DO RPGS NEED A STORY?

Posts

pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
28539
Not at all. Paper and dice RPGs come with a few ultra-basic stories to get you started. The story develops as you play.

Story? What story? I'm a level 21 Half-elf with Azaroth's Shiny Butt Plate and a Bag of Pointy Things! I don't need a story!
They don't have to have a deep story but there should be a story of a sort. Just don't expect me to play it.

And Mario is a platformer, not an RPG. Even shmups have stories but they don't count as RPGs. Zelda is Adventure. What is an RPG? Story-based.
author=zacheatscrackers
Not necessarily; a vaguely defined story with fuck-amazing gameplay and everything else is perfectly fine as far as I'm concerned.

It still helps to have one either way, though. Since RPGs by nature are games with depth and length, it'd help to have an in-universe reason why you're playing in the first place.

THIS.

I'll give you some examples to prove my point.

I've been playing Risk of Rain a lot recently. It's an action arcade Roguelike. Aside from optional monster logs, the story is literally shown in a 30 second cutscene. "You're on a ship with lots of stuff you're delivering. alien with sword blows it up. You and all the loot fall to the planet. Get back to the ship while not dying. GO". And that's really all you get.

And that's fine, since the game is focused on nonstop action. You don't have time to think about story or plot. You're just desperately trying to stay alive. So it works well. Remove the story, and you lose very little.

In JRPG, where you're playing with a set of characters for hours and hours and hours...You kinda need to feel a reason to carry on. Especially since most RPGs don't rush you. You can spend 10 minutes between turns, plenty of time to wonder why you're in a goblin cave massacring them.

There's also the fact that RPGs are naturally good environments for storytelling due to this and other factors, so we've come to expect RPGs to focus on story.

EDIT: Also, take into account what RPG stands for. Role Playing Game. How the hell do you play a role when there's no story, and thus, no role? XD
You're in a goblin cave grinding for stats in the form of a level up or equipment.

You assume a role in everything. Doomguy is just a stranded marine in space. I'd say the motivation to play the game is that its actually fun.
But then it becomes an Adventure game, not an RPG. Adventure applies to those games where you have a light story and action-based gameplay.
author=Liberty
But then it becomes an Adventure game, not an RPG. Adventure applies to those games where you have a light story and action-based gameplay.

It's debatable, actually. If an "adventure" game has levelling up/gaining experience in addition to a light story and action-based gameplay, or that plus things like skill upgrades, weapon upgrades etc., then it could actually be called a role-playing game. Or even a hybrid, in fact.

Maybe this will help: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adventure_game#Relationship_to_other_genres
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
Yeah, 99% of AAA games are hybrids of multiple genres, but this is kind of a tangent of a tangent of a tangent
I tend to play RPGs for their story content and characters. So it's a pretty important feature, but having solid gameplay backs it up alot, otherwise I might as well read a book.
"No story" is too philosophical because it's basically impossible to remove story from a game. Even if you just have a yellow dot hunting red dots, it's already a story.

Games with minimalistic story however are possible and in my opinion it's actually a good thing. Less boring text to read, more fun with gameplay!
You could even go even more bare-bones than Mario or Zelda and have the objective "Get from point A to point B" or something and you could still make a game.


Said titles actually did have story. It just was backstory.



Uhhh, yea, don't you guys remember reading this?

What you are talking is not "story" but dialogue. There are plenty of games with a minimum of dialogue. But the only games without story are sports games.
author=Liberty
But then it becomes an Adventure game, not an RPG. Adventure applies to those games where you have a light story and action-based gameplay.


But you can still have a light story with RPG gameplay. Decades of pen and paper RPGs with vast depth to their gameplay disagree with the notion that an RPG has to have an extensive plot.
author=bulmabriefs144
But the only games without story are sports games.

You shouldn't make such absolute statements. There are plenty of games that don't have stories. Most puzzle games, like tetris. Sandbox games like Minecraft. Older arcade games like Pac-man.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
There are plenty of RPGs without any sort of focus on the story, or attempt to care about the story. They might give you something like PLEASE STOP EVILGOD but that's not a story, it's just a potential framework for a story that was never written.

No story is actually being told in Dragon Warrior 1. It's just sort of implied that there probably could have been one, and then you're left to imagine what it might be. And almost no story is being told in Skyrim or Recettear. You're just given an outline to a story. Essentially, those games have a five minute long short story, spread out over forty to eighty hours of gameplay. Which, after rounding, means the game is 0% story based.
unity
You're magical to me.
12399
^ This.

author=bulmabriefs144
You could even go even more bare-bones than Mario or Zelda and have the objective "Get from point A to point B" or something and you could still make a game.
Said titles actually did have story. It just was backstory.


