The RPG formula: is it really necessary anymore?

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The RPG formula: is it really necessary anymore?

Postby SoulEaterQUEEN » Thu Nov 12, 2015 5:10 pm

So I see a lot of JRPG lovers out there, but a lot of Western ones as well. These are simply just labels for rpg games that have inclusion of different concepts. The general consensus that I keep hearing is that for jrpgs, the Japanese love their story telling, and their character cast to be small but personable. Freedom is more restricted, and the obvious japanese culture is embedded somewhere usually. On the other hand, we have the Western outlook, exploration - make your own story - and absolute freedom to do what you want, and meet whom you want (decide if they are important or not in your own story), too much structure is discouraged.

Now, all these aspects seem to hold some bias for gamers on whether the western formula and the japanese appeals to you more (even before the game releases), and this causes any experimental anomalies to be criticized. I am curious to hear if any of you think this constructed formula, and even the bias, is actually destructive to this genre? What's wrong with playing a japanese developed game with japanese elements but with absolute freedom to whatever the heck you want. Or if you have want a western setting game, but with more of a personable told story? I like elements found in both sub genres, but I don't get why people are so obsessed with sticking to one or the other, or that mixing the two is some degradation of both labels.

Personally I think these so called full on japanese rpgs are getting too rigid in gameplay, but too whacked out with their stories - afraid to explore too much on the dark side. But the full on western games, example, skyrim, are fun for the first couple days maybe weeks but then these side and story quests start getting meaningless - I am only then playing it for the gameplay value, since I don't really care about the main quest (oh yes, I am one person in like 100k people in the world who has a special ability - not like I haven't heard that one before in other games). Why can't we just get a game with a deep story (that isn't afraid to be edgy), with some freedom, and includes whatever setting it wants?


I tried making this to become an open discussion but somehow came out more of a rant - oops! But I'd like to hear any thoughts about this.

EDIT: I might make it seem like I hate RPGs now. I don't. I like both western style and japanese. I agree that some of my favourite stories have came from Japanese games where the most deep philosophical, and thought-provoking were japanese games. I even played some edgier japanese games. I do play my games for story, but I feel like the newer these games come, the worst it is getting. I feel like the japanese games are becoming more childish, and all about rainbow butterflies and friendship themes are just not doing it for me anymore as an adult. The turn based combat is really boring, and I have a hard time playing those retro games where I watch the tiny sprite on the screen lunge their weapons in thin air.
Then the western type games I play are addictive because all you ever want to do explore the world, and try out the combat/skills. But then your realize the adventuring is pretty lone-some, and the gameplay can become too hack and slash or perpetual skill mashing, and you are really seeing a lot of same landscapes over and over again. Now every game strives to be open world, and soon there will only be so much variation of city types, and areas (how many times have I seen a forest, and a desert area -- too many).

I really think games should head in a new direction in some way, and get away from all these re-used elements.
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Re: The RPG formula: is it really necessary anymore?

Postby nate » Thu Nov 12, 2015 7:27 pm

I like tight, story driven RPGs with enough customization to not get boring but not so much that I have to think about it more than once per character level. Don't give me 800 damn weapons. I don't want to micromanage my weapons after every battle. Don't give me 800 BS sidequests. I don't care about the filler lore. Don't give me 800 damned areas to explore. I don't care about uncovering yet another corner with a rock and a tree.
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Re: The RPG formula: is it really necessary anymore?

Postby Kazriko » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:16 pm

nate wrote:I like tight, story driven RPGs with enough customization to not get boring but not so much that I have to think about it more than once per character level. Don't give me 800 damn weapons. I don't want to micromanage my weapons after every battle. Don't give me 800 BS sidequests. I don't care about the filler lore. Don't give me 800 damned areas to explore. I don't care about uncovering yet another corner with a rock and a tree.


Sometimes though I do want a game where I have 800 side quests. I know I've brought this up frequently, but Fantasy Life and Final Fantasy 14: ARR are games I play because I just want to get lost for a few hours in some menial sidequesting while I multitask on something else.

I don't mind having 800 weapons, as long as they're different enough and not just gradual increases in power for the exact same thing. Make them have tradeoffs.

I also don't mind huge maps, as long as they're different enough and there's something interesting to find in them. Completely barren huge maps are a problem. Maps that are mirrored and have a lot of the same terrain copy and pasted are a problem.


SoulEaterQUEEN wrote:So I see a lot of JRPG lovers out there, but a lot of Western ones as well. These are simply just labels for rpg games that have inclusion of different concepts. The general consensus that I keep hearing is that for jrpgs, the Japanese love their story telling, and their character cast to be small but personable. Freedom is more restricted, and the obvious japanese culture is embedded somewhere usually. On the other hand, we have the Western outlook, exploration - make your own story - and absolute freedom to do what you want, and meet whom you want (decide if they are important or not in your own story), too much structure is discouraged.

