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Default What was the latest "great RPG" made by an American studio?

November 15th, 2020, 06:16
Originally Posted by lackblogger View Post
&

Fallout 1 - 1997
Fallout 2 - 1998
Planesacpe - 1999
Icewind Dale - 2000
Icewind Dale 2 - 2002
The funny thing about all this is that fans are still talking about these titles while the spiritual successors that take 3+ years to make are still considered to be in their shadow. Maybe this is more an argument that 2d is better than 3d.
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November 16th, 2020, 12:27
The other funny thing is that they were all very complex games with regards to implementing the mechanics.

Vast array of character classes and equipment for them all, all the stats & saves and what haves you. Vast arrays of monsters and enemies. Loads of dialogues, even in the 'low-dialogue' games. vast variety of animations and combat effects.

And these weren't just copy-pasted from game to game as each game had quite a lot of mechanical and visual variety from the previous one.

While people can find bugs and flaws with the mechanics of each, they are not games that one would call buggy releases, they were mostly customer ready upon release.

The modern games which take many years to make always seem to have progressively more dumbed down mechanics and less inherent variety but still manage to be beset by the notion of 'quite a buggy release'.

I'm not sure if it is entirely the fault of 3D graphics, but what else can it be?
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November 16th, 2020, 13:13
Originally Posted by lackblogger View Post
The other funny thing is that they were all very complex games with regards to implementing the mechanics.

Vast array of character classes and equipment for them all, all the stats & saves and what haves you. Vast arrays of monsters and enemies. Loads of dialogues, even in the 'low-dialogue' games. vast variety of animations and combat effects.

And these weren't just copy-pasted from game to game as each game had quite a lot of mechanical and visual variety from the previous one.

While people can find bugs and flaws with the mechanics of each, they are not games that one would call buggy releases, they were mostly customer ready upon release.

The modern games which take many years to make always seem to have progressively more dumbed down mechanics and less inherent variety but still manage to be beset by the notion of 'quite a buggy release'.

I'm not sure if it is entirely the fault of 3D graphics, but what else can it be?
Games certainly felt more unique in the past. They had a more coherent vision for want of a better term. I've heard from some old developers it was much easier developing using procedural programming than object oriented programming that we have nowadays. Something to do with managing the logical flow of things more coherently. I can imagine how object oriented programming abstracts things to a high degree and would be hard to bug fix comparatively speaking.

This and more fingers in the pie figuratively speaking in terms of team sizes means things break down more often. I know Larian has employed an AI player to test things out so they can find bugs and what not as it is not feasible to have human players test out all the permutations of things that can go wrong.
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December 12th, 2020, 13:36
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
PoE II?
For some players, but there's no rough consensus here and sells was very low.

On start "great" is vague and ambiguous. Let agree on the highly subjective aspect, even then, I make a list of my 30 favorite RPG of all time, and define where ends the great, lol.

If I pick my last all time fav RPG list, made some months ago but I would change it today and tomorrow, and select only those from USA:
1. Fallout 1
3. Shadowrun Dragonfall
5. Mass Effect first trilogy (trilogy as a whole)
6. Wasteland 2 Director's Cut
7. Tyranny
10. Baldur's Gate 1&2
11. Neverwinter Night 2 Mask of the Betrayer
12. Dragon Age Origin
15. DAI
17. Pillars of Eternity II
18. System Shock 2
19. Knights of the Old Republic
20. Morrowind

Yeah last is PoE2, great. . . let say very good.
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December 12th, 2020, 13:46
Originally Posted by largh View Post
This is obviously a subjective question but I think it can be answered if we set some limits/definitions:

1. The studio that made the game have to be situated mostly in the US, be under the US legislation and have (mostly) American employees.
2. The game has to have a lasting impact on the industry and gamers.
3. The game has to have a critical acclaim.
4. The game has to be RPG enough to called an RPG by the majority of people on this site.
Without clear database number sources, it's still totally subjective:
- You'll imagine what says majority of users here.
- You'll interpret from what come number of sells.
- You won't find any valid source defining well critical acclaim, most users will only use a very subjective feeling on that.
- For impact on industry, I saw none of The Witcher 3, only of Skyrim, or at best the pair. At a much lesser degree, DOS1&2. RPG impacting the industry, that's rare, and even rarer nowadays.
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December 12th, 2020, 14:34
Originally Posted by lackblogger View Post
I'm not sure if it is entirely the fault of 3D graphics, but what else can it be?
First point, IWD1&2 great RPG is a wide exaggeration, very fun at best. PST could be great on some aspects but is crap on other, released nowadays with only a graphic upgrade, it would get a huge bash, and nope the cool Beamdog refresh isn't like a new release and is far to have sold well enough to sustain such budget level.

