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View Full Version : Warren Spector Comments "The Ultra Violence Has To Stop" and Why He Left Eidos



TheYouthCounselor
15th Jun 2012, 16:24
Recently Warren Spector gave an interview where he opined and shared on gaming trends he finds disturbing, his reaction to the recent controversial Eidos trailers, why he left Eidos, and how he handled violence in Deus Ex.

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-06-14-warren-spector-the-ultraviolence-has-to-stop



Warren Spector: The ultraviolence has to stop. We have to stop loving it. I just don't believe in the effects argument at all, but I do believe that we are fetishizing violence, and now in some cases actually combining it with an adolescent approach to sexuality. I just think it's in bad taste. Ultimately I think it will cause us trouble.

Q: Are you telling me you didn't like the Hitman: Absolution trailer?

Warren Spector: I left Eidos in 2004 because I looked around at E3 and saw the new Hitman game where you get to kill with a meat hook, and 25 to Life, the game about kids killing cops, and Crash & Burn the racing game where the idea is to create the fieriest, most amazing explosions, not to win the race... I looked around my own booth and realized I just had one of those 'which thing is not like the other' moments. I thought it was bad then, and now I think it's just beyond bad.

We've gone too far. The slow-motion blood spurts, the impalement by deadly assassins, the knives, shoulders, elbows to the throat. You know, Deus Ex had its moments of violence, but they were designed - whether they succeeded or not I can't say - but they were designed to make you uncomfortable, and I don't see that happening now. I think we're just appealing to an adolescent mindset and calling it mature. It's time to stop. I'm just glad I work for a company like Disney, where not only is that not something that's encouraged, you can't even do it, and I'm fine with it.

Q: You don't even think about that as something you're looking for.

Warren Spector: Absolutely not. I mean, there are spreading blood pools under innocent dogs when you kill them in Deus Ex, and I wanted you to feel disturbed if you actually pulled the trigger. It worked, or at least it worked on my wife, who still has not finished that game, by the way.

JCpies
15th Jun 2012, 16:44
There's already a discussion in the Hive but whatever.

sonicsidewinder
15th Jun 2012, 17:00
lol

m G h m u o s
15th Jun 2012, 18:51
I think its too late O__o The film industry has already disensitized extreme violence for so many.

The only way to truely shock someone now it to breach the next sense, like smelling the blood of guy who just got shot. Could be interesting for a video game character to have some reaction to killing someone like vomitting, but then again it didn't really hit me in MGS4.

ColBashar
15th Jun 2012, 18:53
I get what Spector is saying but I think this is more a matter of the game industry making it to the big leagues. The discussion of violence in video games is hardly new and becomes ancient history when you extend it to media as a whole. Games have just reached the level of sophistication (or, more accurately, PCs and consoles have reached the level of computational power) where games can have the same visceral impact as film. The "ultraviolence" as Spector puts it, isn't going to go away, though I do expect the ESRB to come in and sequester it more firmly. Where we're now seeing games compete the be the bloodiest and most violent, that will probably turn around as companies strive to reach a broader audience by conforming their games to the standards set for the "T for Teen" rating.

As to the future of gaming, I may not be a soothsayer but I think I have a good idea of where the industry is going. With the advent of crowd-funding through websites like kickstarter game developers are no longer entirely dependent on publishers to pay their all their bills. With consumers basically paying upfront for products that have not yet been developed, this allows developers the injection of capital needed to reach a level of development where publishers are more willing to invest their money. This will open the door for a more consumer driven industry and allow greater opportunity for niche developers to cater to their small corner.

Does this mean indie games are the future? Are AAA titles going the way of the dinosaur? Of course not. The game industry is not a monolithic being moving in a straight line, it's a community that will grow in every direction at once, slowing where it meets resistance and rushing to where it finds none. The big budget, ultraviolent titles Spector saw around him at E3 are like the big budget summer blockbusters of Hollywood, high spenders and high earners. Epic Mickey by contrast is The King's Speech or Million Dollar Baby, it may be critically acclaimed and universally honoured as a work of art, but that doesn't mean it's going to rake in Michael Bay level profits.

But Disney isn't funding Epic Mickey for the sake of profit, the money they make in earnings is secondary to the much bigger picture of keeping their meme alive and expanding it to new environments. Had Spector proposed the same game but with entirely new IP then it would either still be nothing more than a design prospectus -or- entered into development with a much smaller budget and set of expectations.

So whether it's the four man indie developer working out of somebody's garage, the sophisticated social networking app, or the 800-man big budget production, all of these bring me to the same conclusion. The games industry has reached adulthood. They keys to the city are no longer in the hands of one group, be it the programmers of the 80s-90s who monopolized the skills, or the suits of the 90s-oughts who monopolized the capital. Pretty soon I expect we'll even see government subsidies for game development much in the same manner as the European style film councils.

So I don't really see Spector's observations of E3 as representative of the game industry as a whole so much as of the convention itself. It's E3 that's changed and it's those changes that are sad, in that they are the manifestation of a lost childhood. I don't blame him; I'd be upset, too. But while one particular, and very visible, segment of the game industry does seem to be trending toward more visceral and adolescent themes, I don't believe it's representative of the industry as a whole. I recently played an adventure game in which it was impossible to die. That's a far cry from the Roberta Williams style of game that seemed to take special delight in finding many different ways to kill off the protagonist. Not all games trend toward violence and the only reason it's become a serious discussion now (as opposed to when it was silly in the 90s) is not because the -quantity- of the violence portrayed in games has increased but the -quality- of it has in terms of the dramatic improvement seen in graphics.

But this article also highlights why I really wish Warren Spector -would- make another shooter. The fact that he's critical of the genre, or the direction it is heading, tells me that he is just the right sort of person who would be able to do an action game properly. Breaking into the Paris hotel and having Icarus suggest I re-evaluate my motives for riffling through an innocent stranger's property did make me stop and think about the actions that I was performing. While I wouldn't steal in real life, outright theft has been a trope of RPGs since the early days to the point where it is SOP to gamers. Deus Ex helped me re-evaluate my gaming experience and encouraged me to approach games not merely from a standpoint of effectiveness but also morality. I might have no qualms about gunning down MJ12 troopers en mass, but there was no way I was going to harm Private Lloyd, Sgt. Berry, or the host of other UNATCO troopers who but a few hours ago were fighting at my side, or the riot cops whose only crime was to show up at work in Hell's Kitchen, or the US Marines performing their duty in guarding their post from sneaky super-spies.

Romeo
15th Jun 2012, 21:09
Frankly, I think this comes across as incredibly hypocritical. When I do violence, it's only because I want to make you uncomfortable. But if someone else does violence? Clearly it's a problem. Yes, we have assassins stabbing you in the throat these days. Yes we have a gun with a chainsaw bayonet on it. Yes, we have snapped necks in Deus Ex 3. We also had literally exploding bodies in the original Deus Ex.

I will concede that the Hitman trailer was awful (In ways beyond the violent nature of it), but for Spector to condemn people for making violent games when nearly all of his are too screams of a double-standard.

68_pie
15th Jun 2012, 21:25
/merge

Romeo
16th Jun 2012, 07:21
Nah, generally Spector-reports are kept outside the Hive, I'll leave this be.

Pinky_Powers
16th Jun 2012, 09:02
Anyone who makes a Wii-only Disney game has no right to comment on the industry as a whole. He no longer participates in the industry.

Yes, I'm still pissed that Epic Mickey didn't come out on PC. :D

ColBashar
16th Jun 2012, 13:29
Bear in mind the distinction that Spector isn't condemning violence, Romeo. What he's condemning is "ultraviolence", which I interpret to mean gratuitous or violence for the sake of itself. Basically he's drawing a line in the sand and saying this is the point that he won't cross. I may not agree with his sentiment but I don't think it makes him a hypocrite.

Bear in mind also that DX is the first shooter that I know of where it's possible to complete the game without actually killing anybody. Okay, maybe it is preceded by Thief, but being a Looking Glass game it's not a far stretch that he influenced or was influenced by that game. So as violent as DX was, he still gave the player the option as to the degree of force he wanted to utilize to achieve objectives. Contrast that to the majority of shooters where killing is a requirement to complete the game.

