Does This Quest Come with CliffsNotes?

Does This Quest Come with CliffsNotes?

Whether a game is short or long, the important part is the experience.

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Stephanie Carmichael:

"I think all of these things will go away in 10 years," says Chen. "It's just the residuals - the kids who played these games growing up are still expecting these games to be a certain duration. And if they know a game is shorter than that, they're like, 'Oh, bullshit. This game is shorter than all the games I bought, and it's the same price.' It's just what they are not accustomed to. But if you play an iPhone game, which is one buck, and that doesn't last more than three hours, you'll complain. It's just what people are used to, and eventually ... people will just get used to the fact that games can be a different duration in the future, rather than laying on to one criteria for what a game is."

Translation: Don't worry! If we just slowly keep making games shorter and add less content, people will get used to it and they won't mind.
Less work for us!

No sir, no I don't like it.

He can cry "nostalgia goggles" all day and come up with any other buzzwords he likes, but it doesn't change the fact he's advocating dumbing games down by saying things like this.

Hi Canadish,

First, thank you for reading my article. I appreciate you taking the time to reflect and comment. :)

From talking to Chen, I don't think he's pro-short games or pro-long games. That's just his style -- as he said in the interview, making Journey longer would have overtaxed the emotional power of the game. Packing it with filler content would have only diminished it.

Unfortunately, many developers do add extraneous content to their games. Whether this is intentional or not, we've all played games where we thought a certain segment could have been cut to better streamline the experience.

Chen seemed very conscious of the needs of different games and different mediums, but he's not a fan of boring the player or adding content for content's sake. What he's saying in the article is that people often confuse a good experience with a longer experience and can be reluctant to pay more for something that's not as substantial length-wise. Sometimes, a game that's only 10 hours long can be just as fun or more so than one's that 60 hours.

So it's like what Oster (not Chen) said about "nostalgia goggles" -- we're not always seeing things clearly when it comes to older, longer games. That's what they want to address in the new version of Baldur's Gate: all the good stuff, less of the fat. :)

wita:
Hi Canadish,

First, thank you for reading my article. I appreciate you taking the time to reflect and comment. :)

From talking to Chen, I don't think he's pro-short games or pro-long games. That's just his style -- as he said in the interview, making Journey longer would have overtaxed the emotional power of the game. Packing it with filler content would have only diminished it.

Unfortunately, many developers do add extraneous content to their games. Whether this is intentional or not, we've all played games where we thought a certain segment could have been cut to better streamline the experience.

Chen seemed very conscious of the needs of different games and different mediums, but he's not a fan of boring the player or adding content for content's sake. What he's saying in the article is that people often confuse a good experience with a longer experience and can be reluctant to pay more for something that's not as substantial length-wise. Sometimes, a game that's only 10 hours long can be just as fun or more so than one's that 60 hours.

So it's like what Oster (not Chen) said about "nostalgia goggles" -- we're not always seeing things clearly when it comes to older, longer games. That's what they want to address in the new version of Baldur's Gate: all the good stuff, less of the fat. :)

Hey, don't you go getting serious and thankful on me! My comment was supposed to be flippant and dismissive!

Really though, I can see what you're saying. Not EVERY game suits or needs padding. It can be detrimental.

But the problem is, you've gotta be careful about letting developers get too comfortable with this attitude. Especially when they still want to charge $60 for what essentially amounts to a 3 hour interactive movie.
It's easy for those working in the industry or gaming media to forget about prices and the like, speaking purely from observation over the last couple of years.
If I've only got so much to spend on games, I want them to give me my money's worth, you know?

Then you've also got to consider that what some people consider "padding", others find enjoyable.
I've seen people complain about games like Dark Souls for being too long or making you reply sections when you lose. I can understand it, but making everything fast and easy robs you of any sense of satisfaction as a player.
Perhaps the oh so popular "casual" market is content with what they're getting from it for now, and that seems to be all anyone is interested in these days.

