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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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  • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:38AM (#30830338) Homepage Journal

    But it's the only chance a lot of people would have (thus broadening their market)...

    http://www.pixelpoppers.com/2009/11/awesome-by-proxy-addicted-to-fake.html [pixelpoppers.com]

  • Love (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:05AM (#30830488)

    I believe that every game has a spark of creativity that cannot be denied.

    Some devteams work for ten years or more on the same game... improving it, polishing it, patching it, rereleasing it under new technology, imagining, dreaming, hoping, sketching...

    This is love, right?

    I think so. I think it's eternal love; like a "soul."

  • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrNaz ( 730548 ) * on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:21AM (#30830544) Homepage

    The author is bemoaning the fact that games currently suck. The fundamental problem is that they are serving the largest market, and as the market has become more mainstream, the average IQ of the average player has gone down. Computer games used to be the preserve of geeks, or other intellectual types willing to do something as non-jocky as play on a computer. Now, every dolt with a dim sense of consciousness is playing Halo, and their dollars are voting smart gamers out of the picture.

    Games like XCom, Syndicate and System Shock will not be made any more, because there's too much money to be made serving Mr. Averagely Average.

    Today, a game like System Shock would fail because I doubt even 20% of the current market would have the cerebrum to get through the first 2 levels, let alone have a chance of finishing it.

    Furthermore, as game houses become more and more commercial in their decision making, risk taking and breaking the mold becomes less attractive. Why risk development funds on a mold breaking game when you can get instant cash by cranking out another FPS based on the current generation 3D engine?

    Consoles are dumbing games down even more, with their painfully limited means of interacting. I liked it better in the old days when game developers had to take risks in order to keep their market interested. Being a "Doom clone" back then was a stigma. Nowadays, being just another FPS is quite honorable if you have bump sketching unobtanium enabled shading 3 days before the next game with it comes out.

    Yes, I'm being an elitist snob. Yes I know you're about to mod me down. No I don't care, as long as you get off my lawn while I play 15 year old games in dosbox.

  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:25AM (#30830566)

    This has been going on for a long time. If one stretched things, they could say that World of Warcraft is a FPS with an extreme number of powerups. However, FPS is a concept is a known quantity. You put out something in this type of genre, and you will almost certainly break even at the minimum.

    Finding new ways to do a RPG combat system is hard. There are not that many ways to do combat, so FPS mechanics is one of the most used. Turn by turn combat used to be the RPG mainstay, but for many people, it is too slow a method of resolving conflict. There are other combat systems, but if a game relies too much on arcade reflexes, it might turn people away.

    For single player, most likely the best bet for a modern RPG these days would be a system used by NWN and NWN2, where people can pause the action before making their next decision, but if they know what exactly is going on, can still do an almost real-time battle.

    What I've not seen that much of are RPGs with RTS mechanics. Picture having your group of people that you start out with at a beginning of the game, and each of them has some ability and weakness. There would have to be more plot and character development for an RPG to separate it from Warcraft 1-3 (adding multiple endings, having side quests), but it could be done.

    One scenario using these type of mechanics could be pushing back some orcs [1] who are pillaging some nearby villages. You send in some scouts to see what exactly their weaknesses are (one village has an orc wizard fireballing buildings. Another has an orc chieftain who keeps his band up with heals. Still another has a warrior chieftain.) Then you send whatever guys you have that would be the best against the type of enemy at hand. With different playstyles, one could have a lot of grunt troops and just swarm the villages, send in ranged troops (with some melee in front as a distraction), or perhaps even find a way to use some type of negotiating skill to get the orc tribal leaders to accept a keg of ogre swill as treasure enough so they stop their invasion.

    Another scenario could be a castle siege. You have your forces and need to punch a hole in the castle walls, while fending off forces coming from other sides. Part of the RPG would be doing side quests. One side quest earns you better siege engines. Another gets enemy troops to not join in on the fight. Still another side quest just might allow the player to earn such a famous/infamous reputation that they can just bypass the siege altogether and have the opposing side open the doors and surrender.

    This isn't to say this has not been done before, but RPG/RTS mechanics are not something seen often in modern games. What sets RPGs apart from "plain old" RTS/FPS games is having multiple endings, multiple side quests, and different consequences for player actions. For example, if a PC is an extremely good diplomat, it may allow for some battles to be skipped or handled in a different way. Similar if a PC does side quests for a reputation. Throwing in some mini-games [2] may be the answer here as a way to help (perhaps use the RTS engine so the player can work as a mercenary general in order to help your side get land or resources in between plot advances.)

    [1]: Classic AD&D/LoTR orcs which would be more than happy to stuff any intelligent race in a stewpot. Except dwarves. They are just too hard to clean.

    [2]: One recent mini-game I liked was the Risk-like one in James Cameron's "Avatar". It was fairly tough because you had very little territory at the start, so you could either play your chances slowly, or start the mini game every so often, because you got more money as the main game progressed. Mini games have to be done right though. For example, the card one in FF8 a lot of players just skipped for the most part.

