The RPG (Role Playing Game) genre is one of the oldest genres in video game history. With DND being created on PLATO in the 1970s, it came to the forefront in the 1980s with gaming series like Ultima, The Bards Tale and Might and Magic.
Fast forward 40 years, we now have games such as Skyrim & the Mount and Blade which have revolutionised the RPG Genre. One question does remain however: has the RPG genre gotten easier as time has progressed?
It can be argued that back in the 1980s, and even the early 90s, RPGs had a system where you had to keep your own notes, and even have a book of graph paper for drawing maps. It made things a little different and even a little harder – but it was quite immersive. Modern RPGS have auto-levelling where your character gains levels and skills on the spot unlike the training mechanic of older games. But the thing that makes modern RPGs easier is the fact that the game has a directional arrow pointing to you to your next quest or goal without the need to explore.
Now, that is not to say that the games are less entertaining than their older counterparts, and to not be accused of nostalgia, I don’t think that the idea of ‘hand holding’ in RPGs is a bad thing – especially when you are playing an RPG for the first time. It is confusing enough with the mechanics, without having to go through three different notebooks to see what the old lady wanted. But, on the other hand, with the ‘hand-holding’, the ideals of immersion and exploration are lost somewhat and these are two big staples of playing an RPG.
So, in conclusion a few things that could be used to keep RPGs interesting.
- Don’t throw monsters that are super tough at the beginning: this is a trope of the game Dark Souls, and it is just mind numbingly boring as the challenge should scale to get more immersive.
- Have a cartography skill: like the games of old, an auto-mapping function could be put into play via a learnable skill adding to the verisimilitude of the game.
- Not everything should be resolved through force: it is getting less fun mining monsters and grinding. Throw in a few puzzles to be solved, and even a few roleplaying moments.
- Have the villain do random things: one thing that is annoying is when the villain sits on their throne waiting for you to be more powerful so you can vanquish them. How about have the villain be I don’t know; more villainous. You thwarted one of his plans and need to go back to town to rest, but oh no the villain has destroyed it. Makes you more involved, doesn’t it?
- Do not have your created character be the hero of destiny: this concept makes me want to scream, where you are a humble farmer and suddenly you are the hero of destiny or prophecy. Why can’t you be a minor character in the world, that assists with the world around them?