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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Building a Better RPG #1 @ Destructoid

Default Building a Better RPG #1 @ Destructoid

June 23rd, 2007, 13:34
The first of a series titled Building a Better RPG is up at Destructoid and looking primarily at story and characters (or lack of). I'd say it was primarily written with the latest console Final Fantasy type epic in mind but it might be worth a discussion:
Gamers dont want story. Its the mantra weve gotten used to hearing recently. But Im inclined to think all this anti-story backlash is rooted in the total absence of realistic, believable player characters and companions in RPGs. True, we play for the action, for the events — but if that were all we wanted, wed just play an action game. The fact is, story becomes nothing but an inconvenience when its characters are meaningless to us—and perhaps we hate it all the more for the disappointment.
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June 23rd, 2007, 13:34
Gamers dont want story. Its the mantra weve gotten used to hearing recently. But Im inclined to think all this anti-story backlash is rooted in the total absence of realistic, believable player characters and companions in RPGs
True. Really, in my eyes this is one of the best statements concernig crpgs in the last few month or even years.

I don't need a story in Diablo, WOW oder Titan Quest. But if the game is supposed to be a true rpg, then heck, yes I need a good story and good, real characters.
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June 23rd, 2007, 18:08
But I’m inclined to think all this anti-story backlash is rooted in the total absence of realistic, believable player characters and companions in RPGs.
Maybe, but the existence of realistic companions in RPGs isn't encouraged by many gamers since when they act realistically (ie, are actual personas instead of meat puppets and act against the will of the players), there's usually a slew of negative feedback, usually having to do with "why can't I control a non-player character?".
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June 24th, 2007, 03:05
Originally Posted by Role-Player View Post
Maybe, but the existence of realistic companions in RPGs isn't encouraged by many gamers since when they act realistically (ie, are actual personas instead of meat puppets and act against the will of the players), there's usually a slew of negative feedback, usually having to do with "why can't I control a non-player character?".
Obsidian appears to put NPC reaction of leaving the party in the NWN2 expantion. If this is done in a convincing way, I think it is good for building story through role-playing.

One the other hand, this is unpopular from the tactical point of view especially in a class system, which lacks flexibility in terms of the customization of each party member.

MoB seems to be combat-heavy, which will make the balancing issue difficult. I don't think AD&D is the best system for what they are doing.

I hope their other project allows them make good system to carry their content & game-play.

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June 24th, 2007, 08:20
I have to disagree with this article almost completely. Of course, I got the feeling that he was talking about console CRPG gamers, not PC RPG gamers. I think the console variety gamer has traditionally been more attracted to games that are more FPSish, than RPGish (if you know what I mean).

Speaking only for myself, I can say that a good story is what seperates an OK RPG from a great one. Look at the story in Outcast, or Gothic or Gothic 2. There's plenty of story given through the begining, in game and ending cut scenes. Not to mention the books you can read (Gothic 1&2).

And to be honest, if I'm ploping down $50 or $60 dollars on a game, Im going to be mad as all get out if I don't get 40 to 60 hours of play time out of it.

I think the problem is that in the recent move towards more open-ended RPG's taking place in bigger and bigger game worlds, the story's just getting left out. I mean, look at G3 for an example. Big open game world, plenty of freedom to chose what side to allign with, but not much story or plot. At least it didn't feel like it to me.

What's the biggest thing missing from G3 that G1 & G2 had? In game cut-scenes that advanced the story. The NPC dialog trees were'nt very deep either (which can also help to advance the story, or at the very least, make you care a little more for the NPC's).

And I have to say that I expect my character to be one of the major players in the plot. I hated the way Oblivion was set up. If I bust my butt all through the game to "Save the World" or "Save the King" or whatever, I expect the recognition at the end. If I'm not going to be the "Hero", then why am I playing? Also, I like leveling up. Getting more exp. points to use to improve my character. Watch them growing stronger, able to use better spells, weapons, etc.

I think a lot of the problem is that console CRPG'ers want to run in, play for an hour and then run back out again, which is fine, just not well suited for RPG's. Although it's perfect for FPS games.

It's not hard to remember where you were in an FPS. The plot usually goes something like: "Kill everything that gets in your way between here and the end of the level", "rinse and repeat til the end of the game".

I think that Dev's and Producers are trying to blend the FPS and RPG genre's and that the story is one of the things that's getting lost in the mix.
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June 24th, 2007, 10:33
Originally Posted by Cleric View Post
I have to disagree with this article almost completely. Of course, I got the feeling that he was talking about console CRPG gamers, not PC RPG gamers. I think the console variety gamer has traditionally been more attracted to games that are more FPSish, than RPGish (if you know what I mean).

