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CRPG Analyzer 1.02 Beta

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The most important ones are step II (determine if a game is a CRPG) and III (specify subgenres, etc.). Step IV allows for a really in-depth analysis of CRPG elements and Step V gives some additional info. Just be sure to save after a step is completed.

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Introduction

The three core categories Character Development, Exploration and Story that need to be applied and quantified to determine if an interactive computerized game can be labeled as a Computer Role Playing Game (hereafter referred to as CRPG) are listed to show the necessary component elements and qualifying factors.

Any proposed or purported CRPG must contain all three core categories and their essential necessary Must Have conditions fulfilled to achieve the (minimal) CRPG status.

These core categories must maintain some form of progressive nature that will improve from when the game starts and leads to a conclusive game ending.

Each core category and the auxiliary category Combat also has related Should Have conditions, the reviewer should make a comment if a Should Have condition is not fulfilled.

So we have these scenarios to reflect the broadness of the genre:

  • At least one Must Have condition is violated => the game is not a CRPG.
  • All Must Have conditions fulfilled => the game is at least CRPG-ish or a CRPG light.
  • All Must Have and some Should Haves conditions are fulfilled => the game is a CRPG that needs to be qualified with further tags and comments.
  • If all necessary Must Have and sufficient Should Have conditions are fulfilled there's no further discussion necessary => the game is a true CRPG.

Optional elements are listed in the Nice to Have (NtH) list. With it you get precise information which optional CRPG elements are implemented in the game. A general game info questionnaire is added too, to do some rating.

Hints:

  • A game that fulfills conditions in the categories Character and Exploration but not in Story could be a Dungeon Crawler or a Rogue-Like.
  • A game that fulfills conditions in the categories Exploration and Story but not in Character could be an Adventure game, a Strategy game or a [B]Shooter[/B].
  • A game that fulfills conditions in the categories Character and Story but not in Exploration could be a Simulation game or a Linear CRPG.

... i. Must Have

Any proposed or purported CRPG must contain all three core categories and their essential necessary Must Have conditions fulfilled to achieve the (minimal) CRPG status.

These core categories must maintain some form of progressive nature that will improve from when the game starts and leads to a conclusive game ending.

. 1. Character Development

Describes ways to create, change or enhance your characters in order to increase their effectiveness in the game.

a. You can control and role-play one or more unique characters (➙ avatar or party, not only uniform units.)
MC1
b. You can progressively develop your characters' stats or abilities (➙ e.g. through an in game value (usually exp. points) gained by quests, exploration, conversation, combat, ...)
MC2
c. Checks against character stats and/or character abilities/skills are necessary to make progress and finish the game.
MC3
d. You can equip and enhance your characters with items you acquire.
MC4

. 2. Exploration

Includes how you can move through the game world, as well as everything you can find, see, manipulate or interact with, like locations, items and other objects.

a. Your character(s) can interact with the gameworld and find new locations by exploring.
ME1
b. Your character(s) can find items that can be collected in an inventory (➙ there have to be more item types than quest items, weapons, ammunition and consumable stat boosters.)
ME2
c. Your character(s) can find information sources (➙ e.g. NPCs, entities, objects that provide info.)
ME3

. 3. Story

Concerns all narrative elements like setting, lore, plot, characters, dialogue, quests, descriptions, storyline(s) and similar, including how you can interact with them.

a. Your character(s) can get information from information sources (➙ e.g. hints, goals, quests, skills, spells, training, ...)
MS1
b. Your character(s) can follow quests (➙ there is at least one main quest.)
MS2
c. Your character(s) can progress through connected events and play their role.
MS3

.... ii. Should Have

Each core category and the auxiliary category Combat also have related Should Have conditions;, the reviewer should make a comment if a sub list item is not fulfilled. Should one or more (SH) not be fulfilled the game is most likely a special CRPG (see Tags) or a CRPG light.

If all necessary Must Have and sufficient Should Have conditions are fulfilled there's no further discussion necessary => the game is a true CRPG.

