What makes a RPG a RPG?

This forum is to be used for discussion about any RPG, RPG hybrid, or MMORPG that doesn't have its own forum.
User avatar
cyndric
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2004 5:17 pm
Location: New Bedford, MA
Contact:
What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby cyndric » Wed Dec 20, 2006 11:13 pm

I was just wondering some peoples thoughts on this. With so many ganres and sub-ganres of games I thought this would make a perfect topic for discussion.
Skill advancement, Orcs, feminine 16 year old heroes, or what have you.
What about games like Tony Hawk or GTA San Andreas. You advance skills in those games but we don't consider them RPGs. RPG stands for role playing game, but in almost any game I play, I'm playing a role. Whats the deciding factor?
Are you not entertained!?

User avatar
DesR85
Posts: 5440
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2006 8:42 pm
Location: Urban Warfare
Contact:

Postby DesR85 » Thu Dec 21, 2006 1:01 am

I don't play a lot RPGs as I'm more into action games, FPS and RTS but from what I can tell from playing a few RPGs like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series and such, character interaction, skill leveling and character classes is what set RPGs apart from other games. There are other factors like character customisation but they are more on the aesthetic side.

By the way, there is a [url="http://www.gamebanshee.com/forums/rpg-discussion-87/what-is-an-role-playing-game-general-thread-72790.html"]thread[/url] in this section that answers your question. Hope it helps. :)
''They say truth is the first casualty of war. But who defines what's true? Truth is just a matter of perspective. The duty of every soldier is to protect the innocent, and sometimes that means preserving the lie of good and evil, that war isn't just natural selection played out on a grand scale. The only truth I found is that the world we live in is a giant tinderbox. All it takes...is someone to light the match" - Captain Price

User avatar
Monolith
Posts: 737
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 4:19 pm
Location: Poland
Contact:

Postby Monolith » Thu Dec 21, 2006 1:48 pm

DesR85 wrote:I don't play a lot RPGs as I'm more into action games, FPS and RTS but from what I can tell from playing a few RPGs like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series and such, character interaction, skill leveling and character classes is what set RPGs apart from other games. There are other factors like character customisation but they are more on the aesthetic side.

You, my friend, should play more RPGs. The best RPGs didn't have character classes. And KoTOR is a poor RPG to begin with...
"Some people say that I must be a terrible person, but it’s not true. I have the heart of a young boy in a jar on my desk."
-Stephen King

User avatar
DesR85
Posts: 5440
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2006 8:42 pm
Location: Urban Warfare
Contact:

Postby DesR85 » Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:46 am

Monolith wrote:You, my friend, should play more RPGs. The best RPGs didn't have character classes. And KoTOR is a poor RPG to begin with...

Well, I do know that there are a few RPGs that do not have character classes such as Fable: The Lost Chapters and the Gothic series to name a few. I really thought that most of the RPGs have character classes featured in them (from what I noticed so far).
''They say truth is the first casualty of war. But who defines what's true? Truth is just a matter of perspective. The duty of every soldier is to protect the innocent, and sometimes that means preserving the lie of good and evil, that war isn't just natural selection played out on a grand scale. The only truth I found is that the world we live in is a giant tinderbox. All it takes...is someone to light the match" - Captain Price

User avatar
ARTillery
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2006 9:50 am
Contact:

Postby ARTillery » Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:31 am

Monolith wrote:You, my friend, should play more RPGs. The best RPGs didn't have character classes. And KoTOR is a poor RPG to begin with...


I'm sure lots of people will differ starting with me, kotor is one of the best RPGs out there.

I'm kinda like DesR85, more into RTS, or better was into RTS more, but I'm starting to like RPGs better now, what I like most about RPGs is that you can replay the game each time with a different experience since every time you could choose a different race or class.

Different classes, races, genders..a good story, and level advancement is what I like most about RPG and IMO is what defines a RPG.

and Monolith..please recommend some RPGs for me :D
"beware..the alien, the mutant, the heretic.."

