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What Is An RPG? These Days, Nobody Knows The Answer

After BioWare admitted that the lines between role-playing games and other genres are blurrier than ever, I had to ask myself: does anyone really have a definition that's accurate and accepted by all RPG fans?

Nope. Not possible. You could discuss and argue for days and just when you think you've settled on an agreeable definition, someone tosses a wrench into the works. There's simply too much to consider. I do remember a time when RPGs were plainly RPGs. Granted, even then, the "purists" would say that only D&D is actually "role-playing" so something like Final Fantasy doesn't count.

But for the most part, it wasn't hard to spot. Oh look, Legend of Legaia...yup, RPG. And there's Fighting Force...not an RPG. That's an obvious example but you get my drift, I'm sure. These days, with developers seeking to provide gamers with more complete experiences, regardless of genre, boundaries are crossed all the time. The result is a series of mixed breeds that confuse our classifications.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is obviously an RPG. But many will claim that something like Bioshock is more RPG than FPS, and in truth, there are plenty of RPG elements in many action/adventure games these days. Assassin's Creed is a great example. You can't just go, "oh, you level up; it must be an RPG," anymore. Dead Island will let you level up; is that an RPG? Well, maybe.

Side bar: We spoke to Techland yesterday about their zombie project, but all that information is embargoed until Thursday.

Being a long-time fan of RPGs, I will freely admit that I don't have the answer. I'm plenty confused. But I guess I don't mind; I've just reached the point where I know if I enjoy a game, and that's all that matters.

Tags: rpgs, role playing games, gaming culture, video games

8/30/2011 9:31:36 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (110 posts)

LimitedVertigo
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 9:54:49 PM
Reply

I've stopped trying to label what a "true" RPG is and just zero in on what I consider an enjoyable RPG.

-towns
-turn based gameplay
-magic/spells
-no 1st person view
-lots of item management
-made by a Japanese company
-level up system
-60+hrs of gameplay

I have yet to find this combination during this generation of gaming and it makes me sad, really really sad.

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cLoudou
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 10:06:21 PM

I agree with this man....or alien thingy.

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ZettaiSeigi
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 10:38:02 PM

Persona 5 is confirmed to be in the works. I hope they could answer this question for all of us. :)

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Ignitus
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:14:16 PM

LV,
I remeber one of your replies. In it you told Temjim (I think it was him) what a RPG is, and I think you got it perfect then.

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Claire C
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:15:13 PM

Mr. Salad Alien, I would love to see you explain to the developers at Bethesda that their game isn't an RPG. Better yet I'd love to see the look on their faces as you try.

Last edited by Claire C on 8/30/2011 11:16:48 PM

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LimitedVertigo
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:30:54 PM

@Ignitus

Thanks, both lists were off the top of my head. I imagine if I sat down and really thought about it the list would include some rather insane things, lol.

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SnipeySnake
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:31:03 PM

And a great story. But 100% agree with you there!

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LimitedVertigo
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:35:32 PM

Claire C,

I would simply tell them they make large games with lots of bugs, as in glitches. Fallout3 on the PC (which was the most stable version out there) still gave me black screens, freezeups, and clipping glitches 6months after the release of the damn game.

Hopefully Skyrim has a decent 3rd person view otherwise I'm not getting it.

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Ignitus
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:37:43 PM

LV,

Well, think about it. I would love to see what those insane things are. Lol.

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shadowscorpio
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:42:10 PM

You got it LV.

All these other games that boast RPG elements, like BIOshock, Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Fallout. Do they even come close to giving us 60 hours of pure story?

I know Xenogears did. I know the Suikoden games did. I know the Tales of games did as well as Final Fantasy and the star ocean games. Notice how these games have precisley what you listed off LV minus the turn-base with Tales and Star ocean of course.

Last edited by shadowscorpio on 8/30/2011 11:43:34 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:53:45 PM

Bethesda will be implementing a system that allows automatic updating as glitches are found. The system will be akin to sports stats updates on sports games.

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BigBoss4ever
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:57:01 PM

@LV - Lost Odyssey answer all in your list, sad part is it is on 360 with graphical choppiness.

Last edited by BigBoss4ever on 8/30/2011 11:57:48 PM

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Claire C
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:00:09 AM

Glitches, nice dodge. :/

We both know you would have been laughed out the building. XD

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:05:28 AM

Claire,

...and I'd get laughed at and thrown out of a KKK meeting if I attempted to inform all of them that Blacks are equal to Whites. Big surprise!?

What point are you trying to make? You concoct an absurd scenario where I'm at the headquarters of a game developer insulting their game and you use this as a counter to my personal opinion of what makes a good RPG.

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Claire C
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:15:24 AM

I guess I'm suggesting that not all RPGs have to or should conform to your 'limited' list. Don't you think your list would insult them??

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:19:02 AM

There's a reason it's MY LIST and not EVERYONE's list. Since when does a person make a personal list about what they like in their favorite genre and get attacked for it?

I simply wrote down what I like in my RPGs. I didn't make the list then say anything other than this is pure $hit and I was mailing it to every game developer out there.

