about something like text-only games?

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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