BioWare Co-Founder Accuses JRPGs of Stagnation

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 NEXT
 

BioWare Co-Founder Accuses JRPGs of Stagnation

image

Greg Zeschuk, co-founder of RPG luminaries BioWare has accused Japanese RPGs of failing to evolve.

"The fall of the JRPG in large part is due to a lack of evolution, a lack of progression. They kept delivering the same thing over and over. They make the dressing better, they look prettier, but it's still the same experience."

That's the opinion of BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk, weighing in on the decline of Japanese Role-Playing Games in the west, and while he admits that there are some exceptions - Demon Souls is apparently one of his favorite games - he firmly believes that JRPGs have fallen behind their western equivalents.

"My favorite thing, it's funny when you still see it, but the joke of some of the dialogue systems where it asks, 'do you wanna do this or this,' and you say no. 'Do you wanna do this or this?' No. 'Do you wanna do this or this?' No. Lemme think -- you want me to say 'yes.' And that, unfortunately, really characterized the JRPG."

That JRPGs are overly linear and have certain tropes is hardly a new opinion, what's really interesting is who's saying it. While BioWare games could never be described as linear, they certainly have some touchstones they go to time and time again. This in turn begs the question of whether it is actually fresh ideas that the western audience wants, or whether it just wants choices to make.

Source: Destructoid

Permalink

BioWare: Truth in darkness.

I love these guys. Their games, their concepts, their ideas. They're pretty much bang on with this too.

Sparrow:
BioWare: Truth in darkness.

I love these guys. Their games, their concepts, their ideas. They're pretty much bang on with this too.

My thoughts exactly...

Well, there is still some light in the JRPG darkness. I recall the golden age of JRPGs...the PS1/SNES days.

Take Lost Odyssey, for an example of a recent light.

EDIT: inb4 JRPG bashing

As a BioWare fanboy, all I can do is stand behind the opinion of Mr. Zeschuk, but have to admit while JRPGs don't evolve in those departments, some of their meta games can be pretty addictive.

Finally someone says something about the "but thou must" senario.

I doubt there's any valid counterpoints to that one. Reusing certain tropes is one thing, recycling same formula over and over is another (and much worse) thing.

Sparrow:
BioWare: Truth in darkness.

I love these guys. Their games, their concepts, their ideas. They're pretty much bang on with this too.

Bioware just told those guys off real bad. I think that guy has a point, but still Dragon age while good was a little cookie cutter in terms of RPGs.

You know I said this months ago. I guess if you don't have lots of money and make awesome crap, people can just copy what you say and take all the credit. But the point is, he's right. JRPGs never freaking change out of their standard format. Actually, standard format isn't even the right phrase, since they have only one format.

But I don't think that's likely to change anytime soon. If there's one thing that 99.99% of Japanese game designers will ever do, it's recognize that they can learn something from Gai-Jin. This is why we get series like Final Fantasy and Zelda which constantly pump out the same game with different window dressing. They can't think of anything new to do, or rather they can't be bothered to think of anything new because the tried and true still sells copies.

I'm actually on the fence on Final Fantasy XIII, leaning towards not buying it as the last few FF games were pretty bad. Ten or Fifteen years ago, I thought Final Fantasy was the peak of Video Gaming and that would always be the case. Strange how time changes these things.

Logic 0:
Finally someone says something about the "but thou must" senario.

I just lost a load of respect for you... I love the thought that if someone says to go somewhere YOU MUST GO THERE! and if someone says don't go somewhere YOU MUST GO THERE... maybe I am oldschool like that

I find they do mix things up in jrpgs but I like the same formula thats what makes them enjoyable but people will never be happy change the game and people will complain for it being different leave it the same and people will complain its not different enough

all in all I like the jrpg formula as long as they have different stories to tell and fun combat they will never get old to me

Valkyria Chronicles was pretty inventive.

Still, JRPG's could use more evolution.

This from the same BioWare that has essentially been making the same game since the days of Neverwinter? Pot = kettle \ black.

I love the Final Fantasy series but this is very true, there needs to be more variety in options available in JRPG story progression

I for one like the stagnation of the JRPG genre to a certain degree.
Some innovation is to be preferred of course. But I really like the genre (FF is still my favorite), and I'd hate to see a move towards western RPG's open world concept.

