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Back to games. It has been spoken by the prophet that the future of shooters is RPGs. What does that mean?

I was having this discussion with someone at the last IGDA meeting. I was talking about how soulless RPGs have become and that WoW had increased the problem of context-free grinding. Her response was that grinding is a fundamental aspect of RPGs. I took that as a challenge, and started listing some of my favorite RPGs where grinding was unnecessary. Her response was that those weren’t really RPGs. I guess if your definition of RPG is that it is a game with grinding then, sure, grinding is a fundamental aspect of RPGs.

I bring this up to point out that the definition of an RPG changes greatly from player to player. “RPG-elements” is even more loaded requiring an additional layer of abstraction. Madden has player attributes, leveling-up and so forth. Is it an RPG?

So what does it mean that RPGs are the future of shooters? More story/dialog? Less reliance of twitch mechanics? Experience points? Grinding? Classes? Special items? Blond androgynous heros?

Genres are collections of aesthetics and mechanics. I believe that the term “RPG” has become an empty vessel and no longer contains any sort of mapping to “role-playing” or even specific sets of mechanics.

3 thoughts on “Post Count Increased. Blogger Level Up!

  1. It’s interesting in contrast how Penny-Arcade wanted Tiger Woods to be more “like a shooter” because in Online play the player attributes completely determine who will win- skill of moving the controller around hardly factors into it, whereas on a shooter it’s all that matters.

    It’s similar in an RPG like WOW. Until you hit the level cap, the winner of a battle is pretty much directly determined by how much time you spend playing. So perhaps he’s saying that (as PA also suggested for Tiger), before a match you get a certain number of skill points that you can allocate as needed, emulating fully-leveled up characters? That could be cool.

    Or perhaps he’s talking about transitioning into MMOFPS instead of just adding RPG elements. It’s been tried before, but IMO the hard part would be establishing a good chain of command.

    Games like Team Fortress and Tribes have experimented with different classes and weapons loadouts (point allocations), and Tribes also tried to have a “commander” role to direct subordinates, but nobody used it because it didn’t feel very integrated into the action. Actually this makes me really want a Tribes MMOFPS, because it fits well with the huge bases/maps, unique loadouts/classes, destroy/repair, commander, vehicles, etc. Tribes was way ahead of its time.

  2. RPG elements could just mean that there’s a significant part of the gameplay that involves developing* your character.

    Adventure-Action games can fit this in easily, like Castlevania and Metroid. Even plain old platformers like Megaman have these character development milestones, though it’s less pronounced there.

    Shooters already have development in the form of weapons carried, and in more recent games like Quake 4 there are even upgrades for each weapon. MoH: Airborne Assault has weapons that level up if you use them a lot. Crysis has collectible add-ons for your weapons that you find throughout the levels, though you usually don’t keep anything for too long – each level is kind of an RPG on its own, but it doesn’t carry onto the next map.

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