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Subject: Persona 3: FES
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Date: 3rd October 2014 Time: 16:00 EST
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Author Topic: Kat Bailey: Do Japanese RPGs need good stories?  (Read 3014 times)
Mym
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« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2012, 04:56:26 PM »

I don't mind when a game doesn't have the greatest story, but I'm not especially pleased when it insists on feeding me said story in the form of long, obnoxious story sequences. tri-Ace are probably the worst offenders for me here, the odd title aside. If your story is rubbish, just leave it in the background and play to your game's strengths.

Reading articles like this, though, I sometimes wonder if I'm the only person who actually thinks JRPG stories can often be good fun and not that badly written. Obviously I'm talking about the better examples of the genre, as there are some JRPG stories that are just mind-numbingly bad, but it seems like it's the cool thing these days to automatically mark down any story that makes even the slightest use of JRPG tropes, and I don't really get it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing that JRPG stories are quality literature or anything, but I think it's a bit unfair to judge them on that level when they clearly have no such aspirations. I prefer to judge them like I judge the stories of action movies or schlocky, guilty pleasure type fiction. And are the stories in JRPGs really any worse than those of average summer blockbusters or throwaway paperback fantasy novels? Personally I don't think so. At times, I'd say they're actually better, and I'm quite impressed from time to time at the ability of scenario writers who generally have no experience as authors and no published work to crank out stories that are fun, compelling and fairly imaginative.

I'm pretty well read and (as far as I know!) not completely braindead, so I don't quite get why I don't see all this awful, awful writing that everyone else seems to. I've certainly played games with facepalm worthy writing in the past, but they're in a minority. I guess maybe my standards are just a bit lower, and I make an effort to enjoy anything I put time into.
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badsanta
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« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2012, 05:42:28 PM »

My personal stance on this is that while an RPG story doesn't need to be 'OMG- F***-S*** AMAZING' for me to enjoy it, the weaker the gameplay is, the better the story has to be. If the gameplay isn't all that great, (though it still needs to be decent, otherwise I won't bother with it,) the story had better pick up the slack. That said... at the least, a JRPG story should be bearable. If it's bearable, and the gameplay is great, then I can still trudge through it. However... if the story is absolute anus, (such as Persona 3; not everyone likes that game,) then I can only keep going if the gameplay's good, and even then, only 50& of the experience will still be enjoyable.

Let's look at an example; namely, Lunar Silver Star Story for the PSP. IMO, the gameplay itself was far from the best I'd experienced. It was somewhat slow, and the gameplay was just your basic JRPG fare, and fairly easy too. But, it was still decent. Now, if the only thing Lunar had was decent gameplay, then I'd probably have dropped it in favor of game's with great gameplay. But what separated Lunar from, say, Mario, or some other game that relies nearly solely on Gameplay, is that Lunar had an enjoyable story and a good cast of characters. (And Eternal Blue, when I played that, improved upon those elements in nearly every way.) This made the game that much better, and Lunar just wouldn't be the same without it's story&cast.

However, having a good (or decent, anyway,) story isn't exclusive to RPG's nowadays. For example, I finished the story mode of a Fighting Game, Blazblue Continuum Shift Extend, today. (More precisely, a retelling of the first game's story, Calamity Trigger.)  Now traditionally, Fighting Game stories are nothing to write home about. However, Blazblue's Story Mode actually lived up to it's name; it was practically a Visual Novel, which just happened to have a Fighting Engine on hand for the fight scenes. Mind you, the story ended up being rather confusing, but there's still a whole other game's worth of story, (Continuum Shift proper,) so maybe the questions will be answered. But even then, there were still plenty of enjoyable moments, and you can really get drawn in at times, and even invested in the characters, which isn't something you'd expect to see in a fighting game. My point is though, that JRPG's are far from the only genre that has the potential for decent-to-good stories these days, and that like all of those other genres as well, perhaps it doesn't always need such a focus on story either.
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Aeolus
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« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2012, 12:55:09 AM »

Back when I was a teenager I was just looking for something that didn't require sibling or friendly input. Now I just want to play something that isn't aimed for children half my age or drunken frat movie connoisseurs.
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« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2012, 02:42:31 PM »

And then we're all left thinking, "Man, *I* could write a better story than this!"  But I wonder how true that really is.  Children's books, for example, seem so easy to write yet try to write one yourself... yeah.  And I figure most indie developers are fans like us who are tired of the corporate drivel being force-fed to us, but even then a lot of indie games have stories and writing that are just as bad as, if not worse than, the drivel we decry.  Sometimes, you get gems, though.  Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble, for example, had excellent writing. 

