JRPG ESSENTIALS

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author=Red_Nova
So what I'm hearing from the last couple pages is: Never play games anymore. Just watch the LPs and read the cliffnotes. Also, because a game has flaws automatically means they have nothing to help any aspiring developer.

Man, this game dev stuff is easy. XD

Ridiculously blanket cynicism aside, "fun" is an entirely subjective measurement, and I'm not sure why we're using that as evidence that they have nothing to offer to aspiring devs so they should never be played.

It was my impression that he wanted to know which games to PLAY in order to LEARN. In which case, yes, don't play them. Just read about them and watch parts(cause reading alone doesn't mean you understand what it was like to play the game). In terms of expanding game dev knowledge, playing any of these classics games in full won't offer more rewards than just reading about the good parts.

Old games are full of bad UI, bad inventory management, lame dialogue due to censorship or localization, barebones game play elements, poor pacing, shallow stories, and a healthy dose of grinding. So the more you play, the more you are experiencing that bad stuff. Which means you are not becoming a better dev, you're just torturing yourself.

Which is why you read about the core concepts and good parts, throw away the bad, and you become a better dev just as if you had played that game in full at the time it came out. You gained just as much positive knowledge.

If the point of playing the games is anything other than learning, then none of this applies. I think the whole argument with kentona is a side quest and has nothing to do with playing games to become a better dev. It's just his personal feelings about newer games vs older games. Not about the merits of John Q Gamer playing older games to become a better dev.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
8611
I guess I'm missing something in your post, Link, because I don't see a single point you listed that can't be applied to any game, not just old classics. Many modern games also have bad UI, bad inventory management, lame dialogue due to censorship or localization, shallow stories, and lots of grinding. If we're saying don't play classic games because of these issues, then that makes every game not worth playing. Hence my over exaggerated blanket statement.

I'm not gonna defend older games as being a golden trove of game design godliness. Like I said in my first post, I don't think they've really withstood the test of time, at least not as well as Chrono Trigger (OBLIGATORY TEST OF TIME JOKE). Probably worth mentioning that I played Chrono Trigger on the DS, and the early Final Fantasy games through their GBA ports. Never even saw their NES/SNES counterparts. When I talk about these games, those are the versions I'm referring too.

At this point I have to ask: Which games do you think ARE worth playing, then? Sure, they may not be from the NES/SNES era, but if they've withstood the test of time, then they're classics all the same. What would you recommend and, more importantly, why?
author=Cap_H
What do you think are games, which should everyone who works with RM and has an intention to make a RPG know and play? Cuz I personally played very few famous jRPGs.
My personal favorites are Ys series and probably Zelda (although I never played it properly). So, I'm more inclined to action oriented stuff and find it easier to get into. Also it's usually light on dialogues, which is good. On the other hand they're not traditional jRPGs and I hear people talking about Chrono Trigger and Xenogears all the time.

So would you go with Final Fantasy IV and Dragon Quest or do you have more series to include?

Chrono Trigger is excellent. Amazing art design, story, character development, music, gameplay, everything really. I can't really find fault with that game. I haven't really played Xenogears so I don't have an opinion on that.

I don't know if you've tried any of the Megami Tensei or Persona games, but you probably should, they're really great well-known RPGs and you're really missing out if you pass them over.

Also, have you tried Illusion of Gaia? You say you're into action-oriented stuff, that game is just like Zelda and Ys so it would probably be right up your alley.
Cap_H
DIGITAL IDENTITY CRISIS
6615
Hm, Terranigma sounds like more interesting game than Illusion. And It has a cooler name. But I can see that there are interesting progression mechanics, which I can easily implement in one of my projects.
I may give it a try later.
Personally I prefer Illusion of Gaia over Terranigma, just because the story and atmosphere are better (the bits about the Mu people is darn creepy...one man became as water...)That said, Terranigma is an awesome game I wish had made it to the States back in the day.