I like the stories, and I like the concept of which most of them are based.
That they are mostly very linear is a strength in my opinion because sometimes i get really, really tired of just wandering about in a huge open world.

I like JPRG's because I know excatly what kind of game I'm gonna get each time.
That is why In love the FF series so much. It's the same basic game each time, only with a new story, new cast and new things to collect.

JRPG's (and specially the FF series) will never die.
They have a niche, and I think they'll keep it.

As long as the target audience of the JRPG is happy with the formula, why change it?

You can complain all you want about how persistent JRPG is with making a choice, or mentioning their linearity, but at least I'm not being bombarded with text options that take more than 10 minutes to get thru for one trivial conversation.

I'm sorry, but when I think of RPGs in general, the leveling and stats are the only things that come to mind. And with story coming runner-up, the fleshing out of your own character's personality falls flat because half the time it doesn't matter what your opinion is in the game.

Bioware isn't exactle the most inventive RPG-maker itself...

While I don't like most JRPGs, and there are certain aspects of JRPGs that I believe should have been left behind a long time ago, I strongly disagree that a lack of progression is the genre's main offense. Sure, there are many classic elements that almost every JRPG clings to, but the same goes for WRPGs and in fact every other genre. It's what makes the genres recognisable.

And as much as everyone claims to love innovation, the truely innovative and potentially genre-changing titles are most often all but ignored by the public.

I really think he's just trying to say he wants to see more in games, but I really don't want to see JRPGs turn into WRPGs. I mean, a linear storyline isn't bad at all, and the "But Thou Must" story works well when implemented well or entirely subverted. I mean, Final Fantasy IV was a "But Thou Must" story in the second half, but it had a really good story of personal redemption at first. And then we have Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, which is both very linear but also has multiple endings, and it's an amazing game. And don't get me started on Golden Sun, EarthBound, or Mother 3, either.

I really think his definition of what characterized the JRPG really is just an application of Sturgeon's Law to the many people trying to emulate the success of Final Fantasy.

He's certainly on to something, jrpgs used to be my favourite genre, but they just seem to same-y and use the old tropes and cliches a little to much.

This reminds me of an article I once read. Basically, the advantage of having the Jrpg formula is that you can focus on fleshing out the story/characters. I love Bioware games, but there's always a cost to having a non-linear game (though, of course, the obvious benefits as well)

While i adore Bioware and could say that i am a fanboy of them, it seems wrong of them to say this.

Mass Effect - Dark beings never seen before come about to destroy all organic life in the galaxy and only 1 man can stop them. (Spectre's as a special class)

Dragon Age - Dark beings from underneath the earth come to destroy the world. Only one type of hero can stop them, Grey Wardens.

Don't get me wrong, i love both games and Bioware so MUCH and can't wait for Mass Effect 2 but they seem a little like hypocrites.

Bioware, I love you guys, but this is where I disagree with you. Look at the newer JRPGs coming out. Tell me they aren't different, or have changed. Look at FFXIII, that's very different from most RPGs today.

Well of course he says this, he's part of a developer of WRPGs, why would he give props to the competition?

Some of it is true, but the problem here is that JRPGs are for the overly epic stories. If a story is really, really good, then I'd much rather it be linear. Knowing me, Id' make some dumbass choice to fuck it up.

Also, and I understand he isn't saying he wants this in the article, but the JRPG dying is a bad thing. Gaming is like a species. The more diversity there is to it, the better chance it has to survive.

God, like BioWare has any room to talk. Sure, each of their games has its own unique features, but one could make a very convincing argument that Mass Effect and Dragon Age are basically just reskinned versions of KOTOR. Compare that with, say, the differences present in some Square Enix RPGS (Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and The World Ends With You all have incredibly different playstyles), and Zeschuk's statement just seems to make a little less impact.

quellan_thyde:
This from the same BioWare that has essentially been making the same game since the days of Neverwinter? Pot = kettle \ black.

My thoughts exactly.

I load up Neverwinter and then Load up Dragon Age...I look at this guys point...and I tilt my head like a curious kitten.

