RPG Classics Mailbag
Okay, Ozzie, time to bring out the little guy.
WOO-HOO! Yeah! Let's go!!
Oh... er, THAT little guy...
What exactly did you think I meant, hmmm?
Er... uhh... nuthin'...
Uh-huh. Anyway, the entries for this question, while ardent, were still not all that many. Enough, though. (Er, my e-mail may have been down for a day or so, I'm not sure; if your e-mail got rebounded back, lemme know... er, and sorry.) (Sunday afternoon: I just got three more replies, but unfortunately the mailbag's already ready to go. Everyone, there's almost no chance of you getting in if you wait past Saturday evening. Send it in before then!) The question was about RPGs and their future relationships to interactive movies, and whether it's a good or bad thing. So without any further ado...
Huh? Who's that?
Itsa me, Mario!
Oh no...NOT HIM!*Add no further about the Plumber*
"Itsa..." I was asking for that, wasn't I? Whaddaya want?
Saysa here you wanna fixa Biga Reda Button!
Oh, that's right, it got broken two mailbags back. Ozzie, get the door.
Huh? Me? Why?
Because I'm comfortably seated and you're floating.
Er, no I'm not!
Well, you were a second ago. Come on, get moving, or people will accuse me of trying to just fill up space with no content.
Fine, fine, already... grumble grumble... not like there's a hell of a lot of content to begin with... mumble...
Wotcha! So wherea de problem?
This thingy here used to be a very useful button, but apparently it got broken due to overuse. Can't imagine why.
*drops toolbox* Let'sa see...
While he's taking a look, let's go to Joe's reply. He's a bit confused, but let's hear him out.
Hey guys! My first contribution to the Mailbag, hope you enjoy it.
In order to properly answer this question, we must first define what makes up an interactive movie. You will recall the difference of opinion about what people think makes an RPG and what doesn't. So, for me, an interactive movie is a series of actual filmed material which have been linked together with a story line. The game Under A Killing Moon was an interactive movie, it was a detective type game which came out about four or five years ago now.
The creation of the interactive movie happened shortly after the creation of the CD and it's widespread use on the PC. Software companies discovered they could suddenly store a huge amount of data on a relatively small space. This was a great leap, and it is the main reason games started getting flashier, no longer would Space Quest 7 require almost 10 3.5" Floppies to be in a box, now they could put hours of (what we would now call low-res) streaming video on discs. So, what better way to create a game, then to take a camera, film something, and put that on the CD, add a choice every couple of minutes, give it some neat sounding name, and call it a game?
The current games, using my definition, are not interactive movies, they have not been filmed and transferred onto a disc. I think the process of requiring the filming will negate the possibility of using an interactive movie for an RPG platform. A couple reasons:
1 The limitations of filming: It would be cost-prohibitive to create dragon puppets and film them in any believable fashion. If the film looks cheesy or fake, no one will buy the game. It would be too expensive to film all those great moves we are used to seeing, for example, in CT, watching Chrono leap 20 feet into the air, intercept Marle's thrown ice cube, and do a vertical sword thrust with it would be way too expensive to ever dream of filming.
Sigh... you haven't played any recent console RPGs at all, have you? FMV or Full-Motion Video is typically done not with actors and puppets, but with computer graphics technology. And the upcoming Final Fantasy movie is done completely with computer graphics technology. So it's a perfectly viable alternative to live acting. Even regular animation (as done on, say, Xenogears, Tales of Destiny, and yes, the PlayStation version of CT) makes good FMV. But pray continue.
2 The 'Branch' effect of most RPGs: All the interactive movies I've seen have a main plot line, and, unfortunately, you can't deviate from it, if you do, it always ends in a death scene. This is because the story was filmed in a linear fashion, you go from one problem to the next, you can't go back, and you can't skip ahead. Almost on one would play an RPG like that, if you miss something, or if there was a really hard area you couldn't get through at lower levels, players like the option of going back and finishing them. Players like to be able to explore the world map, every last corner if they can. However, an interactive movie wouldn't be able to let the player do that, the player would find their character being tossed around on smaller maps, either town or dungeon and the occasional travel, all the while being forced in the direction of the movie, and though the player may be able to slow that progress down, the player will almost never be able to stop the motion.
Oddly enough, the most engaging part of The Bouncer, Square's mostly-FMV PS2 offering, has been quoted as the fact that you can indeed change the story by entering into it playing as a different character. Whereas most RPGs have a single plot and advance you on it without deviation as well, the only difference being that you fight (frequently tedious) random battles in the middle.
This does not negate the possibility of moving games into a 3-D environment, however. As has already been seen with even some older games like Gabriel Knight 3, and King's Quest 8, 3-D worlds are here to stay.
And dare I mention Final Fantasy X, which is also in a 3D world? Xenogears was, too, and it worked great, although it was really pseudo-3D.
Those worlds are created, though. They are dreamt up in the authors' imagination, where they make them a reality. These are not interactive movies, they are similar, but they are not the same thing, and I would guess the future of RPGs will be somewhere amongst them. One must remember the advantage interactive movies once had, they could cheaply create a world with (again, at the time) good graphics. We now have the ability to do that without the filming process, as far back as Starcraft games have had excellent cut-scenes, and now the cut-scene graphics are moving into the playing field. I welcome them with open arms.
I dunno... take a game like Vagrant Story. While it's very engaging to play, the cutscenes are done in the game engine; while not as smooth as FMV, it still manages to look extremely impressive. And there are a lot of them, seamlessly integrated into the gameplay. In my opinion, that's probably the ideal game, allowing for lots of action/interaction, while still having great sequences to advance the story. And a 3D world is nowhere near the same as an interactive movie (I really didn't follow your logic there). Let's hear what...er... Stus, aka Alistair Jacklin, has to say.
The FMV should merely be a supplement to the RPG so not to fall in the trap of becoming an interactive movie. There were RPG's before the CD became mainstream with a capacity large enough for FMV's. Think about the SNES classics Lufia 2, Final Fantasy 6 , Tales of Phantasia, etc. None of them originally had FMV's yet people still emulate them today like myself. I certainly do not want to see FMV's get any more prolific than the modern final fantasies as this would detract from the game play, I mean in interactive movies there is little to do and you become bored increadibly easily . But don't get me wrong a limited amount of FMV's work well as incentives to play on and improve the game. So if a developer really wants to show off with FMV's why not go the whole hog like Squaresoft with Final Fantasy the movie? All or very little policy really.
So now an interactive movie is a trap. Interesting. I know many people think the 16-bit RPGs were the best of the best, but frankly, I don't see why they say that. Is it because people spent less on story and more on graphics? I don't believe it for a second; just because one or two games (FF6 and CT are usually quoted) were excellent doesn't mean every 16-bit game was. And the new games have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages. The FF movie, again, while showy, isn't a game at all. An interactive movie can be fun, especially something like the upcoming Shadow of Destiny, which lets you change what happens. I'm not talking about Dragon's Lair here; there's no point in any interactive movie if you just chug along it. There are always innovative ways of actually interacting with it. And it can be a lot of fun. It's not FF6, but it isn't meant to be. And for a completely opposite viewpoint, let's talk to Tyrant Despot.
Hi there, Cid! TD here again! ^__^ So tell me something, when Megaman X talks about Mentats, is that a gross misspelling od Mentos, or does it refer to those wierd guys suspended in liquid from Dune?
No you ignorant fool! It the BEST Drug in California in the late 2182! Of course, it beaten by Jet and Nuka-Cola..but..they are anoter story...(It from Fallout games, not Dune. :D )
Anyways, I guess your question boils down to where we draw the line between a game and an interactive movie. I actually feel that like 85% of the RPG's out there are just interactive movies (including ALL the FF games). I mean, lets define an RPG here. ROLE PLAYING GAME. How much ROLE PLAYING are you doing in a game that is already linear, and which already has characters with personalities you cannot change? I love my FF games, but they all have linear stories that the player cannot really change, and characters with pre-existing personalities (or NO personalities, like in FF1 and FF3j). And NO, having a few choices of what Squall can say to Rinoa doesn't count as role playing. Most RPG's are really just fun interactive movies.