People have prolly already posted everything I've played already, but here it goes.
-Chrono Trigger, basically my fave jrpg ever, only minor faults with it are the balance of dual/triple techs late game, they don't scale well, Luminaire ftw
-Lufia II, because good puzzles that don't make you want to strangle hobos, also capsule monsters, Foomy
-Final Fantasy 4,5,6, so you can see how different systems evolved over time, also what not to do when balancing a job class system (5) ie so op with a few setups
-Persona 3: Fes or Persona 3 Portable, awesome games, and they have best waifu, Aigis. (Have you ever wanted to date a toaster?)
-Persona 4 (not golden, because I dislike chie's new voice, she was mah waifu!)
-Persona 5, only seen it as I have no ps4 yet, but it looks great
-Dragon Quest 8, because Jessica...oh and Mr. Satan clone, also pocketmonsters
-(If only snes Shadowrun was a jrpg...it'd make the list...oops)
-The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky series, its a new old school jrpg, lot of fun, on steam and gog, cool magic equip system
-Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, thats jrpg-ish enough, right? Interesting due to story, characters, different 'combined mp system', timed attacks
-Secret of Mana (better than Seiken Densetsu 3 *avoids rocks*) more action-y, but has interesting levelup spell/skill mechanics, which you can totally abuse at water palace, and a wide variety of weapons
-Robotrek(Slapstick in Japan) you create/upgrade/mod your own capsule robot, the Combine system is pretty interesting and could be used as a basis for an Inventor/Alchemist focused game/main char. (For serious crafting there's some Eushully games, but I won't list here, they're rather nsfw)
-Dark Cloud 1/2, haven't played, but heard they have amazing crafting systems. (So want DC 2, but I'm not gonna shell out 50 bucks for a used ps2 game, heh)

There is a ton more, but can't think of em right now.
author=Red_Nova
I guess I'm missing something in your post, Link, because I don't see a single point you listed that can't be applied to any game, not just old classics. Many modern games also have bad UI, bad inventory management, lame dialogue due to censorship or localization, shallow stories, and lots of grinding. If we're saying don't play classic games because of these issues, then that makes every game not worth playing. Hence my over exaggerated blanket statement.

I'm not gonna defend older games as being a golden trove of game design godliness. Like I said in my first post, I don't think they've really withstood the test of time, at least not as well as Chrono Trigger (OBLIGATORY TEST OF TIME JOKE). Probably worth mentioning that I played Chrono Trigger on the DS, and the early Final Fantasy games through their GBA ports. Never even saw their NES/SNES counterparts. When I talk about these games, those are the versions I'm referring too.

At this point I have to ask: Which games do you think ARE worth playing, then? Sure, they may not be from the NES/SNES era, but if they've withstood the test of time, then they're classics all the same. What would you recommend and, more importantly, why?

I've stated it many times. If the goal is to learn things to be a better game dev, then pretty much no game is worth playing all the way through. When you want to learn about something, seeing it/reading about it/doing it a few times is enough. There is nothing further to gain by repeating it for 10+ hours. Move on to learning about the next game.

I'm not talking about playing games for the sake of playing and enjoying them. That is a different discussion I'm not a part of.
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6133
author=Link_2112
I've stated it many times. If the goal is to learn things to be a better game dev, then pretty much no game is worth playing all the way through. When you want to learn about something, seeing it/reading about it/doing it a few times is enough. There is nothing further to gain by repeating it for 10+ hours. Move on to learning about the next game.

While I see the point behind this argument, I feel it's at least worth keeping in mind that learning about or watching a game isn't the same as playing it. If you truly want to study what is good, bad, usable etc. about a game, it makes a difference whether you are in the position of an observer or an actual player. Actively interacting with the product is an essential element of video games, and cutting out that part will leave you with different results.

That's not to say playing it yourself is somehow the only correct way of gathering information on and impressions of a game. But it does make a difference whether you're the one pressing the buttons or not, and that's a difference game creators have to account for if they intend to design a game for an audience of players.
Disagree. Watching someone fight a battle in Chrono Trigger will tell them everything they need to know about using combo skills. Doing it themselves won't unlock any hidden knowledge. The only difference between doing it yourself is damage management. Like, make the strong character hit one enemy while the 2 weaker ones focus on the second enemy.

There may be some games that are slightly different, but not likely many of the ones mentioned here. Especially RPGs since they are menu based and everything that happens is visible on the screen. Damage numbers, status effects. I can only see your argument working for action oriented games. And even then...

