279: United We Stand

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We really need to stop comparing JRPGs and WRPGs to each other. They're two sides of the same coin: one is an interactive narrative, and the other is a choose-your-own-adventure. Saying one is better than the other is like saying Lord of the Rings is worse than the 1-choice CYOA book because it's more linear, and vice versa like saying D&D is worse than a 5 page children's book because there's not enough character development.

I don't think I've seen a compelling argument either way. Not every JRPG has team-mates in it. Look at Dragon Quest. There wasn't really any character development at all. There wasn't really any back story at all. Two reasons for that was hardware limitations, and the fact that YOU are supposed to be the one on the quest. It's your quest, enjoy it.

JRPGs have gone to characters with their own story from put in your own name characters. It's just a different way of telling the story. It's not better, or worse, just different.

JRPGs seem to be more about telling the characters' stories as opposed to WRPGs which seem to be more about telling the world's story, or a character's story. Of course, JRPGs used to be more like WRPGs, back when the hardware was more compact.

Look at Dragon Quest and tell me I'm wrong. One character you create(well, name really), and the story of what he does for the world.

And this is one of the big reasons why I love JRPGs! The stories of JRPGs are the bread and butter of the genre and people are usually complaining about random encounters or emo characters to see the big picture. I love escaping into the story of a JRPG and seeing actual personality growth in a character instead of lockpicking skill or axe skill growth. When you think about it a game like Fallout 3( I like Fallout 3 <3) which you can put in 100s of hour into and do nothing can be boring when you compare it to the story experience of a JRPG. A good example of character growth in a JRPG would be Robo in Chrono Trigger. Brendan Main did a great article on it in issue 225 'I,Robot' in the article called 'Electric Soul'.

I loved this article. You easily stated what made Final Fantasy VII (and others in the series) so much fun. You also explained why, using the same logic, Final Fantasy XII sucked. Where were the character side quests? Where did the character development go? They were all generic character who could use all weapons and nothing special about them. XIII was a bit better, but they took away the side quests still. Maybe Final Fantasy XV will finally go back to formula. I can only hope.

FloodOne:

tommyopera:
The Main Difference between WRPGs and JRPGs? The egos of the creators. JRPGs would rather we player watch cut-scenes than mess up their story by actually playing the game. How many JRPG fights have we had to sit through instead of participating in? Hideo Kojima could learn a thing or two from the RPGs of the west. Either that Or he and others of his ilk should move on to writing screen-plays, they're halfway there already!!

Also, as a big bad-ass westerner, I start to get annoyed that the only heroes that could ever save humanity in JRPGs are 15yo shemales while the big guys are either evil or "slow". I mean, c'mon!!!

This post clearly illustrates the vast cultural differences between the East and the West.

You know what I'm tired of? Giant hulking one man armies, but the West keeps shoving them down my throat. So I choose not to play those games and lo, the problem is solved.

You didn't provide a counter-point to my missive so I will rephrase it in question form: "Why are the only heroes that could ever save humanity in JRPGs 15yo shemales while the big guys are either evil or "slow"?"

Cultural Differences? Whether it be a giant, hulking one-man army, or a small JRPG dude, both tend to have the similar trait of being able to heft a big-damn gun or big-damn sword. At least the Western giant, hulking one-man army, doesn't look completely ridiculous doing it. And I have the pleasure of being the one controlling him rather than a cut-scene elbowing me out of the way to make the fight look pretty.

Also, please provide a counter-point to my initial answer: "The Main Difference between WRPGs and JRPGs? The egos of the creators. JRPGs would rather we player watch cut-scenes than mess up their story by actually playing the game."

Really, I am glad Yahtzee had the balls to point it out. JRPGs would rather have us watch cut-scenes than play. That is why, instead of playing JRPGs I go the movies, or read a book by a competent writer.

Sheeesh, I hate it when people attempt to justify bad artistic decisions by or game design by using the blanket answer of "Cultural Differences".

BloodSquirrel:

Joe Myers:
Now, there's no denying that Commander Shepard is a badass, but from a literary perspective, who's more interesting?

Ultra-mega-fail.

We're not looking at literature here, we're looking at video games. Commander Shepard is intended to be interesting to play as the main character of a video game, not as a character to be read about in static media.

If we want video games to be taken seriously as art, we need to stop defaulting to looking at them through the perspective of other media. We need to be analyzing them as their own media against their own standards.

I agree that we shouldn't necessarily be looking to other media for guidance on how to bring to life gaming's stories but I can't see how Commander Shepard is interesting to play in any way shape or form. There is no reason that he couldn't be as interesting as the best characters from literature if the team had decent enough writers and enough of a budget/timescale to do it right. But they didn't. Instead we get three stock characters (good, evil, neutral) and you chose which one you want to be with a little lee-way inbetween. I'm not saying that I'm expecting my games to give me the cunningly crafted story telling of James Joyce but these blank slate characters are nothing more than tools which we as the gamer use to interact with the world. They can't reflect us because there is nowhere near enough options to create a belieable, interesting character and until they can I'd rather have a decently crafted, pre-plotted story where as the gamer I get to decide how much or how little I learn about the characters and their world as I play than be shoved into the role of a character with about as much personality as a fridge magnet.

ultimasupersaiyan:
And this is one of the big reasons why I love JRPGs! The stories of JRPGs are the bread and butter of the genre and people are usually complaining about random encounters or emo characters to see the big picture. I love escaping into the story of a JRPG and seeing actual personality growth in a character instead of lockpicking skill or axe skill growth. When you think about it a game like Fallout 3( I like Fallout 3 <3) which you can put in 100s of hour into and do nothing can be boring when you compare it to the story experience of a JRPG.