Spector could have made a pedantic game where non-lethal actions were made eminently preferable, perhaps through experience point bonuses (!) or making the attacks silent (!) but he instead he made it equal if not more difficult than outright killing. That's not because he endorses the taking of life but because he wanted to create a moral quandary. Does the player take the quick and easy Dark Side path or choose the more difficult but righteous option? He tries to offer suggestions through dialogue but avoids forcing the player's hand (Anna Navarre being the odd exception).

I think Spector's issue with E3 today compared to year 2000 is really twofold. First, over the last action games as a genre have taken the lion's share of development capital, which in turn increases their visibility at E3. Strategy games and adventure games can be made relatively on the cheap, which is why these are often made by niche developers who have little or no representation at the convention. To make a competing action game almost demands a large budget and large budgets attract media attention.

Second, I suspect that the advance in graphics technology has made games seem a little bit too real for him. As he stated in the article, the motion capture rig he's using for Epic Mickey is even more complex than the one used by Peter Jackson in Lord of the Rings. That's a far cry from the wooden key frame animations of Deus Ex. I'm guessing that games have breached the uncanny valley and where he didn't have a problem killing poorly rendered objects, the level of realism modern graphic engines offer makes representations of violence more disturbing to him.

Mainly I think he just sees where the industry has gone and wants to step back the clock a bit to the "good old days". To a certain extent it's not very different from many arguments I've seen on this forum from people talking about how gameplay was better in DX even as HR marks an improvement in almost every other regard.

IwantedOrange
16th Jun 2012, 15:40
He's abolutely right about that. This trend let people love violence. Nobody wants to get hurt, but when the violence is in a game, they start loving it. That is sick!
And many gamers (expecially young gamers) simply don't understand the danger for their mind, and how virtual violence affects their personality, reactions and attitudes. They think in their ignorance, that it's just a game. But the influence is there. The preparedness for real violence is going up.

68_pie
16th Jun 2012, 15:44
Nah, generally Spector-reports are kept outside the Hive, I'll leave this be.

It was more a complaint that he jacked my news item and couldn't be arsed to check whether it had already been posted :(

m G h m u o s
16th Jun 2012, 16:36
He's abolutely right about that. This trend let people love violence. Nobody wants to get hurt, but when the violence is in a game, they start loving it. That is sick!
A lot of games give the ability for a character to sprint, yet many gamers still don't get their recommended daily excercise? How is this possible? How is this physically, humanly possible? Seriously, even on a molecular level this just makes no darn sense.

I mean I played a game where I zoom into giant pink stars as a robot rainbow unicorn and I've been launching myself into night sky ever since.

SageSavage
16th Jun 2012, 16:51
A lot of games give the ability for a character to sprint, yet many gamers still don't get their recommended daily excercise? How is this possible? How is this physically, humanly possible? Seriously, even on a molecular level this just makes no darn sense.

I mean I played a game where I zoom into giant pink stars as a robot rainbow unicorn and I've been launching myself into night sky ever since.

I certainly believe that media (including fictional media) does influence people on various levels and to various degrees. Even more so if something gets repeated over and over again. Just look how successful advertising psychology is.

Romeo
16th Jun 2012, 18:31
Bear in mind the distinction that Spector isn't condemning violence, Romeo. What he's condemning is "ultraviolence", which I interpret to mean gratuitous or violence for the sake of itself. Basically he's drawing a line in the sand and saying this is the point that he won't cross. I may not agree with his sentiment but I don't think it makes him a hypocrite.

Bear in mind also that DX is the first shooter that I know of where it's possible to complete the game without actually killing anybody. Okay, maybe it is preceded by Thief, but being a Looking Glass game it's not a far stretch that he influenced or was influenced by that game. So as violent as DX was, he still gave the player the option as to the degree of force he wanted to utilize to achieve objectives. Contrast that to the majority of shooters where killing is a requirement to complete the game.

Spector could have made a pedantic game where non-lethal actions were made eminently preferable, perhaps through experience point bonuses (!) or making the attacks silent (!) but he instead he made it equal if not more difficult than outright killing. That's not because he endorses the taking of life but because he wanted to create a moral quandary. Does the player take the quick and easy Dark Side path or choose the more difficult but righteous option? He tries to offer suggestions through dialogue but avoids forcing the player's hand (Anna Navarre being the odd exception).

I think Spector's issue with E3 today compared to year 2000 is really twofold. First, over the last action games as a genre have taken the lion's share of development capital, which in turn increases their visibility at E3. Strategy games and adventure games can be made relatively on the cheap, which is why these are often made by niche developers who have little or no representation at the convention. To make a competing action game almost demands a large budget and large budgets attract media attention.

Second, I suspect that the advance in graphics technology has made games seem a little bit too real for him. As he stated in the article, the motion capture rig he's using for Epic Mickey is even more complex than the one used by Peter Jackson in Lord of the Rings. That's a far cry from the wooden key frame animations of Deus Ex. I'm guessing that games have breached the uncanny valley and where he didn't have a problem killing poorly rendered objects, the level of realism modern graphic engines offer makes representations of violence more disturbing to him.

Mainly I think he just sees where the industry has gone and wants to step back the clock a bit to the "good old days". To a certain extent it's not very different from many arguments I've seen on this forum from people talking about how gameplay was better in DX even as HR marks an improvement in almost every other regard.
Again, we're talking about an individual who's most famous game can have you enemies explode in to tiny chunks of meat. In what manner is that considered violence for the sake of violence? It doesn't make me any more uncomfortable than any other violent game, he didn't do it in some unique and mature manner. It would be different if these characters we could kill were unique, and had backstories like family, dreams and aspirations, and the like. Sure, then the mutilation might provoke some sympathy and unease. But as it is, the gibbing in Deus Ex was no more mature than it was in the Unreal series, for example. Which brings me back to my first point: Extremely hypocritical.

It was more a complaint that he jacked my news item and couldn't be arsed to check whether it had already been posted :(
Fair enough, I can understand the frustration.

I certainly believe that media (including fictional media) does influence people on various levels and to various degrees. Even more so if something gets repeated over and over again. Just look how successful advertising psychology is.
I can agree with that. But on a basic, psychological level, there is a division between our media and our thought process in almost all circumstances. I have never played Battlefield and thought "I'm really in the mood to shoot someone now." And the same goes for virtually any individual on Earth. Those who do have such a thought were likely already suffering severe psychological issues to begin with, and would've found an excuse even without gaming or other media.

One thing I will give you however is desensitization. I showed my younger brother the opening fifteen minutes of Saving Private Ryan last week. Horrifying glimpse of what humanity is capable of doing to itself, and a depressing look at our history. My brother watched that and thought it looked silly, because he would've just done what he does in Call of Duty. He's become too detatched from the violence, it didn't strike him that he'd be watching his friends ripped to ribbons around him.

SDF121
16th Jun 2012, 20:41
somewhat relevant...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSBn77_h_6Q&list=PL44284B7F254B4024&index=13&feature=plpp_video

JCpies
16th Jun 2012, 21:02
Again, we're talking about an individual who's most famous game can have you enemies explode in to tiny chunks of meat. In what manner is that considered violence for the sake of violence? It doesn't make me any more uncomfortable than any other violent game, he didn't do it in some unique and mature manner. It would be different if these characters we could kill were unique, and had backstories like family, dreams and aspirations, and the like. Sure, then the mutilation might provoke some sympathy and unease. But as it is, the gibbing in Deus Ex was no more mature than it was in the Unreal series, for example. Which brings me back to my first point: Extremely hypocritical.

I guess it IS hypocritical, but I wouldn't say "extremely". Deus Ex doesn't have people blindly break the Geneva Conventions every ten minutes, and Deus Ex doesn't force you to torture someone to advance through the game. Violence isn't the sole selling point of Deus Ex.

Spector is mainly addressing the quantity and emphasis of the violence, and how much more graphic and hyped it has become, rather than condoning any inclusion of violence in a game.


