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The Lesson New RPGs Need To Take From Older Ones

MilesBeyondMilesBeyond Member Posts: 324
edited August 2012 in Off-Topic
To me, there's one very important aspect of RPGs that many newer ones (especially coming from Bioware) seem to have overlooked, and that is this:

When it comes to RPGs, character creation is half the fun.

Think about it. The one thing that's really appealing for RPGs, for myself, and for what seems to be a large amount of other players, is the fact that you can do a thousand different playthroughs, having an entirely different experience every time, from different races, classes, and alignments.

I remember I used to get through 12-hour shifts at work by thinking of the different party combinations I could make in IWD or Might and Magic VII. In Baldur's Gate 2, you've got seven different races to choose from and 11 classes, 7 of which have three kits each.

Dragon Age? Uh, three races, three classes. Fighter, Mage, Thief. Wow Bioware, I think that's a bit too much diversity. Could you streamline it a bit for us? But wait! I think they misinterpreted our sarcasm as sincerity, because in Dragon Age 2, you're left with just one race!

TES provides an even better example. Daggerfall was touted as having the best character creator of any RPG ever, and I kind of agree with that. It was impressive. Compare that to Oblivion's woefully thin and superficial character creation (Skyrim didn't have one at all, but then that was kind of the point, so I'll not compare them here).

I think that the mark of a good RPG is restart-itis. When you find yourself either tempted to start or actually starting a new game on a regular basis because you thought of some awesome character or class or party combination that you've GOT to try, then the RPG has succeeded. If not, well, character creation isn't everything, but the RPG is missing out on a key magic of the genre.


I don't even get why it's become so streamlined. Like, I guess maybe it has something to do with getting players to the gameplay as quickly as possible, and not overwhelming them with options? But that's immediately contradicted by the fact that most modern RPGs seem to expect you to spend an hour and a half on your character's appearance.

It just annoys me when RPGs have basically no options for character creation, which unfortunately seems to be the norm today.

AnduineDragonspearCCarluNNCommunardAwong124phyltyboSyntia13BelgarathMTHThe_New_RomancealannahsmithShapiroKeatsDarkMageHvitrEbrithilpablo200783SirrionCrevsDaakTeflonKurumilolienBalrog99
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Comments

  • BjjorickBjjorick Member Posts: 1,208
    i agree but you do need more then that. But in game where you play the silent protaginist or choose everything the char says, you need good options in char creator. like in DA1, the 3 races really didn't matter as you could wear armor as a wizzy with one the specilization classes and etc. But again, it's also char choices.

    All throughout the game, in Fallout/bg/older rpgs, you have alot of choices in the game, infact, in almost every convo. But, it wasn't life and death or major game choices, but just everyday choices. Hmmm, do i want to be good, bad, smart ass, outwit him, threaten him, for him to attack me by being an asshole, etc.

    That was just char cement. Lol, in ToB, there's an option when you go into someone's house and he offers and quest, you have your standard options, plus "Sorry, i'm going to kill you and take all your stuff. It's just what i do." That is an awesome answer. I think you need more choices period, and not everything is major, not everything is life and death. :)

    DragonspearSyntia13LeronisCrevsDaak
  • AnduineAnduine Member Posts: 416


    When it comes to RPGs, character creation is half the fun.

    Think about it. The one thing that's really appealing for RPGs, for myself, and for what seems to be a large amount of other players, is the fact that you can do a thousand different playthroughs, having an entirely different experience every time, from different races, classes, and alignments.

    I remember I used to get through 12-hour shifts at work by thinking of the different party combinations I could make in IWD or Might and Magic VII. In Baldur's Gate 2, you've got seven different races to choose from and 11 classes, 7 of which have three kits each.

    I completely agree. I've spent a great deal of time creating characters for the fun of it, knowing that some or many would never see play. Just being able to click "Import" and see a list of characters that I customized brings a smirk to my face. I too have passed time at work thinking and planning about characters and what I will do differently, if anything, in my next playthrough.


    I've actually played the series almost the same way many times, and I still am not bored at all. I have my favourite names, alignments, character builds, and party compositions, all of which took time and thought, and I am very proud of my choices.

