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Default RPG News - Roundtable #6, Part 1 @ RPG Vault

October 24th, 2006, 16:47
RPG Vault's latest Roundtable asks a group of RPG developers to respond to the statement "They don't make RPGs like they used to" . It's an excellent topic, although I can't say any of the responses quite resonated for me. Ferret Baudoin, Jeff Vogel and Jan Beuck provide answers, although D.W. Bradley kicks things off:
Today's games have crossed a threshold. They no longer depend upon stirring your imagination (in fact, anything left to the imagination is often perceived as a critical flaw); the majority aim to stimulate areas of the cortex and nervous system directly associated with your perceptions of external reality, not your internal realms. Indeed, the success of many contemporary games derives from their ability to eliminate any suggestion of the ephemeral, to define reality through the physical objects contained within it, while repeatedly stoking your autonomic reflexes rather than conjuring forth the strange, foreboding realms deep within the hidden lairs of your mind. Make no mistake, the technical prowess to create breathtakingly real virtual worlds is a positive achievement, to such a degree that the industry has been compelled to focus upon maturing this capability over considerations like content, message, meaning or purpose.
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October 24th, 2006, 16:47
This is a fairly interesting discussion.

Despite the recent twitch and jerk title, Dungeon Lords, released by D. W. Bradley I quite agree with him when he says,

“The sense something is missing is quite right, and so, despite the glorious technological advances, you wonder what happened to the captivating edge, that enticing allure of being magically transported into distant lands and kingdoms. It's because these places lived in your imagination. And the games of yesteryear aimed to ignite your imagination to transport the experience from the screen into your soul, where all magic kingdoms exist, always have and always will. Today's games have crossed a threshold. They no longer depend upon stirring your imagination (in fact, anything left to the imagination is often perceived as a critical flaw); the majority aim to stimulate areas of the cortex and nervous system directly associated with your perceptions of external reality, not your internal realms.”

That said, I feel there are still “golden age” CRPGs being made that are every bit as good as the old ones: games like the Geneforge series, Prelude to Darkness, Grimoire (I continue to hope) and, I hope as well, Dragon Age and NWN2 (as well as some other niche CRPG brands). Nor should one omit U5 Lazarus, the upcoming U6 remake. In fact, my impression – and it is just an impression – is that the number of huge open ended CRPGs is less, but not drastically less than it was during the golden years. I mean, it was not like Ultima and Wizardry and Might and Magic were coming out every week.

I remember vividly the desperate search for a new CRPG that my friend and I would undertake after finishing a Wizardry or Wasteland.

Now this said, I think that Mr. Baudoin is smoking the crack pipe with its tubes taped to his mouth and nose when he says,

“when people talk of the RPGs of yesteryear that fools them into remembering a more idealized version of the old classics. I fairly regularly brush off old games and play them. I get cravings for games like Fallout, Baldur's Gate, Ultima and Martian Dreams. Playing them is three parts fun and one part annoyance… for me, at least. Mainly, I feel that way because RPGs have been evolving steadily over the years.”

And

“I get annoyed at old games because the RPG genre has in many respects just gotten better over the years.”

I don’t know what his definition of “evolving” is, but for me it is certainly not the direction in which games like Morrowind and Oblivion have gone. They are CRPG in name only. The only thing that “CRPGs” like this don’t do is wipe up after you. I don’t want to sound like the moaners at the Codex, but I just don’t see how one can argue that, overall, CRPGs have not been substantially simplified and made undemanding. I would like to see what Mr. Baudoin’s list of evolved CRPGs really are.

I think that he really gives away the reality of the matter despite himself (and his avowed feelings that CRPGs have advanced) when he says,

“Many old RPGs stand the test of time admirably - well, as long as you have a tolerance for dated graphics. They sometimes had a scope you just don't see any more. There was a lot more exploration, side quests, and things could be huge (perhaps too huge, honestly).”
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October 24th, 2006, 17:09
Regardless of DL's many faults, DWB is a smart guy … I like this comment:
They no longer depend upon stirring your imagination (in fact, anything left to the imagination is often perceived as a critical flaw); the majority aim to stimulate areas of the cortex and nervous system directly associated with your perceptions of external reality, not your internal realms.
I disagreed with much of what the Bioware guy was saying, but not totally - I think that graphically rich action games like Oblivion are an evolution in the genre - but in a different direction. There is plenty of room for interesting stuff like Divine Divinity that isn't as beautiful as Oblivion but is more interesting.

And Jeff Vogel is grand as always

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October 24th, 2006, 18:47
Oh I quite agree with you on DWB (I think I saw you from time to time posting on the Dreamcatcher and Hueristic park forums); and despite its manifold flaws, I really came to love Dungeon Lords for what it was: agreat dungeon crawl, especailly with a friend or two via TCP/IP. If you could make the damned game work ;-))

I guess we will have to disagree on whether or not Oblivion and its ilk constitute evolution. I guess its an evolution in the technical meaning of the word, just not one that I find good. To my view Oblivion is an evolution like growing a few eye-stalks is an evolution, i.e., not a pretty one.
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October 24th, 2006, 18:48
Wow, D.W. Bradley really reminded me of the winner of this year's IgNoble winner for Literature:

"Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly."

http://improbable.com/
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October 24th, 2006, 19:00
Originally Posted by mogwins View Post
Wow, D.W. Bradley really reminded me of the winner of this year's IgNoble winner for Literature
Well, if you played Dungeon Lords you can attest to his ability to turn 'go west' into a paragraph

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October 24th, 2006, 21:47
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
Well, if you played Dungeon Lords you can attest to his ability to turn 'go west' into a paragraph
Ain't that the truth.

But that's just ol' DW tapping "the strange, foreboding realms deep within the hidden lairs of your mind"…. or something like that… wherever they are…. um… ok,DW,bye.

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October 24th, 2006, 23:11
Well, I cant say I really agree with any of these columns.

I think DW Bradley was the closest to what I agree with, but he spoiled it by trying to sound smart and coming across like an egomaniac with using way too many big words.

I dont think todays game have near the content, interesting characters, storylines or game play that the old ones did. Some of that was imagination but I dont think that was all of it. ITs all eye candy now, yea some of the new games are bug free and look great, but quickly get boring. They hardly even make me feel engrossed in the world like the old ones did. I also think they make todays games way too easy. One of the guys said that MMO's are making games closer and better than the RPG's of old…I totally disagree with that statement. They bore me to tears, I want to explore and adventure in the game world, without going into a dungeon and finding things already looted or other players waiting to loot stuff…I also dont like to have to find groups to play with either….

anyway, i hope thing get better in the RPG market, I have high hopes for NWN2, but I had high hopes for Oblivion and it was the biggest dissapointment RPG I can remember.

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