One thing I will give you however is desensitization. I showed my younger brother the opening fifteen minutes of Saving Private Ryan last week. Horrifying glimpse of what humanity is capable of doing to itself, and a depressing look at our history. My brother watched that and thought it looked silly, because he would've just done what he does in Call of Duty. He's become too detatched from the violence, it didn't strike him that he'd be watching his friends ripped to ribbons around him.

I remember people laughing at the arm scene and people saying how stupid they were. I also remember watching a film about Gandhi in that same class, people laughing at peaceful protesters being beaten with sticks. :rolleyes:


Band of Brothers is better.

SageSavage
16th Jun 2012, 21:24
somewhat relevant...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSBn77_h_6Q&list=PL44284B7F254B4024&index=13&feature=plpp_video
Yes, some interesting aspects, that I hadn't considered yet. His DXHR-review is very interesting, too -> make sure to watch it, EM!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X43i8NQ--_s&feature=relmfu


Band of Brothers is better.
Brotherhood (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0386064/) is even better.


But on a basic, psychological level, there is a division between our media and our thought process in almost all circumstances. I have never played Battlefield and thought "I'm really in the mood to shoot someone now." And the same goes for virtually any individual on Earth. Those who do have such a thought were likely already suffering severe psychological issues to begin with, and would've found an excuse even without gaming or other media.

But it's not really a division as you call it, I'd envision it more like a permeatable membrane that's betwen a person's psyche and external input. As you said, desensitisation is quite real and I doubt that this is the only effect there is.

Pinky_Powers
17th Jun 2012, 02:17
Yes, some interesting aspects, that I hadn't considered yet. His DXHR-review is very interesting, too -> make sure to watch it, EM!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X43i8NQ--_s&feature=relmfu

I don't understand his complaint about the various perspectives on augmentation HR presents. Why is it wrong that we see different people with different opinions? And why is it wrong that some of those opinions might seem vaguely nonsensical? That seems remarkably realistic to me, and much better than having only one domineering perspective we are asked to agree with.

On the other hand, I do agree with most everything else he says, particularly that they don't go deep enough into fleshing these arguments out.

sonicsidewinder
17th Jun 2012, 04:18
It was more a complaint that he jacked my news item and couldn't be arsed to check whether it had already been posted :(

I'm with you, lad. I recognise your bringing to the fore-front of this knowledge.

Romeo
17th Jun 2012, 05:00
I guess it IS hypocritical, but I wouldn't say "extremely". Deus Ex doesn't have people blindly break the Geneva Conventions every ten minutes, and Deus Ex doesn't force you to torture someone to advance through the game. Violence isn't the sole selling point of Deus Ex.

Spector is mainly addressing the quantity and emphasis of the violence, and how much more graphic and hyped it has become, rather than condoning any inclusion of violence in a game.



I remember people laughing at the arm scene and people saying how stupid they were. I also remember watching a film about Gandhi in that same class, people laughing at peaceful protesters being beaten with sticks. :rolleyes:


Band of Brothers is better.
I do. Eidos doesn't have violence for any worse a reason than he ever has. Yes, the trailer for the last Hitman was awful, and it was berated as such. But it doesn't represent the game's levels of violence, and it certainly doesn't reflect Eidos' overall game library. Hell, the Deus Ex WITHOUT Spector has been the least violent one so far.

Yeah, I almost feel like some people have lost touch with how horrifying things are when you're in the situation. You see a guy spin at the track then go off-course, and you'll wonder why he's taking so long getting back on track. You do that yourself, and you have to suppress your instinct to stay put because your body thinks you're about to die. And that's to say nothing of the even more horrifying implications of being cut-down en masse in a war situation. And overall Band of Brothers is a great movie to me, but the opening 15 minutes in Saving Private Ryan are untouchable in their quality, in my books. Curiously, the next most intense war scene to me isn't even in a war film - Children of Men's "final act" is the next best one (In my opinion).

Caradoc
17th Jun 2012, 07:54
I don't know what to think about Spector these days. I respect him ofcourse for the work he has done. His resume of games speaks for itself. Because of Dx1 I will always see him as a game dev guru, but regarding his comments about video game violence... i wonder if it is a disney company man speaking or Spector himself?

I'm not personally intrested in Disney games, atleast arcade type jumping games which Epic mickey seems to be. The game has a stunning art style and I adore all the references to the classic cartoons etc, but as a video game I doubt i'd enjoy the jumping platform type gameplay.

I quess i can understand his desire to try something entirely different for a chance and IW fiasko likely has something do with that decision as well, but I wished he had made a pc rpg instead of a console arcade game :|

Kodaemon
17th Jun 2012, 08:23
the Deus Ex WITHOUT Spector has been the least violent one so far.

Has it, now?

Shralla
17th Jun 2012, 16:22
I remember people laughing at the arm scene and people saying how stupid they were. I also remember watching a film about Gandhi in that same class, people laughing at peaceful protesters being beaten with sticks. :rolleyes:

People are immature and they laugh at things that make them feel uncomfortable. Sure some of them may have genuinely found it funny, but most of it is just a defense mechanism, which I think is a fairly healthy response.

Romeo
19th Jun 2012, 21:36
Has it, now?
Deus Ex: The ability to turn your enemies in to tiny bits of meat.
Invisible War: Every shot rewarded with an eruption of blood.
Human Revolution: Almost no blood to speak of.

People are immature and they laugh at things that make them feel uncomfortable. Sure some of them may have genuinely found it funny, but most of it is just a defense mechanism, which I think is a fairly healthy response.
Aye, I think I can agree with that. Not universally, but in some cases. You can always tell the difference though. One seems nervous and confused, the other seems to be genuinely enjoying it.

m G h m u o s
19th Jun 2012, 23:27
Deus Ex: The ability to turn your enemies in to tiny bits of meat.
Invisible War: Every shot rewarded with an eruption of blood.
Human Revolution: Almost no blood to speak of.
'Gore' is not necessarily equal to 'Violence', as in all the fancy arm blade kills and etc.


Aye, I think I can agree with that. Not universally, but in some cases. You can always tell the difference though. One seems nervous and confused, the other seems to be genuinely enjoying it.
I'm no behavioural psycho analyst lol but can you really ever be sure? Tells you more about oneself, wanting to judge certain individuals in your favour on whatever level.

Being able to kill children in DX is something I feel like would be a really touchy subject if you could do such things in a modern game release :/ It could be handled really well, like people screaming or some mother coming to hug the body, to get a reaction out of the player.

EDIT: To be honest if there is more gore/violence in general, it needs to be shocking a player to give a grounding sense of their actions. Like shooting someone doesn't just make them flop to the ground from instant brain failure, but really yell and cry and vomit and spill and beg for mercy.

Romeo
20th Jun 2012, 19:12
'Gore' is not necessarily equal to 'Violence', as in all the fancy arm blade kills and etc.


I'm no behavioural psycho analyst lol but can you really ever be sure? Tells you more about oneself, wanting to judge certain individuals in your favour on whatever level.

Being able to kill children in DX is something I feel like would be a really touchy subject if you could do such things in a modern game release :/ It could be handled really well, like people screaming or some mother coming to hug the body, to get a reaction out of the player.

EDIT: To be honest if there is more gore/violence in general, it needs to be shocking a player to give a grounding sense of their actions. Like shooting someone doesn't just make them flop to the ground from instant brain failure, but really yell and cry and vomit and spill and beg for mercy.
They had that in Double Helix (Of the Soldier of Fortune series). The problem being, the even more brutal options were often viewed as a feature, rather than a punishment. My own take on violence is that I wish for two things: Consequences, and guilt. Consequences was something Morrowind handled well, I thought. Sure, go ahead, kill that guy. Oh you killed him? Well, kiss the plot goodbye then. Your excessive violence could and often would screw you out of game content. The second thing, guilt, would be a mammoth undertaking, but if there were backstories to every character in a game, I would feel legitamitely bad for killing Tom, the undergrad just working security so he can go back to school and become a teacher. Much more so than killing "Heavy Guard".

