Japanese Game Industry is Feeling the Pinch

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Maybe if companies like

capcom

released games outside of Japan as well....angry lines...angry rant

Cowabungaa:

leet_x1337:

You're forgetting that some JRPGs actually are innovative within the genre, at least in gameplay and artistic design if not in cutscene design. And if you do want an action-based JRPG without very much spiky hair (and an interesting thing with "heart to heart", get yourself a Wii and Xenoblade Chronicles.

See, that's what confuses me. Yeah, JRPG's often have wonderful set design that really sparks the imagination, and yet when it comes to narrative mechanics they're a decade behind schedule. The Japanese clearly show a skill for creative game design, so why not in all areas, and why not in that specific area in which the videogame as a medium has such unique strengths? What gives Japan?

It's not the first time I heard about Xenoblade Chronicles, sadly I don't own a Wii but I'll be looking into it. I'm curious whether it really breaks the mold and pushes the videogame medium forwards, I always look for games who do that.

Or you could just stick to the ever-popular first-person shooter genre which is hopelessly outdated, especially in terms of environment design, because seriously who the hell wants to see the Cold War escalate ten times in one year?

While it is a somewhat recent trend, I must say that the rage against 'grey and brown shooters' is sort of overblown and mainly revolves around one big offending franchise, which indeed is getting pretty damn stale. Though sadly my current lover, BF3, belongs to it as well, which is a rotten shame because Bad Company 2 did a terrific job of not fitting that stereotype. Good heavens that game was gorgeous...

Overall though I'd say that there's still a lot to be seen. From Deus Ex's stylized cyberpunk world to Far Cry 3's tropical paradise to the aformentioned Bad Company 2 with it's wide variety of environments. Not even all Call of Duty games are that bad, I was pretty impressed at Black Ops' environmental variety, despite it not being on BC2's level.

And luckily there's more on the market than just modern warfare shooters.

RaikuFA:
Don't even bother. Its a uphill battle with these xenophobes...

*snicker* Ironic, coming from a Japan defender. Said in jest, of course.

I don't defend Japan as a country, I defend them as a gaming industry. It just gets under my skin when people go "ALL JRPGS SUX CUZ THEYRE FROM JAPAN!!!" and yet those same people say no one should ever attack Call of Duty. I know it was in jest but someones gonna misread what I said.

RaikuFA:
I don't defend Japan as a country, I defend them as a gaming industry. It just gets under my skin when people go "ALL JRPGS SUX CUZ THEYRE FROM JAPAN!!!" and yet those same people say no one should ever attack Call of Duty. I know it was in jest but someones gonna misread what I said.

Of course, of course. JRPG's do have...issues though, as I've already described, but so does Call of Duty. No one's perfect, eh?

other than the problems with the enviroment and nuclear issues, the big problem is with the audience. being that Call of Duty released yet another recycled game with a new name and graphics, Gears of War ended their trilogy of spectacular games, Battlefield 3 released with it's grand scale of battles and Skyrim blew everyones mind, it's understandable how the audience changed.

Here's a solution.

Export your fucking games already. But nothing that carries the names "Final Fantasy", "Resident Evil/Biohazard" or similar.

Oh wait, I'm essentially asking Squeenix/Capcom to stop making JRPG's that revolve around wangsty teenagers with stupid hairdos and oversized swords battling Satan/ragtag misfits battling zombies.

Don't mind me.

I'm not a "xenophobe". Do you even know what that means? Of course not, you're a Japanophile you think anyone who doesn't worship JRPGs and anime is an asshole. Look, dude, I used to love Anime, I used to live and breathe the shit, the fact I can't even LOOK at most of it now without throwing up in my mouth a little is a sad testament to how bad things have gotten.

And I love how you immediately declare everyone to be a bigot and a fanboy, then immediately leap to insulting CoD fans and falling into your defensive BS. Don't act like you get to lecture me because you luv u some Final Fantasy or something--I was balls deep into Anime back when it was actually WORTHWHILE and virtually every game I grew up on was from Japan outside of the Fallout series. You're not impressing anyone, and you don't have the authority to get on a high horse and blather about things you clearly have no history with. Do you have any IDEA how infuriating it is for me to think my once-favorite animation genre has been co-opted by a bunch of know-nothing sixteen year olds who believe (for some reason) Sasuke understands them because he's a broody pretty little girl-boy-thing with hair combed over his eyes who sulks and probably cuts himself? If you want to lecture anyone about how awesome Japanese pop culture is, go hunt down a REAL anime from back before they sucked harder than a black hole: GaoGaiGar or Gunbuster, MD Geist, Project A-KO, Gunsmith Cats, Gall Force, Dominion Tank Police, The Guyver, Digimon, Akira, something like that there. Then you can come back and talk to me about how much you THINK you know about me.

