Story vs Gameplay - which is more important in a RPG

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MushroomCake28, Jun 18, 2019.

?

Which would you prefer?

  1. A very good story with an alright gameplay

    22 vote(s)
    51.2%
  2. An alright story with an amazing gameplay

    21 vote(s)
    48.8%
  1. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    Wow, this ended up a lot more divided than I thought. It's almost 50/50.
     
    #21
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  2. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    For me, the puzzle is when a thing is less randomized, thus, the improvisation is rather limited (And the actual puzzle makes you exactly do what the dev think you should do) You get the exact same stage all over again. I'm not saying it is really a bad thing (I enjoyed advance war which is less randomized as well), I just wish VC was more open with its gameplay rather than tied to the story. i.e, probably randomly generated arena or a custom map editor. Unless, if that feature is already in the game and I missed it.

    -----
    Speaking of the vote, I didn't vote any. There is no "rather" in my book. I don't know, I don't think I can weight them both in an equal ground. I'd rather play the game based on their "strength". You've got gameplay? let's see. You've got the story? let's see. As long as I clearly know where the game main strength beforehand. But this is RPG, you need to at least have both at "okay level".

    Kingdom of Amalur is one of the examples that have an unengaging story in my opinion. I didn't even know what was it all about. All I care that the MC has a cool "overdrive" ability, cool bosses, cool action, and a cool final boss. I didn't even remember why the mc fought the final boss. What I remember is most of the NPCs use the same motion when talking to me. It was so soulless that I skipped all of them and only care about the quest mission and its reward.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
    #22
  3. Heirukichi

    Heirukichi Veteran Veteran

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    The reason behind that is, in my opinion, that you cannot measure them in the same way. As @TheoAllen said in the previous post, each game has its own strength, and you should keep going in that direction. If you are making a game puts a lot of emphasis on story, go for the story, if you are making a game that puts the same emphasis on game-play, go for that instead.

    I am not sure if you have already read the contents of the link in my very first post, but it partially explains the reason why people are so divided on this matter (in a not very explicit way though). RPGs are somewhat in the middle between story-delivering medias and game-play delivering medias. That is also why I said that there is no winner among story and game-play (as long as both are good enough to be acceptable, that is a given), but from your first post it really looks like you are basing your poll on the assumption that both are on an acceptable level.

    @MushroomCake28 regarding the last assumption, I would really appreciate if you could correct me if it is wrong, or confirm it if it is right. As I mentioned, a lot of people are casting their vote/voicing their opinion, comparing the aspect they like to a "bad" counterpart, but from your original post it does not look like it is what you mentioned. Clarifying this could help more people to focus on the real topic.

    @TheoAllen
    There is no such a feature, but I think you can handle maps in different ways. Although the map is always the same, you can beat it with a high rank using different strategies. After all the game leaves room for forgiveness.

    You can usually get the best score with a 1/3 turns margin, and even those levels where you only take 1 turn to complete them can actually be completed using your whole action point pool or not.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
    #23
  4. taaspider

    taaspider Villager Member

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    I can't chose any of the alternatives.

    If asked, I tend to answer story is more important. That is part of the reason I have no interest in most multiplayer, FPS or racing games. I've played a few games where gameplay wasn't that good, but kept it up because I wanted to see how the story ended by myself. The story was what hooked me into the game. For me a great example is the first Witcher game. The combat was clumsy and frustrating, and I only used the same two or three potions, rarely explored beyond that on alchemy, but the story was so strong for me that I ended playing it twice (once when it came out on 2007, and another while waiting for Witcher 3 to be released).

    But taking a time to think about it, there are others I've played through to the end only because I liked playing it. The gameplay was the hook, not story. An example of this would be Dragon's Dogma. It had a not that good story, but I spent way more time than I should on it. I really like how they handled combat (though it made me rage quit a few times on some DLC bosses).

    (I've played a few which neither were that good too in my time, but with less free time comes more selectiveness).
     
    #24
  5. Heirukichi

    Heirukichi Veteran Veteran

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    That is a great example, and I agree with you when you say that it has a great story, great enough to overshadow the game-play limits, but I also think that defining the combat "clumsy and frustrating" is a bit of an exaggeration. I had the same thoughts when I first took a look at the game, and I did not play the game because of that. Few years later I decided that it was about time I tried it, and I have to admit that the combat system is a lot more fluid than I originally thought (or people depicted it in game comments).