And I'm no psychocologist myself, just going from personal experience. The people that look like they're laughing because they don't know what else to do are generally sincerely laughing because they don't know how else to process it; Those that laugh like the content is funny often do not (And in many cases will comment about why it is funny to them).

Saerain
25th Jun 2012, 11:47
Just need to lay off the milk plus drencrom, droogs.

neoWilks
25th Jun 2012, 21:27
If a dude gets hit in the junk with a football and everybody laughs, it's okay. But if some dude gets hit in the junk with a football and explodes into bloody chunks and everybody laughs, it's not okay?

The only difference I'm seeing is that in the first case, you're witnessing realistic pain and in the second, you're seeing something that is patently absurd. I'm not sure why it'd then be more acceptable to find the former humorous, but the latter indicative of a problem.

I'm not sure I agree that there needs to be "punishment" or the player needs to feel guilty for doling out excessively violent deaths to pixelated enemies. They aren't real, it's not real life. No one is laughing or deriving entertainment from killing people, they are entertained by clicking at that group of pixels and making it turn into a splotch of red pixels.

m G h m u o s
25th Jun 2012, 21:32
I'm not sure I agree that there needs to be "punishment" or the player needs to feel guilty for doling out excessively violent deaths to pixelated enemies. They aren't real, it's not real life. No one is laughing or deriving entertainment from killing people, they are entertained by clicking at that group of pixels and making it turn into a splotch of red pixels.
I wouldn't say its punishment, it'd just mix things up from the decades of red pixel splotches we've all gotten used to :P You see The Last of Us E3 demo?

neoWilks
25th Jun 2012, 22:03
I wouldn't say its punishment, it'd just mix things up from the decades of red pixel splotches we've all gotten used to :P You see The Last of Us E3 demo?
I've seen it, and I thought it was goofy that the PC just started murdering a bunch of scavengers without any provocation.

I'm not saying that more realistic reactions to wanton destruction and mayhem wouldn't be nice, but I don't think it's universally required or that it says anything meaningful about the player who enjoys mass killing innocent pedestrians without consequence.

Quasi relevant?
http://www.asofterworld.com/clean/gta.jpg

Shralla
26th Jun 2012, 00:25
I've seen it, and I thought it was goofy that the PC just started murdering a bunch of scavengers without any provocation.

Maybe you were watching a different demo, but he was absolutely provoked in what they showed at E3.

m G h m u o s
26th Jun 2012, 00:55
I've seen it, and I thought it was goofy that the PC just started murdering a bunch of scavengers without any provocation.

I'm not saying that more realistic reactions to wanton destruction and mayhem wouldn't be nice, but I don't think it's universally required or that it says anything meaningful about the player who enjoys mass killing innocent pedestrians without consequence.
lol the E3 demo does look a lot like that out of context, but I'm pretty sure its a following the events of that trailer where they get ambushed.

I don't think anyone is saying super realistic consequences should be universally applied either XD Its just video games. Screwing around and doing ridiculous stuff is fine but my argument was basically from an RPG perspective really, I don't care about this debate against ultra violence for the children lol >^>

neoWilks
26th Jun 2012, 02:24
Maybe you were watching a different demo, but he was absolutely provoked in what they showed at E3.
The E3 demo I saw had a dude sneak up behind a scavenger who didn't even know he was there, start choking him out, got spotted, started shooting everybody, and finished things off by shooting a pleading, unarmed man in the face. Was there some other footage? 'Cause that's all I saw.


I don't think anyone is saying super realistic consequences should be universally applied either XD Its just video games. Screwing around and doing ridiculous stuff is fine but my argument was basically from an RPG perspective really, I don't care about this debate against ultra violence for the children lol >^>

I don't think anyone would disagree that more reactive worlds/characters is a good thing, especially in an RPG. The argument some seem to be making, though, is that violence without consequence in a videogame has gone "too far" or something.

Romeo
26th Jun 2012, 04:02
The E3 demo I saw had a dude sneak up behind a scavenger who didn't even know he was there, start choking him out, got spotted, started shooting everybody, and finished things off by shooting a pleading, unarmed man in the face. Was there some other footage? 'Cause that's all I saw.

I don't think anyone would disagree that more reactive worlds/characters is a good thing, especially in an RPG. The argument some seem to be making, though, is that violence without consequence in a videogame has gone "too far" or something.
It's not that it's too far, it's just shallow in an RPG. I recognize no one cares about each individual Russian you shoot in Call of Duty, or each Grunt in Halo. But an RPG is supposed to be an emotionally invested experience. When there's an absolute disconnect between your actions and your feelings, that's an area that should be improved. I want to care about the decision between lethal and non-lethal actions. An irrelevent NPC means nothing. But characters with story usually mean more, regardless of how you deal with them. An example, also, severe spoilers coming up for Dragon Age: Origins. In DA:O, you fight Loghain's troops. And killing them is irrelevent, you feel nothing for doing it. But when you meet Loghain himself, you have the option of killing him or letting him live - and that actually provokes some reaction from the player, they're connected to the game and to that decision.

Now imagine that kind of weight but put in to more decisions. Sounds like an absolute win to me.

neoWilks
26th Jun 2012, 04:41
It's not that it's too far, it's just shallow in an RPG. I recognize no one cares about each individual Russian you shoot in Call of Duty, or each Grunt in Halo. But an RPG is supposed to be an emotionally invested experience. When there's an absolute disconnect between your actions and your feelings, that's an area that should be improved. I want to care about the decision between lethal and non-lethal actions. An irrelevent NPC means nothing. But characters with story usually mean more, regardless of how you deal with them. An example, also, severe spoilers coming up for Dragon Age: Origins. In DA:O, you fight Loghain's troops. And killing them is irrelevent, you feel nothing for doing it. But when you meet Loghain himself, you have the option of killing him or letting him live - and that actually provokes some reaction from the player, they're connected to the game and to that decision.

Now imagine that kind of weight but put in to more decisions. Sounds like an absolute win to me.
More reactive storytelling and worlds with realistic consequences is a plus, forcing sappy narratives down the player's throat at every turn in some weird attempt to make them feel ****ty for killing enemies is not. In general, I'd prefer RPG writers to simply tell a believable story rather than one trying to evoke specific emotions. In the latter case you get something like Fallout 3, which only sort of works if you care about your crazy dad.

I found the Loghain scene in Origins to be absolutely ridiculous. He's standing right in the middle of this hall, his daughter like three feet away, and you just eviscerate the guy right there on the spot. I mean, it actually shows his daughter looking on in horror as like a gallon of blood splashes all over her. I found it to be pretty hilarious.

singularity
26th Jun 2012, 08:32
Indulge me.

It was many years ago on my first play-through of Half Life 2. I had always thought the original Half Life was a bit over-rated (grab your torches and pitchforks…I don’t care), but the sequel was the real deal for me. A world that I fell into and an environment fully realized -- I was captivated from the opening sequence. The characters felt real, the struggles felt worth-while.

Some way into the game, traveling across the digital country side in my rugged dune-buggy, I encountered a small farm-like area, an outpost for resistance fighters. And as luck would have it, a combine helicopter was headed my way, intending to not only destroy ME – humanity’s last, best hope, but also wipe out this farm. The people here looked and sounded real – their fight was my fight. I knew I had to help. I took refuge in a small barn, a young brunet woman accompanying me, armed with a machine gun.

The helicopter came, along with soldiers, attacking by the wave, and eventually I fought them back and destroyed the copter – victorious with my new-found band of brothers. But I looked back in the barn and felt a surge of horror. I will never forget it. Strewn across the back of the barn was the brunet who had been fighting by my side, the entire back of the barn painted dark red with her blood. She had caught a burst from the helicopter, and in the chaos I hadn’t even noticed. The wood splintered from the high-caliber rounds and her body limp among the large crimson splotches, she was dead.

It affected me so much, I actually reloaded my save several times – replaying the scenario until I achieved an outcome where she lived. I had mercilessly murdered hundreds of people in that game (and many other games before and since), and seen countless digital civilians torn apart… but that unnamed brunet in the barn has always stuck with me. She and her band of resistance fighters were people to me.