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Claire C
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:29:50 AM

Lol, I didn't know I was attacking. ROAR!! =)

I just thought my first comment was sort of funny and warranted, and then responded to your responses. Converstation, Wah Hoo!



Last edited by Claire C on 8/31/2011 12:32:08 AM

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NoSmokingBandit
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 7:51:20 AM

So if a game is made in the US with all the the criteria met you won't enjoy it?

Thats an incredibly narrow list of requirements. It seems like you just want to go back to the SNES days, which is fine, but no other genre has stayed stagnant for that long, why should rpgs?

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 8:56:34 AM

Well, thank God that the industry doesn't think that way anymore Vertigo.

Not into turn based gameplay.

At all.

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Nas Is Like
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 9:11:48 AM

I agree with you, except for these 2 points:

- Made by a Japanese company
- 60+ hrs of gameplay

While the best RPG games were made in Japan (and they traditionally were), it doesn't mean they can't be made in other countries, as long as they're done right it can be good.

The 60+ hrs of gameplay would be good, but I don't consider it a requirement. If it has all other factors that you mentioned but around 40 hours, for example, it's an RPG (to me).

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Underdog15
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 9:58:47 AM

Well, I thought Claire was attacking...

just saying.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 11:31:48 AM

@Bandit

No, I'd be fine with a game being made on Mars if it had everything on that list. I do however feel that it's the Japanese developers that tend to create media I enjoy and they certainly have proven to use the formula I've given. I can't think of a single Western developer that would make what I've listed which is why I put the whole made in japan.

Nas,
This is my list! LOL, make your own and let's discuss.

Underdog,

He was riding me, brau.



Last edited by LimitedVertigo on 8/31/2011 11:32:36 AM

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Claire C
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:27:01 PM

You mean the wittle girl was picking on the big bad vegetable alien? :_(

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Highlander
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:03:58 PM

Well done on answering, all I could do is rant.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:18:51 PM

Well, at least we know the girl routine is good for a couple lonely upvotes. XD

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Claire C
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:22:16 PM

It's my insight they enjoyed. =)

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Nas Is Like
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:30:07 PM

I know it's your list. That's why I offered you my opinion on it.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:38:56 PM

U sure you don't mean, "inseam"? XD

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Jakintosh
Sunday, September 04, 2011 @ 10:11:33 AM

I'm pretty sure Pokemon fits your description. Thats a current-gen RPG... Black and White were even pretty good.

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TheAgingHipster
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 10:06:40 PM
Reply

@Ben, Highlander and I just had an interesting dialogue about this very topic. You been reading our comments or something? ;)

I don't care much for the distinction "RPG" anymore (though admittedly I still use the term to describe certain games). The genre has been blending with others for some time now, so I now look for the genre's qualities in the games I play. Deus Ex is a great example--freedom of gameplay style, multiple paths, exploration, character leveling, etc. But, I would hesitate to call it a true RPG. I recently heard the term RPS (role-playing shooter), which I think fits DX quite well and sort of exemplifies the direction of gaming. Sure, we're losing the true RPG, but deveopers are incorporating its components into other games to create a Frankenstein's RPG-Shooter-Action-Strategy hybrid.

Sounds a little bit like Valkyria Chronicles, actually.

Last edited by TheAgingHipster on 8/30/2011 10:08:57 PM

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LimitedVertigo
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 10:12:43 PM

I've viewed what developers are doing as watering down the RPG elements rather than incorporating them. I'm all for something new but honestly the traditional RPG doesn't need to be dissected and diluted to be fun in 2011.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 10:33:45 PM

To quote the back of the Deus Ex box: "A perfect mix of action and role play."

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cLoudou
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 10:38:46 PM

@world

you can put that on the back of any game.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 10:50:03 PM

No, I wasn't reading them, but since when is it surprising that you and Highlander would talk about RPGs? ;)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:09:54 PM

They don't put these things on willy-nilly. It's meant to say "This game has role playing elements" and it does.

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SnipeySnake
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:32:28 PM

Watch them start to make fps's turn based....

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shadowscorpio
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:47:37 PM

Snipey, I got a feeling that if that ever happened , we would start seeing turn base come back to "RPG's". Assuming we're on the same page of what an "RPG" is.;)

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Ludakriss
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 6:30:52 AM

Yo, Aging Hipster! Your nickname is groovy.

I agree with the change. Don't approve of it however because as you may notice most of them still lack in that Chemical X - the component being, a solid understanding of how the RPG components are fitting to the game, gameplay, story, feel of the game.

What I'm trying to say is that these RPS titles. It's like they're in the beta testing of the actual GENRE itself rather than the by-product of the genre. Because they probably start with a "simplistic" story in mind(not much RPG oriented) and they try to "duplicate" or add the RPG components to the game but the components not matching the ORIGINAL game idea. Yeah? Make sense? A lil?

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Teddie9
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 8:54:47 AM

cloudou that's not the point.... *sigh*

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TheAgingHipster
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 9:27:52 AM

@Snipey, we're getting closer to that. The more developers incorporate firearms into their games, the more varied gunplay mechanics we're going to see. And I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing (e.g., Resonance of Fate, Parasite Eve, Valkyria Chronicles [which I haven't played]).

