Escapist Podcast: 035: What Defines An RPG & More Mass Effect

 Pages PREV 1 2
 

This podcast taught me that EA Sports games are RPG's.

A player is on a breakaway. I have several options and choices as a player that falls into the games mechanics as to how to deal with this situation. Do I control my goalie? Do I attempt to trip the player and allow for the penalty shot? Do I hope a save is made and focus on controlling a rebound?

If I choose to trip the player and lead to a penalty shot...I am then paying the consequences of my actions as the game is acknowledging my choice. If this penalty shot leads to a goal, it may impact the outcome of the game. The game further shows the consequences of my actions by giving my game wins and losses a meaning. Did my decisions lead to my making the playoffs?

You even get further into the RPG elements when you control GM decisions or utilize the Be A Player modes and work your way up from the minor leagues.

To the RPG discussion: I agree that it's a combination of both player agency and character growth, but with the definition weighted more heavily towards player impact with notable consequence. I just don't buy the idea that something is not an RPG because it doesn't have tens of menu screens and piles of loot to sift through. That's all well and good, and I understand where the belief may come from, but a RPG should always be about the RP first and foremost. In accordance with that, I actually agree that, while I greatly enjoy many JRPGs, they aren't really RPGs. I consider JRPGs more of a sub genre or even a genre of their own.

To the question about playing a game through if you don't like it: I don't. Or, more accurately, I don't now. Back when I was a kid and there was no internet, I would be in the position of only getting a few games a year and would have no other choice. I made my choices on what to get as best I could (thank you EGM, for the most part) but then pretty much did have to suffer if I chose poorly. Now, however, I have many more resources to make informed choices on what I buy and play. Even though I don't have a ton of disposable income, if I do pick something up I really don't enjoy, I just don't play it. I'm not a completionist or achievement seeker and my free time is too valuable to spend on something I don't enjoy doing. It stings, sure, but it makes me make better choices the next time around.

To jousting: I'm a reasonably fit guy, but I would suck terribly. I've never been on a horse to this point, and I can't even always get my apartment key in my door lock on first go every time. There's no way I would be able to do anything accurate with an 18 foot pole.

Rassmusseum:
I kind of suspected that Susan's philosophy about not needing to finish games to review them. She probably wouldn't have given FFXIII-2 such a favorable score had she finished it before she reviewed it!

Score wouldn't have changed at all. The game doesn't get worse after the first 25 hours, which is about how long I played it before reviewing it. The problems of the end of the game are present in the beginning, and anything you'll find to enjoy doesn't suddenly appear in the third act. I didn't love the way the story wound up, but that wouldn't have changed the review score, or even whether I would personally recommend the game to anyone.

Wow, lots of walls of text in this thread.

First off, I was giddy as hell when my question got answered, so thanks for that. One thing I was hoping to discover that I didn't specify: what classes do you guys play? Actually, I guess I know Steve's and Justin's from the multiplayer 'cast, but I'm still in the dark as to Susan's playstyle. I'm guessing . . . Sentinel. Or maybe Engineer. These guesses are based off of absolutely nothing, by the way.

Guess I should give my two cents on the RPG discussion too. By and large, I agree with Justin; what defines an RPG is the player's ability to make choices that affect the world around them, and not on simply a tactical level. So no, I don't consider JRPG's to truly be RPG's, though I recognize that the term's probably never going away.

Mikeyfell:

When you say "Shepard" I think Femshep.

But mostly Femshep, and I think that's because designed to be male. You can see it in the way she moves, stretching her neck or cracking her knuckles, the way she sits or dances. It's not lady like at all and (to me) it adds a depth to the character that you don't get with the male Shepard. It also doesn't hurt that Jennifer Hale is a far better voice actor than Mark Meer.

See, that actually ruins the immersion a bit for me. I can accept some of the masculine mannerisms, like the way she sits and crosses her legs (actually, with regards to that, I'm in complete agreement with you) but the way she walks and stands is so unnatural as to be distracting for me. It's not that it's not "ladylike," it's that the female human body simply doesn't work that way. I do love Femshep, and I agree that Hale is the superior voice actor (though Meer got significantly better in ME2, and from what I've heard of ME3, it sounds like that trend continued) but to me, Femshep is Femshep, not Shepard. Just the way I think of the character.

I'm an Infiltrator, actually.

Susan Arendt:

Rassmusseum:
I kind of suspected that Susan's philosophy about not needing to finish games to review them. She probably wouldn't have given FFXIII-2 such a favorable score had she finished it before she reviewed it!

Score wouldn't have changed at all. The game doesn't get worse after the first 25 hours, which is about how long I played it before reviewing it. The problems of the end of the game are present in the beginning, and anything you'll find to enjoy doesn't suddenly appear in the third act. I didn't love the way the story wound up, but that wouldn't have changed the review score, or even whether I would personally recommend the game to anyone.

Ok, maybe I should phrase that better. I just meant that it didn't seem like you'd seen the ending yet from reading the review. I'm assuming you have by now and know how much of a cliffhanger it was? That in particular just really irked me personally, and I just assumed you'd have something to say about it is all had you finished it.

Edit: To add, I'm not referring to anything mechanical in the game, just how the ending absolutely failed to wrap up the narrative.

Dastardly:

1. RPG isn't a genre. It's a gameplay style that can be used in several genres.

I think this is going to be my stance from now on. Frankly, what I've always considered an RPG is how heavy the story is. Story was always the biggest element to RPG games to me, rather than openness or leveling.

All this debate has proven to me is how skewed my idea of it is... and how overarching the idea of "RPG" is in all games.

Thank you sir, for my new stance.

Edit:

I completed Heavy Rain because I enjoyed Mystery Science 3000 it with my friend. It wasn't a good or fun game, but we enjoyed making fun of it.

Rassmusseum:

Susan Arendt:

Rassmusseum:
I kind of suspected that Susan's philosophy about not needing to finish games to review them. She probably wouldn't have given FFXIII-2 such a favorable score had she finished it before she reviewed it!

Score wouldn't have changed at all. The game doesn't get worse after the first 25 hours, which is about how long I played it before reviewing it. The problems of the end of the game are present in the beginning, and anything you'll find to enjoy doesn't suddenly appear in the third act. I didn't love the way the story wound up, but that wouldn't have changed the review score, or even whether I would personally recommend the game to anyone.

