Can an RPG game survive without the 'main' items fights and Magic?

CodeHunterEx

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Based on another post I thought I would add this into the mix.

If a game is missing the fights and the magic, can it still be called an RPG game?

I am working on a project that does this, but whether or not anyone would like it, never mind play it is all a matter of opinion, preference.

What is your thoughts? All comments, good and not good are welcomed and appreciated.
 

FrozenNorseman

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It can, as long as there's character progression and an enticing story.

Take Stardew Valley as an example. It's an RPG, but while there's fighting in it, that is not the main focus of the game and it could easily be done without it. Or To The Moon, which refers to itsself as an adventure RPG. No fighting there either.

In fact sometimes fighting can detract from a story, especially if its needlessly grindy or you have to constantly fight random mooks while trying to follow a story to the point that you lose your focus on the plot and just end up clicking next as quickly as you can to get through the dialogue.

I'd take a well-written story-driven RPG without combat over a grinding heavy combat-focused RPG any day of the week.
 

TheoAllen

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Sort of late, I didn't know you created a thread. Oh welp ...

RPG just means 'Role Playing Game', so you can really do whatever you like. :)
Before you drop that on the table, we need a general consensus on what is RPG in video game. If you just call an RPG like that, basically, you call most if not all of games are RPG. Basically this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role-playing_video_game

My take, combat is one of C-RPG elements. You don't have combat, then it will be another genre, not RPG. But, whether the combat is mandatory or not, it's another story. But if your game has no combat, it will be adventure games where you solve puzzle, interact with npc. I wouldn't call some horror games as RPG. If a game is promoted as RPG, I'd expect some combat mechanic.

Some exception could be made though, for Harvest Moon for example.
 

Countyoungblood

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well harvest moon doesn't have combat and its pretty amusing.. but I don't think I'd call it an RPG. its more of a management game.. what you'd create I'm not sure but I believe it would be closer to another genre than RPG when you're finished so this might be not something to worry about. RPG kind of necessitate combat not in definition more of from what games have proven to include.
 

FrozenNorseman

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I'd find it refreshing if I could play an RPG where I am not a mass-murdering hobo, engaging in goblin genocide and slaughtering everything and everyone that doesn't agree with my point of view.
 

Countyoungblood

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I'd find it refreshing if I could play an RPG where I am not a mass-murdering hobo, engaging in goblin genocide and slaughtering everything and everyone that doesn't agree with my point of view.

you could try Harvest moon
 

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You may call it an RPG, but other people, players will re-classify it as they compare it to other/similar games and like it or not, it will end up being called and tagged whatever it resembles the most, whatever your players feel it deserves to be compared as "hey check this game! is like minecraft! but in space!".

  • Is it about living in a peaceful village where you collect crops and up your relationships with the other villagers? It will be called a management/sims/harvest moon type game, make it in space for extra stardew valley points.

  • Is it about being trapped somewhere (and escaping)? About solving a mystery? About investigating or uncovering an ancient plot? No fighting involved? Just trying to solve rooms, puzzles, find clues, lore and the like? Adventure/Puzzle tag goes for you.

  • Is it about telling a long (or short, can work too) compelling/relatable/feely touchy story, where interactions and decisions are the only things that matter? Where a bad choice gets you a nice boat death? Where a few good choices could get you one of the 24 endings but one slip and you're back on the bad end? Well, Visual Novel will be your tag.

  • Is it about the fateful day Bob boy went to chop 20 bear arses for his dad in Startertown and Dark Evil Overlord Edger appeared in his floating castle/spiky black airship of doom that strangely makes the sky turn black and causes eternal thunderstorms,and then he attacked the village becuse the temple there holds the Stone/Sword/Urn of Plot Kickstarting and Bob is the only/one of the only survivors (others may include childhood female friend/love interest and a best friend which may or may not turn evil) and now Bob & Co are the only/chosen/destined ones who can stop the dark overlord from releasing the Sealed Evil that will probably backfire when it inevitably gets let loose no matter how much Bob's band tries to make it in time, then said evil gets out of control/kills the dark overlord and will end up defeated by Bob and the friends he got along the way to save the world of Not-Midgard?

Ok i maybe went a bit too far on that last example, but that will net you 100% an "RPG" tag from anyone...
 
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JosephSeraph

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One has to remember that RPG meant one thing in its native environment on the tabletop, but morphed to mean something else when being interpreted by the computer. That's why western and eastern rpgs are genres, not demographics-based names. The west focused on absorbing the narrative and gameplay possibilities and how the player should be able to shape these, resulting in open world games with a thorough character / party creation and many interwoven plots without a main linear narrative, emulating the player aspect.
While the east, or japan, focused on the dungeon master experience, focusing on creating a pre-fabricated narrative and guiding the player through it, stripping them of their choices in order to allow them to see a specific story with specific character. Both of these do, with pretty much no exception, feature combat. If you want to reinterpret from tabletop RPGs, you might get away with no combat. If you do a hybrid genre, likewise.

