Arr Pee Gee

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I rather reserve the term RPG for games, where the actual RolePlaying matters.

In titles like Diablo or Torchlight, those were just sets of skills and no impact on the Storytelling part, it didn't matter what you do as long as smash things, the plot was only a background and excuse to go further down, so personaly no matter how i enjoyed it, i will never accept Diablo as a classic RPG.

When it comes to productions like Baldurs Gate, Planescape, Fallout, TES, ME and such likes, there is much bigger focus on actual story and how your character behaves in it, you actually have at least minimal impact on the whole the plot is driven by how you approach the story. Sure it is still far far away from traditional Pen and Paper experience, but at least offers something more than just stats.

Character advancement is the least important part of the Roleplaying for me, and even most of my PnP games rarely went above starting levels (in DnD campaigns i think my highest ever was 10th level). Story focus is what makes it or breaks it for me.

I think it would be easier to rate the intensity of gameplay elements rather than classify things by genre.

Is there a character growth, does this growth involve discrete level progression, a skill based leveling system, stat progression, or a combination? Is there inventory management, if so are there numerical weight limits, tetris style limits, or both? Are there exploration elements beyond completion of the main story? Is there random loot and if so how does the game keep the first "dungeon" from being exactly like that last dungeon. Do your choices affect gameplay beyond which weapons you are best at using? Example, in Baldurs Gate your class determined how you handled combat and your companions and dialog choices changed a lot of the story, or at least unlocked different information between play throughs.

For some examples from NES Mega Man has has character growth because end game mega man has the powers of 8 robots. There is some exploration because the player has to figure out the best order in which to do the bosses. In Zelda your character growth is tied to story progression(weapons, gear, hearts) and exploration can increase the progression level after certain story points are completed. In Final Fantasy 1 the player has a choice of classes each with numeric stats, each party member gains levels and stat numbers but the player doesn't make any choices about how to assign those stats. The main player choices come in which gear to buy first to optimize story progression.

More Fun To Compute:
Is it Ambrose Bierce time?

The best two categories for games are action game and strategy game. Not much use for pinning down what an RPG is but you can split RPGs into two groups.

1. Action games with a good excuse for being bad action games.
2. Strategy games with a good excuse for being sucky, broken strategy games.

These two definitions cover pretty much all video games that feel the need to call themselves RPGs.

This made me smile.
Fans of the genre will put up with so much more crap than any other gamer it's funny.

Okay... so this got me to sign up for an account.

First, cRPGs are not Table-top RPGs, and (currently) we can't expect them to be. So any direct comparison isn't that useful, I think.

I'd split cRPGs into these four categories:

Hack'n'slash: Lightweight story there to support the combat focused gameplay (rather like most FPSs). Emphasises the gear and levelling side to TT RPGs. Diablo, Torchlight etc

Story-driven (fixed character): The persona you play is fixed (either completely or to a limited extent e.g. background). This can give you a stronger place in the narrative for your character, but limits your choices. FF games, Mass Effect (since Shepard is always Earth Alliance Military), Deus Ex

Story-driven (open character): The story is fixed, and linear to an extent, but you can play any character you like. However, the story is the focus of the game, and there will be little to no random exploration. Dragon Age, Planescape

Open-world: Any character can be played, and there is little limit to where you can go in the gameworld. There will be a main plot, but it can be ignored. Morrowind, Fallout 3

Stormkitten:
Okay... so this got me to sign up for an account.

First, cRPGs are not Table-top RPGs, and (currently) we can't expect them to be. So any direct comparison isn't that useful, I think.

I'd split cRPGs into these four categories:

Hack'n'slash: Lightweight story there to support the combat focused gameplay (rather like most FPSs). Emphasises the gear and levelling side to TT RPGs. Diablo, Torchlight etc

Story-driven (fixed character): The persona you play is fixed (either completely or to a limited extent e.g. background). This can give you a stronger place in the narrative for your character, but limits your choices. FF games, Mass Effect (since Shepard is always Earth Alliance Military), Deus Ex

Story-driven (open character): The story is fixed, and linear to an extent, but you can play any character you like. However, the story is the focus of the game, and there will be little to no random exploration. Dragon Age, Planescape

Open-world: Any character can be played, and there is little limit to where you can go in the gameworld. There will be a main plot, but it can be ignored. Morrowind, Fallout 3

Welcome to the Escapist!

