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The Oblivion of Western RPGs 304

Posted by Zonk
from the taking-on-the-big-ones dept.
1up has a piece looking at how Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion may just be what the western RPG genre needs to spring back from the brink of nonexistence. From the article: "Western RPGs focus on the characters, and the world around them is a tool to let the player-as-character do and see more. Eastern RPGs focus on the events unfolding around the characters, and how the characters affect the world around them. Western RPGs are based on the experience of tabletop role-playing games, limited only by the imaginations of the players and the game master, where Eastern RPGs are more re-creations of traditional storytelling. Oblivion has taken huge strides toward meeting fans of MMOs halfway by building A.I. that really lives alongside the player and ensuring that the actual missions are easily pursued."
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The Oblivion of Western RPGs

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  • nice link (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Other White Boy (626206) <theotherwhiteboy@@@gmail...com> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:28PM (#15028623)
    i was kinda confused when i started out reading the second page of the article.

    try this [1up.com].
  • by Joehonkie (665142) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:36PM (#15028704) Homepage
    What's this crap about Western RPGs being on the brink of nonexistance? I guess all those games by Bethesda, Bioware, etc. don't exist?
    • If anything, its eastern RPGs that are on the brink on non-existance in the US. Which is sad, because by and large I dislike western style.
      • It's the opposite for me. The "Eastern" movies (I refuse to call them RPGs because they're nothing but interactive movies) are hopefully going away. I mean, they can hang around all they want, but I just don't want them influencing the real RPGs.
        • Actually, both styles of RPG have the same right to be called "RPG". Western-style RPGs let the player play his own character, making up his own role as he plays. The world reacts to the way the player plays the game - to the role he has chosen to play. Eastern-style RPGs define a role that the player plays; the player's actions have little to no no effect on the role.
          Both ways involve the player playing a role.


          I still tend to think of eastern-style RPGs as Action Adventures, though.
      • What Role are you Playing in FF7 (just an example)?

        You're just a passenger watching things go by in an interactive movie with inventory management. There is no Playing of Roles. I am not Cloud, I am some guy who feeds Cloud a healing potion and throws materia into his sword.

        There's nothing wrong with that, I rather enjoyed FF7, but calling them Role Playing is a strong misnomer. They're just Kings Quest with newer graphics rather than Ultima IV.
    • Bioware RPGs are not massively open-ended like Elder Scrolls or the old Ultima games. Its more of a hybrid, where you have small amounts of open play in different chapters.
    • I guess all those games by Bethesda, Bioware, etc. don't exist?

      Okay list them. :) Asking this question doesn't automatically make the argument invalid.

      In case you haven't noticed, the "single slayer, PC RPG" genre has been all but dead for years. They morphed into something that is found mostly in its current MMOG form (think World of Warcraft) or something more "hybrid" (for instance RTS games with RPG elements).

      So here is an excirse: go to the store to pick up a brand new copy of Oblivion but also look a

      • Undead Genres (Score:2, Interesting)

        by hanako (935790)
        While adventure games have been considered a "dead genre" for years, there are actually MORE of them being released to the mainstream currently than there are single-player RPGs!

        It's a shift in the market. As the adventure fans come to recognise that they are no longer considered a hot property, they also become more willing to accept ANY adventure game that comes along, and thus it becomes easier for extremely small studios on a low-budget to make an adventure game and get it published for retail. These ad
        • RPG Maker XP has already produced at least one English PC game on sale...

          I'm a (somewhat former) member of a major German RPG Maker community and this has piqued my interest (old interests die hard, just like habits)... Do you have any further informations on this?
    • by Gorath99 (746654) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:26PM (#15029225)
      Instead of the term "Western RPG" I'd use "traditional PC style RPG". The kind of rpgs you don't play with a joypad and that don't require massive amounts of mouse-clicking. I'm talking Betrayal at Krondor, Baldur's Gate, Fallout, Wizardry, Albion, Bard's Tale, the old SSI games, Planescape Torment; those kinds of games.