If you go with this definition, most other "RPG"s out there fall under the category of interactive movie. I think that, barring MUDs, the video games that came closest to really being RPG's were the Ultima series. In those games, you had the ability to draw varied reactions from the people you talked to, you had the ability to steal and kill anyone you wanted, and you could irrevocably screw up the story if you did something wrong! Granted, it was harsh, but it made you make some tough decisions and not just go along with the script!
Really, no video game is a "true RPG". Even in the most flexible of games like Ultima, you don't have the power to CHANGE the story, just ruin it. Something like Dungeons and Dragons (which is paper and dice, no consoles) is a real RPG because you specifically create a characer with a distinct personality, and have them interact in a world where you are free to do anything you please. You could even join up with the villians if you so please! (Yeah, I know D&D sounds lame, but if any of you RPG buffs ever get a chance to play the paper and dice version, go for it. Real roleplaying is a lot of fun.)
Ok, so now that I've voiced my super-conservative opinion, do I think that interactive movie-style RPG's are a bad thing? No way! Not at all! In fact, this is why the story is so central to these games. The reason we all enjoyed our favorite RPG's so much was because it was many times better than seeing a movie! The stories were longer, the characters were more personal, and you got to participate in battles and exploring. I don't think its possible to bring "real" RPG style gaming to consoles, so this current trend of interactive movies suits me just fine.
I have three words for you. Star Ocean 2. Besides being a ton of fun to play, it let you actually change your characters' personalities, especially how they interact with the other seven characters in your party. Since three characters are controlled by AI in battle, it affects how they treat their comrades. And of course, that would change the ending. No other series has even attempted to do this, but it's done quite effectively here. I agree that "real" RPG-ing is probably limited to online games or pen-and-paper. Personally, though, I hated having to try to figure things out, screw up, and realize I had to start all over again; I enjoy having SOME structure.
Hmmm... I theenk I got it!
Well... what exactly does thisa do?
It's a secret. Try pressing it and see what happens.
*bink* *falls through a plot hole*
*yells down the hole* You call that fixed? The point is that the OTHER guy falls down, not the button-presser! If you think you're getting paid for this, forget it!
NOW I'm mad! *presses a big blue button*
Oh no... don't tell me... *gets crushed by a 10-Ton-Weight(tm)*
I have a whole panel of these things, remember? And I haven't even tried half of them out yet!
You'll be fine. Ahem. T.G. Flintedge will now thankfully serenade us with a non-musical number.
No song this week. Sorry everyone.
I am divised: In dissapointment that I won't blast greatly this week, or that I'm glade that I won't hear that piece of crap again.
What do I think about RPGs becoming more like interactive movies? Well, (takes a deep breath...)
BOOOOOOOO(gasp)OOOOOOOOOO(gasp)ooo... cough... Ahem. The best part of an RPG, nay, any game is it's interactivity. That's why games are so much fun, you can choose what your guy does. As an inteactive movie, your interaction is limited, so linearity will pretty much either be total or non-existent. Look back to the days of Final Fantasy 1 or 4, or hell, in this case, look back to FF9. They all had you deicde what you do to an extent. I mean, you didn't have to do the Cave with the Demon Wall if you knew the trick. You didn't need to get your ass kicked inside out and back 18 times by Ozma. Hell, you didn't even have to fight WarMech or get the Xcalbur. But I digress. With interactive movies, you're going to the cave, you're fighting Ozma, and damned if you don't get the Xcalbur. Especially look at some really non-linear games, like Romancing SaGa 3 (Appeasement always works. Remember WWII? Wait, it didn't work there...) Would that be a good interactive movie? Hell no! Get a DVD player for interactive movies (I refuse to type that one more time). You lazy bums, get some exercise. Then you'll be ready to play the game. The interactive game, that is. Today's games are good enough . Enough said.
Don't worry though, I'm getting a really big song ready, and I'll beat Lunaris to the punch by saying he has a realybig guns reday to.
*Groan*I can't wait...
The difference being that it's really tough to do the things you mention, whereas interactive movies, by and large, don't make you go that far. But think of all the things you don't have to do: sit through hours and hours of mindless tedium of random battles! Next up we have Adamant, who will now not kill me.
Lunaris, remind me what I do to people who call me "Ciddie"?
You don't do anything, it ALWAY me who blast them off with my rockets and my tanks and my Nuclear warheads......
