The essential salts: What makes a roleplaying game?

Discussion in 'General Gaming and Hardware Forum' started by SomeDudeandHisDog, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. SomeDudeandHisDog

    SomeDudeandHisDog First time out of the vault

    Nov 18, 2017
    AoD's full talker routes are just optional, and unlike AoD the stats in Planescape would just contribute to more dialogue for TNO and not actual gameplay choice.
  2. lolpop109

    lolpop109 Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    Jul 14, 2016
    Just a little side point I'd like to make. So if a game using the player stats to determine e.g strength or barter to influence a dialogue chose. Then that can effect game-play if for example that option gave you more money or experience. So surely skill effecting dialogue are crucial to any RPG that has any sort of dialogue ?
  3. Risewild

    Risewild Venerable Relic of the Wastes
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    AoD full combat is also optional, and even with a full combat character, the player has a lot of text to read and a lot of dialogue options... How do you properly define a character without using dialogue? For example, you could have a game where your character would go around healing everyone that was wounded, but without dialogue how would we define ingame why he was doing it? We could make up a reason in our head for why, but then the game wouldn't be able to know the reason as well and wouldn't be able to adapt/react to it.

    You know that there are quite a few P&P RPGs (the truest Roleplaying games) that are mostly just story based so the players mostly just listen to the Storyteller and then interact with the world mostly via dialogue with each other and the game's characters? For example, The World of Darkness P&P (quite a well known and popular P&P) was mostly story based.

    In Planescape Torment you have your stats (that you pick) and you also pick a class (fighter, mage, thief) allowing further customization of that character. Your alignment change depending on what you do and say in the game (which is very RPG), so it shapes and defines your character even more than many other cRPGs.

    Also Planescape Torment is the cRPG with the most RPG dialogue from every single cRPG I ever played. Because it allows the player to actually have the dialogue options to "Roleplay". We have the same dialogue options but the game marks one of them with "Lie". So the player can choose if the character is being honest or not, while the game adapts to it and can even shape your character in some ways (starting to shift into a chaotic being).

    Even if the game was full text and without any graphics, it would still be a proper RPG.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
    • [Like] [Like] x 4
  4. Black Angel

    Black Angel Grand Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus

    Mar 21, 2016
    "Actual gameplay choice", you keep using that words, I don't think it means what you think it means. Haven't I mentioned to you that dialogue choices are as much a gameplay option/mechanic as combat and sneaking in RPGs?

    In AoD, it's not just a full-talker route. Even combat and subterfuge routes uses dialogue format to offer you stat/skill check options. The case I mentioned that you didn't even bother to address or doesn't seem to even consider, is exploring the Abyss. Every build, not just full-talker route, can explore the Abyss, but did you actually explore it using these 'actual gameplay choice' you keep referring to? No, you don't, because when exploring the Abyss AoD used the same format that PS:T used when offering the player its gameplay options: dialogue boxes. Another example that I will mention, in case you're just going to ignore it again, is infiltrating the palace in Teron. Did you actually, and I'd assume this is what you meant with choosing actual gameplay choice, use point-n'-clicking a la Fallout and Arcanum when infiltrating the palace? No, you don't, because once again, your gameplay options are presented in dialogue format, whether when choosing to go to the tower or back-room where the soldiers sleep, and then whether you sneak past that guard walking pass where you are or kill him with Critical Strike check. You don't do all of this by way of whatever it is you meant with 'actual gameplay choice', but presented in dialogue format, just like PS:T!