If you can actually explain why it's different pressing the buttons yourself on these most basic of games, then I'm all ears.
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6133
author=Link_2112
If you can actually explain why it's different pressing the buttons yourself on these most basic of games, then I'm all ears.

Sure. The difference isn't in the mechanics of the game, but in the audience's head. To be precise, the level of involvement is different depending on whether your role as the "consumer" of a game is active or passive. And this feeling of involvement is caused mainly by two elements: Purpose and agency.

If you are the one playing a game, you know that the game expects some form of input from you. No matter how small or basic it can be, you as the player have a task, and thus, a sense of purpose. If you don't act, the game won't continue.

The other part is the sense of agency that is lost if you don't actively interact with the medium. Even something as small as being the one to decide what battle skill to use next makes a significant difference for the level of involvement you experience. As the player, you are the one in control, and the game's reactions are dependent on your decisions, even in highly linear games.

For example, I personally find grinding boring - but it's even more boring to watch someone else do it, since then I'm not even the one to choose how to go about it and feel that small sense of accomplishment when finishing the obstacle and reaping the rewards. Another good example (though not directly related to RPGs) are the kinds of games you play just to kill some time. It's something people play just so they at least have something to do, for example while waiting. Watching those kinds of games usually feels completely pointless, while for the player they are at least "fun" in the sense that they distract our brains long enough to stop us from getting bored. (I'm not saying that this is good game design or even a desirable effect, but it shows how playing and watching can cause totally different impressions and results on a psychological level.)

In short, when taking the active role in interacting with a game, you feel more involved, for better or for worse. It doesn't always necessarily have to cause a huge shift in how the game and one's own role in relation to it is perceived. But there is a difference nonetheless, and that's important to keep in mind. Things that seem great looking at it from the outside don't automatically have to actually be fun or engaging if you have to do them yourself, and something that is can keep you busy for hours can very well look extremely boring to an uninvolved spectator.
author=Link_2112
If you can actually explain why it's different pressing the buttons yourself on these most basic of games, then I'm all ears.

I agree with you that watching or reading is usually enough to learn about something, but a huge chunk of that knowledge might remain deep in our subconscious when we later sit down to work on our own games.

By playing the game and being more involved/active in the learning process, what one learns may be easier to remember later on. That principle is applied everyday in school (copying notes, solving problems by applying an already existing formula, etc.) and it works.
But that doesn't mean one has to complete 100% of a game in order to learn everything there is to know about its mechanics.
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
29532
Also, there's a difference between reading about something and understanding it. If you just read about a game, one very important element that you don't learn about is the experience, which is probably the most important element to informing you of the nature of the game.
I don't think you guys are wrong in what you are saying, but I do think it's not as important as you make it seem when the goal is strictly to learn what older games have to offer. Especially with most of these old classic games that are very linear and don't have a ton of battle options. Being in control and making the limited decisions yourself shouldn't change how you learn what is in a game.

Using Chrono Trigger as an example again. You can read about the things that make it unique and understand why it's a solid classic. If you play the game all the way through, you aren't learning anything MORE about the specific elements that are unique to CT. Such as the combo skill system or time travel or choose when to fight the last boss. Reading that 2 characters can combine skills is all you need to know. Then your own brain should be thinking of new ways to apply that to a game. Doing the combo skills yourself for hours will only show how the CT designers decided to balance it and such. In your own game you would need to balance them yourself along with many other things, so more experience with the way CT handled combo skills won't do much for your game.

And one thing I should make clear here. I'm not talking about reading about the fact that combo skills exist and maybe watch a handful of battles to see it in practice. I'm talking about watching about an hour of gameplay. Enough to see the numbers and how it balances out. How MP management occurs over the course of a map compared to it's damage output.

"The experience", pacing, dungeon design, boss fights, these are all common things between all games which CT does well. Just because you subconsciously soak in the overall balance and polish on the game doesn't mean you will understand the unique elements any better. Also watching someone go through the game should, in my mind, still reveal all these things. Unless you are not paying as much attention to things as you would be if you were playing it yourself. The benefits of taking the time to play all these games yourself to the end are not going to equal the effort it takes to do that. Which is why I think it's best to only consume parts of the game, the important parts, and move onto the next one. Not play each one all the way through for the marginal benefits of getting the whole experience.

