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Why are Tactical RPG's niche?

11-18-2015, 05:52 AM
#1
Joined: Nov 2015
Posts: 6
Why are Tactical RPG's niche?

Hi. I'm new here and I someday would like to make a Tactical RPG game of my own. But to do that, I would like to understand why this genre is considered niche and falls under shoot em ups being a dying genre?

The first TRPG I've played is the battle of wesnoth. But that game became boring that I never cared about playing it again.

Then after I played Fire Emblem Awakening, not only did it make me love Fire Emblem so much but the game convinced me to love the genre.

I've played other games but for some reason, I always feel that Fire Emblem is the definitive series to get into this genre due to its charming characters. But I do admit that games like Valkyria Chronicles and Final Fantasy Tactics are good to a degree.
11-18-2015, 07:16 AM
#2
Joined: Jul 2013
Location: Europe, CET
Posts: 2,467
Welcome to TA, Artwark!

I don't know how shoot em ups creeped in there, could you explain?

I don't think it's a dying genre, just a small audience as always.
Tactical RPGs have their roots in tabletop wargames. And just like their grandparents, they never attracted an audience as large as more casual games.

Compare e.g. the table games Risk (tactics/strategy) and the "casual" German "Mensch aergere dich nicht". The latter sold 70 million copies since 1914, still going strong with ~100k sales/year.

Also, as most tactics games have their own complex ruleset, they are a lot harder to get into than e.g. Chess.

This always was a niche market, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

If you get around to making your own tactics game, give me a holler. Always on the lookout for good ones.

Last edited by Nullzone; 11-18-2015 at 09:07 AM.

11-18-2015, 07:47 AM
#3
Joined: Nov 2014
Location: Eos
Posts: 1,964
I think now they are actually becoming more popular than ever. The mobile audience is only growing too. For this genre don't release it until you have had some beta testers and make sure all bugs possible are cleared as the audience for these games are going to dissect it hard to make sure it's legit.
Fire emblem and FF Tactics are two I would look at for examples for sure! Also for mobile Record of Agarest War Zero is an amazing tactics game with only a few things that hold it back from being my fav mobile game. The game doesn't pick up where you left off when playing and we aren't talking about a 5 min play game more like 45 mins and so it sucks when you have something come up have to stop in the middle of a fight only to have to redo later and hope nothing else stops your fun. Good for an example though and that company makes more good tactics games too.

Last edited by Dailon80; 11-18-2015 at 07:53 AM.
11-18-2015, 11:20 AM
#4
Joined: Nov 2015
Posts: 6
The reason as to why I compared this to shoot em ups is because both of them are struggling to sell well and shoot em up is also a niche market unless you look on a franchise that claims otherwise.

And that's what upsets me. If it doesn't change sooner or later, then the genre will wear out eventually leaving a form of entertainment.
11-18-2015, 07:47 PM
#5
Joined: Jul 2013
Location: Ibaraki, Japan
Posts: 908
I think the genre's on an upswing saleswise recently and is in a better position than it's been in since the 90s. But it's relatively niche, always has been, probably always will be. The reason for that, I think, comes down to two things: complexity and length of the gameplay loop.

In general, every layer of complexity you add to a game will shave off X% of the potential audience. The trade-off is, hopefully, a higher level of engagement among the players you haven't lost. Almost everyone loves to have a lot of content to play through, but don't confuse this for complexity - games like GTA, Assassin's Creed, and even recent Bethesda releases aim for wide-but-thin gameplay. SRPGs are typically the opposite, going for narrow-but-deep gameplay. It makes the games feel like they're offering less, and makes them intimidating to outsiders. Some SRPGs combat this by de emphasizing elements of gameplay to make the gameplay appear to be more simple than it actually is. Fire Emblem: Awakening is a good example of this.