. 1. Character Development

a. You can create your characters.
SC1
b. The player needs pre-planning for the development of the character(s).
SC2
c. The primary means of problem solving, gameworld interaction and overcoming challenges is the tactical use of character/party skills/abilities (➙ the player's physical coordination skills are secondary.)
SC3

. 2. Exploration

a. There are NPCs in the game.
SE1
b. You can choose a path (➙ there is at least some branching.)
SE2
c. Your character(s) can manipulate and change the game world appropriate to the game's setting (➙ e.g. pull levers, push buttons, open chests, hack computers ...)
SE3
d. The gameworld can affect your character(s) conditions or circumstances in a way that you have to learn and adapt to overcome these challenges (➙ e.g. weather, traps, closed doors, poisoned areas, ...)
SE4
e. There are initially inaccessible areas in the gameworld that can only be reached by enhancing your characters' abilities, solving quests or puzzles (➙ e.g. unlock locked areas, overcome obstacles, repair bridges, dispel barriers, ...)
SE5

. 3. Story

a. The story is influenced by your decisions and your characters' actions and stats/abilities/skills.
SS1
b. Your character(s) can interact with information sources (➙ e.g. NPC conversation, riddle statue question, ...)
SS2
c. Your character(s) can make choices in those interactions
SS3
d. At least some of these choices have consequences.
SS4
e. Advancing in the story requires thinking on part of the player (➙ e.g. irreversible choices, moral dilemma, riddles, ...)
SS5

. 4. Combat (Meta)

a. Combat efficiency is in some way tied to character stats or abilities (➙ e.g. amount of damage, chance to hit, weapon access, ...)
SF1
b. Combat works with some random elements (➙ game internal dice rolls.)
SF2
c. Combat should provide some challenge (➙ e.g. preparing, use of tactics or environment possible.)
SF3

Tags are computer game tags that qualify the CRPG label even further.

Classification

A game is a CRPG if it fulfills all Must-Have and Should-Have conditions. The classification is derived from the Defining Elements check list.

MMO Many players are questing simultaneously online.
CRPG All Must-Have and Should-Have conditions are fulfilled.
CRPG Subgenre All Must-Have conditions are fulfilled, but not all Should-Haves.
Non-CRPG Not all Must-Have conditions are fulfilled.

Subgenre

What is the type of gameplay?

Linear Exploration options are very limited. It feels like you are on rails most of the time.
Tactical The game puts an emphasis on player tactical skill over character skill, often multiple squads (party splitting) are possible.
Rogue-like The main emphasis of the game are on Exploring and Character Development, less on Story. Often features permanent death if a character dies and random generated levels.
Thief-like Combat is possible, avoiding it with stealth is better, thief-skills are essential (lock picking, ambush, hiding, sneaking,…)
Non-Combat The game features no combat.
Open World There are no or little restrictions to movement, exploration and interaction near the beginning of the game.
Sandbox The game can go on forever with no clear end goal and leans more towards simulation rather than story.
Action The combat is real time without pause.
Hack & Slash Many enemies, most of them easy to kill, respawning of enemies, much loot.
Puzzle The game's main emphasis are puzzles.
Strategy Additional troop (not your party) management available.
Dungeon Crawler Closed environment where a lot of content is organized around dungeon interaction (traps, levers, buttons, teleports, riddles…) rather than story.
Shooter Combat is mostly ranged and requires hand eye coordination and reflexes from the player.
Sneaker Combat is possible, avoiding it with stealth is better.
Adventure The main emphasis of the game is on Exploring and Story, less on Character Development.

Design

What is the overall look and style of the game?

High Fantasy Fantasy settings work with supernatural and magic elements for the plot. The most popular imaginary worlds use a medieval setting and often copy from J.R.R. Tolkien's book Lord of the Rings. Usually epic in nature.
Low Fantasy Closer to realistic fiction than to myth. Magic or the fantastic exist, but are secondary to the primary historical context of the game. Less epic in nature than High Fantasy and more about personal stories.
Sci-fi In this futuristic setting imaginary technology is used for space and time travel and the discovery of the universe. The contact with extraterrestrial life so called aliens leads to adventures, conflicts and challenges of all kind.
Arcanepunk
Steampunk
Cyberpunk
Dark
Gritty
Bright
Clean
W-RPG Relatively realistic colors and graphics, character backgrounds are often left to the player's imagination. Western style CRPG.
J-RPG Manga Style graphics, often turn based combat, usually focus on defined characters and an emotional story, Eastern style CRPG.

Setting

When and where does the game take place (e.g. Era, World, Landscape and Culture?)