  • Re:WHAT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:32AM (#30830594)

    More importantly because they want to sell us DLC without competition. Not that that's a real reason for removing dedicated servers (and neither is console gaming) since Section 8 has dedicated servers, DLC and a console version.

  • Re:Two issues here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:35AM (#30830608)
    Eve has "permadeath" of a sort. When you lose you ship, you lose your ship. Fittings, cargo content, ammunition, modifications... Gone. It's like all of your armour and weapons being lost in WoW, especially when you amass Faction modified variants. Insurance covers the ship to a point, but not totally.

    You can buy clones for your actual character, but that again doesn't cover stat-boosting Implants. You lose those if your pod is destroyed (character is killed). If you don't have a clone, you lose all of your Skill Points too. For some characters, that can be many years worth of time investment.

    Fighting in that game was more stressful in the way your body isn't catered to dealing with: Prolonged periods of suspense and fear, with no way to vent it.
  • Re:Two issues here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zumbs ( 1241138 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:52AM (#30830686) Homepage

    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.

    There is another reason to consider. While modding is a selling point, it is a selling point that has two drawbacks for the industry: 1) It extends the lifetime of the game, causing the gamer to purchase fewer games. An example is Morrowind that came out in 2001 and is still being modded. 2) Usermade content gives a free alternative to expansion packs and DLC, which may decrease sales. On the other hand, modding tools are likely to generate a larger and more active core of fans.

    I think this stems from the console market.

    As far as I know, console makers (MS and Sony, at least) hate usermade content on their consoles, making it diffcult (and against the EULA) to mod the games on their consoles.

  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rhsanborn ( 773855 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:32AM (#30831592)
    Which is exactly what this argument is about. Gamers who were a niche market are used to playing the kind of games that were made for their niche. Other people came into the arena and started playing games, and developers started making games for this much larger audience. If you are a niche gamer who doesn't like playing average person games, then don't. EVE is a niche game still made for the non-WoW crowd. I'm sure there are others, go play those.

    The one thing the niche gamer cannot expect is that people are going to spend mainstream development money on his niche. He may have to look at some of the smaller dev houses and play those games.
  • Re:Two issues here (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kyrre ( 197103 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @11:22AM (#30832244)
    Off the top of my head:
    • LittleBigPlanet (level, content and character design)
    • Modnation Racers (in Beta, level and character design)
    • Unreal Tournament 3 (mods)
    • Gravity Crash (level design)
    • Uncharted 2 (Machima thingy)
    • Far Cry 2 (level design)

    I am sure there are more. Sony actually encourage user generated content believing it to be the next big thing in gaming. They call it Game 2.0 or something silly like that.

  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jidar ( 83795 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @11:31AM (#30832362)

    Bioshock is System Shock done better. I say that and I loved System Shock.

  • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by filthpickle ( 1199927 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:03PM (#30832888)
    It's our own fault. We thought we could steal and steal and steal and it wouldn't matter. Now we know that it did matter.

    My apologies if you didn't steal as much as I did. (an amusing aside, I am good at the job I currently have because of what I learned about computers whilst stealing)
  • Re:WTF? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Turiko ( 1259966 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:10AM (#30842882)
    okay, i'll look back at what games were awesome the past years.

    I have played, in the past 5 years: unreal tournament 2004, unreal tournament 3, overlord, doom 3, SPORE, warhammer 40k - dawn of war 2, gears of war, team fortress 2, blacksite: area 51, frontlines: fuel of war, fallout 3, prototype, oblivion, COD4, EVE online and a bunch of MMORPG's.

    i put this list together with my xfire profile. What games were good in the last 6 or so years that i played? I went out and bought most of the good games. Some were simply crap (spore), others were weak and unfinished (fallout 3). In the end, only very few games are actually worth a damn.

    Compared to about 8-9 years ago, every game i bought was fun. Quake 3, mechwarrior, emperor: battle for dune, ......

    I honestly can't find a game older then 6-7 years that isn't still fun, and wasn't good for the time it as released. I never sold any games yet either, so it's not like i'm subjectively filtering stuff out.

    I think nostalgia is unimportant here. The big companies now want to cater to the mass. The mass has a poor taste, because there's so many people (duh). So it's impossible to make a game everyone likes, yet so many companies try. Even good developers like blizzard have mostly stopped developing good games. Sure, starcraft 2 and diablo 3 are in development, but how long have they been and how long will they will?
    In the meantime, they recently started talking about a new expansion, and oh look, it's almost here already. Which of the games has priority then? The cash cow.

    There just ARE less good games out there then there used to be. That's because gaming is mainstream, and "easier to develop for" (with profit). So, companies that shouldn't make games, and they fail. Look at flagship studios for an example, they developed hellgate: london.

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.