Also, if you are watching a video of someone play a game and they need to grind, you can fast forward.

So perhaps one person can learn more from reading and watching then someone else and this doesn't apply to people who need to learn by doing but I've said everything I want to on the subject.
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6133
Fair enough. I think at this point we've acknowledged the benefits and disadvantages of both approaches well enough. And at least I believe that the remaining differences in our viewpoints aren't significant enough to warrant further arguing. So, thanks for explaining your thoughts!
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
29532
NeverSilent
Fair enough. I think at this point we've acknowledged the benefits and disadvantages of both approaches well enough. And at least I believe that the remaining differences in our viewpoints aren't significant enough to warrant further arguing. So, thanks for explaining your thoughts!


I mostly agree, but there is one more thing I have to wonder. We are such distracted creatures. Focusing is literally against our nature. I wonder how much most people could actually absorb from just reading about/watching a game? If they really could understand everything they needed to know from it.

On the other hand, I completely agree with Link's statement that playing an hour or so is enough. At least you've played the game and now being invested in it, you've absorbed an understanding of what the game is.
author=pianotm
We are such distracted creatures. Focusing is literally against our nature. I wonder how much most people could actually absorb from just reading about/watching a game? If they really could understand everything they needed to know from it.
If you are making a sandwich and playing guitar and talking to a friend on skype while you are watching these videos, then sure. But if you are just watching someone walk through a level or walking through it yourself, you see literally the same exact things. It's not different. Why does the focus have to be different between watching/reading something and playing it yourself? Does not compute.
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
29532
Ordinary people don't retain information so perfectly as you're suggesting, and simply reading about a thing is nowhere near as interesting as actually doing a thing. I'm pretty sure that if I had to choose between reading about a game and playing it, I'd find reading about it to be far less interesting. As a matter of fact, I know this to be the case because I read about games all the time.

An eidetic memory would be required to retain information so mundanely acquired, and even then there's no guarantee that the reader won't be so bored with reading about technical aspects of a particular game that you'd retain it to the extent that you could totally make a game based on what you read.
It sounds like you think I'm talking about memorizing everything from battle formulas, to elemental attributes of enemies, and names of towns.

I'm talking about rudimentary understanding of a games mechanics. Like the fact that combo skills exist. A person will read about combo skills and they will see a basic description followed by a full list of skills with numbers. They don't need to remember anything other than the fact that 2 characters can combine skills to make new ones. It doesn't take much brain power to retain that much. You don't need to remember how much skill x costs, or that this one is unlocked by a quest, and that this one ends up being OP because it deals tons of dmg with low skill point usage.

Now let's say you don't want to read about it and you want to play it. It will take X amount of time just to unlock combo skills in the game. Then many more hours to unlock all the skills and use them, which really won't teach you anything new about them beyond the initial "oh that's neat, I'd like to try that in my game" feeling when you first learn about them.

A person reading about CT should come away with something like "A solid RPG that doesn't stray too far from the usual formula. It offers a few unique elements like traveling to the same areas in different time periods, combined skills, and the option to face the last boss early" (I think that's all it really offers)

What else could one possibly learn from CT by playing it all the way through? The answer would be all fluff things, like the experience and good character interactions/storylines and lush maps. Things a person doesn't need to remember about CT to learn from it to become a better dev. The reason being, these things exist in all games, good and bad. Also what one person calls good story, another person might call mundane or average. Experience and enjoyment of story related stuff is so objective that it's not as helpful as raw game mechanic concepts. Those are the things that actually get placed in your own games.

It might be marginally helpful to see a game be so well done and balanced, but every new game comes with it's own elements that need to be balanced. So playing a balanced game won't actually help you balance your own games because all the variables are different.