Ok, maybe I should phrase that better. I just meant that it didn't seem like you'd seen the ending yet from reading the review. I'm assuming you have by now and know how much of a cliffhanger it was? That in particular just really irked me personally, and I just assumed you'd have something to say about it is all had you finished it.

Edit: To add, I'm not referring to anything mechanical in the game, just how the ending absolutely failed to wrap up the narrative.

Ah, yes, I agree that it's pretty lame, but not so bad that I think it would ruin someone's experience with the game. And that's the point of the review - conveying the overall experience.

The way that I boil it down, is that the "role" part in the name doesn't have to mean one thing. I think anything is an RPG if it offers you a diversity of roles. Be this in the stat department, choice department or class department. In this way I consider both ME and final fantasy to be rpgs, but just different kinds I guess.

HellsingerAngel:
snip.

Simply put, I concur. Culture is rarely taken into account when these things are discussed.

I'm still not changing my new stance that RPGs aren't a genre, but a system, though. It's a pretty solid stance in my opinion.

Edit:

Susan Arendt:

Ah, yes, I agree that it's pretty lame, but not so bad that I think it would ruin someone's experience with the game. And that's the point of the review - conveying the overall experience.

Eh... this might be just me... but I have to disagree.

I've played games were the last disc was so bad it just ruined the experience as a whole, and I've read a 600 page book that was incredibly compelling, till the last page where the author killed off half the cast.

Everything I had read or played up to and enjoyed by that point just seems moot to me if the ending is terrible. My experience isn't complete until the end... and that end can make or break an entire series for me.

Dastardly:

If I were to boil it down to the root of the "problem:"
1. RPG isn't a genre. It's a gameplay style that can be used in several genres. And, like any style, it can be laid on pretty thick or pretty thin. Final Fantasy games have a thin layer of RPG (more in some, less in others), while Skyrim has a bit more.

this is what i've always though too. RPG is like a prototype that is implemented through further specialization into the various genres. i cant help but think my thoughts on this resemble java generic classes...lolz

Also, just listened to this a second time...concerning Steve's comments about Deus Ex: Human Revolution around the 50:00 mark; if you're talking about what happens when Jensen returns to Henshaw and is ambushed by lots of enemies in a construction site....yes, that particular death is the player's fault. You can save that character.

Also, shortly after that around 57:00; what genophage choice from the first Mass Effect are you referring to? The only possible thing I can think of is the situation with Wrex, but no matter what you decide to do with him, Shepard destroys Saren's cure to the genophage there. What's the choice?

careful:

Dastardly:

If I were to boil it down to the root of the "problem:"
1. RPG isn't a genre. It's a gameplay style that can be used in several genres. And, like any style, it can be laid on pretty thick or pretty thin. Final Fantasy games have a thin layer of RPG (more in some, less in others), while Skyrim has a bit more.

this is what i've always though too. RPG is like a prototype that is implemented through further specialization into the various genres. i cant help but think my thoughts on this resemble java generic classes...lolz

If an rpg is simply a style, what are tabletop rpgs and games such as the Wizardry series and the mainline Final Fantasy series when you remove those mechanics? What genre do they belong to if rpg is just a style? Is one basing this on games such as the Elder Scrolls series and Jade Empire which are games that fall into the realm of action rpg? (The realm of action rpg being a sub-genre of rpg that simply removes accuracy and evade calculations and places success and failure in player skill) Are the non-action rpgs adventure games? Are they still games given that all one can do is move from landscape to landscape if one removes the "game style" from these series? The only other actions that occur in these games are puzzle-solving (and mini-games) and commerce, but the latter is none too robust and the amount of puzzles varies from game to game in both series. (And no I don't want to acknowledge fetching as some type of enjoyment)

How would one play the Dragon Age, Baldur's Gate, Final Fantasy XII and Drakensang series of games if one removes the "style" that modifies the genre they exist in?

Action rpgs could exist without the rpg and become solely action games, but that's only because they are composed of two genres. For example, Dead Island could become Left 4 Dead mechanically to an extent; making success in the game totally reliant on player skill rather than both the player's and character's.

By the questions put forth, one seeks to ask how are game style and game genre not the same.

(I loved how this podcast and last week's are perfectly balanced. One week pee theory, next one in depth discussion on the idea of RPGs and so on... Awesome.)

RPGs... The way I look at it, it comes down to the character development; stats, essentially. But it is a given that regardless of whether you increase your "experience" through repetitive actions or through completing "quests" or just story arcs, your character must become more able to deal with the challenges of the game.

However, if a game has choices presented to the character/player relating to gameplay, if the choice has some form of moral, ethical or cost vs benefit attached, I consider that game to have RPG elements as well.

Two games come to mind with that; Railroad Tycoon 2 and the Thief series (though I have only played Deadly Shadows recently). In Railroad, you are sometimes presented with little popups that sometimes have offers from different people in the world, whether it's a train manufacturer asking if you want to be able to buy a new train 2 years before your competitors, but ones that I'm thinking of is the offer for the mob to disrupt other train companies tracks or doing a favour for the King of Bavaria and imposing higher overhead or something to gain his trust. You don't HAVE to do any of these things, but they can greatly affect how that campaign plays out.
In Thief, you steal things, but you don't have to KILL. Yet you can, if you don't want to bump into them on the way back. (In Deadly Shadows at least) your character doesn't level up, they're only given more options when it comes to equipment, but that fact I had a choice over where I stole things or whether I was going to kill everyone so I could freely roam a castle, bop them over the head and stash them somewhere or take the time to sneak around them all meant I viewed it as a game with an element of roleplaying in it.

So for me, it's an either/or. Levelling or choices when it comes to how you interact with the gameworld. Steve hit the nail on the head with his very first answer; it's a matter of personal taste.

Jachwe:

I... I... I hoped you were taking the piss with this post, but as I read on I saw you were serious. The pretentiousness made the irony of your argument that much more potent.

Susan Arendt:
I'm an Infiltrator, actually.

Ah. Well, at least I managed to predict that you'd play a tech class.

Susan Arendt:
I'm an Infiltrator, actually.