      Don't get me wrong: I've spend a significant portion of the past four years playing Morrowind, I had a lot of fun with Diablo (the original more so than the second one) and I've enjoyed all the Final Fantasy Games for the SNES (and Chrono Trigger... wonderful Chrono Trigger...), but I long for another Baldur's Gate or BaK.

      The more recent Bioware fare really isn't in the same genre; Neverwinter Nights felt like Diablo, only without any of the atmosphere. Bethesda makes some of the greatest games in the rpg genre, but they've always leaned a bit towards being action games (remember how you had to make hacking gestures with the mouse to hack with your sword in Arena?) and I fully expect them to move more into that direction as console gamers make up a greater part of their audience. Not that I blame them, mind. It's just that noone seems to be making games in a subgenre that I love so dearly anymore.
    • All what games by Bioware? How many have you noticed lately? "All those games by Bethesda"? Do what? They've only released like 3 RPGs in the past 10 years! And in case you haven't noticed most of Bioware's RPG titles game out around 98-2000, it's 2006 man. The western RPG ain't exactly enjoying a freakin' Renaissance. You'll be one of those people that claim "Adventure Games are alive and well!," simply because of the Silent Hill Series, and the older resident evils, which really aren't all that sim
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:39PM (#15028739) Homepage Journal
    Because, when you come down to it, using your gun to make big holes in people in buildings is what I play Western RPGs for.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:39PM (#15028743)
    Eastern RPGs are just a book written as a video game.... a story is told, with no major twists to what the end is...

    Western RPGs is where YOU make the story, and how you want to do it.
    • by Ayaress (662020) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:35PM (#15029306) Journal
      This is how I've always made the distinction:

      Eastern RPGs - and for that matter, a good chunk of western ones, too - give you a role to play. At best (i.e. the western RPGs like KOTOR and Jade Empire that are much closer to the console RPG style), you get to decide wether to be a nice guy or a jerk along the way.

      Western RPGs - the breed of them that's truely dying, even in a world where KOTOR got game of the year - you're given a stage to play on. Everything else is up to you. I'm several hours into Oblivion right now. I'm not even sure if I'm on the main quest or not, but I love it anyway. The Ultima series are the only games I played much of that I can really compare to Elderscrolls in terms of sheer freedom.

      I love that I can just blow off the main quest givers and go do whatever. Become an assassin, a thug, a knight in obligatory shining armor, (Or if I invest enough time raising my skills, all of the above), or just blow that stuff off and spend an hour picking flowers in a field.

      Or even doing something completely pointlss and weird. In Morrowind once, I had a weekend off and nothing else to do, so I set about stealing every last spoon in the game (I think - I may have missed a few, but I had a good couple hundred of them), and then writing "I AM THE KING OF SPOONS" with them on the roof of the Underskar... Just because I could.
      • Western RPGs - the breed of them that's truely dying, even in a world where KOTOR got game of the year - you're given a stage to play on. Everything else is up to you. I'm several hours into Oblivion right now. I'm not even sure if I'm on the main quest or not, but I love it anyway. The Ultima series are the only games I played much of that I can really compare to Elderscrolls in terms of sheer freedom.

        Fallout I & II were also quite strong freedom wise. And let's face it, you can't help but love a ga

        • Let's not forget about tasty, refreshingly warm and flat, Nuka-Cola! Now with extra Roengens!

          The only "western" RPGs that I really enjoyed were Fallout and Planescape: Torment.

          I thought Fallout was an incredible game because it had some of the most goofy quests, like defeating a scorpion at chess or becoming a pornstar. But it also had a dark side to it, as in the Master's plot to turn the world into an army of super-mutants. I really enjoyed the Mad Max-esque "one man against the world" play style, and how
      • by jdog1016 (703094) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @07:08PM (#15030898)
        > In Morrowind once, I had a weekend off and nothing else to do, so I set about
        > stealing every last spoon in the game (I think - I may have missed a few, but I
        > had a good couple hundred of them), and then writing "I AM THE KING OF SPOONS"
        > with them on the roof of the Underskar... Just because I could.

        Wow. You are the coolest person I've ever met.
    • Eastern RPGs are just a book written as a video game.... a story is told, with no major twists to what the end is...

