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Define "Roleplaying Game"


BicycleOfDeath

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I've always wondered how other people viewed this:

 

RPG to some people means: 900+ hours with a dragging storyline, and battles that give you 900+ hours (if you wanted) to choose your next move. [Heh, Roleplay Chess]

 

But "Roleplaying" game is simply taking over the role of a certain character. Why isn't Super Mario World an RPG? You're taking the role of Mario and saving a princess. Why isn't DooM3 an RPG? You're a space marine...and there's...hell?

 

Whats your defenition of "Roleplaying" Game?

Stand Your Convictions and You Will Walk Alone.

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You forgot character interaction. A big difference between MG:S 2 and say, Fallout, or KOTOR.

 

Darque's got the right idea.

I had thought that some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well, for they imitated humanity so abominably. - Book of Counted Sorrows

 

'Cause I won't know the man that kills me

and I don't know these men I kill

but we all wind up on the same side

'cause ain't none of us doin' god's will.

- Everlast

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You interact with characters in MGS:2. It has quite a good story too.

 

But her definition would rule out 90% of the early RPGs. Apparently the early Might and Magic games, Wizardry, Ultima, etc. aren't RPGs.

 

An RPG is defined by stat-based gameplay, period.

 

That is why Diablo is an RPG even if it isn't your preferred type of RPG.

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I still don't see a need for the correlation between stats and playing a role, while interacting with characters (I define interaction as speaking with them when you want, and options on what to say, or do with them.) and moving through a story arch, at least partly through your own actions.

 

Complete Linearity doesn't enter my mind as being a characteristic of an RPG...though it may very well have been in the past.

 

Is it because stats are the only current way to measure a character's capabilities? If so, why not develop some type of system based upon the player's actions, choices, and movements within the game... (Easier said than done, but I can still dream ya know.)

 

 

Oh, and in keeping with my argument in another thread...RPG is a subjective term.

I had thought that some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well, for they imitated humanity so abominably. - Book of Counted Sorrows

 

'Cause I won't know the man that kills me

and I don't know these men I kill

but we all wind up on the same side

'cause ain't none of us doin' god's will.

- Everlast

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If playing a ROLE defines a CRPG, then Half Life 2 is a CRPG since you play a specific role in the story, interacting with characters along the way.

 

It just doesn't work.

 

Futhermore, discounting stat-based gameplay as the defining aspect of the genre, and requiring an interactive story negates many early RPG classics that were light on story.

 

GTA:SA is an interactive story with character development, character interactions, and it also has stats! Is that an RPG?

 

No? Why not?

 

Because the primary gameplay mechanic is not stat-based. When the gameplay is driven by stats, the game is called an RPG. When the gameplay is not driven by stats, it is not called an RPG.

 

So what defines an RPG?

 

Could it be stat-based gameplay?

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No need for the sarcasm...not the patient sort, are you?

 

And I'm going to completely dodge this, since I know you've got one hell of an argument there for your opinion/fact, and simply say, "It's all subjective...one man's FPS, regardless of the industry's classification, is another's RPG."

 

In other words...it really doesn't matter what it is...it just depends on the way you, as an individual, happen to view it.

I had thought that some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well, for they imitated humanity so abominably. - Book of Counted Sorrows

 

'Cause I won't know the man that kills me

and I don't know these men I kill

but we all wind up on the same side

'cause ain't none of us doin' god's will.

- Everlast

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A game that allows and facilitates the player's ability to establish and express different aspects of a character's personality. Further, these choices of personality expression have different/branching effects on the other characters in the world and upon the state of the world.

 

The problem with classification is that people associate older games like Bard's Tale with RPGs. In part, I think this is done because the systems and mythologies in Bard's Tale and Phantasie are so obviously torn from pen and paper RPGs. But those games didn't really allow you to do very much in the way of developing the personalities of your characters and allowing them a variety of ways to impact the world. In my opinion, Bard's Tale and Phantasie are tactical combat games in fantasy settings. Fallout is an RPG. I would consider The Sims to be an RPG.

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A game that allows and facilitates the player's ability to establish and express different aspects of a character's personality.  Further, these choices of personality expression have different/branching effects on the other characters in the world and upon the state of the world.

 

The problem with classification is that people associate older games like Bard's Tale with RPGs.  In part, I think this is done because the systems and mythologies in Bard's Tale and Phantasie are so obviously torn from pen and paper RPGs.  But those games didn't really allow you to do very much in the way of developing the personalities of your characters and allowing them a variety of ways to impact the world.  In my opinion, Bard's Tale and Phantasie are tactical combat games in fantasy settings.  Fallout is an RPG.  I would consider The Sims to be an RPG.

