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Terms/Subgenres of RPGs

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Chris Koźmik, Sep 11, 2020.

  1. Chris Koźmik Silver Lemur Games Developer

    Chris Koźmik
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    I would like to sort out the terminology related to RPGs. Especially *named* subgenres of RPGs.


    Terms/subgenres I'm aware of:

    Dungeon Crawlers - ??? not sure what's the definition to be honest :)

    Blobbers - Party consists of more than one character and they move as one "blob" in a first-person perspective (if they need to also fight as a blob or if the whole game need to be in person-perspective is debatable).

    Gridders (niche use) - Party moves over a grid, no free movement.

    cRPG - ??? is it computer RPG or classic RPG?

    JRPGs
    - Japanesse style RPG (not sure the exact definition but one recognizes those instantly :D)

    wRPGs
    (is this term really used?) - Western RPGs (as opposed to JRPGs).

    DRPG
    - ???

    I would like to clarify the definitions, check if there are alternative ones, find out if there are more terms/subgenres like this.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2020
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  2. Falksi Arcane

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    Dungeon Crawlers - Wank, repetitive combat slogs, which don't have enough RPG elements to be classed as RPGs, or good enough combat to be classed as an action RPG. Generally dull as fuck.
     
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  3. Darth Canoli Magister

    Darth Canoli
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    Dungeon Crawlers - Everything is about exploring dungeons or a huge dungeon (Elminage series, PoR reboot, DM, Grimrock, Most Rogue-like...)
     
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  4. Lord_Potato Arcane

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    Dungeon crawler is not a subgenre of RPG. It's a thematic variant. A dungeon crawler can belong to numerous subgenres: blobber (most often, both turn based and real time), action RPG (Daggerfall), isometric RPG (Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor, Dungeon Rats)...

    Gridder (never heard the term before) is also not a subgenre. It's just a term that describes movement, usually in 1st person RPGs (blobbers or single character ones, like Quest).
     
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  5. Mister Familiar Scholar

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    SRPG - Strategy/Simulation RPG, tactical turn-based combat with a squad leveling/inventory management layer paired with an Overworld/Homebase layer of gameplay.
     
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  6. 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
    I think most people use the terms "dungeon crawler" and "blobber set in a dungeon" interchangeably, except that "dungeon crawler" can also include some of those oddball "single character blobber" games like Anvil of Dawn and Vaporum.

    There was an entire controversy on the Codex over whether it was correct to call Dungeon Rats a "dungeon crawler", and it seems most people including Vault Dweller agreed that it wasn't. Sometimes people use the (rather awkward) term "combat crawler" to describe highly linear, combat-focused isometric RPGs like Dungeon Rats and the Icewind Dale series.
     
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  7. Thac0 Hopeless Optimist Patron

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    SRPGs do not need an overworld layer, since it is originally a Japanese term coined by games like Fire Emblem, which used to be just strings of missions. I suggest Strategy/Simulation RPG, tactical turn-based combat with a squad leveling/inventory management and grid/hex based movement.

    Now some people call the western version of SRPGs, which are notably different in gameplay style since they contain stuff like Jagged Alliance, just SRPG aswell, some call them TRPG. Wikipedia has https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tactical_role-playing_game, lumping the two terms together. I prefer SRPG for JRPGs, TRPG for WRPGs since the cultural difference between Fallout Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics is pretty high.

    Some stuff from the top of my head:

    ARPG - all roleplaying games with action combat

    Action JRPG - Tails of and similar games, basically just ARPG+JRPG

    Hack and Slash - Diablo clones

    Soulslike - Borderline rpgs which follow the fromsoft formula

    Metroidvania - Metroid/Castlevania descendants, defined by nonlinear progression, and the ability to unlock upgrades that allow you to access new parts of the map.

    Sandbox RPG - Kenshi and stuff like that

    Isometric RPG - self explanatory

    Immersive sim - Thief, Deus Ex and Messias of Might and Magic.

    I think CRPG is more often used as the opposite of JRPG for either classical rpg or computer rpg. It makes sense as a distinction, since Japan barely has a PC market. Almost all JRPGs are originally made for console, while CRPGs like Baldurs Gate play like ass on a console.


    Subgenres where definitions are still needed:
    Chinese Roleplaying Games. CRPG is obviously already taken, as is WRPG for Wuxia RPG. They are on a massive uptick and might be a real player on the market soon. However they are way too different culturally to just call them JRPGs.
    Card Battlers? Maybe it is already a definiton but there are many Slay the Spire style rpgs, or rpgs which just use childrens card games to resolve fights in general, like Witcher Thronebreaker. I think they should have a catchy buzzword aswell.
     
