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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2012, 12:55 am 
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Can you really call a game that doesn't have, at its core, role playing an RPG? I mean, I know that eliminates basically every single player video game ever from the category, but... Some multi player stuff that isn't at a tabletop, sure, but probably not most MMORPGs...

...So, yeah, I don't think being an RPG is part of the requirements for being either a jRPG or a wRPG...

derboo wrote:
Robrecht wrote:
If 'Roguelike', back then, hadn't implied ASCII graphics, Diablo would have been marketed as a Roguelike, because that's what it is, in general terms.


I don't think it would have, since you can't actually market 'Roguelikes'. ;)


I think Dungeons of Dredmor might disagree with you there...

...Not to mention Shiren the Wanderer, and the rest of the Mystery Dungeon franchise, then there's the first Toejam and Earl...

(And, an edge case but there are certainly some who think it's a roguelike, The Binding of Isaac.)

...Or am I missing your point? :)

[Actually, didn't Diablo switch from turn based to real time to help facilitate multi player?]

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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2012, 2:39 am 
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Deadagent wrote:
Ikono wrote:
InabaTewi wrote:
They don't express superiority, they merely express an opinion about what in games constitutes an "RPG", and, since game genres ARE so poorly defined, I think it's perfectly legitimate for individuals to form their own opinions on the subject.

Exactly. I'm with Erickson on this one. I don't class FFXIII as an RPG, personally.


The thing about Ericksons comment is that he's definition leaves out ALOT of rpgs but matches perfectly with their own games, It leaves out Dragon Quest, Shin megamI tensei games (mostly anyway), Chrono trigger etc.

What he is doing here is basically saying is: "We make REAL RPG's and these people don't". Also the way he defines RPG's now matches any game with a character creation screen and a "moral choice" system, which is total bullshit. I think Bioware has let their fame get into their heads.

While you might say, "Does it matter if FFXIII is an RPG or not?" the answer to that is no, but thats not the point here, the point is he's talking out of his ass and trying to downplay other poeples work based on one game.


But... he doesn't downplay them.

Again, saying "We make REAL RPG's and these people don't" is not an inherently insulting statement, is not an inherently self-serving statement, and I'm really not sure it was even intended to be. Erickson seems to simply be dead-set on the RPG genre as an evolution of the tabletop system,. Something in which your character is open to lots of customization. A game in which one's own actions and choices are used to define the character, and the characters' personalities are not defined through the games own plot and cutscenes like in Final Fantasy. To say that, in your own opinion, Final Fantasy 13 is not an RPG because it doesn't fit these criteria, does not express any form of superiority whatsoever. To say that "they've let fame get to their heads" makes no sense in this context, because nothing in the statements in question suggest that anything has "gotten to their heads." The man simply stated a perfectly legitimate opinion that had nothing to do with "downplaying" anything or anything to do with the quality or depth of any particular game. People may not agree with it, but the only people who are stirring the controversy pot are these delusional people who somehow think that saying "This is an RPG" grants some kind of distinction or superiority over other games. Genre does not and cannot imply quality.

Why are people so obsessed with what "makes the RPG cut" and what doesn't? There's no "cut" to make, ESPECIALLY not with how the genres are defined now. The RPG genre IS so poorly defined that saying "anything with a character creation screen and a moral choice system is an RPG" could be construed as a pretty legitimate statement, and I would honestly see where he was coming from if that's what he meant, but I think you're reading way too much into a statement that was said spur of the moment. It's not like the guy wrote some in-depth essay about what defines an RPG. All he said was that Final Fantasy 13 is not one because it lacks certain things that, in his opinion, are required to be defined as an RPG. It's an arbitrary opinion, because it has nothing to do with the quality of any game or developer. I cannot stress the point enough. Saying "this is an RPG" or "this is not an RPG" or even something like "We make REAL RPGs and they don't" has absolutely nothing to do with anything even tangentially related to the quality of the games.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2012, 7:13 am 
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If we forcely put games into J-RPG and W-RPG genre, we can find these games:
(Though I agree that game genres are poorly defined)

Typical Japanese RPG games:

Sora no kiseki series (great story, kind fun battling system, like playing chess)
--Made me tearable even on my 3rd playthrough, like watching an anime, a movie like Tatanic. I think I gained something in heart by playing that game.

Ys series (great story, pretty fun realtime combat system, really chellenging)
--Somehow made me tearable as well (Japanese ppl all love to tell tearable stories, XD), but feels not as good as Sora no kiseki.

ZWEI series (kind same as Ys but I think younger people like it more)
--Feels like Ys series, entire story are filled with happy mood, no tear was produce while playing. ZWEI 1st is very good. ZWEI 2nd sucks.

Final Fantasy
--I almost forget this one, Im not a console players so Idk what to say, but every single one of the FF series contain a really good story, you don't say?


Typical Western RPG games:

Diablo series (really big and scary story, game was really fun and addictive, love the feeling when get a dark golden item)
--Not much to say about, it's the best game in the genre I have ever played. (I don't mean RPG but it's true that everybody kind put it in the first place in any RPG top list)

Might & Magic (I haven't play it a lot but I heard its full of puzzles)
--the most near one is Might&Magic 9 that sill feels like RPG, the M&M10 has become an First Person Action game, but M&M's story is pretty clear to tell, but it's not listed in the RPG catagory even though it is a "Role playing game".

The Elder Scroll Series
--nothing to say, srsly... this is what real 'RPG' means, play as a role, but the role is yourself and the core element of this series contained "Exploring" along with the Role play.

Fallout series
--well the first 2 in the series feel more like RPG. Fallout3 kind expand itself into a shooter game, but the core element of fallout3 is still RPG, with exploring as well.

Neverwinter Nights
--ok, the legend of Western RPG, but it's true that I didn't really understand the story behind it.

Mass Effect series
--The only one I played that I can clearly tell the story. it's also a very good action game btw. Different from M&M10, this has been listed in the RPG catagory.



So, I have a conclusion of, western RPG are trying to give themself something more than Role playing, and they don't really focus on the storyline. and for games like DEUS:EX, Dragon Age, All of those titles aren't only RPGs, their core elements are very much not the "story" but how many "Fun" they could deliever to the players. Every Western RPG games tend to have different core element from each other and only a few of them really did a good job on the story part. I can say that "story" or "Representing Story" in a western RPG is not always the core element. That's not wrong.

