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Interview Fargo, Sawyer, McComb and others weigh in on the future of RPGs at Rock Paper Shotgun

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Jun 27, 2018.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
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    Tags: Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda; Brian Fargo; Chris Siegel; Colin McComb; Jan Van Dosselaer; Josh Sawyer

    Among the prominent PC-centric RPGs released over the past couple of years, Divinity: Original Sin 2 has done very well, but all the others have kind of whiffed to one degree or another. There have been lots of online symposiums about the future of the RPG genre recently, but this latest one at Rock Paper Shotgun is the first to tackle that fact. It's kind of a strange piece, with a whole bunch of participants - Brian Fargo, Josh Sawyer, Colin McComb, Larian lead writer Jan Van Dosselaer, OtherSide Entertainment's Chris Siegel, and even Annie Mitsoda. Each one of them only gets in a few sentences, but the overall message is clear - the future of the mid-sized crowdfunded RPG is basically Divinity: Original Sin clones. Here's an excerpt:

    In the mid-to-late 2000s, publishers abandoned the CRPG genre – an acronym describing the very specific genre of video games adapted from tabletop RPGs to be played on computers – which a decade earlier had been a cornerstone of PC gaming. They were more interested in accessible, console-friendly series like Mass Effect and The Elder Scrolls, and PC-centric RPGs all but died out.

    Then, around 2012, RPGs made a comeback, largely thanks to the rise of crowdfunding and an endless well of nostalgia. Since then we’ve been treated to heaps of good ones – Divinity: Original Sin, Pillars of Eternity, Wasteland 2, Torment: Tides of Numenera – and there are plenty more in the works. But there’s no guarantee that CRPGs are back for good. Some, such as Torment, haven’t sold well. The future of crowdfunding remains uncertain. And asking fans to commit 50 hours to a single story is more difficult than ever, given the volume of great games that release every month. So how can developers ensure that the genre stays relevant?

    Colin McComb, writer on the original Planescape: Torment as well as Tides of Numenera, says that the designers and studio heads he has spoken to want CRPGs to be “heavier on the action and lighter on the exposition” than they are now.

    And if CRPGs of the future have fewer words, developers will want “more incisive, entertaining, and direct writing”, with fewer “winding monologues. In at least the immediate future, prose-heavy games are going to [be] much more niche,” he says.

    One of the reasons that Tides of Numenera didn’t sell as well as expected was because it was too text-heavy, says Brian Fargo, head of developer inXile Entertainment. Wasteland 2, which came out before Torment, hit a better balance between story and action, and Wasteland 3 will focus on the “strategic aspect of combat in an XCOM kind of way”, he says.

    Fargo is particularly keen to introduce “emergent gameplay” of the type that Divinity: Original Sin 2 used so effectively. Players could mess around with different elements to create fun interactions, like killing an enemy and electrifying their pooling blood so that it zaps anyone stood close, or throwing a poison flask at an undead ally to heal them while damaging any nearby enemies.

    We’ll see more of that in CRPGs from now on, Fargo predicts, both because it makes for better games and because it’s inherently more attractive for streamers, who are gaining more and more influence over what the public play. “It’s more viral in nature, you’re more likely to get a friend to play,” he says.

    Josh Sawyer, director of both Pillars of Eternity games, agrees that CRPGs will put more emphasis on “interactive environment-driven mechanics”. He also cites Divinity: Original Sin 2 as the best example, although developers could equally take cues from games like Hitman that “combine a lot of scripted stuff with a lot of dynamic, environment-driven mechanics”.

    “If I were to make a game set in the Pillars of Eternity universe that were not part of the series, I would totally want more of that stuff,” he says. “By making more fundamentally dynamic gameplay that’s more driven by environmental interactions, you’re creating a game that’s richer for creating your own stories, your own gameplay by just fooling around.”

    Fargo believes that CRPGs will increasingly feature multiplayer – something the Original Sin games again pioneered – and Wasteland 3 will be the first in the series with a co-op campaign. “Every metric [suggests it will get] more and more difficult to do a single player game. You’ll see more multiplayer [in CRPGs], but the trick is for us to not give up the depth.”

    His desire for multiplayer action and more emergent gameplay will culminate in a “secret project” to be unveiled later this year, he tells me, which will combine inXile’s love for storytelling with the freedom of a multiplayer sandbox game such as DayZ or Rust. Those games often simulate the breakdown of a post-apocalyptic society perfectly, but have stories that are often just: “Here’s a rock, go,” he says.