Well, you ARE security... We'll just let him off with a BIG warning this time.
I'm Adamant, you remember me?
Er... nope, not really... is that a problem?
YOU DIDN'T POST MY LAST ENTRY, FOR HELL!
Before that, I would want to read my list of The Worlds most stupid persons.
And finally........Drumrolls please.......Number One, The Most Stupid Person On Earth is.......
BOGGLE! Neat-o! Anoter! Adventuers! Fan!
Seriously, this guy needs a brain check..
Do NOT Insulte Khrima! He the most stereotypical villan you can get! And dumb!....So..uh..go ahead after all..insulte him!
I am proud of NOT being an owner of a PSX, PSX2, PSONE or anything Sonish. Anyway, I am not a fan of FMVs, so releasing a game consisting mainy of FMVs is NOT a great idea in my opinion.
(listen Square, 3D RPGs suck ass, go back to the nice old RPG style, and release all FFs on Gameboy or Gameboy advance, is that idiot Yamaushi let's you.)
Duh, as I said, the whole idea sux, PERIOD!
3d is not the problem, you dummy. It that the makers can't exploit the good thing that could be used with 3d!
don't miss me to much, I'll be back in a week (if you post my entry)
(to make sure this is posted: CIDOLFAS TELLS YOU NOT TO SEND HIM ATTACHMENTS)
If this isn't posted, I will tell everyone to send you attachments. So there.
I'm eager to see that, foo'! Mr. L ain't happy by your sensless arguments!
Yeah, I love getting all these great and deep e-mails. For all those concerned, a) Adamant tells me the attachment thing was just a joke; b) I never respond positively to threats; if anything, chances are lessened that you'll get printed; c) I usually never print anything that has the sentence "3D RPGs suck ass" in it without giving any reasons. The only reason this got in is 'cause I have nothing else. (But speaking of Bob And George, I hope everyone's been checking it out lately, because it guest stars a certain familiar blue reploid...) Anyway, let's go on to someone who actually has something to say: i.e. Richard C. Walls.
In my eyes, I've never played RPGs for gameplay purposes. I've always seen them as graphical slightly-interactive books. In a way, interactive movies are the same thing, only with a greater amount of eye-candy. I do believe RPGs are going toward the interactive movie trend, but I feel it is a good thing. I mean, the visual effects tell so much of the character's emotion, and paint a greater picture than text. As long as the plot + character development (my primary ideals in an RPG) remain high-quality, I feel that the interactive movie movement can do no more than make RPGs a more fun and interesting experience for players. Although I have yet to see an RPG with as great plot elements as the golden age of 16-bit RPGs, the quality of the games hasn't been horrible, and the graphical revolutions have added a dimension to the games that I haven't found before. The moment when the quality of the RPGs diminish, however, I'll be persecuting RPG companies with my life to spend more time on plot, but that hasn't happened as of yet, nor am I sure if it ever will. None the less, I hope the interactive movie trend continues to enrich the RPG experience positively, for it is much nicer to look at than the origin of RPGs.
And again we have totally diametric views here. And both sides really make sense. This is fun. Our last entry is, oh no, LiteYear...
*Does his nifty gate thing, and appears in the middle of the Mailbag*
Hi all. So how was everyone's week?
Well, mine was absolutely perfect, for the fact that I am immune to the affects of song parodies, mainly because I haven't heard any of the songs that they are being related to. Nevertheless, I do enjoy going homicidal, especally if it allow me to inflict major pain on certain individuals by using torture methods that would not allowed to be disclosed on an F-rated mailbag. I could have done this before now, but I figured Lunaris would want in on this.
So, if you'll excuse us for a couple of minutes...
*Another gate appears, and both Lunaris and I step through it. The Gate remains open while electrical discharges, explosions, gunshots, and Lunaris' insane screams can be heard through it. After around 10 minutes of this, Lunaris and I step back through, and the gate shuts.*
Ah, that was refreshing. Been awhile since I've had that much fun. Unfortunely, T.G. wasn't home at the time, so to be safe, we had to destroy his computer along with every other computer within a 100-mile radius, and I didn't get to use any of my torture methods. *sigh* But since Cidolfas gets blamed for everything, he has to pay for all the damage we did.