      Western RPGs is where YOU make the story, and how you want to do it.

      Perhaps i just haven't been playing the right Western RPGs, but gameplay aside they seem pretty similar to Eastern RPGs to me. You start at the begining, you have some degree of freedom along the way, and no matter what decisions you make in the process you always end up at the same place.

      There are a few Eastern RPGs tha

      • However i don't really know of many Western RPGs that have multiple ending possibilities either.

        Not arguing your point here, but should you want to try some western rpgs with a large degree of freedom (including multiple endings) then you could do worse than trying the first two Fallout games, any of the TES games or Planescape Torment. All heartily recommended (though the first two TES games are not the most accessible of games).
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @05:15PM (#15030129) Journal
      The sad thing is that we, the human race, always try to pigeon hole everything. What is worse is that we often get it wrong.

      Hands up if you ever seen a game claimed to have "rpg" elements when the only thing the game has is that units can gain "level up"?

      For some reason some people have come to believe that levelling up == RPG. It of course does not. Many games level up. Being allowed to fly bigger aircraft in an aircraft sim is a form of levelling up. Getting a bigger gun in Doom is.

      Take away the levelling up from games like FF and you will see that they play very much like the adventure games of old. In fact the old "Indiana Jones: Fate of Atlantis" also had fights in it.

      Adventures however are not RPG's most notably because you do not choose a role to play but rather follow the lead character through a pre-determined story. Adventures are as much about roleplaying as a FPS. Sure, you can roleplay in Doom. Just as long as you roleplay a guntoting silent marine who shoots everything on sight.

      FF does not give you a role to play.

      So where does this leave oblivion? Well in limbo. The thing that is missing from the elder scrolls is choices. You can join any guild you want even if they seem mutually exclusive. Only a hand full of quests even have a choice in them as to how you complete them. Usually either giving an item to the cops or the criminals. You can very easily however complete both quests for the dark brotherhood (evil assasins) as for some noble band of knights.

      The old taking a side in a quest is not part of the Elder Scrolls and I miss it.

      Oblivion ain't a bad game, just that it is RPG light compared to the real stuff like baldur gate, KOTOR, planescape torment etc.

      Oblivion is free as those games but the individual quests are pretty much on rails. I would have loved to have been able to choose a side in the whole dark brotherhood deal. Not in this game.

      To some this makes Obilion a union of the worst elements of eastern and western RPG's. The "feeling lost" of western RPG's and the "on rails" of eastern adventure+levellingup games.

      It almost reminds me of Doom3. Nice engine. Now can a real game company make a proper game with it? For me Oblivion is only acceptable because there the lovers of western RPG are not exactly swamped with choice. When is the next company going to revive the genre like Baldur's gate did?

  • by aitikin (909209) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:39PM (#15028749)
    I find it interesting that they talk about how character development is the big thing for Western RPGs. I never realized that RPGs were ever really that commonly created in the Western Hemisphere. I would have to say that the change to having the primary focus on character development is more a general revolution in RPGs. All of the table top RPGs and such were extremely story oriented as well. No one wanted to play a game of D&D where the master was a bad story teller.

    Also, the fact that technology has increased so much is the only reason that the character development can take place. Eastern RPGs seem to be a continuation of the classics, which took place when they could only have so much and the best thing they could do was tell a story.
    • Final Fantasy 5 had character creation that every character could be any class, and multiple classes combined. It was quite innovative in terms of character development.

      But for whatever reason, it wasn't released to world markets, just Japan. Maybe its because open ended plots are what en-vogue for western markets these days more than any other factor. The GTA influence on game dev can't be understated.