It's clearly not just 3D, there's been modern non 3D ambitious RPG with only some limited 3D aspects, and they shown no lead in amount of content or quality.

For graphics, it's not 3D it's just graphics detail level. If a few games, those from Infinity Engine and none else throw a confusion on that, they won't match a direct comparison with modern games. It's more than 3D games of their time are now all totally ugly when it's not that obvious for those non 3D games.

Other reasons:
- Class systems, sorry but D&D2 is D&D2. Objectively Fallout 1&2 skills system is weak, if it wasn't the perks, that was defined for most in few days, just a miracle here, nothing repeatable. Might&Magic class system, weak for today standards. I don't remind it was much better for other big series of the past, Ultima, Wizardry, Dungeon Master, many more.
- Writing level, a modern AAA RPG couldn't be released with Ultima 7 writing for example. In my opinion there's a screw up of modern industry here, but the point is here. In this past, a few writers, and most not really pro, it's now many pro writers, a full leader with leading and management like there wasn't before.
- Companions writing, for RPG having it.
- More writing not done to complete graphics low details.
- Character customization.
- More work on showing equipment on characters/NPC/Enemies.
- More advanced UI design without to mention problems of consoles and touch stuff compatibility or potential compatibility.
- A voice acting a lot more pro, even if it seems there's a recent changed last years to push to lower costs and management difficulties.
- A lot more voice acting.
- Much more work and much better work on sounds.
- Much more work and much better work on music, the old music loops repeated ad nausea was such a shame.
- More work on matching new standards, as a big (often boredom) amount of crafting.
- More focus on replay diversity, with more random variations aspects.
- Support of more zoom in/out looking good and performing well at all range.
- And then all the topics brought by 3D but hardly skip-able in a modern context for a game using iso mainly. Light sources design, animations level, realism level, special effect, many more.
- Since Skyrim, RPG are pushed to bigger sizes.
- Bigger projects mean much harder to manage, and even harder to manage a quality and a coherency, even more time than from a size increase, like 10 time bigger team is 20 time higher cost.
- Bigger projects also mean more time for each release and harder to manage, for sales, fame, competition, obsolete aspect.
- Younger dev are just less competent and smart, well perhaps our generations was more competent and smarter, I'd love believe it, I have doubts on it.
- Nowadays dev developing isn't attracting as smart people, mmm, then why?
- Mobiles and free internet, mmm could be, I saw a cool series on that topic on Netflix, that's intriguing and questioning.

There's two points most players don't realize:
- They believe what they would want would sell a lot like they seem have done in past. But nope. The point is BG2 sells wouldn't sustain well enough a BG2 project done today.
- No matter how it requires sells, and sells face current context and current competition level. Competition is dragging on the height, but sells is the only final criteria, not the opinion of some players.
Last edited by Dasale; December 12th, 2020 at 14:52.
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December 12th, 2020, 15:33
Originally Posted by Couchpotato View Post
I call bull-crap to all your points above almost every recent Bethesda game is great. So I'm including the Skyrim remaster, and Fallout 4. They are still Steam biggest sellers.

Also yes both those games are RPGs and saying otherwise is subjective.

Then we have Obsidian with Fallout: New Vegas, The Outer Worlds, and both Pillar of Eternity games. Next we have Bioware with the Dragon Age games that are still selling.

Still yes the RPG genre is in decline in the US in the last five years.

On another side Note BioWare is remastering Mass Effect and working on a new one. We also know a new Dragon Age will be released in a year or two also.

Also a final note I'm not including all the games with RPG element's.
Mmm, since decades there's a hidden organized bashing of RPG from USA in attempt to promote RPG from Europe. So read your post here is refreshing for me. Still, your list is a bit weird, some look very old, refresh and remakes are still job done in past.

But on another way, if a decrease is more clear for last 5 years perspective, modern big RPG tend take at least 3 years and 5 years is very short.

It's more two causes:
- What new dev making a big RPG and from a country with a high level of life? None, USA, Japan, France, GB, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, many more. Germany is cheating exploiting proximity of low life level countries, but it is no exception. Larian is no way a new studio and is a very isolated case.
-Big American studio all get disastrous evolutions those last years, is it deserved, not in my opinion.
- Most of non American recent big RPG releases are in fact quite indie.

