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CRPGs Today and 5-10 Years Ago

Discussion in 'Featured Polls & Comments' started by Taluntain, Mar 22, 2010.

?

In general, do you feel that CRPGs developed these days are as good as those developed 5-10 years ag

Poll closed Jul 30, 2015.
  1. They're even better now

    2 vote(s)
    5.3%
  2. They're about the same in terms of quality

    15 vote(s)
    39.5%
  3. They're worse now

    21 vote(s)
    55.3%
  4. I wasn't playing CRPGs that far back

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    I mostly agree (except regarding your point that the Witcher is better than DAO -I like them both equally) but I have to point out that Fallout 1 and 2 and BG2 are much older than the time frame that Taluntain gave as a reference for the good old days. I'm nitpicking but 1997 and 1998 are more than 10 years ago. ;)

    I can't remember exactly when PST was released but I believe it was back in 1999.

    If we go back to the late 90s I would certainly agree that CRPGs at that time were a lot better than they are now (except for graphics of course but that's not what makes a great game IMO) but going back 5 or 10 years I really can't say that.
     
  2. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    BG2 was released near the end of 2000, actually. I didn't make the time span a dozen years on purpose because I didn't want everyone's first and only thought to be the IE games. 5-10 years back still includes a fair share of them, though.
     
  3. Dengo Gems: 8/31
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    [​IMG] They are about the same for me.

    I was playing Diablo 2 10 years ago and now I'm playing Borderlands. For action-RPGs they are at the same level I think.

    For story-driven-RPGs I was playing BG2 9 years ago. Today I play ... erm ... still BG2 :D . Of course that doesn't mean new games are bad. I haven't played Dragon Age but I hear it's good. NWN wasn't really as good as BG2 but from what I read on Gamespot.com and from the videos I saw on the net it seems to me DA is pretty good and can be close to a succesor to BG2. I don't think that a successor to PS:T can be created but good games are being developed these days too.

    The only thing I don't like about new games is 3D graphics. I know it's weird but I like 2D graphics more. And I think 2D is the only way to create a game that allows controlling more than one character at once (like IE games). In 3D you can control only your character directly and can only give some basic orders to other characters (if there are any, of course), and they keep dying. :D
     
  4. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    Ah, I didn't realise the time frame was intended to be so specific. In that case, I've played BG2+ToB, NWN, Morrowind and ... I guess Diablo 2, but to me if that's an RPG then so is Jagged Alliance 2. JA2 had more of a story and NPC interaction too.

    Newer RPGs that I've played are then: Jade Empire, Oblivion, The Witcher and DA:O.

    I'm going to have to go with that I still enjoyed older RPGs more, because of these newer RPGs only The Witcher would be able to stand amongst those three I've played in the 5-10 years period. Jade Empire would not be too far behind these games either, though definitely not on the same level. I believe I've vented my opinion on Oblivion and DA:O enough elsewhere on these forums.

    It's not so much the 3D graphics that bother me, though I'd just as soon they'd drop the 3D graphics and used the time that frees to improve the gameplay and story, but I do agree that mimicking the controls of an action game isn't the best choice for an RPG, especially if it's a party based RPG. I wish someone would copy RTS controls for an RPG and use that to guide your party around.
     
  5. Der Nibelung Gems: 1/31
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    Older is better...

    Frankly, newer games take advantage of faster CPUs and better graphics. The 'Golden Age' of RPGs was about 10 to 15 years ago, more games to choose from, ideas were fresh. It just seems to me that companies don't want to take risks and only produce games they think can bring in a profit.
     
  6. The Magpie

    The Magpie Balance, in all things Veteran

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    Exactly, Nibelung. 2000-2005 was something of a transitional period for RPGs, with developers coming to terms with 3d. BG2 may creep into this time frame (I could've sworn it was out in 1999, but I may well be wrong), and everything BioWare have done since references it in lots of ways, whether that's romances, party interaction or the more controlled structure than its predecessor.

    What has become increasingly obvious is the "BioWare Formula": the way plots are set-up, companions introduced and moral choices permitted premiered very much in BG2. It would be correct to assert that all BioWare games are, essentially, formulaic. BG2 just happens to be the first game where that formula was fully established (BG1 lacked romances, and gave you more room to wander & get lost). I think this is a pretty clear point, across KotOR, JE, ME... and, of course, DA:O. To accuse modern games of being more formulaic isn't true; the formula's just being used one more time.
    Eh? Why not? And why would RTS controls necessarily be superior? It's a question of style; DA:O uses more RTS-like controls, other Mass Effect & Jade Empire more action based. All three are excellent, and superior to NWN, which all to often leaves you feeling like a spectator. It's a matter of mutation & evolution; companies try different things, observe the results and plan their next game accordingly. This is where "the formula" diversifies, and it's been BioWare's biggest success, and risk.