Put it on my tab. Lunaris has racked up damages for about three small villages or Iceland, whichever comes first. Macc can lend me some money; he's got a big pile of it.
Now that my homicidal tendencies are quelled for the time being, I will continue on with the mailbag.
Now I hate to beat around a dead horse, but my first topic about the 2 lists I did. The 2 lists are 1 list, where the 1st list I did are number 1-10 on that list, and the second list is every everyone else would rate below the top ten. So, to clear things up, here are all you, ranked in order, starting from the least evil on the left, to and the most evil on the right.
Ozzie, Ultros, Giglamesh, Evil Cid, Macc, Ex-Death, Lunaris, Cid, and Dark Macc.
There, I hope that clears everything up once and for all.
Most definitely. You're a certified looney. Now it all makes sense. That's a joke, for all those who think irony means "having to do with iron".
Second, about that guy, Romeo Guildenstern. I like this guy. He could be my assassin/enforcer when I rule all. (Although he needs a little work in Video Game quotes) And if he really wants to be on my greatest evils list, his proclaimed ranking would be about 79. I'll need more time for a final assessment.
Since I don't own a Playstation, or Dreamcast, and the N64 only has 1 good RPG (Ogrebattle 64), most of this is speculation.
I don't like movie sequences very much, and from what I've seen in PSX RPG's, there is just too many of them. I think there should be about 4 or 5 video sequences in RPGs. One at the beginning, one for the ending, and one for every major plot change (Kefka's destruction of the world would deserve a video sequence, if FF6 was a PSX game). Also, in FF8, you basically had to wait 30 sec to a minute just to watch your GF come in and kill all the enemies. That is just way too long. I think that a regular enemy battle shouldn't take more than 30 sec/enemy. I do like long boss battles, but when 60% of that time is just watching the boss's (or yours) attacks, battles are just plain boring.
That's not an FMV, that's battle animation. And Square learned their lesson from this and truncated the length of summons in FF9. And frankly, I've yet to see a game that has more than 10 or so FMVs in it, most of which are, as you said, used at major story intervals. And I've played more PSX games than you have, at least that's what I gather from your ideas there. There's that argument out the window.
Now for the future of RPG's. What I honestly think is going to happen is that RPG's will continue to get more glitzy and flashy, and less attention is going to be focused on game play. Actually, I see that happening with all games, but only RPG's count here. Have you seen how easy RPG's are on these next generation systems? For example, in Goemon's Great Adventure, the games just shout out answers. It says in one place "You can use the Chain Pipe to hook these Star Blocks", or "You need a lv 2 weapon to smash this block. You can get lv 2 weapons on Mt. Fuji". As for what I want to be the future of RPG's, I think all 32-bit and above consoles should be destroyed, forcing all game companies to make RPG's for the SNES (or Genesis), and therefore havng game companies to actually have to make great games, for they'll be unable to hide crap ass games under graphics and movies. (I know I have at least one supporter, Megaman X)
Again, as anyone who's put any thought to it will agree, this makes no sense. Games have gotten more sophistocated, not less, in the 32-bit era. Goemon is hardly a mainstream RPG. Storylines have fleshed out, characters have become more human and believable, and several innovative games like the previously mentioned Vagrant Story and Star Ocean 2 are, if anything, far more fun than any 16-bit game I've ever played.
Unfortunely, I will be most likely unable to contribute next week. *starts hearing champange bottles pop open* Hey, there is still a chance. *widespread groans are heard* Aww, forget it.
*Does his gate thing, thinks that this is getting a little old, and disappears*
YES, it's getting old! Phew. Anyway. Next week's topic is slightly changed from one given by Megaman X. What, in your opinion, is the WORST RPG you've ever played, and what do you think could be done to improve it? And note: Anyone writing in that they would take out FMVs from a game or turn it into 16-bit will instantly get their e-mail deleted. And I mean that.
*calls from down the hole* You coulda make it into 64-bit!
See? Things like that get you plot holed. Your call is important to us, so please hang on the line and our qualified operators will be with your shortly.
Feh! I have nothing to say for now!..Or maby not? Well, for one..My Imperial Conflict empire is going great! I SHALL CONQUER THE UNIVERSE! MWHAHAHAH!*A Meteor fall on him*