Ah yeah, my favorite as well...good choice. Really looking forward to unlocking the Quarian Infiltrator in the multiplayer once the main game hits.

Draconalis:

HellsingerAngel:
snip.

Simply put, I concur. Culture is rarely taken into account when these things are discussed.

I'm still not changing my new stance that RPGs aren't a genre, but a system, though. It's a pretty solid stance in my opinion.

Edit:

Susan Arendt:

Ah, yes, I agree that it's pretty lame, but not so bad that I think it would ruin someone's experience with the game. And that's the point of the review - conveying the overall experience.

Eh... this might be just me... but I have to disagree.

I've played games were the last disc was so bad it just ruined the experience as a whole, and I've read a 600 page book that was incredibly compelling, till the last page where the author killed off half the cast.

Everything I had read or played up to and enjoyed by that point just seems moot to me if the ending is terrible. My experience isn't complete until the end... and that end can make or break an entire series for me.

I understand that point of view, but I believe the journey is more important than the ultimate destination. Take, It (the Stephen King novel), for example. It's about 1000 pages long and, in my opinion, the last 100 are complete garbage. But the previous 900 are absolutely marvelous, so I still enjoy the book. I don't ignore the pleasure I got from the rest of the book simply because the ending let me down.

Just different philosophies.

Henriot:

RPGs... The way I look at it, it comes down to the character development; stats, essentially. But it is a given that regardless of whether you increase your "experience" through repetitive actions or through completing "quests" or just story arcs, your character must become more able to deal with the challenges of the game.

However, if a game has choices presented to the character/player relating to gameplay, if the choice has some form of moral, ethical or cost vs benefit attached, I consider that game to have RPG elements as well.
[...]
So for me, it's an either/or. Levelling or choices when it comes to how you interact with the gameworld. Steve hit the nail on the head with his very first answer; it's a matter of personal taste.

Completing x radom quests and gaining experience points to increase your characters stats is still a repetitive action. Examples I point to are quest-oriented MMORPGs like World of Warcraft.
Your character becoming more able to deal with the challenges in the game is not exclusive to RPGs. You can tackle that problem in many different ways. You could give your character a more powerful weapon which deals more damage in a first person shooter. Has nothing to do with your character gaining statistical growth through repetitive action. As I said to be a RPG you have to be able to grind.
If it is a personal matter then it has no meaning to be talking about it with others because there will and never can be some reasonable consensus and the word RPG becomes meaningless. But we are talking about the meaning of the phrase and your stance is not helping the goal of the discussion. Either you change your mind and start thinking that there is a consensus that can be reached through reason or you just leave now because your opinion is useless in this discussion.

Henriot:

Jachwe:

I... I... I hoped you were taking the piss with this post, but as I read on I saw you were serious. The pretentiousness made the irony of your argument that much more potent.

I love how the most ignorant and pretentious always think they said something witty without having said anything with meaning. You cannot point out any error of my argument but are already convinced that there is some irony rendering my argument invalid. Point out the error.
Do you mean my thesis of Call of Duty having RPG elements but not being a RPG. I did not explain why that is so but it is pretty much self explaining. Call of Duty has a system that rewards repetitive action, that is playing the game and awarding experience which is by my definition an element of the core mechanic of all RPGs. But there is no statistical growth. You get better waepons and you get perks which are organised in tiers. You have to unlock them but each perk's effect does not increase its effect if you level up and you do not get a perk that is a superior version of a previous perk thus giving you a better statistical advantage which can be measured.
Or are you talking about my thesis why the media likes the lie of RPGs being something which is defined by player's agency and not defined by some hard evidence gained through a scientific mehtod which can only lead to the betterment of game design and thus the quality of games that are made?

Yikes, I asked for that one, didn't I?

I'm going to get a little pedantic and point out most of what is said in these forums are opinion. I was presenting my opinion on the matter, see see whether any other readers might share that opinion. It was a low blow, I admit, to undermine your opinion, but I was just sharing the fact that your comments entertained me.

Story arcs are not necessarily repeptitive. I'm talking about a game that might have a rail-roaded main quest with some side quests, if those side quests are not repeatable, how are they repeptitive? I mean, some games adopt a copy -> paste when it comes to side quests, but I feel safe in saying games try to give context to side quests (excluding those MMORPGs that you mentioned, which fall into their own little pocket).

Ah, and making the character stronger, I should have clarified that; the advancement has to affect the player avatar whereby it increases the avatar's abilities outside of equipment available. So, if your character advances/levels up, and the avatar has more health or can use a certain weapon more effectively, that's the RPG bit that I'm talking about.

Well, your opening lines I found to be particularly interesting. Have you been listening to the podcast long? Do you realise that the 4 people in the room might have an inkling of what is going to be talked about, but don't have time to prep an essay on the matter (I'm not 100% sure how the topics are organised. I hear sheets of paper being shuffled sometimes, who knows?). The idea that they should have been applying a scientific method to deduce "what defines an RPG" when right off the bat you can tell they each have their own take on it. Justin's case is that a game must have choice, being able to affect that choice and have the world reflect back onto you, with the stats being a product of that, so to speak.

And to further answer your question, it was also your thesis on the media that I thought came off a little pretentious (and talking about the gaming culture as if you were not a part of it. Are you not an Escapist reader?). The idea that everyone is just a link in this chain of fools, that everyone is blindly following whatever the person above says just comes out sounding wrong when we're talking about a medium that already mixes and matches the best of all other artforms into one and makes the average reader/player sound like some drooling neanderthal. Bioware can spend as much as they want on the marketting of X Game being full of player agency and the next big RPG, and it may or may not be light on some of those RPG mechanics but if that is the RPG experience someone wants in a game, how is that wrong? Surely consumers will want to know more about a game other than that detail.

Henriot:

Ah, and making the character stronger, I should have clarified that; the advancement has to affect the player avatar whereby it increases the avatar's abilities outside of equipment available. So, if your character advances/levels up, and the avatar has more health or can use a certain weapon more effectively, that's the RPG bit that I'm talking about.

What about when one's character doesn't advance, but gameplay success is highly dependent on the abilities of the character within a system that determines the values of actions based on formulas?

A prime example of this is Trapped Dead, in that game characters have different stats and only receive one weapon type or there are no pistol+1, pistol+2...pistol+8. There's a limit to the amount of damage a character can do with a weapon type and one must divvy the weapons according to the characters' strengths in order to gain greater effects.