As for the fact that, I admit with no shame, I'm a Call of Duty fan...yes, and? So? I own all of two games from the series, Modern Warfare 2 and 3, and despite the fact I think they're some of the best FPS games ever made, I still don't think they're the best games ever created, and nor have I claimed that. What I will claim though is that I am SICK TO DEATH of a bunch of mealy mouthed kids on the internet complaining because FPS games are popular, and saying they're "outdated and stagnant" without evidence. There have been about ten or so actual military FPS games in the last decade, if you really want to get technical about it, and that's it. Most of them sucked, but a few, like Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops for example, stand out as exemplary titles...and some like Medal of Honor Reboot suck balls. I could go back to the days of mascot games and pick out five times as many sucky platformers trying and failing to rip off Sonic the Hedgehog. Or we could talk about all the terrible Mario and Zelda games they have made...but, oh wait, things like Faces of Evil and Hotel Mario don't "count" right? It only "counts" if it helps "prove" how awesome retrogaming is, instead of a backwards, nostalgia-fueled ride into BS city.

Yawn.

Look, if this teaches anyone anything, its that the Japanese games industry shot itself in the foot by refusing to innovate and change. Making a new controller or something isn't actually innovating the games themselves, since that only adds needless complexity to the gameplay not changing HOW the gameplay works. Pushing a button to swing a sword is a hundred times more efficient and faster than swinging your arm, Skyward Sword. And even if it weren't its still not enough to have any impact on the game outside of how you attack, or how you pick up items. They got left behind, they became an afterthought. That's not MY fault, I poured money into them as a kid, no that's their fault. And the fault of their fans for never asking for anything more than a new Mario, or a new Zelda, or another god aweful Final Fantasy game with the same monotonous plot from fifteen years ago over and over and over and over and over...

You can deny it all you want, but at least the plot of the Modern Warfare series had a story arc, it had a beginning and a middle and an ending and characters that mattered beyond being a perfect showcase for the new graphics engine and wearing pretty clothes. If that's not enough, if you simply WILL NOT accept an FPS game as being good, how about Skyrim? How about Mass Effect? What about games like Infamous and GTA, or The Old Republic or Wow? How about that? Things have changed, Japanese companies decided not to, and now they're losing ground. If they're smart they'll change too and we'll all move on. Otherwise, they wont and they'll get subsumed in the wake of gaming leaving them behind. Too bad--for their employees anyway, I have no sympathy for Nintendo or Squinex itself--but still just so sad.

And while we're on the subject:

Tim Schaffer, not my favorite game maker, but a smart guy nonetheless, is breaking some new ground with his Kickstarter thing. Making millions to fund a new game in a few days is extremely innovative.

Maybe the Japanese developers can swallow some pride and ask their (for reasons I fail to understand) loyal fanbase for help too, and that would help. But then again that would require thinking out of the box for five seconds. Who cares if the guy just maybe came up with a whole new way to get past games publishers and make new IPs with direct player input, I mean, wheres the fun in that!?!

WHOHOOO University of Gothenburg! Whooo!

Erhm.

Carry on.

wait... what? only 25% responded? That's an awfully exact number. Is this credible news?

And how is 52% of 25% even an accurate idea of good OR bad? What if the other 75% would have voted positively?

That's like taking 25% of presidential election votes and saying it looks good or bad for one side or the other - how can you even come to a conclusion without at least half the picture?

SalvatuaH:
Skyrim blew everyones mind

I like to consider myself apart of "everyone" and I was unimpressed.

Lets face it guys if you are at all a gamer you would know that the japanese really started this whole thing (Konami, capcom, Nintendo, SEGA were all japanese). The japanese were the ones that made all the games that defined the industry (aside from the fps which has become a western staple). The Japanese have the most potential in this area. They have a much better grasp of what constitutes a digital project because they are the pioneers of the digital age. Western games are really just copies of their japanese counterparts. Maybe they don't export here because we just don't get the appeal of their games (case point: the above posts). Look at titles like SoTC (and Ico) Metal Gear Solid, Street Fighter, Demon's Souls (and Dark Souls) and Armored Core. These games are completely original in their design and gameplay.

Cowabungaa:

RaikuFA:
I don't defend Japan as a country, I defend them as a gaming industry. It just gets under my skin when people go "ALL JRPGS SUX CUZ THEYRE FROM JAPAN!!!" and yet those same people say no one should ever attack Call of Duty. I know it was in jest but someones gonna misread what I said.

Of course, of course. JRPG's do have...issues though, as I've already described, but so does Call of Duty. No one's perfect, eh?

Of corse not, just look at Magna Carta or Hyperdimension Neptunia(the sequel looks to be a lot better. Need to play it though)

Cowabungaa:

leet_x1337:
Or you could just stick to the ever-popular first-person shooter genre which is hopelessly outdated, especially in terms of environment design, because seriously who the hell wants to see the Cold War escalate ten times in one year?

While it is a somewhat recent trend, I must say that the rage against 'grey and brown shooters' is sort of overblown and mainly revolves around one big offending franchise, which indeed is getting pretty damn stale. Though sadly my current lover, BF3, belongs to it as well, which is a rotten shame because Bad Company 2 did a terrific job of not fitting that stereotype. Good heavens that game was gorgeous...

Overall though I'd say that there's still a lot to be seen. From Deus Ex's stylized cyberpunk world to Far Cry 3's tropical paradise to the aformentioned Bad Company 2 with it's wide variety of environments. Not even all Call of Duty games are that bad, I was pretty impressed at Black Ops' environmental variety, despite it not being on BC2's level.

