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Role Playing (Games) Games

Genre Wars — the Downside of the RPG Takeover 248

Phaethon360 writes "From Bioshock and Modern Warfare 2 to even Team Fortress 2, RPG elements are creeping into game genres that we never imagined they would. This change for the most part has managed to subtly improve upon genres that needed new life, but there's a cost that hasn't been tallied by the majority of game developers. 'The simple act of removing mod tools, along with the much discussed dedicated server issue, has made [MW2] a bit of a joke among competitive players. Gone are the days of "promod," and the only option you have is to play it their way. If Infinity Ward are so insistent on improving the variety of our experiences, they don’t have to do it at the expense of the experience that many of us already love. It really is that simple. If they don’t want to provide a good "back to basics experience," they could at least continue to provide the tools that allow us to do that for ourselves.'"
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Genre Wars — the Downside of the RPG Takeover

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  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:33AM (#30830308) Homepage Journal

    It's just one long rambling whine without a lot of substance. The author is crying because they aren't making games exactly the way he wants them now.

  • by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:35AM (#30830324)
    The removal of Mod Tools in MW2 has nothing to do with any RPG elements. It is completely feasible for RPGs to have mods, and indeed many popular RPGs have some of the most impressive mods. Also, the summary mentions Bioshock, but that games was a 'spiritual successor' to System shock 1 & 2, and Bioshock actually was LESS of an RPG than those.

    I can understand the complaint about RPG elements (in simple form) creeping into other genres, but a similar problem is faced by RPGs; they are being diluted by other genres. Look at something like Fallout 3 for an example. I'd argue that the bigger problem is that ALL game series seem to eventually slowly turn into first person shooters with light rpg elements. It's a lowest common denominator style of gameplay that is pulling in games from all directions.
  • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fake_name ( 245088 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:36AM (#30830332)

    Someone blogged about some things he doesn't like and made the front page of slashdot.

    Basically, more games have character progression in them where you improve your character and/or equipment while playing and he thinks this is a bad idea for competitive multiplayer games.

  • Two issues here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:45AM (#30830384) Journal

    I think there are two distinct issues highlighted in the story, which don't necessarily have a particularly strong connection.

    The first is the creep of RPG elements into other genres. I've certainly noticed this myself, and there are a few obvious manifestations. The most obvious is the idea that the player should get more powerful over the course of the game, and that said power should not be subject to resets. If you look at a traditional shoot-em-up, the player picks up new weapons as he plays through the game, but once he gets shot and loses a life, he's generally back to the pea-shooter he started the game with. This model is now almost dead, at least in its pure form. If you look at any recent action game - Bayonetta, for example - some items (such as health potions and the disposable weapons) may be temporary, but as the player gets further into the game, they accumulate persistent upgrades, such as a longer health bar, more special moves and better weapons. In fact, a lot of games give players who have already beaten them the option of starting over, while carrying over their upgrades from previous cycles.

    So why has this happened? I think the gaming industry has realised that, now that gaming is primarily an activity that takes place in the home rather than in arcades, people do not like excessive penalties for failure. Allowing a power-curve in games is pretty much established in most genres these days, but resetting that curve whenever a player makes a mistake results in people switching off the console - and loses future sales for games in that series. There are still a few titles that hold out - Mario, in particular, which even still preserves the obsolete concept of "lives" in some installments - but they increasingly look like antiquated oddities. We always seem to get a few odd cases here on slashdot who like to post on threads about MMOs saying "they'd be more fun if they had permadeath", but it's interesting that commercial MMO operators, who have to put their money where their mouth is, have never seen fit to pursue this. I think they know what they're doing.

    The second issue is around the restriction of modding, which I don't really see as being at all related to the spread of RPG elements. After all, RPGs are historically highly moddable, from their roots in the pen and paper market onwards. The Neverwinter Nights games were heavily marketed with their modability as a key selling point. However, there does seem to be a trend towards restriction of modding in some genres, including fpses. I think there are two drivers for this. The first, simply put, is a "hot coffee" reaction. As certain countries (eg. Germany and Australia) adopt wildly restrictive attitudes towards video game content, developers are naturally more paranoid about being criticised (or sued) for game content that was actually added or unlocked by a third party mod. The other cause is the desire to deliver a more consistent experience.