    DragonspearBalrog99
  • taletotelltaletotell Member Posts: 74
    edited August 2012
    DA1 did some things well. There was enough plot to justify playing through several times. Nevertheless, I get annoyed at how games can do something's so right and then be so dumb. Why not make the experience more varied in other ways: how about only dwarfs fit dwarf armor. How about elf weapons give bonuses to elves.
    I wanted more options with DA1 from day one. I expected to download a human commoner beginning, a non-tower Mage beginning and associated plot. I am willing to buy DLC for games that seem so incomplete.
    BG and DA mixed could be great. It would be huge, but great.

  • AnduineAnduine Member Posts: 416

    @Redcoat
    Games like Fallout and Torment are the exceptions, not the rule.

    What madness be this? Another point on which we agree?!

    I'm not sure if this goes for everyone, but it never ceases to surprise me how many people let the lines between exception and rule break one another.

    lolienDragonKing
  • SchneidendSchneidend Member Posts: 3,190
    Anduine said:


    What madness be this? Another point on which we agree?!

    I'm not sure if this goes for everyone, but it never ceases to surprise me how many people let the lines between exception and rule break one another.

    Nostalgia, man. It's like a drug, and every self-important nerd who fancies himself some kind of gaming connoisseur or Professor of Gaming Antrhopology is absolutely high as a kite on the stuff.

  • MilesBeyondMilesBeyond Member Posts: 324

    @Redcoat
    Actually, you can totally be a diplomatic Hawke that talks his way out of fights. You just can't talk your way out of every fight. Sacrilege, I know! Take off the rose-tinted glasses and stop acting like this is new. Think of how many fights you can talk your way out of in Baldur's Gate. The number is a LOT closer to none than it is to all. Games like Fallout and Torment are the exceptions, not the rule. Most RPGs have always been like BG, IWD, or Dragon Age, hack and slash with some fun dialogue, good atmosphere, and interesting stories. This idea that games have changed so much, and supposedly for the worse, is an illusion engendered by nostalgia.

    Yeah, I'm not gonna lie, after playing a heap of Fallout, I was a little disappointed coming back to BG and discovering how few options it had.

    But you can't go pinning it on nostalgia, either. The only older RPG I played when it came out was BG. Everything else I discovered in the past couple of years. I played Oblivion long before I played Daggerfall, but I think that despite its dated graphics and infamous bugginess, Daggerfall is by far the more enjoyable experience. I'd beaten DA:O twice before I'd even played games like Planescape Torment and Arcanum and I have to say that I find the latter two, again, far more enjoyable (though Planescape, too, has virtually no character creation to speak of, lol)

    When I got into Fallout, it was through 3. Then I played New Vegas, and liked it even more. Then I played 1, and liked that one even more. Then I played 2, and it was my favourite.


    So if you think that the whole "old games are better than new ones" thing is a load of crap, that's cool. I respect that. There's a lot of good gaming experiences to come out of recent RPGs, and there are a ton of terrible older RPGs that have simply been weeded out by the sands of time. But if anyone wants to argue that a preference for older games is just people being blinded by nostalgia, then man, are they wrong.


    But this isn't even meant to be about old games vs new games, so much as its about something old games did well that I think would make newer games much better if they were to pick up on it.

    I mean, Fallouts 3 and NV still had good character creation. Those games made you want to start something new over and over again. The fact that other games like DA kind of roll you down a tiny tree of character options, or Skyrim pulls its whole "You can be any kind of character you want! ...by level 15!" thing is frustrating and I think holds those games back.

    DragonspearSkatan
  • sandmanCCLsandmanCCL Member Posts: 1,389
    The single biggest thing overlooked in RPGdom:

    A PERSONAL STORY.

    Think about it. Name an RPG where the plot was simply "save the country side." They are a dime a dozen and most of them end up feeling very dry.

    Baldur's Gate Saga and PlaneScape: Torment both did something very well. They crafted a narrative that was personal to your character. Yeah, you save the countryside in Baldur's Gate but you aren't doing it out of the goodliness of your heart. It's because in order to save yourself, it's just a by-product. It's all about YOU.

