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Editorial Jan Beuck's What Makes a Good CRPG


Staff Member
Jun 16, 2002
Behind you.
Tags: Jan Beuck; Master Creating

Jan Beuck offers his perspective on what makes a great CRPG in one of our little developer-written CRPG mechanics articles:

Lets start with a really critical point. It's easy for me and I will find many friends here with words like, great game needs great gameplay, but the sense of this article is to talk about game mechanics. A critical point when creating an RPG, one that really can cost you half of the players (the one half or the other one...) is the discussion between a single main character and a party. Both have been successfully demonstrated in various titles, but for some it's only a true RPG if they control the classic party, others disagree and say that it's only an RPG if the slip into the role of a single character. Although I like both, my opinion is that slipping into a single character is exactly the sense of role-playing, it's essence. Controlling a party makes it more like a tactical or strategy game than an RPG. Combat, for example, becomes mass-battles. Real time combat games, it also detracts as a party disables any real action. The player becomes a viewer that can only make specific guidelines for the characters to act, but he can not be any of the characters. Especially strange is that there are games you can win although your character (read: you) has died and only his friends go on (like in Dungeon Siege).​

I've always liked the I'm role-playing a party crowd. They're funny.

Vault Dweller

Commissar, Red Star Studio
Jan 7, 2003
Jan, you da man! Here is why:
my opinion is that slipping into a single character is exactly the sense of role-playing, it´s essence. Controlling a party makes it more like a tactical or strategy game than an RRG
My argument exactly. If you wanna control a party, go play X-COM or JA.

there aren´t any classes
No comments - that speaks for itself

The interesting thing is that you meet the other characters during the game, and will have different tasks and a different view on the story
Bravo! I've always wondered why, in any given CRPG, I'm the only one who cares. Where are the others? What are they doing? Are they ahead of me or got sidetracked? And yes, the last but not the least, what's their take on the story. Excellent, Jan, way to go!

If we like the game we are making - especially if, after several months of playing it, we are not bored to death - the game is clearly going to be a winner.
Wow, this Jan guy, he's got skills, he's got ideas, and he's got the attitude :lol: Go get them, man. We are watching :D


Mar 13, 2003
Good to hear from you again Jan. I fully agree with your comments. I feel like I'm looking at the next Warren Spector judging by your comments -- gameplay is complex, control is simple.


Dec 4, 2002
In my opinion points mentioned in article does not clearly define great CRPG. First of all, lets remember Fallout 2. Is it good CRPG? Does it have party? Same with Arcanum...
They both have parties and both quite good RPGs.
Interface is crucial for any kind of game...
As for technology, I can remember same Dungeon Siege with passable trees, mobs that spawn just behind your sight or in the bushes, but it was quite succesful. And I can remember Morrowind, that calculates interaction of small parts of roofs with rain to provide very slow "true to life picture". Personally - I prefer first one, it has a lot of frames per second, and second one in the rain just a few.
And where is things, that define really great RPG??? Or Diablo (actually both of them) is really most great RPG ever? Where is story, reactive world, in-depth characters etc....


Nov 9, 2002
Monkey Island
In Fallout 2, you have a party, but you don't control it. You only control the main character. Same deal with Arcanum. That's what we're talking about.


Feb 28, 2003
Hamburg, Germany

Thanks for your comments - and it´s really an honour to be compared to Warren Spector! :oops:

Just for curiousity: A few days ago I read an interview with him and I was very suprised to find out that we draw a lot of inspiration from the same game, although it hasn´t much to do with Deus Ex or Restricted Area or any other game currently available for PC: Zelda 3 - A Link to the Past. Although no real RPG :wink: , it had great gameplay and was ahead of it´s time. I liked it so much that I created a similar freeware action-adventure with a friend when I went to high school (nearly took 2 years).

Reorant: I know what you mean. The article only shows only some ideas, it´s not a complete guideline that covers all parts of an RPG - that would take dozens of pages. That´s why I wrote this in the introduction:

The answer to the first question should be in this article, but for some reason it isn´t - at least not entirely. ;-)

About successful games: Lets just say they aren´t always good only because they are successful, marketing also plays a big role (for example posting articles on gamespy instead here :wink: ).

However, I fear the article covers only a piece of the cake. Maybe I can write a second part in the future, but I promised Sait Proverbius to write an article about the Restricted Area skill system before. Huh, a lot of work... :roll: [/quote][/code]

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