Henriot:

Well, your opening lines I found to be particularly interesting. Have you been listening to the podcast long? Do you realise that the 4 people in the room might have an inkling of what is going to be talked about, but don't have time to prep an essay on the matter (I'm not 100% sure how the topics are organised. I hear sheets of paper being shuffled sometimes, who knows?). The idea that they should have been applying a scientific method to deduce "what defines an RPG" when right off the bat you can tell they each have their own take on it. Justin's case is that a game must have choice, being able to affect that choice and have the world reflect back onto you, with the stats being a product of that, so to speak.

Problem there is that an inkling is not enough. If choice is what a game needs to be in order to be an rpg, then I guess Resident Evil 1-3, Dino Crisis, Silent Hill(Especially want to consider Shattered Memories here) and Parasite Eve 2 are rpgs given that one's actions in these games can influence small parts of the game and the ending. (Note: Only one of those is an rpg)

All games have some level of improvement and stats such as one's character choices in Streets of Rage and Final Fight. Does one consider racing games to be rpgs given that each vehicle in these games possess different stats, and in some games one has the ability to modify the stats of cars changing things such as acceleration and traction. Does choice of what car to use and with what parts make them rpgs.

What of the earlier Ultima games, are they not rpgs do to choices not influencing the world? At least not in a way one would consider drastic. Then again, choice has never seemed that dramatic to me.

For a bit more fun, ask oneself what genre are Resident Evil, Dino Crisis, Silent Hill and Parasite Eve 2 are in. My answer is below.

I played Duke Nukem Forever because... I got nothing. Paid for it maybe? But... yeah...

Henriot:
Yikes, I asked for that one, didn't I?

I'm going to get a little pedantic and point out most of what is said in these forums are opinion. I was presenting my opinion on the matter, see see whether any other readers might share that opinion. It was a low blow, I admit, to undermine your opinion, but I was just sharing the fact that your comments entertained me.

There is no such thing as a low blow on an opinion as long as you reason why you disagree with said opinion.
Yes most of the stuff in forums is just opinion everyone is entitled to. That is because they do not allow for an accurate answer to a question/problem at hand. If I would ask "What do you think is the best anime ever?" this question cannot be reasonably answered. Thus I know all following comments are opinions that I cannot reasonably argue with. But if someone asks "What defines a RPG?" I can reasonably answer the question because all I have to do is give a sound definition. A definition is a rule that applies to everthing within the scope of interest. If we talk about defining RPGs our scope are games. It would be silly to apply our definition to movies. How we reach the definition is dictated by our mehtod. I chose to look at a lot of games which we label as RPGs and find the single nominater that all have in common thus using inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning being a reasonable way to reach conclusions I can hope people agree with me but I also leave the comfortable zone of "this is just my own personal opinion no one can reasonably critisize" by having used a scientific method which can be reaoned with. Everyone on this forum may now come at me and point out a seeming error and I have to reconsider my stance. Worse if the critisism is valid and I cannot save my own argument's coherence I am forced to abandon my stance and have to begin anew searching for a definition.

Henriot:

Story arcs are not necessarily repeptitive. I'm talking about a game that might have a rail-roaded main quest with some side quests, if those side quests are not repeatable, how are they repeptitive? I mean, some games adopt a copy -> paste when it comes to side quests, but I feel safe in saying games try to give context to side quests (excluding those MMORPGs that you mentioned, which fall into their own little pocket).

I concur that questing is not something that does fit within the bounds of my definition. Quest is just another word for task. Every kind of game may have tasks. Questing being repetetive in World of Warcraft has nothing to do with World of Warcraft being a RPG. That was my mistake.

Henriot:

Ah, and making the character stronger, I should have clarified that; the advancement has to affect the player avatar whereby it increases the avatar's abilities outside of equipment available. So, if your character advances/levels up, and the avatar has more health or can use a certain weapon more effectively, that's the RPG bit that I'm talking about.

Which is almost what I was saying. But the important part with my "staitical groth through repetitive action" definition I must add is that the statistical growth can always be aquired by repetitive action. I think Quake 4 is quite a good example for this. At one point in the game your character gets an increase of health and speed by having advanced in the game and completed a story arc.
Thus Quake 4 applies to your definition of an RPG by having
a) statistical growth of the player' avatar which aneks the character more able to deal with the challenges of the game
b) having gained that statistical growth by completing a story arc

Henriot:

Well, your opening lines I found to be particularly interesting. Have you been listening to the podcast long? Do you realise that the 4 people in the room might have an inkling of what is going to be talked about, but don't have time to prep an essay on the matter [...] The idea that they should have been applying a scientific method to deduce "what defines an RPG" when right off the bat you can tell they each have their own take on it.

I do not exspect someone to write an essay beforhand but if the podcast starts with words like "here is an interesting question I think about all the time" I think at least one on the podcast had some well thought out argument but no.
I wish they would apply some scientific method because it is the way to go to reach a reasonable conclusion. I am not saying they need to deduce what defines a RPG I myself having used inductive reasoning. If you want your opinion to be taken serious you need to apply a method someone else can agree with. Method being an orderly fashion of doing things. Just going into a discussion and saying "Well I think RPGs are about choices expressing my set of values and the gameworld reacting to that" without reasoning how you came to this conclusion is not an orderly fashion of doing things. You are missing reason. The only reason I heard was... none. This whole podcast these four just talked about what they thought was a RPG, got rebutted within a second by one another.

Henriot:

And to further answer your question, it was also your thesis on the media that I thought came off a little pretentious (and talking about the gaming culture as if you were not a part of it. Are you not an Escapist reader?). The idea that everyone is just a link in this chain of fools, that everyone is blindly following whatever the person above says just comes out sounding wrong when we're talking about a medium that already mixes and matches the best of all other artforms into one and makes the average reader/player sound like some drooling neanderthal. Bioware can spend as much as they want on the marketting of X Game being full of player agency and the next big RPG, and it may or may not be light on some of those RPG mechanics but if that is the RPG experience someone wants in a game, how is that wrong? Surely consumers will want to know more about a game other than that detail.