@Ludakriss, that's a big key there. Incorporating RPG elements into other genres can give them new depth or character, but the elements need to really contribute and feel as though they belong. And thanks for the compliment!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 10:35:45 PM
Reply

Here's the problem. I don't mind other genres borrowing from RPGs to make their otherwise simple and piddly-ass experiences better. However, what seems to have happened is that they killed RPGs, stripped them of their flesh, cannibalized it, and then infected the dead RPG corpse with action elements and left it to rot in the hands of frowny-faced gamers like me.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 8/30/2011 10:36:11 PM

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Ludakriss
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 6:33:34 AM

Strong words. Real frustration there, buddy.

Miserable five!

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Claire C
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:06:18 PM
Reply

Ben nailed it in the last sentence. Your enjoyment of the game at hand is what's most important.

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LimitedVertigo
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:12:22 PM

Yes and no. I may enjoy some of these action/adventure games with RPG elements but not nearly as much as I have with RPG games back in the SNES/PS1/PS2 days.

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Claire C
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:22:19 PM

I enjoy some games more. *shrug*

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LimitedVertigo
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:29:10 PM

I think you're missing my point. It's like getting served a hot dog that I agree is rather tasty but it's nothing like the Prime Rib I've been having for years. It sounds like you're just content with accepting the way things are just because you don't hate the end product.

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Claire C
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:58:01 PM

Nope, I don't hate the end product.

There's actually quite a bit of hot dogs and prime rib on both sides. However, eating too much of either is extremely unhealthy so be careful!!!

*This has been a public service announcement brought to you by Claire C* =)

Last edited by Claire C on 8/30/2011 11:58:52 PM

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:08:06 AM

I do for the most part hate the end product which is why I'm so passionate on the matter of RPGs. You can continue to accept whatever they throw at you, I'll continue to remember what I used to be served and ask for that.

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Claire C
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:17:38 AM

I'm sorry you can't appreciate this gen's games. That must suck. :_(

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:23:24 AM

Not really, I've had plenty of fun with Star Craft 2, The Uncharted Series, RDR, The Saints Row series, The Witcher series, RPGs on the PSP, and many more games.

Again you're being narrow minded to assume just because I haven't enjoyed a particular genre of gaming this generation must mean I don't appreciate this generation's games.

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Claire C
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:31:38 AM

Hey, I'm just poking a little fun. Cheer up Limit!!

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Underdog15
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 10:11:15 AM

I haven't been upset with much of what this genre has given me. I have had loads of fun. So much so, that I still have an insane backlog of games I want and am excited to play. Not only that, but there are still games on the horizon yet to release that I'm excited to try as well!

If I understand LV correctly, Claire, and I think I do as he and I feel similarly on the issue at hand, it's not at all about not enjoying what this gen has done. Hense his hotdog analogy. He and I both enjoy this gen and find lots of good experiences, and I'm sure neither of us have played everything we want to yet.

However, he and I both (along with other gamers like Highlander, Aging Hipster, WorldEndsWithMe, to name a few as there are plenty more), have not been given the experiences we *most* loved this gen. The previous 4 generations all delivered this type of game we -most- enjoy. That's over 2 decades worth of gaming to establish what we like.

Note, I said "most" enjoy. It's not -all- we enjoy. So when a generation like this one comes along, and we see a relatively sudden shift with recognizable trends that has caused our favorite type of RPG to no longer be produced, of course we are going to complain. As consumers, that's all we can do to affect the industry we love. We need to voice what we like as well as what we don't like. I don't believe merely "accepting" things as the way they are is appropriate. Especially if we aren't completely satisfied.

So yeah... I share LV's sentiment. I love this gen and loads of the games that have come with it. Gems like WKC have been great, but even that isn't -quite- the quality I'm used to getting. I love it, but just 1 great game with themes I love? Compare that to the number of FPS's out there... better yet... compare that to the FPS's out there that call themselves RPG's!

It's not fair to poke at us like we're bitter bethany's or negative nancy's. It's not like we refuse to acknowledge the good things of the gen. The type of RPG LV described was actually common once upon a time, and for many of us, it defined the best of gaming experiences over 2 decades. And it has suddenly stopped. Not a slow decline... a -sudden- stop. It's 100% acceptable to be a little upset about it.

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Highlander
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:06:22 PM

Ben is being charitable Claire.

Underdog, I agree 100% with your final sentiment. I've not been able to answer the question about what makes an RPG, all I have been able to do is rant. So I did. I don't much care whether people think I'm being negative or not. the game genre I like best is being destroyed. I have my thoughts on how and why, and if people disagree or think I'm just being negative, that's their privilege.

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Claire C
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:28:10 PM

This is one topic I'm really starting to hate participating in. I think I've learned my lesson.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:44:14 PM

lol
Why? Because people aren't agreeing with you? It's fine. You were the only one making assumptions about people, like LV, without trying to fully understand where they are coming from. When you accuse people of not being able to be happy with what they have, when LV clearly in the first place said he very much liked what he had, people are gonna get frustrated and get detailed with their replies.