I remember talking about this with my friend a long while back, when God of War 3 first came out.
He was debating between picking that up, or getting Dragon Age Origins.
Both offer a different experience, like you described;
One is a 5 hour explosive treat for the eyes that leaves you dazzled while you play, but ultimately feels a little hollow once it's all over.
The other was a slow burner, that lasts about 50 hours. It's harder to get into but at the later stages you're so enthralled and invested that it just sticks with you.

Both have pros and cons, and some people are going to prefer one or the other.

The casual market (the apparent big money these days) is obviously going to go for the one with the flashier lights and the easier accessibility.
And that's the problem when it comes to Publishers and Developers.
They only go for the LARGEST market, damn the rest. And it's great for them, because the smaller games are easier to make and take less time and funding.
We're seeing the problem with that now, a whole market filled with nothing but endless waves of shallow, quick-fix highs.

Eitherway, Journey was bloody great, and priced right for what we got with it. I missed the part mentioning Chen was referring to that.

Cheers for the reply, and thanks for the article, it's interesting to see how devs are thinking.

Haha. :) I just want to take the time to thank my readers whether they agree with me or not, especially those who take the time to think about what I just spent a lot of time writing!

Canadish:

But the problem is, you've gotta be careful about letting developers get too comfortable with this attitude. Especially when they still want to charge $60 for what essentially amounts to a 3 hour interactive movie.
It's easy for those working in the industry or gaming media to forget about prices and the like, speaking purely from observation over the last couple of years.
If I've only got so much to spend on games, I want them to give me my money's worth, you know?

Oh, yeah! I agree! I'm not immune to this -- I'm really picky about what games I spend money on, even though I know I might be getting a great (but short) game if I pay just a bit more. Sometimes the gamble isn't always worth it, and sometimes it just comes down to what's fair.

It's a tricky balance to strike because you're weighing your own investment against a developer's, and that person has spent a lot more time and poured a lot more money into the game than you ever will. On the other hand, a $60, 60-hour game could be complete crap, and companies still get away with charging you a full sum for it (plus extra for DLC).

Canadish:
Then you've also got to consider that what some people consider "padding", others find enjoyable.

Most definitely. Sometimes the "padding" in games can be the greatest part of it. It just depends what you determine is good (totally subjective) and what you want out of a game. Maybe one person has the patience for side quests and another doesn't -- either way, that doesn't indicate that the side quest is good or bad. I think what's considered padding is what just doesn't fit -- what's slapped in as a way to extend the content, rather than add value to the experience.

You're right that publishers want to cash in on what's trending, and casual games are a great way to do that. But that part of the industry is changing: The price isn't 99 cents across the board anymore with mobile, for instance, and we're also starting to get some quality games out of it that people can play in short bursts. And if it's a good game that's short, sometimes that works for people. And maybe the developer just gets it: Aim for an experience where every part works together, and your game will be better for it. The more complex games get, the more potential there is for things to go wrong.

But, yes -- many casual and mobile games are still downright horrible, cheaply priced and made. But then again, developers can waste tons of money on a blockbuster game, demand full price for it, and everyone's upset because it's too expensive and didn't see a good return investment. So there are problems on both sides: mobile/casual games and triple-A alike.

It is interesting to see what devs are thinking. Oster was such an interesting pick for this because while Baldur's Gate is long, the new release is coming to a mobile device, as well -- not just computers. So it's a substantial experience on a platform not necessarily known for having those. And Journey is high-quality but short ... There are a lot of different possibilities, and the outcome is the same: a good experience, a good game, trumps length and even cost. But cost is more difficult to pin down -- what's truly fair in these cases?

Hopefully my reply didn't just go in too many directions! :) I'm curious about this stuff and what other readers think, as well.

