EMO REQUIRE: DO RPGS NEED A STORY?

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Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
14510
I recently stumbled upon this comment in a discussion about Dissidia 012:

I hope this one has a decent story at least.

My first thought was "Huh? Dissidia is an RPG mash-up fighting game. Why does it need a story in the first place?" Some random whirlpool or whatever to get the characters together is fine. In fact, in such a ridiculous grouping of characters, wouldn't a kooky, low-calorie story fit better?

I honestly don't understand the need for a game that has RPG mechanics to require emo/destiny/deep-rooted conflict/heroes made in vats. People play roguelikes, so what if similar (but much more approachable) jRPGs were made with some sort of nonsensical explaination and conflict... or almost no explanation at all? There's an objective, play the game and figure out how to deal with it! See, it's fun to think while casting Firaga!

I am not saying that most RPGs don't need stories. I do find RPG fans distressingly hilarious, though - especially when looking at FFXII and FFXIII discussions. But, seriously. Stories can be perfectly fine! Wooo! Go stories! Leo & Leah ftw!

Notice how a lot of Leo & Leah is told through environments and player interaction than cutscenes. W - What? We don't to reiterate the same idea three times in a cutscene to get a point across? Yeah, there are holes.

(Pictures courtesy of Pitchfork's Rise and Fall of Final Fantasy.)


FFXIII gets a lot of flak for its story (which I actually like and think is executed rather well except for some villains, but that's another topic), so why not make a fun romp that focuses entirely on the battle system and possibly more exploration instead of FMVs? Just say "these heroes can summon stuff and have paradigms, go get the macguffins in some order you decide and then save the world" and let you go, like FFI. You have a setting, you have some direction, but the emphasis is the gameplay. And no, just because the game is archaic doesn't mean you can't update the gameplay itself.

"Game X is fun, but the story sucks, but it's an RPG so it needs to have a story." Oh, really? I thought that games were meant to be played.
DE
*click to edit*
1313
Saying that RPGs don't need decent stories is like saying that movies don't need decent stories, only good visuals and good tolerable acting. Do I really need to explain why this is bullshit?

Furthermore I believe you're mistaking story for plot. Story doesn't have to be conveyed through dialogue alone you know, there are so many other ways to do it, including ambience. For example all the story in R-Type Delta is told through level and enemy design, and both are so unique that I instantly fell in love with that game, even if it was average as one.

Oh, and there's also the issue of RPG battle systems usually being the worst (boring + tedious) part of the game. Discard all the other parts and you're left with a game that's as fun as a visit to the dentist. The context provided by the story is what actually makes RPG mechanics bearable. This is the same for other genres as well. Good story can keep you going even if the game is mediocre, and a bad story might turn you off a well-designed game.

All I know is I wouldn't be playing an RPG if all there was to it was some generic setting and lol endless battles and don johns! That's why I can't stand MMORPGS and roguelikes. If I want to play a game with no story (as in undeveloped, not bad) I play a shooter.

BTW, FF X-2 sucked big time, so I don't think it's a good example.
Yeah I'm pretty sure roguelikes appeal to a specific audience rather than being an example of RPGs that don't need stories to be good (in general). A typical RPG is filled with a lot of menus and numbers and stuff to the point where, without a story, it becomes a very dry interactive visual novel. You either put in really indepth gameplay for some niche audience or try to make the player feel like she's in a world with people and situations in it to care about (making the end goal more desirable).

...Or even just do both.
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.
6138
author=DE
Saying that RPGs don't need decent stories is like saying that movies don't need decent stories, only good visuals and good tolerable acting. Do I really need to explain why this is bullshit?

Yeah, no. This doesn't work. The sole point of a movie is to tell a story. A game *can* tell a story, but the primary point is to provide a fun game to play. There's no comparison.

If you feel this way about RPGs then by extension you logically must feel this way about all forms of video games, because there is nothing about RPGs that instrinsically makes them better suited to stories than any other type of game. So you find 90% of puzzle games, action games, racing games, etc. intolerable?

The definition of an RPG is a specific type of gameplay. It has nothing to do with story. Story is great in any game. I totally approve of putting as good a story as possible in every game on the market. Nothing about RPGs is special though. They're just a different type of gameplay. We have chosen to make games with this type of gameplay because we prefer it to other types of gameplay.


author=Darken
Yeah I'm pretty sure roguelikes appeal to a specific audience rather than being an example of RPGs that don't need stories to be good (in general). A typical RPG is filled with a lot of menus and numbers and stuff to the point where, without a story, it becomes a very dry interactive visual novel. You either put in really indepth gameplay for some niche audience or try to make the player feel like she's in a world with people and situations in it to care about (making the end goal more desirable).