I mean... if, in theory, you poke fun at me, and it's clear to me you didn't even understand the point of what I was saying, I'm going to defend myself and attempt to elaborate.

There's nothing wrong with liking the games we have.

But there's also nothing wrong with bemoaning the ceasing existence of game styles we've come to love, either.

I'm not sure why that puts you on edge.

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Claire C
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:59:29 PM

I understand perfectly. You could give me a little bit more credit than that.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 3:06:40 PM

Just poking a little fun! Cheer up, friendo! :)

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Claire C
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 4:04:26 PM

Way ahead of you, pal. =D

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Ignitus
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:21:14 PM
Reply

More on the subject,

The article didn't mention Borderlands.

The reason I mention it, besides being a great game, is that Gearbox did the unthinkable, created a verygood FPS/RPG or RPG/FPS.

I couldn't have ever imaginend mixing sucesfully such apparent oposing genres. The boundaries are blurring indeed.

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LimitedVertigo
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:30:13 PM

I agree that it's a fun game. I played it for a while by myself and didn't get all the praise it was receiving then I played with friends and it was addictive as hell.

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Beamboom
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 8:29:53 AM

Man I look forward to the sequel next year. Borderlands is on my top 5 coop list this gen.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 9:50:32 AM

I didn't mention Borderlands because it barely qualifies as an RPG, IMO, and it wasn't that great.

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Carlight
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:46:19 PM
Reply

An rpg to me would be konami not disbanding team suikoden and suikoden 6 would come out....

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shadowscorpio
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:50:41 PM

They did what?! Is that why its seems like suikoden series has disapeared from the universe this gen?

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Carlight
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 8:22:30 AM

While conducting an interview on 4gamer for their new upcoming RPG Frontier Gate a couple of Konami employees stated that they were designing Frontier Gate from scratch as they had previously disbanded their Suikoden team and had therefore lost all their RPG-creation know-how.

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BigBoss4ever
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:50:52 PM
Reply

what is RPG? in this gen, the best text book example is Lost Odyssey, it has pretty much what it takes to be a REAL RPG we all grew up to know. game like this kind should be mass produced, nothing more.

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Ignitus
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 11:56:38 PM

Agreed 100%.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:09:43 AM

I was a fool and failed to play it during the brief time I had a 360 back in 08 (it died, go figure). I plan on getting one this Holiday season for that game and Alan Wake.

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BigBoss4ever
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:24:45 AM

@LV - it is still not too late, the only tiny flaw of that game is its occasional graphical choppiness, the good side is the 360 and the game now is cheap. :)

btw, Alan Wake is another gem on 360 I am yet to pick up. Did not really buy anything on 360 since Magna Carta 2 (lost odyssey, blue dragon, magna carta 2 and bayonetta are the only 4 games i have on 360):O



Last edited by BigBoss4ever on 8/31/2011 12:27:01 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 9:51:03 AM

Lost Odyssey may be the last RPG I truly loved.

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Highlander
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:08:45 PM

Yes, well, since Microsoft commissioned a real RPG on their console and bought exclusivity on nearly every JRPG around when they launched, forgive this Playstation customer for blaming them for killing the JRPG in the west.

I wouldn't touch an Xbox 360 if you paid me, never mind play Lost Odyssey.

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BIGRED15
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:08:53 AM
Reply

Ive played an rpg and a game with role playing elements. I never cared for full on rpgs because to me they're extremely slow to get the game moving. Fantasy or spells or what have you to me serve little purpose as far as contributing to the genre as a whole. In rpgs spells can be used as weapons. Y cant guns be into the mix. To me either can b used and used to make an effective game. Traditional rpgs r much like oysters. They r an acquired taste to many people. In order to keep that genre alive it almost needs to assimilate into other genres to be competative from a business standpoint. I stand by my point of view that rpgs work better in todays gaming as a function not a genre all its own.

Oh and thumb me down all u want this opinion will probably be horribly unpopular anyway...

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:11:22 AM

I wont thumb you down nor do I think you're completely wrong. We can't all like the same games. However I don't think all RPGs have to change and be watered down to cater to the masses.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:06:27 AM

I will thumb you down because guns do not belong in all games and are not at all interchangeable with spells. Spells do a lot more than just toss an attack.

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Ludakriss
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 6:41:11 AM

@Limited Vertigo

...or rather to cater to the "specific" masses who are not familiar with the roots of the genre or the very CORE of the beautiful 3 letters. Then again...would it still be relevant now, for those people?

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Underdog15
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 10:52:06 AM

@World
I can make an exception for gunblades, gunarms, Laguna, or dual wielding Yuna.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 6:00:10 PM

Yah I'm not saying you can't put guns in RPGs, they just aren't interchangeable for the sake of making something a shooter.

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dmiitrie
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:59:50 AM
Reply

I tend to use the accepted definition of porn to classify RPGs: it'll have certain elements (narrative-driven, large cast of memorable characters, emphasis on patience and strategy over speed and reflexes, character progression and / or customization, long playtime, etc), but not all things that have some or all of those elements will be such, and, above all, I'll know one when I see it.

