So what makes an rpg an rpg?

Discussion in 'General Gaming and Hardware Forum' started by TheHouseAlwaysWins, Sep 9, 2018.

  1. 0wing

    0wing Все умрут, а я волномут

    Mar 23, 2015
    Questionable state. And false. You're one of those 'special' folks, aren't ya?
     
  2. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    I has to have a rocket motor in the back and be able to take out a Tank or similar vehicles, otherwise it's not an RPG.
     
  3. Muttie

    Muttie First time out of the vault

    Oct 9, 2017
    I did read through that wall of text in the spoiler tag, and there is a lot of repetition.

    But to summarize it, it seems to say „RPG is: playing a game through a character sheet, and that character sheet defines what the player can and can't do.“

    I think.
     
  4. naossano

    naossano Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Oct 19, 2006
    It also need to be hand held.

    ruchnoy protivotankovy granatomyot

    And people complain about Bethesda hand holding its players...
     
  5. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    That's why the Switch is the best for RPGs.
     
  6. Risewild

    Risewild Half-way Through My Half-life
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    It's kinda like that. But what the character sheet defines is not what the player can and can't do, but what the character can and can't do (which in a different way defines what the player can or can't do).

    It is important to distinguish between player and character, specially in a RPG. Because while the player can "tell" the character what to do, the character has to do it themselves (using whatever they have in their "character sheet") and that is what will define if they fail or succeed.

    The thing with asking "what is a RPG?" question, is that (most) people confuses that question with a different one, "what makes a good RPG for you?".

    RPGs are based on the character stats, abilities, and so on. But then we have all the things that make a good RPG for each of us. And that varies from people to people.
    Some prefer good story, good C&C, good character customization, good exploration, good loot, good combat, first person, third person, isometric, top-down, turn based, real time, good lore, good writing, etc.

    And that is why people think that the question of what is a RPG is so complex, because they focus on what makes a RPG good for themselves. And we all know that trying to define something using personal preferences is opening a can of worms, because it changes from people to people.
     
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  7. Atomkilla

    Atomkilla Hazel Hegemon oTO Orderite

    Dec 26, 2010

    How do you define aRPGs then? I'm curious.
    I know you wrote about it before, but I can't read through all those posts now.
     
  8. Risewild

    Risewild Half-way Through My Half-life
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    aRPG's are real time RPG games. Any real time RPG is an action RPG.
    Any aRPG still relies on the character's skills, abilities and so on. The player usually only chooses where the character goes, the target of that character's attacks and which special powers/items to use (so the player only tells the character what to do). Then it is up to that character to see if it hits, gets hit, what damage is dealt, what damage receives, and so on.

    For example, in the Diablo aRPG series, Dexterity determines how easy it is to hit and avoid being hit. So if your character has a lot of Dexterity, it will hit more times than if the character has a low Dexterity value, it will also be able to dodge enemy attacks more too. Doesn't really matter if the player is an expert in playing the game or a noob, having 200 Dexterity will still have the same effect on the character.
     
  9. Atomkilla

    Atomkilla Hazel Hegemon oTO Orderite

    Dec 26, 2010

    What about games like Dark Souls or The Witcher 2/3 which (especially in the case of the former) rely a lot on the character build, their equipment and overall statistics, but in the end are largely dependent on the player skill (going even as far as making the no level up run viable)?
     
  10. naossano

    naossano Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Oct 19, 2006
    What do you make of rpg without stats or character sheets?
     
  11. Risewild

    Risewild Half-way Through My Half-life
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    Never played Dark Souls games and have no idea how they play either. I also only played a bit of the Witcher 2 years ago, so I don't remember very well how those games work in relation to character attributes.
    But if character skill is as important as player skill, then they are hybrid games. Like Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas are RPG and Shooter or like Warlords Battlecry and Spellforce games are RPG and RTS.