It's interesting that you interviewed the people updating Baldur's Gate because that game series encompasses a lot of what you talk about. It's a long game that was made exceptionally well. There was a deep story and I felt while playing it that I was progressing through the story at a good pace. I appreciated the length though I had little time to play it in college. On the other hand, the expansion, Tales of the Sword Coast, was entirely without value. It allowed your character to go up in level and added some things to do, but it didn't fit in the game world and the quests were all filler. They corrected this mistake when making the expansion to Baldur's Gate 2. Throne of Bhaal added to the story and let you complete the story ark of your character. Plus, they added many features to the game that sped up gameplay and got you to the action faster. All together, the Baldur's Gate games make a great case-study in exactly where the problem is when focusing on game length alone.

"RPGs are basically a ton of manageable side quests strung togethe"

you sir are bad and you should feel bad

mrhateful:
"RPGs are basically a ton of manageable side quests strung togethe"

you sir are bad and you should feel bad

Yet it is true.

Morrowwind can be finished in what, 11 minutes? All the other hours spent in those types of sandbox style games are with the various sidequests and goofing off with the AI system.

Play Borderlands 2, get a friend to help you power level to 40+ which can be done in an hour, then focus on just the main campaign - you're done in a day.

15hrs into Okami, I beat Orochi and thought, Damn that was cool but I wish there was more... oh wait, THERE IS MORE! WHOHOO! But then a lot of the new stuff was dealing with the unending sidequests. After the 40hr mark, I was thinking "Oh my god, get this over with..." 80hrs later, I finally finished it.

Fastest Mass Effect 1 speed run was 2-3hrs if I recall correctly.

Heck, every MMO.

There comes a point where padding for the sake of padding is detrimental to the overall game design.

ThriKreen:

mrhateful:
"RPGs are basically a ton of manageable side quests strung togethe"

you sir are bad and you should feel bad

snip

Okay just because RPG games contain a lot of side quest doesn't mean that's the defining trademark of a RPG, and I personally believe that, that kinda of thinking is what led to a lot of really poor RPG games where just doing quests is its own goal. Which in it self, it is not, I mean you can make a game contained of side quest and yet it is not an RPG. What truly defines is being able to play a role and being able to express that role. This is why I don't consider MMO's such as wow, RPGs because you are not playing a role you are merely an observer to events occurring around you. The story never wants you to bring you in it, it just wants to tell a story, and for the same reason this is why levelling in wow is freakishly boring. The reason I got a bit upset about that statement is because so many games has been marketed as RPG while they are clearly not RPGs and this is annoying because it further skew the image of an RPG making people think that's all RPGs has to offer.

mrhateful:
"RPGs are basically a ton of manageable side quests strung togethe"

you sir are bad and you should feel bad

I'm not a sir -- I'm a girl. ;P

mrhateful:

Okay just because RPG games contain a lot of side quest doesn't mean that's the defining trademark of a RPG, and I personally believe that, that kinda of thinking is what led to a lot of really poor RPG games where just doing quests is its own goal. Which in it self, it is not, I mean you can make a game contained of side quest and yet it is not an RPG. What truly defines is being able to play a role and being able to express that role. This is why I don't consider MMO's such as wow, RPGs because you are not playing a role you are merely an observer to events occurring around you. The story never wants you to bring you in it, it just wants to tell a story, and for the same reason this is why levelling in wow is freakishly boring. The reason I got a bit upset about that statement is because so many games has been marketed as RPG while they are clearly not RPGs and this is annoying because it further skew the image of an RPG making people think that's all RPGs has to offer.

You're bring up some really good points -- believing that small parts alone make an RPG is what leads to bad games. I absolutely agree. I like my RPGs to have side quests AND a good overarching plot. When they work well together and are balanced ... great.

What I mainly meant by the "RPGs are a lot of side quests strung together" idea is that oftentimes, role-playing games are broken down into manageable, bite-sized parts. It can be easier to take on a 100-hour quest when you're really looking at a bunch of smaller ones. You're not going to finish the game in one playthrough, so to keep you going, to keep you entertained, it can be good to look at a more practical picture: a bunch of little quests that are hopefully interlocked and complement a much bigger one.