This is so unbelievably wrong I can't even wrap my head around your thought process. So you... hate RPGs? You hate their gameplay, find them completely intolerable, and think that actually making them enjoyable is a tiny niche submarket? And only put up with them because they tend to have better stories? What a load of horseshit. Why are you making RPGs if you hate playing them so much? What are you doing here? Make games that you think are fun, for fuck's sake. Play games of genres you actually enjoy. Don't just state that my favorite type of gameplay is unplayable rubbish by default, as though it were an indisputable fact.

Fuck, this makes me so angry. Why are so many of you guys even here if you all HATE PLAYING RPGS?
It depends on what you define as Role playing game. In my opinion they dont need story, look mainly at MMORPGs,sorry I cant think of anything else at the moment, they ussually dont have any story and people still play them. You could say Sims is role playing game too, because you play a role, you have all different stats, but everyone else classifies it as simulation...so really it just depends on how people see RPGs and to answer OP question- they dont need story, but story is very vital in RPGs.
Yeah I totally hate RPGs with good stories, RPGs with good gameplay or even RPGs with both good story and good gameplay. Good job reading my post correctly, you clearly don't need a chill pill either.
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
14510
Darken
Yeah I totally hate RPGs with good stories, RPGs with good gameplay or even RPGs with both good story and good gameplay. Good job reading my post correctly, you clearly don't need a chill pill either.

He read your post clearly. I got the exact same impression that LockeZ did about both you and DE.

That said, I'd like it if RMN members could pre-emptively remind themselves that this topic has the potential to be constructive.
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4773
I'm playing Fallout 3 atm, so to me it seems like a good example of how you can have a great game with minimal storyline.
Like 85% of the game is optional if you really just stick to the story they included.
The story itself although quite small in comparison to other games, works well. and shit you don't really even have to follow it to have loads of fun in that game.
I know the game isn't what most people think of when thinking RPG, but it has all the role playing elements, fun gameplay, but at the same time it isn't force feeding the story down your throat.
The same applies to many games of the same nature, like Oblivion.
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.
6138
@Darken:
Did you not just say that you think story is necessary because RPG gameplay is boring and not fun? I'm not sure of any other way to interpret the sentence "A typical RPG is filled with a lot of menus and numbers and stuff to the point where, without a story, it becomes a very dry interactive visual novel." To me that implied that you think that "menus and numbers and stuff" are not fun.

To be fair I am backlashing more against a prevalent mentality than against you specifically.
DE
*click to edit*
1313
author=LockeZ
Yeah, no. This doesn't work. The sole point of a movie is to tell a story. A game *can* tell a story, but the primary point is to provide a fun game to play. There's no comparison.


I disagree. A film, in theory, should be all about telling a story, but there are just so many Hollywood movies that prove it is wrong, and are either about eye candy (hello Bay and Cameron!) or celebrity promotion. Notice I didn't say "no story" but "decent story".

As for your question - indeed, i don't play racing games because they bore me to tears and they're all identical to me anyway. I don't play puzz;e games because they're too abstract and the context is simply not there. Heck, I choose my boardgames based on the fluff (backstory, characters etc.) and not mechanics. I guess I'm just more of a "need context or else" type of player.

author=LockeZ
The definition of an RPG is a specific type of gameplay. It has nothing to do with story. Story is great in any game. I totally approve of putting as good a story as possible in every game on the market. Nothing about RPGs is special though. They're just a different type of gameplay. We have chosen to make games with this type of gameplay because we prefer it to other types of gameplay.


An RPG without story is nothing more than an abstract combat simulator, a strategy game of a sort. Instead of making up definitions ask any player what are the most typical aspects of RPGs. I can guarantee you that most will tell you that they're story-driven games with focus on plot and characters instead of gameplay.