    Dragon Age: Origins did a pretty good job of this. Sadly DA2 was actually a step backwards despite having what should have set up as a more personal plot. It's also why both of the new-age Fallout games felt so flat. After you get out of Vault 101 and after you find Mr. House, it just feels like you could be anybody. It's why Mass Effect 2 was the most compelling of that series. It's why Final Fantasy 6 has the best plot of any FF game.

    DragonspearalannahsmithLeronisArabus13
  • LadyRhianLadyRhian Member Posts: 14,694
    That's Western RPGs. JRPGs are different in that they give you a character to experience an adventure as. But you get no choice in the character you are playing. It's not bad or wrong, just different, and sometimes you get a deeper story because they are able to focus on the story of that particular character very deeply. But I prefer Western RPGs, of course, BECAUSE of the replayability.

  • MilesBeyondMilesBeyond Member Posts: 324
    @sandmanCCL Urgh, Dragon Age: Origins had one of the worst plots in any RPG I've ever played. Go recruit a bunch of armies (every single time having to go through the same predictable hiccups) then go kill the Big Bad and save the world. The only thing that made it personal for me was some of the origin stories, which would feature some major antagonist you'd bring down later on. I didn't think Loghain was a very good villain at all (some people say that if you read the books, he becomes really interesting, but if a main character needs external material to become interesting, he's not a good character).

    In all honesty, I was expecting the army recruiting bit to be the brief part of the game before things get interesting. Nope, turns out it's like 80% of the game, and things basically head right for the denouement after that.


    It's funny, because I really enjoyed DA:O, but when I think about it, there aren't many parts of the game I liked. The plot, as I said, was awful, the setting was generic, the side-quests were of questionable interest and some of the dungeons were quite tedious. Even the combat was, in my books, merely okay.

    And yet, to me, the NPCs were done well enough that it was enough to keep me coming back for multiple playthroughs, and even for me to think of it as a really enjoyable game. I guess if you leverage your strengths enough, you can help people to forget your weaknesses entirely.

    lmaoboat
  • sandmanCCLsandmanCCL Member Posts: 1,389
    LadyRhian said:

    That's Western RPGs. JRPGs are different in that they give you a character to experience an adventure as. But you get no choice in the character you are playing. It's not bad or wrong, just different, and sometimes you get a deeper story because they are able to focus on the story of that particular character very deeply. But I prefer Western RPGs, of course, BECAUSE of the replayability.

    But it's not just Western RPGs. All RPGs that work tell stories personal to the character/characters involved rather than simply "Go save the world." I mentioned FF6 for that reason.

    FF5's plot was "crystals break!" and every attempt at characterization is over as soon as it begins. FF6? You play multiple people with multiple desires that come together for very different reasons. It makes it compelling. It's part of crafting a good plot.

    Another good JRPG example: the Namco Tales games. All have pretty good combat which is what saves it. But I really got into the plot of Tales of the Abyss. The plot revolves around Luke so every little thing that happens has an impact to his life. Tales of Vesperia didn't hold my attention in nearly the same way because I felt like Yurie was just along for the ride of the plot and he could easily have been any other person for it to move along.

    alannahsmith
  • DragonspearDragonspear Member Posts: 1,825
    @Bjjorick Is there really a choice though when there is a smart ass reply option? Or is it just me? (Granted they were rather limited in Mass Effect because I had to make sure I was also full paragon)

    And still to this day I am trying to make new parties to finally beat IWD and IWD2 (often get distracted by other games and never end up finishing them). Heck in another thread less than an hour ago I saw a new BG2 NPC combination to run with and now I'm stuck trying to figure out what the best protagonist would be to fit into the party. I definitely prefer games with high replayability value, and character creation (DA and ME have some things you can do, with specialties in DA and just having 6 fairly unique classes in ME once you get into ME2) but also a good cast of supporting NPCs that you can run with and mix and match.

  • SchneidendSchneidend Member Posts: 3,190
    @MilesBeyond

    Don't even get me started on how awesome New Vegas is. I love that game to death. I've recreated the same two characters like four times each with slight variations in their Traits and Perks each time and always have a lot of fun.