That's actually really well put...

I had thought that some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well, for they imitated humanity so abominably. - Book of Counted Sorrows

 

'Cause I won't know the man that kills me

and I don't know these men I kill

but we all wind up on the same side

'cause ain't none of us doin' god's will.

- Everlast

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Apparently the early Might and Magic games, Wizardry, Ultima, etc. aren't RPGs.

 

An RPG is defined by stat-based gameplay, period.

Wizardy and Might and Magic are RPGs as much as Front Mission 4 is an RPG. That is to say that they are tactical combat games with stat progression systems that allow no way to significantly establish or express character personality and influence things in the game world (outside of killing/destroying things).

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See that's the thing. If the more modern notion of a storyline is essential for the RPG moniker, then we erase many of the early RPGs that made the genre.

 

Add that to the fact that strong storylines and character interactions can be found outside the genre, and suddenly the arguement for story being a factor in the genre's defintion is pretty weak.

 

We can argue what type of RPGs we like, or what an ideal RPG is, but the definition of the overall genre is what the industry has called an RPG for 30 years.

 

That definition has been stat-based gameplay.

 

Edit: Furthermore, if Wil Wright doesn't call the Sims an RPG, nor does anyone at Maxis or EA, then why should we recategorize what the industry recognizes as a Simulation/Sandbox game?

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See that's the thing.  If the more modern notion of a storyline is essential for the RPG moniker, then we erase many of the early RPGs that made the genre.

No you don't. You call them something more appropriate: tactical combat games.

 

We can argue what type of RPGs we like, or what an ideal RPG is, but the definition of the overall genre is what the industry has called an RPG for 30 years.

 

That definition has been stat-based gameplay.

Statistics and statistic advancement as a core mechanic of gameplay can be found in tons of games. If you could play a robot in Fallout 3 and it had stats that you could advance, would it be a role-playing game? If controlling machines with advancing statistics still allows the "RPG" classification, Forza Motorsport is an RPG.

 

Edit: Furthermore, if Wil Wright doesn't call the Sims an RPG, nor does anyone at Maxis or EA, then why should we recategorize what the industry recognizes as a Simulation/Sandbox game?

In my opinion, action games can be RPGs. Simulation/sandbox games can also be RPGs. If the core gameplay mechanics don't limit the ability of the player to establish and "play with" character personality, why can't it be an RPG?

 

EDIT: By the way, The Sims would still be an RPG by your definition since your character has stats that you can play with and change.

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No you don't.  You call them something more appropriate: tactical combat games.

The purpose of genre monikers is that by categorizing and classifying an item, an audience knows what they are getting. Orson Scott Card covered the subject quite well in "How To Write SciFi and Fantasy" where he described why certain "set pieces" define various genres, despite attempts after the fact to bend of redefine genres.

 

Various hybrids abound, but if we call a game a FPS/RPG hybrid, the audience knows what they are getting. They are getting a FPS game with stat-based gameplay on the side. When you make a FPS with an interactive story, no one markets it as a FPS/RPG hybrid. Only games with stat-based gameplay get the RPG moniker for a reason.

 

Vocal minorities that expect excellent, fully-featured RPGs with gripping storylines may attempt to redefine the genre on their own terms, but they won't change what has been accepted as industry standards for decades.

 

Statistics and statistic advancement as a core mechanic of gameplay can be found in tons of games.  If you could play a robot in Fallout 3 and it had stats that you could advance, would it be a role-playing game?  If controlling machines with advancing statistics still allows the "RPG" classification, Forza Motorsport is an RPG.

I said when the primary game mechanic is driven by stat-based gameplay. In Forza Motorsport, the primary game mechanic is driven by twitch reflexes, specifically by driving. Thusly, it is a driving game, though it has elements of stat-based gameplay and progression.

 

In my opinion, action games can be RPGs.  Simulation/sandbox games can also be RPGs.  If the core gameplay mechanics don't limit the ability of the player to establish and "play with" character personality, why can't it be an RPG?

I don't understand what you are saying. Are you saying that a game is both an Action game and an RPG at the same time? In any medium there are entries that blend various genres, and they are marketed as cross genre titles. You could have an Action/RPG title. However, it is not solely an Action title while at the same title solely an RPG title. It is precisely an Action/RPG title.

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The purpose of genre monikers is that by categorizing and classifying an item, an audience knows what they are getting.  Orson Scott Card covered the subject quite well in "How To Write SciFi and Fantasy" where he described why certain "set pieces" define various genres, despite attempts after the fact to bend of redefine genres.

