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RPGs do narrative better than AGs

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Just got over with DeusEx and Planescape (again), the amount of text and richness is so
overwhelming.

Even considering current RPGs like Dragonage Origins, Masseffect and Skyrim etc.

You get to read books, wall of texts for each NPCs, Races, conflicts etc.


Question,

The Story/narrative aspect ( and content + diversity within ) make RPGs more satisfying genre than AGs.
Do you think and feel the same???

     

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How could you say one entire genre does narrative better than another? I would have thought it depended on each individual game? Personally, my most fulfilling narrative experiences on games have come from adventures, but I wouldn’t say they were any better or worse overall than any other genre nowadays. Back in 1993 in GK1 times, I would argue adventures were most definitely at the top of the tree, but probably not nowadays.
Really just a matter of taste…those walls of text you call lore, I call tedious, but each their own.

     
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Quantity of text =/= better narrative.

It really depends on the game.  Generally, RPGs tend to put forth different types of narrative experiences than adventure games.  Calling one better than the other is really comparing apples and oranges.

     
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Sure, if you’re feeling at the moment like reading stuff, if you want to experience the lore of the certain world etc. Still, less is sometimes “more”, and for a “cinematic” feel - plain, adventure style could be your best bet. Gabriel Knight 2 is what you would expect from a mystery movie playing on your computer. Full Throttle is designed to be a quick romp through the small part of a futuristic, “Mad Max”-like world. A ride. It doesn’t need book-stands to read what happened to the world, or how Cavefish got their name (wait, I know how they got it!).

But you have a good point - what could adventure games use or learn from RPGs to their own advantage, without going out of the imaginary genre boundaries? I believe, one segment adventure games could “copy” from RPGs is more “freedom of choice”. Of course, freedom of choice in AG would correspond to, perhaps - more solutions to the same puzzle (like what Return to Mysterious Island did), or more freedom of movement and traveling around. In a typical RPG, you can ride your horse to a castle… then back to the forest. Then to the castle again. It’s not scripted. You can ride it again to the back of the castle if you’d want to. Some adventure games feel too much restricted in that regard - you can’t go there now, or even TELL YOU, “you need to go there now”. Of course, it’s a question of a specific design (one room at a time doesn’t mean bad game per se), but it’s not only the question whether every game should present a freedom of Monkey Island 2 (traveling back and forth between islands on your ship is analogy to the horse/castle), but to give the “sense” of a real location. It’s easier for 3D adventures, because you can inspect everything from different angles, but for a 2D game it needs clever design - for example, Broken Sword 1 is great not only because it presents you with a hotel to visit, but it’s not shallow in this regard - you can inspect important and less-important parts of the hotel, you can check few rooms and even the back-side of the hotel. That sense is ruined if adventure game keeps “one location at a time where you’re certain you need to do something to advance the game” principle.

     

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A problem with RPGs and story-telling is they have to include lots of enemies to kill which will force the narrative along a certain path. If you sit down to write a novel you’re free to write about anything. But if you sit down to write a story for an RPG then you have to create a plot that forces situations where you have to kill a bunch of bad guys. RPGS are not as a free to tell a story the way an adventure game is. Most or I should say all RPGs follow a very masculine battle-oriented fantasy, essentially because they have to.

And the problem with me is that I’m just not a huge fan of these masculine fantasies. I don’t really care for stories that are about saving the world from evil bad guys. I just can’t take it seriously.

 

     
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Both formats have their advantages. RPGs are often better able to give you an overwhelming amount of backstory and do world building in a way that other genres don’t have the opportunity to do, by virtue of being so long and so expansive in scope.

But RPGs are also constrained in the kinds of stories they can tell, because they’re still married to certain tropes and gameplay constraints that force them to tell stories about killing progressively stronger things, and while there’s still a lot of latitude within that framework, it rules out a lot of stories.

Adventure games on the other hand, can handle subject matter that simply won’t work in any other genre. Stories about people, interacting with other people, and not killing millions of things. Mysteries, comedies, procedurals, even romance… these are things that adventure games can do better than RPGs, and it’s frankly quite a lot.

