Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Fate of the Middle Class RPG

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Infinitron, Apr 30, 2016.

  1. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    "I'm going to go on the record and say that I believe the middle class game is dead," he said, before drawing an analogy with the movie business.

    "It needs to either be either an event movie – day one, company field trip, Battlefield: LA, we're there. Avatar – we're there. The Other Guys starring Will Ferrell and Marky Mark? Nah, I'll f****** rent that, I don't really care - right?

    "Or it has to be an indie film. Black Swan – I'll go and see that. I'll go to The Rialto or I'll go to the AAA Imax movie. The middle one is just gone, and I think the same thing has happened to games."

    -Cliff Bleszinski, GDC 2011​

    In the years leading up to the Kickstarter Revolution of 2012, a conventional wisdom began to develop on the Codex that the only way to rescue the RPG genre and resurrect traditional RPG gameplay was to bring back the mid-sized developer and the "middle class RPG". The AAAs were producing ever more streamlined garbage, while the indies were either stuck in a Jeff Vogel retro rut or just taking forever to release anything. Only mid-sized developers could have the heft to produce truly impressive games, yet without succumbing to mainstream market pressures.

    Yet we find ourselves in the middle of 2016 with a whole lot of angry and skeptical people. The reasons for people's disappointment with individual Kickstarted games have been discussed to death. What's interesting to me is the idea that the "middle class RPG" as a whole has lost some of its comparative advantages.

    On the indie side of things, games like Underrail and Age of Decadence, considered vaporware jokes a few years ago, have actually gone and been released, and the Codex is still basking in their afterglow. Their main disadvantage, of course, is that it may take another 5 or more years to get more of them. It's unclear if quicker development cycles such as those favored by Whalenought Studios have what it takes to produce equally satisfying games. Depending on what happens to the indie market on Steam, people might feel differently about this in a couple of years. Will more indie RPG developers emerge, or will they flee from an RPG "indiepocalypse" as Aterdux Entertainment seem to be doing?

    The AAA side is where things get interesting. There's an impression I'm getting that some people are beginning to think that AAA games are becoming better. Slower growth in the console market has given publishers an incentive to cater to a more mature and experienced existing player base. Ever since the release of Skyrim and the success of sandbox games like Minecraft, the Call of Duty-inspired linear interactive movie model that seemed to be taking over the industry in the late 2000s has been receding. When such games are released today, they're often mocked (see The Order: 1886 and Ryse: Son of Rome).

    The open world model comes with its own inanities, as any Bethesda or Ubisoft game shows us, but at its core, it's still a framework that enables a slower-paced, more cerebral gameplay. As a result, we now have people on this forum who admit that they care more about the next open world action-RPG from CD Projekt than they do about the next isometric RPG from inXile.

    The combination of open world RPG gameplay with actually good writing and choice & consequence seems to be a new sweet spot, with the potential to become the Codex's "best RPG model" in the future, supplanting the classic Fallout/Infinity Engine model. Its main disadvantage is that there are so few games in this "genre" - it's basically just Fallout: New Vegas and Witcher 3 at this point. It's unclear if the gaming industry has what it takes to produce such games in quantity, despite their success.

    What is the fate of the middle class RPG on the Codex? Do we really want to play throwback RPGs forever? Is there a middle ground here perhaps, some way to bridge the gap between the middle class RPG and the "open world with good writing" AAA RPG?
     
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  2. Excidium IIgender: ⚧ Self-Ejected

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    So, Nostalgia baiting doesn't work anymore, since many of those crowdfunded titles are already out and people know what to expect? Certainly won't see any more of those CRPG projects that need millions of dollars to keep a bunch of old hacks and expensive first world cogs employed for an year or two.

    Hmm might it be because Wasteland 2 was complete garbage?

    I think you know my answer for that question.
     
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  3. AMGgender: ⚧ Arbiter

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    What are you asking exactly? I like isometric party based RPGs so thats the kind of a games I want to be made. I don't particularly care whether it's getting made in sweatshop over a decade, some pixely indie shit, middle class or AAA.

    People caring more about next CDProjekt game than Fargo is no surprise since Witcher 3 was #alright, and the previous two also weren't bad (the second one kinda sucked, but w/e). On the other hand Wasteland 2 was shit and before Wasteland 2 inXile was shovelware factory. You seem to be using this biased as hell point of reference to create some narrative that even on Codex people now want open world akshun RPGs instead of old school shit.

    I think first and foremost people want good games. Them happening to be in the genre they like is just juicy bonus. I prefer Witcher 3 to Wasteshit 2, but if I had to choose, I'd rather play a good Fallout/BG style game than Witcher 3.
     
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  4. Make America Great Again Rogueygender: ⚧ Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    We just need someone to make an actual seven digit Fallout successor and/or a seven digit RPG with fantastic writing. It'll happen given time. :M
     
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  5. Excidium IIgender: ⚧ Self-Ejected

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    Nobody qualified to make a Fallout sucessor would ever get that much money.
     
