Official Codex Discord Server

  1. Welcome to rpgcodex.net, a site dedicated to discussing computer based role-playing games in a free and open fashion. We're less strict than other forums, but please refer to the rules.

    "This message is awaiting moderator approval": All new users must pass through our moderation queue before they will be able to post normally. Until your account has "passed" your posts will only be visible to yourself (and moderators) until they are approved. Give us a week to get around to approving / deleting / ignoring your mundane opinion on crap before hassling us about it. Once you have passed the moderation period (think of it as a test), you will be able to post normally, just like all the other retards.
    Dismiss Notice

A Universal Definition of RPGs

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by VentilatorOfDoom, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. Metro Arcane Beg Auditor

    Metro
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    26,379
    The key is the character progression (be it through development of skills/abilities or through itemization) must itself be subject to choice and consequence. This is where a game like Witcher has difficulty passing the test.
     
    ^ Top  
  2. Yeesh Magister

    Yeesh
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Messages:
    2,876
    Location:
    your future if you're not careful...
    Yes, as a matter of fact many games do indeed have that very light coating of RPG elements. Do you doubt it? Suppose instead of finding the completely fixed (statwise) guns that the character in Doom finds, he found guns with randomized stats that did randomized damage, and as the game progressed, the character became more likely to find more powerful randomized weapons. No other changes to gameplay at all. Didn't that game just take a step closer to having what you can accept as light RPG elements? Skills and equipment are two sides of the same coin, both ways to increase a character's capabilities. Goldbox games and many others had completely fixed weapon acquirement to make characters more powerful. Isn't that part of the RPG paradigm?

    Again, neither game is an RPG, but these are the elements of RPG. Just like there are elements of strategy gaming in other genres, but we don't call them "strategy games" if the focus is elsewhere.

    And the "gameplay" element in my definition is to set RPGs apart from simulations. If the player doesn't have a hand in the character's actions (a la a sword and shield version of The Sims), that's a different genre.

    EDIT: And simulation, just to be clear, IS the ultimate example of character skill over player skill. Wind them up and watch them go with no player control at all. That's the pure end of that "the character must determine outcomes, not the player" approach.
     
    ^ Top  
  3. Shemar Educated

    Shemar
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    260
    I am not sure what you are trying to say here, but what you are actually saying makes no sense whatsoever. Only a complete bullshit game would place character skill above player skill. Any game worth a damn to me should be down right unplayable without player skill. And no, I don't mean action clickfests, I mean turn based games.

    In general, I think any definition hinging on character development (as defined by level ups, stat increases, equipment upgrades etc, not in the RP sense) is fundamentally flawed. The game is not in the 30 seconds it takes me to level up, it is in the two hours I actually play it between level ups.
     
    ^ Top  
  4. Topher Cipher

    Topher
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,860
    Now it sounds like an RPG is any game where you ride around on a horse and kill things.

    This makes me think of an action game on Xbox called Enclave. As you played the levels you found gold, there was fixed amount in each level and you couldn't grind for more. The gold was mostly found through exploration and for all intensive purposes was the games XP counter. Now, the only thing you could spend the gold on were new equipment upgrades for your character, with no skills or levels to increase. Is that an RPG?

    It sure felt reminiscent of other RPG's in a way but it wasn't. My skill as a player not the skills of my character are what got me through the levels. Sure games like that and Zelda have an RPG vibe but they aren't RPG's. I'd say that Deus Ex has lite-RPG elements and so does System Shock 2 but there not RPG's. As far as Zelda or Enclave or any other action/hack-and-slash that I can think of they are simply not-RPG's because it's all about player skill.

    RPG's are about character skill and on a meta-gaming level the player skill in building a character. Make no mistake I love action-RPG's like Gothic but Zelda can't even be called that because Link still has no skills as a character to check actions against. I love FPS-RPG's and any other genre you can mash RPG elements into, dear lord I love BloodBowl. I loved Dark Messiah, it's got skills, but it's still not an RPG because they're never checked to determine the success or failure of an action. I even love Forza and hell it's got stats for the player character (my car), I can upgrade those stats by upgrading my equipment, I can even power level and plow through sections of the game but none of those things directly affect my success on the track without first going through the lens of player skill.
     
