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What Can Modern RPGs Do To Entice Old-School Fans?

The subject of how role-playing games have changed over the years is a common one, and even experts have difficulty defining the term, "RPG."

But while many fans of the old-school styles and presentations bemoan the shift to action/adventure mechanics, we wonder if there's anything else modern RPGs can do to appease those sufferers. We can forget about a return to turn-based combat; that just isn't going to happen, so it's a futile wish. But what else makes you look at an RPG and go, "yes, that's actually an RPG I want to play"?

Too many RPGs feel the same due to their emphasis on fast "twitchy" action, but there are significant differences. For example, take this fall's role-playing offerings: Dark Souls and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. If you're familiar with both titles, you know how they differ and very likely, one appeals to you more than the other. Well, take that preference and expand it; apply it to the rest of the industry and create a list of requirements that would do two things: 1. it would make the game an actual RPG, and 2. it would make you want to play it.

Personally, all I really want is a mechanic that allows me to utilize some strategy, an interesting battle and/or character advancement system (like Materia and the Judgment Wheel), a good story (that is also a primary focus), and a world that makes the experience seem surreal. A world that is a fantastical version of ours, with forests and cities and of course, mysterious locations we don't have. I also want full control over my character and party; I don't need to create them, as I expect the writer who produces a great story to do that, but I want to be able to give each of them commands during battle. How's about you?

Tags: role-playing games, rpg, jrpgs, gaming culture

8/27/2011 9:32:21 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (48 posts)

gumbi
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 10:01:24 AM
Reply

Sigh, I used to play almost exclusively RPG's, but it's not the same anymore. Oh well, I don't think the modern day RPG will ever recapture what it used to be for me. With the exception of the very few modern hybrid RPG-esque games like Valkyria Chronicles (which is still one of my favourite games of the generation) it seems this genre is lost for me.

I still have my classics to replay. And surely a bunch that I've missed.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 2:23:12 PM

VC is teh goodness

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shadowscorpio
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 7:49:18 PM

Please play an finish Xenogears before you die. One of THE best stories ever written in Rpg history in my opinion. Oh yeah, its turn-based !

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TheAgingHipster
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 8:53:03 AM

Amen to Xenogears. It will always have a place in my PSX disc collection.

Also, I've never played VC, but it looks promising. Is it really an RPG, because people keep telling me it's a shooter, which is why I haven't played it.

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gumbi
Monday, August 29, 2011 @ 8:23:47 AM

Xenogears is on the list for sure.

Hipster, although your characters do have guns, and they do shoot them, VC is definitly NOT a shooter. Youtube some gameplay vids and you'll see.

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VampDeLeon
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 10:03:09 AM
Reply

A fixed camera would be nice. Everyone seems to complain of FF being linear since FFX, but I think since the camera now became fixed behind the main character it made the area seem smaller in the player's eyes.. If FFXIII was made with the same camera fixture (top-down/bird eye's view) and respectable graphics + midi music as on the SNES and PSX it would've seemed more epic, no?

Last edited by VampDeLeon on 8/27/2011 10:03:47 AM

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Stabs88
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 4:03:32 PM

That seems like it would be a good idea. Put the main work into the towns, battles, characters, ect

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Alienange
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 10:28:25 AM
Reply

Devs could take a long hard look at Xenoblade.

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Ludakriss
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 10:43:17 AM
Reply

I like to wonder the world. Explore to my mind's content, grind like no one's business, solve non-easy puzzles and most importantly...a chance to become truly overpowered and only a few time worthy enemies remaining. But the overpowering to be achieved at an interesting, difficult, mysterious journey towards power. Get the "Oh, snap!" reaction while not doing a linear story. Combat, oh, dear developers, oh you truly have to take a ponder on the non-sense you call level nowadays. They absolutely must represent my ability to do, sense, see, damage, take.

Not just a number anymore. For the gen's sake. You have blu ray now. TAKE ADVANTAGE, man! Put it on two, damn it. I want worlds just as fantastical as in the article, maybe a touch of an ordinary world going through a phase of becoming fantastical. Maybe people with shitty lives coming to know "realization" of fantasy in their lives. Which are office work, home, shower, boring lives.

You know. Great story. Please no more princess get's her panties lost in the sea of 100 virgins and the Mr. Brave no-hair-balls has to go and bravely recover them shits ;)

Last edited by Ludakriss on 8/27/2011 10:45:25 AM

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SolidFantasy
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 11:10:45 AM
Reply

I think the core elements of the old school RPGs could be implemented into today's RPG. Must for the most part devs haven't done that on a AAA title yet.

There should be a way to pause gameplay and carefully look around for the next move. That next move could some over the top bad ass move to appease the twitch gamers. When completed the game would automatically pause allowing you to choose your next move with out having to rely on shear reaction time. It would be like watching an epic fight scene except you can stop the main character(s) in mid air and decide where there going to land. That's the best idea I can come up with.

The menu systems of the old RPGs are still around today imo. I've spent up to 30min screwing around on the menu for Crisis Core before attempting a mission.