And Final Fantasy 13, despite being largely made up of linear corridors like Black Ops, did at least have good-looking corridors. The World Ends With You's version of Shibuya looks pretty damn amazing for the low resolution, and the aforementioned Xenoblade Chronicles proves that even the Wii is capable of long-draw vistas (not to mention, like I said, that male characters in JRPGs can have less-spiky hair.) In fact, I'd go as far as it call it the Wii version of Skyrim - and since everyone loves Skyrim, despite its having storytelling (if you stick solely to the main quest) on about the same level as your average JRPG...

I will concede, however, that Bad Company 2 was pretty damn good, especially in terms of characters. Though that was mostly by taking the cast of every other WW3 shooter ever and pulling the brooms out of their asses. And lest we forget the genre codifier, Modern Warfare 1, which wasn't all that brown and didn't have America single-handedly crushing a full-scale Russian invasion.

Cid SilverWing:
Here's a solution.

Export your fucking games already. But nothing that carries the names "Final Fantasy", "Resident Evil/Biohazard" or similar.

Oh wait, I'm essentially asking Squeenix/Capcom to stop making JRPG's that revolve around wangsty teenagers with stupid hairdos and oversized swords battling Satan/ragtag misfits battling zombies.

Don't mind me.

And I bet you never even considered Valkyria Chronicles, huh? A decent SRPG gets exported, but because the characters have slightly larger-than-realistic eyes, you skip over it. No wonder we don't get any more exports than we do.

ForgottenPr0digy:
well I hope they can bounce back soon

But I guess everyone has to make their games like skyrim or get soled back within a week. That's the future of this industry

Oh please, enlighten me. Where are ALL the games like skyrim? I must know, because apparently I'm missing out

leet_x1337:

Cid SilverWing:
Here's a solution.

Export your fucking games already. But nothing that carries the names "Final Fantasy", "Resident Evil/Biohazard" or similar.

Oh wait, I'm essentially asking Squeenix/Capcom to stop making JRPG's that revolve around wangsty teenagers with stupid hairdos and oversized swords battling Satan/ragtag misfits battling zombies.

Don't mind me.

And I bet you never even considered Valkyria Chronicles, huh? A decent SRPG gets exported, but because the characters have slightly larger-than-realistic eyes, you skip over it. No wonder we don't get any more exports than we do.

I think this is a case of broken buyer faith. Japan didn't (I guess)release anything but those games and things very similar, so now people just assume that if it has japan on it they will be getting much of the same, don;t buy it cause they have the newest FF, which causes japan to want to send even less different game, and so on and so on. Sorry that's somewhat rambling, I;m over tired

I saw this coming in 2005. My reasons for seeing it coming might be a matter of opinion, but a lot of things led to me thinking that the Japanese market had hit a snag. I'm also going to say that I think it's going to get much, much worse before it gets better.

Personally, Japan and I have grown apart in recent years, but I'd hate to see them do badly... even if they did burn me on Infinite Undiscovery, Last Remnant, and Final Fantasy XIII... nope don't wish them bad at all...

In seriousness, I don't like seeing anyone doing badly. I hope the Japanese market survives.

Growth of Yen also could've played part in failure to rake in foreign money. Hope they bounce back.

Kickstarter something, dammit! Are you telling me that there aren't a few young, disgruntled Japanese game developers tired of having their fresh new ideas squashed by the senile old farts above them in management? We talk about Western game companies being oppressive monoliths, but they got nothing on the big name Japanese game companies. Break fee of your chains, and let the wallets of millions of bored gamers around the world help you drag Japan kicking and screaming into the 21st century!

leet_x1337:
And Final Fantasy 13, despite being largely made up of linear corridors like Black Ops, did at least have good-looking corridors. The World Ends With You's version of Shibuya looks pretty damn amazing for the low resolution, and the aforementioned Xenoblade Chronicles proves that even the Wii is capable of long-draw vistas (not to mention, like I said, that male characters in JRPGs can have less-spiky hair.)

And that's why I usually still like JRPG's, especially on handheld consoles. Their visual design usually is very creative.

In fact, I'd go as far as it call it the Wii version of Skyrim - and since everyone loves Skyrim, despite its having storytelling (if you stick solely to the main quest) on about the same level as your average JRPG...

The story itself might not rise above many-a JRPG, but the way how it's told is very different, done a lot more using the strengths of the medium. Skyrim has very few (so far, not that far in) completely static cutscenes, everything you do is in-character while you keep some degree of control, even if it's just looking around. Skyrim doesn't pull you out of your character, and thus the game, by demoting you to a static onlooker rather than an interactive part of the world.

Now I don't know how Xenoblade Chronicles does it, I hope a lot better, but a lot of JRPG's I've played fail at doing so. They fling you from, arguably gorgeous, cutscenes to pieces of gameplay to static pages of dialogue between two images. It gets even worse when you have a gorgeous cutscene that looks completely different from what you see ingame. Enchanted Arms was a big offender in that regard.