Now, all these aspects seem to hold some bias for gamers on whether the western formula and the japanese appeals to you more (even before the game releases), and this causes any experimental anomalies to be criticized. I am curious to hear if any of you think this constructed formula, and even the bias, is actually destructive to this genre? What's wrong with playing a japanese developed game with japanese elements but with absolute freedom to whatever the heck you want. Or if you have want a western setting game, but with more of a personable told story? I like elements found in both sub genres, but I don't get why people are so obsessed with sticking to one or the other, or that mixing the two is some degradation of both labels.

Personally I think these so called full on japanese rpgs are getting too rigid in gameplay, but too whacked out with their stories - afraid to explore too much on the dark side. But the full on western games, example, skyrim, are fun for the first couple days maybe weeks but then these side and story quests start getting meaningless - I am only then playing it for the gameplay value, since I don't really care about the main quest (oh yes, I am one person in like 100k people in the world who has a special ability - not like I haven't heard that one before in other games). Why can't we just get a game with a deep story (that isn't afraid to be edgy), with some freedom, and includes whatever setting it wants?


I tried making this to become an open discussion but somehow came out more of a rant - oops! But I'd like to hear any thoughts about this.

EDIT: I might make it seem like I hate RPGs now. I don't. I like both western style and japanese. I agree that some of my favourite stories have came from Japanese games where the most deep philosophical, and thought-provoking were japanese games. I even played some edgier japanese games. I do play my games for story, but I feel like the newer these games come, the worst it is getting. I feel like the japanese games are becoming more childish, and all about rainbow butterflies and friendship themes are just not doing it for me anymore as an adult. The turn based combat is really boring, and I have a hard time playing those retro games where I watch the tiny sprite on the screen lunge their weapons in thin air.
Then the western type games I play are addictive because all you ever want to do explore the world, and try out the combat/skills. But then your realize the adventuring is pretty lone-some, and the gameplay can become too hack and slash or perpetual skill mashing, and you are really seeing a lot of same landscapes over and over again. Now every game strives to be open world, and soon there will only be so much variation of city types, and areas (how many times have I seen a forest, and a desert area -- too many).

I really think games should head in a new direction in some way, and get away from all these re-used elements.


It really depends on my mood. Sometime I feel like an action rpg, sometimes I feel like chilling out with a turn based game. Sometimes I want a hybrid of the two. If I'm watching TV, turn based games are the absolute best. I can shift my attention back and forth and I don't have to stay focused on the game. This is why I prefer turn based strategy and turn based 4x games to the realtime ones. The big thing that annoys me about western games is less that it's all hack-slash, but that you only have a single character that you're directly controlling. I greatly prefer having a whole party where the strategy can be based on the mix of different characters actions meshing just right to achieve the optimal result.

The rainbows and butterflies thing is also a matter of taste. You can have black and white games, most JRPGs tend to fall into this camp where the villains are well defined. You can have black and grey, or even grey and grey scenarios. Fantasy Life is more of a dingy off-white and white sort of game, and I love it for that. Sometimes if I don't feel like moral quandaries I'll play one of those black and white games just to turn off that part of my brain.

You have to remember though about Japanese games... Their culture is a bit flipped from ours. In our culture, gaming has become an activity for all ages, and most gamers are older, while Comics are considered a childish hobby that only fat pimply nerds get into when they're adults. In Japan, gaming is a hobby for children and teenagers and the only adults that play games are considered NEETs, Hikkikomori, or Otaku, still living with their parents or having their entire lifestyle paid for by their parents in some way. On the other hand, Manga and comics are considered something that everyone, adults, children, etc can be into without the social stigma.

So if you think about the US comic book scene as of a few years ago (before the big influx of big ticket box office comic movies,) you can see how the Japanese consider gaming. That's why you generally get games that are either black and white, or rainbows, friendship and butterflies. (Or games that are made for Otakus like Dungeon Traveler 2, Criminal Girls, or Conception.)

(I recommend the TV series "Welcome to the N.H.K." and "Eden of the East" if you are interested in that sort of cultural divide. There's others too, but I haven't watched them yet.)
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Re: The RPG formula: is it really necessary anymore?

Postby rwburnham » Fri Nov 13, 2015 11:07 am

I love RPGs with turn-based combat. I like a good story in an RPG, but for me combat is the focus. The story is just a way to carry me from battle to battle. Exploration is kind of fun, but mostly I just want to fight. When I fight, I want tactics, equipment, patience and stats to matter most. Give me an old-fashioned RPG like any of the Dragon Quest games or something modern like Wasteland 2 (which has some of the best combat in recent years) and I am a happy guy.

I can put up with some action elements, like the Final Fantasy Active Time Battle system or Pillars of Eternity’s combat system that allows pausing to issue orders. However, if a game depends more on my reflexes than my characters’ stats and equipment, I get annoyed. The recent South Park RPG is a good example of a game that is too dependent on reflexes. I still finished the game, but I had hoped for a more traditional turn-based style of combat, like what we saw in early Final Fantasy games.

One problem I have with the RPG genre is the name. Too often we use words or terms without really thinking about what they mean, and “role-playing game” is one of those terms. Anytime you play a video game, you are playing a role. When you play Super Mario Bros. you are playing the role of a plumber lost in a weird cracked-out world of mushrooms, turtles, and pipes. When you play Dragon Warrior, you are playing the role of a heroic knight on a quest.

