Justifying RPGs

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Quing
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Justifying RPGs

Postby Quing » Fri Jun 27, 2008 12:45 am

I was talking to a friend recently who told me a description that he had heard of RPGs (such as Final Fantasy, Suikoden, etc., as opposed to things like D&D or Zelda which fit into different categories) as essentially books where you have to press a button a thousand times to turn the page. Being an avid player of RPGs myself, I attempted to defend the genre, but I found that I have very few arguments. Strategy games are all about formulating clever plans to beat the enemy; adventure games are all about running around and honing your reflexes so that you can get to that secret level (or what have you); puzzle games are all about thinking in such a way that you can progress to the next place; in short, all of these video game genres have a reason to be video games as opposed to books or movies. Which brings us to the question: what is that element in RPGs? The only thing I've been able to think of is that they give you a more complete view of the universe and the personalities of the characters than you would get with books unless one (such as Tolkien) writes a whole set of appendices to be considered along with the books. So what do you guys think?

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warmaster670
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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby warmaster670 » Fri Jun 27, 2008 12:50 am

you could generalize any genre down like that.

i happen to like exploring in RPGs, as well as the battles.

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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby calimier » Mon Jun 30, 2008 4:37 pm

I personly think of RPG s as a mix of strategy puzzles and adventuring

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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby Author » Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:44 am

Almost everything are the same thing, but it is our approach and the look on a different angle that makes the experience so different.

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Iku
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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby Iku » Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:14 am

i like to think rpgs are like book that you can control, because of that it makes great stories available to the masses. thats why i think rpgs can be let off for having bad game play if the story makes up for it, though some games, magna carta im looking at you! have such awful gameplay it ruined the story telling!
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Jimba
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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby Jimba » Wed Jul 02, 2008 2:14 pm

To me I like the complexity of RPG's. Action games are boring because I hate hitting the attack button eight thousand times only to wear my controller out. Strategy games are ok only if they have the RPG element of leveling up and getting new items. Puzzle games to me are just monotonious I hate looking at the same thing (Blocks, shapes, etc.) for hours.

To me RPG's are just deep and involving. I like the fact that the story as it progresses turns slowly into a beautiful picture. When I play an RPG for the first time it is just fresh and new. When I play it for the 2nd time I realize how much I missed the first time. You realize the second time subtle hints and clues they give you that you think are just pointless the first time you play a game. People who don't like RPG's are just kinda one dimensional to me. What I mean by this is for example people who only play sports games or people who only play fighting games. RPG's broaden your horizons if you give them a chance. Tell your friend this.

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Mio
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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby Mio » Fri Jul 04, 2008 8:57 am

so what if RPGs are likened to books

there's nothing to justify because it is true

RPGs are books that you click to turn the page (or in that sense)

but it just doesn't stop there

there are ingame battles and other elements (hands-on involvement) that books and imagination alone cannot cater

these are the elements you were looking for

i believe you're friend used the word 'essentially'

i am not one to rebel against an opinion that have some ring of truth around it

so i'd say to just agree with your friend and reinforce his belief by saying that RPGs has a lot more to offer than books

(at least in the category of entertainment)

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daoster
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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby daoster » Fri Jul 04, 2008 2:07 pm

But the argument that RPGs are more like books is just a generalization is apparent in most Japanese and Japanese inspired RPGs...Western RPGs definitely tackle RPGs in a different manner.
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Quing
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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby Quing » Mon Jul 07, 2008 2:00 am

While a lot of what you guys are saying may be true, it's very rare to find an RPG that has anything like the storytelling of a book. Simply put, there has not yet been an RPG that has managed to tell a story as well as Tolkien did with The Lord of the Rings or as well as Gene Wolfe did with The Book of the New Sun. Taken from a storytelling perspective, RPGs are severely handicapped when compared to books. And I don't buy the whole battle system and upgrading thing, honestly. Most RPGs' battle systems have very little intriguing about them and are simply ways of slowing down the plot so that you don't realize how little there is. I realize that this is not entirely true, but it seems to me to be the case far too often. I'm afraid that that in order for me to accept those arguments as valid, I'd have to see those elements either done very well, or made so unobtrusive that they become minor affairs (this is the way that Suikoden treats its battle system: make it easy enough to be good that one can focus on the plot and environment rather than on the battles). And I'll admit, there have been occasional games where I have noticed the battle system in positive ways, but usually, it works at odds with the goal of telling a story.

Incidentally, I'd like some examples of these western RPGs that are non-booklike. I'm afraid that I'm most familiar with Japanese RPGs.

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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby KFCrispy » Mon Jul 07, 2008 10:44 am

Quing wrote:Most RPGs' battle systems have very little intriguing about them and are simply ways of slowing down the plot so that you don't realize how little there is.

