What makes an RPG? - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:15 PM
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Default What makes an RPG?

As far is genres go, the RPG is one of the hardest to define. I'd like to see how some of the people on these forums would attempt to do so.

In my opinion, RPGs are about story. If the gameplay is the primary focus and/or draw of the game, it isn't an RPG. My idea of an 'Is this an RPG?' test would be something like this:

1. Imagine the game with all dialogue and story stripped out. You got notes telling you what you needed to do next, but that was it for text.

2. Imagine the game converted to a visual novel. You get all the text, but your only gameplay is choosing which option to take from a list of choices.

3. If option 2 is closer to the experience of the original game, it's an RPG. If option 1 is closer it's not. If they're about even it's a hybrid RPG/something else.


If you've read this far, you've probably noticed my definition would snub some favorite 'RPGs' such as Demon's Souls and leave them searching for a new genre. Perhaps as Action-Adventure. Hoping to hear from some of the other RPG fanatics on this forum with their own view on the subject.
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:21 PM
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This starts wandering into some tricky territory because of the Adventure Game genre. Admittedly that genre is even MORE tied into plot and characters than even the RPG is because it lacks even the action--turn-based or otherwise--of RPGs. RPGs, because of the strong Dungeons & Dragons roots, usually have stats at the heart of their actual game mechanics, whereas adventure games have traditionally used inventory management combined with puzzle solving to define their gameplay, although both of them feature heavy amounts of story, though adventure games, I would say, rely on narrative to an even greater degree than RPGs.
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:23 PM
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For me, it's the same. I do however disagree with the "main story as an afterthought" mentality that some RPGs have, which is a criticism I've heard leveled at games like Fable. The game needs it's own identity, needs a universe that isn't just a skin. Something needs to be happening for the player to experience and remember that experience was from this game.
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:27 PM
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I always think of RPG's as virtual books on screen telling a tale. Where "real" gameplay mechanics take a back seat. They're there and functional at a minimum just to progress the story.

Usually there is some extent of unknown as well, in most traditional games you have a goal & you know what you have to do. Most RPG's really emulate life in that you really don't know what your real goal is ultimately until after midway through the journey, a journey of discovery.

RPG's to me are virtual novels. If you were to truly turn every game genre into a book let's say (like a straight conversion) what would each amount to? Short story? Poem? RPG's = Novels, that's initial thoughts.
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:31 PM
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to me, RPG's need inventories, character stats and a level system.
primary reasons why the zelda franchise it not a RPG.
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michealo View Post
to me, RPG's need inventories, character stats and a level system.
primary reasons why the zelda franchise it not a RPG.
This.

(although I don't consider borderlands an RPG)
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shoeless View Post
This starts wandering into some tricky territory because of the Adventure Game genre.
This is a good point. I haven't played many adventure games, and I can't think of any recent ones. The ones I have played, figuring out what went where was the focus of the game and there was little in the way of plot.

If the story truly were to focus of an Adventure game, yes it would pass my RPG test, and I wouldn't hesitate to consider it one. An 'Aventure RPG' as a sister sub-genre to Action RPG, Turn Based RPG, Strategy RPG, etc.

And as for requiring stats/leveling up to be an RPG, I'd like to point out the case of GrimGrimoire. I notice neither gamefaqs, nor wikipedia consider it an RPG, being a Real Time Strategy Game instead, but I disagree with that.

There is no leveling up, combat is played just like an RTS. However, the game revolves around a very strong plot. There is no multiplayer, no random maps you can just play. The RTS component is merely a facilitator for the story. The entire feel is just like your standard JRPG barring the issue of combat.

So I consider it an RPG and find it hard to argue otherwise.
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Old 12-10-2009, 02:03 PM
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Adventure games are not RPG's. They are similar but I would never call Quest for glory/police quest/any SCUMM game/ ect an RPG. They are all adventure games.

This genre is basically dead though.
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Old 12-10-2009, 02:17 PM
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I pretty much agree with michealo, but it's a very loose term. Diablo is nothing like Disgaea, though they both fall under the same umbrella.
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Old 12-10-2009, 02:47 PM
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A great RPG has a lot it needs to succeed.

1) Story. It needs to engross me to a point where I feel I can impact the world. I want to feel like I'm truly there.

2) Dialog and voice acting. I want my emotions to feel invested in the game. I know this was achieved when I would feel bad mistreating one of the NPCs. This is where Bioware always manages to succeed.

3) Stats, loot, and micro management of characters. There needs to be a sense of accomplishment, of progression and character growth.

4) Combat. The combat system needs depth yet it also must be manageable. There needs to be options.
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