However, the J-RPGs, their focus are mostly about how to tell the story, how to bring players into the story. And at last in their games, we can not find any cool creative or exciting gameplays unless it's Final Fantasy. I don't even think FF has exciting gameplays what so ever... excitment only exists in realtime games.

Simplly:
Real J-RPG games are very rare if graphic novel and Mario are not included, but all of them contains and represent stories. Western RPGs are very common, but all of them are very different from each other been an RPG game, and most of them put more focus on the gameplay instead of the story.

So Japanese RPG games are focused on story with less gameplay, Western RPG games are focused on gameplay with less story telling.

It's still very tricky to say but, general idea is clear.

I don't really like to put Graphic novel into J-RPG Catagory, cuz those are just reading book with fancy CGs. and you got different ending about the story...no play, no game.

Pz: sorry for the long post. People's tastes are different, but I Love almost all the J-RPGs and also love Diablo, Skyrim, Fallout3, Two World, NeverwinterNights and Mass effect. However, I don't give a damn about Dragon Age = =, idk why but I just can't find a reason to like it.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2012, 9:14 am 
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And because Diablo was marketed as an RPG, it's six billion godawful (or sometimes surprisingly ok) clones and rip offs were marketed as such to. To the point in fact that such games ended up completely drowning out genuine RPGs like the Baldur's Gate series, Planescape: Torment and Fallout (The original two, not 3. 3's status as an RPG is debatable).

And so nowadays people think 'RPG' is the term for a game where you have a character with skills that levels up as they kill more stuff and gathers loot to become more powerful as the main thing that separates it from other games. But it's not.

I'm really not sure what to think of the idea that the definition for "RPG" should just be "game with an interactive story"; by that logic, Heavy Rain is more of an RPG than So is Katawa Shoujo, and so are interactive anime games that are just outright porn, no strings attached (as long as you get to go through the dating phase where you decide which girl to have sex with), while many games that a big chunk of the gaming public refers to as "RPGs" today are in fact merely "adventure games" or "dungeon crawlers". This is a big step to make and I'm not sure if the average Black Isle fan would like a gaming world where Planescape: Torment and Kawaii Desu Panty Adventure Panic!!!! 2 belong to the same genre; it would be a big step to make.

I also really don't like discussions like this because I always see stuff like
Rex wrote:
To me JRPG is almost like reading a book or watching a movie. Its very linear would be the correct word, and most Eastern game are linear in that sense.,

...and tend to get very wary of such statements. Even if Rex didn't mean it, while reading this post I got PRECISELY the feeling that Xander talked about in this thread, a sort of "man, screw JRPGs" tone that might not even be there. In this post alone I can't help but suspect a negative connotation to the whole "it's more like a movie" statement; you wouldn't really see someone say that Half-Life 2 is "like watching a movie" because it "railroads you through its story", because clearly it's not a game about leaving your mark on a narrative with your own self built character but shooting stuff while also enjoying a linear, pre-made story. I think this comes from the idea that a JRPG, as a result of its "RPG" tag, needs interactive storytelling to be good or else it's just a "shallow storyfight game", regardless of how deep or challenging the "fight" part might be. Even if this isn't what Rex was trying to say it's still a hot topic these days.

In fact, often both sides of this debate tend to seriously downplay the actual gameplay in JRPGs, and to illustrate this I'll bring up a personal anecdote involving a Japanese SRPG. I was playing the first Disgaea game once and I decided to try doing a no-grinding, no-item-wold run of the main story, or at least as close to that as I could possibly get. I tried to do everything I could to achieve this by not only building a varied party of characters each with their own very unique role but also formulating a specific strategy for each level, one that would ensure not just victory but the right characters being leveled up at the right time. I got a little stumped at one point and didn't know what strategy to go for so I decided to check on some Gamefaqs walkthroughs. The realization that came with reading all the online guides frankly left me completely dumbstruck: I WAS ACTUALLY MUCH, MUCH BETTER AT THIS GAME THAN ANY OF THE FAQ WRITERS. The walkthroughs contained lines such as "some grinding is required for this map", for maps that I had absolutely no trouble with. Some stages were listed as being "particularly hard", and those were the stages that I finished on my very first try while going "YAWN". I didn't even have to come up with some specific strategy; everything was just the result of me having put a certain amount of thought into which half-naked anime children I decided to make and level up.

To top it all off I went to tell my friend about this who is a huge Disgaea fan; he's played each game for over one hundred hours and is pretty much in love with the series. When I told him that I got as far as I did without grinding once, he thought I was lying.

And then it hit me: for a LOT of JRPG players, the gameplay of the genre is not about actually getting better at the game itself and mastering in mechanics, but simply WATCHING the ingame avatar strength pile up. Even when the game is a STRATEGY JRPG like Disgaea, if it allows you to grind your way across then people will do it anyway. Disgaea's reputation as a "grinding game" is so well engrained that even the English translators of the game use that term as a sort of self-aware acknowledgement of people's criticism; this is kind of silly given that it's a game that gives you a random dungeon that gets harder as you go down for leveling purposes, which is pretty much the opposite of grinding.

JRPGs are a really, really easy genre to target; it's not just the lack of freedom but also the way they embrace Japanese pop culture and unrealistic anime-esque design, something that often makes even the most progressive people whisper "fucking gay" under their breath and which has a very negative stigma attached to it, partly due to the trouble people have accepting new concepts and partly due to the bad name anime fandom has given such things, and also because, well... some of the games really ARE pretty weird. I'm not going to deny that Disgaea has a scantily clad 1200 year old demon girl in it who looks like a 12 year old girl and that many of the game's promotional art features said girl in very sexually suggestive poses because, well, all those things are true.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2012, 10:33 am 
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From my observation Western RPGs had a very heavy western tabletop influence, one which the setting/campaign has been created but the player has the freedom to create and play the character roles they want to; depending on what they do, they can greatly influence the story and the direction that the Dungeon Master/Game adjusts accordingly. In essence, gameplay of the player is one of the driving factors of the game's Narrative.