I also like where you're going with the definition of an RPG and how that's abused by developers. Good games give players a hand in what's going on -- when people feel like they're sitting on the sidelines, watching their "fates" unfold ... that's boring. Games should be engaging, especially when they're story-driven like RPGs often are.

ThriKreen:
Yet it is true.

Morrowwind can be finished in what, 11 minutes? All the other hours spent in those types of sandbox style games are with the various sidequests and goofing off with the AI system.

Play Borderlands 2, get a friend to help you power level to 40+ which can be done in an hour, then focus on just the main campaign - you're done in a day.

15hrs into Okami, I beat Orochi and thought, Damn that was cool but I wish there was more... oh wait, THERE IS MORE! WHOHOO! But then a lot of the new stuff was dealing with the unending sidequests. After the 40hr mark, I was thinking "Oh my god, get this over with..." 80hrs later, I finally finished it.

Fastest Mass Effect 1 speed run was 2-3hrs if I recall correctly.

Heck, every MMO.

There comes a point where padding for the sake of padding is detrimental to the overall game design.

Speedruns are a great study of how RPGs -- and many other games -- are constructed. What's the meat of the game? What do you have to go through to finish it, and what can you ignore? Not to get off-topic, but this is one of the reasons I hate Silent Hill 3 when everyone else seems to love it ... (And I'm a big fan of the series, for better or worse!)

This isn't always a bad thing, though. Games like Super Metroid are built with shortcuts in mind. That's a really interesting concept -- that you can take the long way your first time out and then come back to it, knowing the game's secrets. That's cool.

grigjd3:
It's interesting that you interviewed the people updating Baldur's Gate because that game series encompasses a lot of what you talk about. It's a long game that was made exceptionally well. There was a deep story and I felt while playing it that I was progressing through the story at a good pace. I appreciated the length though I had little time to play it in college. On the other hand, the expansion, Tales of the Sword Coast, was entirely without value. It allowed your character to go up in level and added some things to do, but it didn't fit in the game world and the quests were all filler. They corrected this mistake when making the expansion to Baldur's Gate 2. Throne of Bhaal added to the story and let you complete the story ark of your character. Plus, they added many features to the game that sped up gameplay and got you to the action faster. All together, the Baldur's Gate games make a great case-study in exactly where the problem is when focusing on game length alone.

Thank you. :) The Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition game is a fascinating topic to me -- not only is it part of the changing state of mobile games (and what we think that platform is made for), but it's also a great look at how you can modernize long and complicated games like RPGs. What should we keep, and what should we toss out? It's very interesting, especially when you think that a lot of mobile gamers aren't looking for an 80+ hour experience. What's going to interest them about this game? What do the developers need to do to appeal to new and old audiences alike?

i am really curious to see how they go with upgrading baldurs gate the additions they make and the changes.

Great, so they are catering to the crowd who are distracted by shiny things. That says some pretty grim things about the future of gaming.

wita:

It's very interesting, especially when you think that a lot of mobile gamers aren't looking for an 80+ hour experience. What's going to interest them about this game? What do the developers need to do to appeal to new and old audiences alike?

I suspect this and some other projects like it may change the demographic of a mobile gamer.

Time spent on/in a game doesn't make it a good game, though. I've spent hours lazily going through something like Liquid Measure or Angry Birds, cheap little flash games with simple mechanics and actions, and I might go back to them from time to time, replaying them to let my monolithic brain take a breather while I paw at the haptic controls as if they were the crumbs on a plate that I just like moving around. These games are hardly great games. Neat little timesinks, and fairly captivating, sure, but while I might spend as much time or more on these as I would on some of the more recent AAA games (looking at you, shooters), they are far from what I would consider a great game.