I'd put ME2 and FO3 in the same RPshooter genre, along with DX and VTM:B.
Chances are if somebody hates shooting, he or she won't like any of these.

I don't see much value in having seperate genres for fixed pcs and open pcs. It doesn't matter to me aslong as the character isn't a complete git (more an issue of quality).

For Hack&slash it could be useful to separate the TPLs (diablo-clones) from the turn-based dungeoncrawls, such as roguelikes and goldbox games.
Fans of the latter tend to dislike the former.

I suppose RPG is easier to put on a label than:

PDSG -Player Driven Story Game (Dragon Age)

EBFWG - Exploration Based Free World Game (Elder Scrolls, Fallout)

GBA&CG - Guns Blazing Action and Conversation Game (Mass Effect)

RPG just tends to cover anything with the slightest bit of adjustablity.

How about, "Giant Waste of Time"?

Just kidding. Some classification along those lines would stop me from getting into an 100-hour RPG, though. Why do some RPGs think that more time spent instantly equals better quality game? I hate seeing that on the box, (200+ hr epic RPG)

Role playing games are something I considerer to be mass effect-y. You can make a character, choose his skills, his equipment. But all that takes a back seat to the story, which gets affected by decisions the player makes.

I mean, if you gain characters trust that affects if they live or die, as do your choices in what they do. If they die in the story they're gone, and won't be in the next game either. Actions branch out and have effects you have no idea that'd happen. Its marvellous. More games should do it.

MMO: Grindin'
Wii games: Wagglin'
Bioware games: Talkin'
Bethesda games: Walkin'
DMC and GoW: Hackin' n' Slashin'

I've said before that I believe Role-Playing Games are simply defined by the fact that things are resolved based on character attributes rather than your own paticular abillities.

Plot, storyline, and other things being more or less irrelevent, because the first RPGs really didn't have these things. The entire appeal being in the very beginning that a bunch of nerds were focusing on one guy attacking another single dude and being able to resolve it entirely by statistics and die rolls. This in comparison to wargames where battles were generally fought unit against unit.

All of the stuff about adding plotlines about why these battles were taking place and so on (which existed in Wargames) came later. Oh, soon thereafter for sure, but still later.

Stormkitten:
Okay... so this got me to sign up for an account.

First, cRPGs are not Table-top RPGs, and (currently) we can't expect them to be. So any direct comparison isn't that useful, I think.

I thought the way the article compared cRPGs and Table-top Rpgs was useful. The writer describes how cRPGs were evolved from table-top rpgs; so it makes sense that some of the aspects that define a table-top rpg can be used for crpgs.

I think the problem is that everyone has their own definition of what an RPG is. Everyone bases it off of the games that theyve played, and the only thing that really ties them together is the fact at some point there is some number-crunching involved. And even then thats vague. Also the amount of games that market "RPG elements" don't help.

I hate to say this, but I have yet to see anyone mention the way that RPGs were broken down just 10 years ago. We had the 'Western' and 'Eastern' RPGs, for those of you who haven't gotten the memo yet, 'Eastern' RPGs are more commonly known as jRPGs, and they have plummeted far from what they once were. While 'Western' ones quite literally started as computer spin-offs of AD&D ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pool_of_Radiance ). There was no difference between the cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, medieval fantasy, or traditional space sci-fi RPGs. Heck, even Diablo wasn't really even considered a RPG when it came out, it was an action game that had 'RPG elements'...sound familiar to anyone?

BlackDodongo:
I think the problem is that everyone has their own definition of what an RPG is. Everyone bases it off of the games that theyve played, and the only thing that really ties them together is the fact at some point there is some number-crunching involved. And even then thats vague. Also the amount of games that market "RPG elements" don't help.

I agree.

I don't see BioShock, as an example, as an RPG. An FPS with RPG elements, sure, but not an RPG. But I do, funnily enough, count Torchlight as an RPG. Yes, the story takes a back seat as do the social elements (such as talking to NPCs a lot), but everything else is there - Items, item enhancements, skill points, talents/abilities, quests etc. Why is it not an RPG and, say, Oblivion is?

