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Thread: Bioware Writer: JRPGs are not RPGs

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    Pretzel (Level 4) shopkins's Avatar
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    Default Bioware Writer: JRPGs are not RPGs

    Oh yeah. He said that shit. What do you think about it?

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    http://www.strategyinformer.com/news...13-isnt-an-rpg

    Talking with Strategy Informer about the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Old Republic, Daniel Erickson, Writing Director for Bioware said that Final Fantasy XIII isn't an RPG. This was in reply to a question about the main staple of The Old Republic being its story, and how the game might be affected without good game play to support it, much like Final Fantasy XIII was.

    "Well, before I address the main point I just want to take a slightly more controversial route: You can put a 'J' in front of it, but it's not an RPG. You don't make any choices, you don't create a character, you don't live your character... I don't know what those are - adventure games maybe? But they're not RPG's." said Erickson.

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    As someone who has been playing JRPGs since Dragon Warrior, has completed dozens of them, has enjoyed them immensely, who has more than a hundred easily in his collection but still drools at the pics of more accomplished collections posted here, and who still regularly buys new ones...

    I agree. They can be great games and a lot of fun but they're for the most part misnamed. JRPGs combine stats, visual novel storytelling and adventure elements in a wonderful stew, but somebody decades ago looked at them and saw superficial resemblances to Dungeons and Dragons and now we're stuck with the inaccurate name.

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    I don't mind the term RPG to describe a JRPG. Besides, you do have some sort of customization on the majority of them. It's doesn't have as deep of a customization that Western RPGs provide, but it's there.

    A lot of western based RPGs I can't really stand though and would rather have even the most straight forward non customizable JRPGs.

    Sacred 2 and Diablo 2 own though. My two favorite western RPGs.
    Last edited by kupomogli; 05-13-2010 at 02:12 PM.
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    He's trollin'

    Actor's play roles... Most of them have no say about the specifics of the character they play to the degree he draws. They do have some ability of expression, choice and control through their action in and portrayal of that role however. It's semantic quibbling.
    Last edited by Icarus Moonsight; 05-13-2010 at 02:40 PM.


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    I think he was pissed that the guy doing the interview likes FFXIII. His response was a polite way of saying "You are comparing us to Square? Fuck Square!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icarus Moonsight View Post
    He's trollin'

    Actor's play roles... Most of them have no say about the specifics of the character they play to the degree he draws. They do have some ability of expression, choice and control through their action in and portrayal of that role however. It's semantic quibbling.
    Disagree. As someone who started playing RPGs back in the days of 20 sided dice and written character sheets right through to the modern day, there is nothing about the Japanese style of "RPGs" that resembles a traditional RPGs. For me, a true RPG involves creating a character and having that character progress in ways that are determined by the player throughout the game in ways that are extremely detailed and customizable. Final Fantasy and other Japanese style games involve some limited customization as someone else pointed out, but ultimately, you are stuck playing through a pretty well established framework closely limited by the developer of the game. Having said that, there are many great Japanese "RPGs" but I must agree that they are more akin to adventure games than an RPG.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icarus Moonsight View Post
    It's semantic quibbling.
    Yeah, that's what I was thinking. I don't see the relevance of the magnitude of the complexity, sophistication, or customization of the characters or decision-making regarding whether the game is role-playing or not. If there is role-playing then the RPG title fits, doesn't matter how much or how little your role goes/can do. Why am I seeing Western RPGs being elected as the only type of game that earns the title? Because it's older? Because that's what we were used to before higher degrees of exposure to Eastern RPGs? Sounds like favoritism and old habits, not logic. If you want to refer specifically to the subgenre of Western RPGs then call them exactly what I just did instead of trying to throw everything else out of the genre illogically.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
    I think he was pissed that the guy doing the interview likes FFXIII. His response was a polite way of saying "You are comparing us to Square? Fuck Square!"
    Yeah, it's more like that, IMO.

    But I don't think that's possible to create specific titles for all kinds of RPGs based on how much they approach to "real"(?) RPGs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FoxNtd View Post
    Yeah, that's what I was thinking. I don't see the relevance of the magnitude of the complexity, sophistication, or customization of the characters or decision-making regarding whether the game is role-playing or not. If there is role-playing then the RPG title fits, doesn't matter how much or how little your role goes/can do. Why am I seeing Western RPGs being elected as the only type of game that earns the title? Because it's older? Because that's what we were used to before higher degrees of exposure to Eastern RPGs? Sounds like favoritism and old habits, not logic. If you want to refer specifically to the subgenre of Western RPGs then call them exactly what I just did instead of trying to throw everything else out of the genre illogically.
    I think there are such things as RPGs coming out of Japan. Certainly, games like Wizardry which continued to be developed in Japan long after the Western market moved on would be a good example. There are a number of RPGs available on Japanese computers from the 80s and 90s which were developed in Japan. I just agree that what Square and a number of the more prominent companies have been releasing on consoles are not RPGs, but rather adventure games more akin to the Lucasarts games or the King's Quest series with combat and some limited customization thrown in.

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    Not surprising. There have been D&D fans bitching about Japanese RPGs since the first Dragon Warrior. It's nothing but elitism. All this fussing over the term to begin with is dumb anyway since "role-playing game" is so vague that you can apply it to practically any game, so big whoop if it gets applied to something slightly different from what it was originally used for.

    The funny thing is that it's the other way around in my mind. When I see Western RPGs, they usually don't feel like "real" RPGs to me. Unlike the D&D followers who define an RPG by the level of customization and how open-ended the world is, I define RPGs by the gameplay just as I do with practically any other genre of games. And to me, RPG gameplay stems from the Dragon Warrior school of design. Most Western RPGs look like hack & slash action to me, making them more akin to Zelda-style adventure games in my mind. Granted, plenty of Japanese RPGs are getting more active-based gameplay, but they still have some level of structure to them.

    But that's just my perspective and I know it's pretty unconventional.

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    RPGs are a tough genre to define. I don't know that we actually have any RPG video games at all. Dragon Age: Origins is probably the closest thing but even that falls short of the base concept of pen & paper RPGs which is about creating a story as a character. JRPGs and western RPGs are not much more RPG-like than movies or choose your own adventure books even though you're meant to identify with those characters. Adventure Game is probably a more accurate title for all of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andred View Post
    RPGs are a tough genre to define. I don't know that we actually have any RPG video games at all. Dragon Age: Origins is probably the closest thing but even that falls short of the base concept of pen & paper RPGs which is about creating a story as a character. JRPGs and western RPGs are not much more RPG-like than movies or choose your own adventure books even though you're meant to identify with those characters. Adventure Game is probably a more accurate title for all of them.
    You might be right about that. Certainly, not on consoles anyway. I think there have been a number of computer games that have come much, much closer to traditional RPGs. MMOs certainly seem to get pretty close when well done.

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    Bioware games aren't RPGs either. They're action games. :P
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bojay1997 View Post
    I just agree that what Square and a number of the more prominent companies have been releasing on consoles are not RPGs, but rather adventure games more akin to the Lucasarts games or the King's Quest series with combat and some limited customization thrown in.
    I consider that an insult to actual adventure games, they don't have pointless grinding or combat like RPGs do(the crappier adventure games have arcade sequences as filler but they're pretty much separate from the rest of the game). The only thing they really have in common is that they're heavily focused on the story.

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    For me rpgs are dragon quest type games..not so action like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gameguy View Post
    I consider that an insult to actual adventure games, they don't have pointless grinding or combat like RPGs do(the crappier adventure games have arcade sequences as filler but they're pretty much separate from the rest of the game). The only thing they really have in common is that they're heavily focused on the story.
    Not only are they heavily focused on the story, but rather on a very specific narrative thread throughout the game which, although you can take some minor detours, you can't ever really avoid the major story points and in many cases, the lengthy cut scenes. As such, I don't think JRPGs differ much at all from traditional adventure games.

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    Technically....wouldn't ALL video games be RPGs then? If the purpose is to PLAY A ROLE and IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE CHARACTER, then that could easily be applied to an FPS just as much as an RPG or JRPG. Realistically, the only difference is that you don't create your own character...in SOME action games. But as for a game like an FPS, what you decide to do DIRECTLY affects the game and changes the outcome. Come around the wrong corner guns a'blazin' and you get obliterated.

    We've simply come to accept the terminology of "RPG" for a traditional JRPG and that term NOW has meaning of a story based game with menu driven battles and customizable character options. That's something we've all done as gamers and accepted for decades...it's part of gaming canon now, regardless of the origins of the terminology or whether or not some douche at Bioware things that the term is apt.

    Conceptually, I don't see the difference between sitting there rolling the dice and praying that the enemy doesn't get a natural 20 and having a computer grind the AI algorithm and decide that the enemy kills you. Instead of telling your DM (dungeon master for the uninitiated) that you come running around the corner and your DM tells you what happens, you instead input your thoughts as reactions on a controller. In ANY game YOU are in control of the character(s) in the game, therefore making ANY game with characters you control a role playing game.

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    ^ That. I can't believe I read the first post, started scrolling down, barely reading anything, waiting to post EXACTLY THOSE THOUGHTS. Thanks, Maxlords!

    And, actually, I think most action games nowadays are more "play a role" than many RPGs, in that you actually do get to choose your character, in many you change the looks entirely by choosing from preset hair, eyes, mouths, etc etc. How many games have a "create a character" feature. I mean, really, that would make most wrestling games RPGs.

    I think Bioware sucks, frankly, if you want another controversial opinion. I don't think they've released a single RPG, either. Games like Mass Effect or whatever are actually FPS games, not RPGs. Dumbass is just trying to justify releasing shitty FPS games over and over by calling them RPGs and making a big deal about it. And oh yeah GET BACK ON THE DAMN PC WHERE YOUR SHITTY GAMES BELONG!

    Sorry, had to rant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bojay1997 View Post
    Not only are they heavily focused on the story, but rather on a very specific narrative thread throughout the game which, although you can take some minor detours, you can't ever really avoid the major story points and in many cases, the lengthy cut scenes. As such, I don't think JRPGs differ much at all from traditional adventure games.
    I don't think many adventure game fans would agree with you.

    There are both linear adventure games and ones that are more freewheeling (such as The Last Express). This is also true of RPGs. That aspect doesn't define the genre unless you radically redefine everything.

    Adventure games have no combat, or some combat in some cases, but it's not the emphasis of the game. They never have a fleshed-out combat system with statistics, equipment, spells, experience, etc. Adventure games typically have no use for statistics such as attack power, defense, agility, HP, MP, and so on, or the raising of such. Adventure games rarely have boss fights. Adventure games are driven by puzzle-solving, exploration, character interaction (dialog), and/or item manipulation.

    Bottom line, RPG combat = RPG, IMO. Final Fantasy has more in common with Diablo than it does with Sam & Max.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    Not surprising. There have been D&D fans bitching about Japanese RPGs since the first Dragon Warrior. It's nothing but elitism. All this fussing over the term to begin with is dumb anyway since "role-playing game" is so vague that you can apply it to practically any game, so big whoop if it gets applied to something slightly different from what it was originally used for.

    The funny thing is that it's the other way around in my mind. When I see Western RPGs, they usually don't feel like "real" RPGs to me. Unlike the D&D followers who define an RPG by the level of customization and how open-ended the world is, I define RPGs by the gameplay just as I do with practically any other genre of games. And to me, RPG gameplay stems from the Dragon Warrior school of design. Most Western RPGs look like hack & slash action to me, making them more akin to Zelda-style adventure games in my mind. Granted, plenty of Japanese RPGs are getting more active-based gameplay, but they still have some level of structure to them.

    But that's just my perspective and I know it's pretty unconventional.
    I don't think it's elitism at all.

    You play the role in a role playing game. In most JRPGs, or other games like even Mario or Mega Man, you're just playing the character. Yes, there is a difference, a huge one. When you're role playing, you're making decisions, and you deal with the consequences of those, and I don't just mean statwise. How you reach major plot points and what happens because of your actions there affect the game, and that's something few JRPGs do. In Mario, for example, everything is laid out ahead of you, and you're just jumping your way through. There's no decision other than what power up you want to grab; you don't get an option to let Koopa do his thing... Mario has his goal, and you are just controlling him as he gets to it. Same with Cloud in FF7.

    They have the stats, but they ARE linear stories that you effectively walk through. That isn't necessarily bad, but I can see why he'd want to make the distinction. The best example of a JRPG I can think of that doesn't take the usual tack is Chrono Trigger, and even that is only sort of halfway there (mainly, it involves the Magus decision.) Trying to compare something like Final Fantasy 13 to a Bioware game or Starflight is comparing apples and oranges. Yeah, they're both fruit, but that's about it.
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