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Default Fable 2 - Molyneux: most RPGs are crap

August 9th, 2007, 00:09
You need to put his comments in light of his stated goal to sell 5m copies. Most RPGs are shit because they don't sell 5m. Most RPGs are too hard, because the difficulty is one potential element that stops casual players from buying them, thus breaking the 5m barrier.

He isn't making this for us. He has his sights set on little Johnny and maybe his sister and grandmother, who don't play many video games.

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August 9th, 2007, 00:13
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
You need to put his comments in light of his stated goal to sell 5m copies. Most RPGs are shit because they don't sell 5m. Most RPGs are too hard, because the difficulty is one potential element that stops casual players from buying them, thus breaking the 5m barrier.

He isn't making this for us. He has his sights set on little Johnny and maybe his sister and grandmother, who don't play many video games.
Sounds a bit silly. Not setting your sights that high, 5m+, but trying to do it with the RPG genre is a bit silly. It's just not a high-selling genre, it'd be easier to accept that and move on to a genre that does, like hack and slash, then blur the lines of RPGs to force it into the high-selling leagues.
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August 9th, 2007, 01:00
I'm not sure I agree, depending on how you define the genre. Action/RPGs can sell quite well and even Fable hit 2m or 3m. If the RPG elements are simple or accessable, the action is appropriately delivered and the avatar customisation right, RPGs can do very well.

Just not so easily the "hardcore" ones we tend to like.

I didn't like Fable. I don't like Molyneux. I almost certainly won't like Fable 2 but he'll probably come close to hitting his target market.

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August 9th, 2007, 01:56
The bad thing is when mega-sellers in terms of RPGs become a "standard" of their genre, although they *actually* have *very little* to do witrh the "core" of the genre itself …

I mean that one day people might think that a game is actually an RPG of which we - rather hardcore RPG gamers - believe it has almost nothing to do with the RPG genre at all !

German gaming magazines are notorious for comparing ANY C-RPG with what Blizzard made !


I fear the day when the publishers have distorted a genre that much out of their greed.
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August 9th, 2007, 03:15
Time to get Terrified; it's already happening!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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August 9th, 2007, 09:02
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I'm not sure I agree, depending on how you define the genre. Action/RPGs can sell quite well and even Fable hit 2m or 3m. If the RPG elements are simple or accessable, the action is appropriately delivered and the avatar customisation right, RPGs can do very well.

Just not so easily the "hardcore" ones we tend to like.

I didn't like Fable. I don't like Molyneux. I almost certainly won't like Fable 2 but he'll probably come close to hitting his target market.
But is that 3 million he reached with Fable really the coveted casual market, and will these 3M want to play something even simpler the next time? And do the real casual gamers have any reason to abondon their puzzle, arcade, and quiz games for something like this?
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August 9th, 2007, 10:30
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
But is that 3 million he reached with Fable really the coveted casual market, and will these 3M want to play something even simpler the next time? And do the real casual gamers have any reason to abondon their puzzle, arcade, and quiz games for something like this?
The XBOX360 isn't really a 'casual' console, though. And I have found something interesting lately on the forums for the game trading site I love "Goozex" - that site has a load of X360 folks, mostly action gamers who love short romps like Dead Rising but can't deal even with something like Oblivion. Guess what - they LOVE Fable and are all looking forward to the sequel.

So it seems that Fable plays well to the whole 'Madden, beat-it-in-a-week, action-casual' gaming crowd which has grown with the X360 and means that Fable 2 will do quite well.

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August 9th, 2007, 10:31
No, they're still gamers - a mix of hardcore and general gamers. This time he is hoping to reach further into that just-grabbed-an-attractive-box-at-Best-Buy-occasional-gamer market, who are apparently scared off by the thought of all those stats in a real RPG.

I don't really believe in the casual market the same way some publishers do - I believe they'll mostly only ever play puzzle and arcade games and are just as likely to wander off and take up knitting as become hardcore gamers. But there is definitely an "occasional gamer" market that Molyneux can try to expand further into, in addition to regular players.

On the simpler bit - I don't know. I think many of the real classics (but not all, obviously) have a "easy to pick up, hard to master" thing but I don't know how occasional gamers see it.

Edit: Mike was typing at the same time as I was…so, also what he said.

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Default i suppose

August 9th, 2007, 10:50
for molineu
the crapiest rpg
is certenly diablo 2

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August 9th, 2007, 14:47
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Sounds a bit silly. Not setting your sights that high, 5m+, but trying to do it with the RPG genre is a bit silly. It's just not a high-selling genre, it'd be easier to accept that and move on to a genre that does, like hack and slash, then blur the lines of RPGs to force it into the high-selling leagues.
Another option is to do what Irrational is doing with Bioshock — take a pure FPS and add RPG elements to it. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. pulled this off rather well, IMO; taken even further it could work even better.

But then, as you know, I don't much like genre distinctions anyway. ;-)
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August 9th, 2007, 15:45
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Another option is to do what Irrational is doing with Bioshock — take a pure FPS and add RPG elements to it. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. pulled this off rather well, IMO; taken even further it could work even better.