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  8. Lurker47 Learned

    Lurker47
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    CRPG's (computer or classic RPG's) is a term used almost interchangeably with WRPG's even though there could be a legitimate distinction made based on the specific time period "CRPG" is meant to refer to.
     
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  9. V_K Arcane

    V_K
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    I think it's more complex than that because the question of what constitutes a dungeon also remains open. For example, an area may be narratively a forest or a swamp, but mechanically a dungeon, like in the aformentioned Anvil of Dawn. Even a whole open world may be one big dungeon in the mechanical sense, like the example of Wizardry 7 shows.
    On the other hand, Ultima Underworld or Arx Fatalis aren't blobbers but still totally dungeon crawlers. I would even go as far as to suggest that Dark Souls is one.

    I'd say that the defining traits of a dungeon crawler in the most abstract sense are 1) lack of downtime and safe areas (which makes everything into a dungeon in the mechanical sense) and 2) exploration-based rather than story- or quest-based progression (which removes the need for downtime or story dispensation areas). Basically, if there's nowhere to return to from a dungeon to recuperate and get your next task, you're in a dungeon crawler, no matter what it looks like.
     
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  10. Lurker47 Learned

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    FURRPG (Fucking Ugly Red Role Playing Game)
     
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  11. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

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    wRPG is only used by filthy console fags, normal people just call them CRPGs, which means Computer Role Playing Games, which describes any RPG on a computer, as opposed to RPGs on idiot boxes (consoles).

    Action RPG or sometimes ARPG is a genre moniker for Diablo clones. Gothic and Elder Scrolls may be action RPGs (as in, RPGs with a strong action game element), but they're not ARPGs. ARPG specifically refers to clones of the Diablo games. Sacred, Titan Quest, Path of Exile, and the hundreds of shitty C-grade games made in Russia in the mid 00s qualify.

    Tactical RPG is sometimes used to refer to games like Battle Brothers, Blackguards or Expeditions: Conquistador, where the focus is building a party of combat guys and engaging in complex tactical combat encounters. Combat here is usually turn-based and plays out either on a square or hex grid. It has many things in common with strategy games like Panzer General except you control fewer units with more personality. I guess Dungeon Rats would also fall into that category.

    Roguelikes are usually single-character RPGs with randomly generated levels. The traditional roguelike is grid-based top-down, but other variations exist too. Roguelikes with lighter RPG elements are usually called Roguelites. They take the idea of randomly generated levels but aren't traditional RPGs.
     
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  12. V_K Arcane

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    I don't necessarily agree with that. I think in the current scene it's more useful to reserve the ARPG moniker for games where to-hit chance is based on hitboxes (as opposed to character stats). Diablo-likes can just be called Diablo-likes, they don't really need a more generic term.
     
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  13. NJClaw Ontopolover by choice Patron

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    I'm not sure everyone agrees on the definition of JRPGs. To some, a JRPG is a game with a very recognizable style, where each aspect (especially combat) follows a very distinctive set of unwritten rules. To others, a JRPG simply is an RPG made in Japan.

    Personally, I think we need a term for action games with a very limited number of RPG elements. I'm talking about games like Horizon Zero Dawn, new Assassin's Creed titles, and stuff like Far Cry New Dawn. They can't be ARPGs because they are not RPGs, but they incorporate some elements of the genre, and sometimes they are also advertised as such. ARPG-lite? I'm not good with names.
     
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  14. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

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    Back in the mid 00s "ARPG" clearly referred to Diablo-clones.
     
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  15. Lord_Potato Arcane

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    I used the term aRPG lite for what AC Origins was. You were navigating the world like in Witcher 3, but had no dialogue options and did not make any meaningful choices (you only could choose which sidequests to pursue).

    However then they added more rpg elements to the formula and Odyssey advanced to just aRPG, inferior, yet similar in style to Witcher 3.
     
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  16. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

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    Roleplayish Games
     
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  17. Lord_Potato Arcane

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    But not anymore. There are few Diablo clones released today and many action rpgs.
     
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  18. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    Terms don't magically change their meaning over time

    Respect my historical autism
     
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  19. NJClaw Ontopolover by choice Patron

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    Counter-proposal: Roleishplayish Gameishs
     
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  20. V_K Arcane

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    But they do actually. The whole history of science is a history of terms changing their meaning based on newly available data.
    Becaue hitboxes weren't (much of) a thing in RPGs back then, unlike Diablo-clones. But now hitboxes are everywhere while Diablo-clones became rather marginal, and that demands a rethinking of the classification.
     
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  21. WhiteShark Barely Literate

    WhiteShark
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    These are how I use these terms in my personal lists of games I'm interested in.