User avatar
supershadow
Posts: 62
Joined: Wed Dec 13, 2006 3:21 pm
Contact:

Postby supershadow » Sat Dec 23, 2006 11:08 am

ARTillery wrote:I'm sure lots of people will differ starting with me, kotor is one of the best RPGs out there.


I totally agree. I think that kotor is one of the best RPGs out there.

User avatar
DesR85
Posts: 5440
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2006 8:42 pm
Location: Urban Warfare
Contact:

Postby DesR85 » Sun Dec 24, 2006 7:25 am

ARTillery wrote:I'm kinda like DesR85, more into RTS, or better was into RTS more, but I'm starting to like RPGs better now, what I like most about RPGs is that you can replay the game each time with a different experience since every time you could choose a different race or class.

Good point here and I agree with you. Even though I personally dislike replaying games, including RPGs, I have to admit that replayability is like a crown jewel in RPGs compared to other games in general. Many reasons are using other party members (particularly with games with multiple characters) and for the reasons you mentioned to name a few.

ARTillery wrote:Different classes, races, genders..a good story, and level advancement is what I like most about RPG and IMO is what defines a RPG.

I'm not sure that the customisation of the main character can be considered as a feature that sets RPGs apart from other games. In fact, I have mixed feelings about this feature as there are some RPGs that have a set main character and it's still an RPG. Also, there are other games (non-RPG) that also have this feature as well. That is why I never considered this feature as what defines an RPG.

P.S. Welcome to the forums, ARTillery. :)
''They say truth is the first casualty of war. But who defines what's true? Truth is just a matter of perspective. The duty of every soldier is to protect the innocent, and sometimes that means preserving the lie of good and evil, that war isn't just natural selection played out on a grand scale. The only truth I found is that the world we live in is a giant tinderbox. All it takes...is someone to light the match" - Captain Price

User avatar
ARTillery
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2006 9:50 am
Contact:

Postby ARTillery » Sun Dec 24, 2006 9:55 am

DesR85 wrote:I'm not sure that the customisation of the main character can be considered as a feature that sets RPGs apart from other games. In fact, I have mixed feelings about this feature as there are some RPGs that have a set main character and it's still an RPG. Also, there are other games (non-RPG) that also have this feature as well. That is why I never considered this feature as what defines an RPG.

well, I guess what I had in mind is the customization that really make an impact on the game, like abilities and feats and so, also sometimes the gender and/or class have an impact on the story, I doubt that other games has that effect.

longtime ago I played an action RPG called Nox,wasn't the best RPG, but what I liked most about it, is that each character class has a different starting location as well as a somewhat different story line, IMO that was the best example of how class can affect the game play.

I wish I could see something like that again, maybe a really different paths for good or evil characters or so.

DesR85 wrote:P.S. Welcome to the forums, ARTillery. :)

Thanks :)
Recently I developed a fondness for RPG and I thought this would be the best place to let it all out :D
"beware..the alien, the mutant, the heretic.."

User avatar
Monolith
Posts: 737
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 4:19 pm
Location: Poland
Contact:

Postby Monolith » Sun Dec 24, 2006 3:31 pm

ARTillery wrote:I'm kinda like DesR85, more into RTS, or better was into RTS more, but I'm starting to like RPGs better now, what I like most about RPGs is that you can replay the game each time with a different experience since every time you could choose a different race or class.

That's good if the experience isn't limited to nothing but different combat. Take Oblivion for instance. Utter crap in this regard (and in almost any other one). You can even become archmage of the mages guild without being proficient in the arcane arts. Take Baldur's Gate which isn't all that different either. Baldur's Gate 2 did a far better job as different classes allowed having different strongholds. Arcanum and Fallout were both great, providing diplomatic, stealth-based and violent options depending on what character you play - without class restrictions as both do without classes. Arcanum's "background" restrictions were great btw...


and Monolith..please recommend some RPGs for me :D

Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Fallout 1 and 2, Arcanum, Realms of Arkania 1-3, Planescape: Torment, Darklands, Prelude to Darkness (if you don't mind buginess and some instability), Teudogar and the Alliance with Rome, Jagged Alliance 2 (if you're into tacical turn-based combat), Ultima 7, Gothic 1-3. Those are some of my favorites.