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  6. IHaveHugeNickgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Fuck AAA gaming, I'll always prefer isometric view for this genre. Camera view that better suits exploration hasn't been invented yet. In isometric you just see more than you ever will in full 3D. In 3D the exploration just doesn't flow naturally with the gameplay. You either need some sort of GPS, quest markers or another retardesse streamlining, or you have Morrowind where it's half exploration, half where-the-fuck-is-this-quest-NPC. I'm not 12 anymore. The realities of gaming as an adult are as follows - I want to be able to save and quit with a feeling that I've actually moved forward in the game even if the session took 60 minutes. I have neither time nor interest to be aimlessly wondering about for hours looking for quest NPC #15, following poorly written guidelines of "turn sort of north-west near the rock shaped like a penis".

    The Witcher 3 is a one-off game, because it's first 3D sandbox ever made to actually have top-notch world-building and environments that consistently look excellent. And I don't mean the graphics, I mean the art. You can ride into completely random swamp and it will look unique and hand-made. No other AAA developers aspires to that kind of quality, they aspire to printing bland franchises on yearly release cycle. The games look fine for a while, but after few hours once you've seen some environments, you've seen it all. Witcher is different, but it's just one game, and I don't expect anyone will be trying to mimick that approach.
     
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  7. Make America Great Again Rogueygender: ⚧ Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    What if it's Tim and Leonard?
     
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  8. Excidium IIgender: ⚧ Self-Ejected

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    Specially not those two. They could get the money I guess since they're at Obsidian.
     
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  9. Make America Great Again Rogueygender: ⚧ Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    :lol:

    Americans (and many Europeans) don't have the luxury of being able to stretch out a US dollar the way Poles can.
     
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  10. Morkargender: ⚧ illiterate

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    I think we have a pretty good middle class by now accompanied by some good indies. I consider InXile, Hairbrained Schemes, Obsidian and Larian the middle class. All four of them delivered in one way or another.
    I wouldn't say there was an excellent rpg from them, but the games provided a good foundation to build upon for a masterpiece. InXiles W2 was sometimes clunky in level design, loot and skill design. SR: Dragonfall was too light on the rpg mechanics and too easy but had excellent story and atmosphere. PoE had a great beginning and excellent visuals but later on felt over its own feet with story, map design and laughable difficulty. Original Sin I haven't played but it seems to be well received everywhere with some complains about the silly writing.
    I'm playing through W2 Directors Cut and I'm having a blast. The fine tuning really payed off. From the games I played I have to say that W2 Director's Cut absolutely delivered what they promised and it's my favourite from the bunch of new "oldschool" games released.
     
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  11. IHaveHugeNickgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    The difference in costs if development has fuck all to do with it. You'd think with development being cheaper, it would be nice place to work at, but CDPR is basically sweatshop with a massive turn-over of employees who can't stand endless crunches and terrible working conditions.

    Biut on high level, they company has a different business strategy that focuses on quality not quantity.
     
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  12. Make America Great Again Rogueygender: ⚧ Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    It's a combination of the two. Death march crunches also happen elsewhere.
     
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  13. Excidium IIgender: ⚧ Self-Ejected

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    If you think PoE is frontloaded, wait until you play that one.
     
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  14. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

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    Well, part of what I'm saying here is that for a lot of people, the one-off was New Vegas.

    New Vegas comes out in 2010 and at first everybody's like "lol Bethesda Gamebryo shit", but then over time a consensus emerges that it was really good, maybe even one of the best RPGs of all time. But still, it was just one game. Hard to draw conclusions based on that. Then Witcher 3 comes out, and maybe at that point some people begin to think "Wait a minute...maybe this is what RPGs should be? Why am I spending my time stressing out about Kickstarter updates again?". Just a thought.

    (I'm trying hard not to generalize here. My personal experience of the Kickstarter RPG revival, as somebody who reads every single update and developer forum post, is bound to be different from other people's. I'm sure people who stress out less about these games and treat them as just another thing have a more balanced view of all this.)
     
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  15. IHaveHugeNickgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    I don't know if 2 games in 5 years are enough to call it a trend just yet. And New Vegas was a fluke in more ways then one. Them making it in 18 months is a miracle in and of itself.
     
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  16. ZagorTeNejgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Why should isometric and party-based be considered throwback features? It's just a design choice, as valid as any other. Regardless, the only open world games I ever liked are first two Gothics and the first Risen so more isometric RPGs as far as I'm concerned (either party based or single player) both from indie devs (Iron Tower and Styg) and supposed middle budget studios like InXile (hopefully Fargo nabs Avellone eventually and we get another Chris and Ziets team up). I also like FP/RPG hybrids (there are several on the way, new Underworld being the most promising) and would like to see another game set in a WoD universe, isometric or FP.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
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  17. Telengardgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    The vast bulk of people here and elsewhere will never play U, AoD, and especially not SItS, because 'it makes their eyes bleed'. Thus, the foghorns of hate do not sound much for those, since the bulk of RPG players will never buy them in the first place. Yeah, even on the Codex. The foghorns of hate only summon the army when there's something in the offing that looks like it might be added to the altar of BG.

