Wednesday and time for the final part of the Role-Playing Game (RPG) series.
Let’s have a quick recap on what we’ve covered so far.
- In part
1: “RPG’s, an entirely personal matter”, we looked at how this genre has the
ability to allow the player to extend him
or herself along emotional, visual and intellectual pathways that are mostly
absent in other genres.
In part 2: “RPG’s and escapism”,
we explored the specific game mechanics in RPG’s that promote self-expression
and immersion, unlike in any other genre.
Yolanda “Lolita” Green and Chris “Turkish” Smithard have both been playing RPG's for many years. The
depth of their understanding for this genre has most definitely added to my
appreciation and broadened my understanding for RPG’s. Let’s join them one last
time for a discussion about aspects in RPG’s that they would like developers to
improve upon or explore.
“We house the narrative as much as we can, and immerse the player in
the narrative.” Colin Campbell on creating the world of Kingdoms of Amalur:
What are the
elements that developers improved upon over the years?
YG: “Perhaps the greatest improvement
in all fields of role-playing games has definitely been game graphics.
Developers have also greatly improved gameplay and combat by innovating and
looking for new and exciting ways to play the genre.”
CS: “Well the most obvious answer would be the audio-visual elements – the
graphics, animations, music, sound effects, and so on. But this is to be
expected. I think that every genre brings this sort of improvement to the
table. I have to be honest, as I’m sitting here typing this I’m trying to think
of some sort of unique aspects that RPGs have managed to improve on over the
years, but nothing really comes to mind with the exception of the audio-visual
elements. Let’s draw a relatively crude comparison. If we were to strip Mass
Effect of all its fancy graphics and animations and compare it to a game like
Planescape: Torment I think developers haven’t really progressed that much. But
this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”
What are the
elements that you think developers still need to improve on?
YG: “It’s always amazing to see new
things being brought to the genre. There haven’t been apparent things in single
players that I’ve hoped would improve but I have noticed some in new Massively
Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG’s) hitting the scene. World of
Warcraft has in my opinion the most well rounded all inclusive list of features
in the game. My only wish is that new MMORPG’s will start releasing as more
“complete” games. By this I mean that they will include from release simple
things such as group finders, end game content and functioning battlegrounds.”
CS: “I would like to see more depth of choice and more consequences. When I
say more choice I mean I want the ability to influence the outcomes of quests
in multiple ways. I want more than the good, bad, or in between choice. These
choices must have unseen consequences. They must have a lasting effect on the
game world. The game must surprise you further down the line. It must make you
think, “Oh shit, I should never have done that”. It must have the ability to
cause deep regret. It must make you question yourself.”
What would you
still like to see feature in RPG's that you've not yet
YG: “Now here’s something that I’d just
leave at “Surprise me” :D I’ve experienced so many things and worlds in RPG’s
that I am not left looking for something that I haven’t seen but excited to be
shown things I could never imagine.”
CS: “This is an interesting question. At the core of any RPG is the notion of
choice as well as character development. I would like this added to other
genres. I want a blurring of genres. Imagine a game with the intense
roller-coaster type action of the Call of Duty series blended with the RPG
elements of a game like The Witcher. Imagine if a game like Command and Conquer
gave you the option to destroy a civilian town to stop the influx of conscripts
to your enemy. That’s a choice with consequences. I want those types of choices
in my games. I want to do things in the game that are off the rail, but that
don’t diminish the experience that a roller-coaster can offer. Developers need
to have a careful look at the best features of each genre and try to bring them
all together (within reason of course).”
In some RPG’s you play the whole game
as a lone ranger on a mission. In others, you have a crew that develop with
you. What is your opinion on these two different styles of RPG's?
"Scenic Route" from The Witcher 2 on Dead End Thrills
YG: “The Lone Ranger: Being the lone
ranger is never really being the lone ranger unless you’ve played Red Dead
Redemption. Even though you go on missions with others, the game has executed
the role perfectly. It’s an awesome role to play and perfectly fits “being a
hero stories” yet if the role is not presented right by the developer it can
become lonely and sometimes rather boring.
Captain: Playing with a crew creates a whole different experience. In Mass
Effect for example it actually creates a platform for creating a bond with the
crew and simulating relationships.
wouldn’t say that the one kind (lone ranger) is better than the other (crew
captain). Both are exceptional and incredible when a game succeeds in immersing
the player to the fullest of its capacity.
CS: “Each has its place if done correctly. Mass Effect is a good example of
an excellent party based RPG. Each NPC was unique and memorable. They had
different abilities and play styles, but more importantly they all had
distinctive personalities and back stories. This adds a lot to the game. It
makes it more immersive. Diablo 3, on the other hand, is an example of how not
to go about including NPC party members. Each NPC character was really
unremarkable. I can honestly say that they have zero effect on the game. They
might as well not be there. Having NPC characters in your party is a great
opportunity for the game to create emotional bonds. Once again this really adds
to the experience and general immersion. I prefer party based games for this
“The biggest thing that
games have to say about us, is that we love journeys and that we love growing.
Games speak to the fact that we constantly want new challenges and new places
to conquer.” Leigh Alexander
My conclusion after spending hours of discussion on the different
aspects of RPG’s, with Green and Smithard, is a simple one. Gamers are hungry for games that provide deep
characterization, worlds where they can attach their imagination to, and the
freedom to shape that world around their decision making. What would you say
are the heart of the RPG?
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