I see that in music.  A lot of people start bands and create music because they're tired of the drivel that corporate record company suits are feeding the masses as "cool" but a lot of times it's just pale imitations of stuff they listen to.  Sure you get some good stuff and many bands mature and evolve their sound so that they find their voice instead of trying to be like someone else.  Then again, I'd rather listen to a dippy local band than any of the dishwater on FM radio. 
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ZeronHitaro
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« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2012, 08:18:02 PM »

Personally I've never really had that line of thought. From a practical standpoint, the 'core' stories of most JRPGs are just fine. That's why I cite them as one of my main sources of inspiration because the ideas are wonderfully fantastic and creative. Bio-organic life forms that derive power from music, a villain ordained to be the guardian of a seeress throughout all of time loses it after seeing the one he cares for die repeatedly throughout eternity, calling forth your inner self via false gunshot to the head in order to fight a multi-formed supernatural evil during an hour that really doesn't exist...

Really the 'plot' aspects in JRPGs are just fine by and large. Most of the problem comes from either the characterization choices or the plot framing. We all know the annoyances with the first. An example of the second I found came most recently from FFXIII-2. In order to seem not so 'uncreative' I think a lot of writers are trying to fight their way around ye-olden three act structure. Introduction, Climax, Resolution. 13-2 scatters this to the four winds. To very briefly address this; introduction is filtered in seemingly at random, with one of the most important introductions (Noel's story) taking place literally moments before the game's end when we should be more focused on the climax. Then if that interruption wasn't enough to the plot flow Lightning pops up and gives more exposition which should mostly be resolution territory. Granted this is mostly because the Climax is intended to be
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unresolved due to the 'To Be Continued...'
.

However it doesn't change the fact that it has construction issues and causes people to think the plot itself is bad when it's more the fault of the framing.
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Farron
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« Reply #20 on: March 13, 2012, 08:21:04 PM »

Since this thread has in mind the discussion of JRPGs, I thought I could share a video I ran into the other week.
It's a show, called Penny Arcade which I've heard about but for whatever reason never gave much attention to.

They go about why we need to categorize RPGs as Western and Japanese. Here's epsiode 1 and here is episode 2

I don't remember if I ran into these videos here on the forums but I thought they were so interesting to our crowd it could be nice to share.
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Matrix
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« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2012, 08:37:15 PM »

it depends on the sub genre of rpg


do I need one in a game like etrian oddessy?

no
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PotRoast
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« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2012, 10:35:48 PM »

Since this thread has in mind the discussion of JRPGs, I thought I could share a video I ran into the other week.
It's a show, called Penny Arcade which I've heard about but for whatever reason never gave much attention to.

They go about why we need to categorize RPGs as Western and Japanese. Here's epsiode 1 and here is episode 2

I don't remember if I ran into these videos here on the forums but I thought they were so interesting to our crowd it could be nice to share.


The comic is called Penny Arcade, the show is called Extra Credits. Here's the third and final part. I have to say I was incredibly underwhelmed by the episode. I was actually underwhelmed by the whole miniseries, but I thought the big pay off would be the final episode. Arg, I was wrong.
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« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2012, 01:07:55 PM »

If we're going to backpedal into the JRPG/WRPG debate AGAIN, then I once again offer the roundtable some of our staff did on it back in 2007.  http://www.rpgfan.com/features/roundtable2007/index.html

As for the article and storytelling in JRPGs, I said what I needed to in prior posts. 
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PotRoast
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« Reply #24 on: March 15, 2012, 01:36:40 PM »

Is it sad that very little has changed in the 5 years since that roundtable was originally posted? Don't get me wrong, there have been quite a few good games to come out from both the W and J, but by and large it has been more of the same on both sides.
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