When I sink 100+ hours into a game, there are more things at play here than boredom being idly staved off. I'm engrossed in the world, and caring about a few characters. I'm feeling actions, or changing things, and the world is possibly responding as a result. Fallout 3 and New Vegas, Just Cause 2, Skyrim, Minecraft, Xenoblade Chronicles, Kingdom Hearts, and the many playthroughs of 30-hour games like the various Zelda, Infamous, or Assassins Creed titles all have much more going for them than just being long games. Yes, they're all massive games, but they each pull multiple reasons to keep you playing. If Angry Birds was a 20-hour game, very few people would ever know about content past the first few hours. It's not a game you want to play for hundreds of hours at a time, because there's no reason to play for hundreds of hours at a time.

The flash games are great little diversions, a way to entertain yourself for a dollar while standing in line at the Post Office, or on your lunch break, but they aren't things that you think about all day, waiting to come home and dive back into. You don't long to be the fat green bird hounding porcine domestication the same way you long to be an Italian ponce faffing about on rooftops in Rome, or the way you want to be the Dragonborn, stealing everything that isn't nailed down in an entire country.

And this isn't even addressing the idea that these games just feel like they drag out the same idea. There are games that might not even graze 10 hours, and yet, they feel so much bigger and greater than the android/iOS games. Portal 2, Bastion, God of War, Gears of War, and Uncharted all spring to mind readily, and the tightness of these games barely makes you register that you can beat all of them by bedtime if you started at midday on your day off. If interrupted while playing, you would yearn to get back into them as soon as you can. That's just not how these short little bite-sized games feel. Stop playing them for a time, and you have to wait until you're bored again to continue playing. You'd never get 100 hours from a game if you didn't actively seek to play it.

008Zulu:
Great, so they are catering to the crowd who are distracted by shiny things. That says some pretty grim things about the future of gaming.

I'm curious as to what you mean here. Can you elaborate?

BehattedWanderer:
Time spent on/in a game doesn't make it a good game, though. I've spent hours lazily going through something like Liquid Measure or Angry Birds, cheap little flash games with simple mechanics and actions, and I might go back to them from time to time, replaying them to let my monolithic brain take a breather while I paw at the haptic controls as if they were the crumbs on a plate that I just like moving around. These games are hardly great games. Neat little timesinks, and fairly captivating, sure, but while I might spend as much time or more on these as I would on some of the more recent AAA games (looking at you, shooters), they are far from what I would consider a great game.

When I sink 100+ hours into a game, there are more things at play here than boredom being idly staved off. I'm engrossed in the world, and caring about a few characters. I'm feeling actions, or changing things, and the world is possibly responding as a result. Fallout 3 and New Vegas, Just Cause 2, Skyrim, Minecraft, Xenoblade Chronicles, Kingdom Hearts, and the many playthroughs of 30-hour games like the various Zelda, Infamous, or Assassins Creed titles all have much more going for them than just being long games. Yes, they're all massive games, but they each pull multiple reasons to keep you playing. If Angry Birds was a 20-hour game, very few people would ever know about content past the first few hours. It's not a game you want to play for hundreds of hours at a time, because there's no reason to play for hundreds of hours at a time.

The flash games are great little diversions, a way to entertain yourself for a dollar while standing in line at the Post Office, or on your lunch break, but they aren't things that you think about all day, waiting to come home and dive back into. You don't long to be the fat green bird hounding porcine domestication the same way you long to be an Italian ponce faffing about on rooftops in Rome, or the way you want to be the Dragonborn, stealing everything that isn't nailed down in an entire country.

And this isn't even addressing the idea that these games just feel like they drag out the same idea. There are games that might not even graze 10 hours, and yet, they feel so much bigger and greater than the android/iOS games. Portal 2, Bastion, God of War, Gears of War, and Uncharted all spring to mind readily, and the tightness of these games barely makes you register that you can beat all of them by bedtime if you started at midday on your day off. If interrupted while playing, you would yearn to get back into them as soon as you can. That's just not how these short little bite-sized games feel. Stop playing them for a time, and you have to wait until you're bored again to continue playing. You'd never get 100 hours from a game if you didn't actively seek to play it.