      I haven't played enough of Elder scrolls to really get an accurate opinion, but I'd say it lacks almost to
  • Single Player glory! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cy Sperling (960158) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:41PM (#15028775)
    I can identify with the player mentioned in teh article who dislikes playing with other people. I have been quite bored with the glut of MMO & RTS games that have come to dominate the swords and spells genre of gaming. I have been playing Oblivion for about a week and it is so wonderfully full of single player greatness I can barely stand to go to work and wait 10 hours before my next hour of exploration. Every character I meet in the game is absolutely in-character and free of the slightest hint of l337speak of griefing behaviour that permiates the online worlds. I can come and go from the game at will and know the world has waited for me to return to it as if I hadn't gone to my job all day. Best yet, the NPCs aren't just manequins anymore- they are completely entertaining to watch as they attempt to live their lives and deal with each other. The first time I saw a pickpocket get attacked and killed by city gaurds- I was delighted. He was someone I had met and talked to and now, due to his unscripted actions, he is dead and gone from the game. The actions of the NPCs impact the world permenantly. I imagine that, just like in GTA, after my initial wonder of exploring the world starts to wane- there is an abundance of non-save-game fun to be had by simply messing with the locals to see how the game's AI reacts.
    • by svip (678490) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @05:01PM (#15030023)

      there is an abundance of non-save-game fun to be had by simply messing with the locals to see how the game's AI reacts.

      I agree there. The AI is so buggy you need to do very little messing about to make it do hilariously stupid things. Like when I got in Jauffrey's way and he jumped up and down on a candlestick for a minute then fell through the wall. Brilliant!

      Or when you beat up a quest-vital NPC (they're immortal, so much for freedom), then kill all the guards that come for you, then surrounded by corpses you go buy your groceries from the NPC who just woke up and has forgotten everything that happened.

      Or when you assault some innocent and if you don't kill him in first blow and he sees you for a second before dying, a guard comes running from the other side of the town at mach 3 - so you jump over a wall into an alley and he starts running around the block, so you jump over again and he turns around and goes back around the block.

      Or when you tapdance on a storekeep's desk throwing all the goods around the room, then take out your claymore and play golf with the remainders. Then you lift up an apple and set it down again and 200 city guards suddenly enter.

      Also got a kick out of how a guard gave me permissing to investigate a murder scene, so I lifted up a parchment in the basement (not knowing about the red cursor yet) and "Boromir" yells Stop stealing from me! despite us being far away from his home in another person's house where I had permission to be.

      And it started out nicely when I got accosted by the guards for horse theft in a far away town when I went up and talked to them after being given the horse at the priory early on.

      At least the AI is nicely forgiving. Early in the game you can attempt to assassinate Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise and pick the pockets of his bodyguards, and if you get caught you only have to say you're sorry and they forget all about it.

      And if you decide after a mad killing spree leaving the streets filled with slaughtered townsfolk that you regret this, you just have to hand over a few gold and all is forgiven and you're once again lauded as a hero.

      I love this game.

      • Just for the record, it is possible to disable quest-important NPC immortality via the INI. Just another example of the dumbing-down. (Don't get me wrong, Oblivion does tons of stuff beautifully- but there are also many examples of making the game easier to play on the console and restricting the PC players.)
      • by hclyff (925743)
        I love it too. And it's not possible to foretell every scenario the crazy too-much-time-on-his-hands player could come with when he's experimenting with the AI. At least not in a game with this degree of freedom.

        Anyway I'm happy there is a game once for a while in which I can be a thief and not be chopped to pieces by the guards when someone catches me pickpocketing.
  • hrm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jurrasic (940901) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:47PM (#15028838)
    I would honestly change 'Eastern' to 'Console' and 'Western' to 'Computer'. After all, the great 'eastern' RPG series' are all primarily developed for consoles, and sometimes the best of the best ported to PC. the 'western' RPG of character development and creating your role originated with and continues to be the domain of the personal computer, from the early Ultimas, Questrons, Phantasies and Alternate Reality: the City and The Dungeon on the Apple and Atari 8-bits and Commodore 64 to the more modern Elder Scrolls, NWN, Fallouts etc all on modern PCs with some portage to consoles. Its only with the simultanious launches of TES III and IV to the Xbox as well as the PC that the 'western' RPG has been developed at all with consoles in mind. SO I say it's Console RPG vs Computer RPG, and many an arguement about which is best will be waged, but in the end, it all comes down to taste. When I want to be fed a good story i'll play the latest Final Fantasy. When I want to MAKE the story, i'll play Oblivion.
    • Re:hrm... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nuzak (959558)
      > When I want to be fed a good story i'll play the latest Final Fantasy

      Echh ... it's not even a good story when the execution is so wrecked. Maybe it's tolerable in the original Japanese, but when the main characters are animated with even the body language of inarticulate bratty children, I tend to doubt it.

