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Wacky

The Decline of the Western RPG

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game development costs are definitely a driving factor in this, cutting edge graphics sell and making a game with those goals costs money.

i see the cutting edge graphics argument come up when people talk about modern games vs. classic games a lot and i have never understood it. graphics have consistently been used as a selling point in gaming history. this generation is not at all different from the last one or the one before that etc. ff7 and ocarina of time didn't sell almost 10 million copies each based purely on their gameplay merits. watch the commercials for those games now - they have the same faux-movie trailer bullshit thing going on that all big releases today do. good reviews and word of mouth helped, obviously, because they were great games, but game developers and publishers have always known that nothing beats a good looking game when trying to sell it to new people.

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most definitely, DKC mostly got hyped for being the first game to use pre-rendered 3D graphics. it's an excellent game, but that helped its marketability

graphics are just more of a problem now because the cost of being on top graphically is greater than it's ever been, the budgets for AAA games these days are ridiculous

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truth, definitely. i'm just not totally convinced that it's negatively impacted mainstream western rpgs to the point that they are substantially worse than they were 10 years ago. could be wrong though

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Well, here's what I can distil the "great questions" of good RPGs down to:

1. BG- "Is a man a master of his fate?"

2. PT- "What can change the nature of a man?"

3. DA1- "What are you when no one is looking?" (The one brilliant thing about DA1 is the fact that the karma meter doesn't exist- You either do good, or do "bad," and only your own conscience stops you.)

4. KotOR II- "What is a choice?" (Kreia's lesson is a good philosophical piece in and of itself.)

5. Morrowind- "What is a lie?" (This is why I think it's a better RPG than Oblivion. Oblivion doesn't have this basic question asked of you again and again.)

The above 5 are superlative RPGs... I can't think of many others that inspire that much thought.

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Well, here's what I can distil the "great questions" of good RPGs down to:

1. BG- "Is a man a master of his fate?"

2. PT- "What can change the nature of a man?"

3. DA1- "What are you when no one is looking?" (The one brilliant thing about DA1 is the fact that the karma meter doesn't exist- You either do good, or do "bad," and only your own conscience stops you.)

4. KotOR II- "What is a choice?" (Kreia's lesson is a good philosophical piece in and of itself.)

5. Morrowind- "What is a lie?" (This is why I think it's a better RPG than Oblivion. Oblivion doesn't have this basic question asked of you again and again.)

The above 5 are superlative RPGs... I can't think of many others that inspire that much thought.

kotor 2 is not a superlative game, man. it shipped unfinished (as has been confirmed by obsidian). the gameplay is lazy and the content just isn't there to the extent that it should have been. it may have had a great story but as a game it was fundamentally flawed. this is an example of what i meant in my first post - it doesn't properly prioritize gameplay so it can't excel as a game. the writing is great, yes, but i honestly didn't enjoy playing it and i consider kotor 1 one of my favorite games of all time (and that game has also not aged that well in the gameplay department).

edit: just for clarification's sake and to not completely derail this, i think your point that games should focus on a great question is a good one, and i think it's something games with good stories do. but i don't think that inherently makes them great games, and i don't think you're giving a fair shake to modern western rpgs.

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When you were kids, there was a genuine openness in your approach when you picked out your games.

Maybe. But I wasn't a kid when Planescape: Torment came out, and it remains the best game I've ever played. Nothing released since has even come close. RPGs need to be story and character driven, and if they're not much of either (like the truly disappointing DA games), then I fail to see the point of playing.

The nearest thing I got to PT in recent memory was a game that wasn't really an RPG and arguably not exactly a game: the story- and character-driven Heavy Rain.

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RPGs need to be story and character driven

no actually what they need to be is player driven and geared towards personal experience rather than being a rambling and needlessly-interactive novel

at no point has the definition of role playing game, nor will it ever, be synonymous with 'infinity cutscenes'

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I think Heavy Rain is a bad example because not only are both the story and the characters shitty, but it isn't nearly as nonlinear and player-driven as PT. Like Bleck said, it feels more like an assortment of vaguely interactive cutscenes. PT on the other hand had wonderful dialogue writing and talking to people in that game was always a pleasure, not to mention a great setting and interesting characters. These elements are something that modern RPGs often skimp on.

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I put in KotOR II because, unlike KotOR I, it's a piece of literature. The themes of this unfinished, buggy, unpolished gem keep me wanting to go back, so I can look at the characters through the prism of Kreia's Lesson- which is also a Star Wars theme- What is the nature of choice?

I mean let's go to the most emotionally charged moment of the entire trilogy- It's Lord Vader finally letting go of all the hate, rage, anger- and for once, making a choice.

It certainly doesn't mean he's redeemed- not in my eyes, at least- but it does mean he is free.

This is Kreia's Lesson. What is a choice? It's also a brilliant meta example for an RPG- which, unless you're playing a Bethesda game, has only so many variables.

It is why I keep playing KotOR II long after Bastila Shan has faded from my memory.

PS: KotOR I has its "one question," which is- "How much is a man a master of his fate?"

It's why it's still a great game. But it's the same question BGII asked you, and BGII is better at it than KotOR is.

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And yet, I believe BGII is the better RPG, even if DA is the better *game.*

What the fuck.

and since they're old RPGs, they play like absolute shit

What the fuck.

BGII is a great game. It is both unafraid to kick your ass and unafraid to let you kick its ass. It will bend you over and spank you with an oar until you figure out what the fuck you're doing. Once you figure out what the fuck you're doing, you can do whatever you want. Never does the game say "No, I'm sorry, but you just can't pull this off. Come back later." Want to go and beat up that that huge-ass dragon with your low level party? Go ahead. You can do it. Want to play solo? Knock yourself out. Fuck Minsc. Fuck Jaheira.

Want to fuck Jaheira?

With the slew of classes and NPCs, plus the ability to create your own party, plus all the mods available, there is so much replay value in BGII. So much. I've got more entertainment out of it than any other game I own, without question.

And you can't claim nostalgia goggles on this, because I played BGII as a kid and I hated it. It was too hard, too complicated and I couldn't be bothered. It wasn't until years later that I finally popped it back in and went "Whoa, this is actually a lot of fun now that I'm not being an idiot."

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Yeah wow, how did I miss that. The combat in PT really wasn't all that, because that game is all about the dialogue, but BGII is still really solid gameplaywise.

Some of the encounters, especially those with certain mages are just brutal if you don't know what you're doing because with all the protective spells they have up its sometimes almost like a puzzle.

Don't even get me started on Vampires whose standard attacks literally reduce your character levels, which means your main tank suddenly has like 10 max HP. The level draining isn't even a debuff or anything so it lasts indefinitely and can only be removed by visiting a temple or using a rare restoration spell.

Dragon Age might be more streamlined overall but it's combat system is literally My First Baldurs Gate by Fisher Price.

Another thing the Baldur's Gate series was great at was capturing your progression from useless idiot that dies to cockroaches and can cast magic missile maybe once before he needs to rest like a sissy to godslaying badass mofo that shoots meteors out of his eyes and farts instant death spells.

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Of modern WRPGs. FO:NV is the only recent one I can remember that I liked. Speech/Barter are actually important. Certain abilities would allow you different ways around a problem. You can go through the entire game without killing anyone(Though that in itself is fairly difficult) Wipe out a faction, help them, antagonize them, ignore them. Each of these had repercussions.

FO3 I didn't really feel the need to replay after I beat it. Just about everything you do leads up to the same choice. Do I want to be evil or good?(I hated karma by the way. Never tell the player he's evil/good, let them make up their own reasons for what they're doing. Disliked it in NV too, though the rep system was a much better focus)

Thing is, when you aren't allowed to make much of a difference, the game turns into an action game instead of RPG. If I wanted to play an action game, I'd play an action game.

Lets compare Obliv and MW too.

In Morrowind, you had to deal with corruption in the fighters guild. Either side with the Tong or work to root it out.(Your choices could also affect thieves guild eligibility) Great Houses would lock you out of others, and give you a nice disposition hit to the rival houses. Later on, in the main quest, you need to be declared hortator of all great houses. The game accounts for you being the head of a great house(If you made it that far), and as such can declare yourself hortator. If you take a long time on this section, the quest giver gets worried and tells you to ignore it if it's too dangerous. Or maybe you decided you had enough of Vivec's BS and killed him to take wraithguard for yourself, got it reactivated, and killed Ur without any of their meddling. Heck you could fully break the main quest if you so desired.(And it'd let you know)

Oblivion didn't let you decide. You're a token

. You could join the "lol im evil" club but it made no real lasting impact. The thieves guild will have you steal from yourself if you happen to be the archmage. Seriously, you'd think they'd have better informants, they don't remark about it at all. You're forced to protect the "savior of the world". He dies and you're forced to reload. No playing in the doomed world you have created.

I saw two action games there, and two RPGs.

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Oblivion didn't even let you kill certain NPCs! I forgot about that.