    So many games nowadays borrow RPG elements, that it's only right RPGs borrow their gameplay elements back. After all, the problem with many "Golden Age" RPGs can be summarised thus: grand story, fresh ideas, open ended, a dog's dinner of a combat system. Most were either turn-based - a crime against video gaming, in my book - or tried to do action-style controls and didn't quite get it right (e.g. Arena).

    Games are meant to be played, and just having the computer roll dice for you is uninvolving and unsatisfying (see: NWN). RPGs need to incorporate some kind of system for handling combat, so they have to go either for a RTS-style or a more direct, action style. What BioWare have done so well is to do both & get them right. Compare Bethesda, who haven't quite nailed their combat system after something like 15 years, whereas BioWare have done several styles well over a shorter time-frame.
     
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  7. Arkite

    Arkite Crash or crash through Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I thoroughly played out BG2 when it was released, but last year I went back to it and found I quickly fell back into the habit of creating characters and entire parties that I was never going to use, which is still a lot of fun.

    Playing DA:O at the moment and while it is fun, I can't quite get over the non-stereotypical fantasy dwarves (no accent!) among other things. I was initially scared away by the game's marketing (marilyn manson... this is the new ****.. etc) but as it was being touted as BG's spiritual successor I wasn't going to pass on it. The game does look fantastic at times, but through my whole first play of the game I kept thinking if this game just had a bit more colour and life maybe I might care for this world I'm supposed to be saving.

    DA:O feels like NWN did for me, a lot of fun but trying to push a pretty engine as it's first concern which ultimately stops these games feeling like classics in my mind.

    On the other hand, the infinity engine being 2D had this storybook charm, I think when you find yourself spending time looking at the background of a character's portrait for a few more details about this character and the world, that's a very good thing.

    I'm on my third playthrough of DA:O and I still don't really care or know about the world, however the companions are well done and interesting, on my second character I was determined to play an evil bastard, but finding myself caring about my companions more than I knew is evidence that Bioware got this part right (again).

    I'd recommend DA:O to a friend, but not as a successor to BG2, it really feels like NWN4, only in some bizarro world where the dwarves talk like elves and the elves come from the desert. I know some people like things to be shaken up once in a while, but after post 3E rules opening the flood gates for anybody to be a chaotic evil half orc sorcerer/monk/ranger/bard with rocketboots, I find myself gravitating back to the stereotypes just so I can feel like I know where my character is from, what he's good for and what I want him to do.

    Everytime I go back go BG2 or IWD/IWD2 it just feels like opening up a favourite old book, going back to NWN (or NWN2) feels like opening up some old benchmarking application, I expect DA:O will feel the same soon.
     
  8. The Magpie

    The Magpie Balance, in all things Veteran

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    I think Dragon Age is basically the game NWN should have been. As for stereotyping, Dragon Age does things quite well by at least forcing you to stick to a class with a defined role, but allowing a lot of choice within that. As I (& others) have said before, 3E's multiclassing system was an absolute mess.
     
  9. Topken

    Topken Elven-dragon wizard

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    for me i perfer the older games mostly sence they are longer and i like that in a game. mosst develpors are spending more time worring about how a game looks then how it plays and how long they are. as ive said on another forum i like fun and longer games sence they hold my intrest a lot better. its like a good book where i dont want it to end and the recent games except a rare few end way to quickly for me and its annoying when i put only a few days into a game to see it end compared to when i use to spend weeks playing them. this goes for consoles as well.
     
  10. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    The Magpie makes some very good points.

    The Marilyn Manson thing didn't bother me. I'm not a fan but I think people tend to judge him for the wrong reasons. IMO he is a very clever artist who knows exactly what his audience wants. But that's off topic.

    Regarding DAO I think they did a good job straying from the basics while retaining most elements that are characteristic of fantasy CRPGs. Compared to the Forgotten Realms, Thedas isn't that bad, it needs to be fleshed out more but that will happen with books, expansions and sequels. I for one like the fact that they used a believable religious structure and racial background (racism and fanaticism have plagued human history).