    It also has a lot more depth than I thought, as magic is effectively powerful, which is something completely unexpected given how the combat was realized. On top of it, it is very intuitive because you are not required to press many different buttons at once, you only have to press a single button at the right moment, it does not matter how old you are and how good/bad your reflexes are, you can still perform quite good combos once you get the right timing. I thought that it was surprising how many things they made possible with a very limited combination of buttons.

    That is to say that I do not consider "The Witcher" as a game with "bad game-play". On the contrary, I think the game-play is far beyond what I consider to be acceptable.
     
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  6. Elissiaro

    Elissiaro Veteran Veteran

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    Story.
    If I hate the gameplay I can just use easy mode and look up guides for the easiest ways to get through the gameplay. Or cheat, if that's possible.
    If I hate the story and characters, I'm not interested enough to keep playing even if the gameplay is fun. I have way too many unplayed games in my steam library to get to instead.

    If the gameplay or story is just, meh, and the other is amazing... I'll play both so... Kinda had to go to extremes to pick one.
     
    #26
  7. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    @Heirukichi I'm not talking about a bad story or a bad gameplay, I'm talking about an average story with an amazing gameplay and an amazing story with an average gameplay. The keyword is "average", meaning not bad and not incredible.
     
    #27
  8. Heirukichi

    Heirukichi Veteran Veteran

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    Thanks a lot for the clarification, I think this should help keeping everybody on the right track. Since things are as I assumed, I stand firm in my belief.
     
    #28
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  9. Touchfuzzy

    Touchfuzzy Rantagonist Staff Member Lead Eagle

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    I think that as long as both are at least in the "not actively a nuisance" category, its more about excelling at something than what you excel at.

    Like, obviously the ideal is to be great at everything, but that isn't always going to happen. But what I notice a lot with my own favorite games is that very rarely are they games that are like, 4/5 stars across the board. Often they are games that have some 3s and then some 5s. Basically it had to have something about it that wasn't just "pretty good" it had to have something amazing.

    For an example of a game with "Okay" gameplay and amazing story/characters/writing, my absolute favorite game of all time is the original NieR. It was panned heavily for its gameplay not being God of War standards (which was weird because it wasn't a pure action game but you know), and its graphics not being the highest end thing out, but the music and writing were top tier (and I think the visual design was really good, even if it wasn't the most amazing graphical display on a technical level), possibly the best story in any game I've ever played.

    For an example of a game with amazing gameplay but an okay story, Shadow of Mordor/War. Both of these games are alright stories. Neither of them is winning any prizes (though I'll admit I'm fond of the ending of War (the ending ending after you do all the endgame grind). But the gameplay is so fluid, the Nemesis system is so genius... the mechanics are god tier, and that is why It sits in my top 10 games.

    There are some games that manage to be great across the board though. NieR Automata, Final Fantasy Tactics, Marvel's Spider-Man, Horizon Zero Dawn. Like I said, this is the ideal.

    But gameplay vs story isn't a thing where you rate one as more important. It's just about focusing on what you are personally interested in more, and then making sure the other is good enough that it isn't going to detract from the part you care about.
     
    #29
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  10. EthanFox

    EthanFox Veteran Veteran

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    I personally feel that while a truly good RPG has a good story and gameplay, that of the two elements, the story is the most important.

    My reasoning behind this is that an RPG with very little gameplay is basically a visual novel of sorts, or some kind of graphic adventure - and people do like and play those games. Conversely, an RPG with gameplay and no story is... I mean, I'm not certain you could make a comparison.

    It's not a straightforward question though as an "RPG game" kinda needs to have both elements, so it isn't easy to strip one out and understand how that would feel. Ultimately the best RPG games have a story and gameplay which feed off each other.
     
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  11. Touchfuzzy

    Touchfuzzy Rantagonist Staff Member Lead Eagle

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    I mean the entire Pokemon series is all gameplay, mediocre story, and I think they've done alright.
     
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  12. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I think it also depends, as what one person likes for gameplay another will not be able to stand. For instance, earlier in this thread we had someone say they liked ff8's gameplay, but ff8 is pretty universally considered one of the worst systems ever in an FF. And most I know say they like FFX's story, but another poster said they hated it.