    CheOffshore
  • BjjorickBjjorick Member Posts: 1,208
    @dragonspear oh, there's a choice, it makes it harder to play a good guy, heh, and sometimes being a smart ass can get you into a fight, but in Bg2, that's not usually an issue unless you're being a smart ass to a dragon. Why i love it, if you're playing a paladin, you can't go around, Yes, i will help you my lady.......*smart ass answer x 3* Yea, i am the avatar of righteousness. :P

    Sallparadise
  • DragonspearDragonspear Member Posts: 1,825
    Hey being a sarcastic smart ass paladin is a fun concept. I have to help them, I don't have to be nice in my talking about it. I have a bard for talking to people. I have 8-10 int on my paladins so I don't put a lotta thought into what I say. I just happen to be a charming smart ass (and a great ability to calm those around me during battle).

  • SallparadiseSallparadise Member Posts: 94
    You can say what you want about character creation and that is true. Baldurs Gate was my first real experience at indeep character creation (every game I played before that: Space Quest, Quest for Glory, Hero's Quest, A Bards Tale, Legends of Dragoons) really funneled you towards the one character with some minor variations in skill levels. BG helped to diversify it to some degree, but we all know it was going to eventually change to reflect more of a physical view as graphics get older ala Bethesda games like Fallout 3 and NV or Elder Scrolls.

    Though, I still say Bethesda games would be 10 times better with a lower experience cap and enemies not adjusting to your level. I miss the challenge in those games by the end.

  • Permidion_StarkPermidion_Stark Member Posts: 4,406
    I enjoy creating one character but I don't want to create a whole party. So BG works for me much better than IWD. However, I do want to be able to choose the character I am playing, so I was never able to get into Planescape:Torment. People kept telling me it was the greatest game ever but I couldn't get any enjoyment out of playing a monosyllabic guy who fell out of the ugly tree and landed on his face.

  • AndrewRogueAndrewRogue Member Posts: 72

    I remember I used to get through 12-hour shifts at work by thinking of the different party combinations I could make in IWD or Might and Magic VII. In Baldur's Gate 2, you've got seven different races to choose from and 11 classes, 7 of which have three kits each.

    Dragon Age? Uh, three races, three classes. Fighter, Mage, Thief. Wow Bioware, I think that's a bit too much diversity. Could you streamline it a bit for us? But wait! I think they misinterpreted our sarcasm as sincerity, because in Dragon Age 2, you're left with just one race!

    I think you are being slightly disingenuous here.

    Three races (each with two backgrounds, so, realistically, something closer to 6 races), each of which provides a fair amount of "actual" difference to your game experience (at least compared to the race difference in BG).

    Three classes each of which possesses a fairly reasonable number of abilities (I'm actually blanking on tree size at the moment, its been a little while) that drastically alter the playstyle of the class (at least so far enough that they deserve to be noted, given you are crediting Kits). These are, in turn, further differentiated by 4 specializations per class.

    The variety in Dragon Age is a LOT broader then you are pretending it is. Remember, just because the game broadly divides into the three major archetypes doesn't mean that there are only three "classes."

  • Ulfgar_TorunnUlfgar_Torunn Member Posts: 169
    Over the many years of gaming the concept of a 'quest' has changed considerably. At one time the term described any set of tasks that held a reward or propelled the story, but they varied in content or presentation.

    Today however, the term 'quest' encompasses only two types of tasks: item acquisition and monster slaying.

    Granted, the quests of old ultimately involved killing things and collecting items, but these deeds were accomplished while pursuing a story motivated goal, and were not goals themselves. All I ask is that the quests of modern games have the story fluff of old; that we're motivated by story and curiosity, not XP and L00T.

    Syntia13lolien
  • AndrewRogueAndrewRogue Member Posts: 72
    edited August 2012

    Over the many years of gaming the concept of a 'quest' has changed considerably. At one time the term described any set of tasks that held a reward or propelled the story, but they varied in content or presentation.

    Today however, the term 'quest' encompasses only two types of tasks: item acquisition and monster slaying.

    Granted, the quests of old ultimately involved killing things and collecting items, but these deeds were accomplished while pursuing a story motivated goal, and were not goals themselves. All I ask is that the quests of modern games have the story fluff of old; that we're motivated by story and curiosity, not XP and L00T.

