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Author Topic: Defining RPGs  (Read 412 times)
insertnamehere
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« on: July 13, 2014, 03:44:09 AM »

http://www.rpgfan.com/news/2014/1751.html
So what do you think makes an RPG part of this genre?
thoughts:
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I've noticed that RPGs generally tend to be meatier than anything else, even most open-world games, maybe because they have a lot of substance compared to regular action games or platformers and such.
Limiting the genre to needing progression of stats and/or skills seems like it would disqualify most visual novels and graphic adventures from coverage.
"You take on a role in every game you play."
Is role playing a thing in something like Tetris?
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Ranadiel
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2014, 07:41:15 AM »

The definition I work with for RPGs is essentially any game that has mechanics primarily descended tabletop RPGs. RPG for me is term that describes mechanics and nothing else. Visual novels and graphic adventure games are not (at least as a rule) RPGs. I have no problem that they are covered here since there is overlap in audiences. Same for Zelda (which is a classic action adventure series). If I were to sum up what makes a game an RPG, I would have to say that it is any game where combat is primarily determined by stats which can upgraded through character progression.

Although I admit that I am probably inconsistent in my application of that since you could easily argue that Dynasty Warriors games fit under that definition and I tend not to consider them RPGs. I'm not sure what the nuanced distinction is there, maybe it has to do with the non-continuous mission nature of Dynasty Warriors game. I dunno.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2014, 12:53:59 PM »

1. I think /the/ defining element of an RPG is a reliance on player character stats instead of relying on the skills of the person actually playing the game.

2. Non-reliance on visuals queues. Action RPGs tend to have loose collision detection (Vesperia and Gothic, I've noticed recently) or random crits/misses (SoM, TES) or being unable to dodge things (FFXII, Xenoblade, once enemy attacks have started). And then obviously turn-based battle systems are common and those are inherently based on menus, not in-game visual queues as to what stuff does.

3. Constant repetition of identical zero-risk enemy encounters (or encounters that quickly become low risk) is a thing that's very endemic to the RPG genre. No speaking about the actual difficulty level as a whole -- more just an extreme amount of popcorn enemies that don't do much.

Points 1 and 2 definitely go back to the genre's tabletop roots, and you can see these in strategy games as well.

Point 3 seems to be a pretty JRPGy thing.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2014, 07:33:26 PM by MeshGearFox » Logged

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Lard
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2014, 11:36:46 PM »

"In western RPGs, we see greater emphasis on writing, story-telling, character development and creating "believable" fantasy worlds. "

I disagree with this completely.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2014, 11:51:22 PM »

Quote
In western RPGs, we see greater emphasis on writing, story-telling, character development and creating "believable" fantasy worlds. This stems from the history of table-top RPGs that most of the games draw on. In Japanese RPGs, complex gameplay systems, varied items, and common story themes are more the norm.

Yyyyyyeah. Western RPGs traditionally focused on more ornate mechanics and world interaction, and JRPGs have traditionally had simpler (but maybe more numerous) gameplay mechanics and more of an emphasis on story.

I mean there have been exceptions -- Ultima and PST were /really huge/ on story and worldbuilding. Also I guessss ME did to? -- but this is sort of the opposite of what I've seen historically?
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Jotacon
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2014, 01:02:04 AM »

I've been thinking about the differences between WRPGs and JRPGs a lot lately and I think the real thing that defines the difference is that JRPGs lean more heavily on abstraction. Whereas WRPGs historically try to simulate as much as possible.

WRPGs came from D&D which wanted to simulate as much of an adventure as possible. Of course, as a game certain elements have to be abstracted. Think of levelling, it is a simulation of personal growth over an extended period of time on a quest. Experience points are an abstraction to facilitate that growth. Whereas JRPGs needed to abstract more of those same systems and ideas due to their more limited tools. Early ass computers and all. Think of how FF1 translates D&D almost exactly, but sacrifices many of the simulated elements so that it can have the scale it wants compared to one of it's own inspirations, Wizardry. Plus, this means JRPGs are abstracting mechanics from something that already has to abstract elements.

In fact Ultima Underworld was supposed to be "dungeon simulations" and Daggerfall a "fantasy simulation" and I think why WRPGs mix really smoothly into other genres, something like the Deus Ex series.

Other example: abstractions like "random battles" are in both genres, but the way that JRPGs used them leads them to a more deliberate segmentation between story and battle which allows for story to be separate deal that can be focused on independently. While WRPGs use things like a charisma score as a mechanic that influences world interaction, which is how they tell their stories. And at this point they are tied to their genre conventions and inspirations.

I haven't put together research or anything, but these are my current thoughts on the subject. Make sense to anyone? Sorry if it's too rambly.

On what makes an RPG an RPG? I dunno... feeling, I guess.
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Kevadu
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« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2014, 03:31:17 AM »

You guys should read Gamasutra's The History of Computer Role-Playing Games.  It's pretty good.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 2
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Jotacon
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2014, 03:16:39 PM »

Holy crap, were these really written in 2007? 'cause I remember reading these articles before. Seven years ago... good stuff though.
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