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Author Topic: RPG Gameplay  (Read 2396 times)
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« on: April 23, 2006, 08:22:47 AM »

Hey, another thing I wanted to get off my chest and out of my head because it disrupts me from following the path of the Avatar.  In a lot of RPG debates I read, including ones on this board, where I keep hearing two POVs constantly stated:  One being "All RPGs play basically the same" and the other being "the Combat system is the extent of an RPG's gameplay."

I don't quite agree with this personally.  To me there's a lot of aspects of RPGs that make up the gameplay, from simple exploration (are the dungeons short and straightforeward or are they long and elaborate?  Is the game world designed in a linear fashion or is there room for exploration?) to things like shopping prices.

As I pointed out in another topic, both Breath of Fire and Dragon Warrior II have essentially similar combat systems, yet as games nothing will make me say they're anything alike other than that.  One practically hands you victory with easy, cheap upgrades and powerful items and magic that basically make combats a beatdown fest, and in the other you're always struggling to maintain the latest gear and have to manage your resources very carefully due to less inventory space.

Then there's magic.  I've seen everything from RPGs where Magic is a useful accessory for exploration but serves no combat purpose, to RPGs where magic is all focused on combat and is basically useless for anything else.  And of course, the dreaded uncreative type where every spell in the game is either a healing spell or a Direct Damage to HP spell with very few other types.

Now as for all RPGs being the same.... well, no offense to anyone, but in my opinion that's just blatantly untrue.

The way I look at it is:  The only way you can say two games are the same, is if the strategies you used to beat one apply just as well to the other.  Ninja Gaiden 1 and 2, for example.  Sure, the second introduces new techniques, but in general the same skills and techniques that helped you complete Ninja Gaiden 1 will work just as well in Ninja Gaiden 2.

With RPGs, I rarely ever find myself using similar techniques to complete the game, either because different spells or available or because of the item setup or because of the expense of items, or even a simple thing like how the statistics, weapons, and armor are programmed.

I mean, take an RPG where you're only allowed one healing potion per person and none (or few) of the available spells work well in combat and compare it to an RPG where you're allowed to carry 1000 healing potions and spells are nothing but combat, and say you would apply the exact same tactics to both.

I hope I'm not coming off as too confrontative.  If I am, it's because it's early morning and I was unable to sleep last night.  Please excuse me.

Anyway, I'm done.
Professor Gast
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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2006, 10:26:29 AM »

The question whether all RPGs are the same comes down to a few simple questions and your individual answers to them: 1. How do you define the RPG genre and what games are you counting as RPGs and 2. how broad or general is your perspective? That question however does not only apply to the RPG genre, you can ask the same thing about sports games, racing games or action games. And I would dare to say there are some genres that are far more repititive than the RPG genre, for better or worse.

As for that question posed above, you can always generalize things in such an extreme fashion that they all look the same. Then, if you zoom in on things, you will have to differ between turn-based RPGs, action RPGs and stategy RPGs. In case of each of those subgenres you will have a few genre conventions that few developers are willing and able to change.

Somebody with a more general perspective might tell you all turn-based battle systems do work in the same way. And in a sense, he or she is definitely right. Then again, if you look at the details, you bet there is a difference in how much freedom a game gives you in terms of equipping your characters with magic spells, weapons, etc., which type of attacks are at your disposal and among them which is generally the most efficient one? I mean just look at Final Fantasy VII, VIII and X. All developed by the same development team, all turn-based, all featuring random encounters and summons. Needless to say, when it comes to winning battles, there are differences of course. In Final Fantasy VII it does not matter which character you equip with a certain summon. Once you select a summon from your menu, it will appear and attack. In Final Fantasy VIII, it did matter a great deal, because of the Guardian Forces' compatibility. If it took forever for the Guardian Force to get moving, because its compability was low, the enemy has lots of time to attack and deplete the Guardian Force's HP. Sure, both are summons, yet your strategy in using them effectively will most likely differ.
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2006, 03:26:08 PM »

I'm going to comment on RPG Battle Systems in this post.

I think Game Company's espically those that specialize in RPGs are moving more away from your traditional you hit me I hit you battle system.  For example Wild Arms 4 made a huge jump in the Battle System department, even though the game suffered in other aspects it was the battle system that made the game very very enjoyable. The battle system in WA4 allowed for alot more strategy, then in it's predessors.

Another game seriers that comes to mind is the Tales Series from Namco. (One of my favorite series by far.)  For years they have been inventing and reinventing that magnificant battle system of there's it makes every battle loads of fun!

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