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Editorial Matt Barton on the state of today's CRPGs

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Zed, Nov 3, 2012.

  1. Zed Codex Staff Patron

    Zed
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    Tags: Matt Barton

    Matt "Matt Chat" Barton (also known as J_C) has written a lengthy blog post on the state of CRPGs today -- and he's not happy.

    Modern CRPGs are console shooters. And that pisses me off.​

    Preaching to the choir here, Matt.

    The stylistic homologies I think we're stuck in now, at least regarding CRPGs and MMORPGs, is best shown by looking at Skyrim and Dragon Age II on the CRPG side and Tera and GW2 on the MMORPG. What's happened to CRPGs, at least with major releases, is an increased tendency to make them as much like the reigning genre of shooters as possible, going so far as to use the same engines. To someone like me, playing Skyrim is a lot more like playing Doom than a true CRPG experience such as Ultima VII. This shift towards shooter-ization began very early, of course, with games like Ultima Underworld (1993), Elder Scrolls: Arena (1994), and Might & Magic VI (1998). Now, of course, you can't find a CRPG that doesn't look like it's just a shooter with some grafted on "CRPG elements," and, what's worse, the console-ization of the shooter has homogenized the whole industry into one fast food joint after another. I greet the new Halo or Black Ops game with the same enthusiasm I would greet the Brand New San Diego Bacon Burger with Olives at McDonald's. Sure, it's a "sandwich revolution," yadda yadda, whatever. Yawn.

    A lot of these issues are caused by fear. There's a growing fear within the industry, I think, that one day we'll reach a point where's consumers will simply be satisfied with their current consoles and games and stop buying new ones. We've seen this already on the PC with WOW. Instead of striving to make new games and hype them as something extraordinary, Blizzard took a more sensible (if cynical) route and just keeps selling the same game, month after month, to millions of satisfied fans. It seems there's a point where producing new content (what most developers want to do) is replaced by maintaining existing content (what I assume nobody really wants to do). It's like our game designers are these creative types who keep wanting to offer up new versions of basketball and football or new sports altogether, when the public is increasingly demanding that they quit messing with it. ​

    The post is quite long so I won't quote all of it. Go here to read it all.
     
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  2. Metro Arcane Beg Auditor

    Metro
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    Stating the obvious, of course, but I don't know why people even bother to critique the AAA industry anymore. It isn't going to change so long as there is a huge audience of untermensch willing to make a Day One Purchase™ at $60 or higher (followed by the obligatory DLC/Season Pass for another $40 or so). Thankfully with crowd-funding the AAA industry has become obsolete. It'll still exist but it can be largely ignored.
     
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  3. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

    felipepepe
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    No offense J_C, I get what you're trying to do here, but that final line is horrible:

    It makes YOU look like a spoiled rotten brat, angry that they stole your toy.
     
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  4. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite

    Roguey
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    A shooter is a game where you shoot things. There are console RPGs that don't involve shooting. Every action game is a shooter now?

    a) What does Skryim have in common with Doom? I need concrete examples here because the article doesn't list them. Statements like these require supporting evidence.
    b) Ultima 7 is a true CRPG experience? A lot of people here would contest that.

    They never were. :lol: Delusions of superiority caused by playing by yourself with a fancy toy.
     
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  5. circ Arcane

    circ
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    It's first person for one (although you can run through it in third person too), if that counts as a criteria. Combat is real-time and plays like a slower Doom clone with swords and mediocre stealth. Stats are ignorable. Why? Well, try VATS headshotting a supermutant at level 1 in FO3 and succeeding and then tell me stats matter.

    I get more of an old school RPG experience playing AoE 3 than playing Dragon Age.
     
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  6. mindx2 Codex Roaming East Coast Reporter Patron

    mindx2
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    Codex 2012 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    This is exactly why Kickstarter is the last hope of cRPGs that I want to play. The AAA publishers/studios cannot/ will not change because their formula has made the modern gamer "couch potato" comfortable, meaning the consumer knows and feel secure in the knowledge of exactly what their going to get just like when they watch a sports game/ eat a fast food hamburger/ drink a name brand soda/ or any number of generic modern day life-style choices. There truly is a "sheep-like" mentality that has been taught to consumers by mass media advertising and they've been brilliant at it. Think about how clothing isn't popular unless it ADVERTISES the company/ brand name right on it. People are walking billboards for products now and they pay for the privilege of doing it!

    Good article by the way J_C. :thumbsup:
     
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  7. Machocruz Arcane

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    Might and Magic 6? Yeah I don't know about that. Because it had a 3D engine? Stats are still vital, skills are necessary for nearly everything you need to do, shooting arrows was already in the series. What am I missing here?
     
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  8. sea inXile Entertainment Developer

    sea
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    While he definitely exaggerates things (i.e. first-person = Doom) there's no question that RPGs have less in common, mechanically speaking, with their forefathers than the newest shooters clogging store shelves. By and large this is not because it makes the games better, more immersive, opens new gameplay opportunities, whatever, but because it takes on the likeness of other more successful games in an attempt to attract that audience. While from a business perspective, that's a good move, it's only in recent years we've seen developers really begin to realize that RPG fans don't give two shits about having incredible graphics and flashy, "visceral" action so long as the underlying gameplay is good.