The term “role-playing game” is too generic and vague to really tell you what sort of game it is. Generally we associate it with table-top Dungeons and Dragons games because you build a detailed character, complete with his or her own personality that the player made up. However, an RPG is comprised of many other elements. In a typical classic D&D game you go on quests, you kill monsters via turn-based tactical combat, you collect treasure, and you level up your characters. If you wanted to accurately categorize a game of D&D, you would have to call it a turn-based combat, character-building, treasure-hunting, fantasy adventure game. Accurate, but quite a mouthful. Hence the generic label of “RPG.”

Perhaps the problem with the genre as a whole is that it’s been mislabeled from the start. I blame Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. :roll:
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Re: The RPG formula: is it really necessary anymore?

Postby Kazriko » Fri Nov 13, 2015 2:03 pm

rwburnham wrote:Perhaps the problem with the genre as a whole is that it’s been mislabeled from the start. I blame Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. :roll:


Yeah, because of D&D the genre got a bit confusing. It started out as a small-scale strategy game, and turned into a improv drama and character interaction. Most Computer RPGs kept going with the small scale strategy, a few went with the improv drama and character interaction and the whole genre sort of split.
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Re: The RPG formula: is it really necessary anymore?

Postby TSL » Sun Nov 22, 2015 1:56 pm

Epic topic!!!

I find it very interesting that some of the most popular games in these genres mesh what's great about the other.

As much as I really don't like the gameplay, Mass Effect games blend a succinct story with some limited freedom. Fallout 4 also takes a more Japanese approach by giving you tons of customization but NOT limiting your ability to enjoy it with bogus level caps.

Tales of Vesperia on the Japanese side gives the player tons of freedom to explore thus allowing them to come back to the concise storyline at the leisure.

I've always advocated for a meshing together of both schools of thought. Give me ultimate freedom, but don't pull a Skyrim and give me no reason to use the freedom. Give me a great story, but don't be so married to it that you force me to go through it to progress my character when I'd rather be out adventuring (Witcher 3). And for the love of God, please give me the artstyle that Japanese games do so well.

8-)
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Re: The RPG formula: is it really necessary anymore?

Postby nate » Sun Nov 22, 2015 3:22 pm

I'd rather play DnD ANY day of the week over any of these modern RPGs. If I'm playing a video game, I want a cool looking world and straight forward combat with a neat story. These games that dump customization and interaction on me are nothing like DnD. The whole fun of that game is playing with others and improvising on the fly.
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Re: The RPG formula: is it really necessary anymore?

Postby SoulEaterQUEEN » Tue Nov 24, 2015 6:45 pm

nate wrote:I'd rather play DnD ANY day of the week over any of these modern RPGs. If I'm playing a video game, I want a cool looking world and straight forward combat with a neat story. These games that dump customization and interaction on me are nothing like DnD. The whole fun of that game is playing with others and improvising on the fly.


Now you bring the idea of table top gaming. I actually never had the chance to ever play DnD, simply because the people I know don't ever want to commit (or even try) to that level of deepness. I am actually pushing really hard to play pathfinders, and I find it interesting that the story can be as deep as you want it to be based on who you are playing with.
I think the issue is that sometimes that it takes a lot of effort from everyone's part to make it an enjoyable experience, hence why I think I have a better time playing 1 player games. At that point it up to me and the developer really - what I like, and what the developer has given me.
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Re: The RPG formula: is it really necessary anymore?

Postby SoulEaterQUEEN » Sun Dec 13, 2015 3:59 pm

So I am not trying to double post here, but basically now that Xenoblade Chronicles came out. I find it hilarious because people might say "Oh JRPG" because of the anime-esque art style they really went for. But does it really have those so called "jrpg" components people come up with? Not really... It's a pretty vast game that apparently has a weak narrative because you get to do whatever the heck you want to do. At least this is what reviewers are pointing out. I have yet to play this game. If the Japs really pride themselves for writing tightly locked narrative focused games, well this game might've just broke that expectation. Hah.
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Re: The RPG formula: is it really necessary anymore?

Postby Kazriko » Sun Dec 20, 2015 2:00 pm

SoulEaterQUEEN wrote:So I am not trying to double post here, but basically now that Xenoblade Chronicles came out. I find it hilarious because people might say "Oh JRPG" because of the anime-esque art style they really went for. But does it really have those so called "jrpg" components people come up with? Not really... It's a pretty vast game that apparently has a weak narrative because you get to do whatever the heck you want to do. At least this is what reviewers are pointing out. I have yet to play this game. If the Japs really pride themselves for writing tightly locked narrative focused games, well this game might've just broke that expectation. Hah.


I'm not thinking JRPG at all. Have you seen the interviews with the creators? They essentially made this game for the US audience.

Of course, that means that coming right off Fallout 4 may not be the best time to play it. I'm going to finish a few other small things then dive in. Currently working on Pathpix Xmas, Trails in the Sky FC New Game+, and Among the Sleep.
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