Matt's Podcast #2: Absolutely Reticulous

Matt Barton's picture

Shoot me now.If this is Syndicate, shoot me now.It's a smorgasbord of topics this week as I take on the question of "What the hell happened to modern CRPGs?" Why is everything becoming a first-person shooter game? The excrement begins to fly with the upcoming Syndicate and X-Com games. I explain why you should avoid any game "with a great story" and why I couldn't care less about Skyrim and Diablo III. I also talk about my experiences with Baldur's Gate and what I'd really like to see in future CRPGs. Hint: it ain't better narratives.

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Chris Kennedy
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Joined: 08/31/2008
Arg

MATT!

I was seriously about to turn around and do a second podcast (within 24 hours of my first) and rant about this one. I just heard the news earlier today, myself.

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Matt Barton
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Temptation
Chris Kennedy wrote:

MATT!

I was seriously about to turn around and do a second podcast (within 24 hours of my first) and rant about this one. I just heard the news earlier today, myself.

Hehe, yeah the temptation is there...But I think limiting ourselves to one, maybe at most two per week from each host is probably best. Otherwise people might get overwhelmed.

I know Bill, Mark, and Rob must be feeling the podcasting itch... :)

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Erez (not verified)
Amen Brother

This second podcast has hit home...you are right on so many levels it is really depressing.

It is much more of a distraught hearing some of the guys (such as the one "whose name must not be uttered")
from Interplay - Interplay!!! INTERPLAY!!! - who was THE CRPG company of the past, talk about the legacy in such a way...
the betrayal runs deep it seems. The game industry is shooting itself in the leg time and time again, and its time for us folks,
the true crusaders of (the dark savant?) GAMEPLAY to pick up where our predecessors left off.

These abominations (the new Syndicate/Xcom, and many others you named), should be BLACKLISTED
from the face of the earth. We should take note never to speak their dark and unholy name ever again...

On a more positive note, it is nice to hear that Frayed Knights is going well, and they have even released a trailer yesterday -
I urged anyone who has love for the legacy of Wizardry/et al. to check it out.

Regards,
Erez

Chris Kennedy
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This one

I am loving this. I was pretty much going to give a nice little "hey everyone...uhh..I am going to rant now," and then go CRAZY.

...but you are doing that quite well, Matt. Ha!

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Rampant Coyote (not verified)
Possible Contradiction?

As a guy who's full of contradictions myself, I have to ask... how does this square up with the part of Dungeons & Desktops where you suggest that the only option available to modern single-player CRPGs (as MMORPGs do everything else so much better) is to focus on character and story? Are they merely following the only path available to them by becoming so story-focused? Or is it more the case of them maximizing this aspect at the expense of more traditional RPG gameplay?

The part about the "lost magic" between Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 and later games is an interesting one. I would LOVE to hear someone chime in on theories as to exactly what that was. It's been too long since I played the BG games, but I remember the deja vu feeling when playing KotOR that I was following the "Bioware formula." And in DA:O and Mass Effect, it was 10x worse. But I really can't put my finger on it and explain why things felt so "paint-by-numbers" with these later games that I didn't perceive in BG. Maybe it was because BG did it first, and thus felt "fresh?" Or are the newer games too 'refined' and 'safe' in their structure? Or something else?

Matt Barton
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Story
Rampant Coyote wrote:

As a guy who's full of contradictions myself, I have to ask... how does this square up with the part of Dungeons & Desktops where you suggest that the only option available to modern single-player CRPGs (as MMORPGs do everything else so much better) is to focus on character and story? Are they merely following the only path available to them by becoming so story-focused? Or is it more the case of them maximizing this aspect at the expense of more traditional RPG gameplay?

It's contradictory as I phrase it like that, I guess. I have something more complex in mind for how stories should work in games, something I was trying to hash out in my blog about better exposition in gaming. Ideally, the story of a game is not something that would be created beforehand and then experienced by the player, but rather something that would be created by the player as he engaged in certain in-game behaviors. As I see it, the key difficulty here is that most examples we have of dynamically generated stories are very abstract and formulaic, and generally not specific to any given contexts. Nevertheless, I see where P. Molyneux is going with his emotion wheel and such; he's at least trying to explore the possibilities. W. Wright is making good progress in a similar vein with his Sims.

I'm also thinking that the story should emerge as the players DO things in the game, not just displayed in cut scenes. DEHR is a good case in point. Instead of having the story about all the political turmoil over augments going on around the player and revealed by clumsy expository cut scenes and terminals and such, the designers could have built the game in such a way that the player's character visibly and emotionally became less and less attached as he literally became less human. He could have started off looking 100% human and by the end of the game looked like a robot, with a mechanical arm and so on.

Same thing with Bioshock. Instead of telling the story via cut scenes and all those ridiculous tape records lying everywhere, have the player build his own story out of decisions made and activities performed.

The big issue here is that we're still working with the limitations of engines designed for FPS. So shooting things with a reticule is the norm. We need to get away from that and allow for hundreds of different ways to interact with a game world. This is where I see the potential of something like Kinect, since you could (in theory, at least) allow for all kinds of interaction difficult to suggest with a gamepad or mouse/keyboard, such as turning a screw, hugging a character, making hand gestures, smiles and frowns, etc.

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Hiro Prinny
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Strategy RPG Games

I love the Disgaea series, I just bought a PS 3 so I could play the latest 2, last year I bought a PS 2 so I could play the first 2. Funny stories, lots of customizable characters and enough gameplay to keep me busy till Thanksgiving. I came late to this series after 1st playing the original Disgaea remake on the DS with hundreds of hours of fun.

There is a review of Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten here http://www.siliconera.com/2011/09/05/disgaea-4-playtest-tyrant-for-a-day...

I have a question as more of a console gamer, anything like this available for PC gaming. Funny with SRPG gameplay.

Thanks for the 2nd podcast even better then the first.

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
funny
Hiro Prinny wrote:

I love the Disgaea series, I just bought a PS 3 so I could play the latest 2, last year I bought a PS 2 so I could play the first 2. Funny stories, lots of customizable characters and enough gameplay to keep me busy till Thanksgiving. I came late to this series after 1st playing the original Disgaea remake on the DS with hundreds of hours of fun.

There is a review of Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten here http://www.siliconera.com/2011/09/05/disgaea-4-playtest-tyrant-for-a-day...

I have a question as more of a console gamer, anything like this available for PC gaming. Funny with SRPG gameplay.

Thanks for the 2nd podcast even better then the first.

Well as a fan of the Disgaea games myslef.. NO, the humour in that game is really asian and not many PC games swing that way. I might say the closest (and that is a VERY Lose term when comparing) might be Grotesque Tactics.. its a game that pokes fun at RPG's in general but has some fun gameplay. Alos osme real old scholl RPG ( snes days) Breath of Death or Cuthula Saves the world.. all funny.

Hiro Prinny
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Thanks, while I really

Thanks, while I really appreciate the humor of the series, the thing that hooks me is the grind fest 120+ hours of tactical gameplay. Between the story, Item World and now Char World I'm going to be playing this for a long time. I'll check out Grotesque Tactics.

slenkar (not verified)
rant

hey nice rant about all games becoming FPS's
I get the sense that the guy who asked the question was hoping for you to start ranting on that subject and you exceeded his expectations :).
Im actually making a game heavily inspired by X-Com myself.:)

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