ARTillery wrote:well, I guess what I had in mind is the customization that really make an impact on the game, like abilities and feats and so, also sometimes the gender and/or class have an impact on the story, I doubt that other games has that effect.

Arcanum was nice in this regard. You'd get different reactions based on the armor/clothes you wear and the race and background you've chosen. Prelude to Darkness too, btw. You wouldn't be allowed into one town for instance if members of your party were of a certain race. In a different town people of a certain standing wouldn't talk to you if you didn't meet a specific standard when it comes to clothing. When it comes to story...you can finish Fallout in different ways, depending on your character's abilities. There's also a totally diplomatic/stealth-based way of finishing the game.

longtime ago I played an action RPG called Nox,wasn't the best RPG, but what I liked most about it, is that each character class has a different starting location as well as a somewhat different story line, IMO that was the best example of how class can affect the game play.

Age of Decadence will have that - or something similar. Depending on the background you choose the main story will start differently for you. At the beginning there's an ancient document which is in the posession of a merchant. It has to be brought to a loremaster who has to identify it. A certain faction wants it stolen. If you're a thief (I refer to the background as it doesn't have classes) you'll start as the one who has to steal the document. If you're a loremaster you're the one who has to identify it. If you're a guard you're the one who has to guard the merchant. If you're the marchant you're the one...and so on. I heard it's similar in "Temple of Elementar Evil". I still haven't played that one though...

I wish I could see something like that again, maybe a really different paths for good or evil characters or so.

I dislike this evil <=> good thing. It's too black and white for my taste. Still, it's the best modern RPGs can offer, apparently. What I dislike even more though is an evil <=> good system where the choices don't make a difference beyond aesthetics. NWN is a wonderful example. When it comes to evil vs. good KoTOR was terrible as well...being evil because asking for a reward for having his ass ripped apart for helping somebody is just utter crap. :rolleyes:
"Some people say that I must be a terrible person, but it’s not true. I have the heart of a young boy in a jar on my desk."
-Stephen King

User avatar
ARTillery
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2006 9:50 am
Contact:

Postby ARTillery » Sun Dec 24, 2006 6:56 pm

you my friend have been playing RPG games for a long time :)

I'm picking up gothic 3 soon..looks cool.

it's as u say, every RPG got something nice about it..and I think we could see new systems for proceeding in the games soon..I just hope they pick good stuff from every game and put it in one single game..

right now I'm playing NWN2 and oblivion..I like some of both worlds, but as I said in another thread..I'm still waiting for the perfect RPG..I hope it's Gothic :)
"beware..the alien, the mutant, the heretic.."

User avatar
fable
Posts: 30676
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2001 12:00 pm
Location: The sun, the moon, and the stars.
Contact:

Postby fable » Sun Dec 24, 2006 7:10 pm

ARTillery wrote:you my friend have been playing RPG games for a long time :)


Not to criticize any member, but he's only mentioning titles from the mid 1990s. Buck Satan, the owner of GameBanshee, has been playing computer-based RPGs since the 1970s, if I recall correctly. I played my first, the original Ultima, in 1981. The genre has become increasingly "commonized" IMO over the years by the move from professional programmers writing for other hobbyists to programmers writing for a huge base that includes 10-year-olds. This "one-size-fits-all" approach is perhaps best seen in titles like Diablo and Nox, both action games that were pushed as RPGs despite having virtually nothing to do with the genre; and with recent titles such as Oblivion, that direct you every step of a quest, holding your hand and making sure nothing is beyond the grasp of anybody who might play.
To the Righteous belong the fruits of violent victory. The rest of us will have to settle for warm friends, warm lovers, and a wink from a quietly supportive universe.