Most of the JRPGs Ive played and know about not only have the setting set in stone, the story and characters are created by the developer as well. The player takes the role of a major character in the story, where the player in some way experiences the struggles and triumphs through the story much like how they read a fantasy/scifi book.

One of the reasons I see JRPGs getting flack of late is that some recent games are taking that story-like medium into a Cinema/Anime direction, using that to drive the Narrative as much (or some people will argue more) than the gameplay.

An Example of this: As much as I enjoyed the gameplay of Kingdom Hearts 2, I couldn't but help feel that it was merely a filler the player plows through to get from Cut Scene to Cut Scene (where pretty much nearly all the story moments happened); even when I beat a boss it would transition to a Cut Scene where the boss actually dies/escapes/etc.

Mind you there are people who would love the story to death in JRPGs and would play it to "experience" it themselves. However I think because of the direction the developers went, there's a sizable hardcore gamer audience who rather have it that They be the ones that beat the game instead of "the group of very angsty story characters."

Another example:
    In early JRPG days, when fighting last boss in Chrono Trigger, you the player selects the Attack/Combo that strikes the killing move.
    In more Modern JRPG, going back to KH2, you "beat" the final boss, but the character Sora deals the finishing blow in the cutscene.
    In WRPG, Skyrim, you, playing your character, struck the killing blow and if you wanted you can ______ the corpse

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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2012, 12:15 pm 
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Last edited by busterbeam on March 4th, 2012, 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2012, 1:35 pm 
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Gizensha wrote:
derboo wrote:
I don't think it would have, since you can't actually market 'Roguelikes'. ;)


I think Dungeons of Dredmor might disagree with you there...

...Not to mention Shiren the Wanderer, and the rest of the Mystery Dungeon franchise, then there's the first Toejam and Earl...

(And, an edge case but there are certainly some who think it's a roguelike, The Binding of Isaac.)

...Or am I missing your point? :)


I do think you missed my point.
The box of Shiren the Wanderer for NDS says: "From the classic Japanese RPG Mystery Dungeon series (...)"

I'd be surprised if the marketing team for ToeJam & Earl had ever even heard the term "roguelike".

While those may be "roguelikes," they're certainly not marketed as "roguelikes". Dungeons of Dredmor is different because it's an indie game and can thus afford to aggressively target an extremely niche audience.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2012, 2:37 pm 
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I wonder whether ME3 will still fall on the WRPG side of the line. Since they've decided to cut the players ability to define his character quite dramatically.

It definitely seems that why I play ME games is different from why Bioware thinks people play ME games.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2012, 6:25 pm 
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Wulfram wrote:
I wonder whether ME3 will still fall on the WRPG side of the line. Since they've decided to cut the players ability to define his character quite dramatically.

It definitely seems that why I play ME games is different from why Bioware thinks people play ME games.



I would personally think that RPG does not mean leveling and customization at all. It means play a role in the story of a game. in this case, Mass effect, you play as Shephard and this is pretty much Role Playing already.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2012, 7:34 pm 
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Eye of the Beholder. Might and Magic. Rogue. Ishtar. Wizardry. Realms of Arkania. Albion.

These are, without doubt, western RPGs. They are classics, beloved ones (Realms of Arkania may only be a classic in Germany, not sure if it ever made an impact in the US). They are considered great games that I have played since I was a young girl in elementary school.

And all of them lack story decisions. Many of them are very linear. Often, you can take dungeons out of order, but the dungeons themselves are as linear as a dungeon in Final Fantasy - or in Skyrim (I have yet to find those legendary non-linear dungeons in skyrim. Maybe I haven't discovered them yet).

According to the discussion today that claims that JRPGs are not RPGs in any way, and are bad/inferior, these classic games are awful. To which I say nonsense.

Or let's look at it from the other angle.

Games like Etrian Odyssey III offer me a very explorative dungeon, in which I feel much more like an explorer than I ever did in Skyrim. Even the decisions are having a bigger effect. Etrian Odyssey has about five different choices, the outcome of which has a FAR bigger effect than the effect of all decisions combined in Dragon Age 2 has on the ending. Seriously.


We can even go further. Can you TRULY play a character in Skyrim and TRULY make decisions in quests? Usually NO. You cannot. Rarely you have 2 choices, but a third or even fourth option is never offered. Dragon Age 2 is the same. Choices usually lead to very little.

Compare this to Planescape Torment. Day and night. In truth, very few "western RPGs" offer more freedom than you have in a JRPG. Most do not. So it cannot be a west vs east thing. It never was.


The episode of extra credits is right. There definitely are two different strands of games, both of which got called RPG, because they have roots in tabletop RPGs.
But the distinction really never was west VS east, in my opinion. As the games above show, the distinction exists among western games.

We can go deeper: the distinction exists among tabletop rpgs. D&D is usually NOT played as a game of choices. dungeons are linear, and the plot usually has very few branches. Compare to White Wolf's World of Darkness, and the distinction is abudantly clear. And yet, D&D is still a RPG, even if you play it as a dungeon crawler - which many people (most, in my experience) do.

I've always thought that there's a group of games, the planescape torment, the ultimas, the ultima underworld, the dragon age origin.

And that there's a second group of games, the Tales, the Final Fantasies, the Star Oceans, the Ishtars, the Wizardries.

All of them have ties to tabletop RPGs. All of them are kinds of RPGs. And yet, even though Ishtar or Wizardry would DEFINITELY go into the "JRPG" category objectively, going by modern standards, no western fan would usually admit this.

Which is why I think it's not about gameplay and never was. This is a red herring. People cling to this, exaggerate these traits in japanese games, and completely forget that western games have the exact same traits. No, it's about the character design.

As several posts in this thread prove. "This is so gay".


See, I think this is the real reason for the divide. Male gamers in the west are a homophobic, misogynistic bunch on average. Any game forum, any lobby in a shooter, any MMORPG chat proves this. The harassment of female bioware employées proves this.
And this is a big reason for the hate against JRPGs. JRPGs do not have these comical, stereotypically muscle packed steroid hoggers you usually find in western RPGs. You probably want to object, call me mean for describing western characters like that. Issue is: I'm not mean. I'm just describing western characters with as much fairness as many western gamers describe "JRPG" character designs.

