What changed in RPGs?


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Lutzie
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I used to play RPGs till the sun went down and then came back up. This is back in the SMS, MD, Saturn and PSOne era. And I'm talking J-RPGs here; Phantasy Star, Shining Force, Suikoden, Final Fantasy, Front Mission etc.

But since the days of PS2 and xbox the only RPGs I've played are western stuff; Diable, Dungeon Siege, Fable and Oblivion.

So what happened to the J-RPG era? What changed so much to cause me to loathe it so much?
#1 at 13:08:14 - 31/07/2007
ilmaestro
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I can only suggest that something changed in you as you got older. :p

On a more serious note, what RPGs have you tried playing recently? I was trying to think of an explanation along the lines of 'more homogeny within the leading RPG series these days, harder to look for stuff as diverse and gameplay focused as most of the ones you mentioned', but I simply don't think that's true.

Whilst the first two you mentioned don't have worthy sequels, the last three have all had great installments on the PS2.
#2 at 13:16:54 - 31/07/2007
Lutzie
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FFX and Disgaea. Hated both.
#3 at 13:17:44 - 31/07/2007
Stevas
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/Checks for Blerks

We really do put up with some shit when we're young, don't we?

FUCK YOU UBISOFT
#4 at 13:20:23 - 31/07/2007
Lutzie
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ilmaestro said:I can only suggest that something changed in you as you got older. :p

I'm not sure. As much as I hated FFX etc, I REALLY liked Golden Sun and Fire Emblem in GBA.

I wish there was a Golden Sun sequel on way. :(
#5 at 13:22:58 - 31/07/2007
Alastair
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Maybe the western RPGs have improved so that you like them now.
What western RPGs did you NOT play back in the day when you were playing all the JRPGs? Were there so many around?
#6 at 13:27:11 - 31/07/2007
ilmaestro
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FFX could well be the one that turned some people off the idea of PS2 era RPGs, with its linearity and not overly likeable lead. Usually the fact that Bender voices Waka gets it some brownie points, though. :p

Disgaea I'm surprised you disliked, and that makes me more think that your gaming tastes have changed without you noticing.

I'd try anything along the lines of Star Ocean 3, Dragon Quest VIII, Valkyrie Profile 2, Atelier Iris, Tales of the Abyss, Breath of Fire V, Digital Devil Saga, maybe FFXII although I'm learning that that is just as divisive as I first thought so maybe don't start with it.
#7 at 13:28:14 - 31/07/2007
ilmaestro
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Lutzie said:
ilmaestro said:I can only suggest that something changed in you as you got older. :p

I'm not sure. As much as I hated FFX etc, I REALLY liked Golden Sun and Fire Emblem in GBA.

I wish there was a Golden Sun sequel on way. :(

Well, yeah, because they're old-skool. Have you got Fire Emblem on the 'cube?
#8 at 13:29:14 - 31/07/2007
Lutzie
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Alastair said:Maybe the western RPGs have improved so that you like them now.
What western RPGs did you NOT play back in the day when you were playing all the JRPGs? Were there so many around?


I always wanted to pay NWN, but never got around to it. I played Morrowind, but hated it. I really didn't get on with D&D style D20 rules, and IME most Western RPGs tended to be that; D&D wrapped up in "action" style skins.

Never got on with Zelda either.

Ilm: Disgaea; I liked the premise, but the time/reward ratio seemed shockingly bad.
#9 at 13:30:30 - 31/07/2007
Lutzie
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ilmaestro said:
Well, yeah, because they're old-skool. Have you got Fire Emblem on the 'cube?


Nope, can't find it. Wouldn't mind that. Or FE on the Wii.
#10 at 13:31:02 - 31/07/2007
HairyArse
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I loved both Fire Emblem games on the GBA but haven't got into any other RPGs or Strategy RPGs on any system. I didn't actually like Fire Emblem on the cube, it just works perfectly as a handheld game and should stay that way.

I wonder how long till we get a DS Fire Emblem game?
#11 at 13:32:43 - 31/07/2007
Retroid
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Personally I blame Square and their cutscenegasms for CD-ROM.

Pull off a special move / summon on a SNES / western game and something nice-but-quick happens, you sit there watching it for a while on FF7 onwards.

I seriously went off them, but liked Fable & Oblivion, as examples. And KoTOR.
#12 at 13:33:03 - 31/07/2007
ilmaestro
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They're giving Fire Emblem a big push in Japan, still (games on the VC as well as the Wii), so I doubt a DS version is far behind.
#13 at 13:38:34 - 31/07/2007
NewYork
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What's so bad about an all-male main cast? It's not that outlandish.
#14 at 19:16:35 - 28/04/2015
nekotcha
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NewYork said:What's so bad about an all-male main cast? It's not that outlandish.


If games more commonly featured a cast equally balanced between the sexes I would agree with you but as games still mostly feature more men in major/leading roles than women, it's hard not to see it as being yet another example of male-centric design and writing.

My question would be - what is it about the plot of FFXV (which I assume you're referring to) that meant the four main characters all had to be men? It may be that Square Enix are exploring some very male-centric issues in the story, however I strongly suspect this isn't the case and instead it was a case of a group of mostly men deciding that what most gamers want to see are stories mostly about men.
#15 at 10:56:24 - 29/04/2015
NewYork
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But I equally dislike the idea of "if the plot doesn't require all males then it necessitates a mix".

Just in terms of random probability, if four people decided to save the world, it's not insane to think they might all be the same gender. If fifty people gathered to save the world and they were all men, you might need to explain that, because that doesn't conceivably happen by chance.