That's why we Western RPG'ers use our imagination to fill in the gaps. I get to write my own story in my massive euro-centric head, rather than have it spoon-fed "bad soap-opera style" to me. It engenders empathy when you get to "be" the person, rather than watch the cut-scene. Of course, the more innate your powers of empathy, the better the experience. Maybe that's the real difference between JRPGs and WRPGs. The level of empathetic participation required to experience the organic elements is more demanding in WRPGs.

Well well, I'm half Phillo too!

My mother was likewise from the Phillipines, and my father was... white, very white. I don't think he even has a geneology, just generic whiteness.

tommyopera:

FloodOne:

tommyopera:
The Main Difference between WRPGs and JRPGs? The egos of the creators. JRPGs would rather we player watch cut-scenes than mess up their story by actually playing the game. How many JRPG fights have we had to sit through instead of participating in? Hideo Kojima could learn a thing or two from the RPGs of the west. Either that Or he and others of his ilk should move on to writing screen-plays, they're halfway there already!!

Also, as a big bad-ass westerner, I start to get annoyed that the only heroes that could ever save humanity in JRPGs are 15yo shemales while the big guys are either evil or "slow". I mean, c'mon!!!

This post clearly illustrates the vast cultural differences between the East and the West.

You know what I'm tired of? Giant hulking one man armies, but the West keeps shoving them down my throat. So I choose not to play those games and lo, the problem is solved.

You didn't provide a counter-point to my missive so I will rephrase it in question form: "Why are the only heroes that could ever save humanity in JRPGs 15yo shemales while the big guys are either evil or "slow"?"

Cultural Differences? Whether it be a giant, hulking one-man army, or a small JRPG dude, both tend to have the similar trait of being able to heft a big-damn gun or big-damn sword. At least the Western giant, hulking one-man army, doesn't look completely ridiculous doing it. And I have the pleasure of being the one controlling him rather than a cut-scene elbowing me out of the way to make the fight look pretty.

Also, please provide a counter-point to my initial answer: "The Main Difference between WRPGs and JRPGs? The egos of the creators. JRPGs would rather we player watch cut-scenes than mess up their story by actually playing the game."

Really, I am glad Yahtzee had the balls to point it out. JRPGs would rather have us watch cut-scenes than play. That is why, instead of playing JRPGs I go the movies, or read a book by a competent writer.

Sheeesh, I hate it when people attempt to justify bad artistic decisions by or game design by using the blanket answer of "Cultural Differences".

To be honest I cannot see how someone with bulging muscles is any more bullet proof than a skinny JRPG character...

Not taking side either way, just wanted to point that out, both are unrealistic.

My opinion: I don't really care how the protagonist looks (to an extent), as long as I can be the hero(s)

Dired:
I find the group-vs-individual part misleading - it's simply a question of what "role" means in RPG. In a JRPG, it's like being an actor - hit your marks, get your lines right, and you win based on how someone else wrote it to be. If the story itself is compelling and the fights well-done, you will likely enjoy it (though if the story blows and the characters terrible, so does the game). But in a WRPG, it's about pretending to be someone else, and the illusion of free will and control is not only essential, it's the whole point of the game. To pretend to be someone else, come up on a set of challenges and then find a way to defeat them. And since pretending to be multiple people is hard, of course the secondary characters fade to the background some, and their petty issues remain, well, petty.

So while a linear story is fine or even a plus in a JRPG, in a WRPG, it's failure. You're promising free will and then punishing the player for trying to use it. In the west, the writer's precious, timeless masterpiece about hippies and revenge and magic crystals isn't that important (especially once we're old enough to realize how awful most game stories really are). What matters is escapism, and again, the illusion of free will. Whereas free will in a JRPG is a design flaw.

I agreed with most of this statement and the article makes decent points. I think it all goes back to design philosophy and I think both Eastern and Western developers are trying hard to break out of their constraining, traditional philosophies. I don't think free will in a JRPG is a flaw, I think throwing it in as a back-of-the-box feature is a design flaw.

VGStrife:

tommyopera:

FloodOne:

This post clearly illustrates the vast cultural differences between the East and the West.

You know what I'm tired of? Giant hulking one man armies, but the West keeps shoving them down my throat. So I choose not to play those games and lo, the problem is solved.

You didn't provide a counter-point to my missive so I will rephrase it in question form: "Why are the only heroes that could ever save humanity in JRPGs 15yo shemales while the big guys are either evil or "slow"?"