It's not an issue of realism - the western type isn't particularly realistic, and western designs for female characters prove over and over that realism is not the goal and never was the goal. If western games had realism in mind, there'd be no Asari strippers.
JRPGs just are unrealistic in a different way than western RPGs. And this is a way western gamers are not used to.

JRPGs usually have male characters not strictly following gender stereotypes. Which mightily offends many players. They are used to objectification only being done on female characters, not on male characters.

Western gamers are used to male characters being the way they want to be, and women the way they want their girlfriends to be. Japan is often different. JRPGs design their male protagonists the way women want their boyfriend to be, just like they design their female protagonists are designed for how men want girlfriends to be. This is an amount of objectification the western male gamer is usually not used to. He's fine shouting down women who complain about objectification, but the moment he feels it, he shrieks and rages with the usual insecurity of a homophobe facing a man that defies tradiitonal gender roles. "JRPGs" just get the brunt of it.

It's just easier to shriek "It's not an RPG! It's bad and evil!" than to admit that yes, it's a RPG, that there are many western games like it, and that you just don't like the style. This is why this group of gamer feels the need to bash JRPGs to this extent. It's completely unreasonable, and no other group of games faces such scorn by people that don't want to play it. It takes deeper issues to make people even care.


Would these people shriek and bash generic puzzle games they'd never play, anyway? Course not.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 4th, 2012, 12:27 am 
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Kaname wrote:
(Realms of Arkania may only be a classic in Germany, not sure if it ever made an impact in the US).


The second one was crowned RPG of the Year 1994 in US magazines. No one cared about the third.


Kaname wrote:
D&D is usually NOT played as a game of choices. dungeons are linear, and the plot usually has very few branches. Compare to White Wolf's World of Darkness, and the distinction is abudantly clear. And yet, D&D is still a RPG, even if you play it as a dungeon crawler - which many people (most, in my experience) do.


One could argue that D&D is not a very... *cough cough* good RPG. *cough cough*
(Which most World of Darkness players probably will)


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 4th, 2012, 12:40 am 
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Gameplay in JRPGs vs Gameplay in WRPGs: There's a huge distinction here, yes. In WRPGs, the combat tends to be the core of the gameplay in my experience of them, and tends to test player skill over character skill (Oblivion emphasises this to the point of levelling up wolves along with the player, even). JRPGs, meanwhile, mostly seem to put the gameplay on a strategic exercise of correctly equipping, and manipulating the growth, of characters - Final Fantasy VII's Materia system, IX's, skill equip and learning system, the frankly broken draw system in FFVIII are all fantastic examples of what I mean. They deemphasise the combat almost, but not quite, to the point where it becomes a scoring algorithm, though there's usually some amount of tactical and resource management element to it that you can influence beyond simply efficiently raising your team.

I think it's no coincidence that monster raising RPGs are almost exclusively JRPGs.

(Disgaea, Fire Emblem, etc, I'd describe as 'tactical' or 'strategic' rather than 'J' - A distinct subgenre from both Western and Japanese, even if I can't think of a Western example, similarly I'd never describe roguelikes as western RPGs [I'd say 'or RPGs in general' but there's at least as much roleplaying involved in them as tactical RPGs which I put RPG into the genre name for... Actually, that's a thought - Don't Disgaea, Fire Emblem, etc use a very similar structure as Real Time Strategy games? Bit of plot, maybe a choice or two, a battle, bit of plot, maybe a choice or two, a battle, and so on and so forth? There's just more continuity between the battles - Fire Emblem allows you to permanently lose characters if they die in combat, Disgaea allows you to do a lot of fiddling with characters between battles)

busterbeam wrote:
Quote:
In more Modern JRPG, going back to KH2, you "beat" the final boss, but the character Sora deals the finishing blow in the cutscene.

I never liked this. It's not even a JRPG problem, it happens in other games and it can get pretty annoying; it rid the boss battle of the satisfying feeling of delivering the last blow YOURSELF.

However I think a reason behind JRPGs' linearity might be the simple fact that Japanese games in general are just more linear, and Japanese players don't mind that. Japanese games like Super Mario Bros evolved from arcade games, and arcades were always about linear experiences that are simple and addictive.


'Always' may be a bit strong there. I believe one or two arcade games managed to sneak into [ur="http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1902/game_design_essentials_20_open_.php"]a list of 20 open world games[/url] despite the arcade medium /really/ not being suited for exploration based stuff.

busterbeam wrote:
Of course you could argue semantics; clearly few, if any truly amazing games are fully 'linear' in that there's only one way to play them that you need to perfectly memorize and that's that. Even the first Mario Bros allows you multiple ways to progress through the game. The type of linearity I'm speaking of is in terms of exploration or interactive storytelling, stuff that goes beyond "will I jump on all these goombas, or chuck fireballs at them from a safe distance?".


I presume short cuts, and side branches (Warp Zones and the underwater sections that allow you to bypass parts of the main area instead playing through something which offers a different sort of challenge, of some levels, in the case of Mario) also don't properly qualify as non-linear?

busterbeam wrote:
I think early platform games for PC and for consoles are a good parallel. Look at a Super Mario Bros. 3 level...
http://www.mariomayhem.com/downloads/ma ... -Area1.png

...and now at a Commander Keen level.
http://www.vgmaps.com/Atlas/PC/Commande ... evel08.png


Huh. My early gaming - microcomputer stuff from the UK -had, focusing exclusively on platforming - both extremely linear one screen per level stuff (Manic Miner probably being the canonical example), and stuff with large, sprawling designs that needed exploring, to a greater or lesser extent (Dizzy, Head over Heels, etc)

Exploration vs Linear has just never felt like a PC vs Console or West vs East distinction to me as a result of that.

derboo wrote:
I do think you missed my point.
The box of Shiren the Wanderer for NDS says: "From the classic Japanese RPG Mystery Dungeon series (...)"


...I'm honestly not sure that any Mystery Dungeon developers since the very early days know the origins of the franchise (Which seems to have been inspired directly by Rogue, iirc) - How was the SNES Shiren the Wanderer marketed, out of curiosity? The one that the NDS one is basically an enhanced remake of.