But then, as you know, I don't much like genre distinctions anyway. ;-)
Genres are arbitrary labels, helpful at best in guiding you in a direction (for example, knowing if something is a 2D platformer featuring princesses and plumbers or a FPS loaded with head-poppin' gore is a reasonable use of genre labels )

I think that there are plenty of ways to deliver a solid role-playing experience.

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August 9th, 2007, 16:01
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
I mean that one day people might think that a game is actually an RPG of which we - rather hardcore RPG gamers - believe it has almost nothing to do with the RPG genre at all !
That horse bolted the stable a long, long time ago. The day roguelikes were labelled as RPGs IMO, anyway back to the farcical present where egomaniacal has-been Pete discusses his latest beat 'em up:
"Remember, this is a role playing game; all the different weapons have different music sounds and give a very individual feel to the combat."
Fable 2 also caters for both RPG gamers who like to mash buttons on their console controllers and players who prefer to carefully hold down their controller buttons. Molyneux is obviously aware that RPGs are all about meaningful choices.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I don't much like genre distinctions anyway. ;-)
Then you're in luck; based on current market trends it will soon be impossible to categorise games into genres as they'll lack any distinguishing gameplay features whatsoever. Unless "left mouse button attack" and "right mouse button attack" could be considered separate genres.
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August 9th, 2007, 16:43
Originally Posted by MudsAnimalFriend View Post
Then you're in luck; based on current market trends it will soon be impossible to categorise games into genres as they'll lack any distinguishing gameplay features whatsoever. Unless "left mouse button attack" and "right mouse button attack" could be considered separate genres.
I don't think different gameplay modes are going anywhere, simply because they have different functions. However, I do rather think that we'll see a further "standardization" of gameplay modes.

I remember when every FPS had a different control scheme. It was really annoying to have to either re-map the keys or learn a different finger dance with every title. Nowadays they all have roughly the same key mappings, with perhaps just the "action", "crouch," and "jump" keys mapped a bit differently. Similarly, the control scheme for melee combat is standardizing to a left/right mouse-button system combined with directional keys for special attacks.

Similar standardization is happening with RTS titles, racing games, and simulators.

I think this is a good thing. When I start up a new game, I don't want to spend half an hour learning to control the damn thing; I want to jump in and get on with it. Having to learn a new gameplay scheme for every game is like having to manually tune your TV every time you want to watch a different program. It's a chore, not fun.

When you look at computer games in historical perspective, it's much like the development of motion pictures. In the early days, progress was all about technology and technique, with content coming second. Only once the medium had stabilized — that is, you could just go out and buy a camera, film, and lighting gear, then send the film to a lab to be processed, then cut it and order prints — that you could fully concentrate on the content: that's when the classics that are still remembered first emerged. How many films older than, say, 1920 can you think of? Of those, how many would you watch and appreciate beyond their historical/curiosity value? Not a great many, I would think — yet films had been made and pretty widely distributed for over thirty years by then.

We're finally starting to reach that point, what with pretty solid off-the-shelf game engines and development kits, and these emerging standards for user interfaces, control schemes, and gameplay styles. This makes possible cross-genre games that simply weren't doable before. True cross-genre hybrids, for example. We're already seeing this in FPS's that feature vehicular combat and flight simulation.

Imagine one that adds character development, a branching storyline, well-written dialog and solidly realized characters, and solid melee combat. Then it puts you into a situation where you command a squad, shifting the perspective to a top-down RTS mode, with eventually you ending up as a general, commanding an entire army at the strategic level, shifting down to battlefield level for battles. Until recently, this sort of thing would be both unrealistically ambitious, and impossibly challenging for the player. Ambitious, because the developer would have to design, implement, and balance game engines for all these different gameplay modes; impossibly challenging because the player would have to be taught the controls from scratch every time the mode shifts.

However, if the modes are based on well-established conventions, the player would only have to practice the ones they haven't encountered before, while jumping into the game "through" the interface elsewhere — and if they games is developed on solid, licensed, standard engines, the developer can concentrate on the meat of the game rather than the skeleton.

The golden age of computer gaming is only just dawning. The next five to ten years will see a flowering of creativity in the gaming medium that human culture hasn't seen since the 1920's and 1930's in motion pictures. Just you wait.



A little postscript: I just noticed that there's an interesting chronological coincidence between the development of film and the development of computer games. They're just about exactly 100 years apart. The zoötrope was invented in the 1860's and popularized in the 1870's to 1880's, celluloid film was invented in the 1880's, and Edison's Kinetograph and Kinetoscope in 1893; the Hollywood studio system only really got swingin' after World War I.

OTOH the first computer game ("Space War" that ran on a PDP-11) was written in 1961, game arcades and game consoles in the 1970's and 1980's, personal computers hit the market in the early 1980's, and the Internet started to break into the mainstream in the 1990's.