      Come to think of it, FFX might have been a pretty good story if not for Tidus. There's a good story in Xenosaga too that's not too bad if you remove everyone who actually speaks. Maybe they should
  • by mozumder (178398)
    Should count as the one that brought back the western RPG...
    • Re:WoW (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rabbot (740825)
      Not really, WoW is in a completely different genre. And even if we were talking about MMORPG's, there really wasn't anything for WoW to bring back. It's not like we had a lack of good MMORPG's to play. There is no denying that WoW was hugely successful, but that was mostly because it caters to the non-mmo crowd, the casual gamer. It requires minimal time/investment to make significant progress in the game.

      Anyways, the thread is about traditional PC RPG's (single player games).
    • Re:WoW (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zoomba (227393) <mfc131.gmail@com> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:17PM (#15029161) Homepage
      WoW is *not* an RPG. MMORPGs have only the barest of elements in common with traditional RPGs. In MMORPGs, you're not really a hero, just another person. You don't impact the world in a meaningful way. There is no real progressing story that you contribute to. There almost no real sense of immersion when you have people running around spamming "WTB [Wang] x3!"

      MMORPGs are a completely different genre and can't be placed in the same category as games like Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Fallout, Neverwinter Nights, Morrorwind or Oblivion.

      When people talk about CRPGs, they're generally not talking WoW or EQ or anything like those, they mean the singleplayer games that are closer to pen and paper RPGs.
      • WoW is *not* an RPG.

        LOL

        MMORPGs are a completely different genre and can't be placed in the same category as games like Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Fallout, Neverwinter Nights, Morrorwind or Oblivion.

        WoW still is the firt western RPG I've gotten into since the old ones from the 80s (not counting other Blizzard titles, which have some RPG elements). I've briefly tried some of the others you mentioned, but they lack the interaction with other people that WoW, and a table-top-RPGs, would normally have.

        And, i
      • by sgant (178166)
        This is true...which has always bugged me about MMORPG's. I mean, I love them, but the quests "say" something but they really have no impact to the world. For instance, playing as a Horde character in the starting area...there is a quest to pick up this guys hammer or pick that he left in the cave. So you go and get it and give it back to him. Now, that hammer is picked up right? Then how could someone else just walk up, get the same quest and go and pick up the hammer again? There is no change in the world
        • by js3 (319268)
          too complicated. There are technical limitations to this, if you have "generated" missions, they'll start becoming very generic and boring. The alternative is haveing everyone doing the same mission. One moment marshal windor is in some jail somewhere asking me to free him, few hours later I'm trying to queue for bg and he walks in and threatens onyx. Of course I go back and he's still in jail, anyways it's just a game. One of the things that bothers me with wow is they're are too many generic, who gives a
          • The alternative is haveing everyone doing the same mission.

            Now scale that mission up. Turn it into a GM-instigated server-wide event that changes this particular server's world, depending on the way the players act. Take this concept so far that after a while the game world wildly varies between servers. Bing, you've got a world that is more dynamic than a generic MMORPG world by orders of magnitude. To be more specific, you get Atys [ryzom.com] (or at least what's planned for Atys).
      • Re:WoW (Score:2, Insightful)

        by moexu (555075)
        This was probably the biggest disappointment for me about WoW. I love traditional RPGs. I started WoW as a paladin. I prefer to play a character that's bound to do the right thing, and even more so if the right thing is valued higher than the lawful thing (something like Hero's Quest as opposed to NWN where they're the same). When I started doing quests as a paladin I quickly realized that there was only one way to finish the quest. There was no right way, or evil way, or clever way, or any other way. Just
      • by Jack9 (11421)
        I dont see any evidence of your viewpoint that WoW is not an MMORPG. I'd love to hear why you think that. I contend WoW is definitely an RPG. I contend Oblivion/Planescape/Nethack etc are not RPGs.