Course I'd much prefer a cookie cutter games that give me a story and gameplay I enjoy than most of the western ones that just annoy me.

I take it I was one of the few people who loaded up NWN2 (I realize Bioware didn't make it) and thought it was complete shite? I even played it for a while and that feeling just grew ever stronger.

I know it is my own personal opinion just as he has his, but I'm hard pressed to see the unique quality of western RPGs. I've played a ton and most of them lose my interest about the time I become ultra human, which isn't that far in. "I am now sporting two lightsabers and the ability to crush stars with my taint...fear me."

SuperMse:
God, like BioWare has any room to talk. Sure, each of their games has its own unique features, but one could make a very convincing argument that Mass Effect and Dragon Age are basically just reskinned versions of KOTOR. Compare that with, say, the differences present in some Square Enix RPGS (Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and The World Ends With You all have incredibly different playstyles), and Zeschuk's statement just seems to make a little less impact.

I'll quote you since you said what I was trying to say much better than I did.

Sparrow:
BioWare: Truth in darkness.

I love these guys. Their games, their concepts, their ideas. They're pretty much bang on with this too.

Brnin8:

My thoughts exactly...

Third'd - I have to say, a JRPG doesn't seem to want to be a game, it wants to be an overly long movie. I'm not sure why, but alot of Japanese developers seem to think that way. And I'm sure I read on here, so do Japanese gamers, who even have a different word for non-Japanese games.

Flamezdudes:
While i adore Bioware and could say that i am a fanboy of them, it seems wrong of them to say this.

Mass Effect - Dark beings never seen before come about to destroy all organic life in the galaxy and only 1 man can stop them. (Spectre's as a special class)

Dragon Age - Dark beings from underneath the earth come to destroy the world. Only one type of hero can stop them, Grey Wardens.

Don't get me wrong, i love both games and Bioware so MUCH and can't wait for Mass Effect 2 but they seem a little like hypocrites.

I would point out that the Geth/{Other bad guys I don't want to spoil} behave very differently to the Darkspawn of Dragon Age. Though I do know what you mean, the Bioware games do seem to have a similar 'framework' if you will for the gameplay. But at least that framework includes choices about where you want to take your {insert main character here} throughout their world/story.

Oh, and all the JRPGs I've seen/tried seem to have an almost pedophilic interest in having party characters under the age of consent... I mean, is it just because Japan seems to have that as a cultural thing or what?

I guess he has a problem with Coca-Cola as well. Same stagnating, unchanging formula. People who love it for that very -reason be DAMNED.-
I like jrpg's for those very reasons. Just like we go to see action movies or thrillers and they all follow the same formula. They can be awesome and original, but they boil down to hero overcomes impossible odds to win in the final fight scene, or hyper-sensitive detective overcomes all odds and finds the killer thru a series of luck and unrealistic proficiency.
I like jrpg's and wrpg's, but saying the jrpg's are stagnating is like saying choice based conversation systems are cliched, or leveling up thru xp is SO 20 years ago.

slopeslider:
I guess he has a problem with Coca-Cola as well. Same stagnating, unchanging formula. People who love it for that very -reason be DAMNED.-
I like jrpg's for those very reasons. Just like we go to see action movies or thrillers and they all follow the same formula. They can be awesome and original, but they boil down to hero overcomes impossible odds to win in the final fight scene, or hyper-sensitive detective overcomes all odds and finds the killer thru a series of luck and unrealistic proficiency.
I like jrpg's and wrpg's, but saying the jrpg's are stagnating is like saying choice based conversation systems are cliched, or leveling up thru xp is SO 20 years ago.

That soda reference was really good. You think that up on the fly or has that been on your belt for a while? (Not Sarcasm)

Bioware=Square, whats the difference?

Dailog trees and mechanic aesthetics is about it, so this is clearly the pot calling the cettle black........ there is alot of room for improvement in both Jrpgs rely on grinding and oft times bland equipment setups and sometimes poorly contrived skill systems(*cough*FF12*cough*) while US rpgs are either generic in the all the characters can become the same kind of way or you have strict ridged requirements which make no sense half the time...this is also an issues with some modern RPGs......