    So you're not going to please everyone.

    And BTW, I think the distinction between do we mean average or bad is meaningless. Some people will put up with more than others. And early RPG games from the 80's/90's often had stories that are often considered as bad or awful or non-extant, but most that grew up on them playing them like them still regardless.
     
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  13. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    @bgillisp There is a difference between average and bad, even though it is mostly a subjective difference depending on people. I'm not discussing here the good story/bad gameplay (or the opposite) here, I'm referring to having both an enjoyable story and gameplay, but with one being than the other (no game is perfect, and therefore there will always be one aspect that is better than others).

    Pokemon is an example of a story that isn't good, it's almost secondary to the game. Yet, it is one of the most popular rpg games in the history of gaming because of its gameplay.

    The Tales of franchises (Symphonia, Abyss, Vesperia, Xillia, etc.) are what I consider a case of average to good story with amazing gameplay. You play those games for the gameplay, hence why the new game+ system is so popular in those games. Stories were cliché without being boring, and that was more than enough to keep players going, while the battle system was the star of the games. The endgame was the really good part, when you farmed the best equipment, reached super high levels, and fought against the hardest bosses (I loved the Cameo battles).

    The Kingdom Hearts games are also games that I consider to have an average story with an excellent gameplay. Let's face it, the story in KH is so overly complicated and confusing, and very cheesy and cliché (Disney is in it after all). However, that doesn't take away from the awesome gameplay, the beautiful worlds, etc.

    The Witcher 3 is a case of average gameplay (the battle was... okay at best), but with an amazing and beautiful story. Honestly it's one the rare games I was so absorbed into the story.

    So all the above examples have very good gameplay and story (except maybe Pokemon, I don't know if we can really consider that a story), so nothing bad. However, some of them excelled at only at one aspect while still doing well in other aspects.
     
    #33
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  14. Heirukichi

    Heirukichi Veteran Veteran

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    Allow me to disagree here. While it is true that very old RPG games had very little story compared to modern ones and people still like them, I think that this is an important aspect to consider when talking about games. Even if that were not the case, I still consider that an important keyword here. Let me explain with an example.

    You have guests and you offer them a piece of cake, then you ask them if they want chocolate or cream as topping for the cake. If they answer you that they fancy honey it is fine, they can still do it, but it is not the answer to your question, is it? It is an aut aut question, if your guests tell you that they fancy honey it is good to know, but it is not what you asked. You might have your reasons for not asking, maybe you cannot offer any honey at the moment.

    While the example is very simple, the same goes for this topic. I am not allowed to read the OP's mind, but what I know for sure is that games evolved in the last decades, and what was once acceptable has become old and often obsolete (it does not apply to everything, but it applies to a lot of games).

    Competition grew fiercer and there are a lot of games with a lot of different features. It is much harder for a game to be acceptable nowadays, and it has to fit certain standards that are not as forgiving as they were for the old games. I also think that if we talk about Game Research, it is important to set certain standards - at least theoretically. Of course, we can diverge from those ideas when it comes to the real product; reality and theory are two different worlds (and words) after all - I know, the pun is terrible.

    That said, one thing is to research what can be disregarded when making a certain kind of game, another thing is to research what to emphasize among two aspect that are at least of a certain level. Those are two different things, and the main difference lies within the fact that games are a complex media, and one thing is evaluating only one aspect, another is researching the interaction between two aspects (which is what I think the OP wanted to do) and decide where to put more emphasis.

    There are other topics where people asked which aspect was more important, without a single care about how they interact. In my opinion - I could be wrong though - this is not what the OP wants. And for that purpose it is important to reach a level of abstraction where one can talk about a theoretical model that keeps those requirements in mind.

    EDIT: Completely ninjed by the OP, who said what I wanted to say.
     
    #34
  15. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @Heirukichi : Uh, that example I'd consider worse than bad. There's tiers below bad you know. On say a 1 - 10 scale I usually would say bad is a 2 or a 3, and you can get 0 or 1 still in the scale.

    And there's tiers between bad and average too.

    BTW, the example of Pokeman I'd consider below average for story. So by that logic it should not be part of what is being considered?
     