Mythic
Historical
Alternate History
Medieval
Modern
Futuristic
Post-apocalyptic
Real World
Alternate World
Crossworlds
Urban
Sylvan
Jungle
Maritime
Desert
Wasteland
Dungeon
Space
Winter/Snow
Wild West

Theme

What is the central topic treated by the game?

Cloak & Dagger Involves intrigue, secrecy, espionage, or mystery.
Comic/Humorous
Coming-of-Age
Erotic
Fables/Fairy Tale
Horror
Military
Paranormal
Philosophical
Political
Religious/Spiritual
Romantic
Science
Super Hero
Survival
Swashbuckling
Sword & Sorcery
Vampires
Weird
Wuxia
Zombies

Combat Style

Is the game real-time or turn-based?

Real-time
Pauseable Real-time
Time-based turns Includes timed turns, ticks & rounds, active time battle and similar.
Turn-based Includes simultaneously executed and clock-based turns, unit initiative and acting outside one's turn, special turns and phases.

Reward System

How are players rewarded for their progression through the game?

Experience Also known as level-based. Your characters gain experience for in-game activities and may advance in levels, allowing you to progress their skills and abilities.
Training You can develop your characters' abilities by using them, e.g. the longer they hold a sword, the more proficient they will get with it.
Skill points Your character is awarded skill points for completing quests, which can be directly used to buy skills or attributes.

Play Style

How many players can play the game?

Single-player The game can be played by a single player.
Multi-player The game can be played by a few players.
Massive Multi-player The game can be played online by many players simultaneously.

Multiplayer

Which multiplayer features does the game support?

Online Co-Op Supports online co-op play.
Couch Co-Op Supports local co-op play.
Combo Co-Op Supports simultaneous local & online play.
Split Screen Players have independent views.
Shared Screen Players share the entire screen view.
Co-Op Campaign Game features a story-based co-op mode.
Co-Op Modes The game has a bonus co-op mode.
Drop-In / Drop-Out The game supports drop-in/drop-out multiplayer.
LAN/System Link Multiplayer is supported via LAN/System Link.
PvE Player vs. Environment
PvP Player vs. Player
RvR Realm vs. Realm

Point of View

Where is the camera positioned?

1st-person
3rd-person
Floating Camera
Isometric
Side-scrolling
Top down

Color Palette

How does the game look?

Subdued
Realistic
Whimsical
Dazzling

Control

How many characters can you control?

Full Control Full control over every party member's action in combat.
AI Control You only control part of the party directly, others are controlled by AI while they may accept general commands.

Voice Acting

Do you have to read or can you listen?

Fully Voiced Voice output for virtually all dialog lines in the game, including all player characters and non-player characters.
Partially Voiced Voice output for some dialog lines, e.g. the player character and/or important non-player characters.
Text Only No voice output at all.

Character Backstory

Are there defined characters or can you make them up yourself?

Predefined The background of the PC is completely predefined.
Mostly predefined The background of the PC is mostly predefined. You may select details from a list.
Selectable You can select from a list of predefined backgrounds.
Free-form The PC has no explicit character background.

Playtime

How long does an average walk through the game usually take?

Up to 10 hours
10-20 hours
20-40 hours
40-60 hours
Over 60 hours
Unlimited

Funding model

How will the game be funded, or how was it funded?

Indie Self-funding independent person or group.
Crowdfunding Funding with crowdfunding methods (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, ...)
Publisher Funding with the help of a Publisher.

Optional elements are listed in the Nice to Have (NtH) list. With it you get precise information which optional CRPG elements are implemented in the game.

.... i. Character Development

............. 1. Choice

a. You can name your characters.
NCH01
b. You can choose a gender.
NCH02
c. You can choose looks or voice.
NCH03
d. You can choose or create through play your own class, profession or race.
NCH04
e. You can choose traits, alignment or disposition.
NCH05
f. You can choose abilities.
NCH06
g. You can choose spells.
NCH07
h. You can modify primary stats.
NCH08
i. Lots of different equipment is available.
NCH09
j. Lots of different spells or abilities are available.
NCH10
k. Abilities can unlock or block others or branch.
NCH11
l. Character classes or development paths can be changed during the game.
NCH12
m. You can have pets as party members.
NCH13