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evilmunkie
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 2:05:57 AM
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Would a game that tells the life story of a professional race car driver from rookie to retirement be considered a RRPG? You already make pit stops in racing games which is a micromanagment of sorts much like replenishing HP/MP, only with tires and gas. Both examples need good tactics when it comes down to heal/refuel in a tough spot. 'Performance enhancing customization', am I taking about car parts or bleeping materia here? Whenever a car crashes theres a chance the driver gets injured or dies, and to make it interesting wins and losses change the story. Live the life of a professional racer, get sponsors, keep rivals in the rear view. It'll happen some day.

Seriously though, if you look hard enough just about anything can have RPG elements, but we need to atleast label the different types we are comming up with to be clear with eachother. Some people are not picky about beef, others prefer kosher and that is why just calling a game just an RPG won't cut it anymore. Traditional RPGs will go nowhere as long as there is support and a market. There is a reason different genres want a little RPG spice in their product. Theres alot of similarities between RPGs and real life (multiple choices/outcomes for example) isin't that what we all want in most our games, a little more realism. Not just any superficial graphical realism either. Where true RPGs shine are their story and relatable multidimensional characters, things that in a perfect world would've worked their way into these genre blending games way before stats and level caps.

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Highlander
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:09:46 PM

Your post is a good example of how the RPG genre is being redefined out of existence. Thanks, but no thanks.

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main_event05
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 2:46:46 AM
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Better idea Ben. Let's discuss what an RPG isn't.

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Gordo
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 4:11:56 AM
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Demons Souls. Loads of item management, levelling up and spells. 100 hours of gameplay. That's a RPG in my book.

Mass Effect 2 was fantastic as you managed your group and levelled up and did side quests. That's a RPG in my book.

Fallout 3 gave me 50 hours of levelling up, item management and doing sidequests. That is a RPG in my book.

It is 2011. I personally don't want to be spending my precious gaming time grinding through boring turn based RPGs like FFVII. Leave them for the history books and the handhelds!

I think there is too much "rose tinted" nostalgia over the old games. They were good in their day but the majority of gamers aint going back.

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berserk
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 5:15:04 AM
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To me it s simple , any game that allow you to built a character the way you want is an RPG .

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Beamboom
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 8:33:05 AM

There are RPGs where your options to build a character is quite restricted, still it's obviously a rpg...

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Vivi_Gamer
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 5:32:28 AM
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An RPG should be an adventure, an epic quest! This is the core element I believe which has been lost within this generation. In Fallout you are just surviving on your own. In classic FF games you'd meet a cast as you progressive in your adventure and for one reason or another you would join forces to battle evil.

Fallout to me is not an RPG, Its just a game which has gobbled up every genre it can and mashed it into one, I like Fallout, but it is not an RPG or even an action RPG.

I stated my thoughts on this the other day.

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

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___________
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 5:55:59 AM
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digimon?
tis the genre that has changed oh so much!
shooters, racers, arcade, platformers, every genre has really stayed the way it was created.
RPGs though, gone from strict fantasy games like FF, to less fantasy like monster hunter, to games like fallout, to games like ME and deus ex.
such a wide style of genres inside a genre.
tis why i hate using the term RPG, because when i say that images of dragons and outrageous plot lines come to mind.

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Beamboom
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 8:39:48 AM
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For me the question if it's a rpg or not has more to do with the "soul" of the game than the technical checklist.

For instance, Mass Effect is an *obvious* rpg to me, while a game like Borderlands is just as obviously *not* a rpg.
But if we analyse those two games they are technically not *that* different. They both got classes, items, quests, levels, skills, towns, shops, bla bla bla. Still they are obviously two very different games.

So what makes the difference then? I'd say it's all in their soul. Mass Effect has a rpg soul, Borderlands has a fps soul.


Last edited by Beamboom on 8/31/2011 8:44:35 AM

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Ludakriss
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 9:04:27 AM
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Guys & Girls! Check this out. This guy is so interesting. So...different. Just watch.

http://www.ausgamers.com/features/read/3106069

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telly
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 9:07:02 AM
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It's much harder, if not impossible, to define what RPGs anymore, but I think that's because a lot of RPG elements have worked their way into almost all different kinds of genres. Developers rightly saw how much fun and engaging it can be, for example, to have leveling up and story progression as a part of a game where action is the central gameplay mechanic. Elaborate weapon customization is something else that definitely started with RPGs and now can be seen in the majority of games out there today, and those games are better for it.

Conversely, it only made sense for RPG developers to take a look at what worked well in other genres and try incorporating that into their RPG foundations. I know a lot of you guys get frustrated at the lack of traditional RPGs, and I hear you -- they just don't make 'em like they used to. But overall, I think it's pretty awesome developers are constantly trying new things and pushing things forward for the sake of creating ever greater games.

And worry not for the future of the traditional RPG -- if this industry has shown us anything, it's that developers are happy to resurrect supposedly forgotten gameplay forms pretty much all the time :)

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Teddie9
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 9:09:48 AM
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I find you gotta do it by game... and even then it's rarely unanimous.