    DAO has much in common with The Witcher in that respect and that is a good thing.

    Now regarding Dwarves I'm glad they didn't go for Dwarves with a Scottish accent. I used to live in Scotland and let me tell you that there is nothing dwarfish about the Scots. :p

    On a more serious note the fact that they used mostly British accents for humans was a really good idea. IMO (and I stress that it's just my opinion) there is nothing as ridiculous as a fantasy character with an American accent. When I play BG and listen to Imoen the voice makes me think about a California girl. That may be cute but IMO it's distracting (especially when you think about the fantastic voice acting in the BG series -not necessarily done by Brits by the way).

    Actually I think that most recent games may have been dumbed down to appeal to the console crowd. No offense to console owners but gaming on the console is very different and the console crowd tend to be more casual and less dedicated. In the end game developers have to find a middle ground.

    Has anyone played Fable 2 on the console? It is a perfect example of what a console CRPG looks like (I don't know much about Japanese CRPGs so I can't comment about these games).

    No need to mention that PC versions often don't fully benefit from what a PC is capable of because of compatibility issues and that goes for the user interface which most of the time should be smoother and leaner on a PC -you don't play a PC game on a TV set (Fallout 3 is a perfect exmaple although there is a mod that fixes that).
     
  11. The Magpie

    The Magpie Balance, in all things Veteran

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    [​IMG]
    Aww, shucks. :aww: Tbh, I'm just glad somoeone reads my posts; considering how I hated essay-writing at school, I'm always amazed how quickly a quick reply expands into a full blown essay. :shake:
    Absolutely. The Dick Van Dyke-esque "cor-blimey, guv'nor" cock-er-ney accents might be slightly embarassing for someone who lives in East London, but they're infinitely preferable to blanket Californian. Also note, though, how the City Elves speak with American accents, but their evil human overlords are distinctly plummy. The stereotyped English baddie is a hard meme to shift, it seems... and all because of a tax on tea that they don't even drink anymore! :p

    True, but there's a difference between "dumbing down" and simplifying. Consoles also helped free us from games that used infinite keystrokes to complete simple tasks and manuals the size of the Bible that had to be read cover-to-cover before you could start playing. There's a lot of good design practice that comes from someone saying: "Here's a controller with x buttons. Make it work on that, and the instructions fit a double-page spread". The tutorial modes that are standard now in most games are a real boon to accessability. Of course, the flip side is when simplification is taken so far that depth, challenge and interest is lost.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2010
  12. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    Allow me to strongly disagree with you here - I don't think Bioware got even close to getting it right in DA:O. The camera in the 3rd person view has an awful tendency to bob around too much and the isometric view is too far zoomed in and doesn't have nearly enough freedom of motion away from the main character to be considered useful in my book.

    The 3rd person view worked well in games like The Witcher and Jade Empire, because you're only controlling a single character. In DA:O you have to control an entire party and 3rd person view just isn't suited for that. Whenever I played DA:O, I couldn't help but feel nostalgia for the freedom of the camera movement like in Supreme Commander or Medieval II: Total War. Just zooming out further from the action and making the camera move separately from the player would've been a huge improvement here.

    On the turn-based subject, some of the most enjoyable games I've played have been turn-based, like the Fallouts and Jagged Alliance 2. And isn't the computer rolling dice one of the basics of a classical RPG? If you're the only influencing how well your character does in combat, doesn't this make any character growth utterly redundant?

    I think it's more like the appeal to the console crowd is the symptom, not the disease. The underlying issue is that game developers are developing games to appeal to as many people as possible, therefore necessarily also including the people who play games more casually. In the end, these games end up being developed for the lowest common denominator, essentially feeling simplified and dumbed down to us that like to have some depth in our games.

    It's understandable, of course, as games cost more money to develop and consequently need to be sold more to break even. I find it somewhat sad that the reason that games cost more to develop nowadays is for the graphics, when I don't really care that much for them. More often than not, good graphics just accentuate the fact that it's still not perfect yet. The animations are off, the textures look low res, the faces look wooden and inanimate, etc. In the older games the graphics were so far from being realistic that this never even bothered me, but once the graphics improve, the flaws become all the more glaring.

    Totally agree with you here. This was one of my major gripes with Oblivion too. The fact that the inventory is so enormous and that you can't modify the layout easily like you could in Morrowind. There's just no overview in that kind of interface.