    These are games that are made where both genres are equally prominent. Where if you remove the mechanics of one genre, the game can still be played as the other genre. Like how you can remove the real time aiming and shooting from Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas, and the game is still played as a RPG and vice versa, the same for the RPG and RTS game series I mentioned.

    Now, if those games rely more on player skill than character skill, then they are Action with RPG elements, because the RPG elements are not strong enough to make the games play, look and feel like a RPG. Same goes for if those games rely more on character skill instead of player skill, then they are a aRPG.
    It is totally possible for a RPG to not have stats or character sheets. As long as the character still uses it's capabilities to do the job and not rely on player skill. For example, I could make a RPG system where instead of Attributes I would assign characters "labels". Instead of having a character that is strong having a high Strength skill (since there are no attributes), I would have a character have the Strong "label", since he has that, he can smash open doors that characters that are weaker can't, can lift heavy weights others can't, can intimidate NPCs by flexing his muscles, etc.
     
  12. Atomkilla

    Atomkilla Hazel Hegemon oTO Orderite

    Dec 26, 2010

    Guess you'd have to play them to tell yourself, but I feel that Souls are an example of both being equal. There is great emphasis on player skill, but the character system is pretty deep and complex.
    Not sure about the The Witcher though...

    In any case, I'm nitpicking a bit too much now.
     
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  13. Risewild

    Risewild Half-way Through My Half-life
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    By what I remember from the Witcher 2. The RPG in it seems to be more superficial than the "Action game". But my memory really sucks, so I can't rely on it for something like this.
     
  14. Valdetiosi

    Valdetiosi Still Mildly Glowing

    Jul 14, 2017
    Hold on, I think I still have my sheets for this question...

     
  15. Atomkilla

    Atomkilla Hazel Hegemon oTO Orderite

    Dec 26, 2010

    The Witcher 2 is really an odd one out in the series. It tried to be an action RPG but failed at that, along with most other things. Well, it had good graphics, music and good writing, but was rushed.
    Financial troubles tend to do that.

    TW3 is sorta kinda RPG? It's open world action, first and foremost, but it does have a character system that is good in theory, sucks in practice. So it's more of a case of RPG elements being present but also being poorly developed when compared to action elements, which are pretty good - which is my main beef with The Witcher 3. Bad character system in an otherwise excellent game.

    The Witcher 1, on the other hand, was an awesome aRPG experience, but I can see why it doesn't have appeal with everyone.
     
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  16. Hulk'O'Saurus

    Hulk'O'Saurus It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jul 10, 2018
    Answering OP question here from p.o.v.

    Nothing, and everything.

    I never find any single feature in a game that defines a role-playing game; either all, or none are role-playing games.

    In other words, I think all the games are RPGs.
     
  17. Atomkilla

    Atomkilla Hazel Hegemon oTO Orderite

    Dec 26, 2010

    Tetris is an RPG?
    Good to know.
     
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  18. Hulk'O'Saurus

    Hulk'O'Saurus It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jul 10, 2018
    Yeah... well... was thinking about DOOM again, actually :D.
     
  19. Muttie

    Muttie First time out of the vault

    Oct 9, 2017
    I had 24 hours and while trying to distinguish games from each other it occurred to me that another factor could be: “Game content locked or unlocked by the character sheet”. Possibly not an important factor, but perhaps a consequence of RPG.
    As unlocking and locking content is actually one of those things a character sheet does. For example, in Diablo (apparently RPG) playing a Warrior, Archer or Wizard changes the game. In Fallout entire content can be inaccessible if the player doesn't have the speech, CH, IN etc.
    That's actually how I understood the definition at first and why I used the phrase the „player can or can't do“. As the character sheet basically changes the accessibility and abilities of the player. It's kind of a limitation.
    I don't think this can hold up throughout, but the amount of content locked, unlocked, adjusted or changed based on the character sheet can be an interesting indicator. Possibly of how much influence the RPG element has on the game. Or at least, being restricted to a character's capabilities should always have some influence on the game content available.