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clockwyzebkny
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 10:07:57 AM
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I never was the type of gamer that liked rpg's In a matter of fact I,was scared of liking it I felt that they were only for nerds lol! Obviously I grew up and started liking games with rpg elements in them I'm one of the very fee that hasn't played ff7 Please don't kill me! I would definitely pick ut up if there was a remake of it to see ehat I've been missing I've only played one pure rpg and that wss ff10 I actually got addicted to it.
Now I love to hear games announced that have rpg elemenys to them. What really sucks for many jrpg fans is that they barely exist in this current generation. I might have gotten into them myself

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Underdog15
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 10:17:51 AM
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Anyone who doesn't have an avatar yet should get one... I keep accidentally thinking you're blank line... and I rarely read what he writes... which means if you have no avatar, I'm probably skipping yours too. (Not intentionally)

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 11:36:17 AM

LOL, this comment made me laugh because I do the same thing.

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SaiyanSempai
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 11:29:12 AM
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I've read everyone's comments and I agree with LimitedVertigo, Nas is Like, and some others about what an RPG is.

What defined the RPG in the first place? Was it not the D&D crowd? With their dice rolling and turned-based moves. Their leveling system, item management, and endless hours of play. What games best emulate the RPG origins?

I believe we would call them JRPGs now.

Don't give me an FPS with hit points coming out of my enemy when I shoot them and call it as RPG. Don't give me an action/adventure game with item customization and/or leveling system and call it an RPG.

Those are just games with DEPTH. Something to keep you playing, to feed our endless desire for a better weapon or to be stronger.

Not all games with depth are RPGs. And not all RPGs have depth.

After reading everyone's comments, there really is no question as to what is considered an RPG.

The question is, why are developers calling their free roaming action/adventure games RPGs and ruining the entire genre for RPG fans?

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Robochic
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 11:48:02 AM
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I just can't see how bioshock is a RPG I still think it's a FPS. Diablo for the PS1 was great but I don't that is a RPG really what is a RPG anymore slowly this is becoming something of the past in North America.

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DeusExMachina
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:31:24 PM
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Hey I just had a crazy thought but sometimes these crazy notions of mine have a creepy way of actually happening:

What if this generation is really like a renaisance in the gaming industry and we see this generation go into a gen 7.5 phase before we actually get a gen 8.

Think about it, the reason why Nintendo went the whole Wii direction is to draw in the non-gamers and now that theyve grown into gaming wanting something of more substance, Wii U gets released with its own innovative design but now serving as Nintendo's "7th Gen" as its more or less on par with PS3 and 360.

Anyway my point is and my question is, could we possibly only be halfway in this gen and could gen 8 (PS4 and Xbox720) only start with Ninty's NEXT console (after the Wii U or atleast in its 3rd or 4th year)?

I mean everyone seems fine with the current tech gamers and devs alike and it seems like the next gen will need something more than a graphics boost (*nudge nudge* "VR!" *cough cough*) due to the burst of different ways and methods of experiencing and interacting with games introduced in this gen (motion sensing gaming and games such as Heavy Rain and L.A. Noire etc.).

Anyway finaly getting to my final point, could we start seeing the RPGs fitting LVs definition of a RPG in the beginning of the comments (prob minus the turn based, but still something unique and appropriate) popping up soon, as Devs have become accustomed to the machines now and gamers are happy. However now after 6 years have already passed in this gen I think peope are gonna start craving games like this again.

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DeusExMachina
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 12:31:32 PM
Reply

Hey I just had a crazy thought but sometimes these crazy notions of mine have a creepy way of actually happening:

What if this generation is really like a renaisance in the gaming industry and we see this generation go into a gen 7.5 phase before we actually get a gen 8.

Think about it, the reason why Nintendo went the whole Wii direction is to draw in the non-gamers and now that theyve grown into gaming wanting something of more substance, Wii U gets released with its own innovative design but now serving as Nintendo's "7th Gen" as its more or less on par with PS3 and 360.

Anyway my point is and my question is, could we possibly only be halfway in this gen and could gen 8 (PS4 and Xbox720) only start with Ninty's NEXT console (after the Wii U or atleast in its 3rd or 4th year)?

I mean everyone seems fine with the current tech gamers and devs alike and it seems like the next gen will need something more than a graphics boost (*nudge nudge* "VR!" *cough cough*) due to the burst of different ways and methods of experiencing and interacting with games introduced in this gen (motion sensing gaming and games such as Heavy Rain and L.A. Noire etc.).

Anyway finaly getting to my final point, could we start seeing the RPGs fitting LVs definition of a RPG in the beginning of the comments (prob minus the turn based, but still something unique and appropriate) popping up soon, as Devs have become accustomed to the machines now and gamers are happy. However now after 6 years have already passed in this gen I think peope are gonna start craving games like this again.

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Highlander
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:03:26 PM
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Well, I saw this go up last night, and thought about commenting then, but decided to sleep on it first (besides I was helping my wife on her Newgame + run through WKC, and was guiding her to the various GR7/8 gears).

