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Default RPG News - Roundtable #6, Part 2 @ RPG Vault

October 25th, 2006, 03:39
RPG Vault's second roundtable on the subject "They don't make RPGs like they used to" illicits opinions that I think are more likely to resonate. Flagship's Eric Shaefer has some salient points:
On the negative side, I believe RPG development today is hampered by some severe limitations on imagination. With development budgets so high, and the need for so many specialized developers to be involved with any game assets, it's hard to let your creativity run wild. Maybe I'm looking back with rose-colored glasses, but it seems to me that in the "good old days", a free-spirited designer could create, say, a spaceship level in a fantasy RPG! Maybe its anachronistic, maybe it doesn't really help the storyline… but what the heck, it'll be fun.

These days, even though I have a pretty free hand to create any bizarre thing I want, it's really hard to maintain the spirit of crazy fun when I have to involve concept artists, level designers, coders, particle artists, storywriters, and a half-dozen other developers. They have real stuff to do! And after you explain why something would be cool and worthwhile to the tenth guy, you start to lose faith in the spaceship level. Is it worth $50,000? Is it more important than another pass on a critical quest level?… No, I guess not… So, I sometimes get nostalgic for simpler days, when one or two developers could get things done on their own.
…and Thomas Riegsecker from indie Basilisk Games gets to the point:
It's true that they don't make RPGs like they used to. Years ago, RPGs were an eccentric genre played by gamers who enjoyed spending dozens of hours mapping out dungeons on graph paper while hunched over their parents' home computer. Today's RPG is a flashy, high-definition wonderland complete with shimmering water and stunning sunsets, played on the latest video game console while relaxing on the couch. The differences between RPGs of yesterday and today are remarkable, and somewhere during this transition from floppy disks to DVDs the genre has lost a bit of its integrity.
Read on for answers from these as well as Lukasz Mach from CD Projekt (The Witcher) and Jan Lechner from Radon Labs (Drakensang).

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October 25th, 2006, 03:39
Very good subject. A bit surprising none commented on it.

I think they're all missing TWO massivly important points!

That hardcore roleplayers are left out because:

1. They make dumbed down easy action oriented only combat.

2. They make quests and puzzles easy.

3. There's no such a thing as real choices. You can't make a lot of alternative storylines and extra vagant locations to discover. You can't have them for the main quest, since most players will only play through the game once…. and thus it's a waste of resources to make them. Since the main part of the players will visit the main quest places… they'll not spend a lot of extra hours to find extra secret wounderful places.

There's no room to target the hardcore RPG audiance. Sirtech tried they made wounderful huge hardcore RPGs, they're gone. Troika tried…. gone. Origin made the best… gone.

I only see the problem getting worst as we are approaching next-gen.
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October 25th, 2006, 03:57
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
Very good subject. A bit surprising none commented on it.
Just a quick correction: There were a couple comments on the first part.
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October 25th, 2006, 12:35
Yes, I found it now, I happend to read these news first thank you for pointing it out.
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October 25th, 2006, 12:46
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
You can't make a lot of alternative storylines and extra vagant locations to discover. You can't have them for the main quest, since most players will only play through the game once…. and thus it's a waste of resources to make them.
I don't necessarily agree with all that you are saying, but I certainly do agree there - the majority of games today are designed to max a player's experience in one play-through, thereby bypassing the 'mutually exclusive' decisions that intrigue more experienced RPGamers.

I think this quote elucidates the problem further:
It wasn't long ago that CRPGs - because of their use of abstraction - forced the player to use his own vision for certain elements. But this also means, especially for RPGs, that the player had the chance to form his character, his universe and its inhabitants closer to how he likes and sees it - BECAUSE he had to use his imagination, like in the pen and paper RPGs that always have been the base for CRPGs. When creating a game, we should remember that images and memories experienced that way can be more intense than the games of today allow.
It isn't a RPG, but playing Godfather: Mob Wars on the PSP was like that - you are supposed to be an up-and-coming mobster who struggles to become Don of NYC, but they spent so much time forcing video clips down your throat to tell the story that it never became *your* story, and therefore despite being good and oozing with Godfather love, it is not a very memorable experience.

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October 25th, 2006, 13:33
Regarding your comments about combat: Things aren't "dumbed down" - it's just that they aren't turn based in the most popular RPGs nowadays (Oblivion, Gothic). Traditional RPGs had dice and turn based combat, the trend (for now) moved away from it. Gamers want a non-interrupted gameplay experience. Maybe NWN2 will change this (if it is good and not tedious).
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October 25th, 2006, 14:13
Oblivion, Gothic
This is two of the games I was refering to. I don't mind if there's some action in the fights ( For example Dungeon Siege… I kind of like the battles though it's not so good on the RPG part )

In Oblivion, I button mash… only. My friend who plays at the same difficulty level told me… hey you have to block and use strategy to win the fights. Though after awhile we realised that my button mashing beats his attempt at strategy, at any time. Button mashing is exactly dumbed down combat IMHO.

As for Gothic I rather enjoyed the combat in the first two games, though I feel it was dumbed down in the thrid one. Granted I need more time with Gothic 3 to give my final opinion…. the messed up balancing doesn't help though.
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October 25th, 2006, 14:53
There is a bit of a problem as some of these games become much more 'action oriented'. The problem is that they start to look like FPS or third-person Shooters, but lack much of the combat expertise of those games.

I can't speak for Gothic 3, but I know Oblivion had all sorts of AI and action 'deficiencies' - indeed, most action-RPG's make up for abysmal AI by tossing hordes of difficult enemies at you.

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