There's no clear "guideline" for what makes an RPG, especially as it's so diverse. It's not like an FPS where the requirement is for it to involve shooting in a first person mode.

I usually enjoy Shamus' article but I found this one to be a little shallow... some good info on the origins of table top role playing games but very little said on actualy video games, apart from the genre definition being currently a mess. I though there could be another page or two added to this article.

Falseprophet:

This. I've been both a tabletop gamer and a video gamer since the early 80s. Since then, I've seen the video game industry and media consistently apply the RPG label to wholly inappropriate titles, generally because of at least one of the following:

1) A levelling-up mechanic (even though most pen & paper systems outside of D&D/d20 haven't used it since the early 80s)
2) A sword & sorcery setting or premise.

The earliest console RPGs were linear as hell: You rarely had any choice in the character(s) you played, you definitely had no control over how they improved as they levelled up. Weapon, armour and spell choice were almost completely linear: e.g., you used the Iron Sword, until you could afford the Silver Sword, then the Gold, etc. (for some reason, soft precious metals made for better weapons than steel ones). The "story" was a linked linear series of fetch quests, rarely giving you the opportunity to choose which order you would engage the quests in or how you'd pursue them. Mega Man was less linear in that regard.

The term was poorly applied from the beginning, so it's really no surprise it still is.

This begs the question though, you can say it was poorly applied from the start but how would you define those early games like the first Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, or Phantasy Star? In Japan I believe these were inspired by an early RPG-like game attempted on the PC (can't remember the name), which of course was full of shortcomings compared to real table top D&D. I don't know the real history about how it all went down, but I would take an educated guess that the inspiration for Dragon Warrior came only inderectly from D&D. The Japanese don't or didn't have D&D in their country so they had to put their own spin on it. I'm not sure if they decided to call it an "RPG" for their own audience, or if it was a decision related to marketing over seas, but either way that's the term they settled on and it stuck.

And this part can't really be argued, in Japan and Japanese culture the basic Dragon Warrior template is the base definition for RPG. There was a thriving market for these types of video games well before it became popular over here (JRPG or WRPG). Anyone who reads their manga or watches anime will see it all the time, from Love Hina to Gintama having a dragon warrior-ish "RPG" episode happens all the time. Even if it doesn't make sense to call them "RPG's" you can't really argue with how popular it became, and sometimes thats all you need for a definition to stick. And while the PC always kep it's own distinct past and table top RPG players never went away, for 3 full console generations the Japanese brand of RPG was the default standard.

In my opinion, this hole mess started when the East & West crossed paths. When Microsoft entered the console war, they brought along all the former PC developers with them. Where before you had a clear line between RPG games on PC and RPG games on consoles, now you had Morrowind, KotOR, Fable, etc going toe to toe with Final Fantasy X, Star Ocean, Xeno Saga, etc, all with the same genre name: RPG. Of course people are going to get confused, and given that it's been about 10 years now you have gamers that never knew the distinction between a CRPG and a JRPG. Personally I think neither side has a real right to claim the title, which is why as a long time fan of both I simply make the distinction by calling them 'Western' RPG's or 'Japanese' RPG's.

I looked up the definition of RPG on Wikipedia;

A role-playing game (RPG) is a broad family of games in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development.

By this definition almost ALL video games are RPG's, because that is exactly what anyone playing most video games is doing, taking responsibility for acting out roles within a narrative. For example, in Halo, you assume the role of the master chief, and guide him through the narrative, which is a process of structured decision-making (even though the decisions are made for you), so Halo is a FPS-RPG by definition. The only exceptions I can see, are games that have NO back story at all, and thus no narrative (ie, Tetris). This just goes to prove the point that game genre is essentially useless now, given that most games prominently feature several genres of gameplay in a single game.

Pretty soon titles will have aspects from every genre in one big, average mishmash just called "games".

That is until people get bored and the trend will reverse and start to split back off into more defined genres once again for something "different"

alot of them already have names. "Open-World"/"Sandbox", Strategy is often labeled outside of RPG, and story is usually under Adventure. The problem is so many games have "RPG elements" that really its become some sort of macro-genre, encompassing almost all games. Its hard to find a game these days that does not have some sort of customizing, buying/selling, first-person, storyline that would bring it into RPG territory

"Genres" are artificial constructs meant to give people language to distinguish things. But they are artificial.