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BigStack007
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 12:27:57 PM
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They can start by making these New RPG's 4 players or more co-op.

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Bloodedge
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 1:10:16 PM

Um, I doubt that's speaking from an old-school perspective. If you want an RPG with 4-player co-op or more, there's Borderlands and of course, MMORPGs. But I doubt that appeals to the crowd that this article is referring to.

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shadowscorpio
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 7:57:08 PM

@ Big

Do you mean like in FF 6 and 9 where you could plug in another controller and have a buddy help with the battles? That's the only co-op i remember from the old school Rpg days.

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Geobaldi
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 12:44:35 PM
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Giving a turn based option during combat would be nice.

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Geobaldi
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 1:45:19 PM

I would also like to see a co-op option like FFIX had.

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Teddie9
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 4:23:45 PM

I think a decent alternative that gives some strategy is having a mechanic that allows you to stop time - assess the situation - and use an appropriate ability.

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Zemus101
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 1:44:08 PM
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I know this is probably far from what you're interested in Ben, and maybe most people here? But you're basically describing Final Fantasy XIV >< Sure, you only truly have control over your own character, but all of your party is player controlled. Turn based, fantasy, towns, dungeons, airships, the whole nine-yards. Magic and job classes, materia (literally) with plenty of story split up between the three nations.

I'm currently awaiting the PS3 release because my PC just couldn't handle this game, no way no how.

Anyways, what would you guys think if SE brought back the Chrono series as a proper old-school RPG with obviously some new mechanics thrown in?

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shadowscorpio
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 7:59:33 PM

FF 14 has materia?!?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 8:28:17 PM

No, it's not. There's no story. MMOs are just about amping up characters and nothing else. That to me is not an RPG.

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Zemus101
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 9:14:44 PM

Actually, in the case of FFXI at least, there's enough story to go through for years. Of course, that's assuming you buy the expansion packs once you're done with the story that's in there.

Oh yeah, and FFXIV does indeed have materia, or ..at least that's the newest update that's comin around the corner, from what I've read. Square knows how to do MMO's right :) at least ...FFXI did and the new Yoshi-P team behind FFXIV. The team that shoulda been there from the beginning.

http://www.ffxivcore.com/topic/31643-materia-a-matter-of-mystery-08262011/

Last edited by Zemus101 on 8/27/2011 9:16:30 PM

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Claire C
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 10:34:37 PM

MMOs have story, it's just that most people ignore it.

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Lotusflow3r
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 7:19:59 AM

MMO's have great plots and they're total RPGs.
However, because they have to be designed a certain way, it's hard to present them from a literature standpoint. It can't be presented with that smooth beginning, middle and end feel akin to single player RPGs like the standard FFs. So for that reason alone, i can't place them among the pile of games in question.

But they are total RPGs that fit the criteria if the online is the ingredient you want to add and they do tell some good stories at times.

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Warrior Poet
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 2:02:32 PM
Reply

While we all want new RPGs, if you really want an old-school style game...why not just play one? There's no way everyone here has played all the great SNES/Genesis/GBA/PS1/PS2/PSP/DS/PC RPGs.

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Claire C
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 4:05:40 PM

I'm making my way slowly but surely through all the great PS1 RPGs. I'm sure there are people who've missed some as well.

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Vivi_Gamer
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 4:13:40 PM

I have missed plenty as they we're never released in Europe. Xenogears, Chrono Cross, Parasitve Eve.... even the UK Release of Legends of Dragoon all I would like to play (Though I have sneakily played PE1.)

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 8:28:48 PM

That's not the point. Why can't developers issue modern upgrades of those play styles?

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Claire C
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 10:35:34 PM

I wonder how many good RPGs release in Japan that we never hear about.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 2:46:10 PM
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Basically, if it FEELS like an RPG these days, then it is.

I still say if someone had the balls they could make a turn based game with a great story and PS1 polygon style graphics and put it on PSN. It would cost a ton less to make these days than the millions it cost back then and it would rock the RPG world.

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Claire C
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 3:27:26 PM

I agree. They could make it at a budget price, sell it at a budget price, have awesome high res 2D or 3D visuals of the PS1 era, and so many people would buy it. This way they could also make sequels to all those games that need em.

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Lotusflow3r
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 7:07:28 AM

Someone is already kinda doing that.

Keep an eye out for Rainbow Moon.

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Raze22
Monday, August 29, 2011 @ 4:10:10 AM

the name reminds me of sailor moon...