(As for D&D not being a very good RPG: At this point GURPS seems to handle what D&D is meant to be a specialist at - cinematic dungeon delving - better than D&D. Even if it required a genre specific series of titles in order to describe to GMs exactly what way to dial all the knobs and switches to generate a cinematic dungeon delving experience. Maybe 5e will rectify that problem... (And, yeah, when a specialist is being out-done by a generalist at what it's a specialist in, there's a problem))

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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 4th, 2012, 1:07 am 
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Gizensha wrote:
...I'm honestly not sure that any Mystery Dungeon developers since the very early days know the origins of the franchise (Which seems to have been inspired directly by Rogue, iirc) - How was the SNES Shiren the Wanderer marketed, out of curiosity? The one that the NDS one is basically an enhanced remake of.


That was only released in Japan, and I'm not sure the term "roguelike" even existed there. Chunsoft called the Fushigi no Dungeon SNES games "1000-times-play-RPG" (1000回遊べるRPG). The box text for Toruneko no Daibouken even goes to lengths to explain a dungeon crawler and how much it differs from the typical Dragon Quest-formula JRPGs with their "long stories and wide open fields," which says a lot about how dominant that was by 1993.

I don't even know if Japanese has ever had any example of naming a genre after a particular game like in English (be it Roguelike, Metroidvania or - maybe a bit less significantly - Adventure).


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 4th, 2012, 4:58 am 
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Ikono wrote:
OroCrimson wrote:
While some things I agree with and others I don't, I do believe EC and viewers alike take a look at this before Part 2 comes out next Wednesday.

I think he gives too much credit to how intermingled the development industry around the world is.
It has been a growing trend for many years, certainly. There are games which highlight my counterpoint though. Binary Domain, Vanquish, etc. trying to capture a Western audience and yet still feeling Eastern, for example.
So yes, Oblivion may have had a lot of influence on FFXIII-2, but the game will still feel Eastern for myriad reasons.
The entire foundations of the Japanese industry are rooted in their culture, what games sell over there, etc. Factors vastly different to their western equivalents. What sells over there doesn't always float over here, and vice versa. Same with games from other countries too, no matter how intermingled it all is. Regardless of whether the first RPG was developed by a foreigner, or if D&D is popular over there.
Long story short, each culture has definitely evolved its own trends and development patterns over the decades, due to the nature of certain regional industries being some-what self-contained on a development level.
How I approach designing a game and how another person approaches it might lead us to make two completely different games, even if we were working from the same core concepts - due to the differences in our backgrounds, our cultural heritage, our education, etc.

As to the other point; arguing whether visual novels are interactive fiction and share their heritage with point and click adventure games is arguing over a moot point. Nobody is denying this, really. That the big RPG developers began with interactive fiction isn't a point we need to linger on. They did, they also worked on other games.

The greater question is... are visual novels and interactive fiction from Japan the same as adventure games and interactive fiction from the West? Not at all.
Here, let me explain;
Do they share similar mechanics? Sure.
Does this make them the same as one another? Nope.
One does not inherently imply the other.

This is the same of WRPGs vs. JRPGs. They share a wide array of different mechanics, and often share a lot of similar mechanics and other elements. But are they the same? Nope.
There is always something distinctly Japanese about a JRPG, even if it tries to mimic the mechanics of a notable Western RPG, because there will always be that entire cultural background from the people, country and industry brought into any Japanese offering - and that background is vastly different to the Western world's.

But then this seems to be a conflation of the insistence that mechanics solely determine the genre. A flawed concept.
If you're determining that the mechanics alone determine the genre, then sure - all RPGs are RPGs, whether Western or Eastern. However, if you throw in that not only mechanics, but aesthetics, and a whole slew of other factors, determine the genre - you realise why WRPGs and JRPGs are not the same. They are definitely both RPGs, but they still require being two separate genres unto themselves.

So yes, some facts are correct - but I feel people are missing the bigger picture here.
Nobody is saying that JRPGs aren't RPGs. Nor is anyone trying to add fuel to that fire.
All that is being said is that on a fundamental level, the ways in which each culture approaches the design of their games is different and thus creates different games. (See also; The Myth of the Gun - for a similar argument about cultural influence.)

As an example; I feel that an Eastern developed version of Skyrim would have been a distinctly different game to its Western counterpart - regardless of whether it was mechanically identical to said Western counterpart.


Well, the RPG Fanatic took a look at this and this was his reply:
" "Eastern feel" is something subjective to him. As I said in the article, there's no uniform way that Japanese developers make computer RPGs. They don't get together in the cafeteria and decide, "This is how we will make games!". It's not even like that in certain companies; Square has always had several different brands of RPGs that focus on different types of mechanics. SaGa is their non-linear narrative dungeonc crawler brand, Mana is their action RPG brand, FF is their cinematic linear narrative dungeon crawler, etc

As for his last bit, cultures do not make games, people make games. And games like Final Fantasy use as much "Western" cultural ideas as they do Japanese ones. Square in particular has a fondness for Lovecraftian deities and several of their titles are hugely inspired by the philisophy of Nietzsche. I mean look at Xenogears. What cultural ideas does Xenogears have that is ANYTHING like Japanese culture? The whole thing is influenced by Gundam and Nietzsche-- and Gundam is heavily influenced by the science fiction genre, which was pionerred by "Western" authors.

The aesthetics of a work is irrelevent to the mechanics. Games do not need graphics to be games. And changing the graphical style doesn't change the way the game is played, as has been proven by the many remakes of videogames over the years where all that was changed was the graphics, the underlying systems not changing at all.

"I feel" is not a rational thought if those feelings are not based on limited knowledge about the subject you are critiquing. I would no more listen to a film critic who has only watched films produced in the past 10 years than I would listen to a videogame journalist who has only played RPGs made in the past 10 years. And that is the biggest problem with many people who think "JRPG" and "WRPG" are distinct styles; they have played very few games in the genre and have no idea of what games were made to get us to Skyrim and FF 13.