If I want to kill the Count of some town, let me do it, damnit! Oblivion is a game that tries to be immersive, but nothing is more un-immersive than seeing some NPC go "unconcious" when I stab them in the back, only to get up, completely unharmed 30 seconds later.

I don't care if the game deems that person important. I don't care if I break the main quest. You let me loose in this massive world, and then prevent me from doing stuff for basically no reason? This is supposed to be an open-ended, non-linear, player-driven experience, not some on-rails story-driven bullcrap.

Skyrim better let me kill, loot, and pillage to my hearts content.

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I can't really decide whether it's a good thing or not, but those undying NPCs made certain quests really easy - if you were in a bind, you could just run around and wait for them to revive and tear into stuff again.

On the other hand, if they didn't revive and they were essential game-breaking-if-killed NPCs, protecting them would probably be a complete nightmare (I'm looking at you Kvatch)

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I like how this thread has become "recent games don't let me do [insert your favorite thing here], therefore it's crap".

i see the cutting edge graphics argument come up when people talk about modern games vs. classic games a lot and i have never understood it. graphics have consistently been used as a selling point in gaming history.

The difference is that modern graphics are much more time-consuming and expensive to produce. Graphics have always been a selling point of games, yes, but the ratio of "money spent on graphics" and "money spent on everything else" has been leaning more and more toward the graphics as time has passed. The major exception to this trend has been the fairly-recent phenomenon of indie games on things like Xbox Live, iPhone/iPad, and Steam.

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I like how this thread has become "recent games don't let me do [insert your favorite thing here], therefore it's crap".

The difference is that modern graphics are much more time-consuming and expensive to produce. Graphics have always been a selling point of games, yes, but the ratio of "money spent on graphics" and "money spent on everything else" has been leaning more and more toward the graphics as time has passed. The major exception to this trend has been the fairly-recent phenomenon of indie games on things like Xbox Live, iPhone/iPad, and Steam.

They're fun action games, but lack substance.

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FO:NV still the best WRPG as far as I've seen; played through it three times. Even if a certain way I build a character would end up having me die often, it's still fun with a relatively good story. Even more so when you add more stuff like dead money and old world blues.

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I like how this thread has become "recent games don't let me do [insert your favorite thing here], therefore it's crap".

In the case of games like Oblivion, it's not so much as not letting you do obscure things that will only appeal to small numbers of gamers, but the fact that they removed things that didn't really need removing. Sure I can see some of the logic behind removing things such as levitation (flying is fun!) since they made the cities and towns separate zones to the rest of the world, but on the other hand, they took away some of the freedom the older Elder Scrolls gave you (not all of it, but some). I'm interested to see whether or not Skyrim will give the storyline freedom that Morrowind did.

Additionally, with today's market and so many sandbox games, it's inevitable that some people will be disgruntled when a game doesn't let them do ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING.

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Additionally, with today's market and so many sandbox games, it's inevitable that some people will be disgruntled when a game doesn't let them do ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING.

you mean like Super Scribblenauts? :D

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With the slew of classes and NPCs, plus the ability to create your own party, plus all the mods available, there is so much replay value in BGII. So much. I've got more entertainment out of it than any other game I own, without question.

play through a long and boring story as one class, fucking one character

play through the same story as another class, fucking a different character

oh man it's like I'm playing two different games

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a good recent example of this is fallout 3 - there are tons of ways you can build your character but all of the ways that aren't 'my character is good at shooting guys' are essentially superfluous

which is why Fallout 1 and 2 are far better RPGs and far more replayable (the fact that they are much shorter helps that too- Fallout 1 is great for just "let's fuck around" plays).

Fallout 3 is an ok game, but it is not exactly a good Fallout game.

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fallout 1 and 2 are horrible

fallout 2 the game where you can do whatever you want well except for this mandatory and tedious dungeon at the beginning of the game that involves you walking around and stabbing scorpions in a really slow turn based system and possibly dying and having to start all over again before you even have a chance to enjoy all of the apparently good stuff

a game isn't good if you have to trudge through a mountain of shit to get a piece of gold

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fallout 1 and 2 are horrible

fallout 2 the game where you can do whatever you want well except for this mandatory and tedious dungeon at the beginning of the game that involves you walking around and stabbing scorpions in a really slow turn based system and possibly dying and having to start all over again before you even have a chance to enjoy all of the apparently good stuff

a game isn't good if you have to trudge through a mountain of shit to get a piece of gold

Do you always have to troll? :roll:

I liked them, despite their flaws. Their flaws don't make them bad games necessarily, just flawed.

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