The other issue is the length of the gameplay loop. That is, how long does a player have to play to get a satisfying slice of the game. In FPSs this could be a wave of enemies or even a single tough one. In RPGs this is a single battle or even a stop in at a weapon shop. For SRPGs, this is all too often the duration of an entire battle, which will take from 10 minutes to an hour or more. Games with larger maps can break these down into waves (Fire Emblem does this), and if the presentation elements are there (though they usually aren't), a single enemy can provide some satisfaction. But by and large the satisfaction in SRPGs is about formulating a long plan and executing it, which is more time than most are willing to give a gameplay loop. Fire Emblem combats this by using exciting cinematics, breaking its maps into waves, mid-battle level-ups (watching the XP meter fill is even satisfying in a primal sort of way) and with mid-battle conversations that level up a relationship stat (in later FE games this also gives the player a post-battle reward to look forward to) which has immediate gameplay relevance.

There are other factors in play, like perceived difficulty and the often unimpressive production values, but I believe it largely comes down to those two things. Games like Fire Emblem and XCOM succeed by doing various things to mitigate those issues.
11-19-2015, 08:19 AM
#6
Joined: Jun 2014
Location: Brazil
Posts: 1,008
"Almost everyone loves to have a lot of content to play through, but don't confuse this for complexity"

I can relate to that. Complexity on games now is a turn off to me.

Life is already as complex as it is. lol
11-19-2015, 03:58 PM
#7
Joined: Nov 2015
Posts: 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Musgrave View Post
I think the genre's on an upswing saleswise recently and is in a better position than it's been in since the 90s. But it's relatively niche, always has been, probably always will be. The reason for that, I think, comes down to two things: complexity and length of the gameplay loop.

In general, every layer of complexity you add to a game will shave off X% of the potential audience. The trade-off is, hopefully, a higher level of engagement among the players you haven't lost. Almost everyone loves to have a lot of content to play through, but don't confuse this for complexity - games like GTA, Assassin's Creed, and even recent Bethesda releases aim for wide-but-thin gameplay. SRPGs are typically the opposite, going for narrow-but-deep gameplay. It makes the games feel like they're offering less, and makes them intimidating to outsiders. Some SRPGs combat this by de emphasizing elements of gameplay to make the gameplay appear to be more simple than it actually is. Fire Emblem: Awakening is a good example of this.

The other issue is the length of the gameplay loop. That is, how long does a player have to play to get a satisfying slice of the game. In FPSs this could be a wave of enemies or even a single tough one. In RPGs this is a single battle or even a stop in at a weapon shop. For SRPGs, this is all too often the duration of an entire battle, which will take from 10 minutes to an hour or more. Games with larger maps can break these down into waves (Fire Emblem does this), and if the presentation elements are there (though they usually aren't), a single enemy can provide some satisfaction. But by and large the satisfaction in SRPGs is about formulating a long plan and executing it, which is more time than most are willing to give a gameplay loop. Fire Emblem combats this by using exciting cinematics, breaking its maps into waves, mid-battle level-ups (watching the XP meter fill is even satisfying in a primal sort of way) and with mid-battle conversations that level up a relationship stat (in later FE games this also gives the player a post-battle reward to look forward to) which has immediate gameplay relevance.

There are other factors in play, like perceived difficulty and the often unimpressive production values, but I believe it largely comes down to those two things. Games like Fire Emblem and XCOM succeed by doing various things to mitigate those issues.
I get that SRPG's can be complex and yes I do admit that during gameplay in FFT, I couldn't understand the point of JP until later on in the game.

But that being said, when you see gamers that play Warcraft everywhere being that huge despite it being targeted towards hardcore audience, I fail to understand the complexity that SRPG's are that make it niche.
11-19-2015, 06:31 PM
#8
Joined: Jul 2013
Location: Ibaraki, Japan
Posts: 908
Warcraft isn't even remotely complex. That's a big part of why it suceeded in a way no MMO had before. It stripped away a lot of the cruft endemic to the genre and focused on making something a person could jump into immediately and enjoy. It also massively reduced the length of the typical MMO gameplay loop.

Most of the complexity Warcraft has is at the upper-level play where 95% of its playerbase will never see it. If you can pull off that kind of curve with an SRPG, you might be on to something.
11-20-2015, 10:07 AM
#9
Me like this thread. I also am wary of the "Niche" status TRPGs and SRPGs always had and will have.
Me cannot write less than 10001 pages on me favourite subject, prepare for the ultimate wall of text...