*I mean if they are based on limited knowledge. Opinions of critics must be based on having a breadth of knowledge about the topic, not a small about.
His entire argument is based on ASSUMPTIONS; he assumes because Japan has a different culture than the US, that game designers approach the topic differently. He ASSUMES that aesthetics are selected for cultural reasons when in fact the aesthetics may be due to limitations of the technology at that time, availability of artists or even something decided in a board room meeting based on the target audience of the game (my honest opinion is that "cartoony" graphics are more popular in JRPGs because most JRPGs are aimed at a younger audience than the SIGNIFICANTLY SMALLER "WRPG" industry is, because they are trying to capture adult audiences with their titles. Dragon Age 2 is simply not aimed at the same age group that Pokémon and Dragon Quest is, but Wizard 101 and Adventure Quest are aimed at that younger audience which is why they have the cartoony graphics -- it's actually called caricature art, but again, he would have no idea about it, he just thinks it is all "manga")

Aesthetics only contribution to a game is in helping set the mood. A horror movie can have many different kinds of aesthetics; they can be bright and sunny like Texas Chainsaw massacre, or dark, or black and white, or whatever. They can be avant garde. surrealism. They don't have to have a particular aesthetic to them and having that aesthetic doesn't make them a brand new genre of horror film. And the type of aesthetics a game has doesn't determine what "genre" of game it is either.

Plot elements determine narratives genres. Game mechanics determine game genres. Nothing else. Visual aesthetics and music must be are seperate from the game, as is the narrative. They should be individually recognized and not tried to be forced into some catch all term like "JRPG" and "WRPG", because a large portion of games made in either side of the globe do not match up to the stereotypes people have invented based on the games being sold at Gamestop.

Also his judgement that "what sells over there doesn't float over there" is based on nothing. Sales figures for Japanese games do not indicate that to be true. FF 13 sold 6.2 million copies by August 2011. http://release.square-enix.com/na/2011/09/20_01.html

Since FF 6, every FF game has sold pretty well in NA and is a strong brand. Pokémon is also one of the strongest RPG brands around. The idea they have some unique cultural design that doesn't fit with "Western" audiences is bullsh*t."


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 4th, 2012, 12:55 pm 
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Quote:

Huh. My early gaming - microcomputer stuff from the UK -had, focusing exclusively on platforming - both extremely linear one screen per level stuff (Manic Miner probably being the canonical example), and stuff with large, sprawling designs that needed exploring, to a greater or lesser extent (Dizzy, Head over Heels, etc)

Exploration vs Linear has just never felt like a PC vs Console or West vs East distinction to me as a result of that.

...okay, nevermind. I think there might still be SOME truth to my theory, but looking back at it it's filled with holes and statements that are outright untrue, so I'll put more thought into it before talking about this any further. Sorry for wasting your time.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 4th, 2012, 3:20 pm 
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Alot of right and wrong things are being said here.


1)jrpg and wrpg are not genres, even if we believe them to have distinctions. They are location definers. Nothing more.

2) real sub genres are action rpg, platforming rpg, shooting rpg, turn base rpg, strategy rpg ect

This is why disgaea is both a japanese rpg and a strategy rpg. One defines the location, the other defines the genre


If you go on any site that has a game database ie gamefaqs, ign, mobygames, ect you will never see the genre as anything other than the genres I described

3) Mass effect and kingdom hearts are the EXACT same genre. Action rpgs. Thats it


Both are cool with me, but people dont know the meanings of the terms they use sometimes


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 5th, 2012, 8:12 am 
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InabaTewi wrote:
I'm sorry, but that is absolutely ridiculous. Pokémon has deeper, more rich RPG mechanics than pretty much any Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, or Shin Megami Tensei game while still adapting all the SAME mechanics. If you say "if Pokémon makes the RPG cut... I don't want to live in that world", you're saying the same for Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Shin Megami Tensei, because all Pokémon does is build on the mechanics and reasons for playing of THOSE games and ADD immense amounts of depth to them.

And I'm not labelling things JRPGs just because they're "RPGs that come from Japan." Pokémon and Paper Mario have ALL the mechanics and reasons for playing them than any other thing we would call a JRPG.


No. No it doesn't. Pokémon has no RPG elements. It has a level-based progression system in which non-random, player driven factors influence, but that's not an RPG mechanic.

Levels in RPGs were added as a metric. A way of gauging and limiting the player's ability to interact with the world to move some of the GM's time in arbitration away from deciding who "Got shot first" in Cowboys and Indians. RPG mechanics are things like Renown, Faction (brought up in a previous Extra Credits episode), and the "Moral choice bar". Somethings Pokémon and most games claiming to be RPGs either don't have or don't use (Oblivion has a renown system, that doesn't do much of anything other than open up some quests). Hell the archetypal RPG, Dungeons and Dragons, it's RPG elements are fully designed, implemented and arbitrated by the GM (well for 3.5 and 4e at least), there are no hard and fast rules for them. But that's done so the GM can design, implement and arbitrate the RPG elements he wants or needs to use for his game. Something like Bliss Stage on the other hand, has RPG mechanics written into all of it's mechanics and totally breaks down if you try to remove the Roleplay from the game.

Role Playing Games are one of the few Genres that was actually defined by why the player seeks them out, not by it's mechanics. Leveling up isn't an RPG mechanic. It's a mechanic used in a lot of RPGs, but it was to serve a purpose only it could. Some other RPGs like Shadowrun and Bliss Stage, don't even have Levels, but they're probably more quintessential RPGs than D&D is. The ability to shape a character's personality and action and have the world respond to that- role play- that's why people sought out those games, and that's why most digital games claiming to be RPGs aren't. They don't provide that core interaction.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 5th, 2012, 9:23 am 
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I feel that although you can get down to what the original intention of what the letters "RPG" stood for, it doesn't change the fact that it's been used as a label for as many things as it has. And it would be hard as heck to fix or change that. That's like trying to get people to stop calling the Big Dipper a "constellation" when according to astronomy lingo it's an "asterism."

What you can do, however, is make new groups, be it defining entire new genres or going with a sub-genre setup. Because trying to "fix" a definition requires getting other people to change their definition to suit your own, which isn't how that works. As a dictionary goes, the definition of a word comes from how people use it. Granted, the original meaning is often noted, but a word is what people make of it, even if it makes it "wrong" compared to what it was intended for. After all, a word is nothing without what it represents, nothing but some scribbles. A word means what we make it mean.

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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 5th, 2012, 1:32 pm 
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Zeful wrote:
No. No it doesn't. Pokémon has no RPG elements. It has a level-based progression system in which non-random, player driven factors influence, but that's not an RPG mechanic.


If you want to limit your definition of RPG to games that allow Roleplaying, you're limiting yourself to multiplayer* games: Roleplay requires an audience, who happen to be the other players in the game. Obviously not every multiplayer game would be an RPG by that definition, however; MMOs for the most part fall flat on the roleplaying front, but MUSHes don't and Sleep Is Death works for it. That bridge has long since sailed, and sailed at about the time we decided to call computer games that had some mechanical, but no story telling, things in common with Dungeons and Dragons (stats and levels, basically) RPGs.

*Sort of. I've heard an arguement that it's possible to be one's own audience via your self-censor, but... Not sure I buy it, and certainly what you define as 'RPG mechanics' don't help facilitate it. They're just more sophisticated ways of implementing branching narratives than the CYOA or Fighting Fantasy approach of "If you wish to fight the dragon, turn to chapter 47; if you wish to run away, turn to chapter 241." - If they're implemented in a way that isn't just 'give access to special abilities/discounts in shops'

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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 5th, 2012, 2:54 pm 
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Gizensha wrote:
Roleplay requires an audience

That's baloney. Have you played Skyrim? Or any TES game? Nearly everyone who plays it eventually starts to role play. They build up a set of characteristics for the character they are playing, and they start sticking to them when making decisions. It could be as simple as picking your skills, but most people take it further. Naturally, to the large extent, it's a reflection of oneself, but so is any act, as any actor will tell you. We can not play a role that's not within us. What we do is accent certain sides of it, while hiding away some others, until we end up with a character. The more diverse your persona, the more unique characters you can play. And that's exactly what you end up doing in any good single player RPG.

Now, to some degree, this will be true of any game. Even playing Doom, you probably had some sort of a character in mind, and it was a different character from that of any other player or what developers had in mind at least in some ways. But the question is whether the game reinforces that or tries to constrain you within certain kind of character. A game that lets you pick who your character is and rolls with it is an RPG. A game that has your character written and only lets you fill in some minor blanks is not. And, of course, you have a whole range of things in between. This is particularly true of very story centered RPGs, like Mass Effect. Yes, it's definitely an RPG, but due to the way the story is built, you don't have a complete choice of character, but rather a choice between several archetypes. It's a game with weaker RPG emphasis, and so such games usually end up being called something-slash-RPG.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 5th, 2012, 4:31 pm 
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Gizensha wrote:
If you want to limit your definition of RPG to games that allow Roleplaying, you're limiting yourself to multiplayer* games: Roleplay requires an audience, who happen to be the other players in the game. Obviously not every multiplayer game would be an RPG by that definition, however; MMOs for the most part fall flat on the roleplaying front, but MUSHes don't and Sleep Is Death works for it. That bridge has long since sailed, and sailed at about the time we decided to call computer games that had some mechanical, but no story telling, things in common with Dungeons and Dragons (stats and levels, basically) RPGs.

*Sort of. I've heard an argument that it's possible to be one's own audience via your self-censor, but... Not sure I buy it, and certainly what you define as 'RPG mechanics' don't help facilitate it. They're just more sophisticated ways of implementing branching narratives than the CYOA or Fighting Fantasy approach of "If you wish to fight the dragon, turn to chapter 47; if you wish to run away, turn to chapter 241." - If they're implemented in a way that isn't just 'give access to special abilities/discounts in shops'

There is an audience in digital "RPG"s, your companions, NPCs of all kinds. Your decisions can have impacts and repercussions that they can interact with and respond to. If I were to limit my definition of RPG to games that facilitate roleplay (not allow, speaking as an RPG player, every game "allows" roleplay of a certain extent) I would contend that Mass Effect (and similar Bioware titles) is the only true digital RPG made in the last 10 years.

Defining a genre by it's mechanics is useless. The "FPS" Genre includes Minecraft for instance, because it is primarily played in a First Person perspective and has some shooting elements (the Bow and Fishing Rod (when used to grab mobs). If you instead call the genre "Shooter" where the main appeal is the shooting/gunplay, Minecraft is no longer included, because nobody plays it for the incidental shooting in the game. Games like Gradius, the Touhou Shumps are included however, because the reason they're played is for the shooting aspects, they just happen to be different kinds of shooters.

As for your mixed metaphor, that's not true, definitions are built based on use and accepted definitions. If gamers themselves redefined what an "RPG" is, the companies are now stuck with the new definition. Gamers have quite a bit of power over the game companies, we just aren't organized enough to leverage it, despite the organizational power of the internet, gamers collectively have no backbone.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 6th, 2012, 4:58 am 
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I bet this topic has definitely brought some people out of lurking. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't one of them.

From what I understand of the episode, genres can be better defined based on what needs they fulfill rather than mechanics. So let's work from that.

JRPGs generally come with an expectation that there are a lot more "sweet" and "tender" moments in the story. Whether the story is good or not is another matter entirely. Mass Effect is definitely more closer to what you expect from the emotions of the characters in JRPGs. Just not in the sweet tender moment as much.

WRPGs I don't know quite the need it fills. Maybe the "experimental" part of doing what you want in a fantasy/sci-fi setting? It may not change the story that much but you still get to play around a bit.

Just a thought.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 6th, 2012, 10:27 am 
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RemoteCrab131 wrote:
Wulfram wrote:
I wonder whether ME3 will still fall on the WRPG side of the line. Since they've decided to cut the players ability to define his character quite dramatically.

It definitely seems that why I play ME games is different from why Bioware thinks people play ME games.



I would personally think that RPG does not mean leveling and customization at all. It means play a role in the story of a game. in this case, Mass effect, you play as Shephard and this is pretty much Role Playing already.


That definition is way too vague. By that definition, almost every single computer game is an RPG.

Wolfenstein 3D is an RPG because you're playing BJ Somethingunpronounceable in his attempt to escape the castle and kill mecha-hitler.

Doom is an RPG because you're playing the space marine stopping hell from breaking out of Mars and invading Earth.

Half-Life is an RPG because you're playing through as Gordon Freeman.

See why that definition doesn't work? I think most everyone would agree that stat growth and the acquisition of increasingly more powerful equipment is a major hallmark of the RPG genre. I can't think of any game that people accept as being defined as an RPG that doesn't have this - Deus Ex, Diablo, all of the Infinity Engine games, all of the Fallout games, and both System Shock games all had this. To an extent, so do most JPRGs, however you were never given the option of deciding how to improve your stats in the Final Fantasy games I played - it was all decided for you.

In practical terms, I do agree with the assessment that JPRGs are more about forcing you to play a very specific role while most WRPGs are more about creating a game world for you to create and play your own character through, even if certain variables are set in stone by the developers.

I probably wouldn't have an issue with JRPGs if it wasn't for the seemingly obsessive fascination Japan has with making virtually every main playable character an androgynous boy or girl with really bad hair and questionable fashion choices.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 6th, 2012, 10:44 am 
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Zeful wrote:
InabaTewi wrote:
I'm sorry, but that is absolutely ridiculous. Pokémon has deeper, more rich RPG mechanics than pretty much any Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, or Shin Megami Tensei game while still adapting all the SAME mechanics. If you say "if Pokémon makes the RPG cut... I don't want to live in that world", you're saying the same for Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Shin Megami Tensei, because all Pokémon does is build on the mechanics and reasons for playing of THOSE games and ADD immense amounts of depth to them.

And I'm not labelling things JRPGs just because they're "RPGs that come from Japan." Pokémon and Paper Mario have ALL the mechanics and reasons for playing them than any other thing we would call a JRPG.


No. No it doesn't. Pokémon has no RPG elements. It has a level-based progression system in which non-random, player driven factors influence, but that's not an RPG mechanic.

Levels in RPGs were added as a metric. A way of gauging and limiting the player's ability to interact with the world to move some of the GM's time in arbitration away from deciding who "Got shot first" in Cowboys and Indians. RPG mechanics are things like Renown, Faction (brought up in a previous Extra Credits episode), and the "Moral choice bar". Somethings Pokémon and most games claiming to be RPGs either don't have or don't use (Oblivion has a renown system, that doesn't do much of anything other than open up some quests). Hell the archetypal RPG, Dungeons and Dragons, it's RPG elements are fully designed, implemented and arbitrated by the GM (well for 3.5 and 4e at least), there are no hard and fast rules for them. But that's done so the GM can design, implement and arbitrate the RPG elements he wants or needs to use for his game. Something like Bliss Stage on the other hand, has RPG mechanics written into all of it's mechanics and totally breaks down if you try to remove the Roleplay from the game.

Role Playing Games are one of the few Genres that was actually defined by why the player seeks them out, not by it's mechanics. Leveling up isn't an RPG mechanic. It's a mechanic used in a lot of RPGs, but it was to serve a purpose only it could. Some other RPGs like Shadowrun and Bliss Stage, don't even have Levels, but they're probably more quintessential RPGs than D&D is. The ability to shape a character's personality and action and have the world respond to that- role play- that's why people sought out those games, and that's why most digital games claiming to be RPGs aren't. They don't provide that core interaction.


So, you are saying that Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Persona/Shin Megami Tensei and many, many more games that we consider RPGs are not RPGs and have no RPG elements? Because that's pretty much what you just said. By saying "Pokémon has no RPG elements", you're saying that being based pretty much completely on definitive tabletop roleplaying game mechanics (also basically adding chess, poker and rock paper scissors on steroids, adding to the realism of the mechanics) and having complete control over the creation of your character through actions alone isn't enough to be considered an RPG.

You are saying that a game whose roleplaying narrative is defined wholly by the mechanics is not an RPG? There has never been a game with as deep roleplaying as Pokémon, because Pokémon is the only game where the game mechanics and the actions you choose alone shape your character and effect not only the game world, but the REAL world through competitive multiplayer? If so, your perception of "RPG" is warped to the point where "RPG"s cannot exist in the medium of video games.


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 Post subject: Re: Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)
PostPosted: March 6th, 2012, 3:30 pm 
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Because players are looking for different things when they play a game, and that a player's interests and desires surrounding a game can often change, there is no way this genre classification system can actually represent player desires. Is TF2 about teamwork? Is it about "running-and-gunning"? Is it a hat simulator? A griefing puzzle game? A pissing contest? (I like to play the Scout because I like running fast through the digital landscape. That is the core element of why I play TF2. Does that make it a running simulator?) It can be all of those things and more, depending on who plays it when and how. What it can't be is a game that operates under a different set of rules or mechanics: once it starts using other mechanics, it becomes a different game.

What James points out as an industry fault of conflating the techniques for building games with "the much more important question of why the player plays the game" is repeated in James conflating the "core elements" designers use to create unity in the elements of their games with "the much more important question of why the player plays the game." They are not the same thing. This issue of conflating designer choices with player choices runs rampant: it's apparent in the literature about design (Jesse Schell), in the literature about game studies (Bogost) and in the discourse about media effects and male privilege (Harris O'Malley). Games and why we play them certainly go beyond their mechanics the same way we like paintings for reasons other than the material of paint, but mechanics gives players and designers a middle-ground, a central aspect to games that they both share and interact with, the same way painting techniques provide a shared discourse between painters and patrons. Why we love art is such a complicated and nuanced area of inquiry that I won't be disappointed when James fails to deliver on his groundbreaking methodology.

Also, why are they (I mean James) so adverse to the "Japanese" part of JRPG? Genres can contain history, culture, and ideology. Petrarch isn't the only person who wrote Petrarchan sonnets, but it is useful to use that terminology because of Petrarch's historical significance to the form. The same could be said about the JRPG, how it remains a popular genre in Japan, how Japanese developers have made and continue to make the landmark examples, and how it might reflect a history of Japanese game development (their roots in "eroge" &c.). The fact that E.C. has such an aversion to "eroge" demonstrates how genre is not a neutral or objective set of classification: they have per-determined ideas about eroge, the people who develop them, and the people who play them that go beyond simple objective examination.


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