What defines an RPG for you

Discussion in 'General Gaming and Hardware Forum' started by Paladin Waffles, Feb 17, 2016.

  1. Paladin Waffles

    Paladin Waffles You only live twice.

    Nov 17, 2014
    I was reading some posts on NMA, youtube and steam recently regarding Fallout 4 and I've seen plenty of users say that Fallout 4 isn't an RPG due to the predetermined backstory and limited dialog. I think Fallout 4 is a bullshit game but I'm not sure if I consider it to be an RPG or not. I usually consider a game an RPG based on it's systems. Like, Mass Effect 2 for example, I don't consider ME2 to be an RPG.

    It's a great game but when I level up in that game, I don't feel like I'm progressing in any way. Being level 1 vs being level 30 in ME2 makes almost no difference, you get hardly any more health than before, your damage doesn't get increased either. The only thing that it does is extend my pull or shockwave ability from 3 seconds to 4 and the system might as well not exist. It doesn't add anything, the game is a shooter that lets me choose what I get to say and presents me with "difficult" choices.

    It comes down to progression for me and character roleplaying in some ways, with JRPGs like final fantasy being the only exception to that rule that I can think of. They can get away with railroading you into being a certain character, I'm fine with that for those kinds of games and I still consider them to be RPGs in a way. Any thoughts on this topic?
  2. AskWazzup

    AskWazzup Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Aug 21, 2008
    Who the fuck knows, the term is so general that you can't even form a semi-strict definition of it. You play a role with interactions... But from a classical perspective, i guess you can appraise of how much of an rpg a game is by the number/variety/depth of different decisions and consequences that shape your interaction with the world and thus leading to better fulfillment of the kind of a role you want to play in that game. But where exactly is that line that says one game is an rpg and the other one is not? It's like trying to divide a number in half for as long as it takes you to reach zero.
  3. Risewild

    Risewild Half-way Through My Half-life
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    I still remember RPGs, to me "real" RPGs are Pen and Paper ones, where you have a group of people and a GM, DM, Storyteller, etc. Because you actually make your own character from scratch, you act and talk like he/she/it would and every action has consequences, you control the character you are roleplaying and you can actually behave like that character would in any situation. Of course computer games can't have the flexibility of a GM (Game Master) and the programmers can't make a game where you control and act the way your characters would, you are limited to the options that the devs put in the game so that is why I can't consider computer or console RPGs the "real" deal.

    Now it terms of computer RPGs, for me to consider a game a RPG it needs to:
    • Allow you to create a character from scratch or If you can't create a character from scratch:
    • Have a predefined character that is believable
    • Choices, a computer/console game can't have unlimited options and choices like the Pen and Paper allows, but it should have choices for a range variety of character personalities (goody defender of justice, kinda good or neutral, bad person, evil person) so we can at least have a choice of how our character would behave (in the predefined character this can be reduced depending on how that predefined character would act, but still allow some freedom of choice, a good example is the Witcher games, predefined character that is not an evil person, so he will not be presented with a quest to kill all the innocent people of an entire town for example, but he can still have options of saving those people, or try to haggle some bigger reward for doing it or stuff like that, some choice is definitely a RPG element)
    • Actions have consequences (good or bad, there has to be a consequence to your character actions), so if you decide to wait two weeks before you go and rescue that poor kitten from the angry, hungry raiders, be prepared for only finding the poor Mr Fluffles bones for example.
    • People (NPC) behave differently by how they view you ingame, if you just saved their entire town they should reflect that, if you killed someone in there either justified or not, people should react accordingly, etc.
    • World needs to be alive, function and things need to happen without the player's input.
    • It should reflect your characters abilities and skills and not your own (this one is one of the most important for me, I am playing a game, it's fantasy and it's job is making me be part of it's world by using a character that I am supposed to be roleplaying so it should use my character's skills and abilities, not me, the player skills or abilities, if the game is dependant of my player skills why am I playing with a character that levels up? so I have more HP? One example I use is this, roleplaying games are for people to interact in a fantasy world in a way they can't in the real world, they can play with a character that is nothing like they are in RL, I could be a 6ft tall and 200lbs and want to play with a Halfling and stuff, I would never steal from a store but I want to play with a thief in the game, or I have a disability or other problem but want to play with a character that does not have that disability or problem or even the opposite, if a game is a RPG and uses my skills as a player to do things and I have a problem and my hands shake uncontrollably, I will not be able to play the game very well at all even though my character would have no problem aiming and hitting enemies with his 100 guns skill)
    • Believable characters (NPCs)
    • Believable or at least good story and quests
    1. A good "real" RPG would have all or most of those points
    2. An average "real" RPG would have at least 7
    3. A not so good "real" RPG would have at least 3 to 6 of those points
    4. A game with 2 or less of those points wouldn't be considered by me a "real" RPG
    I used between quotes for the word real because that is my
    preference and that does not make a RPG being real for others, so the quotes are there to symbolize my oppinion, not to say only those are RPG games.
    • [Like] [Like] x 1
  4. aenemic