Cultural Differences? Whether it be a giant, hulking one-man army, or a small JRPG dude, both tend to have the similar trait of being able to heft a big-damn gun or big-damn sword. At least the Western giant, hulking one-man army, doesn't look completely ridiculous doing it. And I have the pleasure of being the one controlling him rather than a cut-scene elbowing me out of the way to make the fight look pretty.

Also, please provide a counter-point to my initial answer: "The Main Difference between WRPGs and JRPGs? The egos of the creators. JRPGs would rather we player watch cut-scenes than mess up their story by actually playing the game."

Really, I am glad Yahtzee had the balls to point it out. JRPGs would rather have us watch cut-scenes than play. That is why, instead of playing JRPGs I go the movies, or read a book by a competent writer.

Sheeesh, I hate it when people attempt to justify bad artistic decisions by or game design by using the blanket answer of "Cultural Differences".

To be honest I cannot see how someone with bulging muscles is any more bullet proof than a skinny JRPG character...

Not taking side either way, just wanted to point that out, both are unrealistic.

My opinion: I don't really care how the protagonist looks (to an extent), as long as I can be the hero(s)

Well put. My major issues are game design. The aesthetics just get under my skin after awhile.

Stevepinto3:

I think you're reading to far into just one word. Shepard is of course more embracing of the interactive side of video games, but right now even the best examples of this kind of gameplay are fairly limited. It may allow for greater introspection, but a character with their own personality can force us to look at perspectives apart from our own. It can also serve as a stronger foundation to build a story around, and create a compelling character arc. In Prince of Persia: Sands of Time it was the Prince's pride and attitude that drove the plot. It would be hard to recreate a story like that if the player can change how the Prince acts. And yes, stories and messages are just as important to video games as they are to any other medium.

It isn't just the one word, it's the entire thrust of the question. It's the very act of looking at the character from the outside rather than from the inside.

I think many of you have completley missed the point, specially with the WRPG examples.

He's not saying in WRPG there are not great supporting characters. He just says that they focus on the main character (AKA You) more than in the group. And he's not that far from the truth. Let's take the "Mass Effect 2" example (since in ME1 the supporting characters were kind of bland. Thank goodness they got better).

In "Mass Effect 2" you DO have some great supporting characters, but you DON'T have a great team.

That's because the supporting characters, for all their excellent dialogue and characterization, they interact with Shepard and ONLY Shepard 97% of the time.

Yes, we see Tali and Legion having an argument, and Miranda and Jack having a girl fight. We also have some occasional, two-lines chit chat with some convenient observation, but that's it.

We don't get to see Garrus hanging out with Grunt, do we? Nor we see Miranda and Tali gossiping around. The only two characters that got close to feel like real partners out of Shepard's watch were Joker and the Normandy's AI.

That's the difference the article talks about. WRPG do have some awesome supporting characters, but they just don't feel that much as a true group of comrades as they do in JRPGs.

And in any case, it's not like that's necessarily a bad thing.

Valdez Leel:
While I think it's an interesting angle, I can't help but feel that this article presents a gross simplification.

Baldurs Gate 2 (amongst many other WRPG's) was packed full of interesting companions with fully fleshed out back stories and many had sidequests that revolved around them. Indeed, for some people that was part of the main draw of early Bioware RPG's. Who could forget Minsc the Berserker and his miniature giant spacehamster Boo?

"Go for the eyes, Boo! Go for the eyes!" "Boo says... WHAT?"

And to get him to join in BG1, you had to rescue his companion, the Witch Dynaheir. In BG2, she's dead, but he ends up bonding with Imoen, who becomes his second "witch", even though she's not from Rashemen.

Bioware, even back in the day, made RPGs that broke the "Western RPG" mold. Even fairly throwaway characters like Montaron and Xxar would have interactions with Jaheira and Khalid, her husband, independent of your character. According to someone I read on the web, they ran into a situation in the mines of Nashkel where Jaheira and Khalid took exception to something the two Zhentarim said and ended up killing them (fortunately not in the middle of another battle, but still...) and he had to reload the game to proceed, because his party was now at half strength.

In fact, there were plenty of characters in Baldur's Gate who asked for your assistance with some task, and would join your party if you agreed to help them. Coran and Safana being just two off the top of my head- Eldoth and Skie being another.

Joe Myers:
No JRPG is complete without numerous sidequests exploring the backstory of your party members and putting some sort of demons to rest.

Yet another reason why Final Fantasy XIII failed so badly in my eyes.

That aside, good article. Don't agree with some of it, considering that almost the last half of the Mass Effect game is going around and putting your crew member's demons to rest, but most of it is agreeable.

Thia article makes my head hurt. He claims the Eastern RPGs feature the drive for characters to develop and overcome demons and then notes Mass Effect doesn't have this even though a portion of Mass Effect 2 is devoted to this exact thing, overcoming demons. Even in the original the main character was a blank, but his companions and the situations were designed to be more in depth. I can see the clear nature of the divide between Western focus on the individual and the Eastern focus on the group but I think a far better contrast would be say Fallout and Final Fantasy. One has very clear focus on the self while the other requires the group. Even then both are littered with tropes that combine both like stagnant quest gives the drive for better stats and exploration. This article makes a few missteps in how it addresses the differences and could have painted a clearer pallet. As it stands it just kind of seems to make a few poorly executed examples on its way to try and point out an important difference... and also seems to have a slight undercurrent of negativity to WRPGs.