This feeling is more related to very low numbers, 3 American RPG studio bankrupting or silenced, 2 non American studio with impressive selling success relatively to their genre, 2 Eastern Europe studio achieving finish release big RPG witha sell success fair enough. And I could add that now Bioware is removed from the panorama, next target is Bethesda.

EDIT: For me it's just less assets and resources for RPG, destruction of Bioware, Inxile, Obsidian and next Bethesda, are plain pure lost for RPG. Is competition level justify it? I doubt it, but it's possible.
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December 12th, 2020, 17:00
Originally Posted by SveNitoR View Post
For me, I believe there might never be a "great" computer game ever again. I need to be moved or engaged by the mechanics in a way which seldom happens. Games just feel too similar and rarely surprise me.

I guess I'm just getting old
I like to say that as well but it has nothing really to do with age. I am 56 and I have fallen in love with many current games. I know two people over 60 who grew up on old style games who also love the new style.

So not age - its probably more mindset and personality combined with taste and preference.
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December 12th, 2020, 19:47
Originally Posted by wolfgrimdark View Post
So not age - its probably more mindset and personality combined with taste and preference.
The industry changed, too. Back in days of yore, there weren't as many games plus the technology was growing at a crazy rate. The difference between a game made in 1992 and 1993 seems about the same as the difference between a game made in 2013 and 2020. That technology would make even more new ideas possible. So there were a lot more changes from game to game back then than there are now.
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December 12th, 2020, 20:10
Originally Posted by wolfgrimdark View Post
I like to say that as well but it has nothing really to do with age. I am 56 and I have fallen in love with many current games. I know two people over 60 who grew up on old style games who also love the new style.

So not age - its probably more mindset and personality combined with taste and preference.
Yes, age itself has little to do with it. More my personality and taste together with more experience.

I like to be surprised, but, as @Zloth said, there are less changes now than before, and I've played many games, read many books and seen many films. Few things feel truly new and surprising.

I also like having my views of the world challenged in an intellectually sound way. However, since I've heard many more ideas now compared with when I was younger, I rarely feel challenged.

It's too often predictable. And this stops games going from good to great, for me, most of the time.
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December 13th, 2020, 17:25
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Wrong.

Canada is still a part of the american continent.

What you do here is an illegal equation which goes like this : USA = America.
This is like hijacking a whole continent's name for a country's name.

So, in your opinion : Canada & Mexico = not America.
Not even to mention Argentinia, Brasil, Chile, Peru etc. …

Edit : EA is a U.S. company, by the way …
You contradict yourself I believe. Or do you really believe American in the title and when used in general includes Brasil, Argentina, Venezuela, and even Canada? If you do I bet you are in small minority.

North America is USA and Canada. Americas is North America, Central America and South America. American is most often an abuse of language meaning USA. And it's almost fully clear the title is meaning this. But I could do an error coming from my native language.
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December 13th, 2020, 18:02
Originally Posted by SveNitoR View Post
Yes, age itself has little to do with it. More my personality and taste together with more experience.

I like to be surprised, but, as @Zloth said, there are less changes now than before, and I've played many games, read many books and seen many films. Few things feel truly new and surprising.

I also like having my views of the world challenged in an intellectually sound way. However, since I've heard many more ideas now compared with when I was younger, I rarely feel challenged.

It's too often predictable. And this stops games going from good to great, for me, most of the time.
Predictable, I'm certainly wrong, but I see this word as one of Internet syndrome. Predictable is an awful flaw criteria, and this led Game Of Throne series to a total dumb and absurd evolution of a story and of characters.

If you predicted the story of any RPG then I would advise you submit as a writer you'll make a ton of money from predicting future stories. On internet predicting is 10 divine guys, 10 predictions, 9 wrong, 1 right, and woo predictive story, so crap. No it proved nothing. At best it's a feeling, or it's a miracle if you predict stories.

Second point, for "new" stuff, again I could be wrong, but for me it's young people stuff. They want everything new for many reasons, some random pick:
- They just get out of an era where everything was new and they can't give up on it.
- They want feel be a part of something, and obviously only new can achieve it.
- They want believe they "discovered" something, common you was hardly the first, ever.
- New is reset, perfect way to start on same bases than older people.

That's cool, but for me new doesn't mean that since long:
- New is an anti criteria selection just throwing a signal, warning a lot more check and caution must be applied, be ready of a widely over-evaluated product.
- Sure nothing is truly new, but it's not a discovery, I had to live with it since decades.
- New? Yeah new quality level, that is something that matter.
- New? Quality testing for some dev? No thanks, I don't have the time nor the patience.

