Author Topic: RPG Discussion Thread  (Read 3604 times)

blackmoor

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RPG Discussion Thread
« on: April 30, 2013, 10:07:46 PM »
Does anyone here watch the Tasteful Understated Nerdrage series on YouTube? When TUN did a review on the new Torment: Tides of Numenera game, InXile liked it so much they actually mentioned it in their latest update. So I think this review is a good example to frame a RPG discussion on.

In his analysis of Choice and Consequence he essentially states all the reasons why I play RPGs like Underrail. The setting has sufficient depth that the artificial world reacts as if it's a hypothetical real world. In other words, the options available to me, as a player, cause me to role-play as if the consequences of my choices mattered. I really like that in Underrail you can choose to help criminals and doing so has it's own risks and rewards. I know these concepts will be expanded as the project moves forward. Eventually, I'd like to be given choices that are more or less ambiguous, requiring the players to use common sense to predict the long-term ramifications.

While it's true that C&C is not necessarily what makes a RPG great, I do think it's among the important ingredients. If your game makes me paranoid about the possible results of my actions, then I'm immersed in the game and my experience is enhanced. The game setting would react realistically. NPCs would react in some way to the major decisions I make.

A good discussion can be a way to learn and share ideas, so let everyone know what's on your mind.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2013, 06:07:21 PM by blackmoor »

joejoefine

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Re: RPG Discussion Thread
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2013, 11:11:31 PM »
I think the easiest way for me to decide what distinguishes a good RPG from a bad one is to compare games like Fallout with games like Oblivion from Bethesda.

Oblivion didn't have any meaningful choices; first of all, I'm not even sure if you had any choices. But even the things you did do in certain guilds (like the mages guild) made (in almost all cases) no difference in the world. Its just a series of quests that you complete, and maybe you get to level up your character a bit, but ultimately it feels like the game you're playing is just an empty, meaningless world where you just do quest after quest...but there is nothing that is really driving you at all except the potential for acquiring a new spell, or finding new armor.

Also, at least in the RPGs that I like to play, combat has to be interesting and challenging. In Oblivion it was as simple as it could possibly be, and there weren't really any tactics to speak of. You just mash your slash button, and block when you're being hit. Or you cast spells and run around in a circle. I'll admit there may be some complexity added in when you summon minions, but its not much.

Finally the world has to be varied and interesting, with a number of settings and stories. I think I would sum up Oblivion as quantity over quality - it basically just repeats the same type of dungeons over and over again, with barely any meaningful change between them. The whole game feels like its a really tiresome grind, doing the same things over and over again, to access skills that are fun but not really worth the gameplay. Part of this is also the depth of characters around you; in Oblivion there is barely any meaningful dialogue; its typically one or two sentences, and its almost always "epic" dialogue that has no really depth to it except the same heroic vibe; i.e.  "FOR HONOUR!!", etc.

The difference in a game like Fallout is that it is the opposite of Oblivion in all of these areas.  First of all you have the ability to actually make choices; secondly, the quests have a clear influence on the world and how people perceive you, and what kinds of quests you are eligible for based on your decisions.

Combat is very tactical, due to the turn based nature of the game, there are tradeoffs depending on what weapons you use (melee, smg, assault, sniper, ammo type), positioning (fire and hide, fight in a corridor) The aimed shot system allows for a great variety of shots that can slow your enemy down (legs), cripple them (arms), or blind them (eyes). Grenades could also be used to stun or damage a group. I think it at least had a lot more variety.

The atmosphere was great, the locations were varied and interesting (from the remains of a pre-war research facility that was the center of a nuclear bomb attack, to a gun manufacturing town surrounding by a moat of radioactive sludge).  The conversations involved paragraphs, and some required you to pay attention and think carefully about your answers. All of this created a rich game in which I could have the pleasure of leveling up my character, and applying my skills to influence the world around me.

So I guess to summarize, it has to have meaningful choice and consequence, engaging combat, and an interesting atmosphere and story that you can replay from different angles.  I at least like the idea Bethesda repeatedly brings up of "radiant AI" but which horribly fails nearly every time, and one day I think we can create truly emergent game play and AI. But for now I really enjoy a deep, well-crafted story more than a big, stale, repetitive playground where I fight the same types of foes over and over again for no real reason.

maheusz

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Re: RPG Discussion Thread
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2013, 01:20:29 PM »
I would add my two cents that comparing different types of RPGs aren't really cutting it. The differences are just too wide. Postapocalyptic and fantasy, turn based and real time, isometric and first person. Also I would say that creating such condensed and waried world in normal fantasy setting as was made in Fallout is really hard. Maybe after some kind of catalysm where only remains are left and ruins stick out here and there. But afterall it's different kind of story.

