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Author Topic: Kat Bailey: Do Japanese RPGs need good stories?  (Read 3174 times)
Eusis
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« on: February 15, 2012, 05:35:36 PM »

Article here.

Please read through before replying.
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Der Jermeister
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« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2012, 08:48:03 PM »

God, it seems whenever I go onto a site about RPGs there's always some asshole who has to make an unprovoked attack against the works of George Lucas, so I stopped reading after that shitty comparison.
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Agent D.
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« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2012, 09:01:07 PM »

She called persona 3 a good story. What the hell, go back in the kitchen and stick to baking
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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2012, 09:29:40 PM »

I'll agree with the point that good world building can make even a simple game far more interesting (case and point: Suikoden) and that mediocre world building can make a good game mediocre (case and point: Suikoden). Of course, even good world building can't help you if all you ever see is the same fucking cave/hallway and everything is copied pasta'd all over the place.
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D-Rider
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« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2012, 09:48:41 PM »

Right now, Japanese RPGs don't need good stories as much as they need cohesive ones.  There's too much bloat, too much flash, and nowhere near enough dramatic structure.
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« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2012, 10:02:01 PM »

Right now, Japanese RPGs don't need good stories as much as they need cohesive ones.  There's too much bloat, too much flash, and nowhere near enough dramatic structure.

You left out the moe bullshit. Otherwise ^==Truth.
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« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2012, 10:55:47 PM »

On one hand, a game like Etrian Odyssey doesn't need a good story, because the focus really is on exploring and fighting and that's the meat of the game. Both SMT Nocturne and SMT Strange Journey's stories are kind of bare bones - though I did find the story bits interesing for both.

On the other hand, Suikoden 2 wouldn't be nearly as memorable if it had a weak story. I actually think Persona 4 has a better story than P3 and the mystery was half of what kept me playing.

A good story certainly helps, but I agree with D-Rider that a cohesive story also helps a game.
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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2012, 04:23:28 AM »

Not this again...
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cj_iwakura
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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2012, 09:01:29 AM »

On one hand, a game like Etrian Odyssey doesn't need a good story, because the focus really is on exploring and fighting and that's the meat of the game. Both SMT Nocturne and SMT Strange Journey's stories are kind of bare bones - though I did find the story bits interesing for both.

Except Etrian Odyssey did have a good story; a dang good one. It was just told in a minimalist format(Similar to SMT3&SJ). I think more stories should follow that pattern.
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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2012, 10:10:38 AM »

She really hit all my sentiments about JRPGs now. I played 70 hours of FF13 before I got fed up and sold it, and oddly enough I cant remember any scenes from the game except for how irritated I was at the cast. I would love to sit down and read all the comments from the FF13 thread here and analyze it to see how many times people mentioned the story.
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« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2012, 06:29:11 PM »

Except Etrian Odyssey did have a good story; a dang good one. It was just told in a minimalist format(Similar to SMT3&SJ). I think more stories should follow that pattern.

Exactly. Less is more.

I had to chuckle when she mentioned that TWEWY has a mediocre battle system. It's what kept me going long after I had beaten the game.
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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2012, 12:32:23 AM »

Except Etrian Odyssey did have a good story; a dang good one. It was just told in a minimalist format(Similar to SMT3&SJ). I think more stories should follow that pattern.

I am admittedly not that far in, so I judged it in what I've seen so far.
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« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2012, 10:13:17 AM »

And my response to this would be the same one every time a topic like this comes up.  I don't need a story to reinvent the wheel to compel me.  After all, there are all those theories about 3, 7, 25, whatever plots and that every story is a retelling of one of those magnificent 7.   http://www.ipl.org/div/farq/plotFARQ.html

What I would LIKE to see, though, is better writing.  And, like D-Rider said, more COHESIVE storytelling.  Take a look at Lost Odyssey.  The most compelling parts of the game were the Power Point sequences because they were written by a novelist.  That game shows the dichotomy between effective writing and hackneyed writing; the difference between writing from a novelist vs. a video game scenario writer.  And I bring up Grandia III again.  It had the seed of a beautiful and simple story about a boy chasing his dream of flight and the subplot of a mother's struggle to rethink her "little boy" as a man grown and let him spread his wings and fly.  But instead of those lovely themes being cultivated, we got a hot mess.  Like drowning a beautifully cooked artisan steak in cheap, no-name ketchup.  