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  16. Heirukichi

    Heirukichi Veteran Veteran

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    @bgillisp Precisely. Dased on this, I would dare to say that the Pokemon example does not fit this topic either.
    It does not change how much the audience liked the game itself, but its popularity kept decreasing (and that is a matter of facts), so there might be reasons why the OP would not want to consider games of that kind.

    I never said there are no tiers between bad and average, or tiers below bad. However, the two keywords that the OP originally used (in the poll itself and in his first post) are okay and all right (used in the form of alright). Both of them express a level of appreciation that is greater than or equal to "average". This is why I asked him to clarify this, because anything that is below that, even while it still exists, is not relevant to this particular discussion/poll. Having people cast their vote on a wrong assumption spoils the results, thus I asked for clarifications on this matter.

    Now, do not misunderstand me, I do not want to start a grammar war and I wholeheartedly agree with you on the whole line. There are tiers below average, there are tiers below bad, and I played (and enjoyed) old games with poor story even if I usually prefer games with a compelling story. However, while I think that what you said is true, I do not deem that information as pertinent.

    This is why, in order to get a result that is as accurate as possible, it is important to answer based on what is being asked, and not on what we feel right outside the scope of the topic. Otherwise the OP is going to have a result that has nothing to do with what he is looking for. If you take a look at the first page of this thread, there are a lot of people reasoning based on a "bad" counterpart (to be more accurate, exactly 25% of the posts in the first page follow that reasoning). I think I am not far from reality if I assume that they cast their vote based on that reasoning as well.

    As you can see on your own, having 25% of the votes being cast on a wrong assumption is not exactly what you want when you are trying to understand the general trend. There is a possibility that those people might have cast a completely different vote if they based their reasoning on the right assumption, and having 25% of your votes scattered around for such a purpose is not helpful at all.
     
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  17. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    @Heirukichi The decline of Pokemon isn't due to its lack of story. The first pokemon game didn't have more story than the modern pokemon games.
     
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  18. Heirukichi

    Heirukichi Veteran Veteran

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    @MushroomCake28 that might be the case, as it might not.
    Would you not feel bored after playing a game with very similar mechanics to another one you played if the story is basically the same (or non-existent)? If you play a game that has an original game-play, even if the story is non-existent, you can still play it and enjoy it, but would you enjoy the same game-play once again if the sequel has nothing more to offer? Why would you spend your money to buy it if it offers the same experience as the previous one?
    This is what I meant when I said that games evolved as a media, and what was once acceptable is no longer acceptable. There is plenty of games around, with plenty of different game-play experiences and plenty of different stories. There is no point in considering just one or the other simply because if you want a certain set of mechanics there is a game with them (most likely), and the same applies to stories.

    When those old games came out, originality played an important role in their success. Nowadays, originality plays a different role. It is still important, but its core meaning has changed, and that is why, in my opinion, comparing modern games with old games is pointless. Can you create a game, claim that its mechanics are 100% original, and be able to sell a lot just because of your original idea? Yes, you can. Is that something you should rely on? Not at all.

    EDIT:
    Umberto Eco, a very famous Italian writer known worldwide (his CV can be found here), once said in an interview (you can find it here, but it is in Italian) that his book could be read at three different levels.
    He even mentioned how he thought of the idea of the rose as something original, but then he discovered that another two authors used the same image.

    From that interview we can clearly see how even great stories from famous writers are not completely original. They are a mixture of originality and references. It goes without saying that if you do not mix things smartly enough, your book is just a book among many. This is why it is pointless to consider games with unoriginal story on their own without taking game-play into account as well.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
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  19. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    @Heirukichi My theory is that Pokemon's decline is due to the aging of the generation of people that started out with the first pokemon games when they were little. That, and the fact that the gameplay is indeed repetitive, but this has nothing to do with the story aspect, which is like we said almost non-existent.

    And saying we shouldn't use it as an example just because it is too original isn't fair. We should include every RPG, because sometimes unconventional is what makes something great. Let's not forget that many games strive on an original gameplay over a good story, like Pokemon and the Zelda games. Even if the risk factor might be higher when going unconventional, it can be really rewarding. The bigger the risk, the bigger the potential success, but also the potential failure (like in the stock market).
     
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  20. Quill-Hawthorne

    Quill-Hawthorne (the one and only) Member

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    I think it's very subjective, since both are equally good for games. There's no better one because without the other, the game is enjoyable with at least a good story/gameplay.
     
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