..... 2. Interdependence

a. (Story) Character stats can change NPC disposition towards the PC.
NCX01
b. (Story) Stats, abilities or spells can affect available dialogue options.
NCX02
c. (Story) Unique items are in the game or can be made.
NCX03
d. (Exploration) Stats, abilities or spells can affect available paths through the game world.
NCX04
e. (Exploration) Stats, abilities or spells can affect the amount of things you can see, find or know in the world.
NCX05

...... 3. Interactivity

a. You can create combos with spells or abilities.
NCI01
b. Your character's stats can be modified by using spells or abilities.
NCI02
c. Your character's afflictions can be cured by using spells or abilities.
NCI03
d. You can rest or sleep.
NCI04
e. Stats can limit in some way what you can equip or carry.
NCI05
f. You can control party members or pets like your main character.
NCI06

........ 4. Immersion

a. You need to specialize (➙ can't have everything.)
NCM01
b. You can create or choose a background story for your character.
NCM02
c. You can tweak your character lots of times over the whole game.
NCM03
d. You can wear normal clothes, not only armor.
NCM04
e. Factions provide prizes for your deeds (➙ e.g. houses, medals, ranks, ...)
NCM05
f. Magic is in the game in some form.
NCM06
g. Your characters can be afflicted with negative status effects (➙ e.g. diseases, fatigue, etc.)
NCM07
h. Your characters can eat or drink.
NCM08

.... i. Exploration

.... 1. Choice

a. You can follow different paths to reach a goal.
NEH01
b. You can reasonably go where you want.
NEH02
c. You can return to previously visited locations.
NEH03
d. There are few artificial borders, rare level loading.
NEH04

..... 2. Interdependence

a. (Character) Char development choices can affect available paths through the game world.
NEX01
b. (Character) Char development choices can affect the amount of things you can see, find or know in the world.
NEX02
c. (Story) You can find and recruit new party members or tame pets.
NEX03
d. (Story) Exploring off the beaten path yields rewards, e.g. optional quests, secrets or interesting locations.
NEX04
e. (Story) You can visit and make use of social locations (➙ e.g. taverns, inns, marketplaces.)
NEX05

.......... 3. Interactivity

a. You can collect items (➙ there is an inventory.)
NEI01
b. You can trade items for currency and better equipment.
NEI02
c. You can interact with items.
NEI03
d. You can break or destroy items.
NEI04
e. You can repair items.
NEI05
f. You can move items.
NEI06
g. You can combine or disaggregate items.
NEI07
h. You can gather pieces of flora or fauna for later use.
NEI08
i. You can craft equipment, spells or items (➙ e.g. alchemy.)
NEI09
j. Inventory size is limited.
NEI10

......... 4. Immersion

a. There is a place you can call home.
NEM01
b. You can explore lots of unique, beautiful and interesting locations.
NEM02
c. Locations can evolve or change (➙ e.g. town / destroyed town.)
NEM03
d. There are non-hostile creatures (➙ e.g. wildlife.)
NEM04
e. Types of creatures make sense in the area they are encountered in.
NEM05
f. Creatures are wandering persistently (➙ no random encounters.)
NEM06
g. Looting makes sense (➙ no shield on a dead wolf.)
NEM07
h. Time is measured (➙ e.g. there is a day/night cycle.)
NEM08
i. Time affects the game world (➙ e.g. some things are only available at night.)
NEM09

.... i. Story

...... 1. Choice

a. You can reasonably do what you want when you want to do it (➙ quest order doesn't matter much.)
NSH01
b. Some quests depend on each other.
NSH02
c. Some quests rule others out.
NSH03
d. Quests can be solved in more than one way.
NSH04
e. You can join factions, though not all at the same time.
NSH05
f. You can make moral choices (or romance choices.)
NSH06

...... 2. Interdependence

a. (Character) Character stats can change NPC disposition towards the PC.
NSX01
b. (Character) Char development choices can affect available dialogue options.
NSX02
c. (Character) Unique items are in the game or can be made.
NSX03
d. (Exploration) You can find and recruit new party members or tame pets.
NSX04
e. (Exploration) Exploring off the beaten path yields rewards, e.g. optional quests, secrets or interesting locations.
NSX05
f. (Exploration) You can visit and make use of social locations (➙ e.g. taverns, inns, marketplaces.)
NSX06