    Not to mention the poor console ports we get on the PC, because games are designed primarily for consoles. No flexibility in changing control schemes, poor performance, no save anywhere...
     
  13. The Magpie

    The Magpie Balance, in all things Veteran

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    I can only assume that your mouse is lacking a scroll wheel, because that's exactly what the camera in DA:O lets you do. Besides, I can't call any camera system bad after NWN2. The amount of time and faffing it takes to get the damn thing usable is as much a testament to a lack of playtesting as all the bugs. :shake:
    I recognise that turn-based combat is - for many - a matter of taste. It's just not to mine - at all! As for the dice issue, I realise that random number generation of some sort or other is used in most games to partially determine the outcome of actions. My issue is with when the statistics and "dice rolling" become more important than strategy and your actions with the controls (activating abilities, spells etc.). NWN descended to this level all too frequently, whereas DA:O makes your choice of abilities and strategy much more important.

    Character development matters, of course, but it's much more fun when you work out ways of getting your characters to punch above their weight with the right strategy or use of skills. The fact that you have to earn those skills and abilities by knowing how to use 'em is an integral part of the RPG "Skinner Box" that makes these games so fun and addictive. Hell, that's why so many games have borrowed the RPG elements of looting & character develpoment.
    Oh boy, is this something that annoys me too. Ever since Tomb Raider, which I didn't "get", at all. The control system was absolutely horrendous on the PC, because they'd clearly just straight ported it from the Playstation and forgot to add any form of mouse control. Ridiculous.

    As for "No save anywhere", this hasn't been a technical issue on consoles for quite a while, but there's a definite trend amongst developers for restricted savepoints. Presumably, it's an attempt to make their games more "challenging", but personally I just find it makes them more annoying. Rainbow Six: Vegas (X360) and GRAW (PC) (both Ubisoft, so maybe it's an isolated problem) have this issue in spades, where you're forced to replay sections over & over because there's no saving allowed and the checkpoints are in really stupid places.

    Challenge is absolutely fine (I'm even one of those people who thinks games are generally easier nowadays) but when it's artificial restrictions like this causing you more problems than the actual enemies, it puts you off playing that developers games, in case poor design decisions like this are endemic. In Ubisoft's case, the DRM on Assassin's Creed 2 is probably further evidence that this is so.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010
  14. Azereki Gems: 8/31
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    Production value has definitely gotten much higher, but I think in general the quality of games has been decreasing. There are definitely still games that come out and completely blow me away. Obviously we would have to define our criteria for good, but I think generally, there are far fewer "good" games than there used to be.
     
  15. theeyeisblind Gems: 1/31
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    the only decent CRPG in that time period has been KOTOR, of the ones i've played.

    NWN2 was decent but just can't replicate the challenge of 2nd edition rules.

    DO:A was just plain terrible for bioware in 2009, its the NWN of modern RPG's

    ---------- Added 0 hours, 12 minutes and 51 seconds later... ----------

    real time FPS-ish combat is the future of gaming and i think bethesda is gonna figure it out sooner than bioware.

    mass effect 2 had excellent combat but it was much more FPS than RPG. from what i hear about fallout: new vegas, obsidian is doing some tweaks on the oversimplified fallout 3 system.

    i think the tweaks they do with new vegas are gonna translate to pwnage with the whomever makes the next oblivion-ish game
     
  16. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    I'm sorry, I wasn't clear enough in what I meant. My comment was actually refering to the isometric view in DA:O. Even zoomed out as far as it goes, you're still closer to the action than I'd like to be. This wouldn't even be that bad, but combined with the fact that even the isometric view is tied to the position of your character (or party) and can't move much further than a screen away from your party, it becomes an annoyance. Perhaps you'll recall the joy of being pelted with arrows from somewhere you can't see in your isometric view, so you have to switch to 3rd person view. How hard can it be to implent a camera view that allows just a bit more overview?

    I'm not really seeing how DA:O is fundamentally different to NWN here. With my favorite type of character (a fighter), there's really not much of a difference between either game. DA:O does seem to offer a bit more of variety with spellcasters, but I tend not to play those much.

    I agree with you here. Challenge in a game is good - within limits - but using artificial means to make a game more challenging is just asinine. Aside from fixed save points, there's also the mandatory lose-all-your-weapons that especially FPS games are so fond of.

    The DRM isn't really a design decision, in that it's not related to the game design itself. I agree that DRM like that on AC2 or C&C 4 is one of the worst implementations of DRM that I can think of. In fact, if a game requires me to go online for anything apart from multi-player, e.g. online activation during installation or Steam, I will not even play that game.
     
  17. cailano Gems: 1/31
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    the only thing I want in a modern CRPG

    Is one where you can create an entire party. I loved doing that. I hate being limited to one character and race because I want to try them all and Im not going to replay the game that many times.

    I like NPC interaction, and I would happily give my sister to the game designer who could figure out a way to bring the whole party into the story no matter what sort of chracters you had, and then had them interact with each other based on alingment, class and some choices made at character creation.
     
  18. Der Nibelung Gems: 1/31
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    IMOP why...

    This is my second post. From reading most peoples comments, hopefully I can sum it up here.

    RPGs are better now; Because of CPU speed, OS Systems, Scripting and Graphics.

    RPGs are worse now; Game companies only want to put out games they think can sell. Those games they do put out have to be able to convert over to consoles, or else they loose a BIG profit sector. So they dumb down the character developement and loose a big part of that old pen-and-paper (PnP) feel. I think THATS what PC gamers want. Face it, we're number crunchers, we'll sit and roll characters for hours before we even play our first game. Games now are made to be quick and flashy, which to me caters to the console players. Flash is good but substance is BETTER!

    Back during the DOS/Win95 transition to me was the 'Golden Age' for RPGs. Games were cheaper to develope and the companies were testing the market, so you had a slew of them to choose from. Some were great and some flopped. Games now are pigeon-holed; produce what sells, make an easy UI to control AND make sure we can transfer it to console.

    The next truly great RPG for PC will come from a group of 40 year-old PnP players who have tons of money that dont care about making a profit. But then, a good product ALWAYS sells itself.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2010
  19. The Magpie

    The Magpie Balance, in all things Veteran

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    Yup, I'd agree here. This was also, in many ways, a "Golden Age" for the rest of PC gaming, too. The birth of 3d hardware boosted the FPS genre, there were some gems of strategy games and TIE Fighter was doing the rounds. IMO, 2000-2005 didn't really introduce anything new, whereas 2005-2010 has seen the RPG "splicing" its DNA more successfully with other genres. Sure, purists may balk at this, but there aren't many other places to go. Also, so many games use statistic-based character development that it's about time the RPG took something back!

    Pre-2000 was also a time when consoles were so far behind the PC technologically, it was frankly laughable. I remember watching people play Goldeneye on an N64 and raving about it, and thinking how backwards the engine was compared to Quake. Consoles like the XBox, with games like Halo, demonstrated that they could compete with their grown-up beige brother in terms of quality and gameplay, and the PC has been in popular decline as a gaming platform ever since (at least, if the declining shelf space in game stores is any indicator). This has forced a rationalisation of the PC's content; any title that can be ported to consoles, has to be.

    However, consoles nowadays are becoming so complicated, that they are on the verge of becoming PCs themselves: you can surf the web, watch videos, check e-mails... seriously, throw in a keyboard & mouse and you're practically there! This leads to the prospect of consoles finally achieving the depth of gameplay PCs have always enjoyed, and since they're likely to be so parallel, ANY game developed for a console could make a PC appearance and vice versa. So when consoles are as complex as PCs, PC games may, hopefully, become complex again as they once were, without $-chasing publishing houses worrying about cutting off their biggest audience group.

    Of course, that could be hopelessly optimistic. People could descend to the level of only playing idiotic browser games like YoVille and that damn Cafe-thing on their PCs, but for now I'm erring on the side of optimism.
     
  20. Scythesong Immortal Gems: 19/31
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    That only holds true for countries like the US. For others its basically PC > all, and only people who could afford both a good PC and a PS3/Xbox/etc bought console games.

    There is a genre left relatively unmentioned here so far: MMO's. I'm pretty sure MMO's played an important role in how things have ended up as they are now. When developers started releasing more games for console something had to fill the void left behind by games like Diablo and BG.
    And now MMO developers have become so adept at keeping their player base that ME and DA:O are relatively unknown titles where I come from. I'm still trying to help several of my friends overcome their obsession with MMO's (many are crappy, but you can't be too picky when there isn't much to choose from).
    Anyway game developers probably didn't know it, but they lost a potentially massive player base when they decided to focus more on developing console games.
     

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