You see, when you play Call of Duty or Battlefield, you kill innumerable digital humans, but the psychology is much different. It’s the same as playing paintball, or dodge ball or tag. You aren’t ending a life – a complete world of experiences with people who love them -- you’re tagging someone and they are ‘going out’. It’s the same as playing chess… you never lament the valiant knights who fell in your honor or the brave king who is lynched at the end. The “pieces” are just that – symbols for us to interact with. That’s what many NPCs are in many games today. Pieces on a board. Those people you kill with meat hooks in Hitman? Those are pieces you need to find a way around. Those goons you dispatch with tremendous gore in Max Payne 3? Pieces in a game.

I think Warren Spector needs to play a little bit more and understand the psychology at work here. Games like Deus Ex, Heavy Rain, and Half Life are meant to make you care about things – think about things we haven’t thought about yet. They were designed with that goal from the start. Games like Hitman are puzzle games (or shooting games, or whatever games) with pixilated gore, used to symbolize a cause-and-effect sense of accomplishment. They were designed for that… and that’s ok. They might desensitize us to real violence the more realistic they become, but in my opinion, other forms of media have already been doing that for over 1000 years.

JCpies
26th Jun 2012, 15:58
I recognize no one cares about each individual Russian you shoot in Call of Duty...

I care. :(

Romeo
26th Jun 2012, 18:54
More reactive storytelling and worlds with realistic consequences is a plus, forcing sappy narratives down the player's throat at every turn in some weird attempt to make them feel ****ty for killing enemies is not. In general, I'd prefer RPG writers to simply tell a believable story rather than one trying to evoke specific emotions. In the latter case you get something like Fallout 3, which only sort of works if you care about your crazy dad.

I found the Loghain scene in Origins to be absolutely ridiculous. He's standing right in the middle of this hall, his daughter like three feet away, and you just eviscerate the guy right there on the spot. I mean, it actually shows his daughter looking on in horror as like a gallon of blood splashes all over her. I found it to be pretty hilarious.
We will simply have to agree to disagree then. I consider an RPG to be failing whenever I'm "tuning out" from consequences and choice. If I don't care about the people and the world, why play an RPG? I'd be better served simply playing a straight FPS.

I care. :(
GOD DAMN COMMIE, WHY DON'T YOU JUST URINATE ON AN AMERICAN FLAG?

(Totally kidding, if you hadn't guessed)

JCpies
26th Jun 2012, 19:29
I also tried NOT commiting war crimes in Call of Duty. It didn't work.

neoWilks
27th Jun 2012, 05:17
We will simply have to agree to disagree then. I consider an RPG to be failing whenever I'm "tuning out" from consequences and choice. If I don't care about the people and the world, why play an RPG? I'd be better served simply playing a straight FPS.

Just as an aside, a straight FPS can have just as much choice and consequence, and provoke the same feelings, as any RPG. There is no inherent difference here. I think the idea---shared by players and developers alike---that only RPGs can have deep, branching stories unnecessarily limits the potential of other genres to offer these sorts of experiences.

There is a difference between designing a world and characters that are believable, and that a player might care* about, and designing a world and characters that attempts to make a player care. In the former circumstance, you simple present things as they are, making no impositions on the player. The latter, on the other hand, is contrived and only works if the player happens to care about the same things the developers care about.

To go back to the Fallout example. In Fallout 3, Bethesda's story revolves around you chasing down your father who's fled your vault, finding him, watching him arbitrarily sacrifice himself, and then fighting to finish his project on your own terms. The only way this story works is if the player cares about the PC's father. Since he's only got about twenty minutes screen time, they try to establish this through sappy, scripted moments.

Now look at Fallout: New Vegas. Obsidian crafts a believable world and several deep factions with conflicting ideologies. You are free to explore this world and investigate these factions inside and out. If the player feels anything, it's not because Obsidian has forced them through emotionally charged set pieces, but because they identify with certain characters or factions.

It's not a game developers job to tell me how to feel. It's their job to tell a believable and interesting story. Anything beyond that is my problem.


*Care defined as having some emotional reaction beyond simple excitement or the desire to progress the plot. As in, "I care whether this character lives or dies", "I care what they think about me", "I care what becomes of this faction", etc.

Jerion
27th Jun 2012, 05:53
GOD DAMN COMMIE, WHY DON'T YOU JUST URINATE ON AN AMERICAN FLAG?

(Totally kidding, if you hadn't guessed)

Like you would know anything about 'Merica. Foolish Canadian. :rasp:

Romeo
27th Jun 2012, 23:19
Just as an aside, a straight FPS can have just as much choice and consequence, and provoke the same feelings, as any RPG. There is no inherent difference here. I think the idea---shared by players and developers alike---that only RPGs can have deep, branching stories unnecessarily limits the potential of other genres to offer these sorts of experiences.

There is a difference between designing a world and characters that are believable, and that a player might care* about, and designing a world and characters that attempts to make a player care. In the former circumstance, you simple present things as they are, making no impositions on the player. The latter, on the other hand, is contrived and only works if the player happens to care about the same things the developers care about.

To go back to the Fallout example. In Fallout 3, Bethesda's story revolves around you chasing down your father who's fled your vault, finding him, watching him arbitrarily sacrifice himself, and then fighting to finish his project on your own terms. The only way this story works is if the player cares about the PC's father. Since he's only got about twenty minutes screen time, they try to establish this through sappy, scripted moments.

Now look at Fallout: New Vegas. Obsidian crafts a believable world and several deep factions with conflicting ideologies. You are free to explore this world and investigate these factions inside and out. If the player feels anything, it's not because Obsidian has forced them through emotionally charged set pieces, but because they identify with certain characters or factions.

It's not a game developers job to tell me how to feel. It's their job to tell a believable and interesting story. Anything beyond that is my problem.


*Care defined as having some emotional reaction beyond simple excitement or the desire to progress the plot. As in, "I care whether this character lives or dies", "I care what they think about me", "I care what becomes of this faction", etc.
The whole aspect of choice and consequence is derived from RPGs, however. Hence why when a game does introduce elements of decision-making, we say it has RPG elements.

Now, as to your difference between caring, and making a player care, I still think you're mistaken in your belief that a player will still avoid violence in a world they care about. I care about the lore in Halo, Crysis and Starcraft; I will still kill everything that moves in Halo, Crysis and Starcraft. Because while the world, and important characters are interesting, individual targets are still utterly irrelevent. Same goes for Human Revolution and Deus Ex before it. However, special characters in those games were ones were ones where we had to think about whether to save them, kill them, leave them to their fate, etc...

Like you would know anything about 'Merica. Foolish Canadian. :rasp:
Damn, busted. :D

(I actually live just a hop and a skip away from the US, so I head all the time)

neoWilks
28th Jun 2012, 04:20
The whole aspect of choice and consequence is derived from RPGs, however. Hence why when a game does introduce elements of decision-making, we say it has RPG elements.

Choice and consequence is a concept derived from reality, not from a game genre. An RPG can be wide open or extremely linear, what matters is that one character is distinct from another. This is accomplished through stats, not through branching narratives.

More importantly, the natural evolution of interactive entertainment is a greater degree of interactivity. If we define anything that offers choice and consequence as an RPG, then that genre has effectively monopolized the future of video games.


Now, as to your difference between caring, and making a player care, I still think you're mistaken in your belief that a player will still avoid violence in a world they care about. I care about the lore in Halo, Crysis and Starcraft; I will still kill everything that moves in Halo, Crysis and Starcraft. Because while the world, and important characters are interesting, individual targets are still utterly irrelevent. Same goes for Human Revolution and Deus Ex before it. However, special characters in those games were ones were ones where we had to think about whether to save them, kill them, leave them to their fate, etc...

You're misunderstanding me. I don't care if a player avoids violence or not. What I do care about is why they're choosing more peaceful avenues. If it's simply because the developer has employed cheap tricks and sappy, sentimental storytelling then it's hardly something to be celebrated. It's like killing a dog on screen. Of course that's going to get people riled up, but it's also cheesy as ****.

You seemed to be holding the reaction as more important than what caused it. That's what I'm disagreeing with.