That's great, but I don't view "RPG" as a genre, I view role-playing as a system of reactivity. It isn't exclusive to a type of story or setting, or even to other mechanics in the game.

 

Doesn't the fact that this thread exists indicate that people aren't quite sure how to define RPGs? RPG is a word (well, an acronym), and as with all words, common usage determines effective currency. But that doesn't mean I have to accept it or adopt it. Personally, I'm getting to the point where I just want to avoid accepting and offering game "genre" classifications. They're about as worthless as the words "atheist", "agnostic", and "liberal". But since the thread author specifically asked for opinions, I felt obliged to offer my own instead of the opinion of what may be the majority -- the majority that may also spell "tonight" as "tonite" or "through" as "thru".

 

Various hybrids abound, but if we call a game a FPS/RPG hybrid, the audience knows what they are getting.  They are getting a FPS game with stat-based gameplay on the side.  When you make a FPS with an interactive story, no one markets it as a FPS/RPG hybrid.  Only games with stat-based gameplay get the RPG moniker for a reason.

Must all our definitions be cleared through marketing and retail?

 

I said when the primary game mechanic is driven by stat-based gameplay.  In Forza Motorsport, the primary game mechanic is driven by twitch reflexes, specifically by driving.  Thusly, it is a driving game, though it has elements of stat-based gameplay and progression.

 

I wonder if Bioware will now port Jade Empire to PC, after that humiliating defeat....

It should have been made for the pc to begin with.

It is very much a console RPG.

You consider Jade Empire to be "very much" a console RPG despite the fact that the core mechanics are clearly driven by twitch reflexes, augmented by statistics -- exactly the same way that Forza Motorsport works.

 

I don't understand what you are saying.  Are you saying that a game is both an Action game and an RPG at the same time?  In any medium there are entries that blend various genres, and they are marketed as cross genre titles.  You could have an Action/RPG title.  However, it is not solely an Action title while at the same title solely an RPG title.  It is precisely an Action/RPG title.

I'm using the definitions I gave. I'm saying that something can be a circle and blue or a square and blue. In my mind, "RPG" isn't a radio button that un-clicks "action" or "sandbox".

 

In your mind, is Fable an RPG or a sandbox game? Also, why is The Sims strictly a simulation when your character has stats that are constantly tracked and altered and constantly affect gameplay transactions?

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That's great, but I don't view "RPG" as a genre, I view role-playing as a system of reactivity.  It isn't exclusive to a type of story or setting, or even to other mechanics in the game.

Then we're talking apples and oranges, since I believe the discussion is about RPGs as a genre. Role-playing as a term can mean many other things. Job training might feature role-playing with a customer, and yet that has little bearing on the definition of a CRPG.

Doesn't the fact that this thread exists indicate that people aren't quite sure how to define RPGs?

I've seen people argue all day long that Zelda is an RPG simply because it features swords, but those people are in the minority. Just because someone doesn't know what defines a genre doesn't mean the genre isn't defined.

 

RPG is a word (well, an acronym), and as with all words, common usage determines effective currency.  But that doesn't mean I have to accept it or adopt it.  Personally, I'm getting to the point where I just want to avoid accepting and offering game "genre" classifications.  They're about as worthless as the words "atheist", "agnostic", and "liberal".  But since the thread author specifically asked for opinions, I felt obliged to offer my own instead of the opinion of what may be the majority -- the majority that may also spell "tonight" as "tonite" or "through" as "thru".

Given that a word is a collection of letters that represents an ideal, I think acronyms count as words, but that is just my love of semantics.

 

If you are just offering your opinion, then so be it, and perhaps I've been too harsh on you in that regard. However, I don't feel your opinion represents what the majority of consumers, or the industry defines an RPG as.

 

And since I am such a big fan of semantics (with definitions being arguably the first and most important step in debate) I feel it necessary to establish the common, accepted definition of a term.

 

However if there is a game on a shelf that you know absolutely nothing about, and it says RPG on the cover, are you first going to assume the game has an interactive story, or stat-based gameplay given that interactive stories abound in all genres, but stat-based gameplay is the staple of the genre?

 

I think what you are describing is what you want the term RPG to mean, and not so much what the term actually exists as today.

 

Must all our definitions be cleared through marketing and retail?
No, rather I would argue that marketing and retail are going to use terms that the majority of consumers understand and accept rather than what a small niche market would hope to redefine.

 

You consider Jade Empire to be "very much" a console RPG despite the fact that the core mechanics are clearly driven by twitch reflexes, augmented by statistics -- exactly the same way that Forza Motorsport works.