Those things are examples of plain bad narrative design, especially for today's consoles. I get why they still exist on handhelds, but when I pick up a PS3 controller I expect to be completely sucked into a world, not some disjointed thing made up out of outdated narrative mechanics.

Cowabungaa:

dimensional:
snip

It really wouldn't hurt to use a bit more punctuation. You know, for readability and all.

Anyway, your reply shows that you don't really get what I'm saying. Which isn't an insult, because looking back I didn't really write my thoughts down very well.

What I was trying to say is that lots of developers, and I see it very prominently in JRPG's, fail to realize the potential of the medium that is videogames and fail to design their games according to those specific characteristics that make the videogame such a unique storytelling medium and a unique experience overall.
*big snip for space*

Im still not entirely sure what you are saying it seems you see story driven by text and cutscenes as outdated and no longer needed while the future is just having a voice telling you stuff while you either get on with the game or wander around looking about until they have finished telling you stuff so you can get on with the game.

I would agree in some respect I am not a fan of huge cutscenes such as that appear in MGS 4 or reading pages and pages of text unless it fits the game the thing is now with greater tech we have a choice on how the narrative is told you can tell it through text or through cutscenes, purely audio, pictures (unlikely but still) or even a mixture just because technology allows a new way dosent negate previous methods it just allows more choice on the designers part to choose the one they feel best fits there game.

You say you dont like being pulled out of control of your character then mention valve now I have only played HL2 and I thought it was fun but that was more down to game mechanics than any narrative the way they told it just didnt stick with me and fair enough it was there choice to tell it that way but there are lots of setpieces I cant change even if I know they are coming (actually ironically MG3 did allow the changing of the narrative in small ways through at least one of these setpieces) and while I was never ripped out of control of Gordon for long there were a few times where I may as well have been because I couldnt continue until the game let me.

Also in most FP games I am supposed to be that character so it makes sense I dont leave them but if I am mainly just an observer in a story then it would make sense there are parts I cant control them actually it would make sense if I could never control them but then that wouldnt be much of a game.

Bioshock I will admit I did like the story the devises they used to tell it was well chosen in my opinion but I did have to hunt the narrative down which was a little annoying and ofc they actually ripped away control of your character to create probably the stand out narrative part of the game and it made sense to story wise and mechanically.

That being said I still stand by my initial saying that games havent realised there potential for narrative yet the tech isnt there all we are able to do is tell old narrative styles through mediums that have already been done before via Cinema, Literature and Radio it is all just going straight forward maybe small diversions here and there and a few branching paths but there has been no true interaction put into the narrative, although some games hide this better than others.

If we look at the JRPG genre while lots do tell there stories through pop up pictures and realms of text this can sometimes be put down to budget (not always ofc) I will mention Ar Tonelico II again as this demonstrates this idea perfectly the amount of text in that game is ridiculous seriously its probably more than most books but at the same time it does what very few games do and offer a branching narrative to follow one character or another which will have massive changes on what you see and hear from then on admittedly it parrallels the other path and the ending is still similar but it still means you miss out on a lot of the game that has been crafted if you only do one route (which you probably will as it is not a short game).Very few developers want this they work hard on a game they dont want people to miss out on things.

Now FFXIII apparently they wanted to convey the feeling of a movie well mission accomplished but maybe he should have found out if thats what the people want actually it seems it is but they want to be in the movie not look at it, unfortunately it still dosent change that then it is setpiece,gameplay,setpiece,gameplay etc.

A few including myself have mentioned Xenoblade Chronicles which does a great job of telling the story through good voice acting clever gameplay mechanics and most impressively through the environments in this last regard I would say it does a better job than any game I have ever played. But it is still old narrative structure told in a good and enjoyable way.

Ok I am going to stop there as I think I may be getting a little off topic from the original thread but JRPGS can innovate in surprising ways many dont ofc and are outdated which may arise due to budget/supply issues or just plain bad design but a good or at least enjoyable story/dialogue etc will offset this concessions must be made and the focus should be on achieving the best you can with the means available to you and I dont think JRPGS or any Japanese game is worse at doing this than any other.

Also there is nothing like feeling the pinch to spur innovation (unless you are one of the few studios who have a guaranteed seller then you can just trot out a sequel that is the same as before).

The Video games unique tool over other media is of course interactivity but it is just that a tool, and it should be used as such not flipped permanently on or off as a default setting but used wisely to sculpt the designers vision.

Sorry for the wall of text but if you still think I have missed your point PM me.

dimensional:
Im still not entirely sure what you are saying it seems you see story driven by text and cutscenes as outdated and no longer needed while the future is just having a voice telling you stuff while you either get on with the game or wander around looking about until they have finished telling you stuff so you can get on with the game.

Actually that's not what I mean. What I mean is telling the story throughout the world itself. That's why I used HL2 as an example, that's a game in which that is done a lot. You see stuff happening to citizens, you see the ravaged coastline, renegades hunted down like cattle, etc etc etc all while you play. All that together with other character's dialogue tells you the story of a world in peril.

And that's the sort of synergy between gameplay, narrative and world design I'd like to see more often, especially in the JRPG genre.