    ^ Top  
  5. Topher Cipher

    Topher
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,860
    ...and what do you do in those two hours. Talk to people (skills checks), combat (more skill checks), solve puzzles (again skills checks). If it isn't character skill determining when you hit or miss or when you fail to persuade somebody it's not an RPG. The game *is* in those two hours you're absolutely right but every second of those two hours needs to depend on the choices you make during those 30 seconds at the level up screen.

    *If the action a character makes within the game are determined by player skill then what does it matter what you do during those 30 second, what does it matter if you level up at all? How do some of the most well-received games around her place player skill over character skill? I can't fire a weapon accurately in Fallout without character skill no matter how good with a gun I might be in real life or how good I am at doom. What is it your doing during those two hours that takes so much player skill as opposed to character skill in Fallout?
     
    ^ Top  
  6. Yeesh Magister

    Yeesh
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Messages:
    2,876
    Location:
    your future if you're not careful...
    How many classic RPGs are you cutting off from the genre with a hard line like that? Noncombat skills weren't prevalent in the olden days, but so what? Let me give you an example. Suppose a game had a secret door that the player could see because it had a faint graphical difference to the rest of the terrain. The player sees it and investigates it instead of there being a skill check for the character to spot it. By your logic, a game could not do this and still be an RPG. And that's not even taking the player versus character schism to the extreme.

    Your focus on evading the lens of player skill leads to pure simulation. Do you want a game where an unskilled player performs the same as a skilled one? What else would you call such a game but a sim, if no sort of player skill is allowed to affect the outcome? (And maybe that's not necessarily even a game, let alone an RPG.)

    I don't think that's what you want, but the problem with your position is that you're really maintaining, without saying, that there's "skill" and then there's skill. Spekkio recently killed his way through an Iron Man game of Fallout Tactics without losing too many people, and that took skill. But you might think that his character's skills were the only ones that mattered in the combat. Sure, he didn't have to aim manually, and to hit was calculated purely by game mechanics, so the kind of player skill you don't want to allow in RPGs wasn't present. But Spekkio still decided what each character would do every single turn of the game. When he wanted a guy to move here or there, the character did it. It didn't matter if the characters were smart enough to lay an ambush, because the player's intelligence overrode the characters'. It didn't matter what the characters' views were on letting ghouls and deathclaws join the team, because Spekkio got to make those choices.

    Of course the player has to override the characters sometimes, otherwise it wouldn't be a game, right? You'd just be watching. But the problem for your position is that once you accept that (as we all must, if we don't want to be playing sims), then the line drawing you want to engage in becomes arbitrary.

    A great RPG can have puzzles in it, puzzles that challenge the player, not the characters. You don't want the devs to throw up a dialog box that says "The treasure vault is locked by a curious looking mechanism that will require some figuring out... Ok, your Int was high enough, you're in", and likewise you don't want them to exclude the dumb guy from ever figuring it out. Or maybe you might sometimes, but in general, don't we want there to be clever puzzles that speak directly to us, the players? Don't we want tactically challenging situations that WE have to figure out, not the characters? Of course we do.

    But if you then turn around and say, "yeah but if I have to help aim the gun, it's a different kind of game", you're on logically thin ice. Because you solved the puzzle. You planned the ambush. You picked every tactic in every combat. You overrode the characters already with your skill. Why do we switch genres just because we're talking about physical reflexes instead of mental ones? Int and Dex are both modeled right there on the character sheet. How can you say it's OK to override one sometimes but never the other?

    Anywho...

    Zelda isn't an RPG because it's an action game. You can win it without "developing" your character at all, can't you? I admit I don't remember, and of course there wasn't much development to being with. You seem to be misrepresenting what I said to mean that any game with character development is an RPG, but boy oh boy is that not what I said. I said this:

    A game is an RPG to the extent that its focus lies in increasing characters' capabilities through gameplay.