Speaking only for myself, I can say that a good story is what seperates an OK RPG from a great one. Look at the story in Outcast, or Gothic or Gothic 2. There's plenty of story given through the begining, in game and ending cut scenes. Not to mention the books you can read (Gothic 1&2).

And to be honest, if I'm ploping down $50 or $60 dollars on a game, Im going to be mad as all get out if I don't get 40 to 60 hours of play time out of it.

I think the problem is that in the recent move towards more open-ended RPG's taking place in bigger and bigger game worlds, the story's just getting left out. I mean, look at G3 for an example. Big open game world, plenty of freedom to chose what side to allign with, but not much story or plot. At least it didn't feel like it to me.

What's the biggest thing missing from G3 that G1 & G2 had? In game cut-scenes that advanced the story. The NPC dialog trees were'nt very deep either (which can also help to advance the story, or at the very least, make you care a little more for the NPC's).

And I have to say that I expect my character to be one of the major players in the plot. I hated the way Oblivion was set up. If I bust my butt all through the game to "Save the World" or "Save the King" or whatever, I expect the recognition at the end. If I'm not going to be the "Hero", then why am I playing? Also, I like leveling up. Getting more exp. points to use to improve my character. Watch them growing stronger, able to use better spells, weapons, etc.

I think a lot of the problem is that console CRPG'ers want to run in, play for an hour and then run back out again, which is fine, just not well suited for RPG's. Although it's perfect for FPS games.

It's not hard to remember where you were in an FPS. The plot usually goes something like: "Kill everything that gets in your way between here and the end of the level", "rinse and repeat til the end of the game".

I think that Dev's and Producers are trying to blend the FPS and RPG genre's and that the story is one of the things that's getting lost in the mix.
TES are sand-box RPG and, basically, NPC interactions are designed to rely on the imagination of the players. Abstract dialogue in the earier series, however, ended up unnatural NPC as the graphics became detailed. To fill the gap, the designers made some efforts in Oblivion, even which is not enough if you expect dialogue-based story-driven RPG. I think you are looking for a wrong direction.

Talking of open environment and story-driven RPG/FPS hybrid, S.T.A.K.E.R. and the up-coming Bioshock would be interesting.

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June 24th, 2007, 21:11
The author is right about the symptom: “It’s a genre that once inspired legions of gamers to near-thoughtless devotion and now draws ire…for its perpetual stagnation.” He was referring to console games, but I’d say that applies to our platform as well. PC gamers are in the same boat.

He’s completely wrong about the problem, though. Fantasy archetypes aren’t inescapable. They’re wonderful characters, and that’s why authors won’t stop writing about them. Visit a library or a book store and see. They’re only boring in present-day RPGs because of the worlds they’re living in. There’s just not much happening. How much fun can a character be in a place like that?

IMO, game makers seem to put lots of effort into the characters they create the same way that they put lots of effort into the worlds they create. It’s good stuff, but just not enough of the good stuff. It’s how people sometimes plan parties in the real world by inviting a bunch of interesting people to their beautiful home and still manage to throw boring parties. It’s just not enough. There needs to be more.

The problem isn’t that gamers are bored with their characters; it’s that they’re bored with experiencing the same adventures over and over again. If that were all the genre had to offer, then you might say gamers have become jaded. But how can fantasy-adventure be that limited? That’s crazy. Fantasy-adventure is about as limitless as it gets.

It’s time for game makers to reconsider the worlds they create, making them more complex and less centered on the player’s character, making them more like living worlds.

Make game worlds so rich with history, mythology and lore that their complete story is a secret that is ultimately unknowable. Put mysteries in every crack and crevice, legends in every ruin, and legacies in every distinct weapon you recover in every forgotten place you find by going out and questing for it.

Do that, and do it on a huge scale. That will breathe new life into the characters we all love to play.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
Last edited by Squeek; June 24th, 2007 at 23:30. Reason: Corrected embarrassing typo
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June 25th, 2007, 04:40
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
The author is right about the symptom: ?It?s a genre that once inspired legions of gamers to near-thoughtless devotion and now draws ire?for its perpetual stagnation.? He was referring to console games, but I?d say that applies to our platform as well. PC gamers are in the same boat.

He?s completely wrong about the problem, though. Fantasy archetypes aren?t inescapable. They?re wonderful characters, and that?s why authors won?t stop writing about them. Visit a library or a book store and see. They?re only boring in present-day RPGs because of the worlds they?re living in. There?s just not much happening. How much fun can a character be in a place like that?

IMO, game makers seem to put lots of effort into the characters they create the same way that they put lots of effort into the worlds they create. It?s good stuff, but just not enough of the good stuff. It?s how people sometimes plan parties in the real world by inviting a bunch of interesting people to their beautiful home and still manage to throw boring parties. It?s just not enough. There needs to be more.