    The term „label“ has me wondering. What is a label? Can it be an item? Like finding a Sledgehammer that allows the character to „smash doors“? Or does it have to be „character specific“, like, for example, Traits in Fallout, that can't be found and/or obtained in-game?

    Otherwise adventures would be RPGs as in those a character's abilities are not based on player skill, but by finding items, like a Sledgehammer. However, finding the Sledgehammer could be called „player skill“.
    Which has me wondering how much does the RPG definition allow to develop a character's capabilities in-game (by finding items and/or level ups) and at which point would that move from a „character ability“ to „player skill“?

    Especially in regard to items.

    For example, in Maniac Mansion characters have special capabilities, one can repair, another develop photos and another can put the hamster in the microwave, which all make a difference on content. Technically, those character capabilities should be treated differently than capabilities gained in-game that are open to all characters (like feeding the wax-fruits to the tentacle to get past him or using the gym to hulk up and open the garage).

    The first are „character capabilities“ and thus RPG, while the second are not, but actually „player skill“.

    This has me wondering if there are more in-game obtained “character capabilities” that are actually a representation of “player skill”. I think in most RPGs the stats and skill rolls will maintain the difference solidly, but still, at which point will player-skill blur the line enough to turn it upside down? For example, playing Fallout the first time is very restricting, but eventually, the player is in full control of it (power-gaming, stats juggling via drugs, etc.) basically turning the RPG concept into a mockery that eventually only exists on paper. Or to put it differently, eventually there may be no difference anymore between "character capabilities" and "player skill".
     
  20. Risewild

    Risewild Half-way Through My Half-life
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    Character "labels" are specific stuff related to the character, it defines that character mentally and physically. Items are not a part of it.

    There are many gaming genres that use character skills, but those are not RPG genre. That is why genres depend on the entirety of the game (which I usually call "full package" because I can't come up with a better term).
    For example, games like Football Manager. They rely on characters skills. Characters use their skills for everything in those games. But those games are not from the RPG genre, they are Sports Manager(ial) Simulator games. Back in my days they were just Manager(ial) games, but with the times it started to appear Manager(ial) games that were not related to sports, so the Sports prefix became a thing, then later it was decided that Simulation was something big enough to be a game genre too so it was added.
    Even though Football Manager uses a similar core element as RPGs, it doesn't change it's genre, because that core element is "wrapped" around with other core elements that makes a "full package" game play, look and feel differently from any RPG. It is different enough that needed a new game genre.

    This is the thing about game genres (and pretty much every genre in other format). If a game plays like the other games of a particular genre, looks like the games of a particular genre and feels like the games in a particular genre, then that game will be of that genre. :nod:

    There are hybrid games though. Games that mix two (or even more) genres that make those play, look and feel like both genres.
    The examples I always use are Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas for Shooter RPGs and then Spellforce and Warlords Battlecry series for Real Time Strategy RPGs.
    All of those games play, feel and look like the games of both of their genres. All the core elements of both genres are balanced and anyone that played pure RPGs, Shooters and Real Time Strategy will immediately recognize those mechanics and core elements.

    Then we have games that are one genre, but use or include elements from other genres. But those elements are too superficial, diluted, shallow, (or whatever adjective one prefers) to make that game be both genres.

    For example, the First Person Shooter series Borderlands is a Shooter, but it has elements that were found in some RPGs (experience, characters level up, some character customization). And this series causes a lot of confusion on people. Because many consider it a RPG and many don't. But once a player plays the game for a while, it is obvious that it plays like a Shooter, looks like a shooter and feels like a Shooter. The experience, leveling and limited character customization does not change this enough for the game to play, look and feel like a RPG.

    Some people take offense when I say Borderlands is not a RPG. I never understood why. This is not an insult against Borderlands, on the contrary, it is a compliment. Shooters can be more complex than just walk and shoot, and looking at Borderlands one can see just how it is possible to make a more complex Shooter and how it can improve the genre by doing it so.

    I don't even remember what I was trying to say in this post... Sorry about that :confused:.