But I see no reason in trying to market your game as an RPG if it doesn't sit confortably on this genre's boundaries and it does on another's.
 

CodeHunterEx

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Thank you everyone for your responses. I am wondering if my game would fit more in an 'Open World' type setting than RPG. Definately debatable.
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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Well an RPG can be open world, they are not totally exclusive things..
 

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I think that classifying a game as an RPG, more than most genres, is a collection of aspects and features that have to be weighted and judged in context. Here's a "Top Ten" list of aspects that I think are useful when judging whether something should be viewed as an RPG. The more points it hits, the more justifiable it is to call it an RPG:
  1. Use of visible, changeable, STATS to define a character's power level and style
  2. Inclusion of a PARTY of multiple playable characters who fight (or otherwise act) alongside each other, as opposed to picking one character at a time who does everything
  3. Use of a separate BATTLE SCREEN, separate from the main map the player uses to travel around, where combat or a similar activity takes place - extra weight for turn-based, menu-driven combat, but this isn't essential
  4. Emphasis on NARRATIVE and storytelling as a core aesthetic of play
  5. A COHERENT WORLD, as opposed to a series of stages or unconnected places, which can be physically explored and backtracked through at the player's leisure
  6. Inclusion of an INVENTORY of usable and collectible items
  7. Use of a LARGE CAST of human or anthropomorphic characters, including NPCs, with extra weight toward well-developed characters
  8. Emphasis on CHOICES over physical skills to determine either the player's success, the direction the storytelling unfolds in, or both
  9. Inclusion of DOWNTIME activities which feel separate from the game's main draws - these may be optional (minigames, sidequests) or they may happen in the course of mandatory play (shopping for armor, talking to NPCs in a town to trigger plot points), but they should feel 'separate' from what might be considered the 'main' gameplay
  10. Having NO TRUE FAILURE STATE - the player might see a Game Over, but is intended to go back and re-do things they did wrong, rather than interpreting it as having 'lost the game' to a competitive opponent or needing to start a new game
Few RPGs hit every single one of these, but most will hit at least half, whereas most games that we don't consider RPGs will only hit one or two.

===

Taking this back to the original question, if you were to strip out Combat and Magic from an RPG, you'd probably still have a majority of these items, and therefore you'd still have an RPG. Removing Combat would likely knock out #3, and if the game is extremely linear like some JRPGs are, also #8. Removing Magic wouldn't knock out any of these items whatsoever (which makes sense since some RPGs that are not in fantasy settings don't use Magic anyway).

One question to ask yourself, though, is if you removed combat from your RPG, would it still be a compelling game? If not, then it might be high time to re-evaluate your game design, and think about why you are asking the player to do all of the things outside of combat that aren't interesting nor fun on their own. Yes, it's a nice thing to have Downtime activities in the midst of the (hopefully) fun 'core' activity of combat, but if these Downtime activities are taking up half your game or more in total, you should give a lot of thought to how to make them compelling in their own right, so that the player can enjoy every moment of your game, instead of trudging through it to get to the cool parts.
 

Countyoungblood

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I think that classifying a game as an RPG, more than most genres, is a collection of aspects and features that have to be weighted and judged in context. Here's a "Top Ten" list of aspects that I think are useful when judging whether something should be viewed as an RPG. The more points it hits, the more justifiable it is to call it an RPG:
  1. Use of visible, changeable, STATS to define a character's power level and style
  2. Inclusion of a PARTY of multiple playable characters who fight (or otherwise act) alongside each other, as opposed to picking one character at a time who does everything
  3. Use of a separate BATTLE SCREEN, separate from the main map the player uses to travel around, where combat or a similar activity takes place - extra weight for turn-based, menu-driven combat, but this isn't essential
  4. Emphasis on NARRATIVE and storytelling as a core aesthetic of play
  5. A COHERENT WORLD, as opposed to a series of stages or unconnected places, which can be physically explored and backtracked through at the player's leisure
  6. Inclusion of an INVENTORY of usable and collectible items
  7. Use of a LARGE CAST of human or anthropomorphic characters, including NPCs, with extra weight toward well-developed characters
  8. Emphasis on CHOICES over physical skills to determine either the player's success, the direction the storytelling unfolds in, or both
  9. Inclusion of DOWNTIME activities which feel separate from the game's main draws - these may be optional (minigames, sidequests) or they may happen in the course of mandatory play (shopping for armor, talking to NPCs in a town to trigger plot points), but they should feel 'separate' from what might be considered the 'main' gameplay
  10. Having NO TRUE FAILURE STATE - the player might see a Game Over, but is intended to go back and re-do things they did wrong, rather than interpreting it as having 'lost the game' to a competitive opponent or needing to start a new game
Few RPGs hit every single one of these, but most will hit at least half, whereas most games that we don't consider RPGs will only hit one or two.

===

Taking this back to the original question, if you were to strip out Combat and Magic from an RPG, you'd probably still have a majority of these items, and therefore you'd still have an RPG. Removing Combat would likely knock out #3, and if the game is extremely linear like some JRPGs are, also #8. Removing Magic wouldn't knock out any of these items whatsoever (which makes sense since some RPGs that are not in fantasy settings don't use Magic anyway).

One question to ask yourself, though, is if you removed combat from your RPG, would it still be a compelling game? If not, then it might be high time to re-evaluate your game design, and think about why you are asking the player to do all of the things outside of combat that aren't interesting nor fun on their own. Yes, it's a nice thing to have Downtime activities in the midst of the (hopefully) fun 'core' activity of combat, but if these Downtime activities are taking up half your game or more in total, you should give a lot of thought to how to make them compelling in their own right, so that the player can enjoy every moment of your game, instead of trudging through it to get to the cool parts.

ah, so harvest moon is indeed an RPG
 

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ah, so harvest moon is indeed an RPG

I'd say so! It's in that middle area where it hits about half the items from the list - #5, #6, #7, #8, and #9. Some HM games hit #10 as well (whereas others will end your game if you haven't accomplished long-term goals within a few years).

If you look at a true 'Simulation' game, like SimFarm, it hits very few items (for SimFarm, only #8 and #10). This is why Harvest Moon really is an RPG more than it's a Farming Sim, in my view. But since it's not hitting the entire list left and right, it's easy to see why some gamers have a hard time calling it an RPG.
 

Countyoungblood

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I'd say so! It's in that middle area where it hits about half the items from the list - #5, #6, #7, #8, and #9. Some HM games hit #10 as well (whereas others will end your game if you haven't accomplished long-term goals within a few years).

If you look at a true 'Simulation' game, like SimFarm, it hits very few items (for SimFarm, only #8 and #10). This is why Harvest Moon really is an RPG more than it's a Farming Sim, in my view. But since it's not hitting the entire list left and right, it's easy to see why some gamers have a hard time calling it an RPG.

Yet when I'm looking for an RPG I wouldnt stop at harvest moon. a chicken has a lot in common with a T-rex but was not included in any of the Jurassic park movies. Logically you're right but socially you're not.
 

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Yet when I'm looking for an RPG I wouldnt stop at harvest moon. a chicken has a lot in common with a T-rex but was not included in any of the Jurassic park movies. Logically you're right but socially you're not.

Socially, I'm right as well. Harvest Moon was featured in the Role-Players' Realm section of GamePro, called a "non-violent RPG" in its review by Nintendo Power, and featured in the RPG category of Antagonist Gaming. There's at least a significant stream of the gaming community that does consider it an RPG, and I think a lot of people who consider it on the brink of RPG or not RPG.

It's obviously not the kind of slam dunk that Final Fantasy VI (fits all 10 items), Final Fantasy XII (fits 8 items, missing only #3 and #8), Trails in the Sky (fits all 10 items), or the modern Persona games (fits 9 items, missing only #5) are. But that's what I think the beauty of my list is! Instead of needing to classify something as "RPG" or "Not" just by subjective feel and be shocked when there are people who feel otherwise, you can identify the games that are "Right on the verge" which usually hit 4-5 out of the 10 items in the list - games like Harvest Moon (fits 5-6 items), Recettear (4 items), and Grand Chase/Elsword (6 items in PvE play, but fewer in PvP).

Or in other words, I don't think that I'm trying to include a tomato in a fruit salad! :kaoblush:
 
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Countyoungblood

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well said! tomato it is not!
 

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It can, as long as there's character progression and an enticing story.

Take Stardew Valley as an example. It's an RPG, but while there's fighting in it, that is not the main focus of the game and it could easily be done without it. Or To The Moon, which refers to itsself as an adventure RPG. No fighting there either.

I know this post was made a little while ago, but I still have to answer to it. Your premise here is not correct in my opinion: Stardew Valley is not an RPG.
You have basically non of the main features of an RPG. If you want to push the game into classical categories it is a simulation first and (perhaps) an action adventure afterwards. But it has virtually no RPG elements.
 

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I know this post was made a little while ago, but I still have to answer to it. Your premise here is not correct in my opinion: Stardew Valley is not an RPG.
You have basically non of the main features of an RPG. If you want to push the game into classical categories it is a simulation first and (perhaps) an action adventure afterwards. But it has virtually no RPG elements.

Yet on Steam it is classified as an RPG. That is, the popular user-defined tag for the game lists it as an RPG.

2018-12-01_1810.png

And if you go to Metacritic, that collect reviews from game critics and brings an average score, the game is *also* classified as belonging to the role-playing genre. In fact that's, besides "general" is the only genre it is listed as being part of. (The wikipedia for the game also lists it as an "indie farming simulation role-playing video game".)

2018-12-01_1815.png

So while you may not see Stardew Valley as an RPG, there seems to be a general consensus disagreing with you. It is an RPG - despite lacking the stuff you believe should appear in traditional role-playing games.
 

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