    Is the focus in Zelda largely on powering up Link's capabilities? I don't remember it that way. But once again, to the extent that there is some focus on that aspect, Zelda has more RPG elements than a game in which the character does not get stronger as you play. Lots of games have RPG elements these days, just like RPGs have been adding elements from other games. The genres are bleeding together, whether we like it or not.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  7. Topher Cipher

    Topher
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,860
    Does the focus in Fallout lie with "increasing characters' capabilities through gameplay" any more than it does in Zelda? I don't know that it does. In Zelda you get equipment and in Fallout you get skill points. In both games you make your character progressively better to overcome progressively more challenging obstacles.

    Anyway you're pretty much taking my argument to the extreme and I won't bother to refute whatever conclusions you draw from that but I will say that I'm not going to knock a game form the genre simply because it has a few action based on player skill (like the glowing door) but they should be the exception rather than the norm.

    Ultimately it's fine for the player to decide where and when to attempt an action but then that action needs to be attempted using the characters skills not the players.

    *You asked why it's alright to override Int and Dex but not other skills or why it's alright to override character skill and plan an ambush? Because it's more fun that way, plain and simple. I'm wasn't nor have I ever been interested in the right definition of an RPG but I was interested in pointing out that your definition was far too broad to be of any use.
     
    ^ Top  
  8. Shemar Educated

    Shemar
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    260
    I couldn't disagree more.

    -Talk to people: Who you talk to, how and what you say is what matters. In some games a very small percentage of dialogue action is dependant on a skill check, but for the most part it is what the player does that matters.

    -Combat: Only in the most crappy and pointless of games the result of a fight is dependant on skill checks and not player skill in tactics and use of skills/powers.

    -Solve puzzles: Seriously? Your idea of solving a puzzle is a die roll? How utterly boring and pointless. My idea of solving a puzzle is solving it.

    I would never play a game where my decisions as a player meant less than the numbers on my character sheet. I would consider that not just a horrible game but utterly pointless to play it. Building a character is to me a minor part of an RPG (although even that takes player skill). Actually playing the character is what matters.
     
    ^ Top  
  9. Topher Cipher

    Topher
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,860
    ...and for the most part it's done poorly. Skill checks make dialogue better.

    Players setting tactics or not is irrelevant and I won't waste any time on it but if my low skill character can win their fights then whats the point in having levels or even skills for that matter.

    Why not? A good puzzle should include both player and character skill. Torment had a good riddle in it that used both.

    How can you play a character and ignore character skill? It honestly sounds like you'd rather be playing action games or adventure titles. It's clear we like different types of games but while it is clear what I like it isn't clear what you like because you're entire argument is based on making worthless opposing statements against whatever I say. Either say something or shove off.
     
    ^ Top  
  10. Shemar Educated

    Shemar
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    260
    I am not saying ignore it, I am saying what I do as a player, my decisions, my tactics, my intellect, should matter more than the numbers on the character sheet. The numbers do matter, in the sense that you can't win a level 10 fight with a level 2 character, but a good player should be able to win a level 10 fight with a level 7 character and a bad player should lose it with a level 12 character. A good player should be able to play through a game as designed, even with an averagely build character, while a clueless player should be totally lost in reload hell even with a perfectly built character. RPGs are not about min-maxing character stats. If simply building a character was enough to progres you in the game or win fights for you it would be utterly pointless to even play. These are the critical elements in a good RPG for me:

    1. Tactical combat. Combat where understanding of the combat system and use of decent tactics are essential to progress in the game. Fights should be won or lost primarily based on the tactics used, not character builds (within reason, see numerical example above). Characters should have stats and skills that affect their combat capabilities and performance, but how one uses them should be essential to victory, not just having them.

    2. Storyline. Everybody has diffrent tastes on linearity, from railroads to sandboxes. I like to play through at least 80% of the game's content on my single play through and I like a story that progresses. I don't like random wandering around (some will call it exploration), I don't like "open every door, talk to every NPC" quest hunting, I don't like "hold off on saving the world to go get my hat from the cleaner's" side-quests. I like to be able to shape parts of the story by the choices I have my character make.