Ok I had fun to be very provocative, but there are meaning behind.

Golden age of RPG was time of discovery not time of expansion, so yeah live this period could only generate more "woo new" than nowadays. but this time was the 80"s and a part of the 90"s, past that, discovery time is over.

With an open mind, there's still some "woo new" stuff in more modern RPG, some possible examples:
- The Witcher 1 consequences management, encyclopedia, writing quality, effrontery/lite provocation level.
- DAO combats with companions AI, scaling management.
- Skyrim lite simulation and building game extends.
- The Witcher 3 NPC scheduling management.
- DOS1 terrain and elements effects, freedom level to players, pyramids gameplay.
- Dragonfall skill check system.
- Tyranny spell system, strategic prelude, 4 different plays blueprint, crafting system.
- More.

But that's modern time if you want new stuff and diversity then, stop ignore indies, stop reject RPG not matching a very precise list of criteria. I think the list would be long, with a lot more diversity than for any other era, and quite more "woo new" stuff than for the modern mainstream.
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December 13th, 2020, 21:23
Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
Predictable, I'm certainly wrong, but I see this word as one of Internet syndrome. Predictable is an awful flaw criteria, and this led Game Of Throne series to a total dumb and absurd evolution of a story and of characters.

If you predicted the story of any RPG then I would advise you submit as a writer you'll make a ton of money from predicting future stories. On internet predicting is 10 divine guys, 10 predictions, 9 wrong, 1 right, and woo predictive story, so crap. No it proved nothing. At best it's a feeling, or it's a miracle if you predict stories.

Second point, for "new" stuff, again I could be wrong, but for me it's young people stuff. They want everything new for many reasons, some random pick:
- They just get out of an era where everything was new and they can't give up on it.
- They want feel be a part of something, and obviously only new can achieve it.
- They want believe they "discovered" something, common you was hardly the first, ever.
- New is reset, perfect way to start on same bases than older people.

That's cool, but for me new doesn't mean that since long:
- New is an anti criteria selection just throwing a signal, warning a lot more check and caution must be applied, be ready of a widely over-evaluated product.
- Sure nothing is truly new, but it's not a discovery, I had to live with it since decades.
- New? Yeah new quality level, that is something that matter.
- New? Quality testing for some dev? No thanks, I don't have the time nor the patience.

Ok I had fun to be very provocative, but there are meaning behind.

Golden age of RPG was time of discovery not time of expansion, so yeah live this period could only generate more "woo new" than nowadays. but this time was the 80"s and a part of the 90"s, past that, discovery time is over.

With an open mind, there's still some "woo new" stuff in more modern RPG, some possible examples:
- The Witcher 1 consequences management, encyclopedia, writing quality, effrontery/lite provocation level.
- DAO combats with companions AI, scaling management.
- Skyrim lite simulation and building game extends.
- The Witcher 3 NPC scheduling management.
- DOS1 terrain and elements effects, freedom level to players, pyramids gameplay.
- Dragonfall skill check system.
- Tyranny spell system, strategic prelude, 4 different plays blueprint, crafting system.
- More.

But that's modern time if you want new stuff and diversity then, stop ignore indies, stop reject RPG not matching a very precise list of criteria. I think the list would be long, with a lot more diversity than for any other era, and quite more "woo new" stuff than for the modern mainstream.
Well, if we are talking about story in RPGs, I was pretty certain approximately what would happen in Pathfinder : Kingmaker after the first chapter. Not the specifics, but the general story, and I was right. It was an alright story, but quite forgettable to me. It's got nothing to do with magical prediction, but simply noticing patterns.

Most games follow story tropes (and I know the RPG ones best), which make them pretty predictable. And yes it is not necessarily a big flaw, but to me it is enough to not make the game stand out. And therefore not be great. If I can't remember the story a few months later I see it as a minus.

Just being different for the sake of it isn't good writing, either. But it can't be too predictable or it becomes boring. To me, that is.

And yes, I agree that indies are where more new things can be found (both story-wise and mechanically). The big games must sell a lot, so they can't experiment much.

To me story is one of the most important aspects of an RPG. I guess a game could be great without a good story, but it would have to be pretty exceptional in other areas for me to overlook the story.
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December 15th, 2020, 14:30
Well, next time, write on paper the story you predict before to continue play.

Or do you want I write a lame PK story differently from the point you "predicted" and still have it totally valid?