You say you dont like being pulled out of control of your character then mention valve now I have only played HL2 and I thought it was fun but that was more down to game mechanics than any narrative the way they told it just didnt stick with me and fair enough it was there choice to tell it that way but there are lots of setpieces I cant change even if I know they are coming (actually ironically MG3 did allow the changing of the narrative in small ways through at least one of these setpieces) and while I was never ripped out of control of Gordon for long there were a few times where I may as well have been because I couldnt continue until the game let me.

The important bit is narrative flow, a sense of continuity. In HL2 that was pretty much completely preserved. As I've described above, in HL2 the story isn't specifically told, it's just everywhere, it resides in everything you see.

And that's what I'd like to see happening a lot more, not just in JRPG's mind you. It's just that JRPG's have the clearest distinction between gameplay, story and narrative. What I'd like to see more often is those things joining forces.

Also in most FP games I am supposed to be that character so it makes sense I dont leave them but if I am mainly just an observer in a story then it would make sense there are parts I cant control them actually it would make sense if I could never control them but then that wouldnt be much of a game.

Nope, it doesn't just count for first-person games. While the effects are felt very strongly there, it's mainly about, as I've said before, narrative flow. That too matters in third person games. Especially when the cutscenes look way more extravagant than anything ingame, even in a third person game, you get continuity issues, you get a game that's completely torn to pieces in terms of narrative. The flow is completely gone.

Bioshock I will admit I did like the story the devises they used to tell it was well chosen in my opinion but I did have to hunt the narrative down which was a little annoying and ofc they actually ripped away control of your character to create probably the stand out narrative part of the game and it made sense to story wise and mechanically.

You'll have to rephrase that a bit. Hunt the narrative down? Are you talking about the audio logs? Because the game's narrative is a lot more than such things, the entirety of Rapture breathes the game's narrative, of what's going on in the game.

That being said I still stand by my initial saying that games havent realised there potential for narrative yet the tech isnt there all we are able to do is tell old narrative styles through mediums that have already been done before via Cinema, Literature and Radio it is all just going straight forward maybe small diversions here and there and a few branching paths but there has been no true interaction put into the narrative, although some games hide this better than others.

I beg to differ. These days we can create very detailed worlds, just look at what JRPG's can come up with in terms of visual design, just look at what they can create in cutscenes. We now have the technology to build those immersive 3D worlds, dress them up as we see fit. I have no doubt in my mind that a FF, including wonderful visual design, could be created that had a lot more integration between story and gameplay with the tech we have right now.

Now FFXIII apparently they wanted to convey the feeling of a movie well mission accomplished but maybe he should have found out if thats what the people want actually it seems it is but they want to be in the movie not look at it, unfortunately it still dosent change that then it is setpiece,gameplay,setpiece,gameplay etc.

Setpieces aren't bad by definition. Call of Duty and Crysis are games that use setpieces too, but they integrate them in the game a lot more. We see a lot more things happening during the game. Why can't FF do that? Why not get those extravagant pieces of visual design out of the cutscenes and put them into the game in one way or another? Why can't they tell us the story during gameplay? Why must they insist of breaking the flow of the game?

A few including myself have mentioned Xenoblade Chronicles which does a great job of telling the story through good voice acting clever gameplay mechanics and most impressively through the environments in this last regard I would say it does a better job than any game I have ever played. But it is still old narrative structure told in a good and enjoyable way.

Dammit I keep getting more curious about that game. Why don't I have the time or money to buy a Wii! *weeps*

Ok I am going to stop there as I think I may be getting a little off topic from the original thread but JRPGS can innovate in surprising ways many dont ofc and are outdated which may arise due to budget/supply issues or just plain bad design but a good or at least enjoyable story/dialogue etc will offset this concessions must be made and the focus should be on achieving the best you can with the means available to you and I dont think JRPGS or any Japanese game is worse at doing this than any other.

And that's why I'd like the Japanese and Western gaming companies to cooperate a lot more. They both have their strengths and weaknesses that, I think, can really compliment each other.

The Video games unique tool over other media is of course interactivity but it is just that a tool, and it should be used as such not flipped permanently on or off as a default setting but used wisely to sculpt the designers vision.

It's not so much a tool, it's a videogame's defining characteristic. Why bother even making a videogame if you don't plan on using the medium's strengths?

Cowabungaa:
*big snip due to laziness and space*

dimensional:
The Video games unique tool over other media is of course interactivity but it is just that a tool, and it should be used as such not flipped permanently on or off as a default setting but used wisely to sculpt the designers vision.

It's not so much a tool, it's a videogame's defining characteristic. Why bother even making a videogame if you don't plan on using the medium's strengths?

Ok so you believe they should tell the narrative through the world and environment rather than actually tell you ok I am fine with that but that will not suit every game and we shouldnt try and make every game follow the same type of narrative structure as HL or Bioshock or FF or MGS or whatever, incidental details can certainly be used and are usually a nice touch in Oblivion (havent got skyrim yet) it was fun to wonder around and explore and talk to people (or watch them die fighting some pointless battle) even though every time I did it brought me to an in game cutscene where I had to select dialog boxes and as much as I liked the game I would have to say its narrative structure was pretty piss poor it just didnt know what to do and ended up stuffing a lot of its stuff in books which you could find (and were usually quite fun to read).