    At least one of the above two must be present for me to play an RPG. And these two are what makes an RPG, be an RPG for me. While character advancement is common in almost every RPG, I do not consider it a necessity. I could play an entire game without levelling up, with my character's stats remaining unchanged throughout, even with a pre-generated character and if the game plays like an RPG as described above, it will still be an RPG to me. I am not saying I would rather play without character builds and levelling up, but I do not consider them the cornerstone of RPG-dom either.

    Edit: One last thing on character builds. Building a character should not be about whether you win the game or not; every reasonable build should be able to win a game (given a skilled player). It should be about how you want to play the game.
     
    ^ Top  
  11. Topher Cipher

    Topher
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,860
    Look at that you finally said something and surprise surprise we're practically on the same page. Now if only you would stop wasting time by taking my argument (again) to absolute extremes.

    I said that the stats on the character sheet should matter more than player skill when determining the success of an action and somehow in your mind that means that the game should play itself without player involvement of any sort whatsoever.

    So if you the player are tactically brilliant then your non-combat character should still win his combat engagements most of the time? The point of an RPG is to take the choices that you make as a player and test their success against the statistical abilities of your character. If you don't want stats to matter then what you want isn't an RPG. I know, I know you just want them to take a backseat to your skills as a player... well, luckily for you there are a plethora of good action/RPG's to play.

    ...and those tactics would be determined by what, oh yeah, by your character build.

    ...and you determin how you want to play the game when you what? Make your character.

    As for everything else you wrote. I couldn't care less because the story hasn't got jack shit to do with the game being an RPG or not... and so with that I'm going to end on a small recap of my stance and quote something I responded to you earlier with.

    At the end of the day if you don't want the time you spend on the level up screen to have a significant impact on the way you play the game then fuck off because what you want to play isn't an RPG.
     
    ^ Top  
  12. Shemar Educated

    Shemar
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    260
    Well my mistake... for trying to reason with you, you are obviously a moron.

    That is one of the stupidest things anyone has ever said here, and there is plenty of stupid to go around. I guess every strategy and tactical game ever created has no gameplay whatsoever, since the unit builds are fixed and therefore (based on your brilliant deductions) the tactics used are fixed? Could yopu possibly be any more wrong?

    In addition all the RPGs with good tactical combat are party based, which means individual builds are near insignificant as all basic power sets are present in the party.

    And I couldn't care less about your obviously meaningless opinion on what constitutes and RPG and what does not. My definition of an RPG (which is the only one that counts for me) requires a story. You don't get to tell me what is an RPG and what isn't. You are nothing, just a random Internet moron.

    Are you really that pathetic to think that actually building a character that can play through a game takes any sort of significant skill? Do you really think that building a character that does not suck is an accomplishment? Are you that horrible of a player that you need an uber-exploit build to make it through a game? I've got news for you. There are RPG players, myself included, that are so good in understanding game systems and building characters that building really good characters is not even a challenge, it doesn't even take effort. If that was all it took to play an RPG, skilled players like me would be bored to hell. But yeah, do go on thinking that building a good character takes some kind of skill. I do it in my sleep.
     
    ^ Top  
  13. Kaanyrvhok Arbiter

    Kaanyrvhok
    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    1,096
    Based on player!=user skill Enclave is not an RPG but Zelda most certainly is. Link's hearts, and weapons matter far more than your skill controlling him. The problem with the player/user skill comparison is any RPG worth playing is going to take some skill and know how. That's what the G in RPG is for.
     
    ^ Top  
  14. Topher Cipher

    Topher
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,860
    Hearts are really not that important in Zelda if you even remotely know how to play which is why it's not an RPG.

    *also (not to you Kaanyrvhok)... but why do newfags post such shit. Has the codex really been taken over by worthless story fags?
     
    ^ Top  
  15. Topher Cipher

    Topher
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,860
    Tell me what games do you like? Surely not the classics preferred by the tasteful gentlemen around here. Perhaps you should visit one of our numerous Dragon Age 2 threads instead.
     