        MMORPGs usually include a number of competitive ladders. This is native to the current genre. The fact that you can completely fill a bar (reach top level, get the best item, etc) is an indicator of a true RPG... The ladder teaches mechanics, but it ends. Once you reach the top of a ladder you are FORCED to role p
        • Re:WoW (Score:2, Interesting)

          by nisim7 (767141)
          WoW is not an RPG because you do not play a role, which is the point of a role playing game. You play a character that is only distinct in the skills which it has. The world offers no element of roleplaying. The closest thing that comes to role playing in WoW is on the role playing servers, and that is only if the people get into it. If you want to see roleplaying in an online game, go play a few MUDs (achea, etc). You are forced to role play or else you will be kicked from the server. As for single player
        • Re:WoW (Score:2, Funny)

          I dont see any evidence of your viewpoint that WoW is not an MMORPG. I'd love to hear why you think that. I contend WoW is definitely an RPG. I contend Oblivion/Planescape/Nethack etc are not RPGs.

          Because you are insane.

          MMORPGs usually include a number of competitive ladders. This is native to the current genre. The fact that you can completely fill a bar (reach top level, get the best item, etc) is an indicator of a true RPG... The ladder teaches mechanics, but it ends. Once you reach the top of a ladder y
          • by Jack9 (11421)
            When I hit 60 with my rogue, I stopped playing because I was not interesting in raiding MC with 50 other people allthefuckingtime. The treadmill doesn't usually stop, it just gets steeper and steeper until only the 24/7 no-job morlocks have the time and motivation to climb it.

            If you can only find enjoyment in watching a bar fill, you will never enjoy an RPG. /restated
  • by Loibisch (964797) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:52PM (#15028902)
    And I thought this was about nobody making a good RPG settled in a Western environment. You know, like with six-shooters, silly hats and indians.

    Yee-haw, that would be fun :)
  • Western RPGs focus on the characters, and the world around them is a tool to let the player-as-character do and see more. Eastern RPGs focus on the events unfolding around the characters, and how the characters affect the world around them.

    So what you mean is, "Western RPGs focus on the characters' relating to the word by 'doing and seing more,' and Eastern RPGs focus on the world around the characters and how it is seen and is interacted with by the character."

    Wouldn't it be easier to say "Western RPGs ar

    • When I was working on Nicktoons Racing (GameBoy Advance) at Atari, my assistant and I rewrote the manual from a 12th grade reading level to a 6th grade reading level to match the target audience for the game. Boy, did we pissed off the documentation team. I got phone calls from just about everyone in management about how the QA department shouldn't be telling documentation (and, indirectly, marketing) how to write (or market) the product manual. So a 12th grade reading level manual got shipped with a kid's
    • I always thought that the biggest difference was that in Eastern RPGS all the stat numbers have 5 zeroes after them.

      I wonder if it has anything to do with the relative worth of the Yen compared to western currencies.
      • I wonder if it has anything to do with the relative worth of the Yen compared to western currencies.

        Gotta be.

        (I wonder if Italian video game scores have SIX or SEVEN zeroes?)

  • Oh you mean... Western company's making rpg games... I thought we were talking about Cowboys and Indians type of role playing game.

    Seriously, when I read the headline I was wondering what Oblivion had to do with Western 1800's era RPGs which I know were non-existant. Unless maybe there is a Oregon Trail mod out for oblivion? Hrm... Now that would be cool.
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:58PM (#15029512) Homepage Journal
    In Polar RPGs, from countries like Russia, Canada, Norway, and the like, oh and Australia and South Africa, you get richer art content, more humor, and insane pop songs that richochet in your head.

    Oh, and igloos and caribou.

    Plus penguins. You can never have enough penguins.
  • by Rydia (556444) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @04:03PM (#15029559)
    The problem with both is that they each only have one or the other essential components of a real RPG- character development and self-determination.