The problem isn?t that gamers are bored with their characters; it?s that they?re bored with experiencing the same adventures over and over again. If that were all the genre had to offer, then you might say gamers have become jaded. But how can fantasy-adventure be that limited? That?s crazy. Fantasy-adventure is about as limitless as it gets.

It?s time for game makers to reconsider the worlds they create, making them more complex and less centered on the player?s character, making them more like living worlds.

Make game worlds so rich with history, mythology and lore that their complete story is a secret that is ultimately unknowable. Put mysteries in every crack and crevice, legends in every ruin, and legacies in every distinct weapon you recover in every forgotten place you find by going out and questing for it.

Do that, and do it on a huge scale. That will breathe new life into the characters we all love to play.
You mean, lore in short. Morrowind lore is high standard for CRPG, IMO. Gamers with jobs had a nice article about in-world writings of MW, which stimulate players imagination to enjoy their own adventure and the feel of traveling an original world. However, Oblivion is toned down to more generic fantasy world… Even so, even codex wrote a review focused on a quest given by an artifact collector, which leads players to glance a part of history. Shame that Oblivion lost many of originality its predecers had.

I think the problems are subjectively addressed but this is my opinion about the lack of distinct character of the CRPG fantasy settings.

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June 25th, 2007, 06:30
Squeek, what you wrote basically mirrors the hype attached to Oblivion and most other TES games!! It's great in theory, but unfortunately, the application seems to be lacking!! Gothic really had none of that, yet it was an incredible game!!!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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June 25th, 2007, 07:20
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Squeek, what you wrote basically mirrors the hype attached to Oblivion and most other TES games!! It's great in theory, but unfortunately, the application seems to be lacking!! Gothic really had none of that, yet it was an incredible game!!!!
I understand this site has passionate Gothic fan base and I agree its a good game. However, I find using exclamation marks are less convincing compared with well-written articles.

I find the article I mentioned above.

The Literary Achievement of Morrowind

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June 25th, 2007, 09:52
I find people who don't register less convincing than those who do!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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June 25th, 2007, 10:50
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
I find people who don't register less convincing than those who do!!
To be honest, I used to regard myself as a CRPG fan when they had richer content. I expected RPG to much even traditional writings and films.
However, I feel things didn't turn out in that way.

Nowadays, I have to look into various genres for more competent content.
Also, I began to find interesting reviews about content of CRPG outside of sites dedicated to CRPG.

I seem to choose games from content and not genres now.

If you seriously judge posts not from content but if the poster is registered or not, it might explain why my heart left hardcore CRPG circles.

If you were kindly inviting me to registration with a joke, well, thank you but for the time being, I'd keep my neutral position to the genres.

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June 25th, 2007, 11:49
The problems facing the RPG genre are manyfold, imo. One of the problems, the RPG genre is having is that nearly ALL rpgs that come out today are the of the Sword & Sorcery variety. You have your magic users, you have your clerics, you have your fighthers - and all of that other stuff traditionally being associated with the D&D genre. Basically what you at the end of the in the computer rpg genre is a sort of rehash, a reworking of Baldur's Gate 1.

Don't ge me wrong now, I love BG1, but the success of BG1+2 has actually led publishers to believe that thet only can market & sell games such as BG1+BG2.
(I know you know what I mean — you're clever and intelligent people ).
This in turn lead to more & more such Crpgs being released, from Dungeon Siege
over Neverwinter to Gothic to Oblivion to Neverwinter Nights again, (nwn2).

When publishers look at the sales figures from games that try to do it a bit differently, like Arcanum and Or Vtm: Bloodlines, they probably first look at the fact that Troika is no more. Secondly, they look at the sales and they weren't really that great, not were the initial sales for Planescape: Torment, although it now probably has sold maybe 600,000 copies.

10 years ago as with Fallout 1, you could survive as crpg making companing by selling maybe 150,000 copies of the game. Today, you need maybe to sell at 500,000 copies of the game, and best at least 1,500,000 units (copies) of the game - just to stay in business. And why? Because many more casual gamers are out there today than 10 years ago, many more games get released to day, both FPS games and RPGS (OK, mostly FPS games it seems).

In order to survive as a company making crpgs, sandbox or story driven rpgs, you'll need to draw at least some of the attention from the FPS players your way. hoping some of them will pick up your game. And that means sometimes focusing on what FPS players want more than anything: quick action combat. (or maybe rather what devs. and publishers THINK the FPS crowd wants; I'm pretty sire the FPS crowd wants a game with choice & consequence and an engaging storyline as well).