    I think this stems from the console market. Consoles have many disadvantages compared to the PC as platforms for multiplayer gaming, but they do have a big advantage; consistency of hardware. While there will still be imbalances due to connection quality, the hardware is the same in every case, so there are fewer non-skill-related variables invovled in gaming. In some ways, this actually makes the game more suitable for serious competition. There may be another factor related to something I remember relating to Quake 3; graphical "vandalism". I remember how when Quake 3 had its brief honeymoon with the gaming community (before being buried by Counter-Strike), almost all high level players (and most of the wannabes) played with graphical details that made the game look more like Carrier Command than a modern fps. I remember reading that ID weren't happy about how their game was being shown off, and that this fed into the more restrictive graphical options within Quake 3.

  • What a ramble... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:07AM (#30830494)
    I didn't see anything in there that was actually a cause-effect relationship between the "RPG elements" and taking away from the games.

    Personally, I love the blending of genres. Now we get games like Mass Effect which combine action similar to Gears of War with a real RPG feel.
  • Bioshock? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FTWinston ( 1332785 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:17AM (#30830526) Homepage
    Surely Bioshock should count as RPG elements creeping out of the game, rather than into it? Compare it to System Shock 2, which it is supposedly a "spiritual successor" to. Which has lots more RPG elements? Its the one more convincing and compelling story.

    [Grumpy rant]
    Every time I play bioshock, even when I force myself, I get bored with it and eventually give up. Maybe its just me, and I'm well aware of all the people that go on about how great it is, but it never felt compelling, and things like pretty unbelievable characters (that artist who froze people sticks in my mind), and the freakin cheap cop out of little sisters leaving teddy bears for you usually quickly ruin the immersion (and fun) for me. I still play Shock 2 however, even though I know the location of every scare.
    Ah damn, does the immenant release of Bioshock 2 mean I'll have to stop referring to Shock 2 as ... Shock 2?
    [/Grumpy rant]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:24AM (#30830558)

    I'd like to call bullshit on the findings of this article.

    I really like RPG games, but I have also mastered FPS games to the point of being routinely accused of botting. Looking back, the time sunken into both could have been used much more constructively.

  • by Simulant ( 528590 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:38AM (#30830628) Journal

    IMHO, RPGs, are the most time consuming type of game you can play and serve primarily to feed the the player's obsessive-compulsive instincts for very little, if any, tangible benefit. You basically run around behaving repetitively & collecting as much virtual crap as you can. Your reward is "experience" which can only be taken advantage of with further gameplay. I find the crack analogies to be very compelling.

    It's no wonder that game companies want to extend the model to other game genres. They want you to keep playing & paying.

    Granted, many games cater to your inner, OCD afflicted hunter-gatherer but few genres keep you on the hook as purposefully and for as long as a RPG will.

    The RPGificataion of the COD series started with the addition of "Perks" & levels. I found this to be immediately detrimental to the game. The number of custom servers was reduced dramatically. Few people wanted to run an 'un-ranked' server despite the fact that all the serious players would rank up in a few weeks, after which time experience was essentially meaningless.

    This led to thousands of generic servers with more or less the same set of rules and levels.

    Yet players clung on, even ranking up all over again for the ridiculous "prestige" levels. The erosion of gameplay had begun, it's now less about the game play and more about collecting meaningless, virtual experience points.

    Now throw in the massive growth of consoles and you can see where this is going.

    Millions of lemmings competing for bragging rights over virtual perks. No thanks.

    I will even go so far as to say this is bad for IT.
    I got into this field because of video games. I learned a lot about computers & networks because games, the modification of games, the modification of hardware to make the games run, (and yes, even the obtaining of games for free from dubious sources), were a big incentive for me to figure out out the damn things worked. I wonder what kind of incentive the average young X-Box owner has.

  • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:40AM (#30830630) Journal

    Games like XCom, Syndicate and System Shock will not be made any more

    Maybe I misremember System Shock. I know I remember playing it a lot and enjoying it very much.