    Console (eastern is a stupid, overinclusive category) RPGs generally have a lot of the former- characters are vivid, plots are involved and very party-driven. Problems evolve with this because there's little self determination ("Whee! I get to chase sephiroth to YET ANOTHER RANDOM LOCATION!"), character development is often superficial due to the maturity of the audience ("I'm, like, totally not caring about this village I'm risking myself to save") and general lack of choices. There are some advantages! SO3 makes fantastic use of facial expressions and voice acting, for instance, because the game knows generally people's relationships, etc. SO2 lets you simply NOT TAKE annoying people along (Precis!!!).

    PC RPGs (again, Western is a stupid descriptor) we get "sandboxes." The advantages are that the player has more control over his characters, more options in interaction, and more opportunity to change outcomes. The downfall is that these sorts of abstractions lead to anemic central plotlines and shallow characters.

    However, these two styles are not incompatable! There is a fantastic middle ground that no one has discovered. In order to fuse the two, the game must have a large cast of characters, a strong central plot (but not be on rails), and a crapload of so-called "mini-quests," mostly character-based. When the player cannot control every aspect of his main character, at least give him the option of adding that "aspect" of that character by adding party members that conform. To facilitate this, a huge cast of optional party members allows the right level of customization. This large cast can still be used in general "main plot" development, however, by separating characters into groups (mage, scientist, cleric, etc), and write flexible (or modular) dialogue so that for purposes of the main plot, characters are interchangeable.

    Next, character development/sandbox. By putting in very character-specific, optional subplots/subquests, you allow these characters to grow without hindering the main plot with too much generalization. This also streamlines the game by omitting character development for characters not used by the player, or if they just don't feel like developing that character in that direction.

    All this allows you to separate characters from the central plot. Stories are generally about internal development of the cast (the modern novel concept), but often (Ulysses, for instance) the plot of the story is secondary to character development completely unrelated, on the surface, to the main action. In this way, you can have a strong but not entirely character-driven plot.

    All these allow the player to go through with as much or little freedom and character development as they choose, while maintaining the "epic" story required to make the story itself fulfilling. It's a good system, and I wish people in the industry were trying to explore this area rather than simply throwing their lots in with either the entirely linear or entirely nonlinear camp.
  • by BigZaphod (12942) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @04:10PM (#15029643) Homepage
    That word brought to mind images of a massive MMORPG filled with horses, pistols, and saloons. Imagine moving up the ranks by being a better outlaw or lawman. Having your skills at drawing your gun improve accuracy and speed as you gain experience. And after a hard day of fighting bandits, you kick it in the local tavern and hook up with some bar maids... ah yeah.. good times...
  • Now that I got your attention, this is offtopic but on the subject of RPG's.

    I remember a western RPG that had actually nude paperdolls of your avatar on your inventory screen. Purely for gameplay reasons of course. Not to oggle your female elves boobies.

    Just can't remember the game names. I always thought it was one of the Elder Scrolls series but that don't seem to be it.

    Anyone know the answer?

    Oh, and to be on topic. The western RPG has died and reborn so many times they put a revolving door on its tom

  • The east/west dichotomy is simply wrong.

    Certainly, Bethesda's earlier games fit the bill. You were a character in a completely static world, the only thing that changed was you. But that's Bethesda. (And, frankly, that's their *technology*. I think they would cheerfully make their world's dynamic if they didn't need to write the code and build the content.)

    In general, game design is a struggle between richness of content and quantity of content. Ideally you want both, but practically you tend to settle for
  • by svip (678490)
    I've played RPGs all my life. Pen & paper, computer RPGs back since the old SSI/Ultima and the early Final Fantasies games. I like 'both genres'. And I see so many closed minds when people discuss them.

    Face it, there's not such a huge difference between Oblivion, Baldur's Gate and Final Fantasy. There's a big focus on character development and their stories in the Final Fantasy games. So was there in Ultima 7. But the core of the gameplay is the same. You have a quest that takes you from A to B. Along t
  • Oblivion has taken huge strides toward meeting fans of MMOs halfway by building A.I. that really lives alongside the player and ensuring that the actual missions are easily pursued."

