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Thread: RPGs -> Interactive Fiction?

  1. #1
    Super Senior Member CypressDahlia's Avatar
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    RPGs -> Interactive Fiction?

    Does it ever seem like RPGs are moving in this direction? I noticed that a lot of RPGs these days are being rated more on the grounds of interactive fiction, given merits solely for immersion, how many choices you get, etc, etc. This was alarmingly apparent when I read Game Informer's review of the Witcher 2.

    Now, GI tends to be a hardass when it comes to reviews. But they gave the Witcher 2 a 9.25/10. If you just look at the score, you think "wow, this game must be amazing" but when you read the review, over 60% of it is complaining about how much the gameplay sucks. o_O It was described as "merely adequate", at best.

    The first 40% lauds the immersion factor, talking solely about how many choices you get. The remaining 60% talks about how much PLAYING the game actually sucks. IMO, I don't care how many options I get if these options aren't actually enjoyable to play out. So what is this? How does a game with such overwhelming negatives (esp. in the gameplay department, you know, what games are made of) get a near-perfect score?

    Are RPGs becoming mere Interactive Fiction?

  2. #2
    Lord of Death jubeh's Avatar
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    I wouldnt agree that the witcher is like that at all but sorta?

    I mean no matter how you slice it the best rpgs are about choices, and when you streamline those choices enough I guess they become interactive fiction.

    When I was emulating final fantasy X's combat system in gm it occurred to me that it was almost entirely menus. Like there are things you can do to hide it but for the most part you just choose something on a menu which maybe opens up more menus. Dialog choices are a menu, and so is inventory and other rpg staples.

    I dont want to go into what makes an rpg an rpg because that's futile, but I will say as long as the choices are interesting and fun I don't think it matters.

  3. #3
    Super Senior Member CypressDahlia's Avatar
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    Agreed. But that's why I think gameplay and choices should be evaluated on the same level, not as two separate parts of a whole. What fun are choices if it's not fun to DO them, you know?

  4. #4
    Super Senior Member Outcast's Avatar
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    Agreed.

  5. #5
    Lord of Death jubeh's Avatar
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    Alright then good talk.

  6. #6
    Super Senior Member CypressDahlia's Avatar
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    Would you say a good battle system makes or breaks an RPG?

    I love RPGs with in-depth and strategic battle systems (FFX, Vagrant Story, various Tactics games, Valkyrie Profile). It's almost like a self-contained puzzle game within a game. Gets you thinking. Whereas I noticed a lot of RPGs get billed for "good battle systems", but the actual battles involve little strategy or thinking. You just get a lot of stats to choose from.

  7. #7
    Lord of Death jubeh's Avatar
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    Okay so interestingly enough I started playing dwarf fortress's adventure mode and the combat is so good that when I went back to IVAN I couldn't even play it anymore.

    Here are things that -I- need from combat. They may or not be necessary for everyone to have fun. Just throwing out that little disclaimer.

    -This one is obvious, but meaningful choices. Now this doesn't exactly have to be part of battle. Choosing whether to fight or not is a meaningful choice if the stakes are high enough. If you're walking death then it's not. P simple right.
    -Buttload of options. Even at the beginning of final fantasy X where you could only attack and do nothing else, the game gave you interesting options. In dwarf fortress, if you can't penetrate a dude's armor you can gouge his eyes out or bite his throat. Earlier today I grabbed a dude's axe and punched him in the chest until his lungs were so bruised he couldn't breathe.
    -I like limb damage and limb removal. I wish more games did this but I understand why it's not a possibility. Fun fact if you lose both your arms in dwarf fortress and survive its possible to just level up your biting skill and bite dudes to death from then on.
    -If I die/lose it should be my fault and not the random number generator's. I understand that randomly dumb stuff is going to happen and that has its own charms, but I dont want to be crit'd by a level 1 rabbit when I was clearly stronger. One of my guys in dwarf fortress died because I chose to sleep in the wilderness. He was ambushed by elves and one shot him in the foot. They slaughtered him as he tried to limp away. I should have known better. An example of DOING IT WRONG is ambushes in final fantasy X. In some areas its possible to lose to a single ambush. For example, the lizards that turn you into stone can stone your entire party before you get to move. You can't do shit about ambushes until later on when you can get the no ambush skill. So dumb.

