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RPGs: No More Magic, No More Knighthood

By Rumpy


"Are you sick of all the cliches in nearly every RPG on the market? You know what they are - elves, knights, dragons and the like. If you answered a wholehearted "yes", then you're not alone." These are the opening words to the Arcanum preview in Incite's last issue. Arcanum is a game set in the industrial age and the designers, Troika Games claim to throw away all our conceptions about RPG's thus far.

My friend Dan over at Brokenpixel.com has written an editorial (http://www.brokenpixel.com/articles/rpgeditorial1.shtml) exactly on this topic. He talks about the tiring concept of Magic in RPGs, cliches and how war and ranks would complement the RPG genre, while also stressing that although that all sounds like an RTS, it goes much deeper than that.

I suggest you read it, as his ideas can apply to practically any kind of game with action in it and deals as a base for this article. With a little dose of RPG, we can spice up games that you wouldn't normally think of. Just imagine playing a Rainbow 6 type of game where stats would be involved. Want to command your unit members to do something? Hold on, check your stats. 'Hey, you're not commander, so let one of your other teammates take command.' Somewhere during the gameplay, you'll have high enough stats to command a unit since everything you kill would give you experience. Or if Rainbow 6 style games aren't your style, how about a Tribes-like game? This would give a whole new meaning to team based gameplay. Say you kill a player/NPC. Gaining skills would equal more experience and gaining experience would equal gaining ranks. Gain ranks and you'll be able to boss your team members around-at least the ones that are below your rank. Die and your rank would drop to the next lowest level. This all makes for more frantic survival. And where vehicles are in the games, successful driving would depend on skills. Low skills equals bad driving-good skills, good driving and more maneuverability. This would especially be important today as more and more people are tiring of the straight Run & Gun FPS-and I feel the end is near for this genre of game…especially in the Online world of the Internet. And here's an idea. Has anybody ever thought of a Star Wars squad combat game? RPG Elements, Stormtrooper squads and you have a game that should be a hit.

Among other types of games using RPG Elements is a persistent online worlds game called World War II Online. A first in the Combat Flight sim genre to give players a dose of reality using stats and ranks where they will eventually be able to control a whole fleet. This concept proves to be very interesting and we'll have to wait and see how it works out.

Now back to the 'Top Down' RPG at hand. Put in a war setting such as World War II, add in a compelling storyline such as the Saving Private Ryan scenario for example and the game would come to life. Add some squad based combat to the mix and the game should definitely be interesting and innovative.

So you see, RPGs do not need to be driven by the cliché-laden medieval themes that derive from generic fantasy. There is room for originality. And if there's any doubt that we can and are striving away from this now staling and overused theme, just relax. Look at Deus Ex. It's original and there is still room for more originality. Room for expansion. There's a ton of gamers waiting with open arms for what seems to be something new in the arena of RPG's.


Until Next Week - Happy Gaming!


Question of the Week: Do you have any more original ideas for a game that apply to this article? Post them in the forum or email me. Unique suggestions will be used in an upcoming 'Letters to H2H' section!