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This is weird. I feel like I'm violating some unspoken taboo here, so seldom do we see anyone--in the community, in the media, in the industry--talk about western RPGs and their Japanese cousins in the same breath. Anyway, I'm excited for Deadfire, and I'd like to discuss some very special JRPGs that I think could provide interesting and valuable examples for the overall design of Obsidian's impending epic. I hope you'll indulge me on this journey. First, a quick refresher on Deadfire's premise: In Deadfire, we'll be captaining a ship and exploring the Deadfire archipelago. There will be an active world map (similar to that of Fallout 1/2, or more recently Wasteland 2) for us to explore, discovering and visiting the islands we find in whichever order we want. Presumably this will allow for some nonlinear storytelling, as the narrative beats we encounter will depend on the order we visit each island. To use Lord of the Rings as an example, something like saving Theoden from Saruman's curse might be accomplished *before* meeting Elrond in Rivendell. That kind of thing. So, on to the JRPGs. Dragon Quest VII follows a similar premise--the story begins with you discovering a sailing ship and exploring a world that consists of many islands of varying sizes that have been isolated from one another for centuries. The over-arching story is pretty simple: long ago, the Almighty fought a pitched battle with the Demon King and was defeated. Your task is to travel to each island and save them from the Demon King's minions (there's also a big time travel element, where you go between past and future states of the world, but it's not relevant here) and eventually find and defeat the Demon King himself. But that's just at the macro level--each individual island has its own story that is very self-contained. These stories are never about the demon king, but rather the specific demons plaguing each islands, and the often tragic fates of the people living there. This makes the game feel more like a collection of loosely-related short stories than a novel. Each island offers a new, self-contained story with a new cast of characters. When you land on an island, you get a *new* story, and when you leave the island, that story is *resolved.* And this is an approach I hope Deadfire takes as well. I'm not saying we should *never* end up having quests that send us from island to island, but rather that I hope those quests are not the norm. Baldur's Gate II took a similar approach, making each region feel like a self-contained D&D module. Romancing SaGa is the other game I want to look at. To date, it remains the *best* example I have ever seen of non-linear storytelling (multiple protagonists, multiple story routes for each protagonist, and a persistent world where big events will happen even if the player isn't there to affect them). There's a whole heckuva lot I could say about it, but for now I'd like to focus on just one aspect: location. in Romancing Saga, there is a "world story" that plays out--various events happen in each of the major cities and nations at various times. If the player is present--at the right place, at the right time--he or she can participate. For example, City A could be attacked by pirates. If the player arrives in time, he or she could fight off the pirate attack, save the city, and be rewarded by the king; but if the player arrives too late, he or she could arrive to find the king missing and the city destroyed by fire. No, I'm not suggesting Deadfire try to make a persistent world narrative to the same degree--that's be waaaaaay too much work--but wouldn't it be interesting if the player's starting position were--at least to a degree--randomized? So that, for example, the first two or three islands the player discovers once he or she starts exploring the world aren't always the same two or three islands? Like, there could be a starting island to serve as the tutorial area to introduce to players to the setting, and have the initial narrative beats (where you acquire your own ship) and then once you leave, you could encounter a "storm" that deposits you to a random or semi-random part of the world-map (depending on how combat leveling/scaling works, I suppose). This starting island doesn't even have to be in the Deadfire--it could be a port city in the Dyrwood, as you make your hasty escape. Alright, one last game I want to point at: Total War Shogun 2. Also known as the last great Total War game (sigh). Don't worry, I'm almost done here. Specifically, I want to point out Shogun 2's world map: https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/896638219564697346/E49088D8C1C92ADC60ADCFAD370F1185EF660F9A/ That's the "fog of war." Rather than a simple black background indicating the "unexplored" regions of the map, they have a hand-drawn map. It's a really cool effect, no? And I'd love to see Deadfire go in a similar direction. Medieval and Renaissance maps are, well, really cool looking. Especially sea maps! It would be really cool to see something similar in Deadfire--an imaginative, hand-drawn map of the "world" that fades away to the "real" world map as you explore it. And, well, yeah. That's it. Those are three games I hope Obsidian takes some inspiration from. What about you? Have any games (aside from other, similar CRPGs) that you think could be valuable to look at going into a game like Deadfire? Before I leave, though, have some awesome old sea maps: http://public.media.smithsonianmag.com/legacy_blog/Whales-Olaus-38.3.jpg http://images.faena.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/07/hic-sunt-dracons-interior-2.jpg http://www.cvltnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/SeaMonsterCvanDuzer017.jpg http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-s04GCvW4O80/Ugf0g5w3zGI/AAAAAAAAI1g/sQpIwDR-LI0/s640/Sea+Monsters+(C+van+Duzer)+016.jpg https://img.purch.com/h/1000/aHR0cDovL3d3dy5saXZlc2NpZW5jZS5jb20vaW1hZ2VzL2kvMDAwLzA1Ni82MTAvb3JpZ2luYWwvc2VhLXNlcnBlbnQtYXR0YWNrcy1zaGlwLmpwZw==
Someone mentioned JRPG's in another thread...and having a great interest in them...probably went to crazy with listing some of my favorite ones...which can make quite a list. I imagine that if there are others...this could create quite the thread. So, to start things off... They wanted to list the seminal RPGs equivalent to Baldurs Gate series, Fallout, and Planescape Torment. I'd add others which would be the gold Box series. So, in that light.... The equivalent if not more so than the Gold Box series for me would be The Final Fantasy series. Specifically Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI. VI would be the crowning achievement (known as FF III in the US when it was released) of ALL Final Fantasy games. Pure awesomeness. Encapsulates everything one would want into an RPG. They've even released updated versions of these for other systems such as the Gameboy advanced (which plays on the Nintendo DS), the Playstation, and now are available via PSN for the PS3 I believe. The equivalent for the Baldurs Gate series would be Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and then I'd toss in IX simply because VI was already taken with the gold box games. Playstation was a good system among the pack of new CD driven consoles when it came out. It was Final Fantasy VII where I felt it suddenly shifted. I know many people who got a Playstation solely due to Final Fantasy VII. Hype build Hype, and before long everyone wanted to try Final Fantasy VII...and needed a Playstation to try it. The equivalent of the Fallout series... This is harder. I think historically, there isn't really an equivalent for the F/O series. Someone mentioned Phantasy Star...having played PS since the beginning (and the older ones are MUCH better then the MMO type ones that came out later) I'd disagree. Maybe impactually they are equivalent...but I'd say there aren't that many. Probably the closest I've seen JRPGs come to a fallout type game would be Nier. Then for Planescape Torment with it's mental and psychological ponderings...that would fall solidly into the Xeno series. Xenogears was it for a long time but Xenoblades has slowly taken and become part of that as well. They actually have some convoluted background, and possibly could be considered closest to the Fallout equivalent if we didn't use them already for the Planescape equivalent. I suppose one could argue that the Persona games fill the PS gap much better...but I was never really a fan of those. I'd also like to toss into JRPG's another category not looked at much, which would be the Musical RPGs. Ironic, but there are some of these. My favorites are some of these...they are the Lunar series. Great little games. One of my favorite series other then the Lunar series however was the Chrono series...aka...Chrono Cross and Chrono Trigger. anyways, this gives us several branches of discussion we can pursue.