But today is a new day, and I'm still about as grumpy on this subject as I was yesterday. The very fact that we have an article here (of all places) that asks the question "What Is An RPG?" should be evidence enough that there is a major problem for the genre. Of course, if you love the RPG genre and have had your eyes open for 6 years or more, then you already know there is a problem.

Whether it's the dilution of the genre, the absence of traditional JRPGs from the western market, or sunspots, something is very wrong with the RPG genre. So wrong that very many gamers don't even know how to define the genre any more.

How can anyone not know how to define this genre? It built much of what the gaming industry is today. Oh, but they don't know. Too many gamers either only have the experience of action RPGs or have been hoodwinked by the proliferation of "RPG-like features" in games. To those gamers, the current trend of action RPGs (yes, that would be a sub-genre of the RPG) is all that they think of when someone mentions an RPG. Unless they immediately think of a Rocket Propelled Grenade, in which case they need to go back to Doom, Rage, Quake, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Saints Row, Gears, Halo, Killzone, or whatever other 1st/3rd party shooter they enjoy.

But, how did we get to a point where action games with "RPG-like features" are classed as RPGs by gamers and retailers alike? How did the genre become so dilute and distorted that these games have jumped from the obvious genre they belong in, into the RPG category?

Well, partly it's the proliferation of the Action games using weapon or skill leveling to vary the difficulty level as a game progresses. Partly it's the fact that more of the gaming market is captivated by the flashy graphics and promise of RPG features. Partly it the fact that many newer gamers don't know of the traditional RPGs because they've never seen one. Partly it's the absence of those traditional RPGs, and the subsequent lack of content that defines the genre and provides a contrast to the action games.

Well, I could rant on and on about this. I could point out how Microsoft's exclusive contracts with JRPG makers prevented JRPG makers from producing games on the PS3 for 2+ years. I could point out that the incredibly poor sales of traditional JRPGs on the 360 in the west convinced JRPG developers and producers, that the western market doesn't want these games any more, or that they must bow to the action genre and blend action elements into their games. so that what little output we do see includes attempts by many traditional JRPG makers to produce action RPG/JRPG hybrids that fall flat with the JRPG audience.

Yes, I could rant about all that and rightly blame Microsoft for their distortion of the market.

Or I could talk about the various game elements that make an RPG and how they are absent from many of the so-called RPGs produced now. I could make mention of many other ideas about why the RPG and the JRPG in particular is suffering. However I do think it comes back to the simple point made yesterday. The genre is being diluted and is dying a death of a thousand cuts. ever game that dilutes the genre further adds another slash, every gamer that thinks these action games are RPGs adds another slash. It's painful to watch, and makes me angry.

Now, I haven't answered the question yet. I do know what an RPG is, but what point is there in defining it when no one will accept that definition because it's considered anachronistic, old fashioned, unsophisticated, and/or inferior?

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Highlander
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:25:37 PM

To continue my thoughts...

...it's not a good thing for RPG like elements to be added to other games, all that does is further dilute and weaken the RPG as a genre. This is the creeping death for the RPG. Every time some action game of whatever other genre comes along and claims to use RPG like elements people say the same things.

"Oh, well are you really saying it's a bad thing for RPG elements to be in other games?"
Yes. The more often thishappens the more likely gamers, especially new gamers, are to see these kinds of games as RPGs. If these are the new RPGs, then what of the classic, genre defining RPGs? Putting them side by side with these new action RPGs they are clearly not nearly the same genre, but so many people see these new games as RPGs.

For me, RPGs did start with the old skool. Yes, I mean the kind with a character sheet, pencils, paper and multi-sided gem dice. Back in the day, I played those, and enjoyed them greatly. I played many different 'systems' of game; D&D, AD&D, GURPS, Middle Earth, Pendragon, Traveller, and a couple of other games based on GURPS that I can't remember the name of. No matter the change in setting or scenario, they were all very clearly RPGs.

What do I think a video game RPG is, how would I define them? as someone else mentioned, perhaps one way to answer that is to say I know what one is when I see one. With that in mind, look at my user reviews and my avatar. Here's a clue. I have written User reviews of Atelier Rorona and White Knight Chronicles, I comment regularly about White knight, Aterlier, Hyper Dimension Neptunia, Ar Tonelico (including Qoga), Valkyria Chronicles, Cross Edge, Agarest War, Enchanted Arms, and so forth. I comment about RPGs such as the PS2 the Xenosaga series (Kos-Mos and Shion are in my avatar), and of course Final Fantasy VII and VIII. I've missed out at least a dozen more games, many on the PSP. If you want to know what I think an RPG is, that should give you some evidence.

What I don't think an RPG is is an action game that co-opts parts of RPG game elements, like weapons that level up, and then call themselves RPGs. By that definition, Ratchet and Clank is an RPG. Some may argue that every game with a character is an RPG since the player adopts the role of the character. But that broad definition is rather obviously too broad of a definition, as well as a redefinition of the genre we're talking about.

I'm annoyed that we even have to have this discussion about what an RPG is. I'm annoyed that the industry is willfully destroying a genre of game that I love.