    I've played this a total of about 25 hours now, and I must say the answer is NO, it has not. The AI is horrible makes amateurish mistakes and isn't a stride towards anything good. I've seen countless enemies stand there and do nothing while I spend 2 minutes shooting fireballs at them. I've seen them ignore comrades being atta

  • Elder Scrolls (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Saxerman (253676) * on Thursday March 30, 2006 @05:41PM (#15030344) Homepage
    I suffered through Daggerfall and managed to enjoy it despite the bugs. One of the things I really enjoyed with the random quest generator which I found sorely lacking in Morrowind. Back when my friends and I were all playing Daggerfall, I found it highly enjoyable to trade stories about what our characters were doing. We could all come up with unique encounters that made for entertaining stories, even if it might have been little more than an exercise in adlib. I was on a quest to go into a dungeon and get (mummy wrap) when I encountered a (lich)! I (ran like hell back to town) and (bought a scroll of Spell Immunity) only to find (my weapon was useless against it!) So I reloaded and then (went back into town at night) to (steal an ebony blade) only to make it back and find the (lich) was stuck inside a wall which made it pretty easy to finish it off.

    Morrowind, of course, had entirely static quests and dungeons, and once you cleared them out, they stayed empty. While this made for more of a believable world, I found it detracted from the uniqueness of the encounters. We were all basically stuck in the same cookie cutter world, and while we might use different spells and equipment to accomplish it, we all basically ended up in the same place. Not to mention I found the main story line in Morrowind to be teh complete suck, and the 'ending' was even worse.

    How does Oblivion stack up in terms of random quests?

    • Re:Elder Scrolls (Score:4, Informative)

      by PepeGSay (847429) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @06:23PM (#15030622)
      So far I have found the random quests to be really entertaining. Most of the ones I have encountered have been fairly self contained (not taking you all over creation) and can be completed fairly quickly. Also, there seems to be alot of them. I have all kinds of rumors to follow up on that should lead to another quest. All in all, 4 horus or so into Oblivion I am enjoying the hell out of it. I am really enjoying the complete lack of chat, tells, and having to deal with anything that anyone other than me wants to do (like I do all the time in WoW).
  • by DeadboltX (751907) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @05:54PM (#15030422)
    Being able to do what you're "not supposed to do". Ever since the first TES game, Arena, I've loved this aspect and looked for it in other games.. If I wanted to, I could kill a guard and the game actually planned for that sort of thing.. I didn't instantly lose, the guard didn't kill me by looking at him, I was able to loot his body and the towns affection for me dropped... If I talked to a quest giver and realized that the quest was a sham (he was a guilty thief and was trying to frame someone else get me to kill them or something like that) I could kill him on the spot and achieve the goal without having to go through the story.. likewise I could kill a legitimate quest giver and never be able to recieve the award. I've often looked for that kind of aspect in all the games I play. I'll go to do something "I'm not supposed to" just because it seems like it would be fun, only to find that the developers had taken the extra step and planned for that sort of reaction and gave you a result you wern't expecting. Eastern RPGS don't have any room for that sort of open gameplay... you follow the story and if you don't then you're staring at a brick wall.
  • It's a little too open ended. I can't stand playing games where I know what's going to happen, or having to go down a static route to achieve my goal. However, Oblivion kind of just throws you in the role, without any training or walkthroughs, or DIRECTION. The weapon & armor system is confusing, the leveling is equally as confusing, and the training system leaves a bit to be desired.

    Yes, I'm one of 4 people who don't strongly love this game, but it does have some glaring problems.

    One of the wo
    • Actually I think the horse problem you are talking about is because you got on the wrong horse. You have to get on the white horse behind the black one. Otherwise you are just nicking Martin's horse.
  • Let's not also forget that Eastern games are all done in the "Anime" style of animation. I'm NOT dumping on Anime. It's cool.

    But the all Anime all the time in all videogames gets old after a while. The amount of games that do their graphics in non-anime are for the most part non-existant on console platforms. PC games are better but Anime style still dominates.

"The hands that help are better far than the lips that pray." -- Robert G. Ingersoll

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