All humas are equal. Agree? Being equal means to not have such outstanding abilities as to rule all others by default. So humans have roughly the same physical and mental abilities at birth. Being extraordinary strong requires training und being educated requires studying. Humans seem to be socialy adapted in general.
So what am I saying? Everyone is dumb (having roughly same mental abilities) and will follow the flock (being social).
Games being the accumulation of all artforms is yet another lie we like to tell. We feel secure with such an argument. Let us take a step back and enjoy the madness:
If someone comes to us saying "you are playing games and games are ment for kids not adults" it gets immidiatly rebutted by "NO, GAMES ARE ART! DON'T YOU SEE? IT CLEARLY IS AN ACCUMULATION OF ALL FORMS OF ARTS WHICH MACKES IT ART!!! I CAN STILL ENJOY MY GAMES BUT IN AN ADULT WAY." *foam in your mouth*
Going back to buisness:
I have yet to see a solid argument why games are supposed to be an accumulation of artforms. They have visuals and sound like a movie plus the interactive element which many people say is unique to games. There existing such a thing as interactive arts it is not so unique anymore because there is more than one. But at least it is the interactive element which distinguishes it from movies.
Having some strong arguments against games being art because of its shortcomings to guide the audience through an aesthetic expirience and not having any strong argument that games are able to deliver an easthetic expirience which can be considered art is telling how low the pretige of games is within the world of arts. I know of no notable figure who has made a sound argument for the aesthetic expirience of games being art based on a legit theory of aesthetics. My argument is you can boast about how much games resemble the prestigious arts but as long as they do not have a serious backbone by a theory of aesthetics which confirms games delivering an expirience which contains the aesthetic expirience they are not art. Art of course being about the aesthtetic expirience and the aesthtetics being explained by a theory of aesthtetics.

Ok, Jachwe, for the sake of the readers, let's shelve the "art" discussion. That wasn't the point of that sentence, and we can start a new topic to further that, but let's stay on track...

Melondrupe:

What about when one's character doesn't advance, but gameplay success is highly dependent on the abilities of the character within a system that determines the values of actions based on formulas?

A prime example of this is Trapped Dead, in that game characters have different stats and only receive one weapon type or there are no pistol+1, pistol+2...pistol+8. There's a limit to the amount of damage a character can do with a weapon type and one must divvy the weapons according to the characters' strengths in order to gain greater effects.

I would say no then. If those stats (and therefore the formulas) changed throughout gameplay or you could continue those characters after a game with the stats changing between, I would. Might be it has the elements of an RPG (which is a slippery slope, so I'm treading lightly now), but by MY definition it wouldn't be an RPG.

Jachwe:

Which is almost what I was saying. But the important part with my "staitical groth through repetitive action" definition I must add is that the statistical growth can always be aquired by repetitive action. I think Quake 4 is quite a good example for this. At one point in the game your character gets an increase of health and speed by having advanced in the game and completed a story arc.
Thus Quake 4 applies to your definition of an RPG by having
a) statistical growth of the player' avatar which aneks the character more able to deal with the challenges of the game
b) having gained that statistical growth by completing a story arc

Hehe... I haven't played Quake 4, so I can't say either way, but if it fits into my definition, then it does.
Could I ask something of your definition; would it still retain the concrete nature you want to it if instead of "statistical growth through repeptitive action" it read "statistical growth through pre-defined actions/tasks"? Your use of the word "repetitive" is what is jarring for me in your definition, and while I think it stems mainly from games where there is alot of "grinding", there are RPGs where the avatar advances regardless of doing "repetitive actions" and more "set tasks" (quests). I suppose one could make the argument "completing a quest" is an action, and in the cause of playthrough you do multiple quests and it could be seen as repetitive, but for me that would only apply if it was a "go to person A to receive task B" and have the possibility to rinse and repeat that.
Hell, drop the "tasks" from my revised definition, but adding the "predefined" cuts out the possibility of me saying "So, I'm playing Fallout and I'm running back and forth, but I'm seeing no statistical growth, or gaining any experience to add to that growth". Running is an action. I'm doing it repetitively. Where's my growth? (Apart from the one on my foot)

Jachwe:

I do not exspect someone to write an essay beforhand but if the podcast starts with words like "here is an interesting question I think about all the time" I think at least one on the podcast had some well thought out argument but no.
I wish they would apply some scientific method because it is the way to go to reach a reasonable conclusion. I am not saying they need to deduce what defines a RPG I myself having used inductive reasoning. If you want your opinion to be taken serious you need to apply a method someone else can agree with. Method being an orderly fashion of doing things. Just going into a discussion and saying "Well I think RPGs are about choices expressing my set of values and the gameworld reacting to that" without reasoning how you came to this conclusion is not an orderly fashion of doing things. You are missing reason. The only reason I heard was... none. This whole podcast these four just talked about what they thought was a RPG, got rebutted within a second by one another.

I agree that points were made and they didn't back them up well enough, but maybe that's a fault in the medium the information was presented in, rather than a fault to the presenters? Look at us; we're able to compose our arguments in a more coherent manner than if we were talking face to face because one can make a point, and in the other's reply, they can counter what was made and make a new one without worrying about being cut off or having your counter countered before you can back up your arguments. That between 4 people, they're not going to be able to support every single thing said because of the nature of the podcast. However, they have used that to launch this debate that we're partaking in. Go them!

Jachwe:

All humas are equal. Agree? Being equal means to not have such outstanding abilities as to rule all others by default. So humans have roughly the same physical and mental abilities at birth. Being extraordinary strong requires training und being educated requires studying. Humans seem to be socialy adapted in general.
So what am I saying? Everyone is dumb (having roughly same mental abilities) and will follow the flock (being social).

Yes, humans are equal. I was planning on taking this even further, talking about sheep and the role of the individual, but again, it needs to be shelved because it's detracting from the focus.

Fable 3. I beat it in 10 hours on the day I got it. I was mad and felt slighted. I played it a second time just to get my money's worth out of the game then I traded it in without looking back.
On RPGs, I don't consider ME to be an RPG and I don't care about "player agency" too much. Even D&D is just a glorified dungeon simulator most of the time.

Henriot:
Ok, Jachwe, for the sake of the readers, let's shelve the "art" discussion. That wasn't the point of that sentence, and we can start a new topic to further that, but let's stay on track...