I agree with this article.

JRPGs come from a background of putting all before the one. While WRPGs come from a more solitary centered background. There's a bunch of different things I can point to for this but I'm just going to say, doors. The Japanese had thin paper doors that would barely be granted the title of privacy curtain. While English countries have always had large sturdy wooden doors. That quite nicely sums up the difference in our cultures there. So the I before we thing yeah I'd say that rings pretty true.

Another thing I see is the whole linear vs nonlinear thing. JRPGs have their roots in manga, folklore, and stories. They enjoy structure and this shows in their games. With a JRPG you're not so much playing a game as you are playing out a story, and before you say "yeah that's why they suck" just stop and go look up egocentrism. JRPGs are essentially graphic interactive novels.

WRPGs on the other hand have their roots in D&D. So naturally they have the structure of this is you, make him how you want him, and make your own story. This can be fine and good but often leads to a significant lack in character development and side characters designed to just fill a certain niche role. I'd say WRPGs are essentially graphic choose your own adventure books.

Combat in particular stresses this. Where JRPGs will rely more on stats and allow control over the whole team, WRPGs will allow for more skill and you usually just focus on one person. For example: You're playing a JRPG and one of your guys goes down. You're essentially looking at it from more of a strategist approach since all the characters are under your direct control, and usually if any of them go down the battle gets significantly harder.
On the other hand in a WRPG lets say one of your teammates goes down, it typically doesn't effect you that much unless you needed their specific skillset. You're directly controlling the main character and it wasn't your fault the person died it was the AIs fault. So now you gotta be the badass and take care of everything yourself. Both are fine and dandy and appeal to different types of people.

When it comes down to it if you don't like JRPGs then they're not for you, if you do then that's good too. The same goes for WRPGs.

Xander_VJ:
I think many of you have completley missed the point, specially with the WRPG examples.

He's not saying in WRPG there are not great supporting characters. He just says that they focus on the main character (AKA You) more than in the group. And he's not that far from the truth. Let's take the "Mass Effect 2" example (since in ME1 the supporting characters were kind of bland. Thank goodness they got better).

In "Mass Effect 2" you DO have some great supporting characters, but you DON'T have a great team.

That's because the supporting characters, for all their excellent dialogue and characterization, they interact with Shepard and ONLY Shepard 97% of the time.

Yes, we see Tali and Legion having an argument, and Miranda and Jack having a girl fight. We also have some occasional, two-lines chit chat with some convenient observation, but that's it.

We don't get to see Garrus hanging out with Grunt, do we? Nor we see Miranda and Tali gossiping around. The only two characters that got close to feel like real partners out of Shepard's watch were Joker and the Normandy's AI.

That's the difference the article talks about. WRPG do have some awesome supporting characters, but they just don't feel that much as a true group of comrades as they do in JRPGs.

And in any case, it's not like that's necessarily a bad thing.

Yeah thats pretty much it. I'm guess others missed it because of the way the article was written, basically saying that characters don't change over time, which as a lot of people brought up isn't true, at least not with Bioware. Unfortuintly as a counter to what you said, The World Ends With You pretty much followed Necu exclusively, unless it was showing the bad guys. This article brought up some good points but I think it kind of missed the mark with examples given and how he went about explaining it.

I think the difference is in part in the main character, but not so much the supporting casts. In a good WRPG, the supporting cast will be fleshed out characters who react to the PC and the world around them just like in a JRPG. The big difference is really that WRPGs are D&D-style "you are in this game" and JRPGs are "you are playing these characters in this game". Neither is better than the other, it's just a matter of which experience you want. A WRPG will have more variation in story potential, and more replay value, because your choices change things. A JPRG can often have a more complicated plotline (sometimes to the point of stupidly overcomplicated, although that's hardly limited to the JRPG) because they don't need to worry about coding in all the different responses to different choices presented to the main character.

Done well, a WRPG has a varied cast of interesting characters and a fun world to explore, where your choices have meaning and you feel like you are really a part of the world you're playing in. Done badly, there are shallow characters, shallow, flat choices, and it's like you're just piloting Generic Fantasy Hero around a world that doesn't change based on your choices, which is the point of a WRPG.

Done well, a JRPG has a varied cast and an interesting plot, with linearity being excused because you just really need to see how this plot ends, with sidequests to explore to draw out more information, complete your bestiary, or race giant yellow birds around the world. Done badly, you're being railroaded on a boring plot with flat, cliche characters and nothing to do but press a button every now and then to get through combat.

So it's really all in what experience you're looking for, and it's hard to compare the two because the experiences being looked for are different.

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Also It's pretty much explained one of the things that hooked me into the genre with FFX (even though FFX is no where near the best JRPG or best FF ever) It wasn't really Tidus or Yuna's story. It was a combination of effort among the entire party.

The ultimate thing I use when judging a character is "What purpose did they serve?" what purpose does T3 serve in KOTOR a game I love a regularly play? nothing. He's not even a fully fleshed character.

Okay what purpose does Mission Vao serve? she gets you past a door and after that nothing much. Same with Zalbaar and Canderous.

