Friday, 15 January 2010

This was a triumph...

So, uh, I guess this is the end of my course...
But I don't want it to be the end of this blog! I need a space to put my games design related rantings and stuff anyway.

I came to a really strange realisation yesterday.
See, I have always considered myself an RPG fan. Some of my favourite games to play are things like Knights of the Old Republic, Final Fantasy, Eldar Scrolls, Chrono Trigger etc. But yesterday I suddenly realised that actually I'm pretty indifferent to the gameplay of RPG games. I don't hate it, but I generally don't look forward to the gameplay parts, rather being interested in the story and characters. I'm not saying that levelling up and finding new items isn't ever fun, sometimes it is, but ultimately it's not the main draw of the genre for me, particularly with JRPGs.

I realised that what actually draws me to RPGs, particularly NWN2, KotR2, Planescape Torment and JRPG games is:
1. Travelling to fantastic locations as you follow the plot.
2. Ensemble casts with interesting group dynamics.

I think a lot of JRPG fans are the same. One big difference between the fandoms is that WRPG fans tend to talk about character builds and stats and their favourite classes and weapons, while JRPG fans tend to talk about which character they like best, what their favourite relationship pairing is, what their favourite part of the plot was.

So...If I'm not actually interested in the RPG mechanics, why not remove them and replace them with something else? Something that's more enjoyable? Kingdom Hearts did this very effectively, though it doesn't have a big ensemble cast, just a 3-man party.
I guess the main obstacle is that RPG mechanics make it a lot easier to manage a big group of characters, being tactical and often turn-based. Making an action game that still allows a bunch of people to run around together and interact and have conversations is a bit of a tricky one, but it must be doable.

So, I guess my dream game would be an RPG that's not an RPG in gameplay terms. My absolute ideal game would probably have the smooth and exciting gameplay of Prince of Persia or Zelda, the fantastic world building, story and party dynamics of Final Fantasy and Planescape Torment, The polished finish and epic set pieces of Kingdom Hearts and the witty dialogue and invention of Psychonauts.

Now all I have to do is convince somebody that it's a good idea... hahaha.

I'm still alive.

1 comment:

Elcura said...

Congrats on finishing your MA, I hope you managed to achieve everything you set out to do and good luck in the outside world!

Anyway, the RPG-genre is recipient to a lot of critism and vagueness. Some would argue that RPGs (videogames) aren't actually RPGs or that all videogames are technically RPGs in that you play a role as someone who isn't yourself in this adventure. Tomb Raider could be classed as an RPG in this sense, though I think it's silly.

Essentially there are two parts of a game, the upper layer, consisting of game mechanics, level designs and overall gameplay (programming etc), then the lower layer, which is story, atmosphere, characters and so on. Rarely do games mix the layers and often when they do it's mostly as a joke (Disgaea, Mao talking about how he wants to get to level 9999).

The classification of JRPG and WRPG seems to merely be things like dialogue options and gameplay. Because, for JRPGs you could say things like Valkyrie Profile or Final Fantasy XII weren't JRPGs because they don't play like them, even if the story is laid out similarily.

But those games (as well as a few others like Tales, FFXIII, Star Ocean etc) are starting to grow, adding those already immersive worlds with increasingly competent gameplay. A few series like to go backwards though, Dragon Quest will never change, and Lost Odyssey (as much as I love the story, characters and music, the gameplay can go to hell).

So I generally think RPGs will continue to grow (despite idiots like IGN trying to suggest ways to fix JRPGs specfically) as the technology does. JRPGs will get much better gameplay, and WRPGs will actually give you real choices that impact story, rather than just fighting the same final boss no matter if I'm good, neutral or evil.