Example: Kane and Lynch, nobody minded they were both dudes. GTAV, nobody minded that they were all dudes. Because with numbers so low, it's fully conceivable from a "chances are" perspective. Chances are if you assemble 15 parties to save the world, eventually you're gonna hit that all-male party. In fact if the party was always mixed you'd start to wonder if someone was fudging the draw*.

Especially considering how gender-balanced FF games typically are, and considering the entire FFXIII series was headlined by a female, I just can't see SE having to answer for a blip like this, especially where no explanation is owed.


*edit: in fact see BBC panel shows for that exact feeling of gender fudging.
#16 at 02:54:38 - 30/04/2015
nekotcha
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You're completely correct that statistically speaking, if you pick a certain number of people at random out of all the people on the planet, there is a chance all of them will be men. It's less likely than getting fifty percent men and fifty percent women, but sure, it's something that entirely could happen.

The problem is that the process involved in picking those characters *isn't* random. It's the result of conscious decision-making by a group of developers making the game. And by choosing to create a game in which all the main characters are male, they are deliberately ignoring the other half of the population.

As I said, if games generally featured an even gender balance in terms of main characters this probably wouldn't even get noticed, but against the backdrop of an industry that has for a very long time focussed far more on stories about men than about women, it's hard not to see it as anything other than a result of a long-running bias rather than purely a decision made for storytelling purposes.

(Regarding BBC panel shows, I'm really not a believer in positive discrimination or quotas as a way of addressing inequality long-term but the fact is that for a very long time they have featured very few or no women at all. Now, there are definitely fewer women comics than there are male, but the panel shows don't even normally feature a number of women keeping with that ratio. And let's be honest, if young women see so few women comics on TV, is it really any surprise that more of them don't decide to go on and become comics themselves?)
#17 at 10:13:09 - 30/04/2015
peej
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Hmmm when it comes to FF games (or actually any Japanese game) I can guarantee that if they HAD included a female on the roster, it'd be the usual Japanese pneumatic wank-fantasty style female character rather than one female gamers could comfortably adopt and pin their colours to.
#18 at 16:50:16 - 30/04/2015
NewYork
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Right, it isn't random, which makes it all the more excusable that they're all male. It's a purposeful decision that doesn't require correction. It's not a mistake. I merely brought up probability to highlight that the all-male situation is within the realm of plot plausibility: it's not hard to believe.

I just don't buy that it's a problem SE are adding to. It's like wondering why Tarintino chose to ignore half the viewerbase with Reservoir Dogs by having no female leads. Heck it's insulting to either gender to suggest they can't relate to those from a different demographic.

And it strikes me as unfair that the only situation SE would be allowed to get away with this is if the game industry in general had equal female representation. Why should the state of the entertainment industry impinge on SE's decisions?

I can't even see it from a cynical perspective. Say there do exist players so rigid that they can only buy games in which they feel represented. Are we really saying SE is cynically omitting women from the main cast to leave that money on the table? That seems like the opposite of a focus-tested decision.

I won't pretend it's art I'm defending, but in almost any other medium, if an artist gave in to pressure to choose inclusion over artistic vision, that'd be a shame. And while FFXV may not be held to that artistic standard, I still hold that if the creator dreamt up an all-male buddy road trip, he should tell that tale and make excuses to nobody. Would the story be any different with a woman in there? Maybe not, but it's still not the story being proposed.

The same argument could be raised "Why not put a south Asian in there, do they all NEED to be ambiguously east Asian?" I think the answer is inevitably "not enough of our fanbase is South Asian to make it worthwhile" (note Hollywood's utter inability to put South Asians into ANY film), but that just exposes the quest for arbitrary gender representation for the numbers exercise that it is.
#19 at 18:21:57 - 30/04/2015
nekotcha
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Nobody is talking about forcing artists to change their vision - obviously, I would defend the right of any developer to make the game they want. But that doesn't mean I can't disagree with their choices.

When a developer makes a game they are, to a greater or lesser extent, expressing some sort of view of the world we live in. This is of course their right and I would absolutely defend their ability to express whatever view they want and populate their worlds with whatever mix of people they want.

The problem is that when an industry en masse constantly depicts a certain view of the world becomes less an artistic choice and simply an inherent bias. In the case of the games industry, although you deny there's a problem, I would argue there is still a strong bias towards making male characters the main and leading characters in games, and the message this sends is that men are more important than women.

And this isn't just a problem of representation and the message it sends to the audience, it's also about the diversity of gaming experiences that we get to play. Personally, I've played plenty of games featuring groups of men going off on adventures and about the friendships and relationships between them, and frankly it's a little boring at this point. Games can be about anything you can possibly imagine, so why are so many of them about the same sort of thing and the same sorts of people?

It's interesting you choose to point out the racial bias in cinema because I'd argue it also completely demonstrates my point - whilst I wouldn't want a situation where any one film maker is forced to have a certain mix of races in films, there's still clearly a problem of representation because millions of people don't see people like themselves in films, thus sending a message to them that they're less important than others.

The industry has a problem with representing a diverse range of people in games, and whilst SquareEnix has a right to make games with whichever characters they want, that doesn't mean they can't be criticised for failing to be part of the solution.
#20 at 10:44:11 - 01/05/2015
NewYork
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If you thought Squeenix had reached their maximum crazy naming with KINGDOM HEARTS 358/2 Days then you obviously haven't seen their latest title:

KINGDOM HEARTS Unchained χ

(pronounced as Unchained Key)
#21 at 10:06:32 - 17/06/2015

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