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Default Age of Decadence - RPG Sub-Genres

February 5th, 2008, 20:33
The Iron Tower article on sub-genres reminds me of the recently-featured editorial at Next Generation, “Adventureland.” Both peeked inside the box to identify and define RPG's essence in the hope of determining the logical best path for the future. Somehow, each came to conclusions that, while legitimate, were also very different.

The box is the reason, IMO. It’s restrictive. Normally, restrictive boxes tend to grow, evolve or break as businesses take advantage of new opportunities, especially those provided by technology. But this particular box seems to be a genuine stumper.

The box's market seem to a stumper too. Instead of viewing markets the way high-technology businesses often do, thinking in terms of how new technology can reach new markets, CRPG makers see it the way businesses usually see it: ”There’s only so many dogs out there who are only going to eat so much dog food….”

The answer requires thinking outside the box, both from a technical and a marketing viewpoint, in order to reconsider how computer RPG might be done differently and better. It requires looking beyond the current competitive landscape and considering customers who might want something new without even realizing it. It’s a bet that authentic RPG would appeal to customers who aren’t buying CRPGs now.

IMO, there are a ton of folks out there who would be eager to play a CRPG that provided them with an opportunity to jump into roles like ones in the books they love, characters living lives in imaginary worlds where things like boldness and virtue, daring and cunning and perseverance and sacrifice always result in fantastic adventure.

Collaboration is what’s missing. Collaborative effort is the essential element of RPG and should be provided by the game. That’s something some folks consider a pipe dream. To that I would point out the massive amounts of current collaboration. Players change, extend, improve and even fix single-player RPGs all the time. If that’s not collaboration, than what is it?

RPG requires collaboration in a paradigm other than reality, collaboration that works to authenticate brilliant imaginary worlds where characters like the ones we love make perfect sense. It’s time for CRPG makers to think outside the box by designing games that think in terms of roles played in imaginary worlds with asserted realities.

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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February 5th, 2008, 23:25
Everything works a certain way in the real world, but what makes sense in imaginary worlds can be asserted. Style and flair can matter. So a decision to boldly walk down an unexplored dark corridor can have real value.

Personality is at the heart of role-play. Games need to provide a way for players to indicate decisions that reflect their characters' personality, and those decisions need to count in a way that makes a difference and influences the direction of the game. That’s the kind of collaborate that would enable genuine role-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]
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February 6th, 2008, 18:18
Short: Thanks to txa and VDweller for explaining.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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February 6th, 2008, 18:48
I understand your plan, Squeek, but I just don't want to play the game you're asking for. I couldn't give two hoots about style and flair because I don't invest myself in the alter ego. While I'm impressed and slightly jealous of gamers like Jaz and Sammy with the detail they invest in a character's personality (their MW creations are scary detailed), playing that way would bore me to tears in under an hour. My character/party is just a mousetrap to be improved and refined. That's still a passionate and immersive process, but lacks that projection you want. That's not to lessen your vision—yours is probably a truer application of "role playing game"—but I think there's at least two valid paths here.

To the original post— your choice of "classical" was poor, given that the common usage of that term in our genre aligns most closely with your dungeon crawlers. It's just a word, but I think it matters. Call it "peanuts and kiwifruit" if you prefer, but skip "classical" even if your dictionary says you're right. As for the dungeon crawlers, I'm curious: was it more about mowing the maps or was it more about building a better lawnmower? Obviously, saying the former fits better in your framework since the latter snuggles pretty close with your action RPG group, but I'm not sure where the reality of it lies.

Sorry. No pearls of wisdom in this oyster.
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February 6th, 2008, 19:09
After a bit of review, I seem to be developing a theme in these discussions, eh? I guess we're all just trying to make sure we've got turf to defend in the structure. Perhaps we really are our own worst enemies. Someone pointed out many threads ago that our genre has far too many compartments. Beyond that, from this thread's OP, it's pretty clear that many of the compartments have diverged to the point where they're nearly exclusive. With such a fragmented market of (generally) educated and opinionated customers, I guess it shouldn't surprise anybody that it's not profitable to make cRPGs anymore.

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February 6th, 2008, 19:30
The solution to that would be simple — just play the damn things even if they don't check *all* your boxes. Then complain.

I hereby promise to play Eschalon: Book 1 (as long as I can get it to run). Now do your bit and play The Witcher already, m'kay?
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February 7th, 2008, 00:30
Well, I'm working on Dungeon Siege 2 right now in order to play and complete the expansion that's been collecting dust on my shelf for a year or so. That would qualify as jumping the sub-genre fence, wouldn't it? I've added The Witcher to the top of my "to buy" list in response to the gang tackle I've taken over it. I was planning on pulling Space Rangers 2 off my shelf after DS2, but I might get wild and crazy and pull Geralt right to the front of the line so y'all will leave me alone.

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February 7th, 2008, 11:26
Walp, I got Eschalon demo to run, and shot some salamanders and looted some barrels. I guess it's time to pony up and by the real thing…
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