Perhaps, but how many time you predicted and it didn't happen? And for the same game. If you predicted 100 times and once succeed, it means few. and what you predicted whole series of event or just one?

I never ever seen a let's play with the player predicting the story all along from some point, or with some "I knew it" quickly said and always after. A story can follow so many paths that I can't imagine how it could be possible.

I'd be curious to see blind tests, and see players used to predict, and see them really predict anything. Lol.

And again surprise is one thing, story development logic and character development logic is another, Game of Throne totally screwed up at the end for pointless attempts on building surprise at price of last parts with total crap writing, one more shame on internet ugly side effects.
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December 15th, 2020, 16:49
I don't know which criteria makes an RPG "great"? Having a huge bugget and therefore being called AAA? Or featuring an open, sprawling world? Or offering hundreds of gameplay? Or else?

Anyway if having a "great" time is one of them, I pretty much enjoyed Outer Worlds and Bard's Tale 4 Director's Cut lately. I finished Outer Worlds about six months ago and played it over 100 hours. Apart from some repetitiveness (that plagued also so many RPGs) it was a fun FPS-RPG in the veins of New Vegas. Also I'm in the final stages of Bard's Tale 4 and loving it as a die-hard party based blobber fan. But both of them are AA games and do not considered cult classic for many RPG players.

I don't play it yet, but AC: Valhalla was made by a Canadian studio and since Canada is in American continent and Valhalla has a huge budget and world we can consider it great i think.
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December 15th, 2020, 22:27
Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
Well, next time, write on paper the story you predict before to continue play.

Or do you want I write a lame PK story differently from the point you "predicted" and still have it totally valid?

Perhaps, but how many time you predicted and it didn't happen? And for the same game. If you predicted 100 times and once succeed, it means few. and what you predicted whole series of event or just one?

I never ever seen a let's play with the player predicting the story all along from some point, or with some "I knew it" quickly said and always after. A story can follow so many paths that I can't imagine how it could be possible.

I'd be curious to see blind tests, and see players used to predict, and see them really predict anything. Lol.

And again surprise is one thing, story development logic and character development logic is another, Game of Throne totally screwed up at the end for pointless attempts on building surprise at price of last parts with total crap writing, one more shame on internet ugly side effects.
I think you misunderstood what I meant with predictable and predict (I have a hunch that your interpretation of those words are more literal than mine, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong).

I'm not talking about the specifics, but the general story of a game and the likely conclusion. I'm also not talking about predicting the story of a game out of the blue.

What I'm talking about is that stories follow patterns. Take for example the games which follow in Baldur's Gate's footsteps. They often deal with gods or godlike beings meddling in the affairs of mortals and end with confrontations either with avatars of those gods, or sometimes godlike beings themselves. There are often trickster gods involved as the one behind it all. These stories mirror stories which go back to the origin of human civilization. So there's plenty of patterns to follow and make decent predictions from.

The companion NPCs also follow patterns in that they are mostly archetypes and their reactions and their general role in the game can also often be predicted. Take for example that there often is a broken character with a troubled past. They often have a non-disclosed relationship with the bad guy, which leads to betrayal in one way or another, and often redemption in the end.

If it follows those patterns too much I get bored, unless the writing, pacing and atmosphere is absolutely brilliant. Which it very rarely is.

But this is way off topic. I just wrote why I doubt I'll ever find a game truly great again. Which is also off topic. So I guess I'm the master of off topic replies
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December 15th, 2020, 22:46
Originally Posted by SveNitoR View Post
But this is way off topic. I just wrote why I doubt I'll ever find a game truly great again. Which is also off topic. So I guess I'm the master of off topic replies
Finally something I can agree on. I also haven't played a great game in ages. Sure I enjoy games I play but nothing wows me anymore. The jaded aspect of an old gamer.
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December 16th, 2020, 20:55
Ok so it seems that if story evolution doesn't generate a surprise feeling, then it is predictable. I prefer that than people predicting books contents. But that seems highly subjective, how many thing you didn't predict didn't surprised you? A ton, surprise is a retroactive reaction, not an anticipation reaction.

An example could be the archetypes. A video game isn't suited for a deep complex development of characters, a really complex character not relaying on any archetypes would need a too long development to achieve be marking.

I saw on Netflix a series first season, it's probably Cursed. The series use a lot of archetypes and pervert most of them or many, at end it's not really archetypes because at some points each archetype is broken. There's a fun to quote it, quote the game on it, and get some surprise from it. But at the end, it's not that major. I'm very curious to see what's next, but the broken archetypes aspect was only a part.