    ^ Top  
  16. waywardOne Cipher

    waywardOne
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    2,315
    stats are like genetics and just determine the range of possibilities, i.e. hardcoded character limitation/potential. this aspect is more important to a game like Diablo. the impact of stats in a character's influence in the world is best kept under the hood in a well-made RPG: you wouldn't want to be able to pick and choose which quests to undertake or which battles to fight based simply on a mathematical formula of success.

    that's all. posting more for clarification than argumentation.
     
    ^ Top  
  17. Topher Cipher

    Topher
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,860
    I actually think that's less important in a Diablo style game where the only outcome to any given situation must be combat and becomes more important in games where a variety of options both combat and non-combat are available. Doors should be opened or closed depending on how you build your character.

    I wouldn't undertake a combat quest with a non-combat specialized character (no number crunching involved), though in a perfect RPG (which has never been the point of this topic) quests would present themselves with both combat and non-combat solutions.
     
    ^ Top  
  18. Miew Novice

    Miew
    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    29
    Look for example at Symphony of the Night: Essentially it's a platform game, but since you character has a level, stats and an inventory, it's already called an action RPG sometimes. Though the gameplay itself is really not much different from a game like Megaman, it's at least about as much of an RPG as Diablo is.

    Especially the more recent Megaman games feature lots of ways to improve your characte, and you have an inventory as well. You can walk around and talk to NPCs and things like that, but no one's calling it an RPG - because it's missing the characters stats (I guess).

    There's the recently released Magicka, which plays pretty much like Diablo, but aside from having a very simple inventory akin to a FPS, where you can only pick up one weapon while discarding another (though that makes the choice more meaningful because you can't always just go back), it's never called an RPG because you never level up and there are no statistics or numbers to represent your characters strength. Still, you power up throughout the game by collecting new spells and increasing your capabilities.

    Looking at the games mentioned above, which all seem to be very close to either side of the line (if you can even draw one), it seems that it's all about numerical stats, character level and exp.
     
    ^ Top  
  19. SCO Arcane In My Safe Space

    SCO
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2009
    Messages:
    16,297
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    And so the wheel of time turns

    Feels dirty just writing that
     
    ^ Top  
  20. SacredPath Novice

    SacredPath
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2011
    Messages:
    46
    An RPG is a simulation where you take on one or several characters in a fictional environment to ensure their survival and ultimate success, where success is defined as the culmination of a story driven chain of events.


    come at me bro, I got Tigerblood.
     
    ^ Top  
  21. Xor Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Xor
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    Messages:
    9,260
    Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Divinity: Original Sin Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Divinity: Original Sin 2
    Fails the Halo test.
     
    ^ Top  
  22. SacredPath Novice

    SacredPath
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2011
    Messages:
    46
    Nop


    The difference is in how closely defined/ fleshed out/ intrinsically logic the events, world and characters are.

    Example:

    You're a Barbarian. This means you come from a culturally underdeveloped, technologically primitive background, which in turn means you aren't used to heavy armors, let alone magic. You tend to go into a rage in battle because that is the custom of your people. Intelligence is not a prerequisite, nor will it help you in being succesful in your role in this fictional world, which is being a meatshield (that's how others perceive you, too).

    You're also a Half-Orc, which further enhances your stereotypes, i.e. that you're a muscle-bound retard. It also means you'll get even worse reactions from other inhabitants of this world. Together, your profession and race indicate that you will have to use brute strength to survive and be succesful, contrary to other characters in that world.

    Counter example: Half-Life

    You're Gordon Freeman... a scientist. You can also shoot things.
     
    ^ Top  
  23. Xor Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Xor
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    Messages:
    9,260
    Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Divinity: Original Sin Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Divinity: Original Sin 2
    Yep

    Your example and counter-example have nothing to do with the definition you gave above.
     
    ^ Top  
  24. Radisshu Prophet

    Radisshu
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Messages:
    5,615
    Yeah, your definition was shitty.
     
    ^ Top  

(buying stuff via the above buttons helps us pay the hosting bills, thanks!)