Exactly. It's about a sustained, engrossing experience -- not length, although that has to be justified. "Engrossing" can mean a deep, immersive RPG or an action game that simply pulls you in to the gameplay, so you enter a sense of "flow" (when you actually lose your approximation of time because you're enjoying the game so much).

What's interesting, though, is that one of the games you just mentioned is also a mobile game: Bastion. The strict definition of iOS/Android games is breaking down -- higher-quality games, with different lengths (from Bastion to Baldur's Gate) are going mobile, and that opens the door to plenty of other experiences that are worth playing and do keep you engaged. That's a good thing. So while some mobile games now might not be worth the 99 cents they cost and are only good for when you're mind-numbingly bored, that standard is changing -- and with it, our expectations. Grigjd3 is right on track that this is altering the demographic: the type of gamer who looks to mobile.

I know I'm interested in the upcoming iPad Mini because I want to break more into mobile. And I used to never care about the platform.

wita:

Exactly. It's about a sustained, engrossing experience -- not length, although that has to be justified. "Engrossing" can mean a deep, immersive RPG or an action game that simply pulls you in to the gameplay, so you enter a sense of "flow" (when you actually lose your approximation of time because you're enjoying the game so much).

What's interesting, though, is that one of the games you just mentioned is also a mobile game: Bastion. The strict definition of iOS/Android games is breaking down -- higher-quality games, with different lengths (from Bastion to Baldur's Gate) are going mobile, and that opens the door to plenty of other experiences that are worth playing and do keep you engaged. That's a good thing. So while some mobile games now might not be worth the 99 cents they cost and are only good for when you're mind-numbingly bored, that standard is changing -- and with it, our expectations. Grigjd3 is right on track that this is altering the demographic: the type of gamer who looks to mobile.

I know I'm interested in the upcoming iPad Mini because I want to break more into mobile. And I used to never care about the platform.

Bastion is on iOS/Android? I had no idea, to be honest. Good to know, at least. It implies that the medium can actually be touted as a mobile gaming platform, like they've been claiming for a few years with their time passers. Which is good. Or bad, for things like productivity, but I doubt the one longing to play all day will be overly worried about that.

BehattedWanderer:

Bastion is on iOS/Android? I had no idea, to be honest. Good to know, at least. It implies that the medium can actually be touted as a mobile gaming platform, like they've been claiming for a few years with their time passers. Which is good. Or bad, for things like productivity, but I doubt the one longing to play all day will be overly worried about that.

Yep! Just iOS, I believe. But yeah. And now there's Borderlands Legends, which was just announced ...

mrhateful:
The reason I got a bit upset about that statement is because so many games has been marketed as RPG while they are clearly not RPGs and this is annoying because it further skew the image of an RPG making people think that's all RPGs has to offer.

But yet what is an RPG?

One side says it should be a real-time with pause or turn-based game with lots of stats and numbers. But I don't recall anyone saying XCOM or Disgaea are RPGs.

The flip side, like yours, says you should have lots of characterizations to play and express your desired role, but I don't see Japanese style visual novels being marketed as such.

People complain Mass Effect isn't an RPG, but it blends FPS action with said role-playing (I still laugh at all the Cmdr Shepard is a dick videos). People can jump into role-playing servers for WoW or SWTOR, but then you have some others mocking them for trying to actually role-play.

And of course, I'm a bit biased here, but NWN is probably the only video game to me that comes close to a true RPG on the computer, but you do need a DM to run things.

wita:
Speedruns are a great study of how RPGs -- and many other games -- are constructed. What's the meat of the game? What do you have to go through to finish it, and what can you ignore? Not to get off-topic, but this is one of the reasons I hate Silent Hill 3 when everyone else seems to love it ... (And I'm a big fan of the series, for better or worse!)