    aenemic Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Jun 4, 2008
    I have to agree, the only true definition of an rpg for me is classic pen-and-paper. Computer/video game derivatives can be labeled rpg's, but suddenly the term becomes so loose and leaves so much room for interpretation that I can't really define it.

    Personally, I find an rpg to be good when it allows me to go into character. If I can start a new game with a specific character in mind and roleplay him/her, then it's a good rpg for me. It doesn't matter if the character is named and voiced, exactly how many or big choices I get to make. If I can roleplay, it's a roleplaying game. For that reason, I find the Mass Effect games to be pretty damn good rpg's, while I don't find Fallout 4 to be an rpg. Even if Mass Effect is very limited, it lets me decide on what type of Shepard I want to play and I can fill out a lot of blanks in my head - yes, I'm still confined to what Shepard is, but every choice follows a path and plays off of that character. In for example Fallout 4, I'm supposedly free to play whichever character I want - but then I'm restricted by a skill/perk system, the few times I make choices they're all over the place and don't play to a type of character, and so on. The imagined freedom combined with the very restricted roleplaying situations makes for a jarring experience where I constantly have to headcanon every little thing. There isn't even enough dialogue to define my character.
  5. Lucas9

    Lucas9 It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jan 16, 2016
    This is my definition of an RPG:

    - A game where you can make meaningful choices and aren't railroaded through a single path.
    - A game where your character progresses and the world doesn't scale with you, ruining believability and progresion.
    - A game where you have some sort of ability to define who your character is. If you are given a set name, a set face, and a very, very set background, it's not an RPG.

    Fallout 1, Fallout 2, and New Vegas all fit the bill. Fallout 3 doesn't. Fallout 4, for that matter, neither.

    In Fallout 3, your choices are crap at best and half-assed ("I'm very disappointed in you", for failing a test? No, for nuking a fucking town). Your character has a very strict background, to the point your age is 18 (I think?) and that's that. The world scales with you. You have stats? Well, so does Final Fantasy.

    In Fallout 4, all I know for a fact is that your background is extremely set for you. You have a wife. You have a kid. You are a war veteran. It's even worse than Fallout 3 in that aspect. Choices, character progression, I can't speak of, but knowing Bethesda, it can't be good.

    Of course, all games usually have some sort of background for the player. In FO1, you are a Vault Dweller. In FO2, you belong to a tribe. In New Vegas, you are a courier.

    Someone could possibly say: "Morrowind isn't an RPG, as you always beat Dagoth Ur". It fits all the other bills though. And here's the catch: you can fuck up the main quest, and say "screw you destiny". Unlike Skyrim...
  6. Spacemunkey

    Spacemunkey Vault Senior Citizen

    Dec 4, 2015
    I don't think this is a deal breaker, I would consider the Witcher series rpg's and Geralt has an entire book series of back story. For me if I had to nail it down to few things I would say it's choice and consequences, lots of them. The world should react to the player according to who or what they are, for example if I'm an elf in a game where everyone hates elves then I should immediately be locked out a huge amount of content from npc's that would logically hate elves. I guess really what I look for in a video game RPG is a world that my character lives in not that revolves around them.
  7. dopezilla

    dopezilla God of Blood and War

    Nov 6, 2015
    Not that there's any consequences to fucking up the main quest, though. Morrowind has a very static world, but all the factions still make it a worthwhile game and at least it has a nice story. I felt like Skyrim was just too much hurrrduurrrr destiny and dragons man.

