Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
April 19, 2014, 09:35:45 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
RPGFan Community Quiz
Next Quiz Date: January 11, 2014
Subject: 999 (Nintendo DS)
For more information click HERE!
319209 Posts in 13033 Topics by 2145 Members
Latest Member: aew0
* Home Help Search Login Register
+  RPGFan Message Boards
|-+  Media
| |-+  Single-Player RPGs
| | |-+  Are Storylines Really So Important?
« previous next »
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 Print
Author Topic: Are Storylines Really So Important?  (Read 13959 times)
Robert Boyd
Posts: 624


Member
*


View Profile WWW

Ignore
« Reply #30 on: March 26, 2006, 11:34:56 AM »

I definitely am in the gameplay camp. Why do I think gameplay is so much more important in general than story?  I'll list some of my rationales below.

Games by their very nature aren't designed to tell stories the same way as other mediums such as books & movies and yet most games fail to tailor their storytelling accordingly.  Therefore, you get the standard "Important story scenes interrupted by gameplay filler" format that you see in most RPGs.  It's a unique dilemna - on the one hand, people expect RPGs to last 30-60 hours, on the other hand, it's really hard to create a story that will interest people for such a monstrously long amount of time.

There are a few games that actually take advantage of their interactive elements to enhance their stories.  The Siren series is one such example.  The stories aren't told in a straightforward manner (you jump back and forth between characters & even time) and part of the gameplay is trying to figure out just what's going on.  The game encourages the player to go back and rewatch early cutscenes and replay old levels since they'll show new meanings later on thanks to your increased knowledge. Moreover, some of the plot elements are merely hinted out so it requires a good amount of thought out of the player.

Another good example is Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter.  In this game, the plot is all about Ryu's desperate quest to save Nina by reaching the sky.  The gameplay is all about emphasizing this: from the indicators on the maps telling you how far you have left until you reach the surface to the Dragon meter that steadily increases and spells your doom when it reaches 100% to the lack of frequent saving and so on.  The pay-off at the end just couldn't have happened if the player hadn't been struggling himself to help Ryu achieve his goal.

Unfortunately, games like BoF:DQ and Siren are the exception to the rule.  Too many RPGs are like Magna Carta in that gameplay is usually intended to pad the game's length (note the large number of busy-work quests in said game).  At the very extreme, you have games like Valkyrie Profile where the gameplay is entirely designed as padding (the gameplay has next to no relevance to the plot and in fact, you could skip pretty much every dungeon and go straight to the ending sequence if you so desired).

When I play a game, I well, want to play a game.  If more games tried to deliver stories that took advantage of the interactive nature of videogames, I would play those, but since such games are rare (ignoring choose your own adventure style games where the story is the entire game), I play games with good gameplay when I want to play a videogame and if they have decent stories on top of that like the Megami Tensei games, that's a nice bonus.  When I want a good story, I read a book since they have less filler, more variety in plots, and are less expensive in both time & money.

I have a question.  Does any one really like both Xenosaga AND Grandia 3?  It seems if you like the one, you hate the other.  I personally couldn't stand Xenosaga 1 (and I hear the second is worse) - although the plot was intriguing, I disliked all of the characters, and the gameplay was awful.  On the other hand, I think Grandia 3 is one of the best RPGs of this generation (would have tied with DDS for best RPG of 2005 for me if it had come out a few months earlier); yeah, the plot is cliche (although nostalgic at times for me due to its similarities with past Grandia games), but the characters are mostly likeable and well developed (particularly if you read all the extra townfolk & meal dialogues), and the gameplay is the closest I've seen a turnbased RPG come to perfection.

Not only is Grandia's combat fast-paced and fun to watch, not only is the character management aspects simple yet greatly customizable, but all the different moves you have available to you are so well balanced with each offering their own pros and cons.  I mean, on any turn, a character has access to 7 types of moves - Combo Attacks, Critical Attacks, Magic, Special Moves, Items, Defend, and Move - and yet all 7 types of moves are useful on a regular basis.  How many RPGs can you say that about?