Melondrupe:

What about when one's character doesn't advance, but gameplay success is highly dependent on the abilities of the character within a system that determines the values of actions based on formulas?

A prime example of this is Trapped Dead, in that game characters have different stats and only receive one weapon type or there are no pistol+1, pistol+2...pistol+8. There's a limit to the amount of damage a character can do with a weapon type and one must divvy the weapons according to the characters' strengths in order to gain greater effects.

I would say no then. If those stats (and therefore the formulas) changed throughout gameplay or you could continue those characters after a game with the stats changing between, I would. Might be it has the elements of an RPG (which is a slippery slope, so I'm treading lightly now), but by MY definition it wouldn't be an RPG.

"Rpg elements" is such a non-committal phrase, that people seem to use when describing something that's typically seen in rpgs. What I'm asking, does the D20 system and character stats not make D&D? Or any tabletop rpg? Given that the world of Dungeons and Dragons is just the context on top of the formulas and stats. The context allows the dungeon master or game designer to create a start and stop point as well as design the events that occur between the two points. If a group decided to play a short D&D scenario where their characters didn't level, would D&D for that session stop being an rpg? Is leveling so essential that the system and stats mean nothing despite their ability to function without levels and experience points.

If your definition can deny D&D when it can run just well without leveling, it's time to reconsider. RPGs ,without the core of formulas and values to plug into those functions, can't exist as a genre nor a game. Leveling depends on the existence of the core, not the other way around. That's what Trapped Dead is, the core mechanics without levels.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Fable 3. I beat it in 10 hours on the day I got it. I was mad and felt slighted. I played it a second time just to get my money's worth out of the game then I traded it in without looking back.
On RPGs, I don't consider ME to be an RPG and I don't care about "player agency" too much. Even D&D is just a glorified dungeon simulator most of the time.

Could you explain that further, as Dungeon Keeper (and maybe one psp game I can't remember the name of) is the only game I'd consider a dungeon simulator, as in you're running a dungeon. Are you saying the dungeon master is the only important component and that player characters and the mechanics of the game are just there.

The word simulator covers various sub-genres such as sports, non-arcade racing, managerial games and such.

Melondrupe:

Henriot:
Ok, Jachwe, for the sake of the readers, let's shelve the "art" discussion. That wasn't the point of that sentence, and we can start a new topic to further that, but let's stay on track...

Melondrupe:

What about when one's character doesn't advance, but gameplay success is highly dependent on the abilities of the character within a system that determines the values of actions based on formulas?

A prime example of this is Trapped Dead, in that game characters have different stats and only receive one weapon type or there are no pistol+1, pistol+2...pistol+8. There's a limit to the amount of damage a character can do with a weapon type and one must divvy the weapons according to the characters' strengths in order to gain greater effects.

I would say no then. If those stats (and therefore the formulas) changed throughout gameplay or you could continue those characters after a game with the stats changing between, I would. Might be it has the elements of an RPG (which is a slippery slope, so I'm treading lightly now), but by MY definition it wouldn't be an RPG.

"Rpg elements" is such a non-committal phrase, that people seem to use when describing something that's typically seen in rpgs. What I'm asking, does the D20 system and character stats not make D&D? Or any tabletop rpg? Given that the world of Dungeons and Dragons is just the context on top of the formulas and stats. The context allows the dungeon master or game designer to create a start and stop point as well as design the events that occur between the two points. If a group decided to play a short D&D scenario where their characters didn't level, would D&D for that session stop being an rpg? Is leveling so essential that the system and stats mean nothing despite their ability to function without levels and experience points.

If your definition can deny D&D when it can run just well without leveling, it's time to reconsider. RPGs ,without the core of formulas and values to plug into those functions, can't exist as a genre nor a game. Leveling depends on the existence of the core, not the other way around. That's what Trapped Dead is, the core mechanics without levels.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Fable 3. I beat it in 10 hours on the day I got it. I was mad and felt slighted. I played it a second time just to get my money's worth out of the game then I traded it in without looking back.
On RPGs, I don't consider ME to be an RPG and I don't care about "player agency" too much. Even D&D is just a glorified dungeon simulator most of the time.

Could you explain that further, as Dungeon Keeper (and maybe one psp game I can't remember the name of) is the only game I'd consider a dungeon simulator, as in you're running a dungeon. Are you saying the dungeon master is the only important component and that player characters and the mechanics of the game are just there.

The word simulator covers various sub-genres such as sports, non-arcade racing, managerial games and such.

I just meant that you spend the majority of a D&D campaign in a dungeon fighting a series of battles.

Melondrupe:

"Rpg elements" is such a non-committal phrase, that people seem to use when describing something that's typically seen in rpgs. What I'm asking, does the D20 system and character stats not make D&D? Or any tabletop rpg? Given that the world of Dungeons and Dragons is just the context on top of the formulas and stats. The context allows the dungeon master or game designer to create a start and stop point as well as design the events that occur between the two points. If a group decided to play a short D&D scenario where their characters didn't level, would D&D for that session stop being an rpg? Is leveling so essential that the system and stats mean nothing despite their ability to function without levels and experience points.

If your definition can deny D&D when it can run just well without leveling, it's time to reconsider. RPGs ,without the core of formulas and values to plug into those functions, can't exist as a genre nor a game. Leveling depends on the existence of the core, not the other way around. That's what Trapped Dead is, the core mechanics without levels.

I may get some flak for saying this, but I don't think comparing tabletop roleplaying games to RPG videogames should be used in these arguments because while one grew from the other, it is not the same experience.

I've found your definition very interesting, and it might change my mind, who knows? However, my original definition had two parts... if A doesn't apply, see B, which was the choice. The inclusion of problems that have moral, ethical or "cost vs benefit" attached with the choice of how to go about completing that task. Would you consider that to factor into your own defintion somehow? Or a varitation of that definition?

Henriot:

I may get some flak for saying this, but I don't think comparing tabletop roleplaying games to RPG videogames should be used in these arguments because while one grew from the other, it is not the same experience.

I've found your definition very interesting, and it might change my mind, who knows? However, my original definition had two parts... if A doesn't apply, see B, which was the choice. The inclusion of problems that have moral, ethical or "cost vs benefit" attached with the choice of how to go about completing that task. Would you consider that to factor into your own defintion somehow? Or a varitation of that definition?

One errs in not comparing the two, as the mechanics of tabletop rpgs are the most important part emulated in video rpgs; its the part that continues on when the context switches genres from high fantasy to historical era to post-apocalypse to space. The core mechanics are the essence that utterly consumes the mechanics of other genres in games such as Alpha Protocol, Dead Island and Borderlands which would have to have their gameplay significantly altered in order to be considered fun for fans of FPSes.

Choice exists as a way to increase replayability and it's not something unique to rpgs. Take Mount&Blade(Action-RPG) for example, one has several factions to join and several claimants to the thrones of those factions that one could side and assist. Not being forced to join any one possibility gives one the opportunity to play the game again and again, experiencing different outcomes in those games' setting. However, no matter the choice, the core mechanics of the game never change. One may not travel safely into the territories of one's enemies, but one still fights them in a similar way that you would fight your ally for that playthrough.

The most choice ever does is limit or open one's options. If a game is designed to have only one path or somebody decides never to bother with one side of a conflict, the game won't stop being an rpg as the gameplay will remain largely the same.

Melondrupe:

One errs in not comparing the two, as the mechanics of tabletop rpgs are the most important part emulated in video rpgs; its the part that continues on when the context switches genres from high fantasy to historical era to post-apocalypse to space. The core mechanics are the essence that utterly consumes the mechanics of other genres in games such as Alpha Protocol, Dead Island and Borderlands which would have to have their gameplay significantly altered in order to be considered fun for fans of FPSes.

Tablerop RPGs don't stand up with just the core mechanics there to support them. They're not solely about the use of stats and formulas, it's about using those formulas within the context of the world they characters inhabit. I understand you CAN play a tabletop RPG with one roleplayer and the DM, but for the majority of games played it's a group that are the roleplayers and the game was designed with that dynamic in mind. Video RPGs are for the most part designed for the singleplayer, with some co-op exceptions. I have yet to partake in co-op video RPGs (apart from Diablo 2 back in the day), so I have a limited view in that regard. So to answer your question earlier about the small DnD scenario; if it was one person playing it, they were just fighting monsters and evading traps, that's not an RPG to me. If it was a fleshed out scenario with say NPCs, the presence of them means CHOICES can be made with ETHICAL or MORAL implications (peasant asks for help, you chop him in two). If you are playing with other people, there are those choices also added, but revolving around how you interact with your fellow "adventurers".

Melondrupe:

Choice exists as a way to increase replayability and it's not something unique to rpgs. Take Mount&Blade(Action-RPG) for example, one has several factions to join and several claimants to the thrones of those factions that one could side and assist. Not being forced to join any one possibility gives one the opportunity to play the game again and again, experiencing different outcomes in those games' setting. However, no matter the choice, the core mechanics of the game never change. One may not travel safely into the territories of one's enemies, but one still fights them in a similar way that you would fight your ally for that playthrough.

The most choice ever does is limit or open one's options. If a game is designed to have only one path or somebody decides never to bother with one side of a conflict, the game won't stop being an rpg as the gameplay will remain largely the same.

Ah, my favourite game!

Game mechanics shouldn't change depending on player choice, but aspects of gameplay should. M&B I feel captures alot of what I'm talking about when it comes to moral or "cost vs benefit" choices in the gameworld. You are given the choice to be a freerider and create relationships with all the lords in the world, or become someone's lackey very early into the game; you'll receive land/rewards quicker, but only from your kingdom and at the loss of relation to those foreign lords.

I'm only using the "choice" section of my definition in response to your "stats with no advancement" theory. Apart from Trapped Dead, what others do you consider RPGs that don't have the advancement but have the formulas attached to stats?

Hmm... You guys talked about Skyrim, about Baldur's Gate, and Star Wars, but not about food?? I call counterfeit!!

Undoubtedly one of the best podcasts in these past few weeks (yay, no "pee theory" nonsense! ;) ). The RPG discussion was deep and tackled one of the most important questions in gaming (at least, in my book). The "what is the nature of an RPG" question is a complicated one, and I really think there is no such thing as an answer set in stone, at least not when it comes to this issue. I'm of a mind to agree with Justin, but the rest of you gave valid arguments. Defining what makes a game an RPG and what doesn't is hard, and ultimately, we'll all have different views on the matter.

The other part of the podcast that really interested me was the question on introducing our own children to gaming. I have similar fears (even though my own little one can't even sit up without assistance yet), since I'm an avid gamer, but I do keep in mind that the important thing is balance. Balance between gaming and outdoor activities. We firmly intend to encourage activities such as sports, and especially team sports, but I'm really going to try and "pass the torch", as it is. I have fond memories of playing Duke Nukem 3D, Doom II and Wacky Wheels with my father and sister as a child, and will hopefully share similar moments with my own son.
The bonus question, however, is what do you do with the disapproving grandparent? I'm almost 30, and my mother still gives me this disappointed look when gaming comes up, as if I'm some kind of asocial psychopath. *sigh*

Henriot:

Tablerop RPGs don't stand up with just the core mechanics there to support them. They're not solely about the use of stats and formulas, it's about using those formulas within the context of the world they characters inhabit. I understand you CAN play a tabletop RPG with one roleplayer and the DM, but for the majority of games played it's a group that are the roleplayers and the game was designed with that dynamic in mind. Video RPGs are for the most part designed for the singleplayer, with some co-op exceptions. I have yet to partake in co-op video RPGs (apart from Diablo 2 back in the day), so I have a limited view in that regard. So to answer your question earlier about the small DnD scenario; if it was one person playing it, they were just fighting monsters and evading traps, that's not an RPG to me. If it was a fleshed out scenario with say NPCs, the presence of them means CHOICES can be made with ETHICAL or MORAL implications (peasant asks for help, you chop him in two). If you are playing with other people, there are those choices also added, but revolving around how you interact with your fellow "adventurers".

The touting of mechanics over context is meant to imply that removing context reveals the essence of gameplay. If one were to remove the mechanics, one has scraps of information that could be cobbled together into a story, but no game. Choices with ethical or moral implications are just the road not taken. Would a certain kingdom not have fallen into disarray if two siblings had kept their organs apart? Maybe. One person playing against a dungeon master versus several people adding onto a story with another person providing plot points and twists are two different things. The first instance is someone playing a game, while the other could be a creative writing exercise. Tabletop and video rpgs rely on the first for gameplay.

I can't deny that I probably went too far in suggesting that there will be a game where context isn't needed. Which is false given that no game would have structure if not for the framework of beginnings and endings. What I wish to state is that rpgs need context just as much as racers need tracks, beat'em ups need stages and puzzle games such as Tetris and Angry Birds need levels. Story in rpgs aren't there just to tell a tale with the hope to trigger an emotional reaction from the player. Story is there to guide the player to a goal. Whether its to the deepest reaches of a dungeon or to the table of the sky, context provides that final realm, battle, or conversation for the player.

Henriot:

Ah, my favourite game!

Game mechanics shouldn't change depending on player choice, but aspects of gameplay should. M&B I feel captures alot of what I'm talking about when it comes to moral or "cost vs benefit" choices in the gameworld. You are given the choice to be a freerider and create relationships with all the lords in the world, or become someone's lackey very early into the game; you'll receive land/rewards quicker, but only from your kingdom and at the loss of relation to those foreign lords.

I'm only using the "choice" section of my definition in response to your "stats with no advancement" theory. Apart from Trapped Dead, what others do you consider RPGs that don't have the advancement but have the formulas attached to stats?

Trapped Dead is the anomaly that showed me rpgs aren't dependent on statistical growth and levels. Their high prevalence just reflects a need to limit the possible actions of a character or characters in order to create challenge and allow a player to become familiar with the few skills available and new ones arriving. It works the same as a driving (read: not racing) game introducing a player to new cars as they progress towards the last unlock. In Smugglers Run, one starts with a buggy and gains new vehicles of varying speed and durability. The gradual introduction of each allows one to become familiarized with each vehicles strengths and weaknesses for given mission types.

The best example I can think of that comes close to the system and stats existing without the need for leveling and choice is the custom battle mode of Mount&Blade Warband (Can't remember if it was in the first) that does away with the travel, politics and economy. Whether its siege or field combat, its the pure gameplay. Each of the characters have a little backstory, but that means nothing compared to how each character wields their weapons. The steadiness and force behind the archers' aim and pull varies from each character, being dependent on their general stats; skills in power draw and horse archery; proficiency in bows. In action and action adventure games, none of those variables matter. Link's use of arms is the player's ability to aim. Various stats go into swinging a weapon in Mount&Blade, determining its speed and force.

Melondrupe:

Trapped Dead is the anomaly that showed me rpgs aren't dependent on statistical growth and levels. Their high prevalence just reflects a need to limit the possible actions of a character or characters in order to create challenge and allow a player to become familiar with the few skills available and new ones arriving. It works the same as a driving (read: not racing) game introducing a player to new cars as they progress towards the last unlock. In Smugglers Run, one starts with a buggy and gains new vehicles of varying speed and durability. The gradual introduction of each allows one to become familiarized with each vehicles strengths and weaknesses for given mission types.

The best example I can think of that comes close to the system and stats existing without the need for leveling and choice is the custom battle mode of Mount&Blade Warband (Can't remember if it was in the first) that does away with the travel, politics and economy. Whether its siege or field combat, its the pure gameplay. Each of the characters have a little backstory, but that means nothing compared to how each character wields their weapons. The steadiness and force behind the archers' aim and pull varies from each character, being dependent on their general stats; skills in power draw and horse archery; proficiency in bows. In action and action adventure games, none of those variables matter. Link's use of arms is the player's ability to aim. Various stats go into swinging a weapon in Mount&Blade, determining its speed and force.

The B part of my definition also includes what I am naively referring to as a "cost vs benefit" choice. As you've elaborated on Trapped Dead, I am starting to come around to the idea of it being an RPG... However, are you given a choice when it comes to the character you control in a round/mission of the game? Do you control the one avatar or many?
In your Mount and Blade comparison (I believe you were right about the multiplayer starting in Warband), the first choice you're given when you enter a battle is the choice of faction. That choice, depending on the factions set against one another, can divide some players pretty quickly, as the Sarranids play alot differently to say the Rhodoks. When you've got your faction, you then choose your troop type. The choice between horseman, archer or footman is also a cost vs benefit (in regards to your gameplay), as an archer unit can shoot... but might have limited armour. Footmen has a wider range of armour and weapons, but little ranged capability. Horsemen almost always has to invest the majority of their gold into a quality horse, leaving little to armour and sometime limiting weapon choice. So I can still see the RPG in regards to the multiplayer game, even if it doesn't follow the singleplayer mechanics of levelling, because it has my backup definition. Depending on how you answer those Trapped Dead questions, I might have to change my feelings towards it... Or check to see if there is a demo and see for myself.

Henriot:

The B part of my definition also includes what I am naively referring to as a "cost vs benefit" choice. As you've elaborated on Trapped Dead, I am starting to come around to the idea of it being an RPG... However, are you given a choice when it comes to the character you control in a round/mission of the game? Do you control the one avatar or many?

Yeah, you're given the choice of which characters you'll bring. You can only bring four at a time, but you can control all of them.

As for cost vs benefit choices, not quite sure how to answer that. I want to say it seems to be something that's self-evident whenever one designs or chooses a character based on their stats. Maybe in the most basic rogue-like where you only ever have the choice of a fighter and buying stronger melee weapons and armor, then I guess that type of choice is not there.

Melondrupe:

Yeah, you're given the choice of which characters you'll bring. You can only bring four at a time, but you can control all of them.

As for cost vs benefit choices, not quite sure how to answer that. I want to say it seems to be something that's self-evident whenever one designs or chooses a character based on their stats. Maybe in the most basic rogue-like where you only ever have the choice of a fighter and buying stronger melee weapons and armor, then I guess that type of choice is not there.

Sounds like an RPG to me then! But I think we're approaching it from two different angles... regardless, we get the same result. That is some of the trouble with some of these arguments; people can try and play every game under the sun but we don't have time for all of them, and people might bring out a game you've never played as evidence for their argument. Having not played Trapped Dead your initial description didn't work for my theory. Thanks for sticking it out.

 Pages PREV 1 2

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