    Also, by your logic that a playthrough route is optional, then even PS:T speech playthrough are also optional because you're free to make a fighter-based brute and even thief-based character from the character creation screen. Yes, you don't get the 'full, intended experience' by choosing any kind of character other than speech-based on in PS:T, but no decent RPGs give you 'full, intended experience' (or whatever it is people meant with these days) making just about any kinds of character. You don't get 'full, intended experience' playing a dumbass in Fallout, nor you get one playing a (for example) magical Dwarf in Arcanum, but it's still possible to finish the game and see things you wouldn't normally see in a playthrough with them, and some people find it's fun(!) to play with these kinds of characters.
    • [Like] [Like] x 3
  5. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016
    I think roleplaying game is pretty much a wider category than people give you credit for. Pregenerated PCs doesn't eliminate the fact it's an RPG or Dungeons and Dragons at cons don't count.
    • [Like] [Like] x 2
  6. Risewild

    Risewild Venerable Relic of the Wastes
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    Can't agree more with this.
    In a Roleplaying game you're playing a character. It doesn't matter if it is pre-generated or has a backstory or you can't change anything about it at game start (or even in the entirety of the game). As long as that character is the one interacting with the world and using his strengths as weaknesses (Stats and Skills, like I already mentioned before), then it is as much as a RPG as one where you can make a character from scratch and decide everything about it.

    Having options and choices makes a RPG be deeper (at least for many RPG players), having enough options to make and play the character the way you want to is another thing that makes a RPG more interesting (again, for many players). But they are not requirements to categorize what is or not a RPG. They are just additional features that enrich the genre, not features that have to be in the game to make it a proper RPG.
    • [Like] [Like] x 1
  7. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016
    Honestly, as long as you have some input in the way characters interact then it's a roleplaying game.

  8. Half Life 2, EYE and Dark Messiah are all Source Engine FPS games. But only EYE and DM are (Action) RPGs, even themselves with their own variations like EYE being in the vein of Deus Ex and DM being on the Thief, and the would-be Dishonored, side. The first has linear stats and currency applied in every acquisition beyond the base XP and stats all influencing player expression in gameplay in some way, while the other has a more streamlined system of perk points and different ability trees, there are no shops and the only method of getting new points to spend is finding locations and completing missions.

    Half Life 2 has nothing like this, despite being unironically heralded by many for it supposedly being as much an "RPG" as any other. It doesn't have any systems applying any kind of progression, it doesn't have branching paths it doesn't have open dialogue, it doesn't have any customization besides which weapon you prefer using to dispatch normal enemies; which isn't really a choice in itself considering ammo is quite tight and you can carry all weapons at once. Only "decisions" taht raise any reaction from the game is goofing around a bit around the lines to sometimes hear some extra dialogue line, deciding to toss the soda can at the guard or the bin on the tutorial, and... hardly much else, really. And reactionary game design and attention to detail are indeed characterisitc of RPGs, but by no means exclusive or defining.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 3, 2018
    • [Like] [Like] x 4
  9. CerberusGate

    CerberusGate I should save my game in a whole new slot

    Jun 6, 2016
    Not entirely though. One trait of an RPG element being present in a game does not make said game into an RPG lest every first person shooter or RTS with token RPG elements be considered RPGs.

    It's more of a combination of choice & consequence, reactivity to the player in terms of character, skill & weaknesses and more that far more qualified people than me can elaborate on. RPGs with set player characters like The Witcher 3 can be counted as RPGs not just because of that input but because you do need to fully embrace the role of said character in those game (especially in TW3 where aside from input, you need to play as your role as a witcher (i.e acrobatic, capable of simple spells, reliant on potions & oils, ever-twisting & twirling etc.) especially on the higher difficulties lest you suffer for not sticking to the set role)
    • [Like] [Like] x 3
  10. Risewild

    Risewild Venerable Relic of the Wastes
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    If you generalize that much, any game with characters will be a RPG. For example Point & Click and Adventure games would be RPGs, they have plenty of characters and you talk and can do other actions on them and to the world (use items, give items, distract, lie to, etc).
    Some Tomb Raider games have dialogue and interaction between characters and objects/scenery, but they are still action-adventure games and not RPGs. Telltale games have interactions and dialogue options between characters, but they are not RPGs either.