I didn't say they didn't have a story. I said they have a bare-bones story.

I kinda doubt the discussion the OP wanted to have was "Let's nitpick down to the exact line between a game with a story and no story at all." The point was that RPGs are often used to tell stories, some of them very complex. Others have very little in the way of story or dialog but are carried by excellent mechanics and gameplay. And I think that's cool; both are great.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
I mean if you claim that Skyrim or Recettear was a bad game because it didn't have enough of a story, you're crazy. I don't want to live in a world where Pokemon and X-Com and Dark Souls don't exist.

But at the same time, if you think that Final Fantasy 9 or Suikoden 2 would have been just as good if you removed the story, you're crazy. I don't want to live in a world where Kingdom Hearts and Xenogears and Ni no Kuni don't exist.
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4690
My games are "get from point A to point B" I just add SOME kind of story to break that up, which is very minimal.
author=LockeZ
I mean if you claim that Skyrim or Recettear was a bad game because it didn't have enough of a story, you're crazy. I don't want to live in a world where Pokemon and X-Com and Dark Souls don't exist.

But at the same time, if you think that Final Fantasy 9 or Suikoden 2 would have been just as good if you removed the story, you're crazy. I don't want to live in a world where Kingdom Hearts and Xenogears and Ni no Kuni don't exist.

I think the main thing is, if you're going to go story heavy, don't drop a ton on the players on the very front - get the player playing the game as soon as possible, not watching twenty minutes of cut scenes, followed by a five minute segment, followed by twenty minutes of cut scenes, etc. (Metal Gear Solid 4, I'm looking at you).

I think a good example of a game that could've front loaded story and instead put you right into the action is Assassin's Creed 4. From the moment you start a new game to the moment you take control of your character, all accounted for, is less than thirty seconds of cutscene (not counting load times). You have no real clue what's occurring, but the game does a nice overlay of telling you where you are and what year it is, and that you're a member of a crew of a ship under attack. It very quickly gives you a quick movement/camera tutorial (without taking away control at any point in time) and puts you in command of the ship (briefly removing control to pop up an explanation of how to fire). Less than two minutes into the game, and you're into a ship battle on the high seas, and you haven't been burdened with a bunch of cutscenes.

And it isn't until this entire segment, being shipwrecked on an island because of the battle and finding a way off, is complete that you emerge back into the modern world and actually find out what's going on in that part of the story.
author=LockeZ
I mean if you claim that Skyrim or Recettear was a bad game because it didn't have enough of a story, you're crazy. I don't want to live in a world where Pokemon and X-Com and Dark Souls don't exist.

But at the same time, if you think that Final Fantasy 9 or Suikoden 2 would have been just as good if you removed the story, you're crazy. I don't want to live in a world where Kingdom Hearts and Xenogears and Ni no Kuni don't exist.

Skyrim and Recettear both had stories, where's the question in that? For Skyrim you just had the option to never trigger it if you so wished, but it was there, looming over all of the land - the war, the dragons and you, the chosen one. Story includes world lore, history and interactions/characterisation with/of Major/Minor NPCs too, it's not just "HERE BE PLAWT EXPOSITION, YO"

All good RPGs have a story.

So, in answer to the topic question: Do RPGs need a story? Only if they want to be good RPGs.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
author=Liberty
Skyrim and Recettear both had stories, where's the question in that? For Skyrim you just had the option to never trigger it if you so wished, but it was there, looming over all of the land - the war, the dragons and you, the chosen one. Story includes world lore, history and interactions/characterisation with/of Major/Minor NPCs too, it's not just "HERE BE PLAWT EXPOSITION, YO"

By this definition of story, it's impossible for a game to have a setting without automatically having a story, so... this isn't a useful definition for the sake of the argument. Do RPGs need a setting? Yes, probably so.

But what everyone who didn't automatically jump to the conclusion of "yes, duh, how is that even a question" is assuming is that when we say "a story" we really mean "a meaningful amount of effort put into creating a compelling story"

This isn't unique to games. There are TV shows I've watched where I was like, "This has no plot. This is just half an hour of laugh tracks playing as the writers wank into a tissue and submit it as a script." There are movies I've watched where I was like "The only story this movie is telling is the story of a really well choreographed forty-five minute long chase scene, followed by a twenty minute long shootout, plus whatever bare minimum justification they had to tack onto the beginning of the movie in order to get to the action scenes."

But you know what? Sometimes the action is good enough to make up for it.
A lot of the games on this site, I think, overdo it with exposition in the beginning. I too want to control my character as soon as possible. I think a lot of makers think that a player needs to be told what's going on in their world in order to be invested in the game, but I feel the opposite. I want to be in your world and find out why I should care about it through playing it.