I mentioned the frog and hot water yesterday; gradually, the RPG has been redefined and marginalized. Some have been worrying about this for years now, many have not. This frog thought the water was plenty hot enough to jump out about 4 years ago. Basically the RPG and it's fans are the frog(s). The water was deceptively warm 4 years or so ago, but now it's quite hot. But the frog has become used to the heat, deceived by it's seductive warmth, and it's almost too late to jump clear.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 2:11:07 PM

You really should talk to Ben about a possible position with PSXE. I love reading your thoughts (most likely because we tend to agree on things) but honestly your rant on this whole RPG matter is a beautiful thing.

BTW you're always playing WKC, I wish I had the same dedication you have with that game. I only got to GR5 I believe and that was last year. I'm going to be getting WKC2 on Day1 so I look forward to seeing you on there.

Last edited by LimitedVertigo on 8/31/2011 2:11:25 PM

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Highlander
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 2:30:22 PM

Oops, re-reading I spotted an error I missed earlier;

...need to go back to Doom, Rage, Quake, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Saints Row, Gears, Halo, Killzone, or whatever other 1st/3rd party shooter they enjoy.

Should read

...need to go back to Doom, Rage, Quake, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Saints Row, Gears, Halo, Killzone, or whatever other 1st/3rd person shooter they enjoy.

@LV, WKC is good, it does take dedication for sure. I got to about the same GR as you in my initial play, and did the same thing, got annoyed at the grind. Then I went back to beef up for WKC2, and discovered the hidden gem in the online gaming element. It's all co-op play, it's item management, item synthesis, obsessive questing for one special item to make that one special sword. It's like all the reasons we play RPGs through to the very end, and beyond all rolled into one.

Definitely look for me when WKC2 arrives. We'll have a blast.


Last edited by Highlander on 8/31/2011 2:32:57 PM

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Underdog15
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 3:08:41 PM

ooh ooh! *throws up hand* me too, me tooooo!!!!!

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Beamboom
Thursday, September 01, 2011 @ 8:30:17 AM

"It's all co-op play, it's item management, item synthesis, obsessive questing for one special item to make that one special sword." ->
You just summarized why a mmorpg is so damn addictive right there, good sir. You seem to be more than ready for the full mmorpg experience. ;)


Last edited by Beamboom on 9/1/2011 8:30:30 AM

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Highlander
Thursday, September 01, 2011 @ 12:09:06 PM

Oh, I'm ready, I'm just well aware that if I got into that and hooked on it, it would completely divert my gaming and socializing for a long time. I'm not sure I want that level of 'hook' - yet.

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gumbi
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 1:30:24 PM
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Well... RPG is really just an acronym for Role Playing Game... which really is pretty broad and difficult to define.

What's sad is that the style of RPG that my generation grew up with, and fell in love with is now considered to be archaic and 'boring'. It seems nowadays that if a game doesn't keep a frantic pace and have you mashing buttons it's boring.

It's like when your favourite restaurant changes the recipe of your favourite dish... It's still on the menu, but you stop ordering it because it just doesn't taste as good as it used to.

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clockwyzebkny
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 10:41:23 PM
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i keep trying to upload an avatar and it never works :( I'll try again

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 11:51:51 PM

Is it a black and yellow one with Nirvana? It's showing up on my computer.

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Crabba
Friday, September 02, 2011 @ 3:11:33 PM
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I said it before, I'll say it again. The definition of an RPG was never an issue before, there's no reason why it would have changed now, just like any other genre.

You may add new genres as you wish but don't try to change a perfectly good existing one.

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GamerO1
Sunday, September 04, 2011 @ 1:09:16 PM
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First off, let me say that any game, excluding most puzzle & card games, have RPG elements.
Any Character you play with, you are playing it as your Character, or Role Playing.
However, most would not fit into a True RPG and in reality would never be included in the RPG Genre.
The Elder Scrolls series are really Adventure Games. Nothing more. But Adventure games are the closet thing to an RPG since they share many of the same elements.

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GamerO1
Sunday, September 04, 2011 @ 1:23:31 PM
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Simple RPG Breakdown

Battle System
- Turned-Based
- No Action Bars
- No Character Controlled Action
- Good Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Battle Options: Fight, Run, Item, Magic, etc

Characters
- Stats (ie HP, MP, Attack, Defence, Agility,
Resilience, Wisdom, etc.)
- Leveling
- Promotion
- Classes
- Class Change Ability
- Multiple Characters, not just a single person

Environment
- Wide Expansive Areas to Roam
- City’s, Towns, Villages, Castles
- Caves, Dungeons
- Roads, Forests, Mountains, Deserts, Oceans
- Vehicles for Air, Land, & Sea
- Stores of varying types
- Chests, Treasures, Drawers, etc with money/items
- Items that can be found in obscure places
- Good Selection of Items to Find and Purchase

Monsters
- Varying Types
- Boss Monsters – preferably without patterns
- Mini/Sub Boss Monsters

Game Play
- Turn-Based
- Exploration
- Minimal Puzzles
- Gamer controlled Character movement
throughout various environments
- Ability to Save Anywhere and Anytime
- Ability to Equip
- Levels of Difficulty
- Non-Linear
- Good Storytelling
- Voice Over
- Cut Scenes

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