Infact I can say that the game is about 2 party members, 3 at maximum.

It's about Bastila and Revan, Carth if we stretch it a bit. as much as I love Jolee Bindo or how much HK-47 makes me laugh beyond the point where they get you passed whatever plot door, they lose there value.

What purpose does Vaan serve in FFXII? a big one. He ultimately is the force that convinces Ashe that holding onto vengeance and hatred will lead her down the path of self destruction.

Vaan is constantly pointed out as being a kid with no reason for being there, and because FFXII is schizophrenic in it's pacing the viewpoint is obvious. But Vaan's journey WAS to discover what he wanted in life.

Everyone remembers 2 things about Vaan "I wanna be a sky pirate" and "I wound up being a sky pirate" and besides 'Captain Basch' that's constantly associated as his only character development. Let's get this out of the way. I despise Vaan becoming a Sky Pirate, it was utterly stupid.

Vaan after coming to terms with his vengeance and supporting Basch is brought along on the journey because Penelo has gone missing. He is not going to sit on his ass and wait for someone else to bring her back. Dude punched out a seeq any 'scared child' ran right away then.

On the journey to get Penelo back he encounters Ashe, free's her and sticks around. Ashe is cold and callous towards him showing that she has no respect or patience to the people she see's as beneath her this defines HER. She couldn't have done with with Balthier (a pirate) or Basch (who she thinks is a murderer) She turned to a person who had saved her life once and basically slapped him in disrespect.

Okay we have Penelo but we still don't know why Vaan's there and this is addressed in game. Ashe saw her dead husbands spirit and also saw that VAAN could see him. This connected them, Ashe can't be crazy because Vaan saw it too right? then she see's him at Jahara and so does Vaan and the two have an honest and polite discussion.

Vaan says he doesn't know what he has left in life, he's always felt like that saying "I'm going to be a sky pirate" because it was better than admitting that in the end he had nothing and as an orphan in an imperial controlled city, was mostly going to die with no dreams, no hopes, and no future.

The annoying part of Vaan's character, the "I'm going to be a sky pirate" becomes tragic, because it wasn't some boastful 17 year old who has dreams bigger than his head. It's a near adult who still has no direction in life saying anything at all which keeps him going.

The reason he came, the reason he followed Ashe was because without his vengence, he hopes she could give him his reason to exist, his purpose in life. Ashe says with sorrow "I don't know" because she can't promise Vaan anything, and he says "I will find it" with trust and determination and belief.

You want Vaan's reason? to search for his reason in LIFE. This is something that Ivalice has ALWAYS looked at in one for or another, the small story in the big picture. It's not the big war between the rebellion and the Empire that's important, it's 6 beings who are afraid, betrayed, and searching for whats left in there lives.

Once Vaan tells Ashe that he's given up his vengeance, he stops seeing the spirits. The spirits created by the occuria, the beings who wanted to create a 'big picture' story. of Ashe becoming the Dynas Queen and smiting entire armies.

And it wasn't Balthier who made her realize that vengence wasn't worth it. It wasn't Basch. It was Vaan, it was him letting go of hatred, it was him treating Larsa as a friend and it was a him who didn't want to kill Gabranth, the man who murdered his brother and made his life a living hell.

Vaan did grow up, he matured beyond 'I must have my revenge!' Note in the final scene where the Sun Cryst is going out of control, the one holding the blade that would rob it of any power, the sword of the kings, was Vaan. He was the one who had the potential to stop the world conquering weapon from being made.

Now you may be saying "But Basch or Balthier could have done that" if they had been edited to do so, the main judgement isn't whether another character with editing could have fulfilled it, it's if the same thing a character did could have been solved by a piece of paper "Here's how to disable this forcefield"

That automatically removes Mission and Jolee from being important in KOTOR, a map could show you the black Vulkar base. Zalbaar wasn't needed to deal with the issues on Kashyyk it only gives him a bit of development. The sand people are such cocks that straight up murdering them doesn't even net you dark side points! T3 could be replaced by a really sophisticated Spike. At this point Canderous, Bastila and Carth are the only 3 who I can't really find a way around.

A piece of paper couldn't tell Ashe "Vengence is wrong" well it could have but it would have been stupid. and the existing characters would have to be modified to give her the same deduction.

Keep in mind that Balthiers character isn't that he's forgiven his father or anything. he just knows the horrors first hand, he's constantly running away from his past because he has no desire to be reminded of it. He's warning Ashe about the danger of nethecite and being controlled

Basch is searching for redemption in the eyes of his queen, he's not looking for some grand answer to whether vengence should be pursued, mans a captain/general depending on your version. War's his blood, he may not like it but he's never had a qualm about killing to survive.

Of course the stupid stuff in FFXII is still stupid, trust me when I say without heavy retooling Fran isn't worthwhile and Penelo exists to be rescued, which can be served by an NPC version of Penelo.

So in the end, like KOTOR we're left with 4 characters who REALLY effect the party.

Ashe, Vaan, Balthier, Basch.