Jrpgs have of course been doing this in a fashion for ages actually scrap that in pretty much all rpgs you can wonder around and talk to people you come across things that shape your own understanding of the world,the art style alone helps contribute towards the theme. Some things you want to leave open to interpretation and others you dont.

I would say actually that the more interactivity you put in a game the worse the narrative flow because as I have said we dont have the ability (yet) to integrate the two together and until we get proper A.I for a start we probably never will.

The only way I would feel a break in immersion from what you are describing is if I actually felt I was part of the game one minute then staring at a screen reading text or watching a setpiece/cutscene the next which I have never got I am always perfectly aware I am playing a game and I am sure you are as well. If it takes me from looking at the in game world to a beautiful cutscene which the in game models just cant match it just shows me a clearer vision of what they are trying to get at but cant attain (probably down to budget now more than tech)
and ironically I suppose actually help me become more immersed into the world than if I was just looking at the inferior in game models all the time.

I am being general here certainly sometimes you dont want to do this because it would have more of the effect you are describing, especially if used to excess but used sparingly and wisely it feels more like a reward and a nice palette cleanser.

The idea of narrative flow is pretty subjective if the narrative dosent flow in a story based game then people will stop playing because it would be painful to get through the same with books some are easy reads that you can devour while another might be an absolute trudge while someone else will have the opposite experience.

In regards to Bioshock I was referring to the audio logs and yes I am fully aware that there is more to the games narrative than those but I would still miss out on a fair bit of raptures background if I didnt find them sure I could hazard a good guess of what went on from the environment but I would never know for sure without some hard evidence and I certainly wouldnt know the details.

As for interactivity I would say it definitely is a tool,movies are able to tell stories through showing rather than telling but you still get long monologues and occasional scenes where you cant even see anything they dont have to show everything all the time its just something they can do.

Games are the same if you cant interact with it then its not a game but that interaction does not have to be a lot you shouldnt allow it to define how you approach games take a visual novel how much interaction do you get in that absolutely bugger all in relation to how long you spend just reading text against static backdrops some music and slightly different character models but the narrative flow is very strong it has to be thats the only reason people play them there is no gameplay to save it.

In short it may be a video games strength or more specifically its defining characteristic but it dosent have to play to this strength it can use it to supplement the strengths of other mediums which I believe is a games true strength at the moment its ability to ape and subtly bend many other established mediums by injecting varying amounts of interaction into the mix.

One final note is narrative tends to clash with gameplay in a lot of instances because one will paint you as an ordinary man, someone you can relate to but because the game you usually end up killing a small army and surviving massive amounts of damage, Take a sword to the face thats -23 life just been sprayed by bullets better grab that health pack or wait a few seconds behind cover until your all better.

In this respect almost a lot of games have poor narrative flow you can get around it by crafting a narrative about your super powerful character or some special item/equipment they have (handily) but that will be a concession to the mechanics of the game usually gameplay and narrative do not really flow together that well at all.

We do need more developers like Tomonobu Itagaki, he wants to bridge the gap between the Japanese and American game industries.

People may not be a fan of the manga and the like, but I quite enjoyed the Bleach games. I just wish they were released outside of Japan and I didn't have to import them. Same goes for a few other titles.

At the peril of sounding like freakin' everybody else in this thread, I'll say that I get a way-too-retro vibe from Japanese games. You know how point & click adventures gradually disappeared from the western market (the rare modern niche-example notwithstanding)? I figured they dissolved and integrated into other, newer genres; there was no need for them to exist in their current form if the technology limitations that created them in the first place weren't really there anymore! So their puzzles turned into Portal, their stories into Mass Effect, their item-scrounging and combining into the countless crafting mechanics of modern RPGs and open-world games.

I don't think JRPGs failed to innovate as much as they moved onto platforms where their mechanics and scopes made sense, i.e. handhelds. A lot of what "defines" a JRPG is merely a question of technological limitations: world maps, dialogue boxes, random encounters, menu-driven combat, abstract mechanics, no pretence of verisimilitude, stylized visuals, and bizarre fantasy settings are all caused by an era in gaming where making RPGs with realistic visuals, interactive environments and adult-oriented stories and settings was gruelling, expensive, and didn't appeal to a large audience - you either appealed to shallow-violent-shithead sensibilities or went the kiddie-route like platformers and mascot-games did.

The circumstances have changed. Involving, hundred-hours adult games with scope and depth have an audience, a ridiculously large one if sandbox games are any indicator! Complex, challenging, mature stories do sell well! People do want to spend hundreds of hours exploring a gameworld, it's just that the atmospheric, populated, palpably interactive Mojave desert or Skyrim is more appealing to gamers in 2012 than traipsing around a "world map" making chocobos mate. That worked in 1997; today, it's called a "pointless busywork MMO sidequest".