    If you are making RPGs then you are making games, by default, for a minority of nerds. There's no need to be ashamed of that and delude yourself into thinking that you need to sell 5+ million copies to be successful, or that you need the big publishers to be competitive.
     
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  9. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Matt Barton is a sentimental sort. I think he allows himself to be swayed too easily by superficial trappings.

    There is a decline, but it's not primarily due to these things that he is describing.
     
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  10. Awor Szurkrarz Arcane In My Safe Space

    Awor Szurkrarz
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    NUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :x

    Yeah, I remember the titanic intelligence required to play Fallout and other cRPGs of late 90s. I remember how elite I felt when I got through the advanced character creation and how elite I felt when I was hitting girls in the groin with cattle prod.
     
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  11. Morkar illiterate

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    Wow, hadn't expect such a rant from him. I'm glad he spoke his mind. He is an oldschool rpg player and it was always clear for me that he prefers these much more than the modern ones because of them actually having rpg rules instead of only "rpg elements".

    :excellent:
     
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  12. Volrath Arcane Patron

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    Rantings good for the soul.

    He should post on the codex, oh wait... :troll:
     
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  13. Moribund A droglike

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    You don't get a vote any more after last thread, mr "honorary RPG" .
     
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  14. Machocruz Arcane

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    The holy grail used to be trying to match the complexity and possibility space of PnP games. Now the holy grail is possibly being able slip date rape drugs into drinks in an elven tavern.
     
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  15. Grunker RPG Codex Ghost Patron

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    Codex 2012 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Torment: Tides of Numenera Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Why are people getting so riled up a few errors in what is basically just an angry rant (truely fitting of the Codex)? Fuck that, :salute: to you J_C!
     
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  16. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Oh?
     
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  17. Jaesun Fabulous Moderator

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    Torment: Tides of Numenera Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech
    Damn. That was a really good read. :salute:
     
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  18. Machocruz Arcane

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    There is no old school or new school crpg. There's either 'like PnP school' or 'GFTO school.'

    inb4soyou'resayingactionrpgsaren'tlegitimatedesign?derp
     
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  19. MuscleSpark Augur Patron

    MuscleSpark
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    So J_C is a typical combatfag huh.
     
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  20. J_C One Bit Studio Patron Developer

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    No, I'm a storyfag.
     
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  21. SCO Arcane In My Safe Space

    SCO
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    Matt is a typical dissociative personality. Sometime soon in the future, a new user called Matt_Barton will register and say 'I'm the real Matt', and he'll be right... as far as he can tell.

    There's something about the codex that attracts this kind of mental disorder, just look at Bryce and Chefe.
     
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  22. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

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    Not a bad read overall. Pretty spot on criticisms for anyone who's watched the decline.
    Overall, a good read.
     
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  23. Brother None inXile Entertainment Developer

    Brother None
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    Plenty of people are fine with this. Some companies, like Bethesda, BioWare and probably CD Projekt RED, are not, and stare jealously at the sales numbers of AAA shooters. Well, not Bethesda, since their games sell as well as you can reasonably expect. But BioWare has always obsessed about not selling enough, and that determines their path.

    That's not true for everyone though. I don't think it's true for Larian, or that it was true for Radon Labs. And as others have said, in the modern crowd-funding age it's kind of irrelevant. I was more sympathetic to these kind of rants before, but right now, I think we're in a pretty good place with the RPG genre, the best place we've been in for about a decade, really. Is it possible that all the promise currently going on will disappoint? Sure. But until then, it's a good time to be an RPG fan, good reason to be optimistic.
     
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  24. sea inXile Entertainment Developer

    sea
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    You're right. But to be honest I think Divinity II was a wake-up call for Larian. They targeted the console gamers as they just did not sell much outside their niche. Same goes for Risen with Piranha Bytes. Obviously they are still around, but Larian seem to be focusing on more niche, slightly smaller and lower-budget titles rather than trying to be triple-A and failing, and I would be surprised if Piranha Bytes, after Risen and Risen II both failed on consoles, are going to try doing the same thing again either.

    It's also interesting to see how Larian turned what was basically a console failure in Divnity II into a much-praised PC game by catering to the old-school. The game didn't get any better or worse over the last few years, but they got a lot smarter about marketing it and the result has turned that game from a forgotten failure to one of the top RPGs in recent memory.
     
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  25. 4too Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    4too
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    Elements Of A Manifesto




    Simplicity of imagery to make his point, excellent.


    Sports analogy matches my observations of MMO / shooter play discussions. Matt ennobles twitch gaming for what it is, action satisfaction, the best of pick up basketball.


    Doom / shooter is a tight fit for certain game play, as PNP mechanics have been jettisoned for ... technically tabletop … air hockey enthusiasms.



    Distilled almost to buzz words, the power of Matt's vision, see how it tickles some of the best and the brightest here, our endearing fussy eaters.

    Is it a bridge too far, does this tight latex fit stretch sufficiently, to see the brevity and wit of message mastered as on par with Animal Farm.

    Or do I obsess.

    Why dismiss this as a rant, mere tub thumping, when Matt has a manifesto brewing, and the media presence to project it.


    Tin tub? No. Beat the drum, Matt. Lead the parade.






    4too
     
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