Genres are not rules or definitions.

Genres are merely tools of language to try to create words for experiences.

When you begin to mistake genres as some kind of set of rules rather than merely articifical language, then you run into the problems the writer is experiencing.

Because RPG speaks for the pompitous of love? Ah-mazing. Though it is interesting how you always post about the same topics; DRM, RPGs, MMO's, etc. I suppose that's just the nature of the hobby. I enjoyed the article regardless.

I don't know if naming the games would fix the underlying problem which I would pin as the quality of the games. I think people who do a little bit of research before buying a game will figure out what they're getting in to. Though RPG fans may not be the bearded number-crunchers of old, the serious ones still research games a bit before purchasing.

I always end up saying its like Diablo but or its like oblivion but. I gave up on the term RPG being useful a long time ago. But I find the same problem with music genres. Both my lack of knowledge of what "should" be what combined with a lot of people not agreeing on what any specific band falls into anyway.

I would argue that no video game has actually been an RPG. Deus Ex came closest and I think Mass Effect is making strides, but the whole level of choice and character growth, of taking on a ROLE and PLAYING it doesn't come through in the computer. We brand them as RPGs, but in the end, it's just about getting through the story (Mass Effect, Deus Ex) or getting super powered (Diablo, etc.). No video game is adaptive enough to be an RPG.

For that matter, I would also argue that it's possible to play D&D and other pen and paper games without it being an RPG. Bad DMing forcing you into a story (or forcing you to make decisions for the sake of the story) that none of the players want to do, characters playing solely to level up or get good loot instead of living their character, or any number of situations can turn it into something that's not an RPG. There is no "right" way to play, but if you spend your all your time making your build the most powerful, you're not role playing. You're just playing some math based puzzle game with dice.

Board wargaming is still around. It's evolved a fair bit from it's inception. One of my current favorites is a game called Twilight Stuggle, a board & card game of the cold war - playable in a couple of hours, not a hex or an odds ratio in sight and every game feels like a history that might have been.

veloper:

I don't see much value in having seperate genres for fixed pcs and open pcs. It doesn't matter to me aslong as the character isn't a complete git (more an issue of quality).

I call both of these RPGs, and would quite happily play either, but they have different narrative challenges for the writers. Maybe consider it three main categories, with this as a minor distiction in the 'story-driven' category.

I also think for all these you'd need a seperate Gameplay definition. So an RPG has a Narrative style + a Gameplay style, and with both those, you can know whether you're going to get a story light turn based strategy game, or a story heavy shooter, and so on.

Almost all games by definition are Role Playing Games, if you have a definitive character to play as, it's an RPG. So I don't know what I would call these games.

Stormkitten:

veloper:

I don't see much value in having seperate genres for fixed pcs and open pcs. It doesn't matter to me aslong as the character isn't a complete git (more an issue of quality).

I call both of these RPGs, and would quite happily play either, but they have different narrative challenges for the writers. Maybe consider it three main categories, with this as a minor distiction in the 'story-driven' category.

I also think for all these you'd need a seperate Gameplay definition. So an RPG has a Narrative style + a Gameplay style, and with both those, you can know whether you're going to get a story light turn based strategy game, or a story heavy shooter, and so on.

We already have the gameplay definitions, so you could have for example:

story + RPS, Mass effect, DX, VTM
H&S + RPS, borderlands
H&S + TPL, diablo, sacred, titan quest, nox
story + TBC, any jrpg
open + RPS, fallout3
open + FPL, morrowind

Enigmers:

ProfessorLayton:

Abedeus:
Torchlight, like Diablo 2, Titan Quest, Loki and so on already had a nice name before everyone started calling them action-RPGs.

Hack'n'slash games. Devil May Cry 3 and Diablo 2 are different only because Diablo 2 has more characters, possible combinations of skills and you gather equipment, not only souls/points to buy new skills and upgrade abilities.

I would actually go as far as to say none of those are really RPGs at all... the only reason they're called that is because they have heavy fantasy elements and an upgrade system... but in that case, you could call Dead Space an RPG.