I don't think the rise of CoD and its ilk is very relevant to the decline of JRPGs - it's a different audience entirely. What I do think is that RPGs with antiquated systems, trying to pass themselves as 2012 games with just a coat of 2048 texture resolution and bloom, resemble point & click adventures if they were to imitate modern action games.

Fortunately for the cynics, I can confirm that Xenoblade Chronicles, the game everyone hails as the saviour of the genre has indeed a large world explorable on foot, no pop-outta-nowhere monsters, avoids the aggravating Nomura art style, and has a story ballsy enough to outright murder main characters in gruesome ways. I have to admit that the rather subdued and naturalistic British voice-acting from the PAL release greatly improved my impression.

So, JRPGs may finally be leaving their niche. In fact, except for the whimsical Japanese-style fantasy/sci-fi setting, Xenoblade could easily be tagged just "an RPG".

...And all that I've written is kinda pointless since the potential resurgence of a single genre won't do much to save an entire country's industry branch. Maybe if Legend of the Guardian ends up being a Louvre-worthy masterpiece? *fingers crossed*

Okay. Uhm guys.

Why is it we hear japanese industry and think how much the "last" JRPG we played sucked?

I mean other stuff gets produced. And I don't all the japanese gaming industry is failing because Final fantasy XIII got bad reviews.

I'm a little surprised no one's mentioned the facts about how handhelds are where the real action and development is at. Its a combination of things but for the gamer growing up in japan having access to your TV at home with your commuting work schedule and possibly shared and small domicile is... well rare. But with the commuting public transportation culture handhelds that can wirelessly ping nearby are boss.

Because most japanese money and gaming is for on the go and commuter stuff that's cute and idiosyncratic is the deal there. Something quick and easy or involves a different form of co-op (monster hunter) and can be fit around work and other leisure activities. Its not helped that by age 30 you're not supposed to be a gamer anymore (admittedly this is anecdotal from westerners who report on the gaming culture from there)

Third party engine use is a sign of GOOD things. Part of the issue and the slow adoption to HD gaming has been a lack of middleware or middleware and playtest friendly design processes. That seems changed. But its likely being directed to handhelds or niche audiences in japan (which tends to handle IP in a different method referred to as Mixed Media; take an idea and replay it in different medias, comics, novels, etc) not as easily exported for broad western appeal.

I'm going to try to avoid equating all japanese culture with anime but it is similar how many manga and anime are for different crowds but cartoons and comics are for ONE crowd here. This doesn't make for cross market appeal if your show is say about baseball but you're marketing to the core american anime fandom which tend to be scifi fantasy geeks who wanted more elaborate versions of stuff back in the 90s and 80s there were few full motion examples of.

Besides its not so much Japan has gotten worse so much as Western PC developers have branched to wider more mainstream markets and gotten better. You don't have to deal with the peculiar 'isms' of the culture or storytelling ticks despite The Darkness having a number of anime equivalents.

Bishop99999999:
Kickstarter something, dammit! Are you telling me that there aren't a few young, disgruntled Japanese game developers tired of having their fresh new ideas squashed by the senile old farts above them in management? We talk about Western game companies being oppressive monoliths, but they got nothing on the big name Japanese game companies. Break fee of your chains, and let the wallets of millions of bored gamers around the world help you drag Japan kicking and screaming into the 21st century!

When a low level developer wants to make a hit or niche game he goes to fan market or makes a
PC visual novel game that has appeal in visuals, voice-acting and etc.

Japan already has its outlets for indie or offbeat titles and tons of variety check what's on the PSP overthere.

Another issue is cultural things tend to be ... well the elders hold the power and the work conditions are intense, just getting investors as newbie can be a major pain. Also Kickstarters aren't the way of the future unless you are a WELL established and liked author with fanbase willing to pay. Moreover they, like Western Developers, are going to be influenced by local filters. Making girlgame is plainly going to be more of a priority than making a whatever sells in the west.

And what about Binary Domain. coopt tactical 3rd person shooter from Japan by the team from the Yakuza series. Heck the Yakuza series, 3rd person action adventure. Lost Planet, etc.

PArt of the issue is people have an image of japan in there heads and decided they like or love it. Even if more or other is going on it doesn't matter

leet_x1337:

Cowabungaa:
Maybe this'll provide the right stimulation for them to innovate more.

Which reminds me, the Japanese gaming industry is so weird in that respect. On one hand you have crazy-awesome innovation with games like Katamari and Catherine, but on the other hand you have the ever-popular JRPG genre which is hopelessly outdated, especially in terms of narrative design, because seriously who the hell designs something for an interactive medium almost like a movie.

I never really got that duality.

You're forgetting that some JRPGs actually are innovative within the genre, at least in gameplay and artistic design if not in cutscene design. And if you do want an action-based JRPG without very much spiky hair (and an interesting thing with "heart to heart", get yourself a Wii and Xenoblade Chronicles.

Seriously, do it, that's game's amazing. And who knows? Maybe it'll encourage some games that innovate outside the JRPG label to get localised. ...Or you could just stick to the ever-popular first-person shooter genre which is hopelessly outdated, especially in terms of environment design, because seriously who the hell wants to see the Cold War escalate ten times in one year?