    Thus the one thing that would satisfy the Codex is some absolute idiot (because you'd have to be an idiot to do it) signing away their firstborn to Hasbro so the guy could get the D&D license, making a game in 5e but with a toggle that could flip it to 3e, hiring a couple ex-writers from One Life to Live, getting a cool 10 mil to make all the shinies and reactivity the fans demand, and thus producing yet another bland, branded game with all the fan favorite things and rules. Even though the game itself would be yet another clusterfuck by trying to do too much, the Codex would at last be happy. The idiot who did this would, of course, instantly go broke, but needs must.
     
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  18. Ormagender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

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    I feel like Tyranny will shape our perspective in the matter when it comes out, since there are no other (original) 'middle class' rpg's on the horizon.

    (i guess there is also d: os 2 but it doesn't look much different than the first one)
     
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  19. Excidium IIgender: ⚧ Self-Ejected

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    FTFY
     
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  20. ZagorTeNejgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    I like the plastic look of monsters, it remains me of images from early Graphic cards' boxes.
     
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  21. Manmowergender: ⚧ Prospernaut Edgy Shitposter

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    FTFY.

    Beat me to it.

    If the 'middle-class' companies weren't so busy shoveling shlock (inXile, hint hint cough cough), maybe people would actually support them and they'd see better sales. It's not fucking rocket science.
     
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  22. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    This thread isn't about sales or general public reception, which have been fine. It's specifically about the Codex consensus.

    It's also not about a particular developer - substitute inXile with the company of your choice.
     
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  23. Manmowergender: ⚧ Prospernaut Edgy Shitposter

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    They're all garbage. And retards, to boot. How hard is it making a polished game with limited C&C? Do we need bloated 50h shitware? Must they use horrendous 3d assets and Unity? Why not make a turn-based game set in a world with gothic architecture, with heroic visuals and aesthetics, Banner Saga graphics, an indepth combat and stat system that doesn't border on the autistic (thanks Josh!!), and a 15h campaign. How is it possible that literally dozens of designers keep failing over and over and over again. Is it stupidity? Ignorance? Avarice? Hubris?
     
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  24. I'm With Her Mustawdgender: ⚧ for prison Self-Ejected

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    In terms of Kickstarted games, I'd say part of the dissapointment is a bit overstated due to the nagativoty bias of these forums. PoE was commercially successful, but the way it was talked about here made it sound like it was a half blind half half cripple runner in a marathon.

    Same thing with W2 and D:OS. Remember, these games did well enough where director's cuts/enhanced editions were possible and delivered for free to backers. Yet people reacted like it was some huge scam or something.

    In typical codexian fashion, the main tone was overall negative, but many people have enjoyed these games. Ditto for the Shadowrun ones.

    Also, let's not forget that making these types of games is kind if like learning about the old world by reading medieval monk scrolls. So much of how to make a good game from the old era seems to be forgotten. Whether that is in the writing or content design. Plenty of rust needed to be shaken off.

    Now we have a good base to build on, so I hope more are yet to come.
     
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  25. Lacrymasgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    I think you are confusing popularity with something else. There is no "combination of open world RPG gameplay with actually good writing and choice & consequence", neither Twitcher 3 nor New Vegas, nor Skyrim is that. New Vegas is probably the closest one to good writing, but it's still a straight up shooter in terms of gameplay. Age of Decadence, UnderRail and Serpent in the Staglands obliterated any other attempt at an RPG in the last 10+ years. The popularity of the "open sandbox action-RPG"-thing (which is just a series of oxymorons) doesn't mean that AAA gaming is getting better, far from it. They are just as easily picked up as the shooter-de-jour, exactly because of their "open" nature, i.e. unstructured and unfocused. What more can I say? They are just popular, they don't herald the Second Coming of RPGs.

    What Kickstarter RPGs failed to do was please either audience. It was too "archaic" for the "open sandbox action-RPG"-thing crowd, but also too unskillfully made, badly written and paradoxically designed for the "older" crowd who really did want the Second Coming. They did sell a lot of copies though, because we didn't have any other choice of this genre and we viewed them as a stepping stone to something greater, with a healthy dose of naivete, wishful thinking and hope/hype. Where does that leave us? It leaves us with a bad taste in our mouths. Tranny is happening, as is TTON, Bard's Tale and D:OS2, probably PoE2, so we don't really need to worry about the fate of "middle class RPGs" anymore. Whether we like the path these titles are leading us on will be determined in the future, I'm just going to be ready for it to end in a bramble patch full of used surgical needles instead of thorns.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
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