User avatar
DesR85
Posts: 5440
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2006 8:42 pm
Location: Urban Warfare
Contact:

Postby DesR85 » Sun Dec 24, 2006 8:02 pm

ARTillery wrote:well, I guess what I had in mind is the customization that really make an impact on the game, like abilities and feats and so, also sometimes the gender and/or class have an impact on the story, I doubt that other games has that effect.

longtime ago I played an action RPG called Nox,wasn't the best RPG, but what I liked most about it, is that each character class has a different starting location as well as a somewhat different story line, IMO that was the best example of how class can affect the game play.

I wish I could see something like that again, maybe a really different paths for good or evil characters or so.

Oh, that kind of customisation. Well, I really didn't write properly as at that time. I meant the customisation of the main character's physical look. Not the stats customisation. I apologise for any misinformation in my previous post. But yes, I remember in KOTOR that the gender choice does have an impact on the story such as who will be your love interest as an example. I agree with you that RPGs only have that while for other games, they're more on the aesthetic side.

As for Gothic 3, if you're planning on getting it, I suggest waiting for a while as it is still plagued with technical and stability issues and it still has quite a number of bugs. I also recommend trying out the demo of Gothic 3 first to see whether you like this game or not.
''They say truth is the first casualty of war. But who defines what's true? Truth is just a matter of perspective. The duty of every soldier is to protect the innocent, and sometimes that means preserving the lie of good and evil, that war isn't just natural selection played out on a grand scale. The only truth I found is that the world we live in is a giant tinderbox. All it takes...is someone to light the match" - Captain Price

User avatar
ARTillery
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2006 9:50 am
Contact:

Postby ARTillery » Mon Dec 25, 2006 6:56 am

thanx DesR for the advice..I'll download the demo first to see how it will feel.
"beware..the alien, the mutant, the heretic.."

User avatar
fable
Posts: 30676
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2001 12:00 pm
Location: The sun, the moon, and the stars.
Contact:

Postby fable » Mon Dec 25, 2006 11:00 am

I was just wondering some peoples thoughts on this. With so many ganres and sub-ganres of games I thought this would make a perfect topic for discussion.
Skill advancement, Orcs, feminine 16 year old heroes, or what have you.


Meant to answer this when I posted earlier in this thread, but got kinda busy. My apologies. :)

Skill advancement, classes, etc, are game mechanics. You can find skill advancement in action titles, and classes in RTS games. What makes an RPG is right there, in the acronym: a Role-Playing Game. You play a role--not a disguise for yourself, but a role, within a social context; so it's about interaction. It can be (and often is) interaction involving combat, but it doesn't need to be. The more interesting and varied the kinds of interactions and the quality of each, the better the RPG.

That's why I rate Ultima VI and VII so highly, since you could take hundreds of different objects from within the environment and use them in one way or another. They offer a level of interaction between the physical environment and the player that has remained unmatched ever since (though Anito, Divine Divinity and Beyond Divinity have deliberately emulated it). Garriott tried to improve upon this every way he could, so that in part 2 of Ultima VII a city dramatically changes between your visits, due to an invasion; while one merchant in another town, hearing that you've helped his cousin, gives you a one-week discount on all his merchandise. In other words, the society gives the appearance of being dynamically affected by both your actions, and actions entirely outside your control. Your "role" feels more real, because it hasn't been reduced to a static

kill baddie
grab goodie
sell goodie
buy new weapon
kill new baddie
etc.

In another way, BG2 offered this level of interaction, but it was as a participant in, and spectator to, conversations with computer-driven party members. Where Origin Systems carefully devised a gameworld you could affect in ways no other RPG has, Bioware's writers brought to life computerized personalities. I think only one other title has matched this: Planescape: Torment. The computer-driven characters don't interact, but your conversations with them have great depth.