Something to consider - the most memorable (and nostalgia-inducing) books, films, and games are those that make you care about what happens to the characters. If you strip those works of the story, you're left with nothing more than character types that do not interact with each other or the world, making them flat and uniteresting, and especially not worth caring about (like some dressed up Barbie dolls). You're essentialy making those works forgettable and, in turn, worthless. The same happens if you put too much emphasis on RPG mechanics and not enough on the characters and the plot. Heck, Doom wasn't just a good shooter, it was a shooter where you played the role of a futuristic uber-marine that fought off a devil invasion from hell with chainsaw and shotgun. If they had replaced the sprites with formless blobs and removed all textures, all the while maintaining the mechanics and level design, no one would play that game. RPGs are even more sensitive when it comes to that.
@LockeZ:
Yeah "menus and numbers and stuff" are not fun on a basic level (aka "A typical RPG where all you do is spam attack and maybe cast magic in a rock paper scissors fashion"). Does it mean I hate the entire RPG genre as a whole? No. Does it mean I find potential in RPGs that have interesting stories or indepth gameplay to fill the void? Yes.

I still think RPGs are reliant on story or some kind of extra charm though.
@Lockez People can define RPG's as much as they want but the fact is, the target RPG audience expects it to be storyline focused. The gameplay aspects of RPG's are, i'm sorry, usually mediocre - without a story to pick it back up it would just be dull.

There needs to be a mix between the two because i personally would not be able to play an RPG just for the gameplay. I get bored enough running around tartarus for half an hour, if i had to do that for the entire game with little storyline to back it up or look forward to, fuck it.
You're jumping to pretty big conclusions assuming that just because Darken doesn't think the gameplay is the strongest part of an RPG he must hate them.

It's not the same thing expecting a fighting/FPS/racing game etc. to have a good storyline as expecting an RPG to have a good storyline, because it's the nature of the RPG genre. You can go into semantics about how it shouldn't be, but it is.

+ Fallout 3 has a story. It has a massive story. I dunno, i think people's interpretations of 'storyline' in a game are all a bit different so maybe i'm not on the same wavelength.
I love story in strategy or puzzle games with sequences between the levels.
It's not the same thing expecting a fighting/FPS/racing game etc. to have a good storyline as expecting an RPG to have a good storyline, because it's the nature of the RPG genre. You can go into semantics about how it shouldn't be, but it is.


Yeah I think it's safe to avoid the whole "WHAT IS AN RPG?" debate.
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
14510
All I'm hearing is that "RPG gameplay is teh sux, the solution is to put more money into FMVs."
author=Darken
Yeah I think it's safe to avoid the whole "WHAT IS AN RPG?" debate.
haha yeah maybe that wasn't a good move
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4773
I'm sorry, the main storyline of Fallout 3 seems quite short in comparison to many other epics.
I think the storyline is a big deal within the game, what I was saying is if you "follow in your fathers footsteps" so to speak, the game is fast and short, imo.
And that you don't even really explore/see half of the game, if you follow it quest by quest, which is pretty easy to do.
But the other 70% or so of the game is just there for exploration, own interpretations of role playing for your character, etc.
The first time I played Fallout 3 I didn't even continue the main storyline beyond like Rivet City, I just had a ton of fun getting to the max level 20, and exploring all the out of the way places.
No story, and yet tons of fun.
I've beaten the game, and the story is there and it's great for what it is, but basically what I'm getting at is you don't necessarily need to follow it, to enjoy it.
These are just my opinions of this particular game, not every game is fun without the story, for the most part most games NEED the story to be good.

I don't like games based around hardcore numbers, I'd rather have the story there to entertain me.
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.
6138
I don't think the target market for RPGs expects heavy storylines. Extremely few commercial RPGs have heavy storlines any more. In fact I'd be surprised if there were five story-heavy RPGs in the last five years - I know there weren't five successful ones. The only one in the last twelve months was Dragon Age 2. Games like the Shin Megami Tensei series, Pokemon, Dragon Quest spinoffs, MMORPGs, and sandbox WRPGs make up the vast majority of RPG releases, and have bare-bones stories that are no more engaging than that of, say, Halo or Zelda games.
author=InfectionFiles
I'm sorry, the main storyline of Fallout 3 seems quite short in comparison to many other epics.
yeah, sorry, i was kind of counting exploring places outside of the 'storyline' part of the story...kind of in the same way i see social links in persona 3/4 part of the story.
i guess my argument would be a bit invalid if my view of the story is different from everyone elses haha.
author=Craze
All I'm hearing is that "RPG gameplay is teh sux, the solution is to put more money into FMVs."


What exactly did you expect from making this topic? Everyone to say they really like dungeon crawlers?
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