Don't be mistaken - I'm not defending Oblivion :P. I'm just saying that there are things that can't really be compared as much of this is really dependent on player knowledge, immersion and love of numbers. Which is more important - story or freedom? Epicness or emergency? Japanese-type romance options or ability to get philosophical conversation with a bum on the side of the road?

I must say that I do love story based games, maybe because I'm writing a bit myself. But I also cherish party based combat (turn based would be the best...) and discovering different solutions to the problem (and avoiding grinding). The idea of GTA with swords (some people said that about Oblivion/Skyrim) doesn't really appeal to me. Differentiating between subquests and main quests (don't you hate it when all of the sudden 'plot twist' comes alive and turns everything around?), making my way up the ladder to legendary hero and creating something (like NN 2 castle... even that little thing was glorious for me) makes all the difference in the world.

Of course I do like normal RPG with great story too. Actually I can wade through many things in order to finish it and KNOW. Sadly we're living in the era where it's mostly elves and dwarves dominating the RPGs and no more interesting topics are emerging. Nor more interesting heroes.

Also I love Suikoden :P.

blackmoor

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Re: RPG Discussion Thread
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2013, 06:58:10 PM »
Thanks for the comments, guys.

The difference in a game like Fallout is that it is the opposite of Oblivion in all of these areas.  First of all you have the ability to actually make choices; secondly, the quests have a clear influence on the world and how people perceive you, and what kinds of quests you are eligible for based on your decisions.
I very much agree.

But I think a more fair comparison to make would be Fallout 1, which was a masterpiece, and Fallout 3, which was merely a good game. Assuming it's fair to compare these two games, Fallout 3 had a fun combat system, but the choices and consequences were mostly trivial. It came down to this: either help one group and get reward A or help another group and get reward B. It was certainly a better game than Oblivion, but it wasn't a masterpiece, for many of the same reasons. Sure, you could blow up Megaton, which was awesome! But one good example of consequence doesn't make up for a general lack of depth, compared to the original game. It didn't make me feel paranoid that if I made the wrong decision there would be unforeseen consequences that actually mattered to the plot. A good example is that there was no way to fail dialogue in Fallout 3, I simply exhausted every dialogue option to get as much information as I wanted. While Fallout 1, in stark contrast, I felt like every choice mattered, including everything I said.

If every dialogue option and every action really mattered in Fallout 3, it could have been great (or greater).

So I guess to summarize, it has to have meaningful choice and consequence, engaging combat, and an interesting atmosphere and story that you can replay from different angles.  I at least like the idea Bethesda repeatedly brings up of "radiant AI" but which horribly fails nearly every time, and one day I think we can create truly emergent game play and AI. But for now I really enjoy a deep, well-crafted story more than a big, stale, repetitive playground where I fight the same types of foes over and over again for no real reason.

I agree with this 100%. I do like Bethesda games, but they aren't as deep as, say, Planescape: Torment.

I'll take a compelling setting and choices that matter over a big AAA title any day.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2013, 07:56:13 PM by blackmoor »

joejoefine

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Re: RPG Discussion Thread
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2013, 02:45:07 AM »
Thanks for the comments, guys.

The difference in a game like Fallout is that it is the opposite of Oblivion in all of these areas.  First of all you have the ability to actually make choices; secondly, the quests have a clear influence on the world and how people perceive you, and what kinds of quests you are eligible for based on your decisions.
I very much agree.

But I think a more fair comparison to make would be Fallout 1, which was a masterpiece, and Fallout 3, which was merely a good game. Assuming it's fair to compare these two games, Fallout 3 had a fun combat system, but the choices and consequences were mostly trivial. It came down to this: either help one group and get reward A or help another group and get reward B. It was certainly a better game than Oblivion, but it wasn't a masterpiece, for many of the same reasons. Sure, you could blow up Megaton, which was awesome! But one good example of consequence doesn't make up for a general lack of depth, compared to the original game. It didn't make me feel paranoid that if I made the wrong decision there would be unforeseen consequences that actually mattered to the plot. A good example is that there was no way to fail dialogue in Fallout 3, I simply exhausted every dialogue option to get as much information as I wanted. While Fallout 1, in stark contrast, I felt like every choice mattered, including everything I said.

If every dialogue option and every action really mattered in Fallout 3, it could have been great (or greater).

Yeah it's probably a much better idea to compare it to Fallout 3 :P. And I think you summarized the problem well; the quests were too trivial, too binary...too obvious. There wasn't enough depth, like you get in a game like Torment.  It really makes me realize what the true value of Fallout was, it was those interesting quests that led from one city to another. For example (spoilers for anyone who hasn't beat Fallout 2!) - I think Fallout 2 had a great quest line, where Vault City was being attacked by raiders, and these raiders were secretly working through the Bishop family in New Reno, who in turn were being payed by some congressmen in the NCR. The NCR was trying to pressure Vault City into caving in and becoming a part of the NCR in order to protect itself against attacks by raiders, which it secretly was conducting. Its a much more interesting, complicated chain that relates different city-states to each other, and it was a great experience to unravel the conspiracy, and decide what the fate would be of entire cities this way.

Fallout 3 is simplistic. They did an *amazing* job with the atmosphere of the vaults though, I was actually freaked out in one of them that contained hallucinations, and wanted to escape as soon as I could. But yet again the game has no real depth, so it just feels like a big, empty world, with more quantity in terms of space and similar looking ruins to visit, but not enough quality in terms of the quests that are given.

I would add my two cents that comparing different types of RPGs aren't really cutting it. The differences are just too wide. Postapocalyptic and fantasy, turn based and real time, isometric and first person. Also I would say that creating such condensed and waried world in normal fantasy setting as was made in Fallout is really hard. Maybe after some kind of catalysm where only remains are left and ruins stick out here and there. But afterall it's different kind of story.

Don't be mistaken - I'm not defending Oblivion :P. I'm just saying that there are things that can't really be compared as much of this is really dependent on player knowledge, immersion and love of numbers. Which is more important - story or freedom? Epicness or emergency? Japanese-type romance options or ability to get philosophical conversation with a bum on the side of the road?

I must say that I do love story based games, maybe because I'm writing a bit myself. But I also cherish party based combat (turn based would be the best...) and discovering different solutions to the problem (and avoiding grinding). The idea of GTA with swords (some people said that about Oblivion/Skyrim) doesn't really appeal to me. Differentiating between subquests and main quests (don't you hate it when all of the sudden 'plot twist' comes alive and turns everything around?), making my way up the ladder to legendary hero and creating something (like NN 2 castle... even that little thing was glorious for me) makes all the difference in the world.

Of course I do like normal RPG with great story too. Actually I can wade through many things in order to finish it and KNOW. Sadly we're living in the era where it's mostly elves and dwarves dominating the RPGs and no more interesting topics are emerging. Nor more interesting heroes.

Also I love Suikoden :P.

I see what you're getting at, I can definitely understand your wariness to compare these games that seem worlds apart! But I think when you boil it down, you can compare them on the basis of the things you've mentioned and see which type of RPG experience works out better.  For instance take the freedom vs storyline approach. First of all I think its clear that every RPG needs a little bit of both - you can't role play if you don't have some measure of freedom, and without a storyline or plot its just a boring game. I think my point is that, if you had to focus on one or the other, which produces a better game? I'm not sure its necessarily a subjective argument; I think you can see definitive returns on a more story-centric game that a freedom-centric game can't meet, and Bethesda's games are the prime example of this.

I mean its like being able to travel through the wilderness in any direction, or go in any number of caves or through the mountains, like in a game like Skyrim. Its really great for a while, and it certainly looks amazing. But after a while you realize you're going through very similar environments, and the novelty tends to wear off (at least it does for me). I think its not really worth playing the game if you are interacting with it on such a superficial level - you need something else. Of course I am exaggerating, and there are many quests and missions in Skyrim, some would say too many. But they are very simplistic - as I say its quantity over quality. They have binary outcomes, which are mostly predictable and have no impact on the world beyond their own enclosed area. So very quickly the game becomes more like a laundry list of chores to complete, not really to enjoy or think about deeply.

I think you're definitely right in that the story type can be subjective, such as romance or philosophy or epic heroism vs gritty realism. But when I compare Oblivion to Fallout I'm trying to relate some of the fundamental role playing mechanics that they share apart from how the story is told or its setting.

In terms of turn based vs real time combat, there is certainly a massive difference. But I would say you can find the common ground between them purely in terms of the complexity of combat; regardless of whether it is real time or turn based, I would enjoy a role playing game that makes it intricate, and involves many combinations of skills or party members working in tandem with each other (like the tactical, team-based combat that existed in Dragon Age: Origins - which was the first Dragon Age if I remember correctly).

Also in terms of isometric vs first person, there certainly is a big difference here and people have different preferences. But to me I don't think its crucial to the role-playing game experience; it would certainly modify the combat, but I think you can still make it a quality role playing game even if the viewing perspective is radically changed.

That's because, for me the fundamentals of a good RPG are player customization (weapons, stats, skills), complex dialogue and quests that impact each other and the world around you, and a complex combat system. And on these grounds I feel like you can compare Oblivion with what would seem to be a completely separate game like Fallout (i.e. the complex quests is directly related to having a story-centric focus on the game, where the game designer creates places and events for you, rather than you stumbling upon a randomly generated cave to explore).

Edit: Then again maybe there are those who really would prefer to play a more superficial game that has more to offer. I guess I would simply say, that for me, this is the type of RPG I would prefer to play and what I look forward to most in Underrail.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2013, 02:51:24 AM by joejoefine »

blackmoor

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Re: RPG Discussion Thread
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2013, 07:27:12 PM »
Great comments, Joejoefine.  :)

Edit: Then again maybe there are those who really would prefer to play a more superficial game that has more to offer. I guess I would simply say, that for me, this is the type of RPG I would prefer to play and what I look forward to most in Underrail.

I would hope that people who play Western Role-Playing Games are looking for the depth and complexity that you are describing.

It certainly seems like the kind of game Styg is striving for and my hat goes off to him.

segoves

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Re: RPG Discussion Thread
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2014, 01:04:21 PM »
I think the easiest way for me to decide what distinguishes a good RPG from a bad one is to compare games like Fallout with games like Oblivion from Bethesda.

Oblivion didn't have any meaningful choices; first of all, I'm not even sure if you had any choices. But even the things you did do in certain guilds (like the mages guild) made (in almost all cases) no difference in the world. Its just a series of quests that you complete, and maybe you get to level up your character a bit, but ultimately it feels like the game you're playing is just an empty, meaningless world where you just do quest after quest...but there is nothing that is really driving you at all except the potential for acquiring a new spell, or finding new armor.

Also, at least in the RPGs that I like to play, combat has to be interesting and challenging. In Oblivion it was as simple as it could possibly be, and there weren't really any tactics to speak of. You just mash your slash button, and block when you're being hit. Or you cast spells and run around in a circle. I'll admit there may be some complexity added in when you summon minions, but its not much.

Finally the world has to be varied and interesting, with a number of settings and stories. I think I would sum up Oblivion as quantity over quality - it basically just repeats the same type of dungeons over and over again, with barely any meaningful change between them. The whole game feels like its a really tiresome grind, doing the same things over and over again, to access skills that are fun but not really worth the gameplay. Part of this is also the depth of characters around you; in Oblivion there is barely any meaningful dialogue; its typically one or two sentences, and its almost always "epic" dialogue that has no really depth to it except the same heroic vibe; i.e.  "FOR HONOUR!!", etc.

The difference in a game like Fallout is that it is the opposite of Oblivion in all of these areas.  First of all you have the ability to actually make choices; secondly, the quests have a clear influence on the world and how people perceive you, and what kinds of quests you are eligible for based on your decisions.

Combat is very tactical, due to the turn based nature of the game, there are tradeoffs depending on what weapons you use (melee, smg, assault, sniper, ammo type), positioning (fire and hide, fight in a corridor) The aimed shot system allows for a great variety of shots that can slow your enemy down (legs), cripple them (arms), or blind them (eyes). Grenades could also be used to stun or damage a group. I think it at least had a lot more variety.

The atmosphere was great, the locations were varied and interesting (from the remains of a pre-war research facility that was the center of a nuclear bomb attack, to a gun manufacturing town surrounding by a moat of radioactive sludge).  The conversations involved paragraphs, and some required you to pay attention and think carefully about your answers. All of this created a rich game in which I could have the pleasure of leveling up my character, and applying my skills to influence the world around me.

So I guess to summarize, it has to have meaningful choice and consequence, engaging combat, and an interesting atmosphere and story that you can replay from different angles.  I at least like the idea Bethesda repeatedly brings up of "radiant AI" but which horribly fails nearly every time, and one day I think we can create truly emergent game play and AI. But for now I really enjoy a deep, well-crafted story more than a big, stale, repetitive playground where I fight the same types of foes over and over again for no real reason.

Fallout hasnt choices too, only only cosmetic options, which having no effect in result.
And there is many games which said we have many optionst, but in fact, they lie. For example Mass effect, Dragon age, L.A. Noir. In result, every choice leads to the same result...

Fenix

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Re: RPG Discussion Thread
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2014, 09:20:13 AM »
Р:Т?