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Subject: 999 (Nintendo DS)
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Author Topic: Are Storylines Really So Important?  (Read 14043 times)
Merkava
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« Reply #45 on: March 26, 2006, 06:35:43 PM »

Ah, but wouldn't the core villain of that game be the robber? There's always an antagonist, to every story. It doesn't have to be a villain going after world domination, but it just ends up being that way. I'd like to see an RPG just use a group of characters' personal vendettas being carried out. It can be as simple as a vendetta, but not having the main villain with his finger on the button would be refreshing.

So, then, I agree with you that RPG's mostly go with the save the world concept, but I dissagree that just because you level up, an RPG has to have that one goal. A character can still level up without that exact incentive. There isn't a reason the world has to be in the equation at all, and there's no reason that RPG's can't use that idea.
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James8BitStar
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« Reply #46 on: March 26, 2006, 06:44:10 PM »

Well okay, yea that was probably a bad example, since there are RPGs that don't involve saving the world (Wizardry and Ultima IV come to mind).  Still though, I would think writing an RPG plotline would be inherently limiting.
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Eusis
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« Reply #47 on: March 26, 2006, 07:03:27 PM »

The only series that I can think of that doesn't constantly use the 'let's save the world!' plot is the Suikoden series, and even then that introduced those threads in 3. Nevertheless, I think Suikoden's the series that could potentially have the biggest impact from such a thing; the world is far more fleshed out than any RPG I can think of except for maybe the Elder Scrolls (licensed universes like D&D and Star Wars excluded), and combined with having spent so much time in the world and not dealing with world ending crisises beforehand, could make the impact of such a story that much stronger.

I don't think it's inherently the leveling up system that harms it, but just the overall design of most RPGs that would clash with something focusing on something like catching a criminal. I imagine the battle/exploration systems could be tweaked to work better for that type of game, and perhaps a focus more on exploration/investigation/talking to people... Actually, that'd just make it a graphic adventure with an RPG battle system. Or Shenmue with an RPG battle system.

And seeing Gast's bit with the ages... That's what's bugging me. I'd figure more RPGs would at least have young adults, but... Meh, maybe no one above 18 has enough free time to bother with any but the most popular RPGs anyway. :P
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Bogatyr
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« Reply #48 on: March 26, 2006, 07:13:38 PM »

I played FFVIII many years ago, but I remember thinking Squall/Rinoa romance was dreadly horrid.
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Cauton
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« Reply #49 on: March 27, 2006, 02:38:50 AM »

Quote from: "James8BitStar"
Well okay, yea that was probably a bad example, since there are RPGs that don't involve saving the world (Wizardry and Ultima IV come to mind). Still though, I would think writing an RPG plotline would be inherently limiting..


There's Planescape: Torment, too. I was going to mention it in the "Thought provoking RPGs thread" when someone said that all RPGs need to have an armed conflict at their center, but I never got around ot it.

Planescape is bascially the rebuttal to all these claims that RPG stories are limited by their nature. In Planescape: Torment you don't save the world, and while there is a villain of sorts in the game, it's not the "Destroy all creation" type of villain. It's still most certainly a RPG though. You complete quests, level up and all that shit, but you don't necessarily have to do it through combat. With the right stats you can solve more or less everything in the game using your wits, rather than brute strength.

Not to mention that the game's writing is a work of art. I remember reading somewhere that the game's got as much text as one volume of Encyclopedia Britannica, and it's all increadibly well written. Also, much of the storytelling is actually done through the gameplay. As you do and complete quests you learn more about the story and the world you playing in, as well as about the other members in your party.

Unfortunently it doesn't seem like this is the kind of RPG that the general public wants. Planescape: Torment sold increadibly bad (the hideous box art might've had something to do with it as well), and as a reusult not very many of this type of game are made. I recommend that all you who claim that RPGs story have to be written in a certain way go out and find a copy of the game in your local game store's budget bin, and be proven wrong.