I look at Dragon age and I look at the dailog trees and I think hey these don't cut off mid sentance strangely like in ME but whats this why do they end so soon and you can not get all the dailog trees out of a person....ok this is wrong my PC is skilled in conversation I should have a inside look on the dialog tree see what is a good conversation marker what is a bad one and what the next line of in the dailog tree from the slected one I am thinking on asking will be, if you are going to make conversations end with no chance to restart it skilled speakers need these options it beats using quick save/load a million times, another way to do it is use TES/morrowinds personal annoyed meter the more bad hits in a conversation you do the more they want to end the conversation between using color worlds and a lil meter you can guide a convo and get the most out of it, also having a cionvo score of 10-100% is a good way to help people figure out if they are even clsoe to doing convo right....I mean if you are going to have a deep convo system you might as well go all out or lose the dailog tree altogether...

Also I so want someway to change how it handles money(I thought BG was bad,well it is...ammo+daily magic=annoying as frick!) because without a banter skill it rapes your ass on selling items you are lucky to get 1/4 the sell price back when you sell crap in, also backpacks should be 50 a shout and not 10... I really want a traditional over world kinda like Fo3 you have the quick travel system if you want it. Also they ignored what moving can do to combat a mechanic to keep combat orderly would be nice, IE party run makes it so everyone can run from a battle zone at a high rate of speed but this tries them out if use poorly, over wise you need high dexterity to run during combat. Also revive is handled horrably, you should have normal reivie items that will get people up and ready to fight at 25,50 and 100% HP/Mana/stanima with a cool down of 50 for all revive items on that charatcer who used it so it can't be abused....also would not mind with the RT combat in miod that magic went to lower cool down speed so you can use magic more quickly if you have the mana for it, dex can go to mele/range speed after a certain point.. bioware has not quite got the whole RT combat thing down perfectly its still a world away from FF12 or Sedukei with is half assed in comparasion setup, but Sedukei did do something neat I really want to see something like DA mixed with fable it was promised in The witcher a proper action based RPG but it was nothing more than an above average daiblo clone with a unintuitive menu system, fable is down right fun its not prefect but that mixed with a full blood RPG setup would really be great.

But anyway back to the main rant Jrpgs generally have single pathed story progression biowares have multi but when you boil it down you still are doing the same basic things, dailog trees are nice but still imperfect enough to be wanted in everything....

As others have commented before me.....doesn't Bioware do THE SAME GAME OVER AND OVER?

Same cliche party members, same cliche railroad for your character to follow(will you get the choice between 3 planets, 5 planets, or 4 cities this game? Oooh, the suspense is killing me!)

Any Bioware executive calling out other gamemakers for being repetative and unevolving should be beaten with a Moogle for being the most retarded person on the planet.

And I LIKE Bioware games.

slopeslider:

I like jrpg's and wrpg's, but saying the jrpg's are stagnating is like saying choice based conversation systems are cliched, or leveling up thru xp is SO 20 years ago.

Well, true, they are - the problem is finding something better to replace them with that keeps all the good whilst losing the bad. The conversation tree system could be better, but I'm at a loss to work out how - short of having a sentient or semi-sentient AI doing the script writing as you go, heh.

With the stuff Bioware has put out, they have the right to say this.

They have to be careful though, another slip up or two, and they won't anymore.

There has been some evolution, for instance, the characters have evolved so you dan't tell the difference between male and female XD

Mostly true, some have good fresh concepts, but most of the biggies mainly Square wont move on.

Judge me stupid for this but my first ever experience with Japanese style cartooning(which elements also go over to the games) was Digimon and Yu-gi-oh. Basicly these show ran on one of our commercial channels every morning as part of the children programm. So i watched it and even enjoyed it until i faced a characteristic of the style. Overuse of dialouge. Basicly with every 2 sec a random guy says a random stuff inbetween the battle's. I started to hate those because i wanted some action also but when it came it was just broken by some boy saying his encourageing words all over again. Feel's the whole show is a shouting arena with little action.

Another irritateing thing I hate with JRPG's is the flashy graphics. I mean after every combe,crit etc is a flashy whole screen everlaping sign saying like: CRITICAL!!.

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here