    Anyway, I've never been a pen and paper guy. I believe you need friends to actually play those, so I've missed out on the origins of RPG's. For me a great RPG offers some sort of open world experience (not necessarily a first person view open world, though), allows you to interact with the world in a meaningful way and influence said world in a meaningful way and more subtle ways, meet believable NPC's who judge your character based on his actions, is heavily driven by narrative and dialogue, character choice/skill-sets limit your options to interact with the world so you'll have to actually play the character you've created/levelled into, is not scaled to your level of course, relies heavily on dice rolls instead of player skill, and I could probably think of more but I just ran out of commas.

    Anyway, I feel like there's a strong consensus about what defines an RPG here on these boards, but games like the Diablo series and other hack 'n slashers and more recently Oblivion, Skyrim, Borderlands and Fallout 3/4 have somewhat stretched the meaning of RPG to "a game that allows your character to level up and loot shit" in more mainstream circles.

    I could get all pissy on their asses, but really, what's the point? I'll know what makes a nice RPG in my eyes, and if other people consider loot 'n shoot games great RPG's, then good for them. I hope they enjoyed Fallout 4 and all. Good cRPG's (I can get used to this term) are still developed quite regularly, you just have to dig a little deeper and look past AAA titles, which is fine by me.

    I don't think the loss of meaning of the term RPG in mainstream games is such a loss anyway, because like I said, more underground developers will always be out there.
  8. Paladin Waffles

    Paladin Waffles You only live twice.

    Nov 17, 2014
    I agree with a lot of what's been said here, certain JRPGs really are the only weird exception to this rule if you consider them RPGs at all. One thing I find interesting that was brought up though is the level scaling and I completely agree. When everything scales to you, it might as well not be an RPG anymore. I get why people might decry Oblivion, Fallout 3 or Final Fantasy 8 as RPGs, having everything scale to where you're at really devalues the leveling experience.

    However, I'll admit, breaking and surpassing the level scaling in games has been one of the more satisfying things I've done in an RPG. So I'd be cool with level scaling if it was challenging and if it was done correctly because the system is sort of unique, I would not say Oblivion did it correctly. I think developers have to be really careful with what they're doing when they attempt level scaling. There is a very good chance that they'll devalue the leveling experience and destroy the RPG elements as a whole, so they have to make loopholes to beat the scaling in some way but even then, it's not really worth attempting because the traditional system will always work better.

    I don't think Fallout 3 did it very well either, especially with broken steel damage sponges. FF8's was okay, you had to level up your GF and carefully junction everything to surpass the scaling and I thought it worked fine. I forgot about Daggerfall too, I can't speak for Arena but Daggerfall had plenty of scaling, you would leave a dungeon, level up and come back and all of the enemies would warp into centaurs but honestly the whole world was kind of randomly generated so I won't give them shit for that.

    Even a lot of casual gamers tend to favor predetermined over scaling in certain cases. Plenty of casuals despised Oblivion for it but it was mainly because it was too hard, level scaled Ogres and Goblins are examples of this. If everything actually scaled too you, a lot of casuals wouldn't notice or care which I think is honestly worse and Fallout 3 sort of followed that formula. FO3 might be the easiest RPG I've ever played in my life and it's one of my biggest complaints about that game. Grim Reaper's Sprint, Extra critical chance, sneak, Max Luck, VATS and everything scales to you, you'll never ever lose and it became so boring.
  9. Irwin John Finster

    Irwin John Finster Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Nov 13, 2015
    Writing, dialogue, story, immersive and coherent game setting. A game where the setting IS the story, not merely an environment to put shooty shooty gameplay.

    A game where the writing, story, and setting came FIRST and the actual game mechanics were built AROUND that, instead of a story built around previously conceived game mechanics. See the following videos:

    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
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  10. mrchaos

    mrchaos Super Orc

    Nov 14, 2015
    RPG: a game where slaying your foes isn´t the ideal solution for everything.
    • [Like] [Like] x 1
  11. JamesGoblin

    JamesGoblin First time out of the vault

    Feb 4, 2016
    To me, it's rather simple - if you decide to treat it as RPG, it becomes RPG. You can do it even in some quite "extreme" cases such as PvP games, say MMOs.