This isn't always a bad thing, though. Games like Super Metroid are built with shortcuts in mind. That's a really interesting concept -- that you can take the long way your first time out and then come back to it, knowing the game's secrets. That's cool.

Which is why I'm kind of burnt out on RPGs of any sort nowadays (again, a big biased after NWN with old school table-top style playing with actual *gasp* role-playing - airheaded pacifist cleric that lurvs everyone, sure!).

I mean, if there is a huge threat to the city/country/kingdom/world/galaxy, why WOULDN'T you want to rush and beat the Big Bad as fast as possible? Why stop for an hour to rescue a cat out of a tree to get some experience points so you can level up? WHY does rescuing said cat allow you to hit the next level that's required to beat said bad guy?

Why does the old man in the cave require you to jump through some hoops before you are entrusted with the ultimate sword? Why wouldn't he catch wind that someone fulfilling the prophecy, and seek them out to give them said item to guarantee they win? I suppose you'd want to make sure they're worthy and such. But shouldn't he already know, being said wise man?

Man, one could make a trope killer game based on common threads in RPGs : Hero is about to rescue the cat and the Big Bad shows up to stop him then and there to prevent said leveling up. ;)

ThriKreen:

I mean, if there is a huge threat to the city/country/kingdom/world/galaxy, why WOULDN'T you want to rush and beat the Big Bad as fast as possible? Why stop for an hour to rescue a cat out of a tree to get some experience points so you can level up? WHY does rescuing said cat allow you to hit the next level that's required to beat said bad guy?

Why does the old man in the cave require you to jump through some hoops before you are entrusted with the ultimate sword? Why wouldn't he catch wind that someone fulfilling the prophecy, and seek them out to give them said item to guarantee they win? I suppose you'd want to make sure they're worthy and such. But shouldn't he already know, being said wise man?

We may never know the answers to these pressing, pressing questions. ;) That's part of the charm of the genre, I suppose! But indeed harder to tolerate if you're short on time -- or if these conventions just wear thin on your patience, which is pretty common.

ThriKreen:
But yet what is an RPG?

One side says it should be a real-time with pause or turn-based game with lots of stats and numbers. But I don't recall anyone saying XCOM or Disgaea are RPGs.

The flip side, like yours, says you should have lots of characterizations to play and express your desired role, but I don't see Japanese style visual novels being marketed as such.

People complain Mass Effect isn't an RPG, but it blends FPS action with said role-playing (I still laugh at all the Cmdr Shepard is a dick videos). People can jump into role-playing servers for WoW or SWTOR, but then you have some others mocking them for trying to actually role-play.

And of course, I'm a bit biased here, but NWN is probably the only video game to me that comes close to a true RPG on the computer, but you do need a DM to run things.

XCOM and Disgaea are both regarded as strategy. Disgaea is accepted as a tactical/strategy RPG, but XCOM isn't because, as I understand it, the emphasis just isn't on the narrative and promoting your guys (in more than a rudimentary way) as much as it is the tactical side of gameplay.

And then you have action-RPGs like some of the other games you're describing ... Although a lot of these are mixed genres, and people seem to identify them in different ways. I noticed this a few weeks ago with people playing the Resident Evil 6 demo: A couple people told me they didn't like the "first-person shootery parts" in Chris's campaign, but there weren't any. It's clearly a third-person shooter. But it just felt like Call of Duty to them.

It just depends where the emphasis is placed. A lot of games incorporate elements of RPGs without them being RPGs.

Role-playing games allow players to in some fashion control how their characters (typically more than one) change and grow, with mechanics as simple as stats and levels or as advanced as jobs and classes and skills ... And you can be passive participants or active participants in a larger story. In other words, it's a big genre, and a flexible one.

You're raising good points, though. Is there one set definition of an RPG? Maybe not, but maybe some people prefer to think of "classic," traditional RPGs in one specific way.

 

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