That sounds great, oh wait, no NA release. Seriously, how did that meeting go? "Okay, which game should we release in NA, the more action focused game or the traditional JRPG that's not much more than a niche genre there?"

"Well Americans do tend to prefer action focused games, we'd make the most money by giving them the action focused game, so let's give them the niche title."

"Genius, we'll go with that then. Give that man a medal."

Something like that I imagine. And they wonder why there games don't do as well here as they used to.

michael87cn:
wait... what? only 25% responded? That's an awfully exact number. Is this credible news?

And how is 52% of 25% even an accurate idea of good OR bad? What if the other 75% would have voted positively?

That's like taking 25% of presidential election votes and saying it looks good or bad for one side or the other - how can you even come to a conclusion without at least half the picture?

I am AMAZED no one said this on the first freaking page! Seriously, when I saw 52% of 25% all I could do is go "bwuh?" and expect the article to be immediately turned down for lack of proper research. But instead the comment section seems to be devoted primarily to an East vs. West Smackdown.

Honestly, guys, only 25% of companies that have existed for over 3 years responded, and some didn't even completely fill out the survey. Unless that 25% accounts for more than 75% of the total earnings for the Japanese Gaming Industry, it's pretty damn hard to say for sure how bad it really is.

And besides, how many times has it already been said in this very thread? Japan hasn't had the greatest of years PERIOD! Honestly, I think this should all be very much expected, given the circumstances. I mean, fine, there's nothing saying that they SHOULDN'T be able to make a profit this year, but I'm just saying they kind of have a semi-valid excuse.

archvile93:

leet_x1337:
[quote="Cowabungaa" post="7.351564.13916776"]You're forgetting that some JRPGs actually are innovative within the genre, at least in gameplay and artistic design if not in cutscene design. And if you do want an action-based JRPG without very much spiky hair (and an interesting thing with "heart to heart", get yourself a Wii and Xenoblade Chronicles.

That sounds great, oh wait, no NA release. Seriously, how did that meeting go? "Okay, which game should we release in NA, the more action focused game or the traditional JRPG that's not much more than a niche genre there?"

"Well Americans do tend to prefer action focused games, we'd make the most money by giving them the action focused game, so let's give them the niche title."

"Genius, we'll go with that then. Give that man a medal."

Something like that I imagine. And they wonder why there games don't do as well here as they used to.

'Cept it is getting an NA release, albeit limited to Ninty's website and Gamestop. And The Last Story is already confirmed as coming. If you seriously want to see more games cross the gap between America and Japan, buy either (or, heck, both) of them.

leet_x1337:

archvile93:

leet_x1337:
[quote="Cowabungaa" post="7.351564.13916776"]You're forgetting that some JRPGs actually are innovative within the genre, at least in gameplay and artistic design if not in cutscene design. And if you do want an action-based JRPG without very much spiky hair (and an interesting thing with "heart to heart", get yourself a Wii and Xenoblade Chronicles.

That sounds great, oh wait, no NA release. Seriously, how did that meeting go? "Okay, which game should we release in NA, the more action focused game or the traditional JRPG that's not much more than a niche genre there?"

"Well Americans do tend to prefer action focused games, we'd make the most money by giving them the action focused game, so let's give them the niche title."

"Genius, we'll go with that then. Give that man a medal."

Something like that I imagine. And they wonder why there games don't do as well here as they used to.

'Cept it is getting an NA release, albeit limited to Ninty's website and Gamestop. And The Last Story is already confirmed as coming. If you seriously want to see more games cross the gap between America and Japan, buy either (or, heck, both) of them.

Really? I just thought they kind of said, "We'll consider it," and never brought it up again. Sadly it really doesn't affect me either way, since they're only on the Wii if I recall. The fact I don't have that system is kind of a dealbreaker since without out that they're really just tiny, $60 frisbees to me. At least it can be enjoyed by people that do have that system.

zerobudgetgamer:

michael87cn:
wait... what? only 25% responded? That's an awfully exact number. Is this credible news?

And how is 52% of 25% even an accurate idea of good OR bad? What if the other 75% would have voted positively?

That's like taking 25% of presidential election votes and saying it looks good or bad for one side or the other - how can you even come to a conclusion without at least half the picture?

I am AMAZED no one said this on the first freaking page! Seriously, when I saw 52% of 25% all I could do is go "bwuh?" and expect the article to be immediately turned down for lack of proper research. But instead the comment section seems to be devoted primarily to an East vs. West Smackdown.

Honestly, guys, only 25% of companies that have existed for over 3 years responded, and some didn't even completely fill out the survey. Unless that 25% accounts for more than 75% of the total earnings for the Japanese Gaming Industry, it's pretty damn hard to say for sure how bad it really is.

And besides, how many times has it already been said in this very thread? Japan hasn't had the greatest of years PERIOD! Honestly, I think this should all be very much expected, given the circumstances. I mean, fine, there's nothing saying that they SHOULDN'T be able to make a profit this year, but I'm just saying they kind of have a semi-valid excuse.

I'm so glad I wasn't the only one to notice the significance of the statistics. It all feels terribly alarmist.

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