JCpies
28th Jun 2012, 08:20
Just as an aside, a straight FPS can have just as much choice and consequence, and provoke the same feelings, as any RPG.

Of all I've played, or can think of, I don't know any straight FPS that gives you as much choice and consequence as an RPG. The only FPS I've played that I can think of that at least tried to do this is Blacksite, but even then it wasn't successful at it.

If by "as much choice and consequence" you mean, being able to spare surrendering enemies once in a blue moon, then you're correct.

Cloakedfigure
28th Jun 2012, 11:14
http://www.gamespot.com/deus-ex/videos/acmi-game-masters-warren-spector-6383925/

http://www.gamespot.com/thief-the-dark-project/videos/an-evening-with-warren-spector-6384568/


Not sure if anyone posted this, as I have not had time to read though all the comments. First one is short interview with Warren Spector where he goes into detail what he actually meant by the comments the other is over an hour. He starts talking about Violence comments just before the hour mark.

He wasn't really condemning Violence IMO, I'll let the interviews speak for themselves though.

JCpies
28th Jun 2012, 12:07
Haha, made me laugh when he said...

"I have seventeen eightieth level characters! ... That's pathetic!"

Will bookmark the longer video to watch later, could be very insightful.

neoWilks
28th Jun 2012, 18:56
Of all I've played, or can think of, I don't know any straight FPS that gives you as much choice and consequence as an RPG. The only FPS I've played that I can think of that at least tried to do this is Blacksite, but even then it wasn't successful at it.

If by "as much choice and consequence" you mean, being able to spare surrendering enemies once in a blue moon, then you're correct.
I'm speaking in absolute terms. There's no inherent difference between choice and consequence in an RPG format and that in a FPS format (except that in an RPG format, those choices and consequences would be more or less successful depending on your character's stats). That there exists such a divide is purely a product of bias---"FPS can't have branching stories because I've never played an FPS with branching stories"---not because a FPS is incapable of providing that experience.

JCpies
28th Jun 2012, 20:22
I'm speaking in absolute terms. There's no inherent difference between choice and consequence in an RPG format and that in a FPS format (except that in an RPG format, those choices and consequences would be more or less successful depending on your character's stats). That there exists such a divide is purely a product of bias---"FPS can't have branching stories because I've never played an FPS with branching stories"---not because a FPS is incapable of providing that experience.

Okay, forget I said this. But I don't understand what you're saying, are you saying this in terms of Deus Ex being the FPS and Fallout being the RPG?

Forget that, I misread your post.

neoWilks
28th Jun 2012, 20:44
Okay, forget I said this. But I don't understand what you're saying, are you saying this in terms of Deus Ex being the FPS and Fallout being the RPG?

Forget that, I misread your post.
I'm not sure if you're getting me or not. What I mean is that the inclusion of choice and consequence can exist within any game genre---RPG, shooter, action game, strategy game, whatever. GTA IV offered a handful of "moral" choice sort of decisions. If they decided to include that in the majority of missions in GTA V, it wouldn't suddenly become an RPG. It would still be a third-person action game, just with a story that allows for greater player input.

Even the way choice and consequence is handled in CRPGs is more reminiscent of choose-your-own-adventure paperbacks than tabletop RPGs. The later allow for infinite possible decisions and actions on the players part, the results of which are ultimately governed by character stats. Most CRPGs, however, just give you a handful of options that have a handful of results. And then, only a few---more often Obsidian games in my experience---account for character stats when offering the player those choices.

Romeo
28th Jun 2012, 21:24
I'm speaking in absolute terms. There's no inherent difference between choice and consequence in an RPG format and that in a FPS format (except that in an RPG format, those choices and consequences would be more or less successful depending on your character's stats). That there exists such a divide is purely a product of bias---"FPS can't have branching stories because I've never played an FPS with branching stories"---not because a FPS is incapable of providing that experience.
No, that's not what I said at all. A FPS can have branching stories, just as it can have driving elements and puzzles. However, this is just an FPS borrowing from the RPG genre, racing genre and puzzle genre. Again, choice and consequence are the mainstays of the RPG genre - without them, the game is not an RPG. So the act of killing someone in a shooter can be irrelevent - that's the core concept of the game, afterall. If I feel a complete emotional disconnect in an RPG, the RPG is doing something wrong.

Clearer now?

neoWilks
29th Jun 2012, 06:39
No, that's not what I said at all. A FPS can have branching stories, just as it can have driving elements and puzzles. However, this is just an FPS borrowing from the RPG genre, racing genre and puzzle genre. Again, choice and consequence are the mainstays of the RPG genre - without them, the game is not an RPG. So the act of killing someone in a shooter can be irrelevent - that's the core concept of the game, afterall. If I feel a complete emotional disconnect in an RPG, the RPG is doing something wrong.

Clearer now?
There is a difference between role playing and a computer role playing game. The former is something employed in improv, acting, the bedroom, and every game ever created. A computer role playing game is something in which your role is enforced through rules. Stats are the only fundamental concept here. You can have anything from a hyper linear dungeon romp to a deep, branching tale with plenty of player input and complex consequences.

An example: Suppose a game had a combat system in which every character was equally proficient. There are no stats that make one character more effective with rifles and another more effective with knives. Everyone is just as capable as any other. This would be called an "action game". Why then, would a branching story sans stat considerations be classified as an RPG element? There's no fundamental difference between "combat" gameplay and "story" gameplay. There's no fundamental difference between choosing one story path over another and choosing one weapon over another. What matters is how the rules govern each of those gameplay elements.

I'm not sure how you can argue that choice within a story is solely under the purview of RPGs. What about choice within combat? Choice within exploration? Choice within equipment? Unless you're arguing that stories themselves are RPG elements, then I can't possibly see how the introduction of choice would change a thing in terms of what genre this feature belongs to.

Romeo
3rd Jul 2012, 06:45
There is a difference between role playing and a computer role playing game. The former is something employed in improv, acting, the bedroom, and every game ever created. A computer role playing game is something in which your role is enforced through rules. Stats are the only fundamental concept here. You can have anything from a hyper linear dungeon romp to a deep, branching tale with plenty of player input and complex consequences.

An example: Suppose a game had a combat system in which every character was equally proficient. There are no stats that make one character more effective with rifles and another more effective with knives. Everyone is just as capable as any other. This would be called an "action game". Why then, would a branching story sans stat considerations be classified as an RPG element? There's no fundamental difference between "combat" gameplay and "story" gameplay. There's no fundamental difference between choosing one story path over another and choosing one weapon over another. What matters is how the rules govern each of those gameplay elements.

I'm not sure how you can argue that choice within a story is solely under the purview of RPGs. What about choice within combat? Choice within exploration? Choice within equipment? Unless you're arguing that stories themselves are RPG elements, then I can't possibly see how the introduction of choice would change a thing in terms of what genre this feature belongs to.
No, you're once again overcomplicating this. Choice in story is an RPG element. Doesn't matter about the other aspects of the game - whether it features guns, girls, or great cars. Point being, they're borrowing from the RPG genre.

Therefore, a shooter with an evolving story is a FPS with RPG elements.

Pinky_Powers
3rd Jul 2012, 07:45
No, you're once again overcomplicating this. Choice in story is an RPG element. Doesn't matter about the other aspects of the game - whether it features guns, girls, or great cars. Point being, they're borrowing from the RPG genre.

Therefore, a shooter with an evolving story is a FPS with RPG elements.

I happen to agree with this. :thumb:

neoWilks
3rd Jul 2012, 17:07
No, you're once again overcomplicating this. Choice in story is an RPG element. Doesn't matter about the other aspects of the game - whether it features guns, girls, or great cars. Point being, they're borrowing from the RPG genre.

Therefore, a shooter with an evolving story is a FPS with RPG elements.
I'm not overcomplicating anything. I'm simply analyzing a gameplay element and seeing how it relates to a specific genre classification. You have provided absolutely zero evidence for your claim. You're simply stating it as if it were self evident when it clearly isn't.