    “I’ve been completely fascinated by the emergent gameplay that comes from open-world systems, but yet we love storytelling, and so we want to explore how we might be able to merge those worlds,” he explains.
    We've known about that inXile secret project for a while now. Earlier this year they trademarked "Wasteland: Frost Point", which seemed like a likely title. More recently though they appear to have switched to just "Frostpoint", so unfortunately we might not get to make "Wasteland 76" jokes.
     
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  2. MrBuzzKill Savant

    MrBuzzKill
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    It was enough to see the word "multiplayer" to immediately smash that :decline: button.
     
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  3. dawcio Educated

    dawcio
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    "Tides of Numenera didn’t sell as well as expected was because it was too text-heavy, says Brian Fargo, head of developer inXile Entertainment"

    Nothing wrong with that, Brian. You need to think harder.
     
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  4. Shilandra Learned

    Shilandra
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    What are these people smoking? Walls of text aren't the problem and never were. The problem is actually making your story and worlds and characters interesting. Thats it.

    I remember when I first started playing torment I wasn't sure about most things that were happening around me until I got to the bar where you find dakkon. In that bar was a planeswalker who is basically just a gigantic bundle of text that tells you about the planes and how they work. Talking to him was kinda confusing at first but once it finally clicked I absolutely devoured anything and everything he said. It was all so interesting and fantastical and magical and everything felt so connecting. It helped me develop a massive love for DnD cosmology that persists to this day.

    Compare that to pillars 2 where you can be having face to face communion with the all powerful gods of the realm and feel nothing but a resounding meh. I couldn't describe the excitement I would feel at being able to meet and talk with mystra or the lady of pain. I can't describe the awestuck feeling I felt at walking on the bones of a dead god of death in an in-between plane of formful nothingness that I got from nwn2.

    Being able to throw poison grenades to make poision gas clouds that you can set on fire wouldn't have made numanera sell 10 billion copies. If people are seriously thinking this then we might as well write off CRPGs completely from this point on because there is nothing that will be done to save them.
     
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  5. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Planescape: Torment, the game that didn't sell all that well either. :M
     
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  6. Shilandra Learned

    Shilandra
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    Maybe I should get on the numanera was a timeless classic train now then. I dont exactly regret the money I spent on it and Rin and the tides were kinda cool.

    Are licenses to shill expensive nowadays?
     
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  7. Cross Scholar

    Cross
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    There is being text-heavy and there is being T:ToN. If PS:T with its 800k words didn't sell well, one wonders what Fargo's mindset was when he was screaming from the rooftops how T:ToN exceeded 1.2 million words while it was still in development as if it was something to be proud of.
     
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  8. Sacibengala Learned

    Sacibengala
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    If we still gets the good quality indie rpgs that we are getting, I cannot care less about that bunch.
     
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  9. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    It was the era of Kickstarter and indie optimism and people thought everything could sell. Reality brought them back down to earth.
     
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  10. Bocian Prophet

    Bocian
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    RPG is a severely rotten carcass. Obsidian, Larian, Bethesda, Bioware et consortes are a bunch of necromancers-necrophiles that constatly unearth it, revive it and rape it savagely, hoping futilely that this intercourse will produce a healthy offspring. But that's not the worst thing. The worst thing that they have a bunch of gawkers-cronies that encourage them.
    We should just let it rest in peace. :negative:
     
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  11. Orobis Arcane Sychophantic Noob

    Orobis
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    Planescape torment was lightning in a bottle, it's not going to happen again.
     
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  12. Danlok Literate

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    If medium sized RPGs die I'm okay with that, even D:OS 1 and 2 which did well commercially seem uninspired. Underrail was great as just one example, and if there are enough fans to keep smaller games with a greater focus alive that's all I care about. We need fellow RPG zealots with their own vision, not companies turning into EA and Ubisoft and churning out mediocre games with wide appeal.
     
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  13. IHaveHugeNick Arcane

    IHaveHugeNick
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    DoS1 is the most fucking toxic game for the RPG genre since Oblivion. It just continues to spreads tumors of decline all over the entire genre as developers are scrambling to achieve feature parity with Larian.

    :timetoburn:
     
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  14. DeepOcean Arcane

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    I read the article and honestly it is only the last 20 years "common sense" old cliches back in full force and designers looking for the most recent successful fad to copy, are those the guys with years of wisdom on the cRPG genre? Really not impressed. Didn't see anything in there beyond regular RPG internet forum "wisdom".