    You mean... like a lot of modern games already do? :p

    Schneidend
  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    edited August 2012
    I'd say that some modern games have built on the success of BG and similar titles; where BG allowed you to customize your character, Dragon Age allows you to customize your character (to a lesser extent) in a way that (to a much greater extent) fundamentally alters the game experience. This is a good change.

    I think that where modern games fail--and this is not all modern games, but certainly a lot of them--is in relying on cosmetic changes (hair style and color, cheekbone height, etc.) and open-world environments, and forget to tell a compelling story. Skyrim falls into this trap; the game focuses so much on letting the player decide what to do and where to go that it forgets to create any incentive for the player to actually follow the story.

    EDIT: The original point of this post kind of got away from me, but I think I can pull it back. The problem with Skyrim and similar games is that the protagonist, the character that is the player's window into the world, is a dull, impersonal vessel with no personal investment in the world around him. No one knows you; in fact the only thing about you that is remarkable at all is that (spoilers!) you have the ability to shout at dragons.

    I'm not saying Skyrim is a bad game; the gameplay is a lot of fun, and I really do enjoy the leveling system (although I also kind of wish that your skills weren't limited to 100, because a level cap of 84 seems arbitrary in a bad way). But where Skyrim fails, as an RPG, is that it is a game only about the open world environment, rather than the story of the protagonist.

    lolien
  • DelvarianDelvarian Member Posts: 1,232
    I have to say I enjoyed DA:O a lot. While it had fewer choices in character creation than BG and fewer NPCs to join your party (as well as fewer who can be in your party at a time) I enjoyed the background stories for the different races, and thought most of the NPCs were interesting and fun to watch interact. Do I like DA:O more than BG? No, but I can understand why someone would.
    As far as DA2 goes that's when I lost interest, far less choice for your character, and with only the benefit of hearing his/her voice. A story that I found boring, and a lack of customization of your NPCs (you can't even give them different armor) not to mention almost every dungeon being exactly the same aside from blocked off sections. The only thing I enjoyed we're the NPCs, but for me that isn't enough.

    So all that said, for a player like me what I want is customization of both my PC and the NPCs that travel with me. Not all players care about the same things however. Many dislike BG because of graphics and imbalance issues (My wife hates that the characters are so far away) Just saying there are lots of good games out there and lots of different tastes. Let's not call something crap just because it isn't our style of game.

    lolien
  • Awong124Awong124 Member Posts: 2,643
    I totally agree. I spent hours in Skyrim trying to make the hottest female character I could.

  • lmaoboatlmaoboat Member Posts: 72

    @sandmanCCL Urgh, Dragon Age: Origins had one of the worst plots in any RPG I've ever played. Go recruit a bunch of armies (every single time having to go through the same predictable hiccups) then go kill the Big Bad and save the world. The only thing that made it personal for me was some of the origin stories, which would feature some major antagonist you'd bring down later on. I didn't think Loghain was a very good villain at all (some people say that if you read the books, he becomes really interesting, but if a main character needs external material to become interesting, he's not a good character).

    In all honesty, I was expecting the army recruiting bit to be the brief part of the game before things get interesting. Nope, turns out it's like 80% of the game, and things basically head right for the denouement after that.


    It's funny, because I really enjoyed DA:O, but when I think about it, there aren't many parts of the game I liked. The plot, as I said, was awful, the setting was generic, the side-quests were of questionable interest and some of the dungeons were quite tedious. Even the combat was, in my books, merely okay.

    And yet, to me, the NPCs were done well enough that it was enough to keep me coming back for multiple playthroughs, and even for me to think of it as a really enjoyable game. I guess if you leverage your strengths enough, you can help people to forget your weaknesses entirely.

    I actually didn't even care for most of the NPCs, either. I always felt like I had to drag Alaster along everywhere just because he seemed important to the plot, and all Morrigan did was complain at me. Not even the funny type of complaining either.

  • sandmanCCLsandmanCCL Member Posts: 1,389
    I don't get the argument about DA:O having "fewer" character creation choices than Baldur's Gate.

    I'd argue there's more ways to differentiate the characters you make from each other. Yeah, there are only "3" classes. However the way you set them up with skills VASTLY alters gameplay between those classes, much more so than the difference between a mage and bard in BG ends up having toward the end. Paladins, fighters and rangers are all basically the same class with minor differences. A dragon age rogue who focuses on rogue talents is dramatically different than one who focuses on dual-wielding is dramatically different than an archery rogue, and then you throw in which two specializations you want to have on top of that.