By contrast, a game like Diablo isn't an RPG because it isn't about interaction, it's simply about the hamster wheel of actions I outlined, above. It is an action title and a dungeon crawl, which was the subject of a remarkably expensive advertising campaign to convince a younger audience that it was something it wasn't: an RPG. The only thing that Diablo and its clones have in common with RPGs are a few game mechanics, like player stats, spellcasting, etc. But many of the same stuff shows up in RTS titles and even turn-based strategy titles. This doesn't make them RPGs. You could even have an RPG without player stats. I've seen and tried one, Procedural Arts' Facade, that puts you in a situation of dealing with a couple (as a friend of the family) whose marriage is completely on the rocks. No upgrades, no skills, no stats: just hardcore roleplaying, ferreting out details of the really painful damage two people have been doing to one another attempting to help matters, while they try to keep up the pathetic facade of a friendly night over for dinner.

Note, I'm not saying an RPG has to be without combat. My point is simply this: a role-playing game is by definition all about playing a role in relation to an Other--whether one computerized person, a large, complex setting, a society at large, or all three. Anything added to the mix may work or may not, but it isn't part of what defines the genre.
To the Righteous belong the fruits of violent victory. The rest of us will have to settle for warm friends, warm lovers, and a wink from a quietly supportive universe.

User avatar
Chrosshades
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:47 am
Contact:

Postby Chrosshades » Fri Jan 26, 2007 3:13 am

a good RPG is an RPG with good story (Role-playing game!) good battle system(like star ocean 3) original characters (like the suikoden series) and good character developement (like Shin megami tensey). A game series with all these characteristics is Final fantasy.

User avatar
Siberys
Posts: 6207
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2005 7:16 pm
Location: I live in that one place with the thing
Contact:

Postby Siberys » Fri Jan 26, 2007 4:36 am

Chrosshades wrote:a good RPG is an RPG with good story (Role-playing game!) good battle system(like star ocean 3) original characters (like the suikoden series) and good character developement (like Shin megami tensey). A game series with all these characteristics is Final fantasy.


I have to disagree most completely. A good story has nothing to do with an RPG to begin with, that should be in ALL games and not secluded to RPG's. RPG's do not require battle systems whatsoever (Case and point- Harvest Moon). Character development is one thing if YOU have control of that which would be good for an RPG, but for games like final fantasy, as you have very little say in what a character is like, then it's not really "Role-playing." Also, original characters doesn't even belong in this category simply because if you are going to roleplay another character and have complete control over said character, then every one of them is going to be unique.

Final fantasy is not a good RPG whatsoever, none of the games aside from 11 (as obviously with 11, it's an MMORPG and you do create a character of your very own). Final fantasy is the most linear action-adveture type game there is, the only choice you really ever get most of the time is either who is in your party for battling purposes and what his or her weapon of choice will be.

A good example of an RPG even with a pre-defined character is the Gothic series. You play the same guy in two of the games (and possibly the third as well, but I wouldn't know yet). And the guy has his backstory already in place, his name in place, BUT you get to decide what do to in the present that will affect your near and distant future. While some features of the game were a bit odd to deal with, it was a solid by gaming definition RPG.
[color="DeepSkyBlue"]Listen up maggots, Mr. Popo's 'bout to teach you the pecking order.
It goes you, the dirt, the worms inside of the dirt, Popo's stool, Kami, then Popo.
~Mr. Popo, Dragonball Z Abridged[/color]

User avatar
DesR85
Posts: 5440
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2006 8:42 pm
Location: Urban Warfare
Contact:

Postby DesR85 » Sat Jan 27, 2007 8:18 am

Siberys wrote:RPG's do not require battle systems whatsoever (Case and point- Harvest Moon).

Isn't Harvest Moon some sort of simulation game? :confused: All you do in that game is to expand your farm and plant things, from what I recall.

Siberys wrote:Final fantasy is not a good RPG whatsoever, none of the games aside from 11 (as obviously with 11, it's an MMORPG and you do create a character of your very own). Final fantasy is the most linear action-adveture type game there is, the only choice you really ever get most of the time is either who is in your party for battling purposes and what his or her weapon of choice will be.

Since when were the Final Fantasy series action-adventure games? :confused: I mean, yeah, sure that each individual member are restricted to their respective weapons (and not other type of weapons) but don't they have turn-based combat, character interaction and character stats just like any other RPG? By the way, since when do action games use turn-based combat anyway?