I'm NOT blamingh the FPS crowd for the demise of the CRPG genre, I'm saying that blame should dealt out to the publishers and developing houses that think that in order to sell more rpg games they need to make the rpg genre more like the FPS game. Or they need to talk about the action parts instead of the RPG parts. The most recent examples among these are Too Human, Mass Effect and Fallout 3, where all the developers have hyped their games action parts and toned down their games rpg parts. At least the Too Humans and ME players will get a surprise, of they expect the game to play out like a (traditional) FPS genre, in which you can shoot anything that moves. As for F3, well, the jury's stil out on that one, I think.

The reason why Fallout became so popular back in its day, 10 years ago, was probably due to its outstanding post apocalyptic setting which was something never seen before. (or nearly never seen?) I mean, an rpg set in a post apocalyptic world, and then an 50's sci-fi retrofuture world?? This made Fallout 1+2 unique and distinct games which, even today, make them stand out, among the other rpgs of today. Torment and Arcanum did the same thing, unfortunately they were released in 2000/2001 where big business took over the computer gaming market - and made it an industry, demanding a quick return of the invested money, even though bort Arcanum and Torment are very good & different RPGs than the RGS of today.

I miss an rpg in an unique setting as much as the next guy. I have my doubts whether or not we ever will see one being made again.
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June 25th, 2007, 23:08
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Squeek, what you wrote basically mirrors the hype attached to Oblivion and most other TES games!! It's great in theory, but unfortunately, the application seems to be lacking!! Gothic really had none of that, yet it was an incredible game!!!!
You're absolutely right, Corwin. It's great in theory, but so far all attempts to make an RPG like that have fallen short by a mile (and the TES series is the best example of that, unfortunately).

As far as Gothic goes, you're right there too. Gothic certainly isn't a sandbox, and it's a wonderful game.

I'm a fan of the TES series because it tries to achieve that sandbox dream. Daggerfall was Beth's best shot at it, IMO, but for whatever reason, they've all fallen short. They were all lacking, each a little differently than the other. I like to think Bethesda or someone else will make the perfect sandbox RPG someday.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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June 26th, 2007, 01:43
Unre, registering here doesn't mean you only support CRPG's, it means you can post in all forums and that you're willing to be involved, even a little, in this community. To me, it's 'Stand up and be counted' vs Hide in the back and yell out cowardly comments when no-one is looking'!! Those are my personal views, and do not necessarily reflect those of the administrators of this site!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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June 26th, 2007, 10:22
Squeek, sandbox RPG lets fill imagination of the players fill the blanks. It won't be completed in a way. It is basically a different from Gothic.

Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Unre, registering here doesn't mean you only support CRPG's, it means you can post in all forums and that you're willing to be involved, even a little, in this community. To me, it's 'Stand up and be counted' vs Hide in the back and yell out cowardly comments when no-one is looking'!! Those are my personal views, and do not necessarily reflect those of the administrators of this site!!
? I use the same name and "hiding" as much as the members do. Also, I'm typing with my cell phone! for some reason, which makes registration a tough work but really, thank you for your invitation.

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June 27th, 2007, 01:44
I acknowledge you're 'a cut above' the usual un-registered, who do hide behind annonymity, so think about it.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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June 27th, 2007, 03:46
Just for a different staff perspective - (intelligent) comments from visitors are always welcome - registration helps grow the community but everyone with something constructive to add is welcome regardless.

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June 27th, 2007, 04:03
I have to disagree. The problem isn't story related or character personality related (I'm supposed to provide my characters personality in an rpg anyways), I think the problem is gameplay and challenge, or lack thereof.

In the heyday or rpgs (or my hayday, mid 80's to mid 90's), rpgs provided a challenge from the start, and tried to be rpgs. Now they try to be twitch games, or appeal to this audience and that. Look at NWN 2, I find it hard to believe anyone could have found the combat engaging or challenging on any sort of level if that person was also potty trained, but it had more story and npc interaction than you could shake a stick at, but it still sucked because every choice you made was superficial, the loot so overwhelming and prevelant, and the combat such a joke as to make character building laughable. Why even have character building if the combat is so easy that it makes it unnessesary?

Everything is just so meaningless in games now, it just doesn't matter. You can stop agter 15 minutes because you've seen and done everything the game offers besides a few pieces of art or other superficial nonsense. I play a game to be challenged and engaged, not bored and inundated with 90% boring, repetetive combat, or to spend the time to level up a character just to make a couple worthless and superficial choices that is called character development.

I also play rpgs to create and play an alter-ego, not be forced to play some "SUPER AWESOME" character that someone else created. Let me play the character I want to and add in choices that support and enhance my characters actions, even if in a negative way in game, just put them in. Ramp up meaningful char creation and dvelopment choices and cut combat down by 95% and make the 5% thats left really worth it.

When these retarded game developers figure out how to make a good game first, then lets start knit-picking about story and characters.
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June 27th, 2007, 05:06
But will you buy the expansion pack?

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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