    On a different note, we have RPGs that do not really have interactions between characters or anything else.
    For example Action RPGs usually do not allow more than a bit of dialogue (Gauntlet games have almost no dialogue or interactions between characters or pretty much anything else besides attack).
    jRPGs usually don't have real choices for how the characters interact with each other or with the world (they are usually very linear and the player can't really change much or anything in the story, it just follows it).
    Many tactical RPGs also do not offer character interactions where the player has much input either besides which enemy to attack, which item or magic to cast and which attack to use.

    If an RPG is a game that offers some input in the way characters interact, then we would be excluding many real RPGs from it's own category... While including many others that are definitly not RPGs.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  11. Kohno

    Kohno Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    Jul 30, 2009
    One should consider the relation between the terms roleplaying and game here. Roleplaying, in isolation, is something you can do anytime anywhere with or without a game. All you need is an incentive and imagination.

    Here, though, the terms are intertwined together wherein the game is to roleplay; meaning that the game has to provide and support the opportunities within its context wholesale so that even if you didn't consciously set out to "roleplay" the game makes you do it regardless (because that is the game). It doesn't mean that you only get to do a few characteristic dialog choices and then move on to play that "other" game within the product where you do all sorts of action through playing your controls (instead of your character - the role) and later return again to make those "characteristic" dialog choices; that you do a little bit of roleplaying here and there amidst an action game. It has to do it wholesale. Morrowind is an RPG, it's high and low points can be debated, but it is more of an RPG than - for example - Skyrim, or even New Vegas simply through its mechanical trappings (where the latter two much more clearly represent a "subgenre" at best).

    That's my opinion on it in a nutshell. I don't care about the "subgenres" either... "aRPG" and such... Their flaws and skewed mechanisms are far more apparent and make for lesser RPGs even if they were top of their line in what they do. That isn't to say they are necessarily bad games, New Vegas is much much better game than DAO, but DAO is more of an RPG - for example.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
    • [Like] [Like] x 3
  12. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Half-way Through My Half-life

    Nov 26, 2007
    The single most important aspect of an RPG (for me) when distilled to essentials... is that each character have their own strengths and weaknesses, and that the game takes it into account; supports a path accessible to them. A path tailored to (and tempered by) their personal limitations. This can be simple or complex, and applies to encounters of any kind (whether in combat, dialog, or entirely optional interactions with NPCs or inanimate props).

    In 'Eye of the Beholder' —a dungeoncrawler/action RPG, (with little more than Yes/No questions & exposition, sadly)...At the very start of the game there is writing etched on the wall of the first hallway. The player only gets what their characters can make of it. They can only truly read the text if they have a gnome in the party—because gnomes can recognize and understand Kobold runes. It was a nice touch.

    In Gothic 2, my relatively new character came across a locked access gate in a canal, and I had him try picking the lock... at which point he mused, "I know nothing of locks"; because he didn't.

    In Planescape, TNO (the PC) can get pickpocketed in town, and depending on stats, can stop the thief, attempt to catch the thief, or even choose to let the thief steal from him, but study the technique to improve his own. TNOs lacking in dexterity will not be able to catch the agile thief.

    Fallout was great. The PC shaped the events, and made an impact on the people and places they chose to affect; and those places affected them back.

    On the flipside of this principle is (of late) Bethesda. Their stated goal is not to hide anything from the player; and that seems to include paths to interaction. In Oblivion the Fighter PC can be the leader of the Mage guild. Players can ultimately pick any lock; and can reset their character's reputation every three game days. In FO3, the PC can shoot a BOS Paladin guard in the face, and then later return to ask (from the same guard) admittance to the Citadel.
    It's possible to get the other guards to kill the paladin; and of course the paladin gets up later and resumes his post like nothing ever happened; the PC's actions meant and changed —nothing.

    Bethesda makes sandboxes for virtual costume sims—not RPGs. Their intention seems to be player substitution of the PC; for them the PC would seem to be purely vestigial, and the real intention is for the player to just pick their own powers. The player can even compensate for the PC's lack of skill in combat.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
    • [Like] [Like] x 6