This ties in with this article. Vaan's story to the orphans wont be "I stopped a war! I killed Vayne!" his story will be "I went on an amazing adventure with amazing people" in fact no one KNOWS they killed Vayne! everything you do in the game goes unrecorded as far as history is concerned.

And that's why I hate Vaan becoming a Sky Pirate, for all his talk about how it was something he held onto just to HAVE something to hold onto, that he had no real desire or it... he ends up becoming one! So what was the point of the character arc? did he grow up and realize "Oh hey I wanna become a sky pirate!"

Actually the inconsistencies crop up a lot to the point there are two Vaan's. which makes sense there were 2 Directors who came in to replace Miura.

And I'm not saying this is limited to JRPGs or that it's unique. I just got a little sick of everyone bitching about FFXII in this thread, because it's both an example of United we Stand and the antithesis.

your point would be completely valid except one point: JRPG's are more movies than they are game. 8 minutes of game-play, 30 min of watching one of the side characters at a firework show that has nothing to do with the mission at hand, and will have little to do with even his back story

tommyopera:
The Main Difference between WRPGs and JRPGs? The egos of the creators. JRPGs would rather we player watch cut-scenes than mess up their story by actually playing the game. How many JRPG fights have we had to sit through instead of participating in? Hideo Kojima could learn a thing or two from the RPGs of the west. Either that Or he and others of his ilk should move on to writing screen-plays, they're halfway there already!!

Also, as a big bad-ass westerner, I start to get annoyed that the only heroes that could ever save humanity in JRPGs are 15yo shemales while the big guys are either evil or "slow". I mean, c'mon!!!

You do know that for the most parts, western RPGs have a static story within itself and that you're only provided the illusion of freedom of choice, where you're actually just choosing Path A or Path B that was pre-conceived by said western developers, right?

It's not too different from the choice breaks you can have in japanese RPGs. And you have to remember that JRPGs can provide some rather seperate experiences. There's the highly unlinear Legend of Mana for the Playstation, the multi-storied multi-path SaGa Frontier, or the multi-generational multi-path SaGa Frontier 2 whose story will alter and change all pending upon what you do.

There's the SRPG Tactic Ogre that did what Mass Effect had long, LONG ago.

The idea that a JRPG limits you more then a WRPG is only due to the mechanics themselves of a game, and even then, certain JRPGs gives such freedom that they're comparable to the WRPG itself, and one could argue that for the most part, all WRPG are just about as linear in story as they are to JRPG, though the execution differs. Whereas WRPG provides you with tons of distraction to do whatever, the main story itself though will remain the same setpiece events that remain, save for the exception seen in Mass Effect and Dragon Age (And even then, we're seeing some limited ending choices too. About what? 4-5 different endings with gender and clothes swapping? The truly high exception is Mass Effect 1-2.)

And since someone did offer up above to make use of Fable as an exemple. Ever remembered Fable 1? Yeah, I never heard, NEVER heard anyone say "How great the story is!". The only things they would talk about was the gameplay, which is fine and all, though they made it sound more like a sandbox... And indeed it is. It's an RPG sandbox, where everything you do matters only to your entertainment and non-so to the story. The story is a static one... A very, very static one, with two endings which you get to choose at the very end, where every single choice you've done prior to that part means absolutely nothing as the end of the game will either herald you as a great savior who protects the weak and downtrodden even if you spent the latter half of the game killing and slaughtering every villagers.... Or as a vile demonic force of darkness that terrorizes the land, even if you've done nothing but help people with every single one of their troubles all throughout the game.

Also, as a westerner who's friends with many other westerners who all enjoy JRPGs to some extent... May I direct you to... OTHER JRPGs? maybe?

You know, one is shown that might just work with you... It's called Shadow Hearts... Not the "From the new world" one, the two prior... Or maybe Persona 2.5, where you're playing a female reporter, a surprisingly non-oversexualized and well developed female character who happens to be an adult?

Or SMT in general... Actually you're probably missing out on a lot of JRPGs just because of your blind notion... Plus, where'd your sense of fantasy go? Did you shoot your childhood with so many bullets that you can't handle something like this? Can you accept the idea of some pink marshmellow puffball saving his fantasy world but not a teenager saving his own?

Can you accept the idea of a lone soldier facing insurmountable odds, yet devastating an entire army and crippling a whole force of highly trained soldiers? (Because that's just about every FPS nowadays).

You're already used to accepting many, MANY ridiculous concepts in gaming. So honestly speaking, there's really nothing preventing you from hanging your disbelief to enjoy some of the better non-Final Fantasy JRPGs out there.

Or

TL;DR

You're an uneducated judgemental twat who just doesn't understand how RPGs in general work in both the Western and Eastern world.

Chris Vician:
your point would be completely valid except one point: JRPG's are more movies than they are game. 8 minutes of game-play, 30 min of watching one of the side characters at a firework show that has nothing to do with the mission at hand, and will have little to do with even his back story

Your point would be completely valid except for one point: only the terrible ones are like that, and even the good ones who do use long ass cutscenes I can't think of any long ones that weren't integral to the plot.

And no it's not good story telling when you can look left to right or move around a room while people are jabbering on. It's also not good story telling when they stick you in a room with an old geezer for 2 hours while he explains the plot FUCKING CHRONO CROSS!

