I only tried TOME (Tales of Middle Earth) due to posts called “A Day in the Life of -” on the main forum. The game’s been updated now, and supposedly it’s changed to the point where the familiar features are quite different from the game I remember. Still, the stories were basically explaining game mechanics, odd and interesting events, and weaving a story for the character around them. One of the best writers tended to take odd character combinations (a sorcerer with amazing speed, but ridiculously low health) and turn them into interesting characters (the one he was writing was a sort of British professor type) as well as explaining how to survive.
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If you talk to someone who hates JRPGs, or RPGs (pen and paper or video game style ones,) they tend to bring up simularity or a lack of innovation. You can find, for example, tons of D&D clones and there’s even the term “fantasy heartbreaker.” This basically is used to cover games which claim to be someone’s better than Game X game. Unfortunately, it’s the same flaws as Game X, and often the new elements are poorly planned or utterly unnoticeable. In console / computer RPGs, there’s a pretty consistent complaint about novelty / innovation / sameyness between game series / games / etc.
I was watching someone play the early stages of Rogue Galaxy. In that game, the tutorials were contextual. So, for example, you could get a reward from an enemy, and a tutorial would explain how to use that reward to upgrade your equipment. You find an item shop, and a tutorial points it out, and suggests you stock up on items.
I do find it interesting that I avoid MMOs for the most part, but I do enjoy addictive gameplay. I suppose what I mean by that is game design or elements that reward spending time with the game, or optimizing interactions with the game. So, for example, designing a good set of attacks that combo nicely in a Tales game, or a good party set up in Final Fantasy V.
For many people, RPGs scratch a completionist itch. There’s strategy guides, for example, on completing various games with 100% of everything – and that means one of every item, fighting every enemy, opening all the chests, and seeing everything the game has to offer. Some games offer rewards when you complete all the maps or fight everything in the bestiary. Other games are infamous for having complex or annoying secrets.
I watched, the other night, someone speed run through Unlimited Saga.
While the game was in Japanese, I could basically tell their tactics. First of all, they avoided almost all battles. Secondly, they got skills that seemed to emphasize speed. Finally, they used two main tactics – knife skills with a high chance of a deadly strike, and a specific axe technique which tends to kill the final boss quickly. The player finished the game in about an hour and a half.
I think you can kind of separate tutorials into a few categories. For example, there’s games that assume you are very young. There’s games that assume you don’t know the genre conventions. There’s games that want to give you information about the world. A final category might be games that want you to be able to look up mechanics.
There’s people doing retro games now. I think it might be interesting to discuss what they’re evoking, and how they can fail.
If people don’t use interpretation, or reading between the lines, or trying to find fun in a game, they tend to love games that I only like, and they tend to hate games that I’ve been able to enjoy. By interpretation, I think I mostly mean something akin to the concept of “active reading.” In literary criticism, this often means looking at a work both as the text on the page, and looking for the work as what the text could be interpreted to mean. So, for example, you might take Freud and say that he’s saying A, but he means B, and B is a lot more interesting than A. If someone’s just looking at what the game does, they may like a game with a stronger theme to the plot (but may ignore the clunky ways that the theme is set out.) If they can’t look past a bad translation, they may ignore what the plot is trying to say in favor for how poorly the plot is saying it. I think it might help to discuss specific games to try to explain what I mean.
In Cosmo Police Galivan, you have two experience bars. One is for levels, which governs HP amounts and CP amounts (basically magic.) The other is for your weapon. If you die, you lose level experience but not blade experience. This means that new areas are incredibly fustrating since you often need CP to open doors and do special attacks. However, death removes your CP, and it removes your level experience (which governs the limit of how much CP you can have.) A friend of mine played the game using cheats for the blade experience and refilling HP. He got stuck at one point because he needed to grind up his levels to have enough CP for an event. While death in the game didn’t throw you that far back, it is an inconvienence, since it hurts you in ways that actually does matter.
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