...... 3. Interactivity

a. Dialogue is fleshed out (➙ there are multiple options in one conversation.)
NSI01
b. There is more than one game ending.
NSI02
c. You can have conversations with party members or take care of pets.
NSI03
d. There are many side quests.
NSI04
e. State of the game changes in accordance with the player's actions.
NSI05
f. You can solve or create conflicts between factions.
NSI06

.......... 4. Immersion

a. Lore is provided (➙ context, faction rules, laws, history, ...)
NSM01
b. There are different factions (➙ races, groups, guilds.)
NSM02
c. NPCs or party members are well developed (➙ expansive background stories, etc.)
NSM03
d. NPCs or party members interact with each other.
NSM04
e. NPCs have schedules.
NSM05
f. There are surprises and twists.
NSM06
g. The storyline is character-driven (➙ character development within the narrative.)
NSM07
h. There is a proper ending or sense of closure.
NSM08
i. There are memorable antagonists.
NSM09
j. Your main character is defined.
NSM10

... i. Combat (Meta)

......... 1. Units

a. Combat can be avoided due to stats (➙ e.g. enemies flee)
NFU01
b. You can control at least six characters.
NFU02
c. Your characters are specialized (➙ different battlefield roles.)
NFU03
d. Enemies are specialized (➙ require different tactics.)
NFU04
e. Resource management is necessary.
NFU05
f. Units have multiple attack options.
NFU06
g. Delayed attacks are possible (➙ e.g. counterattacks, attacks of opportunity, etc.)
NFU07
h. Movement-focused special abilities are available.
NFU08
i. Units have multiple resistance options (➙ e.g. armor, elemental resistance, etc.)
NFU09

......... 2. Environment

a. Combat can be avoided through sneaking or gameworld manipulation.
NFE01
b. You can get a good sense of space (➙ e.g. there is a grid.)
NFE02
c. Combat can start at variable distances.
NFE03
d. Directional facing plays a role (➙ e.g. more damage from behind, flanking.)
NFE04
e. Terrain is variable (➙ e.g. natural choke points, cover, combat bonuses.)
NFE05
f. Terrain can be manipulated (➙ e.g. you can create barriers.)
NFE06
g. There are elevation effects (➙ e.g. combat bonuses from higher grounds.)
NFE07
h. There can be zones or items on the battlefield that reward units who get there in time.
NFE08
i. There can be Zones of Danger on the battlefield (➙ e.g. environmental damage.)
NFE09

...... 3. Scenarios

a. Combat can be avoided through dialogue.
NFS01
b. Combat can have different win scenarios (➙ e.g. keep NPC alive, defend town.)
NFS02
c. Combat can have side objectives aside from "win/loss".
NFS03
d. Characters don't die immediately but can be revived during combat.
NFS04
e. Decisions on the battlefield have character development consequences.
NFS05
f. There are memorable bosses.
NFS06

 

A general game info questionnaire to do some rating.

... 1. Character Development

a. Are there useless skills?
FC1
b. How would you rate character progression?
FC2
c. Is there auto-leveling of some sort?
FC3

...... 2. Exploration

a. Is Auto-Mapping available?
FE1
b. Is Fast Travelling available?
FE2
c. Are there quest markers?
FE3
d. Is there a quest compass?
FE4
e. How much realism is there?
FE5
f. How much looting is in the game?
FE6

.... 3. Story

a. Does the story follow cliched paths?
FS1
b. How linear is the game?
FS2
c. How would you rate the suspense?
FS3
d. Are there pre-selected options? (➙ Choice is reduced.)
FS4

.. 4. Combat (Meta)

a. How much fighting is in the game?
FF1
b. Grinding: Is filler combat necessary to develop your character?
FF2

.. 5. Interface

a. How often is gameplay interrupted with loading?
FX1
b. How would you rate the game's interface?
FX2

...... 6. Difficulty

a. How difficult is the game?
FD1
b. Can difficulty be adjusted?
FD2
c. How balanced is trading?
FD3
d. How much reloading is necessary to beat the game?
FD4
e. How good is the AI?
FD5
f. How much handholding is there?
FD6

.. 7. Gameplay Features

a. Are there Easter Eggs?
FG1
b. Are there minigames?
FG2