    But to answer your question no I don't think good combat is a necessity in an rpg.

    I'm actually exploring alternatives to combat in games.

  8. #8
    Regular Member Lucy's Avatar
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    RPG stands for Role Playing Game. You can slap the title on nearly anything and it won't necessarily be wrong, since in most games you do in fact play a role. I think the genre needs to be split up a bit.

    That said, there are a bunch of things that can be core in an RPG; exploration, combat, storyline, choice, customization, etc. . If a game tries to do everything, shit gets complicated and it probably doesn't go well.
    Choice and customization, for example, oppose storyline, as the more paths there are to take, the more script needs to be written, and the more script you have the more difficult it is to have all of it be engaging. A story is also made less engaging if a player can avoid the parts they don't want to happen or accidentally miss parts (FF7, for example, allows you to miss some of the most emotional parts of the game, three optional cutscenes which tell you of Cloud and Zack's exploits together in the past, leading up to Zack's death. I personally appreciated the storyline a hell of a lot more after I found these, as Cloud suddenly felt like much more of a character than a stock protagonist).
    In the same way, storyline and game play oppose each other, as the escapist nature of videogames means gameplay near-always necessitates some suspension of disbelief (it was necessary in FF7 that your characters could take the ultimate power of a God to the freakin' face, because there's no way to avoid attacks manually. Fine. Aeris gets stabbed in a cutscene once and she's dead, with the game completely ignoring the fact that she's in a party where everyone near her has magic spells that mend bodies and potions that magically resuscitate individuals. The suspension of disbelief had to be swapped about all over the place and it felt quite tacky to many people).

    The point I'm trying to make is that games need to choose their core principles and stick to them. Interactive fiction needs to be well written fiction and games about fighting need to have good fights.
    Oblivion disappointed me because the combat was so terrible. Exploring was great but when you ran into a wolf or whatever it just felt like such an effort to swing your floaty little broadsword at a very unreactive and lazily animated creature until it flopped into half-arsed ragdoll physics. The game either needed better combat or less combat.
    Yume Nikki has no combat system, despite the fact it has enemies and the program it was made in has a combat system by default, but the game says screw that, we're too busy exploring these creepy and surreal dream worlds. It also has no dialogue whatsoever, and only the tiniest smidgeon of story (the ending, just a little depressing reward for finding all the macguffins). It does exploring really well, and only exploring, but it feels great because exploration is so focal. It hit its own personal nail on the head.
    However, if I played through Might and Magic or whatever and never got to fight anything I would be so bored it is unreal.

    TL;DR: there's no magic formula for such a wide genre. Games need to be individual entities and be made to accomplish their goals.

    Quote Originally Posted by jubeh View Post
    I'm actually exploring alternatives to combat in games.
    For this I love you.
    Last edited by Lucy; 06-22-2011 at 09:45 AM.

  9. #9
    Super Senior Member CypressDahlia's Avatar
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    I don't think there will ever be an //alternative// to combat in games because combat is generally what makes games difficult. Either that or puzzles. That's where the core challenge lies. And, in RPGs, if you're going on an epic quest you expect some kind of resistance, so I unno'. But it would be interesting to see a game pull it off.

    But I think DF is not a fair comparison as far as "options" because the options in that game are meant to be purposefully absurd in most cases. In other words, any game with a grasp on realism //probably// wouldn't allow most of the stuff that happens in DF to happen. So DF doesn't really worry about limitations as far as suspending disbelief is concerned.

    That said, DF is probably the most option-intensive game available aside from straight SIM games and roguelikes.

  10. #10
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    Speaking of suspension of disbelief in FF. Anyone remember...
    SPOILER! :
    Galuf death scene in FFV? He's dying and his granddaughter, Krile, a competent magician throws everything she knows (and in quick succession that I can't stop laughing); Cure3, Revive, Phoenix Down, etc, etc (can't remember all). Those magics and items is enough to revive several KO'ed parties and yet it couldn't save an old man...
    Last edited by LVUER; 06-22-2011 at 10:11 PM.

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