A comparison to PnP is absurd because 1) PnP allows for infinite choice, not a handful, and are managed by a GM who can dynamically alter the story on the fly, and 2)Those choices rely on your character's stats when determining success. A good chunk of early PnP manuals won't even mention how to handle player choice/consequence. Many PnP sessions might be little more than combat runs. PnP RPGs and CRPGs are in whole different leagues, it's the nature of their respective mediums.

Choose your own adventure books, Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain, a buttload of other adventure games. The primary element in these games involves the player making narrative decisions, altering the flow of story events, and yet no one calls them RPGs. Then there are a wealth of non-adventure, non-RPG computer games that offer just as much choice/consequence, if not more. Civilization, the Total War series, etc. No one describes these as having RPG elements, despite offering highly impactful decisions. Finally, there is the fact that early CRPGs stories were necessarily linear. You had extremely little choice, with many being little more than dungeon divers. And yet they are called RPGs, despite not having branching narratives.

So no, this isn't complicated. It's very straightforward. Stats make an RPG, enforced character roles, not branching stories. Those can make for a better game, better invest the player in whatever world or story they might be exploring, but that's simply good game design, not CRPG game design.

Pinky_Powers
3rd Jul 2012, 17:34
I thought he was arguing from personal opinion and general observation.

Every single one of my favorite RPGs have branching story and heavy social gameplay. It seems fair to say those are important elements in making a powerful Roll Playing Game.

Romeo
3rd Jul 2012, 17:46
I'm not overcomplicating anything. I'm simply analyzing a gameplay element and seeing how it relates to a specific genre classification. You have provided absolutely zero evidence for your claim. You're simply stating it as if it were self evident when it clearly isn't.

A comparison to PnP is absurd because 1) PnP allows for infinite choice, not a handful, and are managed by a GM who can dynamically alter the story on the fly, and 2)Those choices rely on your character's stats when determining success. A good chunk of early PnP manuals won't even mention how to handle player choice/consequence. Many PnP sessions might be little more than combat runs. PnP RPGs and CRPGs are in whole different leagues, it's the nature of their respective mediums.

Choose your own adventure books, Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain, a buttload of other adventure games. The primary element in these games involves the player making narrative decisions, altering the flow of story events, and yet no one calls them RPGs. Then there are a wealth of non-adventure, non-RPG computer games that offer just as much choice/consequence, if not more. Civilization, the Total War series, etc. No one describes these as having RPG elements, despite offering highly impactful decisions. Finally, there is the fact that early CRPGs stories were necessarily linear. You had extremely little choice, with many being little more than dungeon divers. And yet they are called RPGs, despite not having branching narratives.

So no, this isn't complicated. It's very straightforward. Stats make an RPG, enforced character roles, not branching stories. Those can make for a better game, better invest the player in whatever world or story they might be exploring, but that's simply good game design, not CRPG game design.
We aren't bringing up books, movies or PnP. Because you'll notice there's no such thing as a FPS genre in any of those either, nor a racing, puzzle, platformer, etc... We really shouldn't need to point that out. We're talking about video games.

Now, as to your assessment that "stat choices and enforced character roles, not branching stories" are what denotes an RPG, I would ask you this: In Battlefield 3 your weapon affects your character speed, damage, accuracy and handling stats, and you very clearly have an enforced role... Would you refer to it as an RPG? Forza 4 is about as in-depth as stats go, I can adjust everything down to tenths of degrees, and there's a very blatent role of "dragster" or "oval racer" or "sprint car"... Would that be an RPG? No, obviously not, right? Branching stories is about as in-grained to the RPG genre as stats are. And considering Deus Ex's lack of stats, but branching story, do you not find it curious that many sites list it as an RPG?

neoWilks
3rd Jul 2012, 18:13
We aren't bringing up books, movies or PnP. Because you'll notice there's no such thing as a FPS genre in any of those either, nor a racing, puzzle, platformer, etc... We really shouldn't need to point that out. We're talking about video games.

I brought it up in anticipation of some argument you might use. When you don't provide an argument beyond, "Story choices = RPG. Period," it becomes difficult for me to offer continued debate.

EDIT: Also, puzzle games, shooters, racing, platforming absolutely exists outside of video games.


Now, as to your assessment that "stat choices and enforced character roles, not branching stories" are what denotes an RPG, I would ask you this: In Battlefield 3 your weapon affects your character speed, damage, accuracy and handling stats, and you very clearly have an enforced role... Would you refer to it as an RPG? Forza 4 is about as in-depth as stats go, I can adjust everything down to tenths of degrees, and there's a very blatent role of "dragster" or "oval racer" or "sprint car"... Would that be an RPG? No, obviously not, right? Branching stories is about as in-grained to the RPG genre as stats are. And considering Deus Ex's lack of stats, but branching story, do you not find it curious that many sites list it as an RPG?
If those stats are specifically related to the character and enforcing that character then yes, it is an RPG---or at least contains RPG elements. Stats on there own are not evidence of an RPG. It doesn't matter how many configuration options a gun or vehicle might have if every single character is equally capable of configuring a gun in that manner. But if, for example, one character is proficient in WEAPON MODDING and this gives them the ability to upgrade a weapon to greater effect than someone who is merely competent in WEAPON MODDING, then that would be an example of RPG mechanics.

Branching stories are ingrained in many genres. RPGs and adventure games are the most prominent, but it exists in action games and shooters and strategy games and whatever else. More importantly, as I've said before, branching stories are simply an evolution of interactivity. It's not a product of a genre, but a product of that interactivity. If one genre happens to use it more often, it doesn't necessarily follow that the genre can claim ownership over that design. I'd ask that you respond to this point I made earlier:


I'm not sure how you can argue that choice within a story is solely under the purview of RPGs. What about choice within combat? Choice within exploration? Choice within equipment? Unless you're arguing that stories themselves are RPG elements, then I can't possibly see how the introduction of choice would change a thing in terms of what genre this feature belongs to.


Deus Ex is an RPG because it has stats: Skills and augmentations. More importantly, though, is that those stats enforce a certain role. Not every character can achieve master proficiency in every skill and not every character can have every augmentation. Did you mean Human Revolution? In that case, things are slightly different. There are augmentations, and lacking certain augmentations will limit your character's abilities. At the same time, most players can unlock the majority of these abilities in a single game, so character distinction is minimal. Were the augmentations implemented differently, I'd think HR might sit more firmly in the RPG camp. As it is now, I'd say it's an action game with some RPG elements.

Why the press might call it an RPG? It's heritage, the mere existence of character stats, and the existing bias that only RPGs get to have branching storylines. That last misnomer is precisely what I'm disputing.

Romeo
4th Jul 2012, 06:36
I brought it up in anticipation of some argument you might use. When you don't provide an argument beyond, "Story choices = RPG. Period," it becomes difficult for me to offer continued debate.

EDIT: Also, puzzle games, shooters, racing, platforming absolutely exists outside of video games.
I have absolutely zero idea what you're talking about here... I have never seen a "FPS" in anything but a videogame, save for perhaps the two minutes in the movie "Doom". But regardless, utterly irrelevent to our discussion.

If those stats are specifically related to the character and enforcing that character then yes, it is an RPG---or at least contains RPG elements. Stats on there own are not evidence of an RPG. It doesn't matter how many configuration options a gun or vehicle might have if every single character is equally capable of configuring a gun in that manner. But if, for example, one character is proficient in WEAPON MODDING and this gives them the ability to upgrade a weapon to greater effect than someone who is merely competent in WEAPON MODDING, then that would be an example of RPG mechanics.

Branching stories are ingrained in many genres. RPGs and adventure games are the most prominent, but it exists in action games and shooters and strategy games and whatever else. More importantly, as I've said before, branching stories are simply an evolution of interactivity. It's not a product of a genre, but a product of that interactivity. If one genre happens to use it more often, it doesn't necessarily follow that the genre can claim ownership over that design. I'd ask that you respond to this point I made earlier:
It absolutely means that! Guns are most common in the FPS genre, hence why having guns is considered either having shooter mechanics (Fallout, for example) if not being a shooter outright (Halo, for example). Sure, they can be used in platformers, adventure games, RPGs and even racers, but the genre CAN claim ownership, just as RPGs can lay claim to branching stories. Not saying other genres cannot borrow from that, but at the end of the day, they're still borrowing an RPG element.

