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Old 04-24-2012, 08:54 PM
BirdieNZ BirdieNZ is offline
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Default The demise and doom of RPGs

On the lamentable state of games in which one plays a role
And the downfall thereof
And potential salvation


Infinity Blade, Inotia, Illusia, Zenonia, Destinia, Dead Space, World of Magic, Order & Chaos, Aralon: Sword and Shadow, Battleheart, Braveheart, Crimsonheart, Dungeon Hunter, the list goes on. One thing all these games have in common is the acronym RPG, or Role Playing Game. And some of these games have been highly praised as RPGs, some gaining 5/5 stars pr scoring very highly. But I've played the RPGs which have been deemed "the best" out of all the RPGs, and found that there was something lacking in almost all of them.

Roles.

More precisely, interesting roles.

How many of you remember that the main character of Infinity Blade II's name is Siris? What about the main character of Dead Space? Why did you leave your little village in Aralon?

I don't remember. Because I didn't care enough about the different characters, because there WAS no backstory, there was little to no character development, the overarching plot was shallow and predictable, the character had no real effect on the plot, there was no motivation behind what each of the characters did, et cetera. Not for just one of those RPGs but nearly ALL of them.

The first RPG I ever played on any device was The Elder Scrolls III : Morrowind. To this day, it stands out as one of the best RPGs in the history of RPGs. Perhaps that meant I set the bar too high.

The first RPG on iOS I ever played was Wild Frontier. So far, in terms of an interesting backstory, it's still one of the best RPGs on iOS. It wasn't great otherwise, but it had a story and some basic character development and a backstory and was quite interesting. But I'm not a huge fan of the graphical style and top down playstyle; I wanted something more Western.

So the next RPG I tried was Pocket Legends. Reviews said it was one of the top 3 MMORPGs! It must have an amazing story, considering the graphics don't look that great!

Nope. I don't recall...well...any story at all. It's possible there was one. Maybe my memory's really bad. But it can't have been much of one. I can remember Morrowind's story quite well, I can remember Wild Frontier's story to a certain extent. Pocket Legends seemed to be about grinding. And not much else.

OH WELL, I figured, there surely must be some good RPGs out there SOMEWHERE. After all, a game on the scale of Pocket Legends is certainly full of potential for good story; I can't blame it on the limited device.

Next up: Yslandia MMORPG.
Didn't get very far because the gameplay disgusted me. Maybe the game's become better, if someone could let me know then I might try it out.

Then I found Order & Chaos. I could see it was a WoW clone, but hey, WoW had characterization and story, and I never played WoW so maybe this would be fun! I bought it, downloaded a rather large game (which made me excited for what it had to offer), and started playing. Gameplay wasn't toooo bad, although the actual fighting didn't really take any skill. And it seemed like it might have a storyline...until I finished that quest.

...

So many levels later, after joining a clan and running through much of the world I realized that the game was comprised of small quests and slightly larger quests. There was no main plot, no main quest as such, just little uninteresting quests to give you experience for the next level. It was the most bonedry excuse for an RPG on that scale that I've ever seen. The only thing that took me through it for that long was being part of a clan.

OK THEN, iOS MMORPGs officially suck. But that single player RPG, that wasn't too bad. Let's try another one:

Dungeon Hunter 2. Horrible gameplay, horrible story, no characterization, no thank you.

And then I found it, the game I had been looking for: Aralon: Sword and Shadow! A Western RPG, decent graphics, it looked like the Morrowind I grew up with. Surely this would finally be the RPG I've been looking for! Yeah...no. If it was a proof of concept for how an iOS device can handle a largish world then it succeeded...but it brands itself as an RPG. Not much role playing going on there, other than grinding through some stuff, leveling up some skills, and moving on to the next excrutiatingly mind numbing story segment. It was about here that I realized that these RPGs, the best iOS had to offer, simply didn't have any meaningful content to them. So from this point on I became rather pessimistic about iOS RPGs.

Which is funny, because the next few games I played actually weren't as bad as the previous ones in terms of story.
NOVA 2. Terrible plot but it had one and it was interestingish not really. Still, it was a shooter, I wasn't going to complain. Much better than no story at all, and the multiplayer is excellent.
Infinity Blade I. Not much of a story, graphics were good, gameplay was ok if repetitive.
Infinity Blade II. Much better plot, I only guessed what would happen at the end about 15 minutes before it happened, and the character actually had a name (Not that I remembered it; he wasn't much of an interesting character. Radriar, on the other hand...)
Dead Space. I didn't finish it although I still mean to, as it actually had a story! And characters! With backstory and motivation for what they did!!!! Still not near as good in terms of what story I could see as PC RPGs, but certainly making me a bit less pessimistic.
Backstab. Backstab made me happy. Lots of fun to run around on rooftops, there was an overarching plot and story, character development, backstory, motivation, stuff that happened besides what happened to your character. The world seemed closer to a real world where people did stuff than any other iOS RPG so far. Sure, the different things I mentioned were not 10/10. And it's not entirely a traditional RPG (I didn't even see it on that list of RPGs on this site). But it had the things that make RPGs have the word "role" in their name, so it made me happy.
Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery. Amazing game. Certainly not a traditional game, more of an experience. It wasn't a huge game so the story wasn't much but it was well executed and had excellent characterization.
Dark Meadow. Certainly this game had potential. It didn't max it out but it was interesting enough, if it didn't end up being a grindfest then I'd probably think of it more highly.