Also a scene of the characters relaxing and watching fireworks, can go to establishing growth. How the party has mellowed out if they were brazed and hard up, enjoying the simplicity in life for the brief moments they can.

Granted this is absolutely stupid for something like Breath of Fire 4 which halts the story when it's peaking for HOURS! but that's one moment in an ocean of good.

BloodSquirrel:

Joe Myers:
Now, there's no denying that Commander Shepard is a badass, but from a literary perspective, who's more interesting?

Ultra-mega-fail.

We're not looking at literature here, we're looking at video games. Commander Shepard is intended to be interesting to play as the main character of a video game, not as a character to be read about in static media.

If we want video games to be taken seriously as art, we need to stop defaulting to looking at them through the perspective of other media. We need to be analyzing them as their own media against their own standards.

Ultra-mega-fail yourself, since you completely missed the point.
He's complaining about Shepherd's lack of depth as a character, lack of development, lack of arc, etcetera which is made clear by his comparison to the JRPG character who evolves in personality.

I suspect that when he says literature, he means to be looking at the game as a story, and what literary devices are used within that story because the story is written with dialogue, and so forth.

Ugh...

I love both JRPGs and WRPGs enough that it really pisses me off to see you idiots bickering like this. Can't you just accept that it's ok to like all types of video game?

I saw more than a dozen comments I want to reference, but I'm so irritated right now by all the bile that JRPGs get on this site that anything I said about them would probably just get me banned.

I'm not gonna do any quotes 'cause I don't want these people any attention. But alot of people seem to have a blind hatred for JRPGs. Read this article for example and some of the comments, that read like "JRPGs are for fags". How is that necessary or relevant to the discussion at all.

I mean I'm not a big fan of the FPS genre. But if an article was written talking about, for example, the use of world war 2 in FPS games, I'm not going to comment "FPS are for stupid frat boys". Not only because I don't believe that, but even if I did it's not relevant to the topic at hand.

Also this hate seems like a blind hate. I don't play a lot of FPSs, so I wouldn't spout about why they suck because I don't have the experience to do so. At most I would say that I tried them and they are just not my thing.

Joe Myers:
United We Stand

The difference between Japanese and Western-style RPGs may be as simple as the pronoun associated with the hero - I or We.

Read Full Article

Wow, thanks for explaining...

I have been thinking about that recently too. Yay JRPGs! You will always be my favorite :3

ZephrC:
I have to say that you're not judging the main characters of WRPGs fairly. Sure, the interactions allowed are fairly limited, because there are a limited number of writers and a limited amount of time for them to write, but the whole point is that your character can be as blunt or as subtle as you want, they can be complex, or they can be simple. They can be motivated by their own personal goals and desires, or they can be motived by experience points and stats.

I dunno. I felt that point was that you can't actually be as subtle or complex as you'd want there is no be passive-aggressive option choice it's usually be good, be evil, be neutral. There's no be manipulative choice, or when there is it's carried out in a way that makes you think "lol nobody IRL would be that easily fooled, hell even this NPC shouldn't be that stupid". In a way the freedom they give can also feel limiting. Why is there never a "serve the evil guy, but not because your weaker or need his power but because you just don't like being in charge", or "Kill bad guy, save world, destroy evil artifacts...etc., the go on to take over the world yourself without using a method used by the bad guys of the game"

I'm not saying I dislike WPRGs or that I even disagree about the characters having depth.
I just saying I disagree with what how you interpreted the piece.

tetron:
I agree with this article.

JRPGs come from a background of putting all before the one. While WRPGs come from a more solitary centered background. There's a bunch of different things I can point to for this but I'm just going to say, doors. The Japanese had thin paper doors that would barely be granted the title of privacy curtain. While English countries have always had large sturdy wooden doors. That quite nicely sums up the difference in our cultures there. So the I before we thing yeah I'd say that rings pretty true.

Another thing I see is the whole linear vs nonlinear thing. JRPGs have their roots in manga, folklore, and stories. They enjoy structure and this shows in their games. With a JRPG you're not so much playing a game as you are playing out a story, and before you say "yeah that's why they suck" just stop and go look up egocentrism. JRPGs are essentially graphic interactive novels.

WRPGs on the other hand have their roots in D&D. So naturally they have the structure of this is you, make him how you want him, and make your own story. This can be fine and good but often leads to a significant lack in character development and side characters designed to just fill a certain niche role. I'd say WRPGs are essentially graphic choose your own adventure books.

Combat in particular stresses this. Where JRPGs will rely more on stats and allow control over the whole team, WRPGs will allow for more skill and you usually just focus on one person. For example: You're playing a JRPG and one of your guys goes down. You're essentially looking at it from more of a strategist approach since all the characters are under your direct control, and usually if any of them go down the battle gets significantly harder.
On the other hand in a WRPG lets say one of your teammates goes down, it typically doesn't effect you that much unless you needed their specific skillset. You're directly controlling the main character and it wasn't your fault the person died it was the AIs fault. So now you gotta be the badass and take care of everything yourself. Both are fine and dandy and appeal to different types of people.