    But how different are games like Mass Effect? Have you played Eve Online? To the people who play Eve Online regularly, System Shock might as well be Bejeweled. There's quite a bit more "cerebrum" required in that game, I'd wager.

    It sounds like you haven't played a game since 1996. That's OK. You're just rusty and cranky. Don't be afraid to get back on the bike, but be ready to be humbled by the "cerebrum" of a 15 year old CEO of an Eve corp who teaches you a thing or two..

  • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Goaway ( 82658 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:42AM (#30830638) Homepage

    Actually, the author said none of those things. He made vague whines about games, and you just substituted in everything you personally hate about games.

  • by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @09:20AM (#30830850)

    Removing of Mod Tools is all about controlling shelf-life for games and monopolising the market for extensions/enhancements for those game.

    It's all a business decision - outside MMOs, the current way that Game Producers (want to) do business is:

    • Milk a franchise for as long as you can by periodically releasing newer versions of the same game
    • Have extra post-sale revenue by selling extras for the game (DLC)

    In that sense, user mods are "bad for business" since they:

    • Extend the life of an existing version of a game with free content, thus reducing the appeal for gamers to buy newer versions
    • Provide free new content for the game which competes with the paid for content that the Game Produces wants to sell

    Games having more RPG elements does relate to the decision of removing Mod Tools in the sense that for RPGs the enjoyement of the game is also related to it's content (as in, zones to explore, items to collect, monsters to fight and levels/abilities to unlock), and thus:

    • In single-player/social-light games, user enjoyment decreases fast once all content has been explored. Without user mods, this means that the lifetime of a game is solelly under the control of the Game Producer
    • A more content heavy type of game is also a game with more opportunity for things like sales of game items, zones and levels. No user mods mean that the Game Producer has a monopoly on this

    So I do agree with the TFA that no Mod Tools and more RPG elements are correlated, although maybe not in the way they see it.

  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by uncledrax ( 112438 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:22AM (#30831454) Homepage

    The author is bemoaning the fact that games currently suck.

    I call BS on your BS.

    Maybe the Author needs to stop following the mainstream games market and buying whatever EA shovels them year after year.. there are games that don't suck, but most are being put out by smaller companies that don't release for 4 platforms, have for-pay DLC, and aren't capable of having a 2-minute advert during the superbowl.

    Also, some of the best gameplay I've had on games are not the game as intended.. hell the only reason I bought some games were for mods that got released for them.. I think I've probably clocked under 10 hours of UT2004 proper.. but likely hundreds of hours on various mods for game.

    I guess now I'm dont my pointless rant on the articles pointless rant.

  • It's pretty simple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nlawalker ( 804108 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:53PM (#30833796)

    It's really pretty simple: people who play games are demanding more for their $60 - more playtime, more engrossing experiences, more replayability, more choices and more customization. Think of all the games on the market now... a hippity-hop 2D platformer can be a pretty hard sell for 50 or 60 bucks when there are games right next to it that promise expansive environments, customization, tons of playtime, etc. The easiest way to make a game more complex and cover all those traits in one fell swoop is to toss in a leveling system and some kind of skill tree or progression. It makes a game more multifaceted and provides a "meta-game" that sits underneath the pew-pew-pew on the screen. Technology has also made it easier to create no-loading open-world environments as opposed to static levels, which play very nicely with RPG elements because passing by areas you can't reach and enemies too strong for you to kill is interesting and makes you want to come back later.

    And why are these games trending toward being first-person shooters? Well, if you want a three-dimensional, open world experience with a free-roaming character, there are really only two places you can put the camera: inside the player-character's head, or outside of it. I guess developers have simply found that third person cameras don't add a lot to the experience (who wants to look at their character's ass for 40 hours - then again, this may explain the rise of female player-characters), they are hard to program, and they don't feel as controllable or as precise as first-person viewpoints.

    So if it all comes down to the price point, which I alluded to in my opening sentence, then where are the cheaper, less complex games? They're on XBox Live, PSN and the VC store, where they get little attention from casual gamers because they're not advertised and they're too hard to find, no attention from "hardcore" gamers because they're "casual games" that are too simplistic and not worth the money, and ignored by the media because they're not blockbusters and no one wants to read the reviews. Welcome to the games industry.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley