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July 11th, 2007, 10:27
Part 2 of RPG Vault's latest RPG Roundtable is now online, with a new group of developers answering the same question on whether RPGs are as fun as they should be. Larian's Martijn Holtkamp (Divinity 2), Jehanne Rousseau from Monte Cristo (Silverfall), Travis Baldree (FATE, Mythos) and Ascaron's Hans-Arno Wegner (Sacred 2) are in the hot-seats - let's take a bit from Holtkamp, because Divinity news is thin on the ground:
So then why did he just ask you to clear his cellar of giant chinchillas? Is he kidding?

This happens a lot in these games; the great hero is given trivial quests. These ruin his sense of being a great hero. Trivial tasks are okay at the beginning of the game, but quests should become increasingly bigger and more heroic as the game progresses. This is a great challenge, and is not always successfully met.

And why should the hero always do as he is asked? In many games, the only way to progress is to follow instructions; complete your quests to the letter, or you won't get a reward. And without that reward, you could never survive the next cellar, which features even larger chinchillas.
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July 11th, 2007, 10:27
I keep thinking that the Ascaron guy doesn't know s**t about RPGs… and i like the way Larian guy thinks
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July 11th, 2007, 13:59
Sacred is still an Action-RPG ! No matter how much you like it or not !

But in fact Ascaron just bought the remains of Armalion (I wrote quite a lot about it somewhere here), and re-built it - first, as an fuull-blown RPG, then, under the constant bombardment of German magazine which wished to see another Blizzard-like game in it, as an Action-RPG.
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July 11th, 2007, 15:17
So, now I was reading through all of this, and the last entry (by Arno Wegener) is the most basic one. And action-oriented, of course.

Where the other entries are very specifig, his entry is rather a … I tend to almost say "philosophically" one.

The only thing that bugs me is that it is also very action-oriented, with that I mean it is oriented towards action games in the RPG sector we all know. Collecting as a means to gain rewards, for example. To me, that's a very traditional-action-based view, so to say.

By the way, the remark with the 10 hours of gameplay (I believe he meant non-action singleplayer games) was quite a bad calculation, imho. I don't think he has ever played really good non-action RPGs & adventures.

The entry of Travis Baldree goes also in this direction : Short, fun games with lots of things happening (I didn't say "action" ) for people with not much time.
Which is the thing action gamers might wont, or am I wrong ?

Jehanne Rousseau puts the finger there, where the nowadays problems lie, he or she points the things out as I tend to see them myself.

The first entry is rather what's important to me, myself, from my personal point of view. I think I would join the Chinchillas in their conquest for ll cellars worldwide, though.

This leads into a different point : We hardly can forsee what the player wants to make, so we must be able to keep all possibilities open for her or him. Except in extreme railroading games (DS1 anyone ?).

I think this has recently led to the "sandbox" types of games, but - as Martijn Holtkamp points out - this might be not the only way to provide rich experiences to the player.

My very personal view is usually very different on that : I'd just like to be a normal farmer in an RPG. What we usually see limited on MMORPGs - the farming and simple crafting jobs - aren't there in more or less "cklassic" RPGs, because everybody believes nobody wants them. Except Gothic, maybe (actually I haven't played modern RPGs in ages), where one coulkd actually forge his own sword, and roast meat.

So, this could be imho an interesting point : Just owning a farm, growing herbs (between adventures ) and actually selling them. Thus gaining money for better equipment (I didn't say "stuff").

But, since everybody believes that especially SP games turn around on the "hero" concept, people believe that playing a farmer and a crafter won't sell - except in MMORPGs, of course.
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July 11th, 2007, 19:21
I’m surprised that, while all three of these guys (and the three before them) obviously understand a whole lot about RPG, none of them suitably defined it. Maybe that’s why none of them hit the nail on the head with their ideas for improving it.

RPG is the ultimate game, because it’s played in an alternate universe of sorts. Other games have game worlds, but in an RPG world, a character could sit down and play those other games. RPG is a bigger concept. It’s the biggest game concept of all. That’s the single greatest defining characteristic of RPG.

But you can’t put everything into a single game, the same way you can’t put everything into a single book. You have to preserve that premise but limit the scope in order to make it interesting. I liked what Travis Baldree had to say: “The question really becomes "Is there fun to be had here? And if so, what did I have to wade through to get to it?"

Coming up with the good stuff must not be easy. Look at all the people who try to their hand at writing. Nearly all of them fail. Not all the good ones, thankfully. Myself, I’ve read every fantasy-adventure novel by Steven Erikson that I can get my hands on – thousands of pages. Not once did I ever wonder how much I had to wade through to get to the good stuff.

Today’s CRPGs are influenced too much by programmers and software engineers and not enough by writers. Jeff Vogel is both right and wrong. He’s right that he’s become bored, but he’s wrong about the reason why. It is the writing – it is bad. But it’s not the roles. Top-selling authors still have success with them. Maybe some of those authors should be hired to collaborate on CRPGs.
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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July 11th, 2007, 19:45
Jehanne Rousseau nailed it, I think. Sadly enought, you won't find a publisher if you're game strays to much from the current form, no matter how dull pepole seem to think it is. What they (the publishers) seem to forget though, is that most gamers aren't under 18 anymore…

I allso liked Martijn Holtkamp's views. Sure, some of the quests can be kill the gangleader, fetch this item, explore this ruin kinds of quests, but if you want to make a good game those quests should be mixed with more stimulateing quests. And being able to solve the quests in different ways (one good, one neutral and one evil is the classic way, though it doesn't have to be that simple) is pretty much essential for a "proper" RPG. If you can only solve it in one way, how will you be albe to roleplay?

And I doubt better writers would hurt. Better writers isn't all though. Just look at Neverwinter Nights 2. The dialogue is wellwritten and so is the story (at least up to level 8 where I stopped. A friend stopped at level 18 because of the lack of exiteing plothooks), but the game is still boring (IMO).

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.

H. L. Mencken

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July 12th, 2007, 00:50
On writers: It's interesting to note that BaK, one of the best games ever made (IMHO), had a great deal of input from Ray Feist the creator of the novels. Point made I think!!
If God said it, then that settles it!!

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July 13th, 2007, 12:15
One thing I know - Travis Baldree knows a *lot* about making a *fun* RPG. He did Fate, after all! And that is one that my kids and I still enjoy greatly. But I think that this series shows how the 'experts' struggle with the concepts and implementation just as much as we do discussing them.
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