I played a few other RPGs of course, most of them terrible. Not necessarily un-fun, as it were, but they totally missed the plot. Literally.
I know I'm not the only person who has seen this about iOS RPGs; I've seen similar sentiments expressed elsewhere.



So, to the purpose of this meandering tale of misery and woe!
RPG makers of the world. Please. You make some amazing gameplay, amazing graphics, and amazing games. But you're missing the amazing stories that we want to hear. We want to be sucked into the world you made, to cry when the characters cry, to laugh when the characters laugh, to feel emotions other than loss and victory. We want to FEEL. We want to know why it is that the hero of the tale does what he does, and why the villain is so villainous. Make us hate that villain. Make us care about the hero. We have level progression; give us story progression! Give us your Shakespeare and your Milton, tell us about Hamlet and the paradise which is lost, give us Orwell and give us Lord of the Flies, give us your poets and your bards and your stories that fill your minds when you're trying to go to sleep at night.

We have Angry Birds to test our skill at tapping a screen; test our ability to be moved.




Thank you for reading. If you have any games which you think have something of what I'm looking for, please, inform me. I'm currently looking at buying Chaos Rings; any advice on whether that is worth my money for the story would be appreciated.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:11 PM
Royce Royce is offline
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It's too bad you don't have an iPad because you'd probably love avernum (and avadon for that matter). There are good iOS RPGs with good stories, but most of them are "retro" if you know what I mean, a lot of 2D dragon warrior lookalikes like the ash games, and some even older school like silversword. Just try searching the forum for RPGs with good storylines and you should find recommendations.

To your post in general, I can only say the disappearance from RPGs of actual role playing has been happening for a long time, with many genres emerging (to which most of your examples belong) that preserve only the level progression and/or character customization aspects and leave the actual RP out of the G. As far as I am concerned, actual RPGs became a niche genre decades ago
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:18 PM
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sizzlakalonji sizzlakalonji is offline
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All three of the Chaos Rings games are worth every penny. They are truly worthy of the Square Enix brand.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:48 PM
bighi bighi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sizzlakalonji View Post
All three of the Chaos Rings games are worth every penny. They are truly worthy of the Square Enix brand.
No, they're not. They have the exact same problems he's been talking about.
Bland unsatisfying story, bland characters, no real story or meaning. It hurts even more because it comes from Square, a company that once knew how to make great stories.

Even if Chaos Rings were $1.99 games I still would not recommend them.
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:09 PM
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sizzlakalonji sizzlakalonji is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bighi View Post
No, they're not. They have the exact same problems he's been talking about.
Bland unsatisfying story, bland characters, no real story or meaning. It hurts even more because it comes from Square, a company that once knew how to make great stories.

Even if Chaos Rings were $1.99 games I still would not recommend them.
Yes, they are. See, I can state an opinion as if it's fact too. If you think they have bland stories and characters, I truly wonder what you feel are better on this platform.
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:16 PM
SkyMuffin SkyMuffin is offline
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Crimson Gem Saga
Final Fantasy 1 + 2
Final Fantasy Tactics: WotL
Baldur's Gate (coming soon)
Dungeons of Dredmor (coming soon)
Avernum
Avadon
Undercroft
100 Rogues
Sword of Fargoal
Powder
Legends of Yore
Dink Smallwood
Mage Gauntlet
Secret of Mana
Swordigo
Ash 1 + 2
Chrono Trigger

Conclusion: You're wrong, there are lots of good RPGs on iOS. From this list alone you can get well over 2000 hours of gameplay. Yes, lots of these are remakes or ports, but the market is quickly growing and only promises to get better in the future. It's certainly not the "demise and doom" of RPGs or something as melodramatic as that.

Last edited by SkyMuffin; 04-24-2012 at 10:20 PM..
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:16 PM
JindoFox JindoFox is offline
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Such negativity. You want a good story, and you seem to have time on your hands, so why not just read a good book?
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:37 PM
BirdieNZ BirdieNZ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JindoFox View Post
Such negativity. You want a good story, and you seem to have time on your hands, so why not just read a good book?
I read plenty of books :P I want to be able to play a game which has good graphics, good gameplay, AND good story, and so far iOS is lacking the story part and often the other two parts in the majority of its RPGs. Not all, but most.

SkyMuffin, I don't especially want to play ports and remakes of games which I've already played, and I prefer Western style RPGs, ideally 3D although that's not a requirement.

And the style of what I wrote was meant to be overly melodramatic, in case that wasn't picked up.
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:41 PM
drelbs drelbs is offline
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And here I thought Doom RPG was pretty good!
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:52 PM
SkyMuffin SkyMuffin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BirdieNZ View Post
SkyMuffin, I don't especially want to play ports and remakes of games which I've already played, and I prefer Western style RPGs, ideally 3D although that's not a requirement.
I think that's the problem then. There aren't really very many good WRPGs, period. And most of them have been on platforms that have much better hardware. Give it some time and it will happen (especially now with much better devices). It's still a very new market. I think it's going to be mostly indies for now though...you'll probably be interested in Grimrock and Baldur's Gate when they come out. Avernum and Avadon are good if you have an iPad.
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