I've also called Jade Empire an action RPG. However, the speed with which your character reacts is controlled by both the player's speed, and the character's speed attribute. Stats do control the gameplay mechanics in Jade Empire, even though that is less the case in real-time systems.

 

I'm using the definitions I gave.  I'm saying that something can be a circle and blue or a square and blue.  In my mind, "RPG" isn't a radio button that un-clicks "action" or "sandbox".

I think that you are an extremely smart fellow who normally expresses themself quite well, so I am disappointed with what I feel is a poor metaphor here.

 

If Circle is to Action as Square is to RPG, then were does Blue fit in? If Circle/Action and Sqaure/RPG are all in the same category (Shape/Genre) then color is beside the point. Your logic would be that a Circle/RPG can be Blue/Console while a Square/Action can also be Blue/Console.

 

In your mind, is Fable an RPG or a sandbox game?  Also, why is The Sims strictly a simulation when your character has stats that are constantly tracked and altered and constantly affect gameplay transactions?

Arguably Half Life 2 has a stat as well, called your Health Meter in the way you have Mood Meters in The Sims. Your Bladder rating does not affect your success/failure in actions. It is more like a Health/Mana/Fatigue bar that you would see outside of the RPG genre that dictates the need to replenish said bar.

 

I don't see how Fable is a sandbox game because it allows no ability to create anything outside of your character.

 

I define Fable as an Action/RPG, and coincidentally enough, so does the developer and publisher.

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I try to not get involved in these too much anymore, as I find it gets pretty subjective.

 

Although I would say that a requirement for the marketplace to consider a game to be an RPG would be stats-based gameplay, in addition to other things perhaps.

 

I can't think of any games that I would consider an RPG in terms of the genre, that don't have stats-based gameplay. Although I can think of games that have stats-based gameplay that aren't RPGs. So there's something more, maybe even a list of optional things, where it must have 1 off that list (whatever that list may be).

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I, too, dislike the idea of an RPG being its own creature. It's an unnecessary label which appears to carry a lot of irrelevant baggage.

 

Best to describe each game as what it is - tactical combat, first-person adventure, simulation - and leave ALL games, whether they're Fallout or Mario, open to the possibilities and interpretations traditionally confined to RPGs.

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role-playing game

n.

 

    A game in which players assume the roles of characters and act out fantastical adventures, the outcomes of which are partially determined by chance, as by the roll of dice

 

dictionary.com

 

 

I knew that site was useful for something.

Stand Your Convictions and You Will Walk Alone.

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I, too, dislike the idea of an RPG being its own creature. It's an unnecessary label which appears to carry a lot of irrelevant baggage.

 

Best to describe each game as what it is - tactical combat, first-person adventure, simulation - and leave ALL games, whether they're Fallout or Mario, open to the possibilities and interpretations traditionally confined to RPGs.

Here is the problem.

 

Let's say that you see a red door (and you want to paint it black).

 

Suddenly, I say that orange is the new red, as traditional red is too primary, and only little children are into such things. Orange has more depth, and is evocative of both powerful, bright imagery like the sun, and subdued earth tones at the same time.

 

So I look at the red door and call it orange despite the fact that everyone has been calling red, well red for ages.

 

The purpose of language is to communicate. A word can change meanings through use over the years, but what bugs me is when this happens due to misuse. The term moot is a great example. We say something is a moot point, and because the term was misused often enough, most people assume moot means trivial, where as the original and perhaps correct defintion is the moot meant worthy of debate.

 

So if someone is familiar with both definitions and hears someone say that something is a moot point, which definition should they assume the speaker meant?

 

If you have to assume what a word means, rather than know clearly, then language is beginning to fail.

 

All words can have personal connotations, but that if you believe red is really orange, or orange is really red, that doesn't change the correct definition for the rest of the world.

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role-playing game

n.

 

    A game in which players assume the roles of characters and act out fantastical adventures, the outcomes of which are partially determined by chance, as by the roll of dice

 

dictionary.com

 

 

I knew that site was useful for something.

Given that this thread is in the Computer and Console section, I can assume we are talking about CRPGs and not pen-and-paper RPGs. The above definition is for a pen-and-paper RPG.

 

The Wikipedia offers this:

CRPGs, in general, are derivative of paper-and-pencil based role-playing games (RPGs) such as Dungeons & Dragons. For example, the vast majority of video-game RPGs assign various attributes to the characters, such as hit points (HP), magic points (MP), and levels.

While worded poorly, I think it is trying to express that RPGs (when we are talking about computer or console RPGs) are defined by stat-based gameplay.

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