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Default Crusader Kings III - Review @ Polygon

September 4th, 2020, 08:49
In RPGs you have to learn skills and/or improve your stats to solve quests/overcome challenges.

These skills/stats are distributed over a party (Baldur's Gate, Might & Magic 4,…) or on a single Avatar (Underrail, Gothic …).

If you have only one Avatar the probability to end up as a Jack of many trades is higher than in a party based approach. (But I have used parties without any specialists in the past as well.)

In Gothic you have many role-playing options with many skill-checks. You can join a faction, choose a class, learn different skills. Many quests have multiple solutions, each solution is often made for a different character build.
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September 4th, 2020, 08:59
This conversation is super-pedantic. I love it. The phrase "I'll bet you're a riot at parties" totally comes into play here. I won't say with who, but you know who you are.

As a linguistics scholar, I can tell you this, period: A term has the meaning a collective assigns to it. That is all. Language is simply a shared way of expressing meaning, and it changes collectively all the time. Linguistics professors will tell you the *only* meaning of a word that matters is what people collectively agree upon. I'm not sure what professions you all come from, but I can speak a bit to the nature of the meaning of words.

Now, for me, what is the best "What is an RPG" answer? The Supreme Court in the USA answered this succinctly, but it was about porn. When asked how a Justice would categorize porn (as opposed to medical photographs, art, and many other uses of the naked body) the Justice simply answered, "I know pornography when I see it."

That is perhaps the best, least-pedantic, least likely to get you ignored at parties answer. What is an RPG? I can only tell you that I know it when I see it.

Some people seem to have a rigid definition of RPGs as "I get to select character attributes" - I'd say that's more a *D&D* style of roleplaying. And, by the way, even in the tabletop gaming world there's a lively debate of what a RPG is vs. a "storytelling" game, and it's all in good fun but really it's arguing over the definitions of words.

And that all depends on what your definition of "is" is.

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September 4th, 2020, 09:29
I agree - from this article:
The main problems that occur when you try to characterize the CRPG genre are:
  • Today a lot of games from other genres borrow some role playing elements as a selling factor
  • The CRPG genre evolved and changed a lot over time (and will continue to change)
  • The CRPG genre is overlapping naturally with some other genres; there are no clear cut borders to the Adventure, Shooter or Strategy genre for example.
  • As in other genres like Rock Music, Horror movies, Criminal Story books etc. the answers to the the question which elements are considered essential (=necessary), important or optional depend a lot on the people you ask. So a genre-checklist can only be a representative cross section of subjective opinions of a group of people that were interviewed or involved in the creation process.
Language is not exact and the meaning of a term can change over time.
Because of this in the end we just counted features of the CRPG genre that were (currently) accepted by many and clustered them in Must Haves, Should Haves and Nice to Haves.
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September 4th, 2020, 10:39
So this concludes the discussion and the article writer has the right to call CK3 an RPG because for him it is an RPG?
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September 4th, 2020, 10:40
Originally Posted by FurtiveNyctophile View Post
This conversation is super-pedantic. I love it. The phrase "I'll bet you're a riot at parties" totally comes into play here. I won't say with who, but you know who you are.
Its really not. I don't know who you're referring to here, but it's always a bad sign when you start a premise with an ad-hominin attack, particularly one that's unreasoned and deliberately malicious.

It's simply: A pure RPG should be party-based. Yes or no. If that's too pedantic for you… well, what isn't pedantic for you?

Originally Posted by FurtiveNyctophile View Post
As a linguistics scholar, I can tell you this, period: A term has the meaning a collective assigns to it. That is all. Language is simply a shared way of expressing meaning, and it changes collectively all the time. Linguistics professors will tell you the *only* meaning of a word that matters is what people collectively agree upon. I'm not sure what professions you all come from, but I can speak a bit to the nature of the meaning of words.

Now, for me, what is the best "What is an RPG" answer? The Supreme Court in the USA answered this succinctly, but it was about porn. When asked how a Justice would categorize porn (as opposed to medical photographs, art, and many other uses of the naked body) the Justice simply answered, "I know pornography when I see it."

That is perhaps the best, least-pedantic, least likely to get you ignored at parties answer. What is an RPG? I can only tell you that I know it when I see it.
I'm not sure that any kind of debate tends to arise at parties, so I'm not sure where partying comes into the topic, but you seem to be talking about parties a lot? Are you perhaps deliberately trying to make a joke about how the word 'party' also has two very distinct meanings?

Otherwise, what you have said has already been said in the thread. The pertinent question is whether you think it matters whether we understand why we need a bedrock concept for what an RPG is, the undeniably RPG. If you prefer to philosophise then that leads to a loosening of the definition, if you prefer to just say "it should at least have XYZ basic function" then you tighten the definition.

Originally Posted by FurtiveNyctophile View Post
Some people seem to have a rigid definition of RPGs as "I get to select character attributes" - I'd say that's more a *D&D* style of roleplaying. And, by the way, even in the tabletop gaming world there's a lively debate of what a RPG is vs. a "storytelling" game, and it's all in good fun but really it's arguing over the definitions of words.
But we're not discussing the difference between RPG and storytlling, and the defining feature of tabletop roleplaying, D&D or otherwise, is that the general point of them is as a social team event. Something you can do with a group of people. That the whole point of the exercise is to encourage people to work together as a team. Each player is encouraged to select a different character so that they are 'forced' to work as a team to solve the problems the game presents.

While its possible to play a tabletop RPG on your own, I can assure you it's not what the games are designed for and that the experience will not be what people refer to when they describe what a tabletop game is.

Yes, you could have one dungeon master (or equivalent) and one player and say that this is still an RPG experience, but it's still a 'lesser' experience than the intended experience.

This isn't pedantics, this is just describing the fundamental feature of what is meant by the term Role in RPG.
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September 4th, 2020, 10:46
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
I agree - from this article:


Language is not exact and the meaning of a term can change over time.
Because of this in the end we just counted features of the CRPG genre that were (currently) accepted by many and clustered them in Must Haves, Should Haves and Nice to Haves.
And replying to your response about Gothic.

So, yes, Gothic is a game that is Close Enough that we are happy to describe it as an RPG without bothering to much with caveats. It is a bit like playing a P&P module as if you are playing it by yourself, just you and the dungeon master (or equivalent).

But would you want people to describe Gothic as "the ultimate RPG", ie: for all future derivations of the genre to be derivations on the Gothic theme?

It should be obvious that if you make that statement and then someone derivates Gothic and removes just one other crucial aspect then the road to Lara Croft being an RPG comes ever closer into view. This should be obvious.

The idea is to express what you consider to be "the ultimate RPG game" and to then understand why one is thinking in that way.

If you had the resources to make your own personal 'perfect' RPG which does every little thing you like about the genre, would your game be party-based or single character?
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September 4th, 2020, 12:27
I love single player RPGs like Gothic or Ultima Underworld and party based RPGs like Wizardry 7 or Might and Magic 6 as well.
Important for me is not the number of characters in a party, for me is important that you can build different characters and the game uses skill/stat checks. So different avatar/party builds have a different path through the game.

What RPG would I make myself? Probably a party-based Strategy-RPG like Jagged Alliance 2 or a dungeon crawler like Wizardry 7 (I love Sir-Tech).
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September 4th, 2020, 12:31
For me it's pretty simple.

What defines a RPG:

* Player agency. You are free to act, and not railroaded through a series of events that will play in the same succession regardless of what you do.
* Moral engagement. You will be presented with choices that have moral baggage to them, and you will need to choose how to resolve them.
* Choice and consequence. Your choices will lead you through different paths specific to your character's own moral compass. The more branching and variety of game-changing events specific to your actions, the more RPG quality.


What does not define a RPG but was traditionally found in RPGs, and so was diluted into making uneducated/young gamers think that games containing these things are RPGs (aka "RPG elements"):

* Having an inventory manager, and upgradeable gear slots.
* Having "level up" systems that allow the player to allocate ability points in different stats that make the character stronger in different ways.
* Having a choice of playstyle, ie gun combat, fist combat, sword combat. That extends to giving you a choice on whether you want to break into a building by hacking the security pane, lockpicking the door, or just bashing it down and all such playstyle choices. They are just that, playstyle choices.
* Having a resource gathering and/or crafting system.
* Having video sequences or scripted conversations between characters or NPCs that are completely predefined to always play in the same exact way when any player in the world reaches that certain point of the game.
* Logging and displaying damage numbers when you harm enemies.
* Playing out as turn-based/strategic combat.


I could go more in-depth, but this thread is full of walls of text already, so that pretty much sums it up.
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September 4th, 2020, 12:35
So which RPGs don't have some kind of level up system?
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September 4th, 2020, 12:39
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
So which RPGs don't have some kind of level up system?
That's the wrong question.

The question is "Are there games with leveling systems that are not RPGs?"

Answer is yes. Countless.

Thus "leveling system =! RPG".
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September 4th, 2020, 12:49
If 97% or more of CRPGs have a leveling system (that is the case IMHO) it is a feature that belongs to the CRPG genre. It doesn't matter if other genres have this feature as well.
With the sum of all features you can decide if a game is a CRPG or not, not only one.
Check more and more features and and you can make an expert decision.
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September 4th, 2020, 13:28
Originally Posted by Nereida View Post
For me it's pretty simple.

What defines a RPG:

* Player agency. You are free to act, and not railroaded through a series of events that will play in the same succession regardless of what you do.
* Moral engagement. You will be presented with choices that have moral baggage to them, and you will need to choose how to resolve them.
* Choice and consequence. Your choices will lead you through different paths specific to your character's own moral compass. The more branching and variety of game-changing events specific to your actions, the more RPG quality.
Ironically CK3 has all these and very few of those points you say do not define an RPG…
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September 4th, 2020, 13:31
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
If 97% or more of CRPGs have a leveling system (that is the case IMHO) it is a feature that belongs to the CRPG genre. It doesn't matter if other genres have this feature as well.
With the sum of all features you can decide if a game is a CRPG or not, not only one.
Check more and more features and and you can make an expert decision.
That does not make any sense. Then having a logo at the start of the game that says the company that made the game is a RPG feature, since 97% of the RPGs have it.

Stop being absurd.

A RPG is defined by being a RPG, not by using non-defining features that are commonly used by games of about any genre.
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September 4th, 2020, 13:35
Originally Posted by largh View Post
Ironically CK3 has all these and very few of those points you say do not define an RPG…
I don't think CK3 presents you with moral choices. If you make choices based on your morality rather than what you think to be most profittable, it's a personal choice you make potentially sabotaging your success chances at what the game is really about, much as if I play Tomb Raider and make the moral choice of not hunting animals for pelts, and that won't make Tomb Raider a RPG.
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September 4th, 2020, 13:44
Originally Posted by Nereida View Post
I don't think CK3 presents you with moral choices. If you make choices based on your morality rather than what you think to be most profittable, it's a personal choice you make potentially sabotaging your success chances at what the game is really about, much as if I play Tomb Raider and make the moral choice of not hunting animals for pelts, and that won't make Tomb Raider a RPG.
As far as I understood from the review, you are encouraged to make moral choices based on your character's moral compass. Further, few of us can really jump into roleplaying a character instead of reflecting at least partly our own fantasies, and therefore your own moral compass would also influence the choices you make similar to how many of us find it difficult to play evil characters in D&D.
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September 4th, 2020, 14:11
Originally Posted by Nereida View Post
That does not make any sense. Then having a logo at the start of the game that says the company that made the game is a RPG feature, since 97% of the RPGs have it.

Stop being absurd.

A RPG is defined by being a RPG, not by using non-defining features that are commonly used by games of about any genre.
Do you even read what I have written?

The sum of features can identify a genre. There's is rarely a single identifying feature that identyfies a whole genre perfectly.

With non-defining features, but common ones you can still easily exclude non-RPGs.


Lets say we want to identify red triangles with a hole in it:

Feature checklist:
  1. Does it have a hole in it? -> Exclude all shapes that doesn't have a hole.
  2. Is it red? -> Exclude all shapes with a different color, but it can still be a circle, square etc.
  3. Has it 3 corners? -> Exclude all shapes that don't have 3 corners.
  4. Is the shape hull convex? -> Exclude all non-convex shapes
  5. Is the sum of the angles 180 degrees ?

A shape that has all these features is a red triangle with a hole in it.
Not a single feature is a defining one.

Got it?
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September 4th, 2020, 14:19
That's irrelevant, and this is the last thing I'll say before you use admin powers to spam threads that reinforce your point of view, cus last time you did it made me lost a great deal of respect for this site, and it's likely that I will not return if it happens again.

Some examples of games with levelling in them.

Forza Horizon
Football Manager
League of Legends
Call of Duty

Your conclusion: Levelling is a defining RPG feature.

A common therapy in psycholy is to do roleplay, to take a point of view different from yours, to understand things from a different perspective. So you can ask a psychologist to do a roleplay session with you, and ask him/her when do you level. Answer: You don't, because in that roleplay, the game part is taken out of it. What defines a RPG is in part that is a game, that's what the "G" means, but what tells it apart from other games is that it is about role-playing. Either you will get it or you won't, but levelling is a general feature of games, and does not define RPGs.
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September 4th, 2020, 14:26
I have never said that leveling is a defining feature of RPGs. It is one of many features of RPGs.