So, in a way, 2007 is to computer games what 1907 was to cinema. If the chronological coincidence continues, I may be jumping the gun a bit with my prediction — the first golden age of computer games wouldn't be due until 2020. I still don't think we'll have to wait that long, though. Unless we get a world war too…
Last edited by Prime Junta; August 9th, 2007 at 16:57. Reason: Added postscript…
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August 9th, 2007, 19:32
IMO, there's a huge technology gap between filmmaking and computer game making, one that's sometimes convenient for software developers but definitely too bad for everyone in the long run.

Early filmmakers like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton took advantage of technology to make films their audiences enjoyed. That was the idea. They made money, but they did it by creating films their audiences liked best. That was their whole effort.

Computer game makers aren't doing that. Most of them are clearly focused on creating games their customers will purchase best. Enjoying and purchasing normally go hand-in-hand, but they aren't the same thing, not exactly.

Movie-goers know right away if they enjoyed a film. It's not hard to check their opinions, either. They express them freely and immediately. But fans of computer games consider (and disagree about) everything: The developerís business situation; the publisher and its influence; the state of the market; the ever-ambiguous genre, etc.

The problem with making and selling software is that the folks who buy it usually can't easily appreciate it for what it is and, more importantly, what it isn't. So it's not hard to fool them, pull their leg, feed them excuses and false assurances.

Computer games are cool, and people are going to keep buying them, kids especially, no matter what. Software will only get more complex, so that trend won't change on its own anytime soon.

Someone will have to blaze a new trail. That's why I liked Molyneux's attitude in this interview. He's thinking outside the box, trying to find value that others have missed. His specific ideas may not pan out, but his thinking is on the right track.

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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August 9th, 2007, 19:52
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
Early filmmakers like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton took advantage of technology to make films their audiences enjoyed. That was the idea. They made money, but they did it by creating films their audiences liked best. That was their whole effort.

Computer game makers aren't doing that. Most of them are clearly focused on creating games their customers will purchase best. Enjoying and purchasing normally go hand-in-hand, but they aren't the same thing, not exactly.
But if 2007 for computer games is what 1907 was for cinema, it'll be another seven years before Charlie Chaplin's first film, and ten years until Buster Keaton's. In 1907, we had "Dream of an Opium Eater" or "The Merry Frolics of Satan." Ever heard of 'em?
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August 9th, 2007, 20:11
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
But if 2007 for computer games is what 1907 was for cinema, it'll be another seven years before Charlie Chaplin's first film, and ten years until Buster Keaton's. In 1907, we had "Dream of an Opium Eater" or "The Merry Frolics of Satan." Ever heard of 'em?
Of course! Who hasn't? They play them on late-night TV all the time here, in Southern California

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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August 9th, 2007, 20:25
I don't understand how any massmarket rpg game can be hard to anyone these days. Gamemakers make sure that the player won't be overwhelmed by monsters above his levels and skills.. Everything is balanced and leveled. Its like a disney land. And combat is made so that it won't trouble anyone's brains. A.I doesn't do anything unfair to player. The puzzles are almost extinct.

What about learning curve then? The very word is like a blight to suits. The very idea of expecting a player to do something totally on his own. For me part of the joy of playing computer games comes from learning new stuff.
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August 9th, 2007, 20:32
Originally Posted by Dez View Post
What about learning curve then? The very word is like a blight to suits. The very idea of expecting a player to do something totally on his own. For me part of the joy of playing computer games comes from learning new stuff.
Same here. However, I don't enjoy learning game controls or user interfaces; I enjoy solving puzzles and discovering the story and the background.
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August 9th, 2007, 21:11
Exactly my thoughts, Dez. I also agree with Prime Junta that it is convinient to have standard controls for common tasks, whenever they appear.

Molyneux seems to fool everyone into believing that he alone thinks out of the box, when this is not really the case. Especially when it comes to combat, the attempts of reinventing or improving upon it are numerous; unfortunately so are the failures in doing so. Recent examples are Fallout 3, which will mix real time and turn based combat, Two Worlds, which included mounted combat and The Witcher, whose players will be able to execute combos when correctly timing their attacks. Just to show that these attempts are nothing new: Daggerfall made you swing your sword in the direction of mouse movement and Omikron: The Nomad Soul added arcade style combat to the game. Some games, in particular of the hack&slash genre, admittedly repeat the same basic formula over and over again, though.

Perceptive to see the striking similarities between cinematography and computer game development! Concerning the speed of progress: the computer sciences have many applications aside from entertainment, and worldwide collaboration allows for an ever increasing rate of progress. In the area of game development, the number of individual developers is certainly much higher than the number of artists involved in film making at the beginning of the 20th century, although the ratio of people allowed to use their own creativity versus those having to abide by strict guidelines is probably much lower, unfortunately.

Developers selling their games directly over the internet and thereby being independent from publishers commonly lead by suit wearing pinheads not able to see beyond the immediate market situation might improve upon this in the future.

Edit: added examples of games challenging past combat schemes.
Last edited by coyote; August 9th, 2007 at 21:51.
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August 9th, 2007, 22:01
dang, nuttin but hate for ol' Pete!
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