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Vivi_Gamer
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 3:19:44 PM
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To be honest I don't think us old school RPG hacks are that stuborn. We just ask RPG's to not betray certain roots. I personally loved FFXIII. It's when games like Mass Effect and Fallout come along and mash every genre into one and class it's self as every genre I get touchy. They're both not RPG's I wrote up about this on a website my friend is trying to build up, feel free to check it out.

http://themotionpixels.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/the-lost-world-of-the-rpg/

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Riku994
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 3:39:23 PM
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I think we need to take it back to good character development, a class system (NOT like FF12 where everyone can learn everything, but certain classes can overlap a bit). I think having missable party members would be a good step too, such as Vincent and.. You know, I think it may be possible to go through Dragon Quest 8 without getting Angelo :P Like Ben said, a good story being the primary focus but with a sense of freedom... Basically everything Final Fantasy used to be. *Stares ate Square Enix*

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Vivi_Gamer
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 3:47:59 PM

I agree about having each party member with unique skills. Each character is a different person, with a different background so they should have their own style. XII can be excused as each character is as bland from the next apart from Balthier :P

IX's system was perfect, the ONLY complaint I can pull against IX is that the ATB bar is so slow. But as IX had each character with there own ability, I felt more encouraged to explore more. I tend to steal far more frequently in IX than any other games as it's in Zidanes Character.

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Ludakriss
Monday, August 29, 2011 @ 10:18:01 AM

xD Nice and simple, man. I absolutely agree. The sense that "because I ventured far and wide and explored like no one's business I got this and that" I used to love these moments so much.

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Claire C
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 3:56:44 PM
Reply

There's quite a few RPGs on the horizon I'm very interested in. Skyrim and Dark Souls both look fantastic(Deus Ex is also really great). I'm interested to read up on WKC2, Atelier Totori and Rune Factory later this year. Ni no Kuni, Versus XIII, Mass Effect 3, KoA: Reckoning, XIII-2, maybe The Witcher 2, Dragon's Dogma, Risen 2, and maybe Diablo 3 have me excited for 2012. I know these generally aren't so traditional, but they look good to me.

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Claire C
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 9:40:58 PM

I forgot Tales of Graces F.

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Lotusflow3r
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 5:07:02 PM
Reply

...Make em like Level 5 do and my interest is max.

Ni No Kuni is a modern RPG that captivates my imagination, has modern mechanics WITH the old school formula i.e. free roam world map with secret locations, towns that challenge the imagination, strategy, mini games, a moving and imaginative story with characters you won't forget, beautiful melodic soundtrack akin to Nobuo Uematsu standards etc, etc.

Outside of that box, Dark Souls is how it should be.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 5:21:18 PM

It doesn't look modern to me at all, and that is a good thing.

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Lotusflow3r
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 5:43:56 PM

The battle system is a modern mechanic, the ATB system....basically WKC's battle system. Which is new.

Aside from that, i agree and that's the point. It stays true to the root, but with modern mechanics.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 7:50:41 PM

I just hope we don't have a long wait for a localization. I know it's gonna happen but when

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shadowscorpio
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 8:06:15 PM

I don't know what it is but I have a feeling the SE is goiing to start looking at LEVEL-5 as a serious competitor. L5 is starting to give rpg fans what SE used to but isn't anymore and if it keeps up like this, SE going to start feeling robbed. Of course SE made their own bed.

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Lotusflow3r
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 7:11:05 AM

Enix hand picked Level 5 to develop a Dragon Quest installment...that game, Dragon Quest 8, went on to out perform any Enix effort in the last 5 years at the time and had many fans claiming it was what Enix should of been doing.

I wonder, now that Level 5 are established, if Enix regretted that decision from a creative standpoint...

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milang
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 8:34:09 PM
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tes37
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 8:45:26 PM
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I want a game that has swords and magic, but I want to use the sword in a different way than just hitting a button and slashing someone repeatedly. I want to be able to choose a slash, a stab, or a hack and then decide whether it's going to be high, mid or low. And see various animations for the attacks. Magic could be similar with a system that requires timing to determine potency and power.

All I want requires turn based.

I really thought turn based was going to get better this gen, but I was very wrong.

I just expected things to be an expansion on the old rpg's from developers like Square Enix. These guys don't understand just how very disappointed I am that my favorite rpg's are now a relic.

I have no intention of supporting a style of rpg that I don't like. White Knight Chronicles is the only game that's gotten close to what I'm looking for.

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Ludakriss
Monday, August 29, 2011 @ 10:21:28 AM

Yo! Hollar at Resonance of Fate!

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DemonNeno
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 12:14:42 AM
Reply

If I had to overlook the fact that realtime battles just blow donkey nads, I'd have to say that strategy in realtime battles should still exist.

Creating a linear battle system is obnoxious to me. I don't want my enemies to get stronger while I do, it defies the purpose of striving to become a stronger player and I think that view is pretty universal to technical players. It's almost like playing(the card game) Hearts.

Taking that into factor, side quests become bleak and insignificant. In fact, I do them only to embark on new environments. Sadly, nothing more is achieved by doing them!

All in all, I would love for these games to be much more meaningful. That's all.. :)

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TheAgingHipster
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 8:58:51 AM
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As a former Final Fantasy fanatic, what I look for nowadays is an interesting gameplay mechanic, a well-designed story, and exploration. Currently, my favorite RPGs of the generation are Mass Effect (PC), Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PC), Fallout 3, Dragon Age: Origins (PC), Oblivion, Demon's Souls, Resonance of Fate, and Dungeon Siege 3.

Now anxiously awaiting Dark Souls and Skyrim!

Last edited by TheAgingHipster on 8/28/2011 9:00:45 AM

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