Diablo 2 has a crapload of itemization and skill customization, much moreso than just about any jRPG I've ever played. Nobody would doubt that, for instance, Final Fantasy 7 is an RPG, but Diablo 2 had more skills and a ridiculously large amount of pre-determined items (and then all the randomly generated ones.) If Diablo 2 isn't an RPG, then nothing else is.

Ahem. Disgaea would like to have a word with you, along with he other obscure jrpgs.

It kind of seems to me like this debate is getting into self-identification versus defined identification. Games will define themselves as "FPS/RPG", but that doesn't technically mean they are an FPS/RPG. They could just have a really cool upgrade system. Likewise, a game may not call themselves an RPG, but have all the marks thereof.

Personally, one of the main differences that marks a role in an RPG to me is that I come to accept my role, rather than being told to accept it. It's the difference between Gears of War and Halo going "You're X. You will act like X, make all the same choices as X, and the story will progress the same way it would progress for X, because you are X. Don't worry, it's all taken care of. Just do X sort of things." or in Baldur's Gate or any of the other RPGs I play, me going "I am a complete tosser. I will act as such, I will shoot people in the groin, I will talk NPCs into killing each other, and if necessary, I will commit genocide, because that is what a complete tosser would do and that is what I am."

It's the idea of letting me accept and build a role that I can play instead of dropping me into a role and saying "Do this, because you are this." Some games are better at it than others, and to my understanding, those games are RPGs. F'rinstance, Diablo tells me "You're a Ranger!", whereas Oblivion (which is one of my big examples only because I started playing it again*) allows me to say "I am a master criminal, serial killer, and assassin. My main trademark is that I steal all the good wine from the wine cellars of my target before I strike." Granted, the game doesn't offer any benefits for this, but it allows me to define and accept my role, rather than letting me make one choice and setting me on a fixed path based on that choice.

But hell, for all I care, we can just name these games "Murray" or "Maurice" and redefine things to the point that RPGs become the useless metagenre they're slowly limping towards.

*I only have a refitted laptop and I can't load much except for TES and casual games. I needed my fix, and there ya go.

The RPG genre is a muddled mess that's for sure. The only games that are proper sucessors to the table top RPGs are the MMO's like World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XI. Giving each type of RPG a sub genre like Explorative or Storytelling is a good idea but people will still argue about it still like they do with the term JRPG.

BlueInkAlchemist:
I'd call Diablo, Torchlight and their ilk "dungeoneering" games. Diablo tends to have a story to tell (it's Blizzard, after all) but the nuts and bolts of these games aren't the story, it's the dungeon exploration, discovery of loot and clicking monsters to death.

Mass Effect, KotOR and Dragon Age are much more "storytelling" games. The story is the crux of the experience.

Just my $0.02 on it.

Pretty much this.

What a coincidence. My cat in Torchlight is called Maurice. I can't seem to find any educated rodents for him though.

Shamus Young:
Experienced Points: Arr Pee Gee

What's another word for "RPG"?

Read Full Article

I have for a long time thought most JRPGs should be called "Story Playing Games", because all you do is play out a scripted story. The RPG elements in a JRPG are just there to prolong the Story most of the time.

In contrast I would not deem Mass Effect just a story playing game, because now you are taking a lot more control over the actual plot. Making Mass Effect a much more interactive story playing game, or ISPG if you want.

In the end, if you want things like this to catch on, you (and here I mean you as in the Escapist and other games media) need to start using the new terms. I personally feel this has been done to the term MMO, now being mostly called MMOGs in media. MMOG being a more correct term.

Although this will probably not be any better than RPG, since most games today are Story based...

And that is probably the root problem:
Games share so many genres, that the "type of game" is not really any good information.

How about "Inventory Management" for games like Fallout 3?

I think we need a term for games like Thief and Deus Ex which - whether or not they're technically RPGs - allow you to choose how you go about your tasks, even if you still have to follow the story events through in a fixed order. I get a lot more heavily invested in my role in games like Thief 3 than in a JRPG, or a Western RPG with a morality system, because I have to decide how I'm going to go about playing the game entirely on my own, without the game looking over my shoulder and telling me I'm doing it wrong.

These games usually get classed as RPGs if they have enough RPG elements in them, and stealth games (assuming they give you the option of using stealth) if they don't, but I think the variety of moral and/or tactical options available is their defining feature, rather than whether they're primarily stats- or action-based.

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