Siberys wrote:A good example of an RPG even with a pre-defined character is the Gothic series. You play the same guy in two of the games (and possibly the third as well, but I wouldn't know yet). And the guy has his backstory already in place, his name in place, BUT you get to decide what do to in the present that will affect your near and distant future. While some features of the game were a bit odd to deal with, it was a solid by gaming definition RPG.

Yeah, in Gothic 3, it is still the same nameless guy from the previous Gothic series. While I do agree with the reasons mentioned, I still wonder up till today as to why does this guy have no personality whatsoever. Sure, he can speak, but the fact that he doesn't have anything interesting in particular does strike me as odd, even for a set main character. I mean, playing a main character who is interesting is also as important as being customisable as well (in terms of the stats, that is). Then it begs the question. Why didn't the developers try to focus on giving the namless main character of the Gothic series some form of personality?
''They say truth is the first casualty of war. But who defines what's true? Truth is just a matter of perspective. The duty of every soldier is to protect the innocent, and sometimes that means preserving the lie of good and evil, that war isn't just natural selection played out on a grand scale. The only truth I found is that the world we live in is a giant tinderbox. All it takes...is someone to light the match" - Captain Price

User avatar
a00krido
Posts: 26
Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2004 4:39 pm
Location: Sweden
Contact:

Postby a00krido » Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:41 pm

To me an RPG consists of essentially three things:

A: [color="DarkOrange"]Character development such as skills, attributes, perks, powers etc. Generally the more there is to choose from the better.[/color]

B: [color="DarkOrange"]Ability to affect storyline/quests by the choices you make. The more unique effect your actions has the better.[/color]

C: [color="DarkOrange"]Freedom. To be able to do most "quests" in the order you want. Sadly this often comes at cost of a good storyline.[/color]


A game that tries to implement all these things are considered an RPG in my eyes.

User avatar
Siberys
Posts: 6207
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2005 7:16 pm
Location: I live in that one place with the thing
Contact:

Postby Siberys » Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:56 pm

>>>>Isn't Harvest Moon some sort of simulation game? All you do in that game is to expand your farm and plant things, from what I recall.

Nope, Harvest moon is an RPG as you are developing your personal character as well as the farms.

>>>>Since when were the Final Fantasy series action-adventure games? I mean, yeah, sure that each individual member are restricted to their respective weapons (and not other type of weapons) but don't they have turn-based combat, character interaction and character stats just like any other RPG? By the way, since when do action games use turn-based combat anyway?

Adventure games also have interaction with other characters, adventure games also have character stats and equipment, look at the Zelda series for example. Action-adventure, I should be more specific on what I mean. First off, it's totally my opinion, so you can disagree as much as you want as you're not wrong to do so. It's very light on the action and very heavy on the adventure, just in my opinion, there are hardly any RPG qualities whatsoever.
[color="DeepSkyBlue"]Listen up maggots, Mr. Popo's 'bout to teach you the pecking order.
It goes you, the dirt, the worms inside of the dirt, Popo's stool, Kami, then Popo.
~Mr. Popo, Dragonball Z Abridged[/color]

User avatar
Gilliatt
Posts: 541
Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2006 2:30 pm
Location: 45°34'45&quot; N ; 73°44'33&quot; W
Contact:

Postby Gilliatt » Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:39 pm

The best works are often those who transcend genres. Are the Final Fantasy games adventure games or RPGs? Maybe both. We could argue on this for hours just like we could argue if the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is an action movie or a drama.

That being said, one thing that is true though is that as good as the FFs may be, you cannot use them as an example to define what is a RPG because they lack so many features that you find in most RPGs, like choosing the character you play, having to make choices that have a real impact on the game, having NPCs that react differently depending on the stats or the alignment of your character, etc.

Of course that does not mean they are not good games, FFVII figures in my top 5.
[font="Book Antiqua"][color="DarkOrange"]Dr. Stein grows funny creatures, lets them run into the night.
They become GameBanshee members, and their time is right.
- inspired by an Helloween song[/color][/font]