Example:
Let's do the CRPG Analyzer checklist for Jagged Alliance 2:

I. The Checklist:

Character Development
Describes ways to create, change or enhance your characters in order to increase their effectiveness in the game.
  • Must Have
    C1: you can control and role-play one (=Avatar) or more (=Party) unique characters (-> not only uniform units) - yes
    C2: you can progressively develop your characters' stats and/or abilities (-> e.g. through an in game value (usually exp. points) gained by quests, exploration, conversation, combat, …) - yes
    C3: Checks against character stats and/or character abilities/skills are necessary to make progress and finish the game - yes
    C4: you can equip and enhance your characters with items you acquire - yes
  • Should Have
    C5: you can create your characters - only the main character
    C6: the player needs preplanning for the development of the character(s) - yes
    C7: 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) - yes

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.
  • Must Have
    E1: your character(s) can interact with the gameworld and find new locations by exploring. - yes
    E2: 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.) - yes
    E3: your character(s) can find information sources (-> e.g. NPCs, entities, objects that provide info) - yes
  • Should Have
    E4: there are NPCs in the game - yes
    E5: you can choose a path (-> there is at least some branching) - yes
    E6: your character(s) can manipulate the game world in some way (-> e.g. pull levers, push buttons, open chests, …) - yes
    E7: the gameworld can affect your character(s) (-> e.g. weather, traps, closed doors, poisoned areas, …) - yes
    E8: 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, …) - yes

Story
Concerns all narrative elements like setting, lore, plot, characters, dialogue, quests, descriptions, storyline(s) and similar, including how you can interact with them.
  • Must Have
    S1: your character(s) can get information from information sources (-> e.g. hints, goals, quests, skills, spells, training, …) - yes
    S2: your character(s) can follow quests (-> there is at least one main quest) - yes
    S3: your character(s) can progress through connected events and play their role - yes
  • Should Have
    S4: the story is influenced by your decisions and your characters' actions and stats/abilities/skills. - yes
    S5: your character(s) can interact with information sources (-> e.g. NPC conversation, riddle statue question, …) - yes
    S6: your character(s) can make choices in those interactions - yes - a few
    S7: at least some of these choices have consequences - yes
    S8: advancing in the story requires thinking of the player (-> e.g. irreversible choices, moral dilemma, riddles, …) - yes- some strategic choices
Combat
Describes how combat (or more general: conflict resolving) corresponds with elements of Character Development, Exploration and Story.
  • Should Have
    F1: Combat efficiency is in some way tied to character stats or abilities (-> e.g. amount of damage, chance to hit, weapon access, …) - yes (bigger stats allows you to carry better weapons, special skills give combat advantages)
    F2: Combat works with some random elements (game internal dice rolls) - yes
    F3: Combat should provide some challenge (-> e.g. preparing, use of tactics or environment possible) - yes

The CRPG Analyzer checklist shows that Jagged Alliance 2 is very strong in the categories Exploration, Combat, good in story and nearly complete in the category Character Development.

Jagged Alliance 2 is a true RPG!
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September 4th, 2020, 15:17
Originally Posted by Nereida View Post
A common therapy in psycholy is to do roleplay, to take a point of view different from yours, to understand things from a different perspective. So you can ask a psychologist to do a roleplay session with you, and ask him/her when do you level. Answer: You don't, because in that roleplay, the game part is taken out of it. What defines a RPG is in part that is a game, that's what the "G" means, but what tells it apart from other games is that it is about role-playing. Either you will get it or you won't, but levelling is a general feature of games, and does not define RPGs.
No, no, no, no, no, Role in RPG does not refer to taking the character of someone else as if you are an actor trying to decide how to portray Hamlet LOL.

Role simply means what job you perform within the team.

What is your role in society? Are you a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker? The individual personalities of each of these people is of no relevance to what role they are performing outside of generic traits that inevitably arise as a result of your chosen profession.

The fact that some RPGs want personality to be a minor consideration during character creation is just someone expanding on the theme rather than it being a core trait.

The idea that personality/morality should = Role in an RPG would be like saying a party-based game should always involve lots of drinking and merriment, preferably with lots of sexual undertones. It's completely misunderstanding what the word represents.

You really think the concept of moral philosophy is the ideal fundamental concept in any game designed to be played by regular people who have no training in moral philosophy????? You think the people who make computer games are also going to be professional moral philosophers????
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September 4th, 2020, 17:00
I completely disagree with the concept that if a game has only a single character that it isn't an RPG. For me it partially depends on whether that character is rigidly defined (Lara in Tomb Raider, Geralt in Witcher) or if you have more freedom to make and design the character. The more freedom in making your own character the more of an RPG it is to me. Hence SKyrim and FO4 are very much RPG's for me while Mass Effect would be less so, but still some flexibility, but W3 or TR would not.

Like others who have mentioned I think RPG is something each person ends up defining somewhat themselves, like the black metal example. You tend to know what is an RPG to you when you play it.

I don't judge a game's RPG value on its marketing label but instead on the actual game and whether I feel it it offers me an RPG experience.
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Character is centrality, the impossibility of being displaced or overset. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Last edited by wolfgrimdark; September 4th, 2020 at 17:00. Reason: Added the word partially as there are many things that define an RPG for me besides how the protagonist is set up.
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