Sorry for rambling and going a bit off-topic, I probably shouldn't post this early in the mornings.
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Eusis
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« Reply #50 on: March 27, 2006, 03:49:08 AM »

See, Planescape Torment is an example of tweaking the engine a bit to work for a different type of story. In fact, I think the new Devil Summoner game's supposed to be similar in that regard to changing the formula a bit to work for something that isn't the norm.

Edit: Actually, on second thought Torment isn't as big a depature as I suspect Devil Summoner will be - It's the same gameplay as Baldur's Gate, except they scripted it so that you didn't /have/ to constantly fight.
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« Reply #51 on: March 27, 2006, 05:31:48 AM »

Quote from: "Robert Boyd"



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.



I guess I have to be the spoiler for you in that I immesely enjoy both Grandia and Xenosaga. In fact, I like Xenosaga a bit more, because of the storyline. Granted, I only got to play Grandia at work, and much of that was interrupted by helping customers, but I liked the battle system a lot and hoped to rent it tonight. Alas, my store had no copies in stock (but they had Grandia XTreme and Marvel vs. Capcom, which confused me). To make things even more complicated, I actually kinda like Xenosaga's battle system as well (although part II is very disappointing, which is alleviated by the fact that it only cost me 15 bucks), although I will admit that Grandia is a lot more fun.
The thing is, why Xenosaga is a purchase for me and Grandia III is a rental is that story really is why I play the games that I do. It's a lot like my take on next-gen graphics. Eventually, you are going to get used to the graphics and take them for granted. They aren't going to suddenly get better later in the game (although the art direction may become more appealing), and the battle system won't change halfway through. It's fine if the battle system is fun, but what am I working toward? If the plot is lame or essentially non-existant, then I am simply going through the motions and it becomes work, or more like a Mario game. For me, it doesn't matter if Grandia has a fun, innovative battle system. if it just starts to feel like button-mashing towards no real goal, then all it is is a button-masher, and with the exception of Soul Calibur III, I have no interest in button mashers. This may explain why my game collection is so small. If I have to spend 50 dollars on a game, it better be something that keeps me riveted. As weird as it is to hear, Xenosaga does that for me, as does Shin Megami Tensei (IMO, the king of balanced story and gameplay). Hell, I even enjoyed Star Ocean's story, and love it's combat as well.
I'm done rambling for now, it's much too late.
BTW, Xenosaga is a rare game in that I like every single character. Star Ocean had me loathing Albel and Roger and feeling complete apathy for Mirage, and Digital Devil Saga gave me Bat to despise (not a villain I hate for the sake of his evil, but one who was incredibly annoying). In contrast, although I only played Grandia III for a little while, I found Yuki to be the typical wannabe-hero pubescent doofus. I don't feel that for Shion, chaos, or Jr. Or even MOMO.
Different strokes, as they say.
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blackthirteen
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« Reply #52 on: March 27, 2006, 05:47:41 AM »

Quote from: "James8BitStar"

Are Storylines Really So Important?


It depends of the game in question and the aspiration of the developers behind it. If the game is intended to be story-driven then the storyline is crucial. What makes the Xenosaga series particularly great is the plot. The same with the Shadow Hearts series (although FtNW lacked with this aspect) or the Final Fantasy series.

But some other RPGs succeeded to be outstanding even without a plot. A very good example is Dragon Quest VIII. The major feature of that game is the rich atmosphere.
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Robert Boyd
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« Reply #53 on: March 27, 2006, 08:44:02 AM »

Rambling on.

I fail to see how something like Grandia 3 could be considered a button masher seeing as how it's turn based and just spamming the same attack over and over isn't going to get you far.  Tales of Symphonia?  Sure.  Grandia 3?  Nope.