As someone in the know might already put together from my Username I really liked the Disgaea SRPGs on PS2...in the early 2000s there was a real drought on the genre thankfully this has been remedied somehow by now but the problem is more SRPGs doesn't relate to more GOOD SRPGs.

Quality:
In my Kemco Thread I just posted I will dive soon(tm) into the 2 Kemco Offerings which use the SPRG formuala. But with low expectations. Because Reasons - also Kemco's policy of quick'n dirty releases.
->Cheap&Churn for the quick buck = sustanibility?

Complexity:
I always liked the Disgaea series for their classes, art and music and of course because of the iconic over-the top humor. The presentation in this series is second to none (aside from the real FFT and Tactics Ogre. But the "oO over 9000!!!1!? Oo" shock I got from the first game when I realised the max level is 9999 which can be reset to lvl 1 (with benefits) to start over again seriously had worn of by the second game. they added more and more and even more stuff between the different releases but as I am in for the good laugh story/romp and not for the minmaxxing to defeat the ultra uber secret boss I could care less for that. So many of the complex and (maybe) well thought additions are totally irrelevant for me, and mybe many more. Hence my over 500 hours with Disgaea 1 (400ish on PS2 and 100ish on PSP) and barely 150 hours (again PS2 and PSP re-release).
->Complexity->Increasing Development Costs->Smaller margins->higher risks->good development practice?

Even so...I hope this series never dies...


Acessibility:
On portable I really liked the Fire Emblem Games. My love for the series was so strong that I bought a gamecube only for FE9 and subsequently a Wii just for FE10. My 3DS will probably also only see ten games alltogether but surely every FE out there released for it.
Many people liked the Fire Emblem Awakening with its broader approach to widen the audience (no forced perma deaths, more difficulty settings, fan service, breeding, etc) but I see it with a laughing and one crying eye. I liked the purist&hardcore approach of old much more but I am forced to be grateful for Awakening. Since of the not all to wellknown fact Awakening was planned as the Fire Emblem Swansong (much like the original Final Fantasy 1 was for Square 25ish years earlier) due to ailing sales of the newest releases. The GC and Wii versions did cost a lot to produce and were unfortunately too niche to bring in the big bucks. FE 11 and 12 on DS were re-wokred releases of FE 1 and 3... much cheaper in production but too little / too late to bring in the big money. Also the Advance Wars Series was quietly dying out, seeing the last version was only released in the west and never in Japan (!!)
Awakening was a financial success and saved the series from termination, which is good...but with all the (useless diluted) fancrap piled on the game it has lost much of its initial soul due to sacrificing much on the altar of accessibility and trying to break out the niche, at least in my book.
It is a rather disturbing development for grumpy conservative pessimist me.
->Accessibility and Fanservice just for the sake of breaking out of the "niche" = good for the future of the series?

Plain Stupidity:
Seeing as I already wrote a ton I should probably only post one word here....
SEGA
<_<......>_>......T_T
They had so many great games in the Genre (and others) and just fumble and fumble and continue to fumble on questionably marketing choices (or game directions) always shooting the horse they are riding on.
I really really hope their Valcyria Chronicles HD Remakefor PS4 takes off financially that they restart this great series once more
->Making great games but don't advertise them at all->cancel series because of too few bucks coming along->good idea?

I can fill pages with my semi-coherent babble/rants about my favourite genre but for starters I better stop here....

Last edited by Private Prinny; 11-20-2015 at 10:18 AM.
11-20-2015, 03:56 PM
#10
Joined: Nov 2015
Posts: 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Private Prinny View Post
Me like this thread. I also am wary of the "Niche" status TRPGs and SRPGs always had and will have.
Me cannot write less than 10001 pages on me favourite subject, prepare for the ultimate wall of text...

As someone in the know might already put together from my Username I really liked the Disgaea SRPGs on PS2...in the early 2000s there was a real drought on the genre thankfully this has been remedied somehow by now but the problem is more SRPGs doesn't relate to more GOOD SRPGs.

