Rants #1 | 2010-08-28

Games I'm playing at the moment:

I've been thinking about RPGs lately and what makes people want to play them. So far my experience with them has been pretty awful. I suppose I'll have to finish Final Fantasy X and X-2 before I can say anything, since those are popular, but I don't see what people like about them.

In my mind the things an RPG has to offer is Story and Character Development. From the start, this sounds like a genre of games I could really get into. The problem is, in every RPG I've ever played, the story seems totally worthless. In Pokemon there's almost no development, since the player doesn't have any voice. In fact the "characters" you get to know the best are your Pokemon (who don't have any serious impact on the story) and your Rivals, e.g. Barry or Gary or Blue or whatever you named him and Team Rocket/Galactic.

When you meet Team Galactic they have something to say and you listen. Then your character says nothing and you fight them and they lose. This ostensibly means that Team Galactic is wrong, but it doesn't say anything more. Now I know these games are for younger kids, but I still want more than what I'm given.

Then there are the Final Fantasies, which at least try to say something with their stories. When it comes to execution, however, the plot and dialogue is usually poorly written and the characters don't usually have their own voice (Balthier being the obvious execption).

Sidenote: Why are the main characters always stupid teenagers? Do they think that this best communicates with their target audience? Because that's stupid. No one wants to play as a kid. People don't like kids, even kids want to play as cool adults.

The battle system in RPGs should really say something about the character. If it doesn't, then all the pretty effects won't save it from being grueling and boring. I really liked the idea of the Gambit system in FF12. It's like saying "What would this character do in this situation?" It takes too long to get the gambits though, and they're not really in depth anyway.

I have hope for the Persona Series since I've been told of the significance of social links. I am wary of the battles though. I suppose that the real problem of RPGs is that the battling is not enjoyable. And it's not something you can breeze through because random encounters occur every five steps.

I'm going to make some wild proclamations.

Wild Proclamations

Do not force random encounters - allow for them if people feel like they need to level up, but the game should be able to be played without it. I most enjoyed FF8 when Nick and I junctioned all of the GFs to the characters and got the ability "Encounter Zero." This made it a game where the only battles were boss battles and because of the junctions we were strong enough to make it through. All of the battles were story battles which solved the problem of random encounters interrupting the flow of the story (and enraging me).

Make the battle system add something to the characters - If it's not adding anything to the story or characterization, then what is it there for?

Write a better story - This should go without saying, but let's say it anyway. You don't have anything to fall back on if your story sucks. So make it cool. Oh and try to stay away from cliches like The Twins Twist.

Give opportunity to go grindless - I'm okay with a game taking >70 hours. I mean, what else do I have to do? Consuming media is how I spend most of my day. But if you're going to make me invest that much time, make sure it's doing something useful. You can include grinding as an option if you lose a battle, but don't make it necessary.

That's all for now,

-Blaine