RPGWatch Side Quest: Where is the "R" in CRPG?
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November 17th, 2006, 19:57
Let me start off with: Great article. Let me follow with, haven't you and I been on threads kicking this around for the last 5 years (maybe longer, perish the thought)? There have been games where the 'role play' options are central to the story … one could argue, for example, KoTOR. There you have a meter tracking your light/dark leanings and either track opened up new options. But is it role playing? I would answer, not.
To scratch my SP RP itch I have long conversations in my head with the NPCs as to why I am doing this or that. I place restrictions on what my character can and can't do. For example: A pally-type character will not sell or buy items from a suspected fence even if the fence offers better rates than others.
In MP it is all about who you party with … it is that simple. No matter how silly or static the game world, it boils down to the interaction of the party members - and there is *nothing* to replace that. Example: In WoW I have a dwarven pally and spend a lot of time adventuring with Jodri, another dwarven pally. We have gotten our selves killed multiple times because dwarves just don't give up, and dwarven pally's are even worse when pursuing the agents of evil. This, of course, leads to much laughter and fun and enjoyment. While not all the banter is 'in character' ("You *really* wanna try to take out that group of 4 L35 elites?") I view it as a code.
However, WoW breaks down in many respects breaking the spell. Say Jodri and I just get back from a gruelling multi death adventure killing the big baddie X. We rejoice and sing and dance afterwards and head back to town filled to overflowing with the joy of our amazing feat. So why does this dweeb in the town square keep bugging me about helping him take X down? Didn't I just do that? Haven't you heard? I imagine a MP NWN2 game would be much better at this. But this problem is, to a large degree, the draw back of a persistent world.
Another way in which CRPGs break down is in the very limits of the engine. I have used this example before, but will use it again! Say a small back water town pisses my character off, invent a reason, any reason. I want to get revenge. Find me a game that allows me to do the following: Come back many years later stinking rich, and set up an import business that will sell food cheaper than it can be grown locally. Run at a loss for years. What the heck, I can afford it. Change the entire complexion of the towns economics. Then, when the local economy is 100% dependent on my services - pull out. All the way. In fact, actively make it very difficult for anyone else to set up shop in town (piracy, bribes, buying out stocks from far away, what ever it takes). Ruin the town. Let them beg for help, and then remind them of the slight from decades ago before you say "bugger off". Reduce the place to a ghost town. Now *that* is revenge much sweeter than coming back and hacking off everyone's heads.
What game engine anywhere can get even *close* to that kind of flexibilty? Until you get there CRPGs will always have an artificial element to them.
No good ideas yet … but I am sure I will get some … someday.
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