    DRPG
    : Japan uses the term Dungeon RPG to describe dungeon crawling blobbers (both realtime and TB, though realtime blobbing is cancer)
    ex: Wizardry, Etrian Odyssey

    TRPG: rpg with tactical (usually grid-based, turn-based) combat
    ex: Voidspire Tactics, DivOS

    SRPG: rpg with overworld/base management/strategic layer and tactical combat
    ex: XCOM

    JRPG: if we're using the term to describe games of a certain style and not origin, then I put non-DRPGs that have non-tactical combat under this classification
    ex: Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, Final Fantasy

    WRPG: usually isometric, RtwP stuff (if it's TB it goes into TRPG)
    ex: Baldur's Gate, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

    FPRPG: first person, non-grid-based action rpgs
    ex: Oblivion, Kingdom Come: Deliverance

    ARPG: third-person action rpgs
    ex: Gothic, Dark Souls

    Card RPG: rpg with card-game based combat
    ex: Trials of Fire

    Diablolike: top-down action rpgs
    ex: Grim Dawn, Path of Exile

    Roguelike: proc-gen turn-based grid-based perma-death rpg
    ex: Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, ADOM

    Metroidvania: side-scrolling action rpg with open exploration
    ex: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Bloodstained

    RPG: non-traditional rpgs that don't really fit into other categories
    ex: Undertale, Disco Elysium
     
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  22. Chris Koźmik Silver Lemur Games Developer

    Chris Koźmik
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    When I released Legends of Amberland I got surprised when basically all press started to call it "Dungeon Crawler", even though it's more like an open world and dungeons are just part of it... In addition, when I tried to find a Steam filter for Blobbers (see: "List of all Blobbers on Steam" topic) I noticed that EVERY SINGLE game that had something even remotely like a dungeon of some sort (including RPGs in space where technically there are no dungeons :)) had "Dungeon Crawler" tag. Basically, this term is used extremelly broadly and in practice, well, it does not even need the "dungeon" part to be named that :)

    So, it's used in context of some sort of dungeon-likish-but-not-necessarily-a-dungeon area which you CRAWL (the crawler part being much more important than the dungeon part). Which I suppose makes sense, if for example there was an RPG which plays like a dungeon crawler but located in a tower (let's even assume that it's a tower without windows, so the difference is that there are different textures for walls and you go up instead of down), most would not want to exclude it from dungeon crawlers.
     
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  23. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    Dungeon Crawler

    Also known as Role-playing Games, the way they were intended.
     
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  24. Raghar Arcane

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    Quality RPGs is one subgenre.
    Visual novels pretending to be games is another genre.
    Action games with stats like Diable is third genre.

    Why are you asking?
     
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  25. Sigourn Arcane

    Sigourn
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    Broad categories:
    • cRPG: computer RPG.
    • Western RPG: RPGs from western civilizations, even if they aren't situated in the West geographically speaking.
    • JRPG: RPGs from Japan.
    Genres:
    • Blobbers: you have a party that moves in a first-person persective, e.g. Might & Magic.
    • Dungeon crawlers: games that take place in one dungeon, in a first-person perspective, and generally with a first-person persective, e.g. Wizardry, Etrian Odyssey.
    • ARPGs: Diablo-clones.
    • Action RPGs: RPGs that are action-based, like Terranigma, Fallout: New Vegas, Dark Souls.
    • SRPG: for the most part it's a Japanese term for games like Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem, since the average Japanese RPG rarely relies on positioning (combat tends to be either action-based or takes place in a separate window) unlike many western RPGs from the 80s and 90s. These are also scenario-based games for the most part: instead of running around engaging in battles, the story advances as a set of scenarios (battles) all handcrafted.
    I know some people make the distinction between "Strategy RPG" and "Tactical RPG" (Strategy and Tactics are not the same thing after all), but I never quite understood the difference.
    There's also "JRPG as a genre" but you would be hard pressed to find a definition people actually agree with. Elements tend to be:
    • Very narrative-driven and with bad writing.
    • Turn-based combat that is very easy.
    • Animu aesthetic.
    Awful genre, so I prefer the standard "a JRPG is an RPG from Japan" definition, which graces JRPGs with titles such as Vagrant Story, Nocturne, and Dark Souls.

    But really, "JRPG" tends to mean a grandiose narrative with a Japanese tone in its writing. The Witcher could have turn-based combat yet no one would dare call it a JRPG (unlike Undertale), because a big reason people like JRPGs is because of their writing. Ultimately a narrative-driven game, even with turn-based game and set in stone characters, will never be called a JRPG as long as the writing is anything but the kind of stuff you would see in anime. Historically, "JRPGs" (as a "genre") have had very long and complex stories compared to western RPGs, which tend to be on the shorter side. JRPG fans (modern ones, at least) believe western RPGs started with Oblivion and Mass Effect, but

    A good exercise is to look for "western JRPGs", and you will almost surely find games that feel very Japanese in their writing or tone (quirky, whimsical).
     
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