So yeah, I strongly disagree with people who say that Grandia's gameplay can't carry the game.  The story isn't as bad as the naysayers say, but even if it was, I wouldn't care.  Grandia remains the only series where I actually seek out non-boss encounters even when I have the ability to dodge them and don't need the XP simply because they're so much fun.  And hey, if you hate the plot that much, you don't need to bother with it much; just press the select button during cutscenes to skip them and avoid talking to villagers.

EDIT: To put it another way, a bad story usually has less negative influence over good gameplay than bad gameplay has on a good story.  In the first case, assuming you can skip the cutscenes, you just skip the cutscenes and optional dialogue and you're good to go.  In the second case, you're stuck having to wade through hour after hour of tedium to get to the yummy story core.

This also explains why I managed to enjoy a game like Rhapsody but not Xenosaga.  Both games had awful gameplay, but at least with Rhapsody, the gameplay portions were really quick and painless (literally - you could beat just about any battle in the game in a single turn and without getting hurt).
Logged

John
Administrator
Posts: 7111


Member
*

DeceptiJohn
View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #31 on: March 26, 2006, 12:19:01 PM »

Quote from: "Leyviur"
What matters is not a plot twist, but rather how a plot twist is told.

You could have the ultimate plot twist but if it gets executed badly, it'll still suck.


Come ON Ashton, just come out and say it.

Baten Kaitos.

-John
Logged

THROW PICKLE IN BURGER TO SPEED UP COMMERCIAL
Testament
Posts: 137


Member
*


View Profile

Ignore
« Reply #32 on: March 26, 2006, 12:48:21 PM »

In my opinion, it's as important to have a good storyline as it is to have really well developed characters.
Logged
Bogatyr
Banninated
Posts: 206


Member
*


View Profile

Ignore
« Reply #33 on: March 26, 2006, 01:58:41 PM »

Some points: Character development. JRPGs don't have it. The silent and "badass" - that one from FFX is THE example - character will always turn out to be and act the same. The protagonist going on an adventure ending up saving the world - Lunar is a good example - will always turn out to be the same. The indifferent and cold protagonist who ends up caring - don't need to say Squall is the example - has not a great variation from game to game either. The good hearted female healer - many examples - the dumbass big guy - Gibari, I mention this one because I am playing Baten Kaitos right now, Zell, Wakka - and other famous types. The problem is that they are all annoying, which brings me to my second point. Character interaction. Texts are so poorly written, with so much pseudo philosophical crap; zero psychological deepth; cheesy lines; absurd and unrealistic lines; not to mention the horrid romantic pairs - which makes me think the writters never had a relationship like that in real life.
If you want good, to do everything exactly different would be a good start. That's why I say I only expect engaging storylines. You know the deal, some fine twists, surprises, ok characters - as much as possible - good sense of adventure. This kind of thing.

John,

Why you say that? I just saw this plot twist yesterday and I thought it was not poorly done.
Logged
Professor Gast
Posts: 1647


Member
*


View Profile

Ignore
« Reply #34 on: March 26, 2006, 02:20:02 PM »

Yeah, and I was already wondering when people would start bashing and generalizing about Japanese RPGs :P. Please don't tell me that the majority of RPGs developed in the western hemisphere or in South Korea are deeper (story-wise) than their Japanese counterparts.

Just because certain patterns of character development can be found in many games and you happen not to like them, does not mean there is no character development. As far as the script is concerned, I don't think it is fair to judge a Japanese game based on its localization for instance. Sure, one can expect solid translations these days, but more often than not certain lines turn out to be cheesy or odd, because they were translated that way. Sakura Taisen's script for instance has always been top-notched, full of wit and entertaining humor.

Furthermore, many Japanese RPG are developed with a Japanese audience in mind. Face it, outside most things that carry a Square Enix logo and may be Namco's Tales series, RPGs are niche titles in the US and Europe, especially when compared to Japan. And the Japanese audience apparently has a different taste than you. Few people will argue that companies keep recycling certain ideas, in particular when it comes to the RPG genre, but the formula apparently still works well enough. If it did not work anymore, companies would change it or stop making RPGs altogether.
Logged
Bogatyr
Banninated
Posts: 206


Member
*


View Profile

Ignore
« Reply #35 on: March 26, 2006, 02:34:43 PM »

Gast,

I agree and disagree. Firstly, concerning western RPGs, the plot is usually simple - Baldurs Gate - but the scrit and text is SO MUCH better. Just play any Baldurs Gate and you will see what I mean. The dialogues are much smarter, more stern, more realistic. They look like real dialogues from real people - in a fantasy setting of course. In few words, they are just a thousand times better.
Even if the plot is not always groundbreaking, at least the script is much better and has me going for it. I mean, I never get embarassed while playing it, while I lost the track of how many times I was like "Oh my God! What was that, that is so moronic, cheesy and stupid, what I am doing playing this shit for retard geeks?!" after reading some JRPGs.
I agree with the audience point you bring out. It seems to me much of these JRPGs have this anime midset that just don't go for me. It simply does not match. Their and mine mentality are too apart I think.
And yeah, it is not 100% of JRPGs, but it goes pretty close to that I think.
By the way, I have never played a South Korean RPG. I would assume they are similar?
Logged
Lucid
Posts: 315


Member
*


View Profile

Ignore
« Reply #36 on: March 26, 2006, 02:37:24 PM »

I don't really care about gameplay in an rpg. Even the best gameplay in an rpg is usually trash in my opinion and boring to sit through to me anyways. It all really gets down to mindlessly doing something like most other genres of games. It's all too pattern based and too predictable for me to enjoy and rpgs gameplay. Like typing out a math question on your calculator that you already know the answer to.

Then again I won't say that rpg have the most interesting storylines either. To me it's mostly the equivalent of watching some casual scifi/fantasy show on television like smallville or whatever. It's entertaining but only for the time I watch it. It doesn't really go any further than that. Very few storylines in games have actually given me something greater than the entertainment during the time I played it.
Logged
Bogatyr
Banninated
Posts: 206


Member
*


View Profile

Ignore
« Reply #37 on: March 26, 2006, 02:39:29 PM »

Lucid,

Which brings down the question: What do you like in RPGs?
Logged
Rindu
Posts: 74


Member
*


View Profile

Ignore
« Reply #38 on: March 26, 2006, 02:48:30 PM »

This is an interesting discussion.

My thought is that story is extremely important in an RPG.  Narrative is one of the essential elements of the genre: without it, we don't have an RPG.  Sure, the story might be really bad, but if no attempt is made to tell a story, then we don't have an RPG at all.  

The trick is figuring out HOW to do this.  For me, the challenge of RPGs is not that they should tell good stories necessarily, but rather that the telling of the story and the gameplay need to mesh.  Typically, you play a little bit, then watch a cutscene.  Story is driven through cutscenes.  Designers need to figure out ways to drive story through gameplay.  FF7 was moving in this direction. (motorcycle chase, submarine battle etc).  Ico did it pretty well...at the end of the game I realised that a really deep and complex story had been told but there were only two or three short cutscenes.
Logged

Professor Gast
Posts: 1647


Member
*


View Profile

Ignore
« Reply #39 on: March 26, 2006, 02:49:40 PM »

Quote from: "Bogatyr"
And yeah, it is not 100% of JRPGs, but it goes pretty close to that I think.
By the way, I have never played a South Korean RPG. I would assume they are similar?


I'm not an expert, but if you look at the South Korean RPG market, it is obviously dominated by MMORPGs. Offline RPGs are few and far in between. The best known stuff still comes Softmax (Rhapsody of Zephyr, Magna Carta, etc.) which is not my cup of tea. Since I can't read Hangul, I can't tell you about the quality of those games' scripts and dialogues. I have only played a Japanese version of Rhapsody of Zephyr (Nishikaze no Rhapsody) and found it anything but impressive.
Logged
Lucid
Posts: 315


Member
*


View Profile

Ignore
« Reply #40 on: March 26, 2006, 02:49:56 PM »

Bogatyr~ Like I said, just the casual entertainment value of the story. In most traditional rpgs the gameplay could be limited to me choosing a few options for something not so important or something as limited and I wouldn't really mind, like if it was an interactive movie more. However if they used more gameplay like Fire Emblem type games or some srpgs then I could be motivated enough to actually be interested in the gameplay.

For example I'm playing Tales of Phantasia on GBA right now, and I feel like I'm just mashing the buttons to get through the battles, and I use these holy bottles to limit the encounters as much as I can. I'm also playing Fire Emblem 6 on GBA and even though it's got a much less interesting story I feel like I'm actually doing something during the gameplay.
Logged
Eusis
Administrator
Posts: 11770


Member
*


View Profile
« Reply #41 on: March 26, 2006, 04:03:11 PM »

As far as western RPGs go, I think the games Black Isle and Bioware, at least those that I've played, consistantly had good or interesting stories, and KotOR alone could put several JPRGs to shame. I can't say the same of those from other developers... But in recent years, there doesn't seem to be anyone that gives a shit outside of Obsidian, Bioware, and Bethesda.

And while I understand that they would beat the same general story to death in japanese RPGs, I think they'd at least benefit from at least making more of the story details standout. Mix up typical stereotypes and cliches more often, such as that age complaint I had before. Also... Haven't RPGs and console games in general been selling worse lately over in japan? :P

As for the 'there's no good stories thing', I think there's some good stories. Not great, ground breaking stories, except for maybe a title or two that'll be debated for forever. But good, sure.

Edit: Actually... What's the average age of gamers in Japan? I'm going to wonder more if most of them are adults. :P

Edit 2: And... Oh right, the Baten Kaitos thing. Play a bit further. It's an awesome twist that, well... Isn't used a fraction as well as it could have been.
Logged
Merkava
Posts: 427


Member
*


View Profile

Ignore
« Reply #42 on: March 26, 2006, 04:59:47 PM »

Quote from: "Bogatyr"
Some points: Character development. JRPGs don't have it. The silent and "badass" - that one from FFX is THE example - character will always turn out to be and act the same. The protagonist going on an adventure ending up saving the world - Lunar is a good example - will always turn out to be the same. The indifferent and cold protagonist who ends up caring - don't need to say Squall is the example - has not a great variation from game to game either. The good hearted female healer - many examples - the dumbass big guy - Gibari, I mention this one because I am playing Baten Kaitos right now, Zell, Wakka - and other famous types. The problem is that they are all annoying, which brings me to my second point. Character interaction. Texts are so poorly written, with so much pseudo philosophical crap; zero psychological deepth; cheesy lines; absurd and unrealistic lines; not to mention the horrid romantic pairs - which makes me think the writters never had a relationship like that in real life.
If you want good, to do everything exactly different would be a good start. That's why I say I only expect engaging storylines. You know the deal, some fine twists, surprises, ok characters - as much as possible - good sense of adventure. This kind of thing.

John,

Why you say that? I just saw this plot twist yesterday and I thought it was not poorly done.


I don't get a lot of gamers. You say that you want change in character, right? FFVIII's cast are one of the few casts that actually act and change realistically. Sorry, but people don't do 180's with their personalities. I think Squall is the best example of a completely realistic and believable character. He gradually changes throughout the story. He starts to care about others, especially Rinoa. He is in constant conflict with the changes he is experiencing, which explains the lapses back into self-isolation he goes through at certain points in the game. He's a round, dynamic character. He has depth. Sorry to go kind of off-topic, but I'm tired of people who bash Squall, and JRPG's in general.

Yeah, didn't mean to rant or anything.
Logged
Professor Gast
Posts: 1647


Member
*


View Profile

Ignore
« Reply #43 on: March 26, 2006, 05:05:32 PM »

Eusis: As far as I know, the average gamer in Japan does not differ too much from his counterparts in Europes and the US, in terms of age at least. This means we are talking about people in their late teens and above, that is the 16 to 29 year old crowd. This obviously depends on which platform you look at. In case of PlayStation Portable the absolute majority of users are male and between 16 and 29, whereas the DS has managed to appeal to females and audiences that are both younger than 16 and older than 30.

It depends on what you count. While the general assumption was that the Japanese domestic market has been stagant and then on the decline over the last couple of years, these calculations apparently did not include online gaming (which of course is mainly a domain of the PC platform, but in Japan there are still twice as many PlayStation 2 users playing Final Fantasy XI than PC users).

Sure, just looking at offline RPGs you probably could argue they are on a decline. During the PlayStation years, Square always aimed at sales of one million units for each of its major non-Final Fantasy titles. Nowadays, they are probably content with selling 500,000 units. However it clearly depends on the brand. Just to give you a few examples to illustrate that there is no general trend that points to the decline of the RPG genre:

Sales of established series Breath of Fire, Suikoden and SaGa for instance have been on the decline for quite some time. The same counts obviously for Xenosaga.

Dragon Quest managed to retain its position as the best selling RPG franchise throughout the years, by continue to record sales above 3.5 million copies per installment.  

Final Fantasy is hard to judge, because there has not been an offline main series installment in five years. It's probably too early to tell, whether Final Fantasy XII will become the third installment (Final Fantasy VII and VIII being the other two) to pass the three million mark, but its performance over the first few days was about the same as Final Fantasy X's back in July 2001, suggesting that it might struggle to pass the three million mark. If it reaches 2.8 million copies, then it will have sold as many copies as Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy X (if you count the International version).

Main series installments of Super Robot Taisen and Tales of ... continue to sell 500,000 copies and Kingdom Hearts II has already sold 300,000 copies more than the original game.

Companies like Nippon Ichi Software, Gust, Aruze (Sacnoth) or Idea Factory obviously have smaller development teams and are developing titles that cost less than most Square Enix games. Hence they can survive if their games sell between 100,000 and 150,000 copies. And at least in case of Nippon Ichi Software, the strategy RPGs have been selling quite well so far.

Original games have not been that successful. Rogue Galaxy being the exception, despite obviously not getting close to the one million mark, Level 5 had dreamed of.
Logged
James8BitStar
Posts: 80


Member
*


View Profile Email

Ignore
« Reply #44 on: March 26, 2006, 05:29:02 PM »

Quote from: "Robert Boyd"
Games by their very nature aren't designed to tell stories the same way as other mediums such as books & movies and yet most games fail to tailor their storytelling accordingly.  Therefore, you get the standard "Important story scenes interrupted by gameplay filler" format that you see in most RPGs.  It's a unique dilemna - on the one hand, people expect RPGs to last 30-60 hours, on the other hand, it's really hard to create a story that will interest people for such a monstrously long amount of time.


This is another thing I've thought of.  When you think about it, RPGs are really a bad medium for storytelling.  If you want a "storytelling" genre, something like the various Point-n-click adventure games (such as Sierra's fantastic "Quest" games--King's Quest, Space Quest, etc.) are probably the absolute best genre for storytelling--heck, LucasArts' "The Dig" has one of the best storylines I've ever heard in a game, and really highlights why PnC adventures are better "story" games than RPGs.

RPGs have some inherent gameplay requirements--characters that get stronger, reasons to level up, etc--which necessitates the plotline include several elements.  You can't, for example, tell a story that doesn't really have a core villain.  Or, suppose you wanted to make a game where you play as a private eye trying to solve a robbery.  In an RPG, this would necessitate the robbery turning out to be part of a larger conspiracy for world domination or something.  Not so in an adventure game.

Okay, I think I've derailed the topic...
Logged
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  



Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!