     
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lonewolf333 - 06 September 2014 09:48 PM

A problem with RPGs and story-telling is they have to include lots of enemies to kill which will force the narrative along a certain path.

Frogacuda - 06 September 2014 09:49 PM

But RPGs are also constrained in the kinds of stories they can tell, because they’re still married to certain tropes and gameplay constraints that force them to tell stories about killing progressively stronger things, and while there’s still a lot of latitude within that framework, it rules out a lot of stories.

Adventure games on the other hand, can handle subject matter that simply won’t work in any other genre. Stories about people, interacting with other people, and not killing millions of things. Mysteries, comedies, procedurals, even romance… these are things that adventure games can do better than RPGs, and it’s frankly quite a lot.

Deusuex can be finished without killing anyone (Use stealth or whatever).
1st half of witcher was entirely investigation, Skyrim has plenty of exploration and fetch quests with no killing etc.
Not entirely necessary, and AGs also feel this abnormal compulsion to force puzzles as a mechanic like RPGs use killing. So its not a solid argument.

Besides, most of the AGs are strictly linear and wall of texts (mostly boring) exists in AGs too in the form of conversation trees that basically leads to same result.

@Diego

Good points.

 

 

 

     

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Theres countless rpgs that have horrible narratives and no depth. Games such as deus ex, planescape, bloodlines, baldurs gate, those happen to be the diamonds of the genre. An rpg has the potential to do a fantastic narrative, just like an adventure does.

     

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There’s more than one way to tell a story. Planescape: Torment builds its story with dialogue and meaningful choices. Trinity, the classic text adventure, immerses you in the history of the atom bomb. Grim Fandango combines film noir and folklore to tell an epic linear story. All are absolutely brilliant games.

Genre distinctions are great when you’re in the mood for a specific type of gameplay, but they’re terrible metrics of quality. Someday, someone will make a casual hidden object game with a sly, sharp, deep plot with tons of player agency and brilliant character development - a HOG where the gameplay of “searching for clues” is used to give the player choices and challenge their assumptions - and then there’ll REALLY be an uproar!

     

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In stealth games it’s almost impossible to get through them without killing anyone. Technically I guess it is possible but it is extremely difficult and I doubt anyone actually does that. Has anyone made it through The Last of Us without killing a zombie? I doubt it, although technically it would be possible. But that still misses the point which is that the narrative is forced along those lines, whether you kill the bad guys or sneak past them matters not to the point I was making.

     
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nomadsoul - 06 September 2014 10:24 PM

Deusuex can be finished without killing anyone (Use stealth or whatever).
1st half of witcher was entirely investigation, Skyrim has plenty of exploration and fetch quests with no killing etc.
Not entirely necessary, and AGs also feel this abnormal compulsion to force puzzles as a mechanic like RPGs use killing. So its not a solid argument.

Besides, most of the AGs are strictly linear and wall of texts (mostly boring) exists in AGs too in the form of conversation trees that basically leads to same result.

 

Wait .. maybe there is something here that I’m not understanding. You started at the beginning comparing genre against genre, but then later when someone tells you that in RPGs in general you must kill enemies in order to progress which may lead the narrative to a certain place, then you bring to the table an individual game that is a"diamond” of the genre and which you can exceptionally finish it without killing anyone?  So there you have the answer, in the background, is a matter of individual games, and not so much of the genre… this for me makes perfect sense now:

A.A - 06 September 2014 09:46 PM

I would have thought it depended on each individual game?

Lambonius - 06 September 2014 09:46 PM

Quantity of text =/= better narrative.

It really depends on the game.

If we continue moving forward in the conversation, we will reach a point where we will be talking about individual games, as not so much of the genre as a whole, for the simple reason that it is impossible to encompass an entire genre, there will always exceptions to justify either one or another position.

lonewolf333 - 06 September 2014 09:48 PM

And the problem with me is that I’m just not a huge fan of these masculine fantasies. I don’t really care for stories that are about saving the world from evil bad guys. I just can’t take it seriously.