That's an example of a simple type of game but that's how I see it. It's very easy to read a basic tutorial type thing for any game and understand it's battle mechanics. There's one game, maybe The Last Story?, where you have multiple parties and each battle is like a war between multiple groups. You could read about the nuances of how that works and if it's involved you might not remember every single detail, but you become aware of the concept. Rather than a single party vs enemy party, you have multiple parties on each side. That's all you really need to take away from that game. If you play it for a while you will get a sense for how that plays out in practice, which is why you watch it. A few times if that's what it takes. You might learn how they decided to structure it, but if you are going to try that in your game I would assume you're not just going to flat out copy it. You will put your own spin on it. So knowing all the nuances from how that game did it, are meaningless. And the emotion from the heart wrenching scene before the final battle in that game has no bearing on anything, outside of being a positive memory.

All concepts and ideas learned from these games SHOULD be rudimentary. Because you will be taking them and molding them into something different in your game. So there is no need to memorize all the specific minor details, from reading or playing the game for 100+ hours.

There are plenty of games I've played back in the day and I don't remember anything other than what kind of gameplay it had. Those ideas are with me while nothing specific about the game is.

It almost seems like you are assuming I'm talking about spending hours reading battle formulas and raw data on boring wiki pages with no images or visual references. Compared with leisurely playing a fun game over the course of weeks/months :P Also, there are some games you can play all the way through and then you read about them and there are things you would never even notice in the game because it's not explained or obvious. Exploits may exist that change how the concept is perceived or show a better way to execute it.

When researching you can choose what kinds of data you read. When you are playing a game you are stuck with it's own pacing and slowly learning a bit here and a bit there, and hopefully by the time you finish the game you can remember what happened at the start. Especially if a person has a long list of games to play. They would need that eidetic memory more for playing the games because they have to filter out all the fluff to get to the bedrock concept they can take away and apply to their own games.

Phew. And here I thought I was done discussing this heh
To create a game is to create an end user experience. Meaning that to better understand this you have to subject yourself to the same. This means no reading, no LPs, but to just play it. IMO you learn more that way. Also, guides and LPs are cheating. The funny thing about this is that by creating a game you can't help but cheat in it. (you have the full walkthrough memorized before it's even written). But you can't help that. But what you can do is realize that the user won't have that. Using LPs as reference completely skews that. By doing this you're viewing games through their cultural context- you're taking the memoirs of every person who beat the game and every person who beat the game after the fact, and every person who beat the game after the previous fact, and so on. But the game you're making in RPG maker won't be so privileged. Each person who plays your RPG is essentially the first person to play that RPG. Which is how videogames ought to be experienced in the first place.

tl;dr Don't be a leech. Play games on your own.
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6133
Telling people they can't watch Let's Plays or read additional material on a game is a rather simplistic and one-sided approach. That's like telling people they're having fun the wrong way. It's a simple fact that different people have different tastes and different skills. So watching someone else play a certain game you want to see in action but wouldn't enjoy tackling yourself is an absolutely legitimate way of experiencing it, too. Plus, the added "cultural context" can also be a good thing for some games, as it can be a lot of fun to see games through other people's eyes. This has nothing to do with being a "leech," but simply with prioritising certain aspects of the game experience over others. Not to mention that sometimes, Let's Players can share observations and insights on the workings of a game that you normally wouldn't have noticed yourself even when playing the game on your own.

This is not to say that I think playing games for yourself is unimportant when trying to develop a better sense of good game design - far fom it, actually. But taking it to either extreme doesn't seem effective or productive to me at all. You're certainly not going to get far as a game developer if you only ever watch others play but never pick up a controller or keyboard yourself, because you'll lack essential practical experience. But there's also no need to retreat into an imaginary vacuum with your games and try to shut out the rest of the world in an attempt to make the experience more "genuine." If you really care about learning more about games as a medium, I think the most important part is to find a reasonable balance between personal, subjective experience and external, more or less factual knowledge.
I'm sure there's little point in listing games since most of the ones I would pick were already mentioned by others.

Instead I'd like to say that even though I don't care to beat the original Dragon Quest I feel more enriched from playing at least some of it.

I wonder how interesting and loaded with secrets a new RPG could be if given DQ1's seemingly archaic menu of interactions for example having a dedicated Door command could perhaps let developers hide secret entrances in a way that might not work as well with our modern general action command.
My point is old ideas can become new again just look at how Zelda Breath of the Wild draws upon on Zelda 1 for inspiration.