Deus Ex is an RPG because it has stats: Skills and augmentations. More importantly, though, is that those stats enforce a certain role. Not every character can achieve master proficiency in every skill and not every character can have every augmentation. Did you mean Human Revolution? In that case, things are slightly different. There are augmentations, and lacking certain augmentations will limit your character's abilities. At the same time, most players can unlock the majority of these abilities in a single game, so character distinction is minimal. Were the augmentations implemented differently, I'd think HR might sit more firmly in the RPG camp. As it is now, I'd say it's an action game with some RPG elements.

Why the press might call it an RPG? It's heritage, the mere existence of character stats, and the existing bias that only RPGs get to have branching storylines. That last misnomer is precisely what I'm disputing.
...Or the fact that something you consider "bias" is simply accurate? Generally when it's one person arguing against a million, I'm inclined to listen to the million.

neoWilks
4th Jul 2012, 16:16
I have absolutely zero idea what you're talking about here... I have never seen a "FPS" in anything but a videogame, save for perhaps the two minutes in the movie "Doom". But regardless, utterly irrelevent to our discussion.

Paintball, clay pigeon shooting, laser tag, etc. These are games. The only functional difference is that they are not played on video screens and you're necessarily limited in the types of scenarios available. The actual mechanics are the same as what you'd see in an FPS, though.

The reason it's relevant is that we have other games exhibiting the same sort of branching story features you claim are property of the CRPG genre. Choose-your-own-adventure, most notably. Given that the CRPGs with branching stories more closely resemble this than PnP type narratives, it's silly to suggest that those branching stories belong to CRPGs. They existed before CRPGs were even a thing. Branching narratives are simply one means of storytelling, not inherent to any particular game type.


It absolutely means that! Guns are most common in the FPS genre, hence why having guns is considered either having shooter mechanics (Fallout, for example) if not being a shooter outright (Halo, for example). Sure, they can be used in platformers, adventure games, RPGs and even racers, but the genre CAN claim ownership, just as RPGs can lay claim to branching stories. Not saying other genres cannot borrow from that, but at the end of the day, they're still borrowing an RPG element.

None of what you've argued establishes branching narratives as an exclusively RPG element. FPS describes specific types of action games---first person perspective, gunplay, and requiring player skill to determine success. But the FPS genre doesn't own any of those singular concepts. Missing any one and you might have a third person shooter or a tactical RPG or a first person puzzle game. It's only when each element is combined into a whole that it becomes clear it's an FPS.

I'll notice you still haven't responded to my earlier point: Why does the introduction of choice to a game's story make something an RPG concept? I'd add another question: Why does an RPG even need a story? An action game doesn't, a fighter doesn't, a strategy game doesn't. They can just as easily plop you down into a blank world without any context and set you loose. An RPG is no different. The rules by which it governs your role is what makes it an RPG, not whatever context it gives you for that role. I wouldn't say a lack of story is very compelling for the player, but it hardly changes the actual genre.


...Or the fact that something you consider "bias" is simply accurate? Generally when it's one person arguing against a million, I'm inclined to listen to the million.
It's bias when there's no rational explanation for the position aside from, "I've played a bunch of Bioware and Obsidian games and they all had branching stories and called themselves RPGs, therefore branching stories must be an RPG concept."

Most early CRPGs did not provide the player with choices in how the story progressed, and yet are still RPGs. Games that implement only narrative choices for the player to decide between are considered adventure games (or sometimes, interactive movies). The type of choice/consequence generally presented in a CRPG more closely resembles that of a choose-your-own-adventure book than that of PnP tabletop games. Clearly then, the distinction lies elsewhere than whether there's a branching story or not.

Romeo
4th Jul 2012, 18:36
Paintball, clay pigeon shooting, laser tag, etc. These are games. The only functional difference is that they are not played on video screens and you're necessarily limited in the types of scenarios available. The actual mechanics are the same as what you'd see in an FPS, though.

The reason it's relevant is that we have other games exhibiting the same sort of branching story features you claim are property of the CRPG genre. Choose-your-own-adventure, most notably. Given that the CRPGs with branching stories more closely resemble this than PnP type narratives, it's silly to suggest that those branching stories belong to CRPGs. They existed before CRPGs were even a thing. Branching narratives are simply one means of storytelling, not inherent to any particular game type.
I suppose that is logical to consider them FPS (Also see: Real life), but I still suggest they're not relevent to our discussion. Were that the case, videogames would have virtually nothing associated with them, film and novels have beat them to the punch on virtually every single front. Comparing Forza to Gran Turismo is logical - we can see the level of choice, customization, graphics, physics realism, etc. Comparing Forza to The Fast and the Furious obviously does not work, however. By the same extension, I'd say ignoring novels and PnP, lest the issue become utterly irrelevent.

None of what you've argued establishes branching narratives as an exclusively RPG element. FPS describes specific types of action games---first person perspective, gunplay, and requiring player skill to determine success. But the FPS genre doesn't own any of those singular concepts. Missing any one and you might have a third person shooter or a tactical RPG or a first person puzzle game. It's only when each element is combined into a whole that it becomes clear it's an FPS.

I'll notice you still haven't responded to my earlier point: Why does the introduction of choice to a game's story make something an RPG concept? I'd add another question: Why does an RPG even need a story? An action game doesn't, a fighter doesn't, a strategy game doesn't. They can just as easily plop you down into a blank world without any context and set you loose. An RPG is no different. The rules by which it governs your role is what makes it an RPG, not whatever context it gives you for that role. I wouldn't say a lack of story is very compelling for the player, but it hardly changes the actual genre.
As I've said four times already, when you have a genre that does something the majority of the time (Shooting in FPS, driving in Racing, exploration in Platforming) it becomes associated with that genre, but it does not make it exclusive. Deus Ex has elements taken from a platformer, but no one in their right mind would list it under the platformer banner. Just as the new Call of Duty has elements from the RPG genre, but no one would list it as an RPG.

As for why it needs a story, because once again, it is a defining trait of the genre. I realize you're attempting to argue semantics, but the simple fact remains there are things associated with RPGs - story being one of the biggest.

It's bias when there's no rational explanation for the position aside from, "I've played a bunch of Bioware and Obsidian games and they all had branching stories and called themselves RPGs, therefore branching stories must be an RPG concept."

Most early CRPGs did not provide the player with choices in how the story progressed, and yet are still RPGs. Games that implement only narrative choices for the player to decide between are considered adventure games (or sometimes, interactive movies). The type of choice/consequence generally presented in a CRPG more closely resembles that of a choose-your-own-adventure book than that of PnP tabletop games. Clearly then, the distinction lies elsewhere than whether there's a branching story or not.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zork

Preeeetty sure that pre-dates virtually every RPG in history. You'll notice that the story in Zork is ridiculously open-ended.

Also as to your idea that it's only BioWare and Obsidian, I would also direct you to a small company called Bethesda. They have these two unknown games series known as the Elder Scrolls and Fallout, which are notoriously open-ended. You know, Elder Scrolls, the games that seem to epitomize the RPG market these days? I would also suggest looking at CD Projekt Red, GSC Game World, inXile Entertainment and Supergiant Games before assuming two companies have a stranglehold on the idea. Then I'd suggest reviewing why Blizzard, Relic Games and Crytek (People that actually work in the industry) also consider branching stories to be an RPG element, while you (Some player) insist the world is mistaken.

bat_brain
12th Jul 2012, 01:53
well, i can turn on the national news & watch explicit footage of Muammar Gaddafi literally getting ripped limb from limb by his assailaints in a drain pipe.

at that point, i cant help but think theres worse sources of violence then video games.

not to mention, games are rated by the esrb for their content. if you dont want your kids to see it, dont buy it for them?

JCpies
12th Jul 2012, 07:38
well, i can turn on the national news & watch explicit footage of Muammar Gaddafi literally getting ripped limb from limb by his assailaints in a drain pipe.

But he's a "BAD GUY" so it's all "OKAY". :thumb: