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The Games formerly Known as RPG's...

Started by ADGBoss, August 09, 2004, 03:43:59 PM

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Well a thread in RPG theory,">this one, ended with as I read it: where do we go from here? That is a very good question. It is also a very difficult one and although I repect the opinions of both sides, I am not sure we were able to come to a consensus on this one. Clearly some people exclude and some include CRPG & Solo Play etc... within the realm of Role Playing Game.  

I am posting this here btw because I think it had moved out of the realm of theory and more onto "how should we proceed?"

Point of fact is that some people, because they will exclude certain activities from their definition of RPG, will never accept certain kinds of games as RPG's and thus worthy of discussion.  That is not meant as an attack just a fact and that is fine.  Some people may roll their eyes every time something in their opinion, non-RPG comes up and some may even make a snide post (though not likely, the Forge is a pretty good group).

However, this is no different then any other topic: not everyone wants to discuss or post on every subject, so we should not let the stand in the way of opening up our discussions as it were.

Ok enough of that.

From what I have read and discussions etc... I believe that most of the division comes from the idea that RPG's are social activities and seen as such and without the social aspect they become... less? Well let's say that without the social context, the game engine lacks fuel.  Without said fuel, the game does not run.

So with that in mind, I want to throw out some preliminary catagories and see what people think and get some feedback.

Socially Fueled RPGs

TTRPG: Table Top or traditional RPG's played around a table or wherever. Known simply as RPG because it was the original way Role Playing Games were played. (I assume).

PBCRPG: Play by chat, a variation of the above played over the phone (it IS possible, I have done it) or more usually, played using the various LAN or Internet chat utilities.  

PBPRPG: Play By Post. I think there is enough social interaction in this method that it can be said to include SIS (YMMV) or at least a close proximity of it.  Generally played on forums or groups (like Yahoo) and have one or more ongoing threads and themes.

Relevance: These are the most accepted methods of "real" role playing.

Imagination (or Self) Fueled RPG RPG Substitute, Analog, or Perhaps RPG Masterbation(to be crude)

Solo Play: A Traditonal mode of RPG analog, supported by some of the original game companies with printed prooduct, though it obviously lacks the Social aspect.

CRPG: Computer RPG. This is very much simulation play, one step up from the FPS (First Person Shooter).  Though clearly there is Imagination from both sides, it is not shared so much as experienced or added in later. Though it may have the exact rules of an RPG, it clearly lacks an remotely social aspect.  That is for single play. Multi-player edges towards MMORPG.

Relevance: These games are influenced by and often influence the expectation of Play of some role playrs.  Some people have gotten into RPG's over the years by first playing CRPG's and Solo play.

Virtual RPG Analogs: Developed durng the early and late 90's due to improvements in Computer Technology.

MUD(MUCK etc...): The Multi-User Dungeon.  
A text based gaming environment that were based on standard RPG themes (and not so standard themese) some of which included the ability to make parts of the world.  

MMORPG: The massive multiplayer online RPG. Characterized by a world filled with repeatable content, that players can explore and encounter.  It is a multiplayer environement and although Players can do many things IC, their actions do not necessarily haver any real impact on the game world around them. (This is not universally true.)

Relevance: MUD's proved very popular (and still are) and MMO's have been gaining increasing popularity since EQ came out and even before.  Again they acted as conduits for a bigger play group for Role Players and often created interest in traditional games.  

Did I leave out any important catagory?

I believe that even though there is no consensus that all of these do indeed belong as RPG's, that they are all relevant to the traditional RPG in some way.  Ideas, Opinions? Reactions? thrown tomatoes? :)




Andrew Morris

Quote from: ADGBossI believe that even though there is no consensus that all of these do indeed belong as RPG's, that they are all relevant to the traditional RPG in some way. Ideas, Opinions? Reactions? thrown tomatoes? :)

I agree completely. This model doesn't fit my views, but I'm willing to adopt it if a majority of people find it acceptable.

So, if this is moving toward a Forge-specific definition of RPGs, I'm all in favor of it. Your model seems pretty consistent within itself, and despite the fact that my viewpoint is different, I'm willing to adopt a terminology for the purpose of discussion on the Forge.

I don't think the Virtual RPG Analog category needs to exist, though. I feel that having Socially Fueled RPGs and Individually Fueled RPGs is enough.

Quote from: ErrathofKoshmake sure you include LARPs...

Those would fall under Socially Fueled RPGs, wouldn't they?
Download: Unistat


Quote from: ErrathofKoshmake sure you include LARPs...


<shame faced> Yes indeed and yes, LARP's would go with the Socially Fueled RPGs.  My bad.  My VERY Bad, missing LARPs.


I agree it is not exactly what I believe either BUT I think it comes close to offering us some sort of consensus, which some may not seem as important but I think it.



Andrew Morris

Quote from: ADGBossI agree it is not exactly what I believe either BUT I think it comes close to offering us some sort of consensus, which some may not seem as important but I think it.

Oh, I agree that it is important. That's what I was trying to get across. I'd like to know how everyone else feels though, because it would make sense to me to find out what the majority of Forge posters believe is the best definition of "role-playing game," and make that the default Forge meaning. Maybe a poll? I don't know how to set one of those up, though.
Download: Unistat

Jack Aidley

Just to note that some MUDs come better under the socially fuelled category as they acted in an essentially similar manner to 'play by chat' but with some of the rules and locations automated.
- Jack Aidley, Great Ork Gods, Iron Game Chef (Fantasy): Chanter

Ron Edwards


I strongly suggest that any attempt to force a conclusion (by consensus, by vote, whatever) is a bad idea. A whole lot of excellent points have been raised by a lot of people over the last two weeks, without tailspinning into an opinion-fest - count that, in itself, as a victory.

I've learned that the most powerful conclusions are not reached through an "OK, let's decide" stage, but rather through letting a bunch of ideas percolate for a while among us. In a couple of months, perhaps even a year, someone is going to review these threads and say "Boink! Try it like this!"

That someone may be one of the most active posters in those discussions, or a total newcomer, or anything in between. It might be you. But the point is that it will be someone who comes anew to those threads and the ones beforehand, not someone (even if it's the same person) who currently is reeling and synthesizing and listing things. We're all doing that, me included. That's the early stage of the percolation.

I suggest we let it happen, let our minds work it out, and don't rush it.




Sounds like a good idea.  In the mean time I think people may feel better about bringing up certain topocs then perhaps they were before, even though there was no sign saying "No Droids allowed", as it were.


Inner Circle Inc

I don't know about non-social RPG's being less fun or not as good as social RPGs, as many of them, especially the computer versions have intricate and down right compelling storylines.  One thing I have noticed however, is that most of the MMROPGs, don't really involve much role-playing at all, a good portion of it is the "Grind", or endless quest for the next best item or the next level.  However, it should be noted that the experience is almost completely up to the player, as I've been with TTRPGers that have simply attempted to power game to the top.  Where do we go from here?  Why not just take the classifications and run with it?  Many online RPGs, especially MMO's and MUD's have the ability to be played solo or as part of the group experience, depending on the player preference.  While I've never been a fan of the Solo RPG, I recognize its influence and popularity as a potential tool with which we can inject the community as a whole with fresh blood.  If I may be so bold, I would like to gently remind the author that PBPRPGs can be moderated or un-moderated, the second really becoming more of a story with two authors . . . hardly a "traditional" role-playing situation.  The only real problem I can see with your definitions is in computer RPG's, especially in the solo ones.  What separates a solo computer RPG from any other computer game?  Leveling isn't unique, Wolfenstein, Enemy Territory has leveling.  Character Creation?  Many sports games allow you to create a character from scratch, some fighting games allow you to customize an attack list, while Harvest Moon allowed you to up your stats through use.  Most games have you assume the role of a single character and go through the game as that character, learning the storyline.  Is it a combination of all these factors, or something completely different that I'm not thinking of right now?  Simply something for you to consider, as I agree with Ron that an issue like this will require time, thought, and consideration before we ever get a good model of Roleplaying in all its shapes and forms.


M. J. Young

Quote from: Paul of Inner Circle IncIs it a combination of all these factors, or something completely different that I'm not thinking of right now?  Simply something for you to consider, as I agree with Ron that an issue like this will require time, thought, and consideration before we ever get a good model of Roleplaying in all its shapes and forms.
Welcome to The Forge, Paul. You've hit us on a strange weekend, as quite a few of the regulars will be at GenCon Indy--the big convention for role playing games in their original form, and not of much interest to computer/console players at all, which may be a point to ponder in regard to the degree to which these are "the same thing".

The big question in CRPG is whether you are indeed "playing a role"; that is, are you playing the part of the character in creating a unique story, or not? A few years ago, Gary Gygax challenged the claim of CRPGs to be RPGs by asking for whom you are playing the role. Here we would question with whom you are sharing the imaginary space.

That doesn't mean the question has been answered. Over on the theory forum right now there are several threads running which attempt to approach this problem from different sides. Some say that a CRPG is an extremely complicated play-by-post in which the game designer makes the first post and the players respond to it in gradually revealed pieces. I suggested that the best way to understand a CRPG as dynamically an RPG is to regard the computer or console as a player with limited ability. Your thoughts in that forum would be most worthwhile.

This takes us to the core question: what is a role playing game, and how far can you stretch the definition before it doesn't define anything? Our present "best" definition seems to be that it is any play that necessarily involves manipulation of objects by multiple players within a common imagined world--thus the difficulties of identifying the "other player" in a CRPG. Maybe, though, that's not a good definition. We're just not able to find a better one at the moment.

Your thoughts could send us in new directions; but I'll warn you that there are a lot of people here who have put a lot of thought into this, and it's likely that some of your suggestions are going to be viewed as something tried and failed already. We'll be nice about it, I hope, and suggest you do some reading to get up to speed (think of it like arriving in a graduate class in a subject for which you don't have the undergraduate background, maybe), and we'll certainly listen to your ideas and try to see where they go regardless.

I look forward to reading more from you.

--M. J. Young

Eric J.

Okay, here's a question for Ron or Clinton:

Can I bring up CRPGs and MMORPGs as new topics as freely as I can for TTRPGs?

I'm pretty sure that we've already had threads on them (though I remember Ron saying that he was bending the rules or something).

So... yeah.  I love CRPGs and I think that they have to become more recognised by TTRPGers before we can expect TTRPGs to become more recognised by CRPGers.

Though that's wonderfully offtopic.

May the wind be always at your back,