Moreover, if a game is really fun to play, it doesn't need a story.  Does a game like Civilization have a story?  Not really; it's still one of my favorite games.  People love the Mario games despite the fact that the story rarely gets more advanced than rescuing the princess.  Tetris and other puzzle games like Bejewelled remain highly popular despite their absence of stories.

I have run across the "Gameplay doesn't change and so I eventually get bored of it" problem.  Magna Carta is an excellent example.  At first, I loved the game: it had several interesting systems with a decent amount of depth.  However, by around the 15-20 hour mark, I felt like I had mastered the game's systems and things started to really drag.  On the other hand, with Grandia 3, I'm yet to run into this problem.  Some features of the gameplay like skill & spell extraction and mana egg combining don't show up until later.  Moreover, skills steadily become more and more important as the game goes on as you find more impressive skills & gain enhanced skill books.  As an example of how this changes things around, I'm about 2/3s of the way through the game and I just discovered a skill that doubles item power when maxed out.  Because of that skill, I've gone from virtually ignoring items to having explosives figure prominently in my battle strategies.

Quote
As weird as it is to hear, Xenosaga does that for me, as does Shin Megami Tensei (IMO, the king of balanced story and gameplay).


Shin Megami Tensei is firmly in the gameplay first category.  For every minute of story you get in a Megaten game, you're guaranteed at least a couple hours worth of gameplay.  Admittedly, what story you do get is really good, but the story is mostly just a bonus added on to the gameplay experience.

Planescape is indeed one of the few RPGs with a truly great story.  Unfortunately, I can't stand the combat (I hate all the randomness involved in D&D style games).  Otherwise, it's a great game.

Rambling off.
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Ashton
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« Reply #54 on: March 27, 2006, 09:28:17 AM »

Quote from: "KeeperX"
Come ON Ashton, just come out and say it.

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Dincrest
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« Reply #55 on: March 27, 2006, 01:33:53 PM »

Cauton- with any "rule" there are always exceptions.  For example, I like how in the Megami Tensei games, you can often talk your way out of battles.  I've yet to play Planetscape Torment, but people have told me I'd love it.  I've heard it said that it's an RPG with a lot of graphic adventure game qualities, what with figuring out how best to handle situations/enigmas with your skillset.  

Still, I've not played a Japanese console RPG where interactive combat was not part of the formula.  And as such, I think that the necessity of interactive combat can limit the kinds of storylines an RPG can tell.  On the other hand, graphic adventures often lack interactive combat so that can limit their storylines as well.  

This has been a very cool topic.  I think all of us can agree that each component of an RPG is important in its own way.  Like with the human body, is my foot any more important than my neck?
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« Reply #56 on: March 27, 2006, 02:39:33 PM »

Quote from: "Robert Boyd"
Rambling on.

I fail to see how something like Grandia 3 could be considered a button masher seeing as how it's turn based and just spamming the same attack over and over isn't going to get you far.  Tales of Symphonia?  Sure.  Grandia 3?  Nope.

Moreover, if a game is really fun to play, it doesn't need a story.  Does a game like Civilization have a story?  Not really; it's still one of my favorite games.  People love the Mario games despite the fact that the story rarely gets more advanced than rescuing the princess.  Tetris and other puzzle games like Bejewelled remain highly popular despite their absence of stories.

I have run across the "Gameplay doesn't change and so I eventually get bored of it" problem.  Magna Carta is an excellent example.  At first, I loved the game: it had several interesting systems with a decent amount of depth.  However, by around the 15-20 hour mark, I felt like I had mastered the game's systems and things started to really drag.  On the other hand, with Grandia 3, I'm yet to run into this problem.  Some features of the gameplay like skill & spell extraction and mana egg combining don't show up until later.  Moreover, skills steadily become more and more important as the game goes on as you find more impressive skills & gain enhanced skill books.  As an example of how this changes things around, I'm about 2/3s of the way through the game and I just discovered a skill that doubles item power when maxed out.  Because of that skill, I've gone from virtually ignoring items to having explosives figure prominently in my battle strategies.

Quote
As weird as it is to hear, Xenosaga does that for me, as does Shin Megami Tensei (IMO, the king of balanced story and gameplay).


Shin Megami Tensei is firmly in the gameplay first category.  For every minute of story you get in a Megaten game, you're guaranteed at least a couple hours worth of gameplay.  Admittedly, what story you do get is really good, but the story is mostly just a bonus added on to the gameplay experience.

Planescape is indeed one of the few RPGs with a truly great story.  Unfortunately, I can't stand the combat (I hate all the randomness involved in D&D style games).  Otherwise, it's a great game.

Rambling off.


just wanted to add that if you try to button mash on the higher difficulties of ToS you will fail horribly

also reading this thread got me to thinking that a "Eternal Darkness" style rpg would be awesome. and by this im not referring to the theme of the game but how the game plays out through generations. with most of the characters playing small roles in the greater struggle.
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« Reply #57 on: March 27, 2006, 02:57:42 PM »

I don't believe that very much attention is given to the story by most developers. When filmmakers were perfecting the art of film and then sound to accompany it, they were more focused on taking advantage of these new technologies than making sure the story they told, if one were present, was of high quality. There were good plotlines, sure, but it took a while before it went from the story tagging along for support to the picture and sound being only tools.

Let me change that a little. I don't wanna say I think game developers just kind of throw a story together, because there are several cases in which stories do seem well-thought out, cohesive, and immersive, but I do believe that the best example we have today will seem like Cat in the Hat in another decade.

An example from the first post, the differences between BoF and DW, was perfect in pointing out the greatest joy I get from RPGs, as well as what I believe is their greatest attribute: decision making, problem solving, and resource management.
 
......I saw a program on the history channel where clips from Tomb Raider were used to help describe the myth of the dangers in tomb-searching; they were talking about egyptian pyramids. More quickly, now, videogames are becoming a household tool in all types of media and more energy is going into making all aspects of it high-quality. As the demographic gets larger and expectations get more demanding as a result of the larger and more mature consumer base, we will see storylines that elicit the type of nation-wide OMFG that movies like The 6th Sense enjoyed.
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« Reply #58 on: March 27, 2006, 03:09:55 PM »

Quote from: "Alisha"
just wanted to add that if you try to button mash on the higher difficulties of ToS you will fail horribly

also reading this thread got me to thinking that a "Eternal Darkness" style rpg would be awesome. and by this im not referring to the theme of the game but how the game plays out through generations. with most of the characters playing small roles in the greater struggle.


Have you ever played Phantasy Star 3? This is an RPG that is played out through 3 or 4 generations as by there are some points in the story when your current main character has to choose a mate and then they marry and have children - and the game takes off again and you control the children and you have a brand new party in each generation (with the exception of your loyal android who accompanies you through each generation). This is one of the gems from my childhood because I loved the different concept presented to me at the time and I always begged my sister to rent it for me so I could try to play all of the different stories and outcomes.

I havnt played Eternal Darkness - so im not exactly sure how the game mechanics play out, but I think Phantasy Star 3 would be a good match from what you mentioned about it.
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« Reply #59 on: March 27, 2006, 03:46:47 PM »

Quote from: "Dincrest"
Cauton- with any "rule" there are always exceptions.  For example, I like how in the Megami Tensei games, you can often talk your way out of battles.  I've yet to play Planetscape Torment, but people have told me I'd love it.  I've heard it said that it's an RPG with a lot of graphic adventure game qualities, what with figuring out how best to handle situations/enigmas with your skillset.


I certainly do not dispute the fact that most RPGs are very combat heavy, and that the plotlines in the games reflect this. I just wanted to point out that it is possible to tell other types of stories than "plucky group of heroes saves the world" within the confines of a RPG game. It doesn't happen very frequently though, and hardly ever when it comes to console RPGs.
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