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Default Great Article

November 13th, 2006, 18:35
First off, great article. There's a reason why RPGDot became so popular and I have no doubt that with some great articles like this backing up this site, RPGWatch will do the same…

…we find two other divisions; those based on class distinctions such as D&D and those where your character can develop anyway you choose as in Oblivion or Gothic. It goes without saying, that people who choose a particular class, such as Paladin, or Wizard will have certain restrictions imposed on them which, in a sense, force them to ‘role-play’ to some extent. You can’t be an evil Paladin and your wizard won’t be very effective running around in plate mail armour, but is this ‘really’ playing a role?
This is such a great point, there are so many examples to site from and discuss.

I understand what you're saying here. But really, the same issue could also be raised with Oblivion and especially with Gothic… both fantastic games mind you. While in a game like D&D with its buffet of races and classes and restrictions thereof, to a lesser extent, Oblivion still imposes itself upon the player because unless I decide to create a mod, I have to choose from available races and available skills to define the character I make. According to what you wrote, to be a 'role' playing game, the developers would have to somehow build a game where the player could literally define every aspect of a character… which is not really a realistic approach… at least not with today's technology. Gothic is actually far worse in this aspect than both Oblivion or games like say, NWN…where you start with a canned 'hero.'

But there is an alternative way to view this from the gamer's perspective. Your article seems to assume that playing a role must be a role that the player chooses. But the notion that a player can play the role of a character someone else chooses is possible as well… in which case as it relates to this article, we are talking about the developers. There isn't anything wrong with this and both Oblivion and Gothic are quite entertaining games.

Another spin on this subject that came up during Oblivion's devlopement was when the developers starting releasing information about Oblivion that some aspects of combat would be player initiated rather than purely stat based. For example, instead of blocking being based on a skill of the character, in Oblivion the player would instead actually press a button to initiate a blocking move, where the stat would simply define the effectiveness of the block. Then the outrage followed and statements such as 'Oblivion won't be a true roleplaying game' if features like this were incorporated.

But really, by that logic, the character should just play itself then. Because as a player, if I take any control of the character in any way, say, such as running him around the game world to places that I choose to go to as the player, isn't that a violation of the complaint that blocking should be purely stat based? If I as the player choose to talk to a certain NPC, is that the character's choice or my choice? If it's my choice, have the developers failed? The truth is that to play a role playing game is to accept the imperfection that exists that while there may be a line between the player and the character, that line is always going to be blurry. As developers make games that blur that line in different way I find it better to try to enjoy the experience rather than bitch and moan that the line should be blurred differently.

What happens when a developer goes out of their way to offer many meaningful choices that will have serious consequences for the player? Well, in my experience, all it leads to are pages of whining forum postings about how unfair it is that someone cannot complete certain quests, or join certain factions, just because they made a choice early the game which has come back to bite them. Welcome to real world! I feel sorry for the developers, who appear to be in a no-win situation.
I agree on this point. I remember games like the early wizardry series, Bard's Tale, Ultima and other games like those where there were more consequences to your choices. They were fun games. But there is an inverse relationship between the gaming audiance expanding and the level of maturity in the gaming community. This disparity creates a lot of different expectations between newer RPGers and older ones… and it plays out grossly in many forums, mostly of which I avoid anymore.

I find it best, as in most things in life, to focus on what you have rather than what you don't have… to focus on what you like rather than what you don't like. When it comes to games, this is a good approach as well. It allows a gamer to enjoy games that subjectivley miss their mark.
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