 

Im with you on this.. neither do I.

 

     

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I’m with the consensus that it’s a matter of individual games.

Actually, I think we can say that historically - but for a few stand-outs - AGs smash the storytelling of RPGs. And in fact, most RPGs have no narrative at all - you wander around killing things until you come across a bigger thing to kill, and then the game ends. When 99% of RPGs were doing this (up until the mid-90s) adventure games were telling stories worthy of novels.

The more I think about it, this is a silly discussion. There’s nothing inherently RPG-ish about the storytelling in Deus Ex or Planescape: Torment. Both could easily have been transferred to an adventure format, using puzzles and action which plays itself, instead of choices on ways to kill things and surmount obstacles using statistics. The type of game (RPG or adventure) describes the gameplay, not the narrative.

     
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I do agree, that it is more about an individual game rather than a genre. There’s plenty of RPG games out there that have very little actual narrative, as the gameplay itself is more action oriented or geared towards random exploration.

A good example would be some Rogue like RPG, which often have only a slight story, which is an excuse to start exploring the dungeons. From adventure genre you have those light puzzle adventures, where the story is just a thin veil to get the player to a puzzle to an another while the puzzles themselves have very little meaning to the actual story.

I also agree with Oscar. Both, Deus Ex and Planescape would easily work as adventure games as well. I actually do consider Torment to be an adventure/RPG and I would be very willing to let games like Mass Effect to slip in the same category as well.

     
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Re-quoting with bolded parts

nomadsoul - 06 September 2014 09:18 PM

Question,

The Story/narrative aspect ( and content + diversity within ) make RPGs more satisfying genre than AGs.
Do you think and feel the same???

 

 

Please enlighten me the diversive aspects and story content of AG diamonds like GrimFandango, MI, GK series etc. They are strictly linear games and nowhere as rich as multiple narrative lines of Planescape, Bloodlines, DA:Origins etc.
If you will just take Morrigan (from DA) versus Grace (From GK) you will understand my point. Thats just one character in DA among many stars, while Grace is just one of the two Stars, 3 if you think Mosley has awesome script. 

Oscar - 07 September 2014 02:13 AM

I’m with the consensus that it’s a matter of individual games.

And in fact, most AGs have no narrative at all - you wander around solving inventory puzzles until you come across more difficult puzzle to solve, and then the game ends. When 99% of AGs were doing this until TTG showed up in AG scene RPGs were telling stories better than novels because of diversity and multiple narrative arcs.

The more I think about it, this is a silly defense


Fixed. Wink


Of all the AGs i played in my life and the definition i make of it, they feel alot
constrained and limited in scope than RPGs i played. And the best of the best RPGs
were much better in narrative in terms of content, depth and diversity than best of the Best AGs.

     
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What I consider the positives of RPG on the lore side is definitely the length and the exploring. Both of these usually beat adventures. Otherwise it’s all about how you tell the story in an individual game. Exploring and freer movement can be implemented in adventures and you can add some length too, but usually the rich world comes more alive in adventure in the form of sequels really. Adventure game that is 50 hours long doesn’t even seem very appealing to many people.

And yeah, tons of RPGs tell a crappy story if a story at all. There are plenty of great stories too though, and I’m not even horribly picky.

     

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nomadsoul - 07 September 2014 03:02 AM

And in fact, most AGs have no narrative at all - you wander around solving inventory puzzles until you come across more difficult puzzle to solve, and then the game ends. When 99% of AGs were doing this until TTG showed up in AG scene RPGs were telling stories better than novels because of diversity and multiple narrative arcs.

Ah.. so Telltale and RPGs now tell stories better than Tolstoy, Shakespeare and Mark Twain. Hmm, an interesting opinion.

Let’s think about this for a minute. Does turning Romeo & Juliet into an interactive novel where you can save Juliet at the end improve it, simply because it is a “multiple narrative arc” and the original is a boring straightforward one-ending story? No (((echoes resound around the hall))). In fact it pretty much destroys the whole point of the story and robs it of its power as a narrative.

     

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