Some things are better done through a game than a book. Can you imagine reading how heroes crawl through some castle in a story? "He turned left and then right, knocked out some guards. Then he climbed the stairs. Party Member B said he's tired."
No, the stories told in RPGs are of a different nature because they include as much combat as possible. It suits the story that you can control the characters to fight, and many RPGs have great battle systems that leave players longing for some non-story challenges that fully utilize the game's character-building and battle systems.
RPGs are definitely not like reading a book.


Books have trouble showing action like fights because to accurately describe one simple action, it might take like 3 sentences or even its own paragraph.... instead the writers give up and say some simple lines about Character A dodging Character B's swing and then go into some mumbo jumbo of how it looked like butterflies dancing among a field of flowers. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby amelia108 » Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:22 pm

RPGs to me are the joining of many types of gameplay. Yes, story plays a big role for me, but there are also puzzles, battles that take strategy, exploration; among many others depending on the particular game. Even several other genres have taken RPG elements just to deepen the gameplay and seem more progressive. There are several RPGs out there (yes, Suikoden, as much as I hate to admit it) that do stick to the tried and true, but RPGs as an entire genre I believe are the most progressive.

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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby Queens Knight » Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:05 am

Anything that can get kids to read is a good thing in my mind, almost no other games use text based dialogue anymore except for strategy and maybe puzzle games.

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Chaco
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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby Chaco » Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:30 pm

RPGS are classified by a few things, and I like to split an RPG into sections when I rate it to.

1) Level Up/Stats: If it's an RPG you have stats of some sort which you can level up, normally by fighting monsters, sometimes by other means. This is sometimes the main focus of the game, like in Dragon Warrior. However it's not an RPG without this, and I don't see leveling up in Books. I for one spend hours sometimes just leveling characters.

2) Story: RPG's always seem to have amazing strong storylines to them, and this is the reaosn I was hooked ot the genre. I like FPS's but they are normally more about shooting zombies heads off and blood then they are about a real good story (this isn't always true) RPGS FOR THE MOST PART have good story lines to them that you either like and follow or dont like and throw away. Kingdom Hearts, Suikoden, Final Fantasy, .Hack and Chrono are just a very small portion of these amazing stories. I think that an RPG's story is what drives it while in other games (Like Zelda) it's more about the puzzle solving and boss fights and whatnot. (Not to say Zelda doesn't have a good story but that isn't the main drive)

3) Magic/Mystic/Fantasy: You know like Runes, Magic, Mana whatever you want to call it almost always there is some element of this in an RPG.

4) Characters!: Like the story thing, most RPGS have a heavy amount of characters, I mean every Suikoden game has more then 108. The characters drive the story, which in turn drives the RPG. This includes the bad guys. Of course this is a common element in most games and most genres, but IMO the characters in RPG's are simply more part of the game then the backround. Like Mario, okay yeah we have Mario the plummer, but really Mario is about jumping sidescrolling fun then about MARIO himself. I hope you know what I mean.

Thats all opinion but I think it's agreeable. As I said there are some games of other genres that are more heavy on story, but when you look at an RPG as a hole, an RPG is the only genre that is driven by it's story as well as gameplay rather then one or the other you know?
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Quing
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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby Quing » Thu Sep 11, 2008 8:46 pm

First, KFCrispy: I certainly agree that there are some stories that are better suited to games than to books, and while I also agree that description of battle is better done as a game than as a book frequently, RPG battle systems are frequently so far removed from real battle that when one tries to imagine it in real life, it falls flat completely. I would say that often a non-RPG representation of battle works much better as far as describing a battle goes. For example, people in battle simply don't take turns or jump forward, do an attack, and jump back. It just doesn't happen like that. Now, wandering around is better described by a game than by a book, if one is going to the trouble to describe every turn. Frequently, however, authors successfully describe wandering around by not describing it too much. Still, I'd agree that frequently a visual representation of moving around is better.

Another thing that I think that RPGs do better than books, as Chaco said, is having more characters. It's hard to have a book with large numbers of characters. It just doesn't work very well. Certainly having a picture to associate with the person makes them much more memorable.

I'm sticking with my previous statement, though, about RPG plot. RPGs tend to have more plot than other games (with some exceptions), but less than most books. While it's unfair to compare video games with Shakespeare, I do believe that it is quite fair to compare video games with, say, Lois McMaster Bujold, who manages to have very well-developed characters, engaging plots, and, on the whole, better stories than most RPGs. And she's just one of many writers of at least that caliber.

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Chaco
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Re: Justifying RPGs

Postby Chaco » Fri Sep 12, 2008 4:11 am

I think comparing games to books is not fair. The two are not the same thing really. An RPG Video Game is created not just for story but also for gameplay, everything is put right in front of you, the way characters and environments look, and we ourselves "roleplay" the character. A story however is told in the perspective of a character who we simply sort of view the life of, OR a third person view of many characters, usually stills ingled around one person. The differnce is we do not control the character or the outcome of the story in any way, the story is told to us. I do agree battle in a story is more realistic and better described, but that's a given, since as I said an RPG is for interaction and gameplay while a story is for descriptions.
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