    The difference comes in how you manage the GROWTH of your character rather than how you manage the creation of him/her. I'm okay with that. I applaud that because DA:O handled it very well.

    SchneidendJolanthus
  • beerflavourbeerflavour Member Posts: 111
    edited August 2012
    Older CRPGs were simply different.

    I played the BG series mainly with the same protagonist. But the party setup was always different. It felt so natural that you started the game alone and on the way would meet new companions that could join you and eventually leave you again. Another aspect I like was controlling a whole party. That made most fights interesting for the strategic (resource conservation) and tactical aspects. The isometric view simply made things a lot easier. And the grafix are still beatiful today. The sound fits the places you visit.

    The IWD series was a good playground for experimental parties. Very linear and a focus on the combat. The interludes between chapters and the artwork is still beautiful.

    PST had its strongest point with the exceptional setting and the story.


    Before that I had played the later games from SSI (Ravenloft, Menzoberranzan, Dark Sun). The Ravenloft setting was quite interesting as it introduced you to some medieval isolated village with a mysterious villain. Your goal was simply to get back home after some strange mists brought you to this land. The sequel tossed you into a land resembling ancient egypt. Even there you had already VO dialogues with NPCs and the dialogues, albeit short, had good writers. Menzoberranzan tossed you into the Forgotten Realms and you had to save some villagers which have been taken prisoners by drow raiding parties. Dark Sun on the other hand offered you some classic world campaign setting where you started as escaped slaves (spartacus meets D&D) and had to fight for your freedom.


    I have also played some modern MMORPGs but ... I don't know. The strongest point is being able to play with other people. But that is also their weakest point. You can hardly take your time or your friends will outlevel you. Farming equipment is more important than having fun. And sadly some concepts from MMOs are slowly changing single player CRPGs (e.g. itemization, class design). It's not that these games are bad. They are just different. And not what I expect from a game which labels itself an RPG.


    I also played Kotor, NWN and DA. They had some interesting things but I found it cumbersome to control a whole party in those games.


    If publishers and developers can afford to produce games with different gaming concepts all is well. It only gets bad when a company thinks it can capture a big market share by trying to address a heterogenous customer base, just for the sheer numbers. When they start to cater to everyone with a single game then no one will get happy (or just a minority)

    LeronisCheOffshore
  • Corto81Corto81 Member Posts: 18


    Dragon Age? Uh, three races, three classes. Fighter, Mage, Thief. Wow Bioware, I think that's a bit too much diversity. Could you streamline it a bit for us? But wait! I think they misinterpreted our sarcasm as sincerity, because in Dragon Age 2, you're left with just one race!

    Dragon Age 2 was complete and utter rubbish, but DA:Origins was an awesome game, and it had that BG spirit to it.

    3 races, yes. But 6 DIFFERENT story lines.
    3 classes, yes. But with 4 subclasses that completely change your gameplay depending on how you go about it (Assassin vs Ranger, BM vs Healer, 2h vs Sword&Shield, etc.).

    Skyrim is about YOU.
    YOU pick what you want to be and you can be WHATEVER you want to be.
    You can't ask for much more in an RPG that's main characteristic is freedom to do whatever you want and explore and go where ever you want.

    JolanthusLeronisCheOffshore
  • BjjorickBjjorick Member Posts: 1,208
    @AndrewRogue

    as far as DA skills went, not so much. The majority of those skills were passive and had very little effect. Also, you take sword and shield, you have to slot 12 abilities, you maybe get 3 attacks, 3 toggles, and 6 passives. Same with everything non mage.

    The DA skills were limited and kinda weak. I would take HLA anyday because they were actually useful and powerful. DA had alot of stamina management. This makes me slightly more durable, but i can't last long in battle if i use it, this makes me a jaggernaut but i'll last 3 seconds in battle.....oy.

    It had potential, but imho, i thought it would be much better in DA2. Sadly, i can't think of anything that was better in DA2

  • neokarnyneokarny Member Posts: 39
    edited August 2012
    Does anyone else not find the constant harping against DA: Origins tiring?

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