Quality:
In my Kemco Thread I just posted I will dive soon(tm) into the 2 Kemco Offerings which use the SPRG formuala. But with low expectations. Because Reasons - also Kemco's policy of quick'n dirty releases.
->Cheap&Churn for the quick buck = sustanibility?

Complexity:
I always liked the Disgaea series for their classes, art and music and of course because of the iconic over-the top humor. The presentation in this series is second to none (aside from the real FFT and Tactics Ogre. But the "oO over 9000!!!1!? Oo" shock I got from the first game when I realised the max level is 9999 which can be reset to lvl 1 (with benefits) to start over again seriously had worn of by the second game. they added more and more and even more stuff between the different releases but as I am in for the good laugh story/romp and not for the minmaxxing to defeat the ultra uber secret boss I could care less for that. So many of the complex and (maybe) well thought additions are totally irrelevant for me, and mybe many more. Hence my over 500 hours with Disgaea 1 (400ish on PS2 and 100ish on PSP) and barely 150 hours (again PS2 and PSP re-release).
->Complexity->Increasing Development Costs->Smaller margins->higher risks->good development practice?

Even so...I hope this series never dies...


Acessibility:
On portable I really liked the Fire Emblem Games. My love for the series was so strong that I bought a gamecube only for FE9 and subsequently a Wii just for FE10. My 3DS will probably also only see ten games alltogether but surely every FE out there released for it.
Many people liked the Fire Emblem Awakening with its broader approach to widen the audience (no forced perma deaths, more difficulty settings, fan service, breeding, etc) but I see it with a laughing and one crying eye. I liked the purist&hardcore approach of old much more but I am forced to be grateful for Awakening. Since of the not all to wellknown fact Awakening was planned as the Fire Emblem Swansong (much like the original Final Fantasy 1 was for Square 25ish years earlier) due to ailing sales of the newest releases. The GC and Wii versions did cost a lot to produce and were unfortunately too niche to bring in the big bucks. FE 11 and 12 on DS were re-wokred releases of FE 1 and 3... much cheaper in production but too little / too late to bring in the big money. Also the Advance Wars Series was quietly dying out, seeing the last version was only released in the west and never in Japan (!!)
Awakening was a financial success and saved the series from termination, which is good...but with all the (useless diluted) fancrap piled on the game it has lost much of its initial soul due to sacrificing much on the altar of accessibility and trying to break out the niche, at least in my book.
It is a rather disturbing development for grumpy conservative pessimist me.
->Accessibility and Fanservice just for the sake of breaking out of the "niche" = good for the future of the series?

Plain Stupidity:
Seeing as I already wrote a ton I should probably only post one word here....
SEGA
<_<......>_>......T_T
They had so many great games in the Genre (and others) and just fumble and fumble and continue to fumble on questionably marketing choices (or game directions) always shooting the horse they are riding on.
I really really hope their Valcyria Chronicles HD Remakefor PS4 takes off financially that they restart this great series once more
->Making great games but don't advertise them at all->cancel series because of too few bucks coming along->good idea?

I can fill pages with my semi-coherent babble/rants about my favourite genre but for starters I better stop here....
Advance Wars isn't TRPG. It falls under strategy since you don't do simulation or get level experience.

The problem with SEGA is they don't really know what to do at this point. They have lots of IPs that they don't make use of anymore, the great games they release are released on wrong platforms like VC2 on PSP instead of the DS and lastly, they don't know what fans want.

I wanted to try out Sakura Wars because it looks interesting. But I can't do that unless I use an emulator which I don't want to because I value hardwork....for the most part.

But I don't think Awakening is the worst game. If anything, I love it and I doubt that even if I played the other games before this that I would give it a second thought. I think the reason being is that since there's lack of feet in the game and since its mostly straight forward (Which is funny because even Final Fantasy Tactics is pretty much straight forward for the most part not to mention even Valkyria Chronicles.) it lacks a bit of variety but I love it and if it weren't for Awakening, FE would be done for losing potential audience that Intelligent Systems and Nintendo could possibly have.