    Can't talk about popamole sheeple but for myself, I played Planescape Torment multiple times, I am right on the center of the target of a possible hardcore NumaNuma fan and they failed hard at it, the game is fucking awful and boring. Please son, you only have the right to whine and pretend to be the misunderstood artist when you actually released a decent game.

    Fargo in particular is an old man cliche spewing machine, he looks like an old EA executive that thinks multiplayer should be on everything so all games would sell 10 million copies, flawless logic right there.

    Really, have zero hope of anything good coming from those bozos, dunno why we were so naive to trust those clowns.
     
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  15. Volrath Arcane Patron

    Volrath
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    :butthurt:
     
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  16. Davaris Arcane

    Davaris
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    If the industry and players could get over their addiction to shiny graphics, they could have the games they want. Graphics is where most of the dev budgets goes and so they have to appeal to the lowest common denominator to make the money back. But they can't get over it. Wah! Wah! Wah!

    Its American sales culture. I assume it comes from their greasy fast food joint marketing. The selling point is not quality, its quantity. You get %50, 100%, 1000% moarer than before!

    For me the spell was broken when Fargo announced Unity and 3D. Its that horrible moment when you think someone knows what they are doing, but then you realize they don't. I knew I had wasted my money. lol
     
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  17. HeatEXTEND Arbiter

    HeatEXTEND
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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    RPGS NOT DEAD

    the saviors, one a combat slough, the other a confused cyoa, "GET ME SOME MORE MARKETING GUYS, FUCKING CRPG CONSUMERS I JUST CAN'T KEEP TRACK ANYMORE" :lol:

     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
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  18. Fenix Liturgist Vatnik

    Fenix
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    As I remember, it was #1 top-seller two weeks before BG2 was released.... :rpgcodex:

    You confused it with fucking Witcher 3...
     
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  19. DeepOcean Arcane

    DeepOcean
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    Well, reading between the lines, InXile seems to returning to make their traditional shovelware but with multiplayer this time as if multiplayer would magically help their shit shovelware to sell, it seems PoE 2 is the last isometric RPG trying to be a traditional RPG from Obsidian, maybe they will eventually release a D:OS kind of game with multiplayer and devoted to twitch streamers (aka the cancer of the world), Larian will keep doing their bullshit and driving right on the popamole where the money supposedly is, hope for Swen this don't blow up on his face.

    Well folks, the show is over, you guys turn the lights off on the way out and hope the few indie developers that still make shit worthy playing keep surviving because they are the only hopes for decent games.
     
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  20. Shilandra Learned

    Shilandra
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    At least divinity has that gm mode thing where you can make mods that are their own original campaigns and stuff. would absolutely love it if THAT became standard and not environmental effects with multiplayer.
     
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  21. FeelTheRads Arcane Patron

    FeelTheRads
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    Except he kept riding that horse right until the release if not even after that.
     
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  22. Agame Learned

    Agame
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    Classic hack writer mentality: more words = better. So just cram as much exposition and purple prose as you can into every nook and cranny and you have muh so much words/ I am so literary.

    Great point by Shilandra, this is is how you should write and approach worldbuilding, leave as much mystery and intrigue as possible for a long time, show the player the world, dont tell them about it. But at some point provide a lore dump npc or whatever that people can choose to engage with to get more information. Or some people may just ignore and be happy to carry on, it can actually be fun to not understand everything and leave some mystery.
     
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  23. Invictus Arcane The Real Fanboy

    Invictus
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    Divinity: Original Sin 2
    When the mention the “metrics” pointing towards catering towards multiplayer... yeah exactly where did you get those metrics? From 14 year olds?
    Instead of catering towards the ever loving Skyrim crowd or now the DOS crowd how about developing good stories, good writing, good combat and letting the fucking product speak for itself?
    In a sense they can go all jump off a cliff, as long as we have great stuff such as Underrail, Age of Decandence, the odd indie newcomer and my huge backlog of games I couldnt care less for the next Bethesda abomination or Fergus’ Cain driven Jesus Christ Posee
     
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  24. Lexx Augur

    Lexx
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    CRPG and multiplayer just doesn't mix for me. Like, at all. Never did, never will.
     
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  25. Nutria Learned

    Nutria
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    Didn't Bioware try to get people to play co-op RPGs in BG and Neverwinter Nights and ultimately admit it was a failure? There's a fundamental problem there. If there's a good story, I want to experience it at my own pace. If not, I might as well play an MMO.
     
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