Jeff Vogel's RPG hating rant

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AuthorTopic: Jeff Vogel's RPG hating rant
Babelicious
Member # 39
Profile Homepage #25
quote:

—Alorael, who has argued before and will doubtless argue again that RPGs are not, in fact, based on playing a role. They're defined by system mechanics, and WoW and Final Fantasy both have RPG mechanics. Levels are a good indicator, although not every game with levels is an RPG and not all RPGs use levels.

Alorael, defining a genre called "RPG" based on mechanics is a fool's errand. There is no mechanics-based definition of RPG which adequately covers the range from Final Fantasy to Ultima to Oblivion that doesn't also cover, say, Starcraft.

Strictly speaking, a CRPG is an attempt on a computer to imitate the style and mechanics of a tabletop role-playing game. However, most modern CRPGs trace their pedigree not to modern role-playing games but to the half-assed, ersatz imitations of part of AD&D crammed onto Apple II-era hardware.

The definition of RPG used is pretty much the Supreme Court definition of obscenity -- you know it when you see it. Unfortunately, this attitude results in barely-interactive trash like Final Fantasy being used to demean the genre, and it stifles serious innovation.

A definition of RPG based on theme is more meaningful -- a role-playing computer game is one in which you control one or more characters who make significant moral decisions. By this measurement, Deus Ex is more of an RPG than Final Fantasy -- and that's the way I like it, by god.

To hell with genre. Only in video games are genres defined by mechanics, not by plot.

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Pygmalion | Desperance | Djur
Posts: 1074 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
Member # 261
Profile Homepage #26
quote:
Originally written by Andrea:

To hell with genre. Only in video games are genres defined by mechanics, not by plot.
Well, genres are defined by mechanics for games in general. It would be ridiculous to categorize chess based on its plot, or the Odyssey based on its gameplay. Modern video games tend to use both elements, to differing degrees.

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Slarty vs. DeskDesk vs. SlartyTimeline of ErmarianG4 Strategy Central
Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #27
quote:
Originally written by Andrea:

The definition of RPG used is pretty much the Supreme Court definition of obscenity -- you know it when you see it. Unfortunately, this attitude results in barely-interactive trash like Final Fantasy being used to demean the genre, and it stifles serious innovation.

A definition of RPG based on theme is more meaningful -- a role-playing computer game is one in which you control one or more characters who make significant moral decisions. By this measurement, Deus Ex is more of an RPG than Final Fantasy -- and that's the way I like it, by god.

For the record, Djur and I have had this conversation before; I favour the first (descriptivist) definition and he favours the second (prescriptivist) definition.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Shaper
Member # 73
Profile #28
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Apprentice
Member # 8530
Profile #29
That just blew the definition right out the window ;)
Posts: 20 | Registered: Wednesday, April 18 2007 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #30
Maybe it depends on what you're looking for in a game. As Slarty says, games are divided by mechanics, not plot. You can disagree with that categorization, but as it stands RPGs can be characterized by the use of levels, stats, or other progressive inherent improvement to characters, equipment, use of abilities by choice rather than by reflexes. Yes, that's fuzzy definition, and yes, that includes Final Fantasy. It also leaves fuzzy categories like Deus Ex, but that's not surprising. Literature has its genre-straddlers too.

—Alorael, who would like to know what category Djur would use to describe Final Fantasy, terrible Blades scenarios or efforts like the forgettable Yipe! games.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #31
quote:
Originally written by Andrea:

...
A definition of RPG based on theme is more meaningful -- a role-playing computer game is one in which you control one or more characters who make significant moral decisions. By this measurement, Deus Ex is more of an RPG than Final Fantasy -- and that's the way I like it, by god.
...

What about Galactic Civilizations II, a game in which you play the role of a leader who directs his people, responding to natural and man-made events (revolutions, accidents, etc.), and making ethical decisions almost every time you colonize a new planet (example: The planet has native population. Do you a) colonize only the poles and other uninhabited regions; b) send them to a reservation; c) Free Slaves!)

This game fits your definition far better than most traditional "RPG" games, including VoDT BoE scenario. (Your definition emphasizes moral decisions over direct interaction with NPCs, and most traditional RPGs don't leave player with much choice.) However, GalCiv2 is a typical strategy game and nobody calls it an RPG.

The reason computer game genres are defined primarily by their mechanics is that such definition is more useful to the player. Information on whether the gameplay focuses on strategic utilization of space and resources, development of several characters, or fast reflexes is at least as important as and more easily quantifiable than information on whether the game has a well-written branching plot. You can attach a branching plot with good character development to anything from a strategy game or FPS to a traditional RPG.

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Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
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However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
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Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #32
quote:
Originally written by Zeviz:

However, GalCiv2 is a typical strategy game and nobody calls it an RPG.
Djur would indeed call it an RPG. That's what comes from being a prescriptivist: you don't care how many other people do or don't use your definition.

[ Thursday, April 26, 2007 15:42: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Babelicious
Member # 39
Profile Homepage #33
Well, I favor categorizing games with overlapping labels regarding mechanics, theme, and plot. So GalCiv2 is a science fiction grand strategy game. Grand strategy usually involves role-playing elements, always includes strategy elements, is broad in scope, but tends to be low on character interaction and character development.

However, to be an RPG, I'd say you need a player character, which GalCiv2 doesn't really have. At most, you have an avatar.

Final Fantasy is pretty much a character development game, not a role-playing game.

[ Thursday, April 26, 2007 17:51: Message edited by: Andrea ]

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Pygmalion | Desperance | Djur
Posts: 1074 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #34
So you are using "RPG" label for style, rather than mechanic? I guess that makes sence, because it is possible to "role play" when playing games like GalCiv2 and Civ4. There are two different ways to play these games: role-playing a leader, or treating the game like a complicated version of chess.

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Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00

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