    Recently, I saw a thread on some RPing site dedicated to RPing techniques in PvP combat. So , only sky is the limit. Or your own perception.
  12. Izak

    Izak I Shot The ALBATROSS

    Jan 29, 2016
    That's basically LARPing, what's the point of buying an RPG if you have to imagine you're playing as somebody else?
    • [Like] [Like] x 1
  13. JamesGoblin

    JamesGoblin First time out of the vault

    Feb 4, 2016
    Well, then just don't do it. It is as simple as that.
  14. Doomfullord

    Doomfullord The Lord Full of Doom

    Dec 27, 2014
    RPG is an interesting term in that at it's core it's not at all about gameplay, it's about interaction with the world through the gameplay. It's the end result. To me, a PvP situation doesn't make it an RPG, that's just player interaction with each other. A true RPG has to stand on it's own. An MMO with a good story (Although hard to find) can be much better for it than one that doesn't. If you have means of interacting with each other in game, it can improve that RPG element of player interaction with each other. Eve is an interesting MMO in terms of RPG, you are roleplaying a space-captain basically without really any story around it. You can mine, move stuff, defend or conquer territory, everything that you'd want, not want to, and have to do in it's sort of situation, all player driven. Are you a space-captain for playing Eve? No, but you get to roleplay one, without really even having to roleplay. It's like reality tv, it's not really acting, but everything scripted, just we put the people in and let them loose and effect what they do. So I guess that's what I look for in an RPG, a world I'm let into where I can effect the world.

    Though I also would call the Mario and Luigi games RPG, as well as Paper Mario, but they tell a narrative and expects us to play the role of mario. Are they rpgs anymore though because we have no real choice? Every game gives us a role of sorts, just only a few that are flaunted as RPGs try to give us choices in what that role is. So I'm thinking we might one day have to broaden our terms to relegate what kind of narrative, interaction we have, and what gameplay it's played through. Linear experiences aren't bad, but they don't have much choice in favor of a centralized story to focus on. Where as choices can broaden narrative, but thin it, making it weaker in area. Neither is wrong, just different and can really define what a game is about. Choices are often what we think of an RPG as, but there is so much more tied to that, I think the terms we use are beginning to become outdated.
    • [Like] [Like] x 2
  15. ZigzagPX4

    ZigzagPX4 The Swiftness of the Ranger

    Nov 22, 2015
    There needs to be character progression, both narrative-wise and skill-wise. You would need to be able to make an actual impact on the storyline and affect the outcome. How far both of those points go determine how deep an RPG is for me. Granted, I have fairly low standards nowadays considering that next to no games at all can meet these two standards.

    If a game's writing serves to bridge the moments between the gameplay, that's a big warning sign that it's not a full-on RPG. Possibly an action-RPG. If a game's gameplay serves to bridge the moments between the writing, that isn't an indicator that it's strictly an RPG but it's a good sign.

    Because I am an arrogant, egotistic twat it serves my point well, I would like to quote myself. :smug:

    • [Like] [Like] x 1
  16. AlphaPromethean

    AlphaPromethean Vault Senior Citizen

    Mar 16, 2013
    The freedom to roleplay a character of your own design. Choice and consequence. Some sort of character development system built into the game mechanics.

    Those are the basics, for me anyway. Fallout 4 lacks 2/3 of those, and thus is not qualified as an RPG in my eyes.
  17. PossibleCabbage

    PossibleCabbage Vault 22 Survivor

    Jul 2, 2015
    What defines a roleplaying game to me is simply put- a game that allows me to roleplay.

    If a game allows me to define or shape a character and explore his or her values and personality through what they choose to say and what they do, then it's a roleplaying game.

    If it doesn't, then it's not. Leveling up, managing inventory, basing outcomes on character skill rather than player skill, and other "RPG elements" are simply incidental to being a roleplaying game. You can put all those things in your game, and it's not a roleplaying game unless you let people roleplay in it.