I don't care if Morrigan is (or not) a collection of archetypes, she is still the strongest and most marking companion I ever played in a RPG, second would be Deekin perhaps. And for me Morrigan is a lot stronger than any character in Cursed series, it didn't help much that Cursed broke many archetypes.

A possibility is I'm not much sensible to archetypes problems, or that people seeing any single RPG NPC as a collection of archetypes are too focused on it and saw only that or mostly.

But if we go on archetypes, I would request what RPG character not relying on multiple archetypes and still really marking? I doubt the list would be long. PsT? Certainly not, it is full of archetypes.
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December 17th, 2020, 10:29
Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
Ok so it seems that if story evolution doesn't generate a surprise feeling, then it is predictable. I prefer that than people predicting books contents. But that seems highly subjective, how many thing you didn't predict didn't surprised you? A ton, surprise is a retroactive reaction, not an anticipation reaction.

An example could be the archetypes. A video game isn't suited for a deep complex development of characters, a really complex character not relaying on any archetypes would need a too long development to achieve be marking.

I saw on Netflix a series first season, it's probably Cursed. The series use a lot of archetypes and pervert most of them or many, at end it's not really archetypes because at some points each archetype is broken. There's a fun to quote it, quote the game on it, and get some surprise from it. But at the end, it's not that major. I'm very curious to see what's next, but the broken archetypes aspect was only a part.

I don't care if Morrigan is (or not) a collection of archetypes, she is still the strongest and most marking companion I ever played in a RPG, second would be Deekin perhaps. And for me Morrigan is a lot stronger than any character in Cursed series, it didn't help much that Cursed broke many archetypes.

A possibility is I'm not much sensible to archetypes problems, or that people seeing any single RPG NPC as a collection of archetypes are too focused on it and saw only that or mostly.

But if we go on archetypes, I would request what RPG character not relying on multiple archetypes and still really marking? I doubt the list would be long. PsT? Certainly not, it is full of archetypes.
I agree with what you write, and it's probably that I tend to notice those things without thinking about them, and it lowers my enjoyment. I could probably ignore that, and enjoy it more if I learn something new about life from the game, or if I'm truly moved emotionally, but both are very rare.

Characters in games can't normally be very deep, as you say, so their archetypal reactions become more typical than characters in good books. It makes the characters feel less like real, complex people and more like simple video game characters, which they are.

There are, I guess, too many moving parts in games, for the world to become truly believable. And as I get older, maybe my ability to suspend my disbelief becomes worse? Or maybe my experience has made me better at noticing the seams?
Last edited by SveNitoR; December 17th, 2020 at 10:52.
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December 17th, 2020, 12:12
Originally Posted by SveNitoR View Post
I agree with what you write, and it's probably that I tend to notice those things without thinking about them, and it lowers my enjoyment. I could probably ignore that, and enjoy it more if I learn something new about life from the game, or if I'm truly moved emotionally, but both are very rare.

Characters in games can't normally be very deep, as you say, so their archetypal reactions become more typical than characters in good books. It makes the characters feel less like real, complex people and more like simple video game characters, which they are.

There are, I guess, too many moving parts in games, for the world to become truly believable. And as I get older, maybe my ability to suspend my disbelief becomes worse? Or maybe my experience has made me better at noticing the seams?
To be honest, your entire approach to gaming suspends my disbelief. Because we're talking about gaming, not high art. And even high art has problems "truly moving people emotionally" and "teaching something new about life".

Pong? Pacman? Space Invaders? Nope, no "world being truly believable" there.

Mario Brothers? Tetrus? Civilisation? Nope again.

Wizardry? Might and Magic? Ultima? Nope, one is clearly still in a completely fabricated world that the player is fully aware of, mostly grinding game-like content.

Narrative gaming? Sure, RPGs have scope for that, but it's always still going to be a background element, the foreground being gameplay.

The only way to get what you're pining for in gaming is to play either adventure games or visual novels, and the former are still games, which will require gamey elements which will reduce your ability to suspend your disbelief, for example:

The Longest Journey has a wonderful atmosphere and story and character narratives, however, it's a computer adventure game, so you have to come to a narrative standstill until you impossibly realise you have to combine 10 entirely unrelated random inventory items in a specific order and apply them to one random needle in a haystack in-game object in order for the game (narrative) to progress.

You strike me as someone who's browsing in a shoe shop and then complaining to the assistant about the lack of hats available to buy, because if they're selling apparel, why aren't they selling hats!
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