When it comes down to it if you don't like JRPGs then they're not for you, if you do then that's good too. The same goes for WRPGs.

The most sensible set of arguments I've read so far. I salute you.

MatsVS:
Haven't played Betrayal at Krondor. Good?

Amazingly good. Even moreso when you consider when it was made. Get yourself a copy of it and have a go, it was released freeware by the developers so it's easy to track down. May require DOSBox to run (else you have to disable your audio card in the snow levels).

It definitely does stand as a massive counterpoint to this article.

tommyopera:

That's why we Western RPG'ers use our imagination to fill in the gaps. I get to write my own story in my massive euro-centric head, rather than have it spoon-fed "bad soap-opera style" to me. It engenders empathy when you get to "be" the person, rather than watch the cut-scene. Of course, the more innate your powers of empathy, the better the experience. Maybe that's the real difference between JRPGs and WRPGs. The level of empathetic participation required to experience the organic elements is more demanding in WRPGs.

I don't necessarily agree. On the topic of empathy, "being" a person doesn't exactly engender empathy, from self, or from others. I also don't think one goes around seeking emotions to feel or relate to (especially not a manly-man like yourself) for the hell of it, and not when there are things to do (which one often does, in real life and in WRPG's). Granted, the only feelings one should feel towards their own character are ones stemming from survival.

When I'm playing Fallout 3, I'm not exactly worried, or proud, or sad about my character; I could, but that takes me out of the game, and there are things to do IN the game. I am more worried about the actions of killing that asshole of a scientist, however.

In JRPG's, empathy can be felt towards any of the characters, since they all have their scripted personalities, circumstances, interactions, etc. What's a bit different between the two RPG types is that it's easier to create a more genuine sense of empathy to the 'main' character of a JRPG (if there is one), because, as there are differences between yourself and your puppet, there can be similarities as well.

Joe Myers:
Commander Shepard just isn't capable of surprising the player with his personality

Yes, it's easy to like Shepard, but it isn't because he was a fully developed character, but because at some level he is the player.

Now, there's no denying that Commander Shepard is a badass, but from a literary perspective, who's more interesting? The guy who gives it all at face value or the one who you get to see develop over time?

Oooo that strikes a nerve with me. Why is Shepard always assumed to be male? Why does the box art show a white, male character when Shepard is customizable and could potentially be female and/or non-white? I realize that the majority of the audience is male, but it bothers me when customizable characters are depicted on box art (hey, Fable), considering that that image presented will not correlate with the actual character for most people (and that includes white males who have customized their Shepard).

Kenko:
Urkh, since when did J-RPG's have new character casts? Oh thats right. There is only 1 cast, and its a bunch of crying, whining angsty emo-teens and some creepy old guy who for some reason hangs around with them.

wow you must have played a whole 2 final fantasy games to come up with that, oh who am I kidding, you probably just heard about someone who played them since you were too busy playing manly games like marine shooter 27

I would like to have seen the article give some perspective on the silent jrpg char since they still show up now and then and it always annoyed me

Shepard is certainly a more boring char from a story stand point since most jrpg chars tend to develop as the game goes on, Shepard is more.... random, I mean Shepard could spend the whole game being nice, always going for peaceful solutions and being a general goody two shoes but then suddenly changes and become an ass with no story explanation for it, just the player decided to switch play styles. From a story perspective that is crappy writing but from a player perspective its.... empowering I suppose

At this point any comment I might choose to leave would feel all but completely superfluous - there's hardly a response to be found that doesn't point out that the examples used to support the supposed disparity of characterization between party members present in Western and J-RPGs are, at best, exceedingly cherry-picked, and at worst just downright dishonest.

Yes, Commander Shepard is mostly a blank slate for the player to inhabit, but the rest of the characters the game surrounds you with? They tend to be very well-written and interesting as a general rule - something the tone of the article strongly implies isn't the case. And using Fable of all games as an example of typical Western RPG side characters? The Fable games were never bastions of good writing or strong character development, they play more like amusingly satirical action-RPGs with loads of ultimately pointless features (like buying houses, bigamy, and getting fat/emaciated). Heck, Fable II had a story so improbably awful that Shamus spent a great deal of time excoriating it. Oh yes, and you have a "party" in the sense that you don't.

For an article that admits that J-RPGs are almost universally populated with stereotypical character archetypes that many people find annoying, I find it interesting that the underlying support for the argument that Western RPGs are all about the player character and your party members are relegated to little more than "bipedal weapon holsters", while J-RPGs are all about the group, is grounded in flat out ignoring the myriad counter examples present in Western RPGs.

Is there a greater focus on the player character as the motive force in Western titles? Quite possibly, but it's hard to take the author's claims of such seriously when they give every indication of willfully ignoring any Western example that might weaken that argument (to name just one, Planescape: Torment). Also there is something to be said regarding the virtues of offering a blank-slate for the players to inhabit versus presenting them with fully-formed characters whose personality and choices they can do little if anything to individualize, when those fully-formed characters have the unfortunately all too-frequent tendency to be exceptionally annoying wankers - pick the most angsty and unbearable character in a J-RPG, and that is probably supposed to be you.

I'll take Mr. Blank Slate over that any day.

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