on Sep 26, 2007
The Rampant Coyote asks: What makes a (computer) RPG great?
This is a favorite subject of mine. I started to write a response last night, and it quickly turned into a long, rambling post that was all over the place. I’ve never been particularly into the whole brevity thing, but this post was quickly becoming an egregious wall of text so I had to abandon it.
I was trying to talk about character development, gameplay mechanics, presentation, immersion, and about a dozen other factors all at once. I don’t even know if I can give a sensible answer in a single post. Looking back, I think the big problem is that the term “RPG” is so hopelessly broad that it means almost nothing. Diablo, Jade Empire, Nethack, and Oblivion are all RPGs. How is Jade Empire an RPG but not Bully or GTA: San Andreas? How can Diablo be an RPG, when you don’t actually do any roleplaying? More importantly, how does one talk about what makes these games great, since they don’t really have anything meaningful in common?
It might be easier to come at this from the other direction and list the ways you can hinder or ruin an RPG.
I’m going to go back to the drawing board with that abandoned post, but in the meantime I’ll just sort of throw this out there for the less obsessive types to tackle: What makes “an RPG” great?
LATER: Don’t miss this excellent response over at Augury.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.