A good storyteller can make even a simple tale seem grand.  The joke would be that "the current JRPG twist of that is making the obvious seem profound."

And I have to bring up To The Moon.  You can argue that it's not a JRPG and all that, but it proves that a video game story doesn't have to be all flash, epic bombast, pomp, and melodrama to effectively stir gamers' feelings.  It presents a simple story that runs deep and is very compelling.  

(And as always, I always quote these paragraphs from one of my editorials:
http://www.rpgfan.com/news/2009/640.html
Quote
Although I've played a lot of great throwback-style JRPGs from independent developers, I would like to see them go beyond refining standard JRPG conventions. I'd like to see them also reinvent, redefine, reinterpret, rewrite, and/or just plain shatter those age-old conventions. One trait that made me love Anachronox so much was that though it played like a Japanese RPG, the storyline, character archetypes, writing, and visual style were distinctly American. In these key areas, Anachronox did not try to copy or emulate Japanese conventions, making the experience feel genuine rather than being the equivalent of that "weeaboo" kid in school who acts like an anime character in order to "become" Japanese.

I am sure there are scenario writers who love JRPGs, but are tired of JRPG character relationships never going beyond the level of superficial kindergarten crushes. I would like to see them write a script where the character relationships are more fleshed out, mature, and believable, with teenage and/or adult characters that speak and behave like believable teenagers and/or adults respectively. Maybe an artist tired of the glut of stock fantasy trappings can create a vibrant modern, contemporary, or post-modern setting; a setting not used often enough in RPGs. Maybe a composer who thinks certain genres of music are underrepresented in these kinds of games can create a soundtrack that fills those voids. The potential is endless. It goes beyond what has been done before, and if mainstream Japanese developers aren't going to realize that potential, then it's a ripe opportunity for some of these underground, non-Japanese developers to step up and put those fresh or underutilized ideas into a new breed of J-style games.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2012, 12:52:58 PM by Dincrest » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2012, 11:06:27 AM »

I know I'm beating a dead horse again, but I don't mind if a game has no story as long as the rest is solid. If there is a story, it needs to be at least descent (good or great is even better though).

What I can't stomach is a stupid story.
This happens a lot in Japanese games because they feel obligated to bend the story to include tons of stupid tropes.

ex:
I am Captain Edge Maverick; on a very important mission to save the human race.
I command the space kindergarten, which is one of the most advanced space craft ever made.
I was specifically chosen for this mission because of my youthful ignorance, teenage angst and the fact that I know how to wield a sword. Indeed, most aliens have learned of our technology and became completely immune to any kind of ranged weaponry we have created (with the exception of bows)
I have full faith in my crew, including a mentally retarded traumatized underage orphan alien, a retarded underage alien cat girl and a bird brain winged girl and their dedication to save the human race, which they have never heard of until they met us.

I could go on, but I think that's enough...
« Last Edit: February 17, 2012, 11:09:59 AM by Annubis » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2012, 12:42:03 PM »

In my teenage to early college years I was a major proponent of the "RPGs must have great story or they have no right to exist" camp. These days either due to lowered expectations and/or simply mellowing out; not so much. As long as the story isn't downright offensive or insulting I can give it a pass so long as I'm having fun. From a writer's perspective I can actually sympathize somewhat with the 'lesser' stories because harping on an RPG for not having some epic-globe-spanning-Lord-of-the-Rings story is pretty much what it would be like for me to have someone breathing down my neck because my novels are hardly 'Dickens' caliber content.

Video games these days are pretty much all 'light' content to me unless the developer goes out of the way